Thursday, May 31, 2007

Steam Heat

Summer in the mid-west; a thick haze of heat extending to the horizon that fogs the edges of everything you see. We've arrived.

The nice folks at the campground put us in the back 40 when we said we'd like an area clear of trees (the main camping area is heavily treed). It's true, there are no trees beside us but across the driveway are old growth trees that are a good 80 feet tall. Not so good for trying to get a satellite signal this far north. Two hours in the sun and humidity and Denny and I looked like we were unwilling participants in a wet tee-shirt contest. Yuck.

But we're here for the duration. Strawberries are in, we surprised my mom by arriving in town early showing up on her doorstep (literally) with Big Boys and onion rings in hand (a coming home tradition) and tomorrow Denny and I driving to Cinci to check out his dad's garden and see what we need to do there. Looking around our campsite I'm already thinking about hauling some rock out of the dry creek bed across the driveway and making a small flower bed around the tiny cedar tree at the edge of our site to brighten up the "yard" a bit. Nesting. For the duration.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

We're Outta Here

While the somewhat obstructed view of the lake is attractive, and the campground peaceful now that the holiday weekend is over, the inability to use the laundry and sewers due to a broken pump means we're leaving early.

Denny's sister e-mailed that their dad has already lost a lot of his lettuce in his garden due to lack of water, since Dad no longer can remember if he has watered the garden that day. Denny already has the plans for a water system on an automatic timer in his head, so arriving early can't hurt. Patches will be thrilled by the idea of no more traveling for a while (she was at the point that she grabbed hold of the carpet with her claws and hung on for dear life when I tried to extricate her from under the dining room table).

We checked with the local U-pick folks and they are picking strawberries, my mother has contracted for a new estate sale and would love some help and I'm thinking of volunteering at the campground to lead a water aerobics class in the morning, so along with lawn and garden chores we'll have "stuff" to do for a while. It just may not be stuff I'll blog about, but check in occasionally and see what's happening with the RV Vagabonds. You just never know...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Clean Hands Can Be Dangerous to Your Child's Health

Reading Suburban Turmoil this morning, she mentioned this article from Snopes about hand-sanitizers. We don't have kids here at RV Vagabonds, but I'm going to be forwarding it to our daughter-in-law in case she has any Purell in the house that our granddaughters use. Who knew?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Lazy Sunday Seen in Passing

Here in Indiana everyone is worried that the rain is going to wash out the Indy 500. The young families at our campground are more concerned with keeping the young'uns busy and happy in the confined quarters of a trailer or cabin. Denny and I have been quite content to sit and watch the rain and play on the computer, while Patches looks sadly out the window wondering why I won't take her for a walk.

This week's Lazy Sunday photos are of things we saw along the interstate this past week. I took a ton of pictures but the jarring ride of rough concrete meant a lot of fuzzy pictures and the deep haze of high humidity added a blurry fog to other shots. Thank goodness for digital cameras where you can just delete the bad pictures instead of having to pay to have them developed.

This huge cross on I-40 at exit 112 in Texas was billed as the largest cross in the nation. However... Teutopolis, Illinois we saw the same cross, sans sign or any information. It was just there.

This McDonald's restaurant is also known as the "Glass House McDonalds". Located over the Will Rogers turnpike in Vinita, Oklahoma, it was once considered the largest McDonalds.

The Washington Monument in the Midwest?

Nope, simply the St. Louis, Missouri arch caught from the side.

The happy town of Watseka, Illinois.

Another happy town in Illinois, but I didn't see any signs for the name of the town here.

I'm SO confused!!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Small Town Radio

I'm not from a small town, but Denny and I often drive through one or even stop for a few days for a visit. Yesterday as we were driving up Interstate 57 through Illinois we were reminded just how small some towns are when I was scanning stations on the radio looking for some oldies.

Our first clue to what was to come should have been when the radio personalities of the morning announced the Jasper County news segment and it wouldn't come up. When they were finally able to cue the broadcast this warbley little voice came on with the announcement that Mrs. So-and-so had died at the hospital yesterday at such-and-such time and then she followed up with the visitation and funeral details. I have to admit we were a bit taken aback at the abrupt transition from music to a death announcement, but Wanda Green,the local Jasper County new reporter, then continued to entertain us with details about the upcoming Strawberry Festival, the schedule of activities and menus for the senior citizens' center, the winner of the
$20 raffle, the full roster of vacation bible school and bible study classes for the various churches in the area and news of the square dances being held. Wanda stumbled with an announcement as she was reading it, paused, said "I'm sorry!", paused again, regrouped and then went on with her list of local announcements.

The piece de resistance for the broadcast was the rather sad announcement of a
family searching for their missing cat who had been informed of a cat found dead by the roadway. They went to the location to see if it was their pet, only to discover that the body had already been removed. Stricken because they had no way of identifying the animal since their cat had not been wearing its collar, the family was asking for any assistance in either locating their pet or the body of the one removed from the roadway. I have to admit, at this point Denny and I were shaking our heads, but in retrospect it's really kind of neat that there are communities "where everybody knows your name", and people contact the radio station for help in finding a lost pet.

If you ever travel through the area of Effingham, Illinois at 9AM on a weekday morning, turn to 103.5 on your FM dial and listen to the local news with Wanda Green. You might be surprised at what you learn.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Parallel to Route 66

Driving across Oklahoma we met a series of British racing cars heading west on "historic Route 66" as it ran parallel to Interstate 40. These were vintage model cars, none that I could recognize except possibly a sporty Rolls Royce in the middle of the pack. As I watched them pass in the opposite direction, I thought how much fun it would be to find a refurbished Airstream trailer and an old woodie station wagon and wander along as much of the original Route 66 as possible. Actually, to do it right, one would have to have the woodie station wagon but stay overnight in local "motor courts" and motels along the way.

U.S. Route 66 doesn't actually show on most highway maps or the Rand McNally atlas, but from Chicago to Los Angeles you'll see signs along the interstate for exits leading to the portions of the original highway that still remain. A lot of the route was overlaid by the interstate highways crossing east to west, and of course the businesses that once lined the route disappeared when the automobile traffic did. But if you look closely as you fly past you'll see signs of rebirth in some of the old buildings and businesses. And while I've never seen the movie "Cars", it seems that the movie's characters and locations are based on real people, places and things along Route 66.

I think we might just have to consider meandering down Rt. 66 someday, even though I did get a picture of the leaning water tower near Groom, Texas already.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Lazy Sunday Loads of Lavender

I was going to type Linda Loves Lazy Sundays with Loads of Lavender but I thought that would be a little too much alliteration for a lot of people. Heh. That's what happens when you start to blog before you've had your first cup of coffee in the morning.

Without further ado, the pictures.

The first thing I noticed when climbing the steep hill into the campground was the lilac bushes. Ya gotta love a place that has lilacs.

I think this may be stork's bill or heron bill. I really need to find a better book on wildflowers.

The morning dew on a bearded iris, which my grandmother called a "flag".

I labeled this one as wild phlox but after further research I think it's mock vervain.

The mock vervain mingling with a tubular yellow flower. Yep, that's its official name. Sigh. Okay, so I couldn't figure out what the yellow flower was.

Close up, this cluster of blue flowers have a lavender tint on the edges. Again, I searched the Internet without success for this one.

Last but not least is the wild flax. Actually, I was going to plant a picture of Patches here but common sense prevailed. *boo*

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Letter to the Governor

Dear Governor Brad Henry,

Excuse me for saying so, but Interstate 40 in the area of Oklahoma City s*cks big time.

And the tolls for traveling on the Turner and Will Rogers toll roads with a dually truck and a triple axle fifth wheel? Highway robbery! Y'all need to bring in some casinos or something for income so you can stop picking the pockets of those retired folks traveling through your state. Hmm, maybe the rough roads are to shake the change out of our pockets as we travel along the interstate.

Just sayin'.


The RV Vagabonds

Friday, May 18, 2007

Foggy Morning

Our time here has been relaxing and enjoyable. We've had rain here and after four months in the desert the freshly washed smell of the air is intoxicating. At the moment fog is rolling in dampening the sound of bird song and road traffic. The sun is trying to peek through, which is what we need since it is time for us to move on.

Denny and I have put the Albuquerque area on our list of places to consider when we
start to think about settling down. The people here are refreshingly friendly for a city this size and we think we could deal with the relatively small number of snows they get during their winter season in exchange for pleasant summers and attractive surroundings. We figure we want to live somewhere within an hour of a sizable airport, museums and shopping, which means we could position ourselves somewhere off the Turquoise Trail (Highway 14) and have Albuquerque to our south and Santa Fe to the north. Not a bad thing.

This afternoon we should be in Amarillo, tomorrow Oklahoma City and then onward to Springfield, Missouri. Posting here may be erratic for the next few days but I think we'll have free wi-fi in Springfield for some Lazy Sunday pictures.

Safe travels to all those on the move.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Los Altos Golf Course in Albuquerque

Sometimes it's hard to play golf when the surroundings are so gorgeous. However, the reason it was hard to play golf yesterday while at the Los Altos Golf Course was because the winds were gusting to 50 miles per hour and it was hard to stay on your feet at times. You could actually watch the wind blow your putt offline as it was approaching the hole, which frustrated Denny to no end.

I must say, however, that the Los Altos Golf Course is a really nice course. It is one of four municipal courses operated by the city of Albuquerque and the city does a nice job of maintaining the courses. While Denny gave up after nine holes due to the high winds, the price for playing eighteen holes with a riding cart is $23.75 for seniors, and it's even less expensive for twilight rates.

Los Altos is has fairly level terrain, two water holes and some sand traps. The greens don't seem to be too tricky but that all changes when the winds are blowing. There are some trees, but you really can't get into too much trouble on this course, so it's great for beginners and those of us who are not so good at the game. All four courses charge the same price, so I guess we'll have to come back to try the other three courses some day. We recommend this one for a pleasant round of golf.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Little Caterwauling

It looks like Patches, right? Nope, meet Mr. Penny (who was originally thought to be a female kitty named Penny) who was quite upset when confronted with his almost twin.

Note that Patches is not puffed up like she does for dogs--she's curious about this other creature.

Hmm, guess who is the alpha cat here. Patches is the senior cat by about six months and it shows.

Okay, Patches won this round and she could really care less. However, the folks at the campground were entertained by the whole confrontation.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Lazy Sunday Scenery

This morning is dawning clear and bright although random thunderstorms are predicted for today and the rest of the week. There's a house finch fighting with its reflection in our living room window and Patches is watching the hummingbird feeder in anticipation of our first hummer to arrive. The hummingbirds haven't discovered the feeder yet, but I'm sure they will.

The pictures this morning start in Bullhead City and cross over into New Mexico as we traveled east along interstate 40. The land changes back and forth from desert terrain to lush vegetation depending upon the elevation as you travel. The prettiest area was around Gallup, NM with all its red rock formations. There's a great state park just a few miles east of Gallup with a nice little campground that has some of the most wonderful views we've ever seen. It's one of those places we have to get back to someday.

This black hooded oriole was extremely skittish so I was never able to get close enough to him for a good close up. He was so vivid against the deep blue sky of Arizona.

Standing on the hill behind our trailer (that's us down in the lower right hand corner) you could see across the Colorado River to Laughlin, NV. Like Las Vegas, it's a good place for us to lose our money.

Approaching this church along Interstate 40 in New Mexico it stood out from the cliff it was built upon, but as you got parallel with it the church blended into the rock.

The little white cloud that cried. I know, that reference is way too old for most of you, but my mother played that song by Johnny Ray so I learned it. Notice the rain coming down over the mountains in the lower right hand corner.

Black lava flows create a vast, jagged topography around Grants, New Mexico. Ancient volcanos in the area created the area that houses the El Malpais (bad land) National Monument. As you drive along the highway there are domes of lava with deep fissures, some so deep that ice can be found in them. It's an arresting moonscape dotted with greenery.

This vivid crimson flower is growing wild here in the campground. I can't find it in my wildflower book and am unable to locate any information about it online. Kim, help!

Last but not least, Patches met a miniature schnauzer at the pet walk yesterday. The poor doggy wanted to play so badly, but Patches wanted none of it.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Gettin' Our Kicks

...on Route 66. Yes, indeed, our campground is located just off historic Route 66 about ten miles east of Albuquerque. The temperatures are about 20 degrees cooler than in Arizona/Nevada (sorry, Kim) and THERE ARE LILACS AT THE CAMPGROUND. Pictures will be posted as soon as I get out with the camera. LILACS!!! I loves me some lilacs.

Traveling down I-40 I got a few pictures of the red rock area of New Mexico for my Lazy Sunday pictures. This is such a pretty state and we really haven't explored it properly yet. We've been up in the Farmington area (think Tony Hillerman's novels about Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee) and 4 corners as well as Las Vegas, New Mexico (didn't know there was one, did you?) but we haven't explored the eastern segment at all. Which is why we can't even begin to consider giving up the rv lifestyle because there is just so much we haven't seen in each state.

But, we're going to kick back here for a few days then we start a series of one-nighters as we head to Indiana for a few days before settling into our campground in Ohio for the season. Maybe play golf, maybe look at some turquoise stuff, maybe just watch the rain if it happens. I've almost forgotten the smell of rain, sad to say.

Time for Patches and I to go hunt some birds.

Friday, May 11, 2007

90 Feels Good

The RV Vagabonds got out of Dodge a day ahead of schedule. It ended up being 104 in Bullhead City today according to the Internet while the temperature here in Sun Valley was "only" 90. Our next stop of Tijeras, New Mexico promises to be another ten degrees cooler still, which means the chances of playing golf or going geocaching are mucher greater this coming week. Therefore we left a day early in Arizona to have an extra day in a much cooler clime in New Mexico. If we were smarter, we would have left three days ago-heh.

The picture posted above is a Gambel's Quail. This is a male of the species which is similar to the California quail. The difference is the California quail has a speckled chest and brown patch on its belly, while the Gambel's quail has a solid cream-colored breast and black belly patch. I love these little guys. We spotted a mama quail and several tiny little chicks high on the hill behind our trailer, but they moved too quickly before I could grab the camera and they never returned while we were there. But this guy posed in a nearby tree for me until Patches decided that perhaps she could climb the tree to catch him.

*Note to self. Do not take the cat along if you want to take bird pictures.*

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Lavender was the new silver

Look what I found at Wally World--a lavender miniature rose bush! Years ago when we had a house and gardens I purchased a "silver" rose bush, which was what they called the newly developed lavender rose at the time. Miniature roses are perfect for the rv lifestyle and just a tad more expensive than the bunch of fresh cut carnations sold at the front of the store, so once a year we indulge in a new rose bush. I always manage to kill the poor thing over the Christmas holidays when we leave it behind for two to three weeks.
Perhaps later today I'll get a shot of the jury-rig job Denny did on the satellite dish involving twine to hold the feed arm up at the proper angle. We'll do anything to stay online!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Counted those chickens too soon

Okay, the heat, the weight of the arm or the phase of the moon is causing our satellite dish to shift just enough to go offline. So I may have spoken too soon about having consistent Internet access. A new dish is definitely required, but that will probably have to wait until we get to Ohio where we'll be in one place for a period of time.

Stay tuned.

We're Back

Ah, the power of J-B Weld. Wonderful stuff. At least temporarily it has fixed the shattered base of our satellite dish and we're up and running.

The forecast for the week in Bullhead City? 96 degrees, 100 degrees, 103 degrees, 102 degrees, 100 degrees. No wonder there are so few people here in the campground. The smarter ones are heading north. I foresee little sightseeing and geocaching, a lot of sitting in air conditioned comfort.

Y'all--it's good to be back.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Windblown on a Lazy Sunday

This might be the last post for a while, depending on the availability of free Wi-fi in our travels. Yesterdays winds came with a single freak gust of wind that toppled our satellite dish set up and broke the dish when it fell on its face. Naturally, this happened late on a Saturday and there are no dealers around. Currently, I'm using the campground's $4 a day Internet access but only until this afternoon--I'm cheap like that. We leave tomorrow for Bullhead City and I'll see what we can find in the way of dishes, but they seem to be a scarce commodity. We may have to buy a whole new system just to get the dish. I've checked eBay and folks don't want to bother with shipping out their old systems when they upgrade because it makes an awkward, ungainly and expensive shipping package. Sigh and double sigh.

So to be honest, my heart is not really into today's Lazy Sunday photos. It will just be a hodge podge that I can glean from the files quickly, especially since my back up photo disks don't all read on the laptop computer. I still haven't figured that out. Something about my HP(Compaq) desktop formatting software that prevents the Gateway (and previously my HP laptop) from reading the CDs. They appear to be blank on the laptop. Why can't they all just get along?

This is the original plaster model of The End of the Trail sculpture by James Earle Fraser. Located at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, it's one of the most moving pieces I've ever seen.

A saguaro cactus at sunset in Gold Canyon, Arizona. I never tire of the sunsets here and am constantly awed by the beauty of the desert.

I thought the juxtaposition of the old with the new was interesting here at Old Fort Niagara in New York. The British re-enactors were preparing to demonstrate firing a cannon for the visitors.

Sunset in Julian, California. It was snowing when we arrived in Julian and so cold we wondered if we made a mistake coming there. Fortunately it started warming up and we had some beautiful sunsets to make up for the temporary discomfort.

Another place we found quite chilly was Sequioia National Park in California, but the vistas were oh-so-worth it!

Cold seems to be a partial theme here, doesn't it? Actually it was quite warm in Cherry Valley, California but rain in the valley meant snow on the San Bernardino Mountains.

Finally, a tree full of herons enjoying the sunset. I have no idea of what a flock of herons is actually called. I'm sure that someone somewhere has created a website listing what various groups of animals and birds are called. Someday I'll have to check that out.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Take a Moment

Got a moment? Take a look at this.

There They Go!

My friend of 40+ years e-mailed yesterday that she and her husband will start their full time rving adventures on June 3 as they finally sold their house this week.

We are so excited for them because they have an entirely new lifestyle and adventures awaiting them. We're hoping to meet up in the third week of June when Don and Vicki head north for a family reunion in Ohio. From there, they'll head towards South Dakota and parts unknown.

How ironic that the two of them are finally going to hit the road just at the time we made the decision to stay in one place for awhile. It would have been great to travel with them or meet up with them in South Dakota for some mutual exploration. But Denny and I know that one day we'll catch up to the two of them somewhere on the road.

Happy Trails, Don and Vicki--you're going to love it out there!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Something Old, Something New

Yesterday we went geocaching. Nothing new. We explored a national conservancy area that we'd never been to before. Do that all the time.

What was new for us was meeting a fellow blogger in person. Way cool.

Kim contacted me after one of my blog entries and said she'd love to meet up with us somewhere so after an e-mail and a phone call we decided a picnic at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area would be a great place for a meet. Denny and I had never been there and Kim is well familiar with the park. Plus it would allow us to meet Luna, too.

This is Kim and Luna. Perhaps Kim is more familiar as Soulknitting. Luna, of course, is the Perfect Puppy Dog.

There are many, many geocaches in the general area of Red Rock Canyon and nearby Mt. Charleston, but I only picked a couple easy ones so we could introduce Kim to the hobby? sport? of geocaching. Here she discovers her first cache after some scrambling around on the sandstone formations near the old quarry area of the park.

Here we are at the highest point in the park, elevation 4500+ feet. This is a terrific area for pictures and just to sit and look out at the desert and far away mountains and daydream.

There's a wonderful little picnic area with trees and a nearby creek at the Lost Creek parking area. That's where we discovered this little guy, which Kim accurately identified as a chukar. Which I thought was a polo term (heh) not a bird. Kim had him eating out of her hand before we sat down for our picnic.

It's pretty obvious from this photo why the area is called Red Rock Canyon. There is a small visitor center near the entrance to the park (and it's free for Golden Age/Golden Eagle pass holders) and then you follow the 13 mile scenic driving loop to explore the park. The park has numerous hiking trails (we passed because of my currently gimpy knees) that are marked with the length of the trail as well as the difficulty. This is a beautiful area and I'm sure we'll return to do more exploring when we come back to the Pahrump/Las Vegas area.

If you are visiting Las Vegas this would be a nice day trip because it's only about 20 miles from the city. But it's also a world away. Come see.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Willow Creek Golf Club

Denny and I played golf today at the Willow Creek Golf Club in Pahrump,
Nevada. It is one of the two courses in town and the one we like to
play. Prices at this time of the year are reasonable at $25 to play 18
holes of golf with a riding cart. The course itself had some dry areas,
but we've had some unseasonably hot weather the past ten days so that's

While you won't find tricky sand traps on the
course, there are a couple of ponds and creeks to traverse. Denny
played from the black (long) tees and found a couple of the par 3s to
be a challenge because of their length. The pace of play was enjoyable
because the course was not crowded on a Tuesday and there was a nice
breeze to keep the temperatures down early in the day.

a nice little restaurant next to the smallish pro shop where at ten
o'clock in the morning the tables were lit by tea lights in clear glass
bubbles which adds a very relaxing atmosphere to the room. The best
thing about the golf course may be its group of employees who are all
personable, outgoing and helpful. All of which keeps us coming back
whenever we're in the area. It's a nice habit.
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