Thursday, January 11, 2018

Nine Nights of Pull-Throughs


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The weather forecast is for a deep freeze to settle over the nation.  We are ready to go, so ready to get on the road and head for Arizona!  Do we wait for the freeze to pass and take the chance on more snow and ice after the freeze?  No, of course not!  We hit the road, hoping for the best. The weather is fine that Saturday, the day before New Years Eve and we make it from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Meridian, Mississippi.
By bedtime the internet is full of cautions for tomorrow morning…icy streets, hazardous driving conditions.  I am thinking we will not be going anywhere!
But we do.  It is almost 11AM before the road seems safe and we get another 200 miles to Fontainebleau State Park in Louisiana.
It’s New Years’ Eve.  The wind is howling. The forecast is 24 degrees! We pay 2 bucks extra for a pull through and do not exit the trailer till morning.
Our destination for January 1 is Beaumont, Texas, Gulf Coast RV Park, another Passport America campground that has a great free breakfast!  It being a holiday, the office is closed but there are instructions guiding us to a vacant site.  It’s a repeat.  Another 24 degree night where we hole up to keep warm. We cover the Fantastic Fan’s screen with aluminum foil and stuff plastic grocery sacks in the weatherstripping around the door.
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Sylvester staying warm.
Forgot to mention that the trailer is winterized. We are making do with a few gallons of fresh water in jugs and keeping antifreeze in the drains.
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At Gulf Coast RV
We hit Houston just before 10:30 am and it is less of a problem than usual. We are shooting for Boerne, Texas where we usually boondock at a visitor’s center….but not tonight!
Top of the Hill, another PA park, is 10 miles past Boerne. For $22.50 we are escorted up the hill and have the run of a nice clubhouse with a large screen TV. I consider showering and decide it is too cold!  It will be 20 degrees in town tonight and colder at this elevation. The wind is brutal! We are not having fun!  But we are eating good due to the mini Instant Pot.  Our freezer is full of meatloaf, mexican casserole, ham and chicken.
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The next day in a small western town we encounter Jerry and Wanda of Egg Rollings at a gas station.  They are heading for the same RV park in Fort Stockton.  It is great to see them!  That night we enjoy a great dinner together at the Roadrunner Cafe. 
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Another pull through at Fort Stockton RV.
We are members of the Escapees RV club and so are Jerry and Wanda, so it was only natural that we were again going to the same campground, DreamCatchers RV Park in Deming, New Mexico.
From Deming we always go straight into Arizona…normally as fast as possible.  This year we decide to take a look around the area and go south down to Pancho Villa State Park.
There’s a museum at the park that explains the history of Columbus, NM being invaded by Mexico in 1916.  Enjoyed our time there but we were ready to leave the next day, skipping the almost mandatory trip to the Pink Store across the border in Mexico.
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Pancho Villa SP, $14 a night with electric and water.
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As we drive the last stretch into Arizona, it is finally warm, in the 70’s!
We stop for lunch at a I-10 rest area in western New Mexico and pull in behind another Escape….which looks real familiar.  I go up to check it out and, yes, it’s our old friends, Duke and Beverlee from Texas!  We exchange hugs and promises to visit in a few weeks at Quartzsite.
Saturday night, day 8 on the road, we stay at the SKP park in Benson, AZ.  Great place!  We stayed here for 7 nights January 2017.
This time we boondock….$5.58 for members!We are planning to spend another night when I manage to reserve three nights McDowell Mountain Regional Park, close to Fountain Hills, AZ.  We hear that it is really nice…..I’m excited!
We leave Benson with a plan to stay at the Escapees park in Casa Grande but for some reason it just does not feel right. We pull off a side road and call Usery Regional Park where we land on night 9.  Another pull-through and after 2100 miles we still have not unhitched the trailer.
But that status changed two nights ago when we set up camp at McDowell. 
For two and half days we rest. I ride the bike, read, walk and write.  And sit gazing at the mountains….my favorite thing.
Will close with photos from Usery and McDowell.
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Usery
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McDowell
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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ready, Set, Go!


Kentucky Lake at Land Between the Lakes Rally

It is way past time to get this blog updated!  Where did this year go? And these past three months have flown by.

Three months in a nutshell....two fiberglass rallies and one hip replacement.

By mid September it became increasingly obvious that David's left hip was not going to last until March, 2018. We call the hip surgeon and set the process in motion, hoping that it will all work out time wise and not interfere with the winter desert trip.

We have reservations for the Land Between the Lakes rally in early October.  Arriving a few days late due to doctor appointments, we find old friends already there.





We take a break from socializing and go paddling!






We are camping in a different loop and it feels like a new rally.  Managed to get a few nice sunset shots.





We spend time with old friends, make some new friends and just enjoy life.



.......A brief interruption here...I am working with Blogger and Google Photos.  Just experimenting, trying to make blogging easier.

We get back home, wash clothes and head for another rally at Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park.




Now this bunch knows how to party!

(Anticipating some protest, I deleted the karaoke video!)





By mid-October the surgery date is set for 11/6/2017 and we need to get the Escape ready for winter before the operation.  As the trailer lives in storage, we decide to camp at our local county park, Chester Frost, to perform the clean up.








After 4 days of washing, polishing, adding gutters, and winterizing, we are exhausted and ready to go home.



This is the best these two senior citizens can do.  Think we will hire professionals the next time!

Two weeks later we are at the hospital and David's getting another hip replacement.  Definitely a scary procedure for an eighty year old but it is a successful operation.



David is working hard to rehab the hip and doing a great job of it!


Checking up on our neighbors' new house

This brings the blog up to present time where we are counting down to the winter journey.  This will be our 6th year to winter in Arizona! Looking forward to being back in the desert and also to seeing friends.

Miscellaneous thoughts:



Normally each year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I get depressed.  Nothing major, just mild sadness possibly attributed to seasonal affective disorder.  But not this year!  Maybe it's because we have been so incredibly busy but I want to think that the different state of mind is due to internal changes.



This has been the most difficult year.  I have experienced the whole spectrum of feelings from sadness and isolation one year ago to rage, fear and hopelessness.  I have been astonished by a few friends and fretted over their behavior.  Yes, I am talking politics.

But through this pain and darkness there have been gifts.....for I am a better person than I was 


a year ago...a stronger person more willing to say what I need to say and a more forgiving person. Forgiving myself when I react negatively and forgiving others when they are unkind.

I am loving more, including those who want to label me.  And I have hope.

Wishing that everyone finds love, peace and happiness under their Christmas tree this year.








Monday, September 18, 2017

Life Happens, Mountain Vistas

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For weeks, all attempts to write the blog have failed.  Maybe today will be the day?

This photo of our rig makes me smile.  This is taken on the Blue Ridge Parkway while on our way to Balsam Mountain campground in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Three days ago we are packing to go to a local state park when we discover a nasty dent and broken fog light in the front bumper of our big blue beautiful truck.  The guilty party is paying…not going to identify him…but our camping plans for the Land Between the Lakes Rally are on hold until the bodywork can be completed.

(FYI:  My watermark is dated 2016 as I am still using Picasa which is no longer being supported.  Stuck in 2016!)

We really enjoy our three weeks in the western NC, eastern Tennessee mountains! It’s not the same as Colorado but the fun factor is very high!

The eclipse crowd paranoia (mentioned in the last post) is all for nothing!  We walk across the street to the Mt Pisgah Inn and join a small crowd of eclipse seekers.

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The clouds obscure some of it but we see enough to make us happy!

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The day after the eclipse an outfitter puts us on the French Broad River right above the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.  There’s only a few photos as we were often going through mild whitewater…our first time in years to navigate between rocks! We paddle/float a fast six miles downstream.

A few days later the Secretary of the Interior plans to visit the Mt Pisgah area and we decide to move on.  There’s another high elevation campground down the Parkway…one we have never seen. ….Balsam Mountain, elevation 5,310 feet, in the GSMNP.

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Only photo from Balsam Mtn campground. (No hookups, price $8.00 with senior pass)

The campground is small and the sites are close.  It is wonderfully cool!  We don our jeans, long sleeves and vests to sit around a fire.

The next morning David says calmly “I see a bear cub.” Sure enough. I look through the trailer window in time to see a very small black bear run across the road.  Later we hear there’s a momma with three little cubs in the campground.

After one night at Balsam we decide to relocate to Smokemont campground just north of Cherokee, NC.  It is another Smoky Mountain Park camp, more developed and closer to civilization.  The price is $10 a night with senior pass. No hookups but there is a dump.

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Creek running through Smokemont campground.

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Elk grazing on the side of the road…just below Smokemont.

Escape trailer friends are camping in the Cosby campground on the northern side of the Smoky Mountains.  We drive over to the Gatlinburg side of the park, happy to see very little scars from the intense fires of last year!

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We enjoy two days of catching up, going out to eat and cooking.  We visit a farmer’s market and find beautiful fresh green beans.  Our friends have a generator and offer to run it while we cook beans in our mini instant pot.  Fresh corn on the cob and green beans are the perfect evening meal after a caloric lunch.  (And I had a great time teaching them how to “string” beans!)

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This is our first time to cook with a generator as we do not have one.

Our 80 watt solar suitcase normally meets all our electric needs.  This trip is different, though, as we are in heavy shade for four days and the battery begins to to slowly drop.

The weather forecast is not good!  The hurricane from Houston is heading toward the mountains bringing lots of rain.  We have been out three weeks and decide to go home.

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Some thoughts on our life and life in general…..

As I write this morning we are preparing to join David’s high school class for their 80th birthday celebration….they celebrate their milestone birthdays together.

This coming weekend we will attend my 50 year class reunion…which is one of the reasons we chose to be home in September.

Aging continues to factor in on what we do.  We continue to be so very grateful for the ability to travel.

Note to you youngsters……don’t delay your life!  Get out there and do your dreams NOW!