Friday, April 3, 2009

INDIO and Desert Aire RV Resort

Desert Aire RV Resort in Indio from Sunday March 30 to April 7. This RV Park has appealed to us since our very first visit here to see Don and Suzan King. We are fortunate that Suzan was able to arrange a site for us across the street from them and one for the Kilpatricks around the corner.

What luck for us! We arrived on Sunday to a wonderful Reception for us or at least that is what we told Lyle and Dorothy who arrived a day later! Actually it was the Block Pot Luck Party and we enjoyed a great selection of food and interesting conversations with our new neighbours.
The RV Resort has swimming pools, hot tub, a number of rooms for hobbies, games, parties and a great library. What we like about this park is the size......only 324 sites. The size is what contributes to the friendly welcome that you receive from everyone you meet. They may be busy here but not too busy to include a newcomer. We always feel at home here.

The city of Indio is located 26 miles east of Palm Springs where the airport is handy and 113 miles east of Anaheim where Mickey lives......what else do you need. There is a great selection of golf courses, restaurants and the shopping is only limited by your budget if that is your interest.

We have been to a few places to eat, plus dinner at our friends or hosting dinner for our friends!
We have noticed that the water must be different as our clothes are SHRINKING. They were fine the first month of our travels but lately.......we have noticed an extra roll or two! How could that be?
Lyle and Dorothy left today, Sunday, and we leave on Tuesday heading to Vernon and then to Red Deer. I am not sure John is ready to go home but it will be nice to see family again.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Borrego Springs, California

We were not sure which town we were going to visit/stay except we knew we were heading west. There are several choices but Borrego Springs sounded the most intriguing and it was a short distance to Indio which is our next destination.
Borrego Springs is a small town with a Circle Drive at the centre/entrance of town that has a busy park in that centre. On our first drive by, there were 16 motor cycles plus cars parked beside the park. Later that day there was a string of bright yellow cars ranging from a 32 Ford Roadster, a Fiat Spider to a 2007 Prowler.
The Springs RV Resort & Golf Course at Borrego
This is the most scenic small park that we have stayed at so far plus the most expensive. It was delightful to spend Friday and Saturday here. Our site overlooked one of the fairways in this Championships 9 Hole Golf Course which adds a dramatic green to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

Saturday we took the scenic drive ( yes yet another scenic drive!) and we were impressed with the steepness of the mountain jutting right out of the flat desert! The drive up was very steep and as you would expect the serpentine road afforded us some great views.

We also visited the Anna-Borrego Desert State Park visitor centre and it was crowded with people who came to see the desert while it was still in bloom. Everyone wanted to find out where and what flowers were in bloom. The Ocotillo were in bloom everywhere and the desert looked tinged with a red/orange colour. This tall, spindly plant gets transformed and looks like a candle with spikes of red flowers flaming at its tips.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Las Cruces, NM to Casa Grande then to Yuma, Az

We spent two nights at Sunny Acres, RV Park in Las Cruces and just had quiet down time. No tours, no museums, no monuments, no historical buildings or parks......just a Saturday Night.BBQ and a game of cards outside our motor home. Dorothy and I let Lyle and John win a game of Rookie! There are some interesting places to visit near by and the city itself begs to be explored and we quite like this small, quiet park in the centre of town so we plan to "be back". Sunday was a quiet, hot and sunny day that included audio/video chats with family followed by the enjoyable movie "Knowing" with Nicholas Cage.
Monday we are on the road from Las Cruces to Casa Grande. John and I booked into
Rovers Roost on Montgomery Road, on the south/west side of Casa Grande. Talk about a Small, Quiet RV Park....this is it! it is "Social Hour" at 4:00 pm and the community room is a buzz with chatter. The hosts insist that we join them and so we did. What a fun friendly busy group of older seniors at this RV Park. We are only here for overnight and the low, low price of $15 for full hook ups is what attracted us. The reason we would stop by again is for the friendliness! Lyle and Dorothy are at Fiesta Grande in town for a few days to visit friends while we are heading on to Yuma to visit Friends.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Enroute to Roswell and Las Cruces, Nm

Roswell is about 70 miles from Carlsbad KOA so that means it is on our route. Build it and they will come! And they were right! At least Ithink that is what they thought when the put the framed photograghs, clippings from newspapers, typed first person accounts of UFO's (with typos) together in a building on main street. The most interesting things in the Museum are from the Movie: Roswell, UFO Coverup starring Martin Sheen. They show the movie there and if you have missed it and are in the area you can see it with the price of admission. It is poor example of a Museum and research centre but lots of people stop by. The town is not inviting enough for us to stay there but I am sure that some do. It is an effective tourist attraction.
The Drive from Roswell west to Las Cruces was very interesting. We went from flat arid desert to grasslands, to hills then a mountain area with pine trees, a ski resort, Ski Apache the back to desert and sand hiils when we drove into White Sands which is near Las Cruces. We are at Sunny Acres RV

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sitting Bull Falls

It is a beautiful, warm, sunny Friday and that makes it a great day for a country drive and a Picnic! The drive is to Sitting Bull falls which is 35 miles from Carlsbad KOA along a relatively little-traveled, road through the Guadalupe Mountains. This is sheep grazing country interspersed with gas plants. Our KOA brochure reads that if we catch a whiff of an unpleasant (sulphurous) smell that it is the smell of money. There is lots of money on this route until we get to the canyons and the State park. The falls is a veil of water and if we want to experience the roar of the falls that would be in July after the rains although there is water all year coming off the canyon wall in the middle of an arid desert. This is a wonderful serene, beautiful, rugged and enchanted place to visit and so unlike other places that we have encountered that we are thrilled to be here. We have packed a Picnic Lunch as we have had enjoyed some great lunch spots and this would be one of the best.

Carlsbad Caverns Thursday Mar 19

The Carlsbad Caverns were amazing! We spent 2 hours on the 1st Self Guided Tour starting at the Natural Entrance. This hike is similar to walking into a steep canyon, a descent of about 800 feet in one mile. Some of the highlights the Devil's Spring, Whale's Mouth and Iceberg Rock. The 2nd two hour Tour was in the "Big Room" and some of the amazing sights were: the Lion's Tail, Hall of Giants, Bottomless Pit and Rock of Ages. When we were done we took a 750 ft Elevator to the top. We enjoyed out late Picnic Lunch overlooking the valley below.
This is a wonderful place to visit. Out pictures do NOT do justice to the beauty of the these rock formations. There are other guided tours and trails that we would take if we are in the area another time. We stayed at the Carlsbad KOA for 3 nights to enjoy this area..

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a United States National Park located in the Guadalupe Mountains in southeastern New Mexico. The primary attraction of the park for most visitors is the show cave, Carlsbad Caverns.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Heading West via of San Angelo on Tuesday Mar 17

San Angelo, Texas is is located north west of San Antonio on the banks of the Concho River between US Highway 87 North and South. There are always cities or towns or historic points of interest on our route. We chose to take US highway 87 north to San Angelo just to vary our return route. The city is similar in size as Red Deer but does not have the extent of recent business development that Red Deer enjoyed on the south side of town. What is also similar is the river that flows through San Angelo and the path along the river that is similar to the section along Bower Ponds. This area is inviting and very scenic. This is also the location of the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts which is 30,000 square foot structure is built of native Texas limestone and has beautiful mesquite wood floors, galleries with soaring 40-foot ceilings and 4,000 square foot upper level deck with a view of the Concho River and downtown. This is a major attraction in San Angelo We took a stroll along the river and then toured parts of the Historic Down Town which was disappointing. We sometimes find the “Historic Old Town” district to be less than expected as it usually consists of old run- down buildings with possibly one or maybe two that have been refurbished. San Angelo was not an exception. Luckily we continued on and finally found the newer section and chose the “Outback Steakhouse” for supper. It was an excellent choice!

Monday Mar 16 on River Walk

Monday Mar 16th is a beautiful warm sunny day and it is back to the River Walk for a Canal ride for Dorothy and Lyle if you look closely at the river boat you will see L and D. Meanwhile John and I idly people watch and wait for the Kilpatricks at an Irish Pub where we have a great lunch. Life is tough.

The Mercado is a great place to browse through and since we are just about shopped out that is all we did here!

Sunday Drive to Fredericksburg and Luckenbach, Texas

We took a Sunday drive (Mar 15)to Fredericksburg which is in the heart of hill country and it was a beautiful country drive. It is hilly but also very treed. Lots of peach trees. The town was teeming with tourists on the sidewalks and browsing the eclectic shops..... this is a favorite place to visit for Texans and it is easy to see why! We love this area and could live here it is so lovely and the climate is great. We took this drive on our way out of town on Tuesday morning just so we could capture the essence of rolling treed hills one more time. There still was lots of people strolling the streets but this is Spring Break for Texas.

We also went to Luckenbach, Tx.....Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson song mentioned "Luckenbach, Texas" and maybe you know it too. Like a lot of songs we know 2 or 3 lines but there are good ones and this the place to sing them!
"Luckenbach is not so much a place but a state of mind." is a Steinbeck quote and it fits. There was a western group on stage a'singin and a"twangin and people a'hangin and too!

There only is a General Store that has a bar, washrooms and a hall for western music and dances but it is an interesting place to visit.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

San Antonio Days

We are in San Antonio on Wednesday afternoon and the weather has been Cold with Heavy Rains! It was a high of 9C Thursday which is balmy in Alberta but here this is parka and hat weather after the 29C temperatures previously ! It feels cold to us too as the wind is cold and wet! (So there!) We had an appointment at Freightliner to get the computer codes on the exhaust brake checked to see why they are not working properly. It is a huge shop and they are 30 plus repair bays both for large and some small diesel engines....apparently RV's are quite small and not a priority. They have hook ups for RV's in for repair. Thursday was quite wet and a good time for a haircut and shopping. In the afternoon we and Lyle and Dorothy toured the outlining area. They have beautiful acreage subdivisions, huge houses and lots and an abundance of trees. This is the start of hill country. We also went to SAS Shoes Country Store which is an experience as it is set up as an old fashioned country with Coffee, Coke, Popcorn for 5cents and a bag of assorted penny candy is 2 bucks! Dorothy bought shoes. I bought the candy. We spent a pleasant evening dining at the Kilpatrick's and playing a game of cards.
it is interesting the things that we find to do when it is raining and in limbo without our motor home, which they promise to get at by Friday....we've been here since Wednesday afternoon!

Have you ever been to a Container Store? We saw our first container store in Washington, D.C. and this store is even bigger. AND.....if we had a bigger motor home I would be able to organize the house and the cabin at the lake. This store has containers and storage or shelving ideas for EVERYTHING!
More importantly, it is across the street from North Star Mall with numerous stores including Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's. If you are in San Antonio and have spare time this is for you!
By the way, it is mid afternoon Friday when we were able to retrieve our RV with a $$$bill but no solution but we are able to get to our RV Park, Stone Creek, and now feel settled.
Saturday the weather is improving so it is time for the Alamo and the RiverWalk. Our arrival coincides with the St. Patrick's Day Parade and the River Center Mall is streaming with pedestrians. This is a festive day!
The River Walk was quiet as we started on the paths but before we picked our lunch stop we were jostling with the locals and tourists. Like us they were rubber necking at the fun green outfits. The waiters in The Crab Shack entertained us with rap misic and dancing. It was fun!

Of course, no trip to Sab Antonio is complete without a visit to the Alamo!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Corpus Christi

Monday was another great day for drive and except for some BIG wind gusts it was an easy drive. This is fertile land and the ranches are big.....everything in Texas is big....honest. The largest US ranch is at Kingsville just south of Corpus Christi. It is aptly named: "King Ranch".
We are teasing Lyle and Dorothy, former flat-landers from Saskatchewan, that they must feel at home here as the description "table flat" does not totally capture this landscape. It is all dressed in fresh spring green on green and I am going to miss that when we return to Alberta in April.
We basked in the late day sunshine and warm breezes (hold on to your hat) at Hatch RV which feels and looks like we are in the country but is 5 minutes from downtown. The brochure described the longevity of the RV Park but also stated that it had been modernized. I'm thinking that would have been before MY kids were born! Yup....a long time ago right Duane and Pat?
Tuesday is tour day so we are on the harbour early and noticing the size of this prosperous city although it is quiet at the harbour. This is a city that has a long economic history in agricultural, tourism, military (naval base), mining and as a major port.

The harbour is much larger than at Padre Island and the boats in the "Private" section are bigger and grander. Shoreline Drive takes you past some very well appointed palatial size homes. There are excellent museums, cultural centres and art galleries. We were impressed with Asian Culture Centre on the harbour near the visitor centre.
The Main Attraction though is the USS Lexington which is an air craft carrier form WW Two.
Take a look if you too are interested.

After a delicious lunch at Landry's Seafood House we did a circle tour from the harbour along the shoreline and over to Padre Island, Mustang Island and took the Port Aransas Ferry back to Corpus Christi. The Mustang Island State Park has over 5 miles of Gulf of Mexico beaches and and the view is unimpeded by the trees. :-) Fishing is a primary attraction as it was around Brownsville. Fishermen are everywhere. This is an interesting barrier island and is one of the best places to see coastal marine life, from stingrays to blue herons. There are many choices of places to stay, either in motels, condos or rental apartments, or you can camp. Primitive beach camping is on a first-come, first-served basis. There are rinse showers, bulk water and portable toilets in convenience stations along the beach. Today there were LOTS of College kids parked on the beach and Dorothy and I were wondering: "Where are all the Port A Pottys?" We are surprised by the large section of beach that you can drive on, park at edge of the water and set up camp!

This has been a great day and there is lots more to explore but we are moving on to San Antonio! There is SO much to see and do and so little time! Alas, we may be home in a month or so.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A 3 day weekend in a the Rio Grande Valley

This has been a great three days in a semi-tropical paradise with lots of large palm trees, trees in bloom, plus the ever-blooming bougainvilleas and warm Gulf breezes! Well the warm gulf breezes gusted up to 30 mph winds but it was great anyway. the temperatures rose to the mid 80s F (29C) during the day and maintained a temperature of 70F(21) overnight. This is quite different that the high desert that ranged from 9C to 35C ! We get to use our A/C here more and it is working well.
We are well situated here in Brownsville with a half hour drive to Beaches, neighboring towns or Mexico. The Rio Grande Valley is 75 miles long and consists of 12 different communities varying in age and size.
The most famous location is South Padre island that is a 34 mile long stretch of sandy beach bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and Laguna Bay. There is an abundance of condominiums and of course an ample supply of shops, bars and restaurants!

This is a major fishing area and there are Shrimp Boats in Laguna Bay and other nearby ports.

There is an abundance of touring in this area and we just scratched the surface so there is lots more if we ever back in this interesting area.

Saturday morning we set out early to Flea Market 77 in Brownsville, TX and did a walk through a Hispanic Flea Market that was a combination of fruits and vegetables and tables of stuff that had been someones well used treasures and essentials.

From there we continued on to Harlingen to the Street Market that was in full swing by the time that we got there. Here I found a great collection of Milk Glass and other antique glass ware that I should have bargained on except for my other voice that says: "What are you going to do with that...aren't you going to downsize?" It was fun to explore this market and lunch was around the corner at a New York Deli that looked like a favorite of "Winter Texans".

From 2009-03-08 harlingen in Rio Grande Valley

Our "fun" trip of the day was to Progreso, Mexico where we walked across the border (cost was .25) and was able to get one of John's prescriptions that he forgot (NOT Viagra but it too is cheap!) at less than his portion on Blue Cross. It was a hot sunny Saturday and there were lots of pedestrians, hawkers, sidewalk and alley shops and mariachi bands. Fantastic atmoshpere!!

Sunday was a fantastic day for weather so back to the beach! This is the start of March Break for the College students in Texas and this beach should have 10,000 college kids partying here next week. We are moving on to Corpus Christi tomorrow and we will see how crowded the beach is there!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

To Laredo, Zapata and on to Brownsville.

What a great way to start a day......homemade biscuits, gravy, eggs, sausage, french toast, coffee and local colour! You can't beat that. We are off for a Wal Mart stop for a few groceries then heading east! Now that always takes longer than normal.....for groceries and fuel.The scenery enroute to Zapata was un-inspiring! But the country side today is changing as we get closer to Laredo. We decided to go further east to get close to Thursday's designation and ended up at Zapata, TX near Falcon Lake and Reservoir. We are spending the night at Stinson RV Park and Storage and we can tell that we are near a lake because of the serious fishing boats that are parked beside the 5th wheels or trailers.

The drive on Thursday was very interesting as there are lots of cities along the Rio Grande Valley and the traffic was very busy.

Brownsville is bustling and is a resort town. We lucked into our RV Park which is Rio RV Park Resort and is located east of Brownsville on the Boca Chico Road. A few miles down the road from our park is the Boca Chica Beach which is an undeveloped beach with miles of sand.

The "boys" checked the area and decided to race on the beach. Take a LOOK!! :-)

On The Road to Del Rio

March 3, Tuesday morning is another great blue sky sunny day and we are on the road! Nothing beats the feeling of heading out to the next place and the anticipation of yet another great place to experience. We love it! Once we are out of the park we are taking highway 90 east to Del Rio and will continue east until Brownsville on the Gulf of Mexico. The wonderful thing about a Motor Home is the Imax/Panorama View that is unfolding before you mile after mile. We are deliberately staying off the Interstates and enjoying very quiet roads and easy access to stop at the small towns along the way.

Today that small Hamlet is Langtry, Texas the home of Judge Roy Bean! It is also described as the Ghost Town with a Visitor Centre. It is interesting how many of the Western icons were as lawless and ruthless as the people to whom they were doling out their version of justice.

We have been following the Rio Grande river in south texas and today we drove over the Pecos River outside of Del Rio. We arrive at our RV Park, Broke Mill, around 4:00 pm and received a warm cowboy welcome. This is a new RV park on the west of Del Rio and the owner is excited to welcome his new customers. He is a real down home rancher, who does have a ranch in the area but is looking after his new project. He informed us that one of the RV'ers is a cook and tomorrow morning they are serving breakfast with Buiscuits aand Gravy. We are not going to miss a free texas breakfast!

From 2009-03-06 Broke Mill

Grapevine Hills Trail and Lost Mines

Monday March 2nd John and Lyle left in the morning for scenic hikes in the Park. You need to get there in the morning as the sun will be hot today (29C) and there is limited shade in the desert.

Dorothy and I have a day do Laundry....hum?

Their first hike was Grapevine Hills Trail a 2.2 miles roundtrip An easy hike up a sandy wash surrounded by massive boulders. After 1 mile the trail ascends to a low saddle at the end of the drainage. The exposed granite has weathered into wonderful rock formations, pinnacles, granite boulders, and a natural stone arch. You will see the giant "window" of boulders that was on their trail. John captured some great pictures on these two hikes. Look closely at the pictures and maybe you too will wonder: what is Lyle doing?

Their second hike at The Lost Mine Trail is 4.8 miles roundtrip This moderately difficult trail begins at mile marker 5 along the Basin Road. With it's accompanying trail guide (available at the trailhead), this is an excellent introduction to the plants and animals of the Chisos Mountains. The trail starts at an elevation of 5,600' and steadily climbs to the top of a 6,850' promontory overlooking Pine and Juniper Canyons.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lajitas to Presidio, Tx

There is no "Town of Lajitas' as this is the name of a Resort than had a great start and the multi-million dollar golf course was washed out by the river flood caused by the opening of dams on the Mexican side of the river. This would have been a 5 star resort but now is poorly managed/maintained version of the original park. The resort hotel owns and operates the RV park but has little interest in it. This is the quietest park we have been in and has no street lights and very little park lights. It is dark here! This is a BONUS for night time star gazing! You should see the millions of stars that you can see here! The park is 25 miles outside of Big Bend Park entrance and the closest town is also a ghost town, Terlinqua but with a couple of active businesses. We went to a restaurant: the Starlight Theatre which still had the original stage as part of the restaurant. Lyle had "antelope" and said it was great!

The lots are big and since there are only a few RV's here we have most of the amenities to our selves. The people who are here are very friendly and welcoming.

From 2009-03-03 Maverick RV

Take a look a Lajitas and you will see that the other businesses were quite eclectic

It is March 1st and Sunday morning and a Sunday drive east to Presidio is in order. It was a steep, winding mountain road, now one of many that we have been on but still unique. The town of Presidio was very quiet but the street was lined with cars and the churches were full. Obviously this is a family town.

We explored the remains of a Movie Set that was on the banks of the Rio Grande River. The mountain views, the canyons and the river views were awesome but so were the abundance of Spring Blooms! For a closer look click on the slide show.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Chisos Mountains Drive and Change in weather!

Just like Alberta, when the weather changes here it can happen quickly and with a big drop in temperature from 95F to 60F! We were planning on a desert hike today as we knew the temperatures were forecast to be this would be the time for a desert walk!

However, early in the morning we were awakened by the noise of the wind. The high winds brought cold air and also blew lots of sand in the air. Our plan was to have a breakfast burrito at an outdoor diner and leave early for our hike. We chose not to have "sandy" burritos and headed for the park entance and the scenic drive to the Chisos Mountains and the Chisos Mountain Lodge Restaurant for brunch! It was the perfect thing to do on a windy day! What a delightful surprise in change of scenery from our previous mountain drives. These mountains have some of the highest elevation and because of their altitude and cooler temperatures there lots of trees! We were impressed with unique geologic formations, and spectacular scenery. The vegetation changes markedly over a short distance - from cacti through a zone with bushes and grassland, to fir and pine woodland. The road is quite steep and with hair pins turns with the speed reduced to 15 MPH. We were pleased when the road descended into the sheltered Chisos Basin and discovered a development including lodges, shops and camping areas. Now we know why were told that our motor homes would not fit the camps here! But we see why this is generally a popular location to stay in the park.

By the way, the Breakafst Buffet was very good and the restaurant had a great view though the sand made the background look hazy!

From 2009-02-28 Chisos Mnts

Here are some pictures of the scenery along our drive if you want to take a look.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Big Bend and Santa Elena Canyon

  1. We have driven many miles to get here and have finally arrived at our 1st much anticipated destination. We are booked in at the Maverick Ranch RV Resort for a week which is in the "community" of Lajitas. This is located at the southern point between the Big Bend Ranch State Park and the Big Bend National Park. Now that we are here...where do we start as the park is big and our general knowledge of this area is small.
    Friday morning we leave early in the cool of the morning (because of the 34C heat in mid day) to the entrance of the National Park and select the Ross Maxwell scenic drive which gives us a good taste of the Chihuahuan Desert and lead us to the Rio Grande River that is the border between Texas and Mexico. There are many scenic outlooks, vistas and flowering cacti to enjoy.

A highlight is the walk into the Santa Elena Canyon - one of Big Bends most scenic spots. We loved it!
We had a picnic lunch at the Castolon Visitor Centre and then completed our loop drive back to camp. We had supper at the L and D Diner where we know the food is good! Lyle cooked his Gourmet Wiener Creole (secret recipe) AND let all us win at the card game "Spite and Malice" also know as Your Neighbour! This retirement thing is not that bad after all!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Exploring the towns of Fort Davis and Alpine

Wow the weather here is awesome! Small towns at there best: Alpine pop of 6000 and Fort Davis pop of 1100. The combination of hills, valleys, creeks and desert has provided some of the prettiest country side that we have seen on this trip. We are reluctant to leave this area. Alpine has a terrific True Value Hardware store and John was lucky enough to fit in two visits and absorb the atmoshpere. He loves hardware stores! The IGA store is very well stocked and the staff......unbelievable. There is Sul Ross University and a great Big Bend Museum that Lyle and Dorothy enjoyed. This weekend the town will be full as they host an annual Cowboy Poetry Reading Event. We're told were will be missing something very intersting.
By the way I have noticed that not all the links to websites posted are properly hyperlinked but can not fix that until I have a Stable Internet connection. At the moment I have a limited connection so who knows. Jeff is right.....we need an Air Card!
The Town of Fort Davis may be small but it is absolutely the most quaint, homey, authentic western town thatI have visited so far. It has been in the setting of several movies and I can see why.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We are Loving it! Fort Davis, Davis Mnts and McDonald Observatory

It is spring here and the birds are noisy at 6 am and it is already 17C and going to 33C with sunshine. It is already a great day in Alpine Texas!
There is a scenic loop drive from Alpine to Fort Davis and the McDonald Observatory and back to Alpine that we chose today. Fort Davis is a frontier fort that was established in 1854 to protect the pioneers and travelers on the San Antonio - El Paso road from the Apache Indians, We found the setting of the Fort very interesting, The post was located in a box canyon near Limpia Creek on the eastern side of the Davis Mountains--where wood, water, and grass were plentiful.
The canyon wall is a backdrop behind the fort and you can see for miles (the Indian's approaching) from the front, It was an unique fort to explore.

This truly is a Scenic drive and we pulled off the road at rest stop and it was the Perfect Picnic Place!

North of Fort Davis located on the highest point in Texas is the McDonald Observatory
which is America's only world class telescope open for public viewing. The stunning scenic drive to the top of the mountain was as fascinating as the telescope. We now know more than we need to know about the complicated construction of telescopes and can hardly wait for family dinners to unload all this data! :-) We also now know that we should not go into darkened theatre style rooms after a picnic lunch even if the information is riveting! Every day we learn something new!

El Paso to Alpine Tx Monday

It was an early Monday morning with a 7:30 appointment at a Diesel garage for an air brake check. Taking your Motor "Home" to a garage is different from dropping your car off. We are without accommodations! I followed in the car and after dropping the RV off we went to Starbucks for a latte and a muffin. This is good. The Starbucks is located in an outlet mall and we have nothing to do but wait and no where to go! Oh well.....we'll have to shop! Wal Mart handy! It is a great day!

We are on the road at lunch time and it is a great day for a drive east. It is an easy drive even on Interstate 10 as the truck traffic is light. Since we need to head south we turned off on #90 and the drive is very quiet and interesting. By four o'clock we are now at Alpine, Texas which is a delightful little town that begs to be explored.
We can only stay here till Wednesday as they are full for the rest of the week. They have an event this weekend: "Cowboy Poetry Reading".
We are booked in at Lost Alaskan RV and you have to been here to appreciate the setting and the friendliness. The mountain backdrops, the pine trees, the spacious site, clean facilites, star gazing area and the people all contribute to make this a Five Star RV Campground. There are so few lights that checking out Venus and the Big Dipper is automatic. A local nearby attraction is the Marfa Mystery Lights (seen on the TV show Unsolved Mysteries), and John and Dorothy went to see them.
The internet reception is awesome here. What a treat as this is a first since we left home. most of my blogging has been early morning hours (4 - 6) to get enough bandwith to upload photos.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wow! A Great Sunday Country Drive!

Loop drive North to Las Cruces, NM to White Sands, Alamogordo, NM back to El Paso.
Have you ever been on a drive where you wondered: "Are we there yet?"
Sure you have! We seem to being running into that from time to time. The scenery was interesting and the "Organ Mountains" were recognizable because they do somewhat resemble Organ Pipes but we Albertans are spoiled by the grandeur of the Rockies from Banff to Jasper and most others are diminished by comparison. We are used to more variation on our mountain scenery and get restless too soon.

From 2009-02-23 El Paso to White Sands

What do you think?

From 2009-02-23 El Paso to White Sands

From 2009-02-23 El Paso to White Sands

The description for White Sands National Monument reads: Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world's great natural wonders - the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Here, great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert and created the world's largest gypsum dune field.
It does not prepare us for this:

It was STUNNING! We were humbled! We loved it.
After playing in the sand we continued on and stopped at Alamogordo sand had a great supper at Chilis.
This was a great day!

El Paso Texas Feb 20 - 21

Arrival on Friday evening and then a Saturday morning shopping trip to Camping World. We are at Mission Hill RV Park on the south side and Camping World is on the far North.....about the distance from Red Deer to Wetaskiwin.
Lyle was shopping for a new bed as he needs more comfort for his back. He was in Luck! They were on sale! Good for Lyle! We toured Historic Downtown El Paso and found that the shopping area was not as tourist friendly as we were comfortable with and did more of a driving tour vs the walking tour that we planned. We had thought of going on a trip to Juarez but were informed that the "Cartel" had been active in El Paso and tourists were being advised not to go. The bridge between the two cities had been closed a couple of times in the last week. Hum.....not too safe.
That explains all the Border guards on our drive in...the drug cartel has been busy! El Paso is a city of 650,000 while the Mexican border city is 1.500.000. Very Interesting!

Expect the Unexpected! We were looking for a late lunch stop and drove by quite a few well know name restaurants and missed interstate turnoffs so ended up in a "questionable" neighborhood but peeked into a couple establishments.....we were in an "adult" area (better for Pat & Daune) so continued on. We walked into "Chih"au and received fantastic hospitality, great service and wonderful Mexican food! We'll try this one again!

Driving to El Paso, Texas Fri Feb 20

Another intersting days drive. The route that we chose is off interstae 10 and via Highway 9 which follows along the Mexican border. To say that this is a quiet road is an under statement as the traffic is less than slight... we did meet s couple from Stoney Plain, Ab at a rest area. They also noted that only Albertians chose this quiet(desolate?) stretch of highway.The traffic mainly consisted of Border Patrol (13!!) and FBI vehicles. A border patrol did stop to make enquiries when we stopped for a stretch.
From Bisbee 2009- 02- 13 to 17

We stopped to take a picture of the scenery.....this interesting tree!
From Bisbee 2009- 02- 13 to 17

We looked for wild burros...but only found this ass!
From Bisbee 2009- 02- 13 to 17

No kids...I really wasn't that bored!

Slaughter Ranch and Douglas

Thursday Feb 18 - Slaughter Ranch is a landmark of Douglas and Cochise County and is on the list of places you must see in Cochise County. The drive to the ranchwhich is 15 miles N/E of Douglas is on a gravel road and we have never had the Honda Element so dust covered! We were not sure if the rugged terrain drive was worth our time & trouble (we have already driven by miles of the same) until we drove through the Ranch gate and into a splendid picturesque verdant valley. This 100,000 acre ranch survived many a drought because of a natural spring that John Slaughter dammed in the spring and created a water reservoir (later a stocked pond). Slaughter's history was as mean and tough as the area and there are lots of suspicions as to how he gained his wealth. The farms borders Mexico aand after his death a large parcel of land was reclaimed by the Mexicans.
It is an excellent example of an early life on a ranch...great buildings and setting.

The town of Douglas with a population of 18,000 is a quiet but charming border town. Smelters were built here to process much of Bisbee's Copper. The money that was generated by the wealth from the minerals in this area is evidenced by the Hotel Gadsen. We chose this place for a late lunch as our friends the Koziols shared stories of an earlier trip and said that a visit to this hotel was a must...and it was!
What a has a stunning, elegant lobby with huge marble columns topped with gold. At the top of the expansive marble staircae is stunning 42 foot stained glass Tiffany mural!
The restaurant in the hotel was excellent and still very busy mid afternoon. Thanks for the tip Joe & Janice...a fantastic finish to an interesting day.
From 2009-02-21 Douglas Feb 18 - 20

From 2009-02-21 Douglas Feb 18 - 20

Queen Copper Mines at Bisbee

Known for its mineral wealth, Bisbee became known as the "Queen of the Copper Camps" in the late 1800's. The signs of an earlier mining town is evidenced by a very large Open Pit Mine on the edge of town and the "Copper Queen Mine"

The tours are conducted by " Miners" who worked in the mine for decades. The very informative man that was our guide is a third generation miner. It gets in your blood......he said.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tombstone: The Town Too Tough Too Die

The Wild, Wild West is here! Monday afternoon we pull into Tombstone RV and right off we notice the quaint, homey atmosphere and adjust our expectations to old time western hospitality. We mosey into Tombstone and walk down the dusty, dirt covered main street and try not to fake draw our six shooters. . John & Lyle are excited & reminiscing about their favorite old western TV shows and their "Gene Autrey" pistols with holster that Santa brought several Christmas's ago! It is sunny, quiet late Monday afternoon in Tombstone and the town looks like one we have seemed in a Movie......probably you too.
From 2009- 02- 13 to 17

From Tombstone AZ
The Earp Boys and Doc Halliday add to the Old Wild West ambiance. The town survies on tourists and the merchants all play a role.

From Tombstone AZ

John is learning a card game called Faro from this Old Timer....oops I mean Doc Halliday! :-)

The Last Few Days at Casa Grande

The panic is on...our days are limited at Casa Grande! Both motor homes are being cleaned and waxed by John and Lyle and they are gleaming in the bright sunshine. We know that some of the towns we will be visiting on our trip east are quite small so "stocking up" with groceries, beer and wine is essential and a fun thing to do!
Friday Feb 13 is our day for the Mesa Market and we are looking forward to the trip.

From Mesa Market Feb 13 2009

The market is huge with four buildings and several hundred stalls, Our walkie talkies come in handy as we often wander off and lose each other in the growing crowd of people.
Of course we all have our things of interest.......especially John as he loves the selection of TOOLS (aka...stuff) ...this is Mecca!

From Mesa Market Feb 13 2009

Look at the smiles on Lyle and Dorothy...they already found there first treasure!

From Mesa Market Feb 13 2009

We always shop for Grandkid stuff......and neglect their parents! Oh well!

From Mesa Market Feb 13 2009

The other reason we enjoy the trip to Mesa is the late lunch stop at Queen Creek Olive Mill Restaurant! The selection of stuffed olives and olive oils here make our heart sing....our is it the great lunches here? You must try this place...if you can find it as it is off the GPS grid but they have good directions on their website. And yes we bought stuffed olives to serve at family dinners Sherry and De!

Saturday is Valentines Day and it is just another reason to get together for food and drinks and we are hosting Lyle & Dorothy for a Valentines Dinner. I love the planning aand the cooking and it starts out simple enough with the food preparation for Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk and Brownies with Caramel Sauce. Saturday morning I am helping Alex & Alison Richards send photos to their son and it just makes sense to include them for the Valentines dinner. When our next door neighbours, Jack & Gayle Olson, arrive home later that afternoon from Tuscon.....well we can't leave them out!

Dinner for Eight in our Motor Home is what it is! The guests arrive with wine; Jack with his large brown jug of Scotch and we have a Party!

Sunday was a quiet day in our area. However, we all get together for Happy is tradition here and we are on the road tomoorw. Dinner is Chinese food at Luckys Restaurant which we discovered last week. Thursday we enjoyed lunch at a new Mexican Reastaurant "Eva's"....we will come back to this one another time. Beautiful decor and great food.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Quiet Days in Casa Grande

Tuesday Feb
Our day started with a Newmar Breakfast at the Holiday Inn where we had the chance to visit with 40 people and to share our common interest....our RVs made by Newmar! It actually is interesting to visit with other people who have been traveling in their RV for 10, 15 and sometime 20 years. A lot of them are seasonal travelers like Canadian Snowbirds while some have sold their main place of residence and their Newmar RV is "home". They share advice and great stories of places visited. We attended the "Newmar" breakfast last year plus we recognized some new friends that we met at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque.

The wind cancelled our Pickle Ball Game so we attended the resort "Craft Show" which was so well attended that it was almost impossible to get close to inspect the interesting crafts that were on well stocked tables. That saved me some money as I am not inclined to wade through people to buy a "pot scrubber" or a "table runner" even if I could use them! We were impressed with the talent and output of the crafters.

Free time is shopping time! There is a new "Outlet Mall" about five minutes from our park and I can always find an interesting "treasure" for the motor home in "Bed, Bath and Beyond". The new Target store has the variety in storage container for odds and sodds for our use. All RVs have limited storage space and the right size container makes quite a difference.

Take a look at this Website and you will see the selection of shops available for poor weather days! Let it rain!

Lyle and Dorothy have friends visiting: Ron and Yvette Burndred, aka the "Mad Butcher" from Innisfail and since it is now mid afternoon it is also Happy Hour. We have met Ron & Yvette before and we know that their stories are very colourful and extremely humorous! Ron and Yvette are visiting in the area and have their new "Goldwing" with them so will be "on the road". Who knew that an abattoir would provide such fodder for great tales! Gotta go!

Monday Feb 09/09 The weather is cool and windy and 62C (16C) feels quite chilly for even us Canadians after 89F(31C)last week . Flagstaff and Sedona received record snow falls in the last 2 days......29 inches for Flagstaff so it is easy to accept that the weather system brought us heavy rain over night and cool and windy days! Monday morning is a great Computer/Blog day for me and it is a good thing that I am not distracted by great outdoor weather as it is back to square one to create a Blog, upload photos to Picasa Web Album and insert photos and web address links!
The computer room is a quiet place to work but there were several seniors with that desperate "can you help me" look for me to get much accomplished. I did help a nice couple "download" tutorials for their laptop & their camera so they could get ahead on their own.
Lucky for me our Motor Home is also a pleasant place to catch up on my Travel Blog!
Monday afternoon was a great time day to explore other RV parks so the four of us toured the area and discovered that while there are a lot of alternatives none of them are close to the caliber of the park that we are in......though all are less expensive,
One of the highlights of our tour was that I met Suzan (Don) King's sister, Candi Schopfer who hails from Chauvin, Alberta. Candi and Neil have enjoyed Casista Verede RV Resort for several years. Candi has the same warm hospitality as Suzan and she shared valuable information's well as her tea! Thanks Candi!

"Running Of The Gourds"

Did you miss it? The Wuertz Farm's 6th Annual Gourd Festival that was on the weekend of February 6 -8th at the Pinal County Fairground!! Well we didn't! Who knew all the artistic creations that talented people can make with a Gourd?
This is a well attended event that is not just for gawking tourists. It is a judged event for the artists and place to them to display their wares, offer classes, buy gourds for their next project and visit with fellow artists and suppliers.

Check out

Monday, February 9, 2009

Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort

Tuesday February 3 - We arrived in Casa Grande after lunch and picked up our Motor Home that had been in storage since October 2008. We forgot the code to the gate to get in and had to wait for the mamanger to return. I had picked it and said "we don't need to write this one simple!" Next time we will WRITE it down!

This is a Favorite Rv Park for us and Lyle and DorothyKilpatrick who are already here and we are looking forward to connecting with them again.

The Park is extremely well kept, a golf course, swimming pools, hot tubs, lots of activities and the friendliest people! There are lots of Canadians and more importantly lots of Albertans. In the section we are in the Albertans are from the Red Deer area. We are parked next to the Kilpatricks and on the other side of us are the Olsens, farmers near Pine Lake & at the end of the row are Alex & Allison Richards who farm near MacKenzie subdivision.
What a Welcome - Gayle & Jack Olsen hosted Happy Hour & Burgers for the Red Deer group on our first night and on our second we were hosted by Lyle & Dorothy!

Our first week in Palm Creek is busy with activities, happy hours, BBQ's, shopping plus getting the RV ready for a months trip to Texas. The RVers are younger and more activity than some of the parks so there is always something to do. The "Activities" room has posted over a dozen different scheduled activities.....sports, hobbies, crafts, etc. We signed up for Pickle Ball lessons as how strenuous can that be? Well.....ask Lyle as he called it "Cripple Ball" and limped to a Chiropractor for an adjustment after the 1st week. It is a lot of fun.

We seem to enjoy Happy Hour and Dominoes the best! Hum what does this mean?
Here we are having a pleasant evening with Larry/Eunice Leasak, Art/Norma McMullen and Lyle & Dorothy. We sat on the patio playing dominoes till 11.00 on thursday evening!

At Last! On the Road to warmer climates!

It is always great to drive south on a day that another winter snow storm is blowing into Red Deer, Alberta! On Thursday January 29 we headed to Calgary to visit Joe Koziol (& Janice) who has been in the Foothills Hospital since Dec 08/08. Joe is now on the way to a full recovery! Way to go Joe!
We drove out of the 4 inches of fresh snow about Olds and onto dry pavement which luckily stayed dry all the way to Casa Grande, Az.
We over-nighted at Joan's (John's sister) in Calgary and enjoyed her famous lasagna and pictures of their Mexico visit at Christmas. Thanks Joan & Brian!

Our 1st day of travel was from Calgary to Idaho Falls. Our drive through Idaho was picturesque with fresh snow covered fields and ice frosted trees (but dry roads!).
Day two we drove into warm weather and brown desert country side as we drove into Mesquite (25C).

We stayed at Virgin River Casino and Hotel
where only one of us(John)was slightly lucky at the machines! The rooms are adequate and clean but the casino is tired and too smoky. The Eureka next door suitrd us better soo check it out if you are looking for rooms and a fun evening in Mesquite.
The development in Mesquite has been recent and the residential area that we drove through had some attractive houses at very affordable prices. If you are looking for a fairly quiet, casino, desert town with resonable cost housing, hotels & meals this may be for you.

We are in Holiday mode and Day 3/Sunday is a short trip to Laughlin, Nv where we booked into the Golden Nugget Casino

We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Hotel Lobby, Rooms and Casino! For non-smokers the casino, bars and restaurants are really pleasant! We spent a fun afternoon at the sports bar watching the Super Bowl with some very loyal, boisterous, colourful Cardinal Fans. There were two very knowledgeable "armchair" quarter back coaches who added a lot of colour to the game. We finished watching the game in the Joe's Crab Shack downstairs where the fans were younger & noisier.....and having even more fun!. Weather has been warm & balmy for the last 2 days! Yeah! This was a fun day and I was putting in time at a Penny Machine and won $120.00!
This was encouraging so I continued and so did my winning was a Hoot!

Monday Feb 2 - Laughlin to Sun City West, Az

It is a beautiful sunny 28 C day and we are delighted that we are able to spend a day/night with our long time friends, Jim & Jean Jones who live in north/west Phoenix in the retirement community of Sun City West where the roads in the subdivision allow for golf carts on the main streets! Jim and Jean's house backs onto the golf course and I watched a humming bird splash in their fountain outside their kitchen window! It is lovely here and Jean's makes the best Eggplant Parmigiana in the Mid West......probably the US! Jean is recovering from December back surgery and is having an amazing recovery! Click on the photo to enlarge.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

What is Dress Club?

I posted some photos on Facebook from December's Dress Club. It was our group's Christmas dinner followed by a gift exchange. Our hostess Jan is the quintessential queen of Christmas and her home exudes warmth and charm. The charm of the evening was reflected in the photos and my niece Rhonda Redner McFaul commented on them and then asked: "What is a Dress Club?"
Our Dress Club is a social group of 10 women who get together one night a month, for our group it is the 3rd Wednesday of the Month. The hostess decides on an activity for the evening plus serves either some snacks or dessert. Our group also serves wine and since we often car pool there is always a designated driver. We seldom exceed two bottles of wine; one red, one white unless it is a dinner meeting (opening, wind-up and Christmas). The activities for the evening are as varied as the members and our interests. Such as: small craft projects, wood carving, private Art Gallery tour, a Laughter Session, a Psychic, Cemetery Tour, Journalling, Boating, Golfing lesson, Cooking Class, Red Cross Disaster Volunteer, a Choral Group, Reiki and even the secrets of a Private Eye! We all enjoy the variation of the group and our activities.
We each pay the hostess $25.00 and often she will share her purchase. This year I am buying a bracelet for my new Pandora Charms. The hostess is selected randomly, high card draw or on availability. We each have a Secret Pal who remembers our Birthday, Anniverary and at Christmas.

We have delevoped very strong, unique frienships, learned a lot and have had a great deal of fun!
See for yourself!