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Running Down Our Dream

March 2009

The Gift of Realizing Your Dreams

Follow your hopes and dreams while you can.
While the desire is burning.
When the chance comes your way, don't be a ship that stays
in the harbor, never straying from it's safety.

Don't get tangled up with "maybe.. maybe someday."
Too many folks will tell you that if you spend your
whole life waiting, "someday" arrives too little, too late.

Maybe it's already a little later than it seems.
If you really want to do it, do it while you can.
Be brave...and sail away on your dreams.
(Author Unknown)

Monday, March 2, 2009
Yesterday was a take it easy kind of day, although I did go to Corpus Christi to do some shopping.

This morning we met Hair and Judy at their house, then they treated us to a Swedish crepe breakfast at IHOP. Yumm! After breakfast we sat by the pool in their yard and enjoyed some conversation while they guys smoked cigars that Mike brought back from Mexico. It's hard to say goodbye but we look forward to being back here to hang out with them next winter.

Back at home, we got started on tucking things away, washing the Jeep, and cleaning the salt and sand off the windows of the motor home. Frisco is definitely aware that something is going on, it is times like this that we see the true terrier behavior coming to the surface. He becomes the excitable boy.

First Diana stopped by to say goodbye, then Marge, then Tom and Peggy. We sat and chatted with them for quite a while.
Port A to Brackettville, TX, 301 miles March 3 - 4, 2009
Tuesday, March 3.On the road again! By 9:30 we were hooking up the Jeep and all went well. Something new for us was hooking up the Brake Buddy that is mounted on the floor of the driver‚??s side of the Jeep. When the motor home brakes are applied, a sensor on the Brake Buddy applies the Jeep brakes. Several people in the park came to wish us safe travels and it was a nice sendoff. We‚??re certainly looking forward to reuniting with our new friends again next winter.

By 10:00 we were on the road. As we were leaving Corpus Christi, a beautiful sailboat crossed under the bridge just as we were going over. Wouldn't you know, the camera was out of reach. About an hour into the trip, Mike rode in the Jeep for a stretch to make sure the Brake Buddy was working right, he decided to make an adjustment to the sensitivity of it. After that, he couldn‚??t get it to work any more. After several attempts and a call to Blue Ox, he disconnected it and we headed back down the road.

The country we traveled through reminded us of Mexico, mostly just flat brushy areas with large clusters of Prickly Pear cactus. There was a 45 mile stretch of road without a town and very few houses or businesses either. The only thing we saw through there were several Border Patrol vehicles and lots of watch towers scattered through the area. We also saw very little wildlife or anything of interest for that matter. Traveling the last 100 miles, we did see lots of beautiful, ornate decorative iron gates leading to ranches.

Brackettville, TX was our destination for the day and we checked into the Fort Clark Springs RV Campground, and got a Passport America rate of $10.75. The 2-mile drive through the former Civil War Fort was very nice. The fort was home to the famous Buffalo Soldiers for many years and after World War II, it was used as a German Prisoner of War camp before it was closed in 1946. The Fort has been converted to a residential and recreational enclave. Once we got situated in our site, Frisco became quite excited and we realized he was seeing several deer feeding about 100 feet from us. Later, a flock of wild turkeys were feeding in the same area. After dinner, the couple next to us began spreading deer corn out there and about 15 deer showed up, ranging from large males to a couple of young fawn. Very entertaining.

Wednesday, March 4. Mike had a rough night last night, having symptoms similar to what we encountered in South Padre Island; stomach cramps, headache, all that kind of stuff. It was a total down day for him. It's a good thing that we could extend our stay one more night. Hopefully, he will be feeling better by morning since there are no vacancies for a 3rd night here.

I didn't do much other than workout in the morning, took Frisco for a few walks, called Mom for a nice chat and gave myself a pedicure. It is amazing the difference that 300 miles away from the coast can make as far as dry air. I've applied lotion several times today and still feel like a lizard. The temps got into the 80s this afternoon and we ended up with the windows open and the fans going. It wasn't quite AC time but getting close. I definitely prefer some humidity in the air.
Brackettville, TX to Marathon, TX, 204 miles Thursday, March 5, 2009
We took off about 10:30 this morning and headed west. About 30 miles from Del Rio, we stopped at Langtry, a ghost town with a visitor center. Langtry was the home of Judge Roy Bean, who was "the law west of the Pecos". He was a very colorful justice of the peace that practiced his own brand of justice in the area. He was rumored to be "The Hanging Judge" although he never actually sentenced anyone to be hanged. Also at the visitor center was a beautiful cactus garden where each plant was identified by their common and scientific name, but also by their medicinal use.

The drive took us through beautiful desert country framed in mountains. For the first time in many months, we are at an elevation higher than a few feet. I even felt my ears pop.

Because I was feeling kind of under the weather today, we decided to only go as far as Marathon. We stopped for the night at the Marathon Motel and RV Park ($22/night Good Sam rate), a very nice place on the western edge of this small town with a population of about 500 people. While I was walking through the park, I got to talking with a man that recommended that we take a walk to the Gage Hotel, a historic building right in the center of town (about 4 blocks from the RV park) and to be sure to go into the bar. So we took his advice and went to the White Buffalo Cantina and hanging from the wall is the 9th of 13 known adult white buffalo. This one was purchased from a museum in Cheyenne, Wyoming around 1930. It is beautiful and I hope the photo that Mike got turns out. We had some buffalo fajita nachos and a *bleep*tail. As it turns out, that was a good thing, as the entrees were in the $40 range. The motel itself is a beautiful, historic landmark with rooms surrounding a beautiful courtyard. Click Here For a Tour of the Gage Hotel
March 6 - 8, 2009
Friday, March 6.There was no need to rush this morning, as we couldn't get into our campground until after 11:00, that was checkout time at this park, so that's when we left. We're both back to feeling good again. We made a stop in Alpine to fill up on gas and that was a good decision since the price was $.33/gallon more in Marathon. The Jeep is full, so we should be good there.

The drive south was beautiful, it's hard to describe the countryside; very rugged, surrounded by dark brown mountain peaks up to about 6,000 feet, scattered small evergreen trees and low growing brush. We did see a small group of antelope grazing along the roadside. There was no traffic in either direction except for a couple of motorcycles, 2 semis and a passenger car. Where is everyone?

We were told the park would probably be full and you had to arrive early since this is the high season. Getting started or arriving someplace early is something the Bridge's aren't real good at these days, so we made reservations just outside the western entrance to the park. We arrived at the Big Bend Motor Inn and RV Park and had our choice of several sites at $26/night for full hookups. A spot between some cottonwood trees that will provide a bit of shade was chosen and it didn't take long to get situated. It's hot, nearly 90 degrees - we haven't felt that for a long, long time, the AC is running full force.

We didn't head for the National Park this afternoon as we have 2 full days and should be able to see most of it in that time. We took the opportunity of having a good, strong wifi connection to do some more research on the park and to start getting things together for tomorrow. Naps were also in order, as we both needed it after feeling under the weather for a couple of days.

Saturday, March 7. We finally made it to Big Bend National Park entering from the west at Maverick Junction. We purchased an annual pass for $80 that will get us into all national parks, BLM lands, Forest Service lands, etc. for a year. The ranger recommended a couple of different roads that are restricted to 4-wheel drive vehicles and we opted for the Old Ore Road. It was about a 35 mile drive on paved roadway to get there and along the way, we took some shorter trails that led to campgrounds and stopped at the Panther Junction visitor center.

The Old Ore Road is an unimproved road that goes for 26 miles through the Chihuahuan Desert and passes through the foothills of the Chisos Mountains and across the Tomillo Creek drainage. It was used to transport ore from Mexican mines to the railroad station at Marathon, it follows the route used by mule and pack trains a century ago. We hiked the Ernst Tinaja trail that led back about a mile into a canyon of highly-convoluted rock layers. A tinaja is a natural bowl shape in the ground that holds water all year long. Some pieces of rock that broke away and were lying alongside the trail were naturally rectangular in shape. It amazed me as to how they could break off so squarely.

Along the road were side roads that led back to sightseeing vistas and overlooks, hiking trails and primitive campgrounds. The road itself was quite narrow, rough, hilly, rocky and very curvy. We took turns driving and it was quite a challenge. The driver didn‚??t get much opportunity to look around as the concentration was focused on the road ahead and avoiding obstructions. We came across a couple in a Subaru that tried to pull over to let us by and they almost got stuck. We offered to stay behind them in case they had any troubles, as they seemed a bit stressed. Several miles further on they had pulled over and were headed out on a hike. They said they would be fine, they had made it that far and surely could make it the rest of the way. We also stopped to chat with a couple from Alabama that were taking all of the back roads in their Jeep and loving every minute of it.

The rock formations and plant life were gorgeous. Plants included cactus, agave, yucca, wildflowers including Texas Bluebonnets, evergreen trees, cottonwood and oak trees, and others too numerous to mention. Naturally, we had to pull over at several places to take photos. Our last stop was at the Rio Grande Village picnic area to have a bite to eat. You could hear the river but could not see it.

It was a long day and we enjoyed it thoroughly, although we still haven‚??t seen the river. Maybe the trails that we drive tomorrow will get us there.

Sunday, March 8. Today‚??s goal s were to get an early start and to see the Rio Grande River canyon that divides the US and Mexico. The 1st goal was not met because we forgot to set our clocks ahead for daylight savings time. Mike realized this all of a sudden when ‚??Sunday Morning‚?Ě ended much sooner than he expected. Oh well, there is plenty of time to do what we have to do, especially now that we have an extra hour of daylight.

I fixed us a batch of organic steel cut oatmeal the old fashioned way, by cooking it for 30 minutes on the stovetop. It sure wasn‚??t as convenient as the microwave stuff that cooks in 1 minute, but it was much more flavorful.

We headed for the Terlingua Ghost Town where we browsed around the store and checked out some of the buildings.

Many Rocks was our next stop, a store with rocks from everywhere, jewelry, and a great selection of cactus and succulent plants. The owner, Ring, was quite an interesting character that had traveled a lot and collected many of the specimens himself.

On to Big Bend again, where we took the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive south to the Castalon Visitor Center and store, then on to the Santa Elena Overlook. The canyon was beautiful with its incredible rock formations and narrow passages along the river. Both of these places were former mining towns that were once rugged but thriving villages. It‚??s hard to imagine living in a place like this, but those that do really seem to love it. We have now seen the park end to end and also the rugged off road trek yesterday. We‚??re tired and ready to move on again tomorrow morning.
Marathon to Study Butte, TX, 110 miles
Terlingua, TX to Van Horn, TX, 179 miles Monday, March 9, 2009
Just west of Marfa, we saw the strangest sight. Off in the distance was a huge white object and as we got closer and could take photos, it looked like the Goodyear Blimp. It stood out clearly because it was flat and wide open grassy plain. The sign out front read "USAF Tethered Aerostat Radar Site". My online research gave this description: The primary aerostat mission is to provide low level radar surveillance data in support of federal agencies involved in the nation's drug interdiction program. Secondary mission is to provide North American Aerospace Defense Command with low level surveillance. We knew that Marfa is known for the strange lights that appear in the sky, but we weren't prepared to see something this strange. Check out the photo the gallery.

Well, we didn't drive very far today and we're still in Texas but getting much closer to New Mexico. We decided to stay in Van Horn as we could get a good rate for an overnight stop. Unfortunately, the park we planned to stay in (Mountain View) was not a place we felt comfortable with, it is in a very run down state, on the verge of closing down, they didn't honor our membership discount, and there were only a few RVs there - no 50 amp service, no cable tv or wireless, and I certainly wouldn't want to walk around by myself.

We opted for the Eagle's Nest RV Park ($27/night) a little pricey but very nice and clean. We will be hearing the traffic on the interstate and maybe a train or two going by. Most of the time, traffic noise just can't be avoided.
Van Horn, TX to Las Cruces, NM, 165 miles March 10 - 12, 2009
Tuesday, March 10. It's only 51 degrees this morning, brrrrrr. We got rain through the night, so I'm really hoping we will be able to see desert blossoms on our travels. We were on the road by 10:00, headed west on I-10 for Las Cruces. Guess we had forgotten how big a city El Paso is and Mike hadn't driven through much traffic lately. We got through just fine and shortly after that we had arrived at the Sunny Acres RV Park ($19/day Escapees rate), a very nice, friendly, and well kept privately owned park.

Mike hooked up the motor home and I headed for the grocery store (just a block from the park) to stock up on much needed supplies. When I got home, I headed to the laundry while Mike took care of the much needed vacuuming. By 5:00 we were finished with our chores and it was definitely time for a *bleep*tail.

We're looking forward to a couple of days of exploring the area to see why it is so highly rated as one of the best places in America to retire.

Wednesday, March 11. I can't believe we were out of the house by 9:30 this morning, headed for the Farmer's and Craft Market at the Plaza in downtown Las Cruces. It was kind of a bust, as not many vendors with very little produce and mostly artsy jewelry, lapidary, photos, and paintings. We found out that the best day to visit is Saturday.

From there, we went to Historic Old Mesilla, it's claim to fame is the 2 trails crossing the area; a north/south route from Chichuahua, Mexico to Santa Fe, New Mexico and an east/west route from San Diego, California to San Antonio, Texas. Several historic buildings circle around a small plaza. By 1850, it was an established community although it was claimed by both Mexico and the United States. At one time it was the regional headquarters of the Butterfield Overland Mail and Stage Line. At the southeast corner of the Plaza stands the building that was the former County Courthouse where William Bonny (aka Billy the Kid) was tried for murder, found guilty and was sentenced to hang. He escaped before the sentence could be carried out.

Thursday, March 12. I awoke this morning the our thermometer beeping and telling me that it us under 38 degrees. I got up and turned the furnace on, then went back to bed until it warmed up a bit. I spent a lot of time this morning juggling RV park reservations, the only trouble with our Western Horizons membership is that you can only be in a park for 14 days, then must be out for 7 days. We want to spend time with Randy, Julie, and Lanae when they visit Phoenix for spring break, so had to rearrange the schedule. We sure have tough things to worry about these days, huh.

We headed north on US Hwy 70 for about 38 miles to the White Sands National Monument. Along the way, we stopped at the White Sands Missile Range - was that a strange place. To enter the museum, we were required to show ID, auto registration, and auto insurance documentation. At that point, we were also advised that photos could only be taken at the missile "garden" but had to be taken in the direction of the mountains, away from the testing grounds. The grounds appeared to be a "bowl" surrounded by mountains. Mike found it to be alot more interesting than I did, imagine that.

On to the National Monument, we had to pass through another Border Patrol inspection area - those things have been in abundance the whole trip. We certainly have nothing to hide but it is kind of intimidating to go through them. The White Sands National Monument sits on the northern end of the Chihuahua Desert and is quite the natural wonder, formed about 250 million years ago. The wave-like, white, gypsum dunes cover 275 square miles of the desert and create the largest field of its type on the earth. They are beautiful but quite surreal. We took the Dunes Drive through the park and stopped at a few observation points to get a better feel for the area.
March 10 - 12, 2009
Tuesday, March 10. It's only 51 degrees this morning, brrrrrr. We got rain through the night, so I'm really hoping we will be able to see desert blossoms on our travels. We were on the road by 10:00, headed west on I-10 for Las Cruces. Guess we had forgotten how big a city El Paso is and Mike hadn't driven through much traffic lately. We got through just fine and shortly after that we had arrived at the Sunny Acres RV Park ($19/day Escapees rate), a very nice, friendly, and well kept privately owned park.

Mike hooked up the motor home and I headed for the grocery store (just a block from the park) to stock up on much needed supplies. When I got home, I headed to the laundry while Mike took care of the much needed vacuuming. By 5:00 we were finished with our chores and it was definitely time for a *bleep*tail.

We're looking forward to a couple of days of exploring the area to see why it is so highly rated as one of the best places in America to retire.

Wednesday, March 11. I can't believe we were out of the house by 9:30 this morning, headed for the Farmer's and Craft Market at the Plaza in downtown Las Cruces. It was kind of a bust, as not many vendors with very little produce and mostly artsy jewelry, lapidary, photos, and paintings. We found out that the best day to visit is Saturday.

From there, we went to Historic Old Mesilla, it's claim to fame is the 2 trails crossing the area; a north/south route from Chichuahua, Mexico to Santa Fe, New Mexico and an east/west route from San Diego, California to San Antonio, Texas. Several historic buildings circle around a small plaza. By 1850, it was an established community although it was claimed by both Mexico and the United States. At one time it was the regional headquarters of the Butterfield Overland Mail and Stage Line. At the southeast corner of the Plaza stands the building that was the former County Courthouse where William Bonny (aka Billy the Kid) was tried for murder, found guilty and was sentenced to hang. He escaped before the sentence could be carried out.

Thursday, March 12. I awoke this morning to our thermometer beeping and telling me that it us under 38 degrees. I got up and turned the furnace on, then went back to bed until it warmed up a bit. I spent a lot of time this morning juggling RV park reservations, the only trouble with our Western Horizons membership is that you can only be in a park for 14 days, then must be out for 7 days. We want to spend time with Randy, Julie, and Lanae when they visit Phoenix for spring break, so had to rearrange the schedule. We sure have tough things to worry about these days, huh.

We headed north on US Hwy 70 for about 38 miles to the White Sands National Monument. Along the way, we stopped at the White Sands Missile Range - was that a strange place. To enter the museum, we were required to show ID, auto registration, and auto insurance documentation. At that point, we were also advised that photos could only be taken at the missile Park but they could only be taken facing the mountains, away from the testing grounds. The grounds appeared to be a huge (like miles huge) bowl surrounded by mountains. Mike found it to be a lot more interesting than I did, imagine that.

On to the National Monument, we had to pass through another Border Patrol inspection area - those things have been in abundance the whole trip. We certainly have nothing to hide but it is kind of intimidating to go through them. We have seen several people having their vehicles searched. The White Sands National Monument sits on the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert and is quite the natural wonder, formed about 250 million years ago. The wave-like, white, gypsum dunes cover 275 square miles of the desert and create the largest field of its type on the earth. They are beautiful but quite surreal. We took the Dunes Drive through the park and stopped at a few observation points to get a better feel for the area. We were both quite surprised at the abundance of plant life.
March 13 - 15, 2009
Friday, March 13. Today, we traveled from Las Cruces, NM to St. David, AZ. The scenery wasn't real exciting until we crossed into Arizona, then there were more variations in the hills and rocks along the roadside. The Texas Canyon was gorgeous with huge boulders balancing atop other boulders. Unfortunately, I got no photos.

We arrived at the Western Horizons St. David resort (our membership home park, kind of like a timeshare) at around 2:00, checked in and paid our $50 fee for the next 10 days. Not too bad. We got setup, took a walk, relaxed and had a good dinner.

We knew that Mike's good friend Jim's sister Joanne and her husband Pete spend the winter in the area, so we gave them a call. They are only about 8 miles from here, so they came over and we sat and gabbed for a couple of hours. It was nice to see them again, as it has been since 2002. They are quite familiar with the area, so we will be doing some touring with them over the next week.

Sunday, March 15. Happy 1-year Anniversary, Ben and Jill. It‚??s hard to believe that a year has gone by since our wonderful vacation and their beautiful wedding in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Unfortunately, it has also been a year since we have seen them and we are so looking forward to getting back to San Francisco again and spending time with them.

It was cold here this morning. Who would have thought that we would see frost for the 1st time in many months here in Arizona. The thermometer read 33 degrees when I woke up this morning, and thanks to the recent change to daylight savings time and the difference in time zones, I was wide awake at 5:00 and couldn‚??t get back to sleep.

Over breakfast this morning, we decided it would be a good day to take a drive to see some of the area ghost towns and we set out going south toward Tombstone. From there, we took the Gleeson Road (gravel) about 18 miles east to the ghost town of Gleeson. We actually drove past it, although we did see the remains of some buildings among some recent structures. Joanne and Pete suggested that we stop by the Rattlesnake Crafts and Rocks, so when we saw the hand printed signs along the way, we took the road that led to it. The small trailer that houses the items made from rattlesnake was surrounded by an extensive collection of antiques and rocks. After looking at that amazing collection, we drove off and then realized that the trailer was open and we hadn‚??t gone in there. Looking at the website when I got home, I also realized that we missed the collection of items made from rattlesnake. Boy, are we stupid.

Between Gleeson and Pearce were several other areas where the remains of one-time communities were evident. We stopped to take some photos along the way. All along the road were signs to watch for tbut he only animals that we saw were a Road Runner and several cows, oh, and there were a few road kills too. At Pearce, also a ghost town, we stopped at a little shop and bought some garlic pistachio nuts. Yum! Yum! I didn‚??t realize they were grown in the area but farther down the road we saw several groves of pistachio and pecan trees.

The next stop along the way was the Cochise Stronghold in the Coronado National Forest. It was the home and base of operations for the famed Chiricahua Apache Chief, Cochise.  We took the interpretive trail and learned that Cochise and about 1,000 of his followers, of whom some 250 were warriors, located here where they could watch the surrounding area from atop the huge rock formations. They could spot their enemies in the valley below and sweep down and attack without warning. When Cochise died, he was buried at a secret place in or near this area, although the exact location has never been revealed. The area is so beautiful and it just had a real sacred feel about it.

Back home, we had traveled about 108 miles round trip and seen some incredibly beautiful sights.

Las Cruces, NM to St. David, AZ, 234 miles
March 16 - 22, 2009
Monday, March 16. It was a busy day, although we stayed at home. I have been procrastinating about shampooing the carpet for a long time and I finally decided today was the day. This is the perfect climate, as it was cool this morning and warmed up to the mid 70s so the carpet dried quickly. Mike took care of the vacuuming and I did the cleaning. My Bissel Little Green shampooer works does a great job, the drawback is that you have to be on your hands and knees to do it. I feel a real sense of accomplishment today.

Mike cooked chicken on the grill tonight and it was deeeelicious.

Tuesday, March 17. Happy St. Patrick‚??s Day! The mornings start out really cool around here, about 44 degrees this morning when we left for our walk, so we headed up the hill at the park where it was nice and sunny and the view of the surrounding mountains is quite nice. I saw a beautiful cardinal, a hummingbird, a goldfinch and lots of other bird activity.

Back home, as I was getting ready for the day, we had a minor catastrophe. When I opened the door to the shower (where the laundry basket is kept), the floor was covered with dirty, smelly water. Mike ran out immediately to check the connections and found that the gray water tank was closed and it was so full that the water came in the lowest drain. We‚??re glad it wasn‚??t the black tank! Normally when we are parked and the sewer hose is connected, we leave it open so that it drains constantly. The problem was resolved quickly by draining the tank and sanitizing the shower and sink drains.

Not only that, we discovered that we have ants. The park warned us when we arrived and we put 20 Mule Team Borax on the ground at all of the places where something touched (hoses, jacks, tires) the ground, but they found a way in. I have found that spraying them with my homemade cleaning solution of 50% rubbing alcohol, 50% water, and a few drops of dishwashing soap stops them dead in their tracks, so that will have to do until we get some treatment.

Pete and Joanne came by around 10:00 and we headed for a day of exploring the area. We drove south through Tombstone to Bisbee. The countryside is quite mountainous and beautiful. As soon as we drove through the tunnel as you approach Bisbee, the hillsides were scatted with an assortment of interesting homes and we approached Old Bisbee, the historic district. The town has quite a reputation as a distinctive destination and Frommer‚??s Budget Travel magazine lists it as one of the ‚??coolest small towns in the US‚?Ě. It is an easy going community for artists, writers and entrepreneurs. Historically, it was primarily a copper mining town with lots of Victorian era hotels, homes, and brothels and was a rich and cultured town in this territory.

We parked the car and walked the streets, had some lunch and ice cream, and visited some of the shops. One stop was at the world famous Copper Queen Hotel, known for it‚??s distinguished guests like Teddy Roosevelt and John Wayne. The lobby features period furniture, beautiful woodwork, and a bust of John Wayne.

When we left Old Bisbee, we drove to the site of the Lavender Mine, a huge hole in the ground created from mining the surface. The mines are reputed to have produced 8 billion pounds of copper plus gold, silver, lead, and zinc. From there, we ended up at Naco, a small border town where we got a view of the fence that is supposed to keep illegals out of the US. Yeah, right, that sure seems to be working well.

By then, we were ready to head home, pick up Frisco, head to Benson to purchase Ant killer, then go the their house for a nice dinner. What an enjoyable day it was!

Thursday, March 19. Yesterday was laundry and grocery shopping day and it seemed to take all day. Fortunately, the washing machines were available when I got there this morning - there are only 3 machines for 230 sites in this place. By the time that was done and I got home from getting groceries in Benson, it was 3:30. Here I had planned to have an easy going day at home.

Today we took a drive to Sierra Vista to look at laptop computers. I have been having trouble with mine and am considering a replacement. Mike had me convinced that a Mac was the way to go but looking at the prices, it just doesn't make sense for me. A PC with the same attributes can be purchased for less than half of what a Macbook costs. It's unfortunate because it is a darn good product. I didn't buy a computer but we sure did pass the day looking. I'll just have to stumble along with my old Toshiba for a while longer.

Frisco got a nice long walk when we got home and then we just hung around, reading under the shade of the tree in our "yard".

Friday, March 20. What a day! At 11:00, we picked up Pete and Joanne at their house and then headed north toward Tucson on some back roads. Pete spends a lot of time studying maps, learning about the area, and planning routes, so today‚??s was to take an unimproved road to the top of Mount Lemmon. The drive from Benson is a total of about 75 miles and was estimated to take 6 hours but ended up taking us 8.5 hours due to the condition of some of the roads. It took us through parts of Saguaro National Park and the Coronado National Forest . No complaints from Mike and I as that is one of the reasons we bought the Jeep.

The first stop along the way was at the Cascabel Christmas Shop, a place that is reputed to be haunted. It king of seemed that way, as nobody was around although the doors were open and a sign said to come in. We just didn‚??t feel right doing that, although we peeked in and there really wasn‚??t a Christmas shop at all, it was just someone‚??s home. Another sign at the driveway directed us to Cascabel Clay Works where we were greeted by the friendly residents and owners. They welcomed us on a tour of their dinnerware operation, kilns, and to view San Pedro River Valley. The home is nestled along a bend in the river and is framed by beautiful rock formations. They built the home and buildings themselves back in 1970 from recycled railroad timbers and other materials from the area. As we stood talking, their neighbors joined us and we continued to have a very nice and educational conversation. I had to buy one of their beautiful mugs before leaving. When I looked them up on the Web at home, I found out that the area was a hippie commune back in the 70s.

On up the gravel road we went, where we spotted several quail, road runners, cattle, horses, and even a Gophersnake. A few ranches were scattered few and far between, other than that it was nothing but rugged desert countryside and the terrain and plant life changed several times along the way. We stopped for pizza at the small community of San Manuel. From there it was west to Oracle, where the road became very primitive, narrow, winding, and steep, it was a 29 mile stretch that took us 2 hours. The elevation continued to go up, all the way to about 8,000 feet when we got to Mt. Lemmon. There was snow up there! Pete told us that only a week ago, the roads were closed due to ice. The small community of Summerhaven is a ski resort. It didn‚??t feel right for some reason to see that kind of sight in Arizona, it felt more like Colorado with tall beautiful pine trees.

Several lookout points as we headed down the mountain gave us opportunities to get out of the car and look back on the San Pedro Valley that we had just traveled. At the San Pedro lookout, we walked out on the beautiful rock formations to get a view of the valley. From there, it was pavement all the way back to Benson. Thanks to Pete‚??s planning, we had a great adventure and got to see some absolutely beautiful countryside and we had a great couple of people to spend the day with. We will have to see what tomorrow brings, as we will be going on another adventure with them.

Saturday, March 21. Today's adventure started about 10:30 when Pete and Joanne picked us up and we headed to the Chiricahua National Monument, east of Benson about 50 miles. The first stop was at the Triangle T Guest Ranch at nearby Dragoon, AZ for a beverage and so that we could see the interesting back bar - a huge boulder that went floor to ceiling - the bar was built around the boulder. The ranch has been in operation since 1927 and has an interesting reputation.

Once we got to the National Forest, we took the 8-mile scenic drive through the park up to Massai Point at 6,870 feet. At the Faraway Ranch picnic area, we stopped for some lunch. While sitting there having lunch, we were entertained by several Mexican Jays and a deer partly hidden by the trees. Onward on the scenic drive to the next stop at Echo Canyon where we walked a short trail to a lookout point where you got a view of the huge flat grassy valley that we crossed to get there. Our final stop was at Massai Point where we walked that trail about 1/2 mile so we got many different views of the Land of Standing Up Rocks. There are endless varieties of tall spires, rocks stacked on rocks, rocks balancing on other rocks, often appearing as cities in the distance.

In addition to the beauty of the ground, the sky was dotted with strange, small, flat bottomed clouds that looked like saucers. Apparently that is a phenomena that occurs primarily in this area because of the unique atmosphere there.

When we finished touring, we headed back to our house where we had a dinner of my much loved Lasagna. After much talk, we parted company until the next time we connect, probably back in Madison in the fall. It was such a great time and we saw so many beautiful sights that we definitely want to come back again.

Sunday, March 22. Since we've been on the move so much the last few days, we decided today should be an R and R day. This morning we tried to figure out a mapping program that would link to the GPS. We made some progress but don't completely understand how it works, can get it to map a route but not the route we want to take (avoiding freeways). Before we realized it was almost noon.

I cleaned the windows on the motorhome and we took the Jeep to the car wash to get rid of the dust that accumulated from our drive on dirt roads. Even the inside was covered with a layer of dust.

We both took naps and just enjoyed a nice, quiet day.
March 23 - 29, 2009
Monday, March 23. Today is our 41st wedding anniversary. Imagine that. It's also moving day, we will head to Mesa for about a week. We were ready to go when Mike went to start the motor home and it did nothing but click. So much for being on the road by 10:00. A call to our roadside assistance and the technician suggested several things to try but nothing seemed to work. It kind of seemed like the problem was with the starter or with the batteries. After about 45 minutes, they said they would send someone out to help us.

The repair technician showed up and he and Mike tried several things. He checked the batteries and determined that the house batteries were fine, he fidgeted with some battery cables and the next time Mike tried, it started. These were the same kinds of things that Mike had attempted when on the phone with the technician. But all of a sudden it worked, we don't know quite why, but we're glad it worked. We may have left something on during the past week that drained the battery.

So it was almost noon by the time we got started and we had almost a 4-hour trip ahead of us. Mike had researched the area we were to travel through and decided to take a more scenic route. We also ended up going out of our way because many of the northbound exits going through Tucson were closed. The drive northwest on Hwy 79 turned out to be a great choice as the scenery along the roadside was beautiful and there were many wildflowers of all colors. Before the interstate highways were built, this was the main route between Tucson and Phoenix.

We got settled in at the Val Vista Village RV Resort in Mesa ($21/day with our Coast to Coast membership) where we will be spending the next week. This place is huge - 900+ sites, many of them are park models that are permanent.

We went to the Buca di Beppo Italian Restaurant for dinner and Nan and Dale joined us. While we waited for them to arrive, we sat at the bar talking with a young couple that had just lost their business, sold their home, and were going to live on their boat on Lake Powell until things with the economy improve. They converted all of their $$ to cash and put it in lock boxes at the bank, so debt collectors couldn't access their accounts. What a sad story.

Nan and Dale arrived and we had a great dinner of chopped antipasto salad, veal Parmesan, shrimp pasta and we shared a bottle of Chianti wine. It was nice catching up on the last year and a half with them and we're looking forward to spending more time together in the near future.

Tuesday, March 24. We got off to a slow start this morning. Frisco and I walked around the park and I got to know my way around a little bit. It is very nice and clean, with the majority of the sites having more permanent park model type trailers.

This afternoon, we stopped at La Mesa RV, the place that we bought our motorhome, as we wanted to see what they might have on the lot. As we talked with the sales person, Diane, she asked where we were from. When we told her Monona and Stoughton, it turns out that she is from Stoughton also. She graduated with my brother Randy and was so excited to hear that he is visiting here this week. What a small world it is.

From there, we headed to Nan and Dale's house, where we hung out with Dale until Nan got home from work and Monica came over too. It was so nice to see our sweet niece again, it's been nearly 2 years. We had a nice time and Dale fixed a great dinner.

Wednesday, March 25. Randy, Julie, and Lanae came by this morning with Julie's Aunt Jean and we had a really nice visit with them. Randy wanted to go by La Mesa RV to say hello to his friend and classmate and Mike had a couple of errands to run, so they headed out. Us girls decided to go have a bite of lunch and we ended up at Moki's Hawaiian Grill - not bad,

Just when we were finishing up, Mike and Randy called to see where we were. It wasn't long before they pulled up in the beautiful 2009 Tiffin Allegro Bay that we were looking at yesterday (a bit out of our price range). We all piled in, were given the grand tour by Diane, and then I drove it for a couple of miles. The diesel sure handles different from our gas engine motorhome, maybe because of the weight, it feels so solid. After dropping us off they went on their way and we took Aunt Jean back to her house, stopped at a couple of garden centers and a grocery store and went back to our house.

We had a delicious dinner of grilled pork tenderloin, grilled vegetables, and fruit salad. All in all a very enjoyable day with great company.

Thursday, March 26. We all met at Nan and Dale's this afternoon and they fixed a great lunch of burgers, coleslaw, and pineapple. We hung around talking, eating, having a beer, and looking at pictures and taking pictures (will have to upload later, as I left my camera there). It was a nice afternoon.

We were beat for some reason, left there around 5:00 and it wasn't long before our naps turned into bedtime. Guess we needed the rest.

Friday, March 27. I was running out of clean clothes, so it was time to do laundry. What a nice facility this place has. After getting that out of the way, we drove around the park looking at trailers for sale. There is a long list and the prices range anywhere from $5,000 to $80,000 and we looked at several. We're very tempted to buy an older unit from an Iowa couple for $8,500; complete with washer/dryer, new AC and roof, and an Arizona room (add-on) that backs up to a canal so there are no neighbors behind you. We decided to resist, as this is the 1st place we've looked. It really wouldn't be a bad place to have a home base, and very affordable at that.

Mike wanted to pick up a book about off road trails in Arizona, so we went to Barnes and Noble, then had some lunch. We also had to make a stop at Home Depot to pick up a tool so Mike could repair a drawer that broke the other day.

Saturday, March 28. We met up with Nan and Monica and headed for the Tempe Festival of the Arts near the ASU campus. Many artists were selling their creations and there was food and entertainment along the way. Some people sure are talented. We spent several hours there looking at all the beautiful items, sampling the dips and sauces and oils, smelling the soaps, and we even ate a Johnsonville Brat.

While we were at the art fair, I was looking around at people in the crowd and thought that I recognized Mike's classmate, Nick. Mike went up to him and said hello, that's exactly who it was. We knew that he lived in the area and were planning on giving him a call while we were here. What a coincidence!

Back at their house, we met up with Dale and just hung out. This evening, we watched the movie, Bangkok Dangerous, a good adventure film that was typical Nicholas Cage.

Sunday, March 29. What started out to be a relaxing day turned out to be a bit hectic. We invited Nan, Dale, Monica, and Dylan over for dinner and decided to do ribs. The darn grill was acting up a good part of the afternoon, going out unexpectedly. We also decided that 2 racks weren't going to be enough so we put another rack on - that took up a bit too much space on the grill and it didn't cook as evenly as it should. They ended up taking a bit longer to cook and didn't turn out quite as tender as they have in the past. It turned out ok and we had an enjoyable visit with all of them.


St. David to Mesa, AZ, 201 Miles
March 30 - 31, 2009
Monday, March 30. Moving day, we went a whole 44 miles south to Casa Grande to stay for a couple of weeks at the Desert Shadows RV Resort, one of our Western Horizons park that we can stay in for $5/day (a recent change, it used to be free). The park is very nice and clean, large sites with concrete pads and a place to park the car. There is a ranch next door and we will be hearing peacocks now and then. I just hope they are quiet during the night.

We got setup, checked the dog run out, relaxed and both ended up taking naps. Home Sweet Home for the next 2 weeks.
Mesa to Casa Grande, AZ, 44 miles

Created on 02/25/2009 08:05 PM by bridge
Updated on 11/28/2009 09:28 AM by bridge
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