30 October 2005

Soutern Oregon Coast

I don’t really have much to talk about but I have a few pictures. We are currently staying at a place on the Southern Oregon Coast. We can’t see the ocean from where we are, but we’re backed up right on a lake and it’s really pretty. This is a nice, quiet park with nice, friendly people running it. Since it’s off-season for this area, there aren’t a lot of boats on the lake, just the die-hard fisherman. We’ve had all sorts of weather here since we arrived on the 20th of Oct. A few days ago the Coast was having Gale Force Wind Warnings. We saw the tail of that and got knocked around a little and there was heavy rain, coming in sideways…that of course…blew out our heater…again! So we bought a space heater and decided to go that route instead of spending $100 (our deductible if the guy who fixes it is certified in the state) every time the wind blows while it’s raining. The space heater rocks. It’s really small, so it’s not in the way and it has a temp control so it turns itself on and off as it’s needs to. Not to mention that it will be running on electricity that we are already paying for and not burning up our propane like the on-board heater did.

We’re really enjoying the days when it’s not dumping rain. The day there were Gale warnings we drove out along the Cape Arago Highway and took some snaps. We were standing out on a point at the end of the highway and I had to brace myself against a rock wall and lean into the wind to keep from getting knocked over. We took some quick snaps there and got back in our truck. Before that we stopped at Simpson Reef to see the Sea Lions/Cows and Seals. They congregate here because the reef naturally protects them; it’s really something to listen to them all barking. There are hundreds of them on these rocks. We also stopped at a little cove (can’t remember the name of it) and watched the Seagulls playing in the wind. Bill made comments about the size of the Seagulls, they are about twice the size of the ones you find on the East Coast, they’re big birds. It was fun to watch them try to fly in those winds. They would be going along just fine and all of the sudden they’d disappear, getting blown about 10-20 feet away in a matter of a second. Those that chose to keeps their webbed feet on the sand, sometimes got blown over by a gust of wind, it was pretty funny.

Well, I think that’s about all right now. Mostly we are trying to settle down and relax a bit. Trying to recover from our whirlwind (sometimes literally) tour and regroup.


21 October 2005

More Insanity

Today is October 22nd and we’ve been back in Oregon since the 19th. Things just got too crazy to deal with anymore. The night before my birthday I didn’t sleep well because of this cold I have, and therefore Bill didn’t sleep well either. We woke up in the morning and the heater in our RV was broken. Apparently the severe thunder/lightening/hail storms that were blowing the rain sideways blew it right into the ventilated cover that has all the electronics for our heater in it…fried….sweet! So it’s cold, we have no heat, and I’m sick…wonderful!! The repair guy can’t get to us until noon, so I bundle up and wait. He shows up, says he doesn’t have the part and he’ll be back in a bit when he gets it. Three hours later he comes back, I’m a Popsicle. I’ve been on the phone with the warranty people and they just need to chat with the repair guy to get his info so they can cover us. Turns out they can’t cover us because this guy isn’t licensed and bonded…wonderful times two!! Whatever, we get the heater fixed and we get a refund on our spot because there are now not only severe storm warnings, but tornado warnings to the west of us…does it get any better than that? Tornados…in the desert! So we hit the road around 5pm on the 18th, that’s right, happy birthday to me. We drive for 16 straight hours that puts us just north of Sacramento, CA. We pull into a Wal-Mart and sleep for about 2+ hours until I’m woken up by the sound of people and the fact that my throat hurts really bad and I’ve lost my voice, terrific!! Go into Wal-Mart, load up on cough medicine, cough drops, and zinc lozenges and hit the road again. We stopped in Redding for lunch, and then cruised all the way, up hill at 40 MPH, to Coos Bay, OR. Got to the KOA in Coos Bay around 10pm the 19th. Backed in, stayed hitched, microwaved some dinner then went to bed. Woke up at 9am and our alarm clock was some jackwad revving the engine of ATV right next door…guess where we’re NOT staying. So, we packed up (wasn’t hard since we didn’t really set down) and headed to another park about 10miles farther north. This place ROCKS!! The park we are at now sits right on a lake and we have a back up spot that looks out onto the lake and the hills, it’s really one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. Last night was quiet and peaceful and I slept like a log. We are glad to be in this park; the only downside is that they don’t have wireless internet and only one high-speed port in the entire park. You can pay for dial-up at your site, but the lines are often busy. We are finding ways to get around that and hopefully that won’t be prohibitive for us staying here.

That’s all for now. It’s been a crazy ride, and we’re hoping that things will calm down a bit now.


18 October 2005

Walnut Canyon and Route 66

Saturday the 15th, Bill and I took a trip to Walnut Canyon National Monument. Here there are more ruins from thousands of years ago. They have two different trails you can take, the easy, level, no hills, paved one that walks around the rim for about a ½ mile, or the strenuous one with a gazillion stairs. We saw some people coming back from the strenuous trail looking like they wished someone would just shoot them dead and leave them for the birds and cougars. SOOOO….we opted for the easy walk, especially with the 6-mile hike from hell still fresh in our minds. Walnut Canyon is a beautiful place with an interesting past. You can’t tell from the pictures but there are two distinctly different weathering patterns in the rock. On the bottom are patterns that are from when the area was under water; sand drifts under water formed the rock formations toward the bottom. On top of that are layers of (if I remember right) volcanic ash that settled into rock and was then shaped by rain and ice into what it looks like today. The stream that ran through the canyon had been damned, so the canyon isn’t growing anymore, but once they let the river flow again, it will begin to carve out more of the canyon. I’ll tell ya, the best Bill did was buy the Golden Eagle National Parks Pass, we’ve seen so many cool things and most of them have been covered by that pass.

Sunday we didn’t do much of anything, watched football…tried to relax. I have a cold, so I tried to get better. I still have the damn cold and am looking forward to it going away.

Monday was pretty fun; we drove out to Kingman and Bullhead City to recon some parks that we were thinking of staying at in about a week. We got out there and pretty much decided that we were good where we were staying. None of the places we checked out were anything that made us want to leave where we are and some of them were downright scary. On the way back from Bullhead City we stopped in Kingman along Historic Route 66 and had lunch at Mr. D’s Diner, which is a historic Route 66 stop. We drove Route 66 back east towards Flagstaff and had the opportunity to see some other cool Route 66 stuff. We would have taken pictures if the weather hadn’t been so crappy. It rained on us…A LOT!! There was thunder and some amazing lightening too. I’ve seen lot’s of lightening in my life and on this trip, but Arizona lightening is in a category all it’s own.

On the way back along Route 66 we stopped at the Grand Canyon Caverns. (http://www.gccaverns.com/) This is a very unique place and I HIGHLY recommend it if you are ever in Northern Arizona. If you do go, be sure to get Gene as your tour guide…he’s great. We have now been to three different sets of caverns and all of them are unique, but this has to be my favorite so far. Don’t get me wrong Carlsbad was amazing just because of it’s size and immensity and the bat flights, but Grand Canyon Caverns is really a neat little tour. The stories they tell you on the tour are great and make it a lot of fun. I’m glad that Bill stumbled upon these caverns in one of his Route 66 books; it would have been a shame to miss it.

I think that’s all I have to say right now. Today is the 18th of October…my birthday. So far it’s been an interesting one. I didn’t sleep well last night because of this stupid cold, and we woke up this morning to our heater not working…fabulous. We are having really stormy weather as well, which wouldn’t be an issue if not for the heater not working. We had a lot of thunder, lightening, hail, rain and generally crappy weather. I like storms, especially thunder and lightening…but not when I don’t have heat…that kind of sucks.

Here’s hoping the day gets better. We have a fix-it guy coming out sometime around noon.


PS - the day isn't a total wash, the severe storm warnings have been lifted and the sun keeps trying to peak out. Bill made me breakfast (because he rules) and if the fix-it guy get's here early enough and get's our heater fixed in time, we'll be heading into Sedona to tool around there for the day.

16 October 2005

Montezuma to Tuzigoot

Friday the 14th we drove out to Montezuma’s Castle National Monument (http://www.nps.gov/moca/) to see the ruins there. I was struck by how far up this structure is. They don’t have the ladders up anymore, but way back when that’s how they got up there. I couldn’t even imagine, one brick at a time, one bucket (or whatever) of mud at a time, all that way up. It’s really something. One interesting bit of information that made me smile is that these ruins have nothing to do with Montezuma himself. The Spanish when they saw the dwelling assumed it was built by him and called it Montezuma’s Castle and the name stuck. It’s been so incredible seeing all these ancient sights; it really lets you appreciate life from a different perspective.

After walking the short, paved trail there we drove to the Tuzigoot National Monument. (http://www.nps.gov/tuzi/) Again, it’s pretty amazing to be able to see all these ruins, not just to be able to see them, but to learn about the differences in them. These structures weren’t built into a cliff but atop a small hill next to a stream. The entrances were in the roofs, so there are a lot of rooms that look like they were blocked in without an entrance. The visitor center here has a nice set up with a mock room you can look into to see what it might have been like to live in these dwellings. In the ruins themselves you can walk into a room that was once an actual dwelling, you can tell that they’ve done some maintenance to keep the roof from collapsing in. Again, I’m amazed and awed that I have the chance of a lifetime to see all these great places. To walk where people have walked for 100s and 1000s of years. The trails may be paved now, but the fact that I can still stand there and be awed by these structures is amazing to me.

Next we drove home by way of stopping through Sedona. You just don’t get used to driving from the white and brown rock with green shrubs and cactus into the red rock of Sedona. We had a good time driving around some of the scenic drives, stopping at a couple of the trailheads and walking for a little bit, but not really hiking. We did notice one trail that you can take and walk up one of the red rock formations, but neither of us had an interest in doing it that day, maybe another day.

All in all Arizona is beautiful. It doesn’t matter what end of it you are on, it’s just a gorgeous place. I’m really looking forward to spending more time here. The highs where we are currently at are about 65 in the day and low 40s at night. That’s a 30-degree difference from where we were at in Southern Arizona. I have a bit of a cold right now and it’s no wonder, my body apparently didn’t appreciate the 30-degree change in weather all in an afternoon.


13 October 2005

Just an Update

Things in the blog might get a little slow now and then. We are currently in a place that we really like and will likely be here for a week or two or three. We will still be seeing sights, but we might actually take time to relax as well. It's chilly here right now, highs in the low 60s and the lows at night get down to 40 or below. We are planning on staying long enough to enjoy it, but not long enough to get snow. Not that we don't like snow, but it would not be a great thing to have to deal with in a light weight RV, or have to pull this thing through.

My body is now actually adjusting to the fact that it is fall. When we were in southern AZ, and it was still in the upper 90s, I would see Halloween stuff and it seemed foreign, like it shouldn't be there. But now that we are somewhere cooler and there are acutally leafy trees that are changing color and the smell of wood stoves burning...now I think I can make the transition to Fall. My birthday is in 5 days and I'm only now feeling like my body is ready to change seasons. Crazy.

Things are good, mostly. We drove around yesterday trying to find Route 66 (The Mother Road) stuff. We went off on this one road that said it was partly paved and partly red gravel, but was worth the drive because there was supposed to be ruins of old gas stations, motels and restaurants that were 'photo worth'. We drove the whole road and didn't see a damn thing but trees and a roadside sign that might have said something important but someone had spray painted over it...whatever!

We finally got into Historic Downtown Williams that did have some cool Route 66 stuff, but it also had a lot of Route 66 stores that were closed, and not just for the season. All in all it was a disappointing day, but at least we got to see some Route 66 stuff. I don't know what we are going to do to today, maybe just sit and enjoy the cool, sunny day. We'll have to see what happens.


10 October 2005

Moving Out of Benson

Ok, more catching up to do. Saturday the 8th, Bill and I went to Cars in the Park in Sierra Vista. It was a lot of fun to just walk around the park and enjoy seeing all the classic cars. We were there for a few hours and Bill had the chance to talk to fellow Pontiac GTO lover. So, we spent the day looking at cool old cars, I particularly liked the pink El Camino…of course…owned by a woman, you go girl!

Sunday was an interesting day. We started the day by deciding that we were done not having internet and not sleeping well, so we packed up early and left SE Arizona. We called a few parks and ended up deciding to stay in Sedona. When I called to make the reservation the woman that answered the phone sounded as if I was bothering her by being alive. Every question I asked was answered with a heavy sigh, like I’m putting her out by wanting to give her business. I’ve nicknamed her Madge if that gives you any idea. I dared to ask if they offered cable TV, and if that cable TV was a full 60+ channels and not 5 (we’ve run into that problem several times) and she sighed heavily and told me she didn’t know because she didn’t watch TV. OK….if you are answering the phones and in a position to answer peoples questions…shouldn’t you know the answers whether or not you use the amenities? I thought so. Anyhoo….we headed north for Sedona to stay at that park until Tuesday morning when our reservation at a park in Williams (about 30min from Flagstaff) was supposed to start. The drive to Sedona went great, until we took the ramp to the 179, at which time we apparently blew a tire. All I can say is our guardian angels must have been watching out for us. One, we didn’t wreck. Two, there was a really nice couple who followed us off the freeway until they get up next to us to tell us we had a blow out. Three, we didn’t drive on the blow out long enough to ruin the rim. Four, we didn’t wreck…did I already say that? Huh, I must be thankful to be alive. We are very lucky that it was the back tire that went and not the front, the front would have done significantly more damage and probably caused us to wreck. This was frustrating, but I was too happy that we were safe to really be that upset about it, plus the Hi’iaka had to remind me to just look around. I called the Good Sam Emergency Road Side guys and they were great, let me just state for the record, Good Sam ERS RULES!! I called, they told me I would get an automated call back in a few minutes to let me know how long it would take. A few minutes later the automated voice told me that AM/PM Towing would be to us in about 90 minutes. 40 minutes later our guy showed up (50min early) and swapped out our rim with our spare, which apparently isn’t in great condition, which is why we have an appointment with BigO, tires tomorrow morning. Ok…so we finally get to the park and set up without incident. We back our RV right in the first time and set down. Once we got set up we decided to go for a quick drive around Sedona to get a feel for the lay out. Boy we were glad we went for a drive, what a beautiful place. We drove up to a lookout and were gifted with some breath-taking views of the red rock formations. It was a lot colder than I had expected it to be. We left SE Arizona with upper 80s and lower 90s during the day (sometimes upper 90s lower 100s) and it got down to about 80 at night, sometimes mid to upper 70s. We got to Sedona and the high for the day was going to be low 70s, it felt more like 60. So I was shivering up on the lookout and kept trying to cuddle into Bill while he was taking pictures, so he turned the camera around and snapped one of us together. It was a semi-stressful day, and we look a little worn out, but it was great to stand on that lookout and have the views we did. The red rock formation on the right is called Coffee Pot Rock.

After watching the sun setting for a little while we decided to drive out to Flagstaff and maybe Williams to get eyes on the park we were supposed to be going to on Tuesday. I’m SO glad we did…we drove through the park once and decided we really didn’t want to stay there. So, we thought we would ask at the office of the Sedona park in the morning and see if they had room for us to extend, they didn’t. Today (Monday the 10th) we drove out to a park that looked like it would do. We got there, looked around, decided it was great and made our res. So we will be leaving the Sedona park in the morning, going to BigO, getting new tires, and heading to the new park that is between Sedona and Flagstaff.

After getting the park issue squared away we drove up to the Grand Canyon, this was just a quick trip…we didn’t even have the cameras. It was beautiful and I’m really looking forward to going back and spending a day there, or maybe two.

I guess that’s all for now, this is going to be a long post.

08 October 2005

Chiricahua National Monument

Well, Bill and I have decided that if we ever want to move to SE Arizona, we probably won’t live in Benson. The park we are in currently still doesn’t have the wireless internet up, it hasn’t worked since we got here and the only other connection they have is ONE 28k dial-up. One, for several hundred RV spaces, they have one dial-up…fabulous! We’ve been trying to take it easy and just relax, spending some time at the pool and in the hot tub. Wednesday the 5th we went to visit the Amerind museum, but it wasn’t what either of us thought it would be so we weren’t there for long. From there we drove out to Cochise Stronghold, but that also wasn’t what we thought it would be. Basically it’s just a campground with a sign, but no real information about the importance the place played in history…o-well. So we drove up, took a couple pictures and decided to head out the Chiricahua National Monument. This is a really cool place. Like many of the other places we’ve been, it was formed by a huge volcanic eruption millions of years ago 1000+ times bigger than Mt St Helens. The volcanic ash settled and has since been weathered out to the formations that exist today. We decided to go on one of the hikes that were marked moderate on the map to see the Big Balanced Rock. Apparently my idea of a moderate hike and the National Parks Service idea of a moderate hike are not at all the same! This 6mile round trip hike was 1.5miles straight down, then 1.5 miles straight back up, then you have to turn around and come back. Oh, by the way, the trails are not improved…meaning that they are all loose gravel and tree roots. Not to mention that these trails are not well traveled, they are a lot like backwoods trails. We are very lucky that the only rattlesnake we came across was on the drive in and it was sunbathing in the middle of the road. We were in the truck, so he had to move for us. I thought I was going to die on that 6-mile hike from hell. I don’t consider myself in the best shape of my life, but I’m not horribly out of shape either and that hike just about killed me, not to mention that my calved and joints still hurt and today is Saturday! Holy Crap! Other than seriously considering throwing myself off some of cliffs we walked by, it was a beautiful hike, gorgeous scenery. It was really incredible to walk the 3 miles to the Big Balanced Rock and see SO many different surroundings. Everything from pine trees to small woodsy flowers to cactus, if you didn’t like the flora and fauna…walk another mile and you’d be in something completely different…amazing! We did have a couple of things to worry about. One, the clouds started rolling in and we kept hearing thunder. Flash floods are not uncommon in the area, and we were heading downhill. Two, we got to the bottom and realized that we were going to have to pick up the pace to make sure we didn’t get stuck out there with no sunlight. Being out there in the dark would be very bad when you aren’t expecting it. Although, being there that late in the day did reward us with some amazing sunset picture opportunities. We were standing back up at the trailhead, after having hiked for 6miles, both of us sweaty with sore joints and muscles…and Bill took some awesome pics of the sun going down over the landscape. They refer to a lot of the mountains in the area as Mountain Islands, and they really do look like islands when the sun is setting. The grasslands taking on the colors of the sunset really make the mountains stand out like islands, it's incredible! A few minutes later Bill had about 5 mosquitoes land on him all at once and start sucking him dry. They were so big that when he swatted at them they splatted blood, so it was time to go. Bill doesn’t like being a buffet for mosquitoes and I can’t blame him.

That’s where we are at so far. Today we went to Cars in the Park, but I haven’t looked through the pics yet. Other than that, we’ve been hangin at the pool and trying to deal with having crappy internet and crappy cable, it will be good to leave when we get out of here, and if we come back…it probably won’t be to Benson.


06 October 2005

Fort Huachuca Museums

September 30th Bill and I drove out to Ft. Huachuca to visit its museums. It was interesting to watch Bill; this is a place he knows well as he was stationed here for several years. We drove around post and he was amazed at how much had changed, the buildings that he used to teach in no longer exist and there are new buildings all over the place. We drove around for awhile and he played tour guide, showing me all the stuff that he used to know, and explaining where things used to be that weren’t there anymore and pointing out all the new stuff and being amazed. He didn’t think it a bad change, but was glad to see that they were working at improving the place.

The museums are pretty cool they are all volunteer operated. When you walk through the main building of the Ft Huachuca Museum, there are points that are either motion or pressure detecting because you’ll walk into a part and it starts talking to you. The first time it happened to me after the entrance I just about jumped out of my skin. The museums tell an interesting story; Ft Huachuca is an amazing place that holds a lot of American history. We didn’t take any pictures in the Annex as they have a sign letting you know that the lighting is dim because of some original documents and whatnot that are on display. We also didn’t take pictures in the Intelligence Museum. All in all it was a fun day just tooling around the Fort with Bill. Afterwards we went to a park in town and just hung out while he reminisced about when he lived there.

On October 1st, we went to the Art in the Park, art festival in Sierra Vista. It was much like any art festival, we did a quick lap of all the vendors, decided not to try to eat there since it was in the upper 90s and I wasn’t excited about trying to balance food while standing, eating, and attracting bugs, so we left. Sunday the 2nd was a laundry and relax day. Monday we cleaned up and got ready to move, we haven’t left the area but on Tuesday the 4th we packed up and moved to a park that doesn’t sit next to the BNSF. So, I slept well last night, better than I have in days, but now our internet is not working…if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Hopefully we’ll get the internet fixed, we have to call the provider, and all will be well in our world again…here’s hoping!


PS - Things I forgot to post about: I saw a real roadrunner for the first time in New Mexico and have seen a couple others since. They are pretty funny, and very fast! Also, we were driving down a road here in AZ, out in the middle of the desert, not a well traveled road and saw so many tarantulas and scorpions crossing the road that we had to keep swerving to avoid hitting them. They were crossing in groups of 15-20, it was incredible to see bugs so big that you could see them crawling while driving past at 60 miles an hour.

02 October 2005

Benson and Then Some

All right, so I’ve been a bit busy the last few days and haven’t updated. So here we go. We left Las Cruces, NM on Tuesday the 27th of September and arrived in Benson, AZ later that afternoon. Setting up was a bit problematic for us, and everything that could have gone wrong did. I guess it’s to be expected that you’ll have days like that but it still sucks. It was stinking hot, well into the upper 90s, no shade, and we couldn’t get the damn RV level. We were listing to one side by about 3+ inches. So, Bill took off to find somewhere that carried leveling blocks because we didn’t have enough of them. He came back awhile later with the largest set of leveling blocks you can buy. By this time we were really crabby, really hot, rather sweaty, and snipping at each other. We hitched back up rolled the RV onto the leveling blocks and we were good, except that our water hose wasn’t long enough….of course. It made it from the RV to the spicket, but was not touching the ground and ended up bending the end that goes into the RV, so we’ve had to buy another hose….of course! Fabulous, several more lessons learned! All that aside we thought everything would be fine now that we were set up, until we went to bed that night and realized that the BNSF runs practically through our bedroom, every 20min, ALL night long. Boy do they like to lay on the whistles! So, Bill only got about 3 hours sleep that night, which made him Prince Charming the next day. I of course of was Little Miss Perfect to Get Along With as well.

Ok, enough of that, it’s in the past. The first day we were here we spent cleaning and straightening the RV, inside and out. Not terribly eventful. Thursday the 29th we went into Tombstone, and that was eventful and a lot of fun. It’s really awesome to see how they’ve kept so many of the buildings the same as they were in the 1800s. You can go into them and see how old they really are, these aren’t buildings that have been restored with new materials (well maybe in places), and these are the original materials from the 1800s. Probably the best place to see this is in the Birdcage Theatre. Here they have set it up as a museum and kept as much as possible the same. They have covered the walls with glass or Plexiglas to preserve what’s left of the wood and wallpaper. It’s really incredible, if these walls could talk.

Bill and I did the touristy thing and watched the Gun Fight at the OK Corral. It was fun, they shoot blanks, but it’s still loud and I jumped several times. The museums they have that explain the history of Tombstone are well worth a look also, if you make it there. We are hoping to still be in the area or Helldorado Days happening mid to late October.

That about wraps it up for Tombstone; you really have to experience it. A lot of the shopkeepers dress in period clothing and it’s hard not to get caught up in it all. It’s hard to not want to get all dressed up and play along, or maybe I’m just that brand of geek.

One last thing, leave it to Bill to find something to do with Football in Tombstone.

Hugs till next time~