“This Year Marks Our 10th Winter RV Trip”
Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.
Thursday, December 21, 2017: Woke to sunny skies and warming temperatures following a crisp, clear Arizona night. Today is to be a travel day, so over breakfast Kit and I discussed where we might stay overnight during our 450-mile trek northwest toward Las Vegas. There was a time that 450 miles in one day while piloting an RV seemed reasonable. However, we try to adhere to our self-imposed restriction of 300-mile travel days, so the plan today is to stop approximately mid distance for the night.
Underway at 0903 hours from one of the best camping opportunities in the nation…the dooryard of my brother Dewey and sister-in-law, Bea!
Thanks guys for a great stay! It would’ve been even better if you had been able to join us (insert winking smiley face emoji here).
Leaving Tucson found us on I-10 rolling through the high desert terrain of Central Arizona.
Then looped around Phoenix and shifted over to a few other highways that didn’t get recorded in the log book as my trusty scribe, navigation questioner, and personal fault finder was fast asleep.
Once aroused from her slumber, sleeping beauty and I discussed heading to the town of Laughlin located across the Nevada border from Bullhead City, Arizona. Laughlin, a mini-Vegas features half a dozen casinos nestled along the Colorado River offers, as many casinos do, free overnight RV parking in their parking lot. However, instead we decided to see about staying in the small Arizona town of Wickenburg. So, hopping over to US-60 we hit the open desert once again as the winds started increasing from the west.
Since our destination was just an hour away and traffic was light, we slowed and battled the buffeting winds all the way into Wickenburg.
Using the app All-Stays, Kit located the Desert Cypress RV Park and pulled in shortly after noon selecting a nice site for the evening.
This clean and well laid out RV park is primarily full of long term seasonal folks, evident by the personalization of their sites.
However, in the section we were in, there appeared to be nomadic RV’rs such as ourselves who are just here for a day or two. All the folks we met in the park were friendly and only needed an ears scratch or two in order to accept us East Coast folks.
And Geri, the park manager, welcomed us with a couple of gifts from one of the local bakeries.
Oven fresh Blueberry Lemon Bread and Marionberry Jelly! Marionberry, which we were unfamiliar with, is a uniquely flavored fruit developed by the University of Oregon from two blackberry species. Known as the Cabernet of Blackberries for its robust flavor, the Marionberry is quickly becoming the favorite fruit of cooks and bakers. The bread, warmed and topped with Jelly, was incredible…and did not last long in our camper’s pantry!
Kit and I choose this RV park due to its convenient location. Not wanting to disconnect truck from trailer just for an overnight stay, we easily walked to town over the pedestrian walkway that crosses the raging Hassayampa River.
The “No Fishing from Bridge” sign seems unnecessary, however according to locals the dry wash can quickly fill during the Monsoon Season. The cement bridge to the left in the photo above is the new automobile bridge bringing traffic into town. The old span on the right was kept as a pedestrian walking mall complete with park benches and picnic tables.
Wickenburg, founded by German prospector Henry Wickenburg, is a west central town in Yavapai County with a population of 6,363 souls. Back in 1863 Old Henry struck paydirt and later staked the famous Vulture Mine which produced $30,000,000.00 worth of gold…to put that into perspective, it would be Seven Hundred Million Dollars today! But alas, poor Henry was not to benefit much from the claim as he sold his mineral rights early on and, even though receiving a substantial amount of money for the times, died penniless due to his mismanagement in addition to being swindled by the new mine owners.
The early town, populated by over 5,000 settlers, became a battleground between the Yavapai Natives and the newly arrived palefaces. Pitched skirmishes ensued and both sides lost lives and lands before the US Army drove the Native Peoples onto reservations, where they remain to this day.
After the mines played out in the early 1900’s, the area reinvented itself and western themed guest homes thrived. These Dude Ranches catered to the tenderfoot from back east and immersed the greenhorn’s in all things cowboy, such as horse riding and cow punching…whatever that is. Some of these early tourist ranches still exist and make up a portion of Wickenburg’s economy. There are signs about town that capitalize on the towns cowboy past.
The wild west in those days was truly wild…and the earliest form of western incarceration is memorialized in the town center.
Wickenburg’s Jail Tree was a stout Mesquite sporting a chain where scofflaws were shackled, and it still stands after being replaced by a proper Hoosegow. In more recent times, as the story is told, parents used to threaten their unruly children with a few hours embarrassment and public shaming by being chained to the Jail Tree.
With the arrival of the railroad in 1895, the town prospered and grew…many of the original structures remain and make up the historic district.
Now a major tourist destination, many of these old buildings have been turned into museums, eating establishments, or antique and gift shops.
These are generally prowled by tourists and snowbird retirees looking for a piece of the old west, but occasionally one will find an old cowboy loitering about.
Walking around town, Kit and I stumbled upon the local Library…and since Kit likes libraries even better than shopping, we stopped in to look around. Spotting a table of older magazines for the taking, we noticed this.
Yep, right on the cover of that Country Magazine from last year was an image of Maine’s own Portland Head Lighthouse!
If there is any constant in the American Southwest, it is that the area boosts the most flavorful and authentic Mexican cuisine in the world! And the Town of Wickenburg upholds that boast with several quality restaurants…one that came highly recommended to us was Anita’s Cocina’s.
Where we enjoyed authentic Navajo Tacos.
Which are open-faced taco’s made with Navajo Flat Bread, and they were incredible!
After our meal, we strolled back through town as the day faded to night and the seasonal decorations on the old pedestrian promenade came aglow.
This brings to a close a very enjoyable afternoon in an iconic western town…goodnight!
Friday, December 22, 2017: Up and on the road by 1000 hours and heading north on US-93.
It’s a beautiful day to be on the road…sunny and temperatures in the 60’s!
We came to Interstate 40 and headed west stopping for fuel in Kingman before crossing the Nevada border at 1329 hours. Bypassing the gambling town of Laughlin, we moved over to US-95 heading north. After a quick roadside stop for lunch Kit and I motored on to the city of Las Vegas, and found our way to Oasis RV Resort just to the south of the famed Vegas strip.
As you may have noticed, the authentic Maine Christmas wreath, made by a friend back home, is still holding up…thanks Susie!
Saturday, December 23, 2017 through Monday, January 1, 2018-Oasis RV, Las Vegas, NV: The prime reason we are in Vegas over the Christmas holiday is these two monkeys…Tucker, age 11 and Jack, age 13.
Happily holding a taste of Maine in the form of Whoopie Pies thoughtfully sent by Aunt Kim!
Christmas day dawned bright and clear and with urgent texts from both grandboys to get up, get dressed, and get to their house, to start the festivities.
Opening of gifts was accompanied by fresh coffee and homemade pastries. Then the next few hours were filled with visiting and enjoying each other’s company.
This year’s traditional Vegas family holiday meal consisted of smoked ribs, chicken wings, broccoli salad, fresh green beans, and homemade popovers!
The rather unorthodox combination of foods is a result of each family member choosing an entrée, and somehow it all comes together to form an interesting and tasty holiday feast!
Thanks, Suzie, Kevin, Jack and Tucker for including us in your Christmas celebration…love you guys!
Being that we are at an RV Resort, featuring numerous kid friendly amenities, and within 5 minutes of their home, Jack and Tucker spent most days with us during our stay. They kept busy enjoying their new Christmas gifts,..
…swimming in the heated pool,..
…and on a few consecutive evenings, overnighted in our camper to give their parents some time to themselves.
We also went out to see the movie “Jumanji” (highly recommended by the way), enjoyed a few restaurant meals, played mini-golf, watched many Redbox flicks, took daily walks about the vast RV Park, and just enjoyed their company.
During one outing, we parked beside a Cadillac…not unusual in a city such as Las Vegas.
But this Cadillac was of 1959 vintage…a classic big finned automobile!
While we were enjoying the sunshine and warmth of the holiday season, back home they were dealing with a blizzard!
Twelve inches of snow coupled with the wind caused drifts about half way up the side of our home!
While in Arizona, I picked up some un-cracked Geodes for the boys.
Geodes are found worldwide, but the type that formed here in the Desert Southwest are made up of sandstone. When the sedimentary rock is laid down, pockets occasionally form, then surface water leaches through these cavities leaving deposits…generally in the form of quartz. As the sedimentary layers are worn away by erosion, the Geode is left on the surface to be discovered. So, with safety in mind, the boys took to pulverizing the four stones to see what was inside.
The gathering of Geode’s is an art as not every sandstone rock contains a crystal…in our case we hit (pun intended) the prize in half the specimens I picked up! The rust colored Mud Geodes were full of the same rust colored material throughout, so not much in the way of excitement. However, the tan colored Geodes were hollow and full of sparkly crystals, much to the boy’s delight!
Tucker and Jack return to school soon, so tomorrow we relocate the camper to a more suitable, and less expensive, campground.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018: Pulled out of Oasis RV Park at noon and headed north on I-15.
Twenty-three miles later we pulled into Nellis Air Force Base, and set up for a few weeks stay at their military campground.
Wednesday, January 3 through Thursday, January 18, 2018-Desert Eagle RV Park, Las Vegas, NV: This park is undergoing a major expansion and modernization and we were fortunate to be assigned a site in the brand-new section.
Desert Eagle RV Park is consistently rated as one of the finest facilities in the system, and it has gotten even better with all new paved sites and bathhouses built in the area where the old dirt overflow area used to be. For comparison, the following screen shot is from Google Earth and the image shows the park before remodeling…the yellow marker shows where we are camped, however now fully developed.
And the following image shows how the park has expanded in that area.
The section to the left is all new with an additional 118 pull-through sites with full hook-ups bringing the total campsites to 226 in number. In addition, there are two new bathhouse buildings with laundry facilities included!
This nearly 50% increase of capacity is great news to those of us who RV about the country and seldom make advanced reservations as about 8 of these sites will be set aside for folks that spontaneously arrive unannounced.
Come the weekend, the boys could once again stay with us which is nice as they love to visit this active fighter base. Nellis AFB is the home of the USAF Flight Demonstration Team, The Thunderbirds…a fact that we can attest to as they practice almost daily in the skies above the RV park! The boys enjoyed watching this demonstration and visiting the Thunderbird flight line and touring the museum.
Which has been totally remodeled and paid for by the defense contractor, Lockheed Martin…the company I retired from ten years ago. I sure hope this magnanimous gesture doesn’t lower the value of my stock dividend!?!?
Usually there are Thunderbird team members about to answer the boy’s questions, and no visit is complete without a photo op next to one of their aircraft.
Another nearby attraction that we had not toured, is the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement…also known as “The Mob Museum”.
This eclectic repository of police and gangster memorabilia is housed in the old downtown courthouse and is run by the city of Las Vegas. One of the refreshing things about this city is that the do not shy away from their history nor do they pretend that they are something that they are not. Las Vegas embraces its humble, if somewhat nefarious beginnings, and celebrates its place in the world as a party town!
In the museum, we learned that the mob had a presence in many states and countries, hence the moniker Organized Crime.
Much of the mob activity exploited legal activities by providing “protection” to these enterprises. During WWII, the Fed’s laid off the Mob as they “controlled” the major shipping ports…necessary for the movement of war supplies.
Then there was the illegal trade that brought the Mob its most income and notoriety. The museum houses many photos and artifacts in its three-story exhibit floors. One rather famous artifact is a segment of wall from a downtown Chicago warehouse.
On February 14, 1929 mob on mob violence resulted in the demise of seven gangsters from the Northside Irish gang at the hands of assassins from the Al Capone family in a dispute over territory. Two of the assassins were dressed as Chicago police officers and “arrested” the gangsters, then lined them up along the brick wall and opened fire. After the deed was done, these two faux officers escorted their accomplices out of the warehouse under gunpoint tricking folks on the street into believing this was just another mob arrest in the crime ridden city. To this day, the crime has never been solved and no one has been arrested.
The Mob made most of its money during prohibition when legal breweries turned their operation to more mundane products.
The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement was well worth a morning to peruse and learn about the seedier side of early 20th Century society.
When leaving the museum, we noticed these rather unique charity coin collection devices.
What an innovative and creative way to repurpose old parking meters!
There was one day during our stay that it rained…the first precipitation in 116 days, and the locals went nuts…over 200 auto accidents due to the slick roads were reported in a 24-hour period!
As the rain stopped and the sun was beginning to set I started looking for rainbows and spotted this sight.
Kit noticed the rainbow, and wanted to see if there was a pot-of-gold at the end. Nope, but in her mind, close enough!
Well, this would normally bring our stay in the Las Vegas Valley to a close. However, there is a storm front coming through, and our next destination requires some mountain driving, so we prudently decided to extend our stay.
Friday, January 19 and Saturday, January 20, 2018: Didn’t do much to write about with our bonus days but did get caught up on a lot of reading, computer work, journal writing and website posting, truck polishing, exercise walking, camper cleaning, and enjoyed some great homecooked meals. It’s good to have a few days of leisure…forced or otherwise!
Tomorrow we once again hit the highway after a whopping 35 days in this one area…believe that is a new record for us! However, as enjoyable as it has been to be around family, we are ready to get back on the road and see something different!
Speaking of family, three fifths of our grandchildren remain back in Maine, and I’d be remis if I didn’t mention them.
First, there’s our oldest grandson 25-year-old Joe shown here with his girlfriend Whitney.
Both are registered Whitewater Raft Guides up on Northern Maine’s Penobscot River. And both enjoy the sport of whitewater kayaking as well.
Kit and I were fortunate to spend a few days this past summer up on the river and enjoyed watching them expertly navigate the rapids.
Then there is our only granddaughter, Katie…at age 22 she is a college senior at a New York university.
In addition to carrying a full academic load in two majors, she plays division one Lacrosse for her school…last fall, Kit and I we were fortunate to spend a weekend on Long Island, NY for a tournament playoff.
Then there is Christopher, age 18…shown below with his girlfriend Maddie.
Chris, a high school senior, is also a high achieving student and plays Varsity Lacrosse.
Unfortunately, during a preseason game, he suffered a fracture. However, he is fully recovered and ready for the start of LAX season this spring…and we should be home in time to cheer him on!
And no picture of our Maine family would be complete without our Grand-dog, Finny.
We miss you buddy and all our Maine family…love you guys!
Well, this issue of our journal is far longer than I would like, but a lot has transpired during our very enjoyable stay in Las Vegas. Tomorrow we are off and once again on the move…stay tuned.
Kit’s Bit’s: As always, we’ve had a great time here in Las Vegas. The weather has been perfect, and we’ve had fun with the kids. The one thing we missed was more time with Kevin. He’s been on a big project at work, putting in 12-hour days since Christmas. Something to do with the big CES Trade Show here in Las Vegas each January. Our youngest Grands, Jack & Tucker are growing up so fast! Jack is my height and Tucker not far behind. By this time next year, they will be towering over me. Where does the time go???