Bill and Kit’s 2011 Excellent Adventure-Journal #13

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.  I travel for travel’s sake.  The great affair is to move.”

Robert Louis Stevenson


Thursday, March 3, 2011:  Underway at 0915 following a great visit with Charlie and Terri in Prescott, Arizona.  We decided to take AZ-89 up into the Prescott National Forest, which features the largest stand of ponderosa Pine in the country.  There was very little traffic and the roads, although steep and winding, are very well maintained.

Topping out at 6,100 feet elevation we pulled over for a snack and to walk around a bit.  The temperature was a pleasant 43 degrees, and the air was clear and sweet with the fragrance of pine…..what a great morning to be in the woods.

At 6,100 feet in elevation one would expect a little snow……even in Arizona.  After all this is almost 1,000 feet higher than Mount Katahdin back home.  Believe it or not, we kind of enjoyed being in the snow again.

It has been less than one hour since we started our climb up into the mountains and we are back in the desert.  As we neared Congress, Arizona, and pondered the town’s name.  It occurred to me that this place may be unique as, true to its namesake, it must be populated by village idiots and political nutcases that work very hard at mismanaging their economy while advancing their pathetic political careers.  Um…..sorry, every time I see the word congress, I get like this.

Moving over to AZ-71 we soon entered the little town of Aquila where we hooked up with our old friend US-60.  Soon we were on I-10 heading west toward Quartzite.  Well this is where it got a bit interesting.  There was one fuel station open between Prescott and I-10, and that was in a little one pump town where the price was ridiculous.  My “Miles to Go before Empty” computer thingie showed we had enough gas to get to I-10 where there would surely be many fuel opportunities.  Nope, just barren desert.  Lucy showed the closest fuel was in Quartzite 15 miles away.  I had enough fuel to go another 10 miles.  Got a bit tense until I remembered we had two gallons of gas in our generator gas can…..problem solved.  In Quartzite, according to the computer thingie, I took on 27 gallons of gas in my 26 gallon tank.  Oh, I also filled up the generators tank as well.

From Quartzite, we took US-95 heading south toward Yuma, Arizona where we pulled into the US Army proving Ground’s RV Park for the evening.

 

Friday, March 4, 2011:  Enjoyed a lazy morning as we took our sweet time getting on the road.  Departing Yuma around noon the skies were sunny and the temperature was 74 degrees.  Noticed on Lucy that the current elevation is 140 feet above sea level…..a big environmental change since yesterday.

We decided to meander a bit and took dozens of farm roads as we traveled through the agricultural area of Imperial Valley.  There were miles and miles of crops being tended by hundreds of workers.

Nearing Bard, Arizona we noticed a sign that said “Imperial Date Farm–2 miles” and figured it was some sort of dude ranch for singles.  However it turned out to be an actual date farm surrounded by fields of Date Palm Tree’s.

In two miles we came to The Imperial Date Gardens Restaurant and Gift Shop.  Looked as good a place to stop for a break so stop we did.  The store was filled with all things date related and we picked up a bag of fresh dates as well as a couple of date shakes…..all of which was delicious!

As we neared I-8 we noticed a sign for The Cloud Museum…..didn’t stop, but should have.  I haven’t a clue what a cloud museum would be like.

Once on I-8 we continued our westward travels and soon crossed the California border.  A quick stop in El Centro for some Wal*Mart shopping and walking around time and we were off rolling once again.

As we neared the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego, we passed a sign that said we were at sea level…..the temperature is currently 81 degrees.  Forty five minutes later we are at 4,181 feet and the temperature had dropped to 66 degrees.

At 1730 we rolled into Admiral Baker RV Park in Mission Valley for a one week stay.

 

Saturday, March 5, 2011 through Thursday, March 10, 2011—San Diego: We had a great time in our old home town of San Diego camping in a very nice full hook-up site at the Admiral Baker Navy Recreation Field.

Admiral Baker is a stone’s throw from where Kit and I grew up and provided a convenient and comfortable setting for our time in this great city with the fabulous weather.  Here is a photo taken from the mesa where we grew up looking into the valley where we are currently camped.

The park has a world class golf course.

And a very nice pool.

As well as recreation fields for all ages.

 

Admiral Baker Field has all the amenities of any full service campground.  However during our stay the laundry room was out of commission so off we went to a Laundromat in town.  Now readers may recall that, after the Great Nova Scotia Flood of 2010, I am serving a lifetime restriction from having anything to do with the laundry.  So after walking a few laps of the parking lot I dared enter Kit’s domain and was surprised to find a television.  Being midday it looked to be a soap opera and was actually pretty boring.  However it did keep me occupied for a few hours and out of Kit’s hair.

 

Somehow, our little website caught the attention of San Diego based JDF Publishing.  So while in town we were visited by the founder and CEO, Mr. Juan Diego.  Below is a photo of Juan and I discussing a potential book deal.

OK…..that’s actually my brother in law, John.  However he does have a few self-published books in the market as well as a number of online T-shirt shops.  He did encourage me to consider compiling some of these journals into a travel book of sorts…..we’ll see.

Kit and I had a great time visiting with her brother and remembering childhood adventures.  John is one of the few family members that continue to reside in San Diego.  You will notice that John is modeling one of his very creative T-shirt designs in the photo below.

 

As I’ve often said, San Diego is a great city with the best weather anywhere.  However it is a large city with all the associated problems of any large city.  Even though the traffic here isn’t as bad as the traffic in Los Angeles…..it is still pretty bad.   As we went out exploring one day we came across this interesting scene.

Apparently some commuter decided to do some off-roading and ran over a fire hydrant.  The resulting fountain was a rather attractive addition to this particular corner of Mission Valley.  As an amusing side note notice the sign on the wall.

 

One evening, Kit and I met up with some friends for dinner at a very nice Mexican restaurant in Old Town San Diego.

Scott and Marie have been living in San Diego for just over a year.  I used to work with Scott up in Maine before the company transferred him to San Diego.  We had a very nice time mingling with the Saturday night crowd while enjoying great food and drink with a fantastic couple.

 

On another day, we decided to check out the old Naval Training Center off of Rosecrans Boulevard.  The base had been an active Navy training facility for over 70 years.  At the height of World War II 33,000 young recruits were being trained there…..at the same time!  This prime bit of San Diego real estate was given over to the city when the Navy closed the center.  Since I went to boot camp here back in 1965 I had a keen interest in seeing how much it had changed.  I was surprised that I recognized many of the buildings and that the city had done a great job in preserving this bit of San Diego history now called Liberty Station.

Even the old training ship, USS Recruit was still in great shape.  Built and commissioned in 1949, the landlocked ship had been in continuous service for close to 50 years.

She was affectionately called “USS Neversail” by the thousands of recruits that trained on her.  Including this dorky looking sailor shown with his young bride.

That folks, is our wedding picture taken on some day in June I think,  of 1965…..which was just days before I obtained my driver’s license and we headed out for our first duty station of Key West Florida.  Yea…..I do remember it was June 4th as it was the day I became as happy as all my other married friends.

One of the guys that came to my graduation from boot camp was my best (male) friend Rodney.  Kit and I reunited with Rodney a few years ago and look forward to visiting with him and his wife Gloria whenever we get to town.  Rodney is Marta’s brother who you met in our last journal when we visited Sun City, Arizona.  Rodney and Gloria graciously invited us to visit them at their home in the eastern San Diego town of El Cajon.

Gloria made us a fine meal and we enjoyed getting caught up on each other’s lives.  While enjoying their company we were delighted when they announced that they are planning a trip east and may take us up on our offer to host them in Maine this summer.  We really hope their plans work out!

 

After a great few days in our old hometown it was time to motor on.  Tomorrow will mark the two month point of this year’s Excellent Adventure.  We have traveled 5,643 miles and are currently at our planned westernmost point…..any further west and we would get mighty wet!  So come dawn we are officially on our way home…..however the return trip is likely to take about three months.  We now have passports and central Canada beckons.

Kit’s Four Cents Worth:  We had a nice time in San Diego.  Other than one cold and rainy day, the weather was absolutely perfect, just as I remember it when we were kids.  Our tour of Liberty Station was enjoyable – the city has done a great job (and continues with it) on making an old military base very family friendly and appealing to locals and visitors as well.  While we were able to do a bit of exploring the SD area this time, we missed seeing some of our family and friends, due to our poor planning ahead.  Next time, we will try and do better letting people know we will be in the area.  Sometimes, we get carried away “ozzing around”!  L

 

Love, Dad/Bill/Poppy and Mom/Kit/

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Bill and Kit’s 2011 Excellent Adventure-Journal #12

On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way

Willie Nelson


Thursday, February 24, 2011:  Before leaving Tucson, we stopped for one last visit with mom.  I took the opportunity to call many of her family and friends so she could chat.

I would like to thank all who commented that my mom looked great.  She does well on most days…..however she also has some bad days.  The famous smile and twinkle in her eyes is still there and her long term memory is very good.  We made frequent visits of short duration as she tires easily.  Here is one of my favorite photos out of the dozens I took of her on this trip.

After a great time in Tucson, Kit and I are indeed on the road again.  After dumping tanks at RV Central ($5.00) and getting fuel ($5.00—-not really, but close) we jumped on I-10 heading north.  We noticed a preponderance of RV’s heading in both directions on I-10.  Big RV’s, medium sized RV’s even teeny tiny RV’s.  The most we have seen on any stretch of highway anywhere…..everyone is apparently interested in going somewhere else.

I-10 is also the cleanest stretch of highway we have seen in days.  Not a scrap of paper or witches knickers to be seen anywhere.  Remember, this is the domain of Sheriff Joe!  Even litterbugs don’t want to be wearing pink jumpsuits and made fun of.  Gotta love Arizona justice.

Arriving in Sun City, a bit north of Phoenix we decided to stay the night at Paradise RV Resort.  The place in huge…..it has 947 sites and they only had two vacancies!  We received a considerable discount on the rather high nightly rate because we were “Fillers”.  Folks that are only in the park for a few days and agree to move to any available site to fill the park.  Fortunately we only had to move once, an easy chore for us.

The traffic in and around Phoenix was very heavy. Apparently this area is where about a half dozen professional baseball teams hold spring training, also known as The Cactus League.  In addition there was a NASCAR race this weekend.

Before turning in for the night we enjoyed homemade Tamales that Manny had given us as we left Tucson.  They were incredible!

Friday, February 25 2011 through Sunday, February 27, 2011–Sun City, Arizona.  Paradise RV Resort is a full featured RV park that has all the amenities the discriminating retiree would want.

There is a large activities center with many craft shops, a billiard hall, library, workout room, ballroom and a diner.  In addition there is a nice pool area with two hot tubs.

There are many Park Model Trailers set up on landscaped lots.

A number of lots that are owned by RV’rs where they park their high end motorhomes.

And then there was us…..in the ghetto.

No landscaping, no plastic lawn art and that puddle of water outside our door was our authorized swimming area.  OK…..actually it rained a bit last night, an event for great celebration in this arid environment.

All in all this place was just ducky.

We discovered that some square dance friends from back in Maine are spending part of the winter in the area.  So we made arrangements to visit with Len and Bev over a delicious meal at the Claim Jumper restaurant.

After a few hours visiting and enjoying the company of this delightful couple we headed back to Paradise.  On the way we came across this car stopped at a light.

Gee, I wonder what this guy does for a living?  I bet he is one popular MD in a retirement community like Sun City.

One of the main reasons for coming to Sun City was to visit an old friend from back in the old neighborhood.  Martha is the sister of my best childhood friend, Rodney.  And since I didn’t have a sister of my own, I helped Rodney aggravate his.  Martha and her husband Tommy live in a very nice home on one of the many golf courses in the area.  Her 95 year old father, Mr. O, lives independently a short distance away.  Martha and Tommy invited us all over for a meal and to get caught up on the past 46 years.  It was an unbelievable experience for Kit and I…..we were instantly transported back to 1965.

Marti and Tommy are an incredible couple.  She works at the local children’s cancer center and Tommy is a retired actor with many stage, film and television roles to his credit.

Spending time with them and Mr. O was a thoroughly enjoyable and inspirational experience.  Tommy grew up in Connecticut so he and Marti occasionally make trips back east to visit relatives.  We hope they take us up on our offer to visit us in Maine so we can continue getting reacquainted.

Monday, February 28, 2011:  On the road under clear skies and temperatures in the 60’s.  We chose I-17 then AZ-69 to head north toward Prescott Valley, Arizona.  This is the new hometown of another square dance couple from Maine, Charlie and Terri.  Also there to greet us was yet another square dance friend, Mary, who had relocated to Prescott Valley as well.

Charlie is a retired auto mechanic and Terri is a retired elementary school teacher.  Mary works as a heart catheterization specialist at the local medical center.  We had a great time visiting and talking about our shared interest in the activity of Square Dancing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 and Wednesday, March 2, 2011–Prescott Valley, Arizona:  Charlie and Teri have a beautiful home on a hillside where they enjoy incredible views of the valley and surrounding mountains.  Being that the house is on a hill the dooryard surfing possibilities were somewhat restricted.  However Charlie helped me shoehorn the trailer into a reasonably level spot.

It is hard to tell from the photo above but the ground slopes off rather dramatically at the rear of our trailer.  However the view out our window every morning was impressive.

Yep folks…..that’s snow you see.  Even though this is Arizona, Prescott is in the mountains and snow is a fact of life.  Fortunately the snow doesn’t accumulate much and the temperature rarely stays below freezing.

There is a tavern in the older part of Prescott called The Palace.  Legend has it that one day the town caught fire and the patrons of The Palace picked up the long wooden bar, carried it across the street and continued to drink while the building and most of the rest of the town continued to burn.  After rebuilding the structure the original bar was reinstalled and is in use today.

The Palace has an interesting theatrical history as well.  Many movies were shot in the bar, the most famous being Steve McQueen’s, Junior Bonner.

We enjoyed a great meal in a great historic old saloon with some great friends.

On one afternoon, when Terri had a prior commitment, Charlie took us on a tour to some of the sights in the area.  There are a number of lakes in and around Prescott.  Many offer camping and have a reputation as being prime fishing spots.  Lynx Lake is one such place.

As I was taking Kit’s picture on the snowy shores of Lynx Lake I was wondering why that snowball was getting larger…..then it suddenly came to me.

Another interesting body of water in Prescott Valley is Willow Lake.

Great potential for some quality kayaking…..however not enough time on this trip.  We will certainly return in the future and I will get my boat on these waters.  There were many interesting rock formations that would be a blast to paddle through.

Among the many critters in and around the lakes were these geese.

The poor fellow on the right is called Hop-along by the park rangers.  He is awaiting a replacement limb, probably taken from a Pinyon Pine tree.  OK, just kidding, most of the geese on the particular day had one leg tucked against their body to retain heat.

On our last full day in the area, Kit and I took a day to drive to the town of Sedona.  This magical place sits at 4,330 feet at the base of the Colorado Plateau and features some of the most stunning natural scenery in the US.  As we came into town we were met by this inspiring and breathtaking view.

The brilliant red-orange sandstone formations are everywhere one looks.  This below formation is called Cathedral Rock.

The layer upon layer of stratified rock is a 320,000,000 year geological timeline.

Fossilized sea creatures are frequently found in the sandstone layers.

One of the most photographed formations is called Bell Rock, and serves as a landmark in town.

Another interesting formation with a rather whimsical name is Snoopy Rock.  Look for Snoopy lying atop his doghouse in the center of the below photo.

One reason we had such a great time in Sedona was that Terri gave us a list of must see and do’s for us to follow.  Kit and I systematically followed her advice and I’m sure we enjoyed far more experiences than if we had been on our own.  One must do was lunch at The Hideaway.  As the name implies it is an out of the way favorite of the locals.  The food, service, ambiance and views of the red rocks were fantastic!

Sedona is home to the New Age movement and the famous Harmonic Convergence Vortexes.  One of these spiraling energy forces is located on Airport Mesa where a commanding view of the town can be viewed.

Mr. Bill, Marvelous Monkey and I sat at the epicenter of the Vortex energy field.  We enjoyed its spiritual and psychic powers while our Aura was being cleansed.  Kit however remained in town and shopped where she enjoyed herself as my billfold was being cleansed as well.  I think I see her on the sidewalk in the lower right of the above picture.  Wave at her…..can you see her shopping bag laden arm waving back?

As the afternoon waned and we had to leave, we both promised to return and enjoy even more of this special place.

Kit’s Three Cents Worth: Reuniting with Martha after all these years was wonderful!  She has such a zest for life and it was so much fun remembering all the mischief Bill and Rodney got into when they were kids.  Mr. O got quite a kick out of it too and remembered things we had long forgotten.  Meeting Tommy was great, too!  We’ve heard about him and his acting career for many years; just had never had a chance to meet him till now.  What a character he is!

Also, lots of fun staying with Charlie and Terri and seeing Mary and meeting her mom, Cindy.  We had square danced with them a few years ago and whenever they came back to Maine to visit they had invited us out to AZ for a visit.  Love their new home and the entire area of Prescott and Prescott Valley!  The year round temps there are comfortable and the town has lots to offer, wide open spaces, beautiful views and all the major stores one would frequent.  A truly delightful place to live.  I can see why many northerners make this their winter home!

Love, Dad/Bill/Poppy and Mom/Kit/Guma

Bill and Kit’s 2011 Excellent Adventure-Journal #11

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

Miriam Beard

 

Sunday, February 13, 2011 through Wednesday, February 23, 2011–Doobie RV Resort, Tucson, Arizona:  This incredible city is our winter hometown.  Not only does my mom live here, but my bruzzin Dewey, bruzzin-in-law Bea and my other-brother Dan.

For the past four years, Mom has lived in a very nice assisted living facility in the northern part of town.

Mom was always the consummate party girl and advancing age hasn’t diminished that.  It is fun to hear of her tales as a member of the military during World War II and of my early childhood antics while growing up in Hawaii and San Diego.

Mom’s place, Crossroads Adult Care Home, is a nice intimate facility situated on beautifully landscaped grounds with incredible views of the surrounding mountains.  I will direct your attention to the website only so you can see a picture of my mom featured on the cover of their brochure. http://www.crossroadsadultcare.com/.  After 86 years she has finally attained her 15 minutes of fame.

My bruzzin, Dewey retired to the Tucson area after a successful career in the telecommunication field.  He served in the Navy onboard submarines and is now a certified Desert Rat.

My other-brother, Dan works hard as a chef at the El Conquistador Resort.

And last, but not least, my bruzzin-in-law Bea is an RN and a recent retiree from Northwest Medical Center.

These four folks are why Kit and I return to Tucson year after year.  Of course the great weather doesn’t hurt.

There are three other very entertaining residents at The Doobie RV Resort as well.  They are so active I had to wait for afternoon siesta time to snap their photos.

Sammy is the Alpha Female and keeps the other two juvenile delinquents in check.

Nile, the lanky teenager, has an innate and highly developed ability in the field of Counter Intelligence.  If it’s edible, and on the counter, it is his!

And then there is Max, the kid of the bunch whose main role is to aggravate his siblings.

While here we enjoyed all our favorite Mexican fare at all of our favorite local places.  Our dining experiences ran the gamut from street venders to four star restaurants.  There are very few places north of the border that can equal Tucson for Mexican cuisine.

For a change of pace, Saturday night we did it up right when Dew and Bea took us to their favorite flamingo restaurant.  Now I have never tasted flamingo but I was betting that it tasted a lot like chicken…..with less meat on the skinny leg bones.

Well, I misunderstood…..this place was a Flamenco Restaurant, complete with live music and pretty dancing girls.

We had a great time eating, drinking and being Mary…..or is that spelled merry?

Dewey and Bea were so excited at sharing this place with us that they were beside themselves with joy!

There was no roasted flamingo on the menu but we enjoyed a variety of eight different tapas ranging from squid to smelt.  First time I ever ate bait for dinner……well, at least sober.

In addition we enjoyed some team cooking at home.  Dewey and Bea put on a huge Sunday Brunch and invited many of their friends and neighbors in.

And I served as the bartender where I learned to make Margaritas with a splash of orange juice.  Who knew…..a healthier Margarita!

Kit and I, as most of America, were moved by the senseless tragedy in Tucson last month.  We made time to visit the Safeway that was the location of the terrible incident.  Inside the store, there was a huge yellow banner containing thousands of kind words and healing messages from the local citizens.  At the entrance, on this particular day, right at the scene of the tragedy, there was a table set up with a couple of enthusiastic Girl Scouts selling cookies.  Life does indeed go on.

We then made a pilgrimage to Gabby Giffords office downtown.

The office manager greeted us warmly, asked us to sign the guest book, and directed us to a small store where blue bracelets were being sold as a fundraiser for Gabby’s slain aide, Gabe Zimmerman.

While we were visiting Tucson our cell phone plan expired so off to the Verizon store we went.  Kit and I traded our reasonably intelligent phones in on two new smart phones.  Now, I’m not sure I like my appliances to be smarter than I am but I felt obligated to keep up with the times.  Now I can instantly view all the intellectual material on You Tube and forward all those e-mails that promise I’ll get something of value in 48 hours.

We also made our obligatory stops at Trader Joes, Rubio’s and The Summit Hut.  We also shopped at Savers where I picked up even more Hawaiian shirts…..after all I have to be true to my people and their heritage by sporting their native dress.  I just wish I had the legs for wearing them.

We have been carrying on an e-mail friendship with a fellow RV’ing couple for the past few months.  Chuck and Lea Rae are from Minnesota and connected up with us through our website.  We finally where in the same part of the country at the same time and took the opportunity to meet in person.

Kit and I had a great time getting to know this delightful couple and sharing our personal histories.  They are traveling in an Artic Fox trailer a bit larger than ours so we had a lot of trailer and RV talk to get through.  We invited them to visit us in Maine this summer and hope they take us up on the opportunity.

Chuck and Lea Rae were camping at a State Park in the Tucson Mountains.  As we made our way back toward town the waning day provided outstanding light to photograph this beautiful area.

Since it was time for the trucks oil change and since we were in Tucson, I took her to my favorite dealership, Watson’s Chevrolet.  After a few minutes, the service manager came out and informed me that transmission oil was leaking from the front seal.  I didn’t even know they used seal’s in modern engines…..hope the ASPCA doesn’t find out about this.  Anyway, the only way to fix it would to leave the truck overnight as they had to drop the transmission.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that the repair was covered under warranty.  Then more good news followed…..GM had authorized a rental car for us to use.  So we drove around in a 2010 Malibu for the next day and a half.  Gotta love the new focus on customer satisfaction that the American car manufactures have adopted!

Dewey and I decided it would be fun to get a couple of slingshots and shoot at the nice iron garden silhouettes that Bea so carefully placed around her beautifully landscaped back yard.  There was no shortage of ammo as appropriate sized and shaped stones were in abundance.  We kind of kept score by counting the satisfying “plink” that rewarded the successful shooter.

By unanimous decision Dead Eye Dewey was crowned the champion by Bea…..the lump on his head should go away in a few days.

Most evenings we sat around in the back yard, enjoying a few cocktails, and marveling at the star lit sky.  On a few occasions, when the temperature dropped into the 60’s, a campfire was prepared.  One of us four is a closet pyromaniac.

My bruzzin Dewey has a 1955 Chevrolet that was originally his father’s (my uncle/stepfather/uncle).  Dewey the elder loved 55 Chevy’s and had a number of them at any one time…..only a few of which were road worthy and the rest being “parts cars”.  Well Dewey senior passed this particular 55 on to Dan (my other-brother) who then passed it on to my bruzzin, Dewey junior. (Anybody else confused…..my family tree resembles a telephone pole.)  Anyway Dewey Junior restored the car to original condition some years ago.  However with the original 235 CID six cylinder and 2 speed powerglide transmission it wasn’t the peppiest or most reliable car on the road.  So last year he contracted with a local mechanic to drop a 350 CID crate motor in the thing and add power steering, power disc brakes and an air conditioner.  We were lucky enough to be in town when the finished 55 Chevy was delivered.

So obviously the newly rebuilt 55 Chevy became the vehicle of choice for all our remaining outings.  We took it to a local Mexican joint where I had the best Carne Asada of my life then as we were leaving the restaurant we enjoyed this sunset through the tinted windows.

As Bea snuggled next to Dew and Kit and I sat side by side in the large back seat we felt like teenagers on a double date.  I politely asked Dew to take the long way home and to keep his eyes straight ahead.  Just like back in the good old days of the early 1960’s it didn’t do me any good.

Kit’s Three Cents Worth:  While in Tucson, I had an opportunity to meet my friend Sandy for lunch.

She is the daughter of my good friend Pat, in Maine; well, she’s in Florida now – keeping herself very busy in her new neighborhood.  Anyway, Sandy and I had a great time catching up on lots of things.  She loves Tucson and the beautiful weather here, doesn’t seem to miss the snow (and ice) in New England at all.

Love, Dad/Bill/Poppy and Mom/Kit/Guma

Bill and Kit’s 2011 Excellent Adventure-Journal #10

I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.

Mark Twain

Wednesday, February 9, 2011:  Well, this morning we reluctantly leave Big Bend national Park.  It has been a great visit and we are already making plans to come here again on a future trip.

First a side note.  Before we hit the road I want to share with you some interesting folks we met a few days ago.  Rudi and Rita are a middle age couple from Germany who are in the midst of a multi-year around the world RV trip aboard this beast.

It is a custom all-terrain vehicle sitting on a Volvo truck chassis.  The thing is 28 feet long, 8 feet wide, 12 feet high and weighs 16 tons.  It is known as a Special Expedition Vehicle and is made by the Langer and Bock Company of Germany.  The 9.0 liter diesel engine produces 300 horsepower and averages 7 MPG.  It carries 200 gallons of diesel fuel which in addition to feeding the engine also powers the heater and generator.  The rig can make 80% of its electrical power needs with rooftop solar panels and can filter and purify water from most any source.

I parked our truck next to the behemoth and took the opportunity to shoot some photos that show the real size of the thing.

This thing makes my truck look like a toy!

Rudi and Rita are an interesting couple on a fabulous adventure.  Check out their website at: http://www.menrad-international.com/english/motivation/.

On another side note:  We have mentioned the unseasonably cool temperatures on some days in some parts of the southwest.  However we were jolted back to reality by a couple of photos sent us over the past few days.

The first was sent to us by our daughter Kim and is of our home after one of the many blizzards to hit coastal Maine.

And the second is of our Camp sent to us by our son Joe on the day he rode his snowmobile across the lake to clear the snow off the sunroom roof.

So…..after viewing these photos, we guess the cool temperatures we have experienced are not bad after all.

OK, on with today’s journal.  We hit the road at 1000 under cloudy and windy skies with temperatures in the 30’s.  We chose TX-118 heading North through the towns of Study Butte (pronounced “Sturdy Butt”), over Hog Egg Mountain and on into Teralingua, home of the Ten Bits Ranch

If you’re looking for inexpensive land this is the area.  We came across numerous “Land for Sale” signs and most were for $300.00 per acre.  Of course that includes a whole lot of nothing…..as far as the eye can see…..and that’s pretty darn far!

As we climbed into the mountains the temperature dropped to the mid 20’s.  We topped out at 4,657 feet before descending into Alpine, Texas where we rejoined US-90 for our journey west.

Passing by the town of Marfa, Texas (population 2121) we were intrigued by the sign for the Marfa Mystery Lights observation tower.  However since it was only midday we decided to pass on this legendary local phenomenon.

A few miles down the road we came upon a USAF Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) facility.  Another fine Lockheed product…..and, like most everyone I came into contact at LM corporate headquarters it’s basically a big wind bag that sits around and doesn’t do much.

This part of Texas is so flat we spotted I-10 from 9.2 miles away.  Even the mountains are flat on top.

In the small town of Van Horn we jumped on I-10 to make better progress.  We soon came upon a motorhome in the opposing lane.  It was pulling a travel trailer which in turn was pulling a utility trailer with a port-a-potty aboard.  Nope…..don’t have a clue.

Crossing into the Mountain Time zone we gained an hour and decided to use it to get to El Paso at a slower pace.  The town of El Paso takes its name from the pioneers that settled the western frontier.  The word, of course, is Spanish and loosely translates to “don’t come near this place, there is nothing here of interest…..or it’s full correct name, El Paso de Placeo”.  You may surmise that we dislike large cities and you would be correct.  However there is virtually no way to pass El Paso if one is traveling west along the southern border.  Of course you could detour through Mexico.  Um, if you do, let me know how that works for ya.

North of El Paso sits the US Army post of Fort Bliss.  A rather peculiar name for a military installation that specializes in blowing crap up.  There is a large and very nice RV Park on the base and it served us well for a short stay to dump tanks, resupply (the pantry…..not the tanks), take care of laundry and rest up a bit.

This fellow was camping near us.  Can you guess his martial state?

That evening I decided to partake of a popular local drink.

It possessed an intriguing bouquet and an unusual aftertaste as it tickled my palate, unfortunately it also gave me severe gas.

 

 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 through Thursday, February 10, 2011—Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas.

This base is huge!  It encompasses 1,700 square miles and is the second largest US Army post in the world.  The largest at 3,200 square miles?  Well that would be White Sands Missile Range which is located in New Mexico 70 miles to the north.  If it wasn’t for these two very large military installations El Paso would be just a small dusty west Texas town instead of the large dusty west Texas megalopolis it has become.

The base has over 35, 000 personnel assigned at any one time.  It is a major training facility for various artillery, battle tank and missile divisions.  The base also features a brand new Post Exchange (PX) which rivals any large US shopping mall, in size and appearance.  The food court alone contains 15 different restaurants.  We decided to partake of lunch in the food court and enjoyed the best Texas Barbeque this side of Kyle, Texas.

It was noon and most of the 35,000 personnel apparently decided to eat at the new PX Food Court.  The place was packed!  As we sat in the middle of a sea (or should that be field) of fatigue wearing soldiers we couldn’t help but overhear some conversations.  Most were chatter about cars, girls, boys (after all this is the new military) and what NCO was the biggest jerk.  However a lot of the conversations turned to stories about time served in the Persian Gulf.  The stories were interesting and heartbreaking.  A lot of these very young patriots were battle hardened combat warriors and it was an honor to sit amongst them.

El Paso is also home to the National Border Patrol Museum.  We decided to tour this comprehensive and educational facility.  There were many interesting exhibits.  The following photo shows the various types of vehicles the Border Patrol uses.

And the various vehicles the illegal aliens use.

And a rather interesting display of foot wear that illegals use to mask the fact that humans passed over the border…..an example follows.

It is a pair of sandal’s that would be used to represent a sombrero wearing two legged cow walking upright through the night while carrying a large bedroll and jugs of water.

Saturday, February 12, 2011:  Underway at 0930 hours under normal steaming on one engine.  On a solo transit at a course of 260 degrees, speed 55.  After two days on an Army base I had to spout some Navy lingo.

Traveling on TX-54 west to FM (Farm Road)-3255 and on into New Mexico.  Yep…..it’s a farm road; there are a number of cattle farms as far as the nose can smell!  Miles and miles of well-fed bovines and their of methane gas producing piles of cattle cookies.

We moved on over to NM-404 until we reached I-10 near the town of Las Cruces.  Traveling west on the interstate we made quick time of our transit across New Mexico and entered Arizona at 1320.  Stopping at the rest area in the Chiricahua Mountains, we took a break for a horizontal rest…..hey; it is called a rest stop after all.

We decided to take Business I-10 through many of the small towns that have developed all along the I-10 corridor.  While taking these parallel detours we came to the town of Benson where we decided to pull into a small restaurant for a late lunch.  The Apple Farm Restaurant turned out to be a local favorite featuring delicious down home country cooking, and of course, all things apple.  Once again we scored by staying out of the fast food chains and opting for the local joints.

Pulled into Tucson and headed straight for the Doobie RV Resort and our all-time favorite camping site.  This place is phenomenal…..it is run by a delightful couple with an unbelievable zest for life.

This very exclusive resort only has one full hook-up site and one additional overflow site.  It does feature beautiful grounds, a very nice bathroom facility, home cooked Mexican meals, an open bar and a hot tub.  The piece de résistance however, is the rooftop deck to enjoy a cocktail as one enjoys the view of the sun rising and setting over the surrounding mountains.

The owners of this paradise in the desert are my Bruzzin, Dew and my Bruzzin-in-law, Bea (get it?…..Doobie?).  Since I can’t miss an opportunity to try and explain my somewhat convoluted family tree here goes.  My Bruzzin, Dewey, came into my life because my mother married my uncle.  Sooooo, Dewey and I were formerly cousins but then became step brothers.  And, (are you still with me?) since that union didn’t work out we technically became cousins again.  However, that term seemed wrong to describe the relationship we had formed so we just simply call each other “Bruzzins”.  And yes…..there is likely a “Brunkle” out there somewhere.

Kit’s Two Cents Worth:  Whoa!  I still don’t get this after nearly 50 years in this family.  But, I guess it works for them.  LOL.  We had a good transit from Fort Bliss to Camp DewBea – looking forward to some QT (quality time) with family during the next couple of weeks.

Love, Dad/Bill/Poppy and Mom/Kit/Guma