Bill and Kit’s 2019 Excellent Adventure, Journal #1

What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.
Jack Kerouac

 

Friday, January 4, 2019: It’s early (0406 to be exact) on a frosty morning and we are off on another winter RV adventure to parts yet unknown.

Yes, this is about 5 weeks later than Kit and I have historically departed, and we were deferred even further due to a small snowstorm that grazed the Maine coast.

Fortunately, we were only delayed 24 hours, and the light fluffy snow that clung to the camper’s roof was systematically deposited along the roadsides of our sleepy little town on our way to Interstate 295.

After a quick safety stop at the Kittery Rest Area to verify that the wheels were still on the rig, we continued to motor south through New Hampshire and on into Charlton, Massachusetts where we took a break for breakfast and fuel. Back underway at 0835 I noticed a truck milestone event when the odometer rolled over to 60,000 miles! Not too bad for a 2015 vintage truck, until one factors in the fact that most of that mileage comes in six-month increments.

Twenty-five minutes later we entered the State of Connecticut, and another hour and a half found us crossing the Hudson River at Newburgh, New York.

Little RV traffic this time of the year, but we did encounter this fellow snowbird who was hauling a modified 1955 Chevy.

If your going to tow your daily driver to a southern wintering over spot, it might as well be a classic car.

Speaking of classics, shortly before departing Maine, Kit finished up a cover for our down comforter.

One side has road signs, and the other woodies and surfboards…three of our four favorite things!

By noon we encountered the State of Pennsylvania and began discussing where to lay over for tonight. Typically, on the first night out and with the camper winterized, we opt for a nice motel…however the temps are mild by Northeast standards and it is predicted to stay above freezing tonight, so we called ahead to secure a spot at The Western Village RV Park in Carlisle, PA.

After a quick stop at the local Wal-Mart for some groceries, we pulled into the park at 1700 hours logging a whopping 599 miles for the day! Which is twice the daily road mileage we try to adhere to, but typical for the first day out…gotta get south to warmer weather as soon as possible you know?!

As Kit prepared the inside, I attended to the outside chores including leveling and stabilizing the camper…

…then draining and flushing the freshwater system.

After a glass of vino followed by a nice warm meal it was off to an early slumber…good night!

 

Saturday, January 5, 2019: Up relatively early following a very restful sleep. Kit and I enjoyed a nice leisurely breakfast and lounged around a bit before breaking camp and hitting the road at 1130 hours where we continued to follow Interstate 81 southerly.

There are many people Kit and I have introduced through these journals and enjoy spending time with during our trips…one special couple is our high school friend Joanne and her husband Ron.

Sadly, Ron passed away a few weeks ago following a relatively minor surgical procedure. A retired long-haul truck driver, and a physically imposing individual, Ron was the proverbial gentle giant, treating his friends with courtesy and lovingly taking care of Joanne as she was battling her own health issues. Rest in Peace buddy…you will be missed by more folks than you ever imagined.

Day two is also historically a travel day, and this year followed suit. So, we didn’t take time for any sightseeing or tourist stops…still a bit raw in these parts to spend too much outside.


By 1233 we rolled into the State of Maryland, then 13 minutes later crossed the Potomac River into West Virginia and by 1336 hours were in the State of Virginia. By 1600 Kit started to look for a viable spot to camp and discovered the Shenandoah Valley RV Park in Mount Jackson, Virginia.

Where the fees were reasonable, the grounds tidy, the facilities clean and the sites spacious.

Following some walking around time and a nice meal, it was once again time to retire early for our two weary travelers.

 

Sunday, January 6, 2019-Mount Jackson, Virginia: Over coffee this morning, Kit and I decided to take a layover day to rest up and attend to some truck and trailer maintenance items. I

This is a good spot to highlight our family in pictures as we’ve done most winter trips over the past ten years.

Fortunately, all is well in Tuckerland and everyone is thriving. Daughter Kim, son Joe, and his girlfriend Whitney are all working in Maine and taking care of overseeing our home while we are away.

Son Joe and daughter-in-law Ann still live about an hour away and are doing well.

Their offspring are developing into fine young adults…Katie is working in the world of high finance in New York City and Chris is a first-year student at a university in Rhode Island.

Daughter Suzanne and son in law still reside in Las Vegas…

…and their children Jack and Tucker are doing well and spend a few weeks with us in Maine each summer.

Then there is our great grand dog, Finny who we miss terribly…along with the rest of the family of course. We really enjoy having The Finster in our lives.

Kit and I are very proud of our family and enjoy watching as they successfully navigate through life!

 

Monday, January 7, 2019: Hit the road at 0952 and found our way to I-81 to continue south.

Kit is a great traveling companion and frequently helps in navigation chores and does 90% of the campsite research and selection. And I’m not a very good passenger, so I do most of the driving, which is fine with Kit as she can get some reading or knitting or napping accomplished during the long travel days.

At 1500 we crossed into Tennessee and an hour later Kit found us another wonderful campground to spend the evening.

A rustic mom and pop place built, owned, and managed by a backwoods character named Hal.

The sight of old gas pumps and other petroliana elicited a conversation about old cars and truck. Hal had just finished a COE flatbed built to haul his vintage pickup.

The pickup features a 383 stroked Chevrolet motor and 4:11 gears making for a stout combination to run shine along the back roads of Tennessee. He is now in the market for his next project…busy man!

Hal started constructing the campground twenty years ago and has done most of the work himself …and, it’s still not finished! The grounds are laid out very nice and feature hand-built structures featuring many country artifacts from his lifelong hobby of picking. Hal keeps his campsite prices very reasonable by doing most of the daily chores himself.

Having plenty of land, he took it upon himself to take his tractor and carve out a two-acre fish pond.

Then stocked it with catfish and added some waterfowl to the project.

Hal purchased a white swan and two black swans which he feeds daily with the assistance of his puppy Pepper.

Of course, the feeding is also enjoyed by the catfish as well as various migratory birds.

Kit and I agree this would be another campground to spend some downtime, however coming on the heels of yesterday’s layover, we decided to continue on in the morning.

As evening fell, we enjoyed some wine, a nice dinner and a beautiful Tennessee sunset.

Goodnight!

 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019: Another travel day and we were up and on the road before 1100.

Within the hour we jumped on Interstate 40 and then intersected Interstate 75 to continue south.

Around noon we crossed the Tennessee River and stopped at a Flying J Truck Stop for fuel and lunch. Shortly after resuming our trek found us near Chattanooga where we shifted to Interstate 24 South. Soon we were in Georgia, then back in Tennessee…this interstate winds a bit across the two state lines at this point of its travel. Crossing the Tennessee River once again, we encountered State Road 72 South which we cruised into Alabama and encountered the Central Time Zone. At 1600 hours we pulled into the US Army’s Redstone Arsenal just south of the city of Huntsville and set up for a few days stay in their very nice military RV Park.

Kit and I have driven through Huntsville during previous Excellent Adventure trips and vowed to one day stop and explore the area…this is the day!

 

Wednesday, January 9 through Sunday January 13, 2019-Huntsville, Alabama: Spent time here doing some shopping, clothes washing, fixing a bent clip-pin on the camper, washing the rig, repairing a leaking dump hose, and driving about the base and city.

One attraction that we (I) wanted to spend time at is the US Space and Rocket Center.

The museum is owned and operated by the State of Alabama with support from NASA and The Smithsonian. It claims to have the largest collection of space and rocketry artifacts in the country and, in addition to various exhibit halls, has a huge building housing an entire 363 foot long by 33 foot diameter Saturn V Rocket.

This three-stage rocket was developed for Americas moon landing missions and the first stage hosts five gigantic Rocketdyne F-1motors.

The motors develop 7,891,000 pounds of thrust in order to lift the 6,500,000 pound rocket off the launchpad and rocket (no pun intended) the Saturn V to a height of 42 miles at a speed of 6,164 MPH…all in under 3 minutes! Then the first stage separates and turns over the duties of flight to the second stage, followed by the third stage which boosts the mission payload into space.

In addition to many other artifacts and informative displays housed in this massive building are a Lunar Rover and the actual Apollo 16 Command Module.

This unit carried three astronauts to moon orbit where two of them transferred to a smaller Lunar Lander to access, explore, collect samples and depart the surface of the moon. Then once safely back onboard, the Command module returned to earth burning through the atmosphere…

…to a parachute assisted landing in the ocean, where the US Navy was ready to retrieve the module.

Kit and I vividly remember the first successful manned moon mission in July of 1969 and now to see many of the components that made that possible was a real treat!

Another treat was in meeting and spending some time talking to an authentic rocket scientist. Gray (yep, that’s his real name) spent 43 years working at the nearby Marshal Space Flight Center and spent considerable time working on various Nasa projects including the Apollo Missions.

Now retired, Gray volunteers a few days a week at the Space and Rocket center to help visitors understand the complexities of the equipment that successfully delivered man to the surface of the moon…and, more importantly successfully ensured their safe return to mother earth.

Another display of interest was one of four Mobile Quarantine Units.

Basically, a highly modified Airstream travel trailer, these units were placed on the recovery Aircraft Carrier to quarantine the astronauts until it was deemed safe for them to mingle with the earth bound public.

Other exhibits of interest were a training mockup of the International Space station…

…which one could walk through and see how the inhabitants lived, worked, slept…

…and accomplished other things.

Also, on display was the nose cone that carried the first two living American creatures to the upper atmosphere during a 1,600 mile flight.

In May of 1959, a pair of monkeys named Able and Baker (yea, I know…creative, huh?) launched atop a Jupiter Rocket sustaining 38 G’s of force and nine minutes of weightlessness, before they were successfully returned to earth.

Able died a few months later but Baker was cared for in a special enclosure here at the Space Center delighting the visiting public with her antics until succumbing of old age at 27.

NASA engineers were very bright, and a bit playful as well…one engineer took it upon himself to design and prototype a water powered Space Toy.

Oscar D. Holderer built this toy to encourage rocketry in a younger generation. I recall playing with a similar toy as a youngster!

Also, on the grounds is the US Space Camp.

Where youngsters and adults can learn about careers in the space program and utilize many of the museums trainers to practice their new-found skills.

What a great day at the US Space and Rocket Center, if your travels ever find you near Huntsville, we highly recommend taking a day to spend at this premier facility.

A few miles to the north is the home of Debbie, a former Vermont friend, and her husband Sam. Whenever we are in the area, Kit and I try and spend a few hours with this delightful young couple.


Thanks for a making time for us!

Well, that closes out week one of our 2019 Excellent Adventure…stay tuned for further exploits from the road!

Kit’s Bit’s: So far, our trip has gone smoothly. However, I’m thinking we need to figure out a better “first day routine”. Fortunately, this was our smoothest first day on the road but, driving 699 miles over 12 hours is a bit insane. We need to find a campground within 300 miles to stay in the first night. As always, it was a joy to visit with Sam & Debbie. We try to see them whenever we’re in the area. Hopefully, if they make it to Vermont this next summer, they will have a little extra time to come see us in Maine. 😊

 

Bill and Kit’s 2018 Excellent Adventure, Journal #15

“This Year Marks Our 10th Winter RV Trip”

The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.

― Christopher McCandless

 

Saturday, April 28, 2018: Leaving Whittier, NC and continuing our travels East. It’s a nice Spring day in the south, and we should be able to make some good miles today!

At our first rest stop, two hours into the days trek, I was conducting my usual safety check of tires, wheel bearings, and suspension components on the camper…a task that is even more important due to the tire blowout of a few days ago. I’ve been told that when a tire lets go like that one did, all the weight of the camper comes down on the sole remaining tire on that side, and can lead to tire, wheel, or suspension problems later, down the road…kinda like this!

Um, that spring eye is supposed to be connected at the frame plates by a ½ inch shackle bolt. Fortunately, the way Dexter Axle engineers their spring and axle sets, if there is a bolt failure the camper drops and captures the spring eye between the mounting plates. Unfortunately, it’s only secure enough to limp to a safe spot and pull over, which of course I had already accomplished.

So, I called roadside assistance, and fortunately they dispatched Jeff to the rescue.

Unfortunately, being a Saturday, there were no trailer parts dealers open. But fortunately, Jeff used some Rebel Ingenuity and picked up a ½ inch carriage bolt at Home Depot, which got us back on the road! Unfortunately, as we pulled out, Jeff exclaimed; “that’s only good for about 200 miles or so”! But fortunately, we only had 65 miles to go to make it to Cary, NC…the home of my cousin Bill’s place!

All’s well that ends well!

 

April 29, and April 30, 2018-Cary, NC: Great time in Cary with Bill, Joanna, Jillian, Aivan, and Rudy!

These folks are part of the Philadelphia contingent of our extended family…Bill is the son of my Uncle Don, my mother’s brother. While in town, we enjoyed visiting with the family and seeing some local sights. And, since it was baseball season, and since Aivan plays ball on two different teams…

… Kit and I were able to enjoy a game as well!

An accomplished ball player for his age, Aivan hits very well and can play various positions, including pitcher! Had a great time watching these youngsters play ball while being coached by volunteers and encouraged by parents in the bleachers…a typical Norman Rockwell type experience.

On one beautiful spring morning during our stay, Joanna, Jillian, Kit and I made a trip into Durham to enjoy the Sarah P. Duke Gardens on the campus of Duke University.

These gardens are a memorial to Sarah Duke, the wife of a North Carolina tobacco magnate and a major benefactor of the university. Originally, the low-lying plot of ground within the campus property was slated to be a lake…however funds grew short so a modest donation from the Duke family was used as seed money (pun intended) for a small memorial flower garden. Today, this world class arboretum lies on 55 acres and features over 5 miles of walking trails that provide access to several distinct flower garden areas…

…and fish ponds in the vast botanical garden complex…

…including an Asiatic Garden with a stand of bamboo alongside a flowing river…

…with a majestic Japanese Moon Bridge spanning the river banks.

Being spring in these parts, everything was greening up and bursting with blooms.

The group enjoyed a great morning walking amongst the beautiful gardens.

But the day was not over…bordering the gardens to the west is the towering University Chapel.

The multidenominational church, dedicated in 1935, is located in the center of the university complex, and was the first building that the schools founder, James Buchanan Duke, ordered to be built. It took legions of stone masons two years to carve the locally quarried stone and erect the chapel which is anchored by a 210-foot bell tower.

The interior features almost 80 stained glass windows, some as large as 38 feet by 17 feet!

Many historic figures of the old south are depicted in stone within the chapel…including Robert E. Lee. However, the sculptors made an error (or was it?) while creating Lee’s statue when they carved the letters US on the Confederate Generals belt buckle. Recently General Lee’s statue has been removed following the nationwide call for uniting the south and healing old wounds.

Leaving the chapel, we meandered about the campus while finding our way back to the car. It struck me as interesting how the original Gothic Architecture of 93 years ago was in juxtaposition with modern styles built in this decade.

Departing the Duke University complex near dinner time, Joanna recommended a highly rated pizza shop in town.

A quirky little place with a comfortable downtown vibe, the brick oven Pizzas were incredible!

Speaking of food, Bill and Joanna jointly cooked us some incredible home prepared meals…including these delicious blueberry pancakes one morning!

We really enjoyed staying and reconnecting with these great folks, but tomorrow we must be moving on…thanks for the hospitality!

 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018: Reluctantly leaving Cary, North Carolina. The skies are clear, and the temperatures are rising into the 70’s as we made our way toward the Northeast by way of a variety of local and state roads.

Oh, forgot to mention…while in town, we had the trailer fixed properly at a truck and trailer shop a few miles away, all is good now!

After a few hours travel, we stopped at a rest area alongside the Great Dismal Swamp and Canal.

Following a quick lunch, Kit and I decided to walk over to the associated state park for some exercise.

The Great Dismal Swamp came by its name due to a mispronounced French word for swamp, and stuck because it was historically a place inhospitable to humans…so much so that an attempt was made to drain the swamp (yep, and you thought that was a modern political term!) to create fertile farmland.

However, as with most attempts to fool with Mother Nature, the project was a dismal (pun intended) failure. However, the dug canal did allow access to valuable stands of timber and provided a method to transport the logs to sawmills.

The Great Dismal Swamp played a role in the era of slavery as well…escaped slaves found shelter in the swamp and created Maroon Colonies by partnering with other disenfranchised Americans, the Native Indians of the region.

A nice visitors center explained the history of the area and offered paddle craft for rent…I’ll have to return and paddle the Dismal Swamp someday!

Back underway, we crossed over the Virginia state line at 1537 hours and headed east toward Virginia Beach.

Within an hour we were pulling into Oceana Naval Air Station to camp for a few days where we were greeted by this little fellow sunbathing!

Goodnight!

 

Wednesday, May 2, through Sunday, May 6, 2018-Virginia Beach, Virginia: Historically, while staying in this region we choose one of four available military campgrounds for the duration…however camping has been growing in popularity and the weather hereabouts is getting very nice, so we had to piece together time at two campgrounds…which resulted in two days at Oceana.

And three days on the Little Creek Amphibious Base, a few miles to the north.

While in town, Kit wanted to see an old friend from our military days stationed in the area.

Bess, and her Navy husband Jack, were our friends back in the late 1970’s. Jack passed some years ago…but Bess, at 84 years old, is still living in the family home! Had a great visit and was able to get caught up on each other’s lives.

While in the old neighborhood, we did a drive by of the first house we purchased.

Kit and I bought the starter home in 1976, and with Kim, Joe and Suzie, lived in it until being transferred to Vermont in 1980…except for a year over 1977-1978 when we rented the house out due to my ship going to Bath, Maine for a baseline overhaul. It was that one-year assignment at Bath Iron Works that sold us on Southern Maine as a place we wanted to eventually settle down.

Even though we lived in Virginia Beach for those years, we still did not see everything the region had to offer…such as the Cape Henry Lighthouse, the navigation aid marking the southern entrance to Chesapeake Bay.

Actually, as you can see, there are two lights…the one to the right is the historic structure built in 1792 and is the first lighthouse in the nation authorized by the U.S. government. This was replaced by the more “modern” one in 1881 because the shifting coastal sand was causing the original lighthouse to develop cracks and the experts of the time determined it would soon fall over…guess they were proven wrong!

To access the historic Cape Henry light, one must climb some steep stairs.

Which leads to the base of the lighthouse.

Which leads to a spiral stairway up the tower…

…which leads to the light platform…

…where panoramic views of the coastline can be enjoyed…

…including the “new” lighthouse complex…

…which is still manned by the US Coast Guard. The lightkeeper and his/her family live in the red roofed homes nearby.

Well, that ends volume # 15 of our journal. Tomorrow we head north across the Chesapeake Bay…stay tuned!

Kit’s Bit’s: We had a wonderful visit with Bill, Joanna, Jillian & Aivan in Cary, NC. Both kids have grown so much since we last saw them! It’s always nice to catch up on their activities and visit with them. It was also nice visiting with my friend Bess, whom I haven’t seen since the 70’s. Virginia Beach, like most cities has grown tremendously. We finally made a short trip to the Lynnhaven Mall, which was being built when we left the area in June of 1980. The mall is a “stone’s throw” from our house. Strawberries were one of the main crops on this land and, the kids and I used to go over and pick many pounds of the berries during the late spring. Of course, the traffic in the area is much worse now with the mall.

Bill and Kit’s 2018 Excellent Adventure, Journal #11

“This Year Marks Our 10th Winter RV Trip”

Never go too long without watching a sunset.
Atticus

Monday, March 12, 2018: This morning we depart Catalina State Park and head toward the coast…looking forward to visiting our childhood hometown of San Diego, but we are going to miss the desert and its incredible sunsets.

OK, full disclosure…I did not take this photo. It was lifted from the National Park Facebook page, profiling Tucson’s Saguaro National Park. However, it does represent sunsets in the region we camped, and I really like the image…so, sue me!

Departed the state park at 0900 hours and made our way through the Catalina Mountain foothills toward Interstate 10.

Cruising along the turnpike, we decided that since we departed before breakfast, and since a Cracker Barrell Restaurant was tantalizingly close, we could afford a stop and treat ourselves to a big country breakfast!

The place wasn’t very busy so our very efficient and friendly waitress, spent some time visiting with us. We noticed as she talked she was writing something on the back of our guest check, then left it on the table.

I flagged her down to compliment her on the neat desert themed doodle, and learned she was a double college major…one of them being art!

Returning to the camper Kit and I smiled when we noticed our camper had company…an old school bus that had been converted into a motorhome…

… pretty neat!

Back on the road, we quickly intersected Interstate 8 and made tracks for our traditional in-transit overnight camping opportunity at Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field in the middle of nowhere. This spot offers an inexpensive, bare bones, military campground, that we’ve profiled many times before in our journals.

Checked in, hooked up, enjoyed a meal and drinks, until the setting sun reflected off the side of our camper.

Goodnight!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018: Up to cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 80’s. Broke camp and headed toward Yuma to meet up with some long time RV’ing friends.

John Roger and Karen live in Bend, Oregon but winter over on BLM land outside Yuma. It was great meeting up with them and sharing stories of our lives over this past year.

Back on I-8 we meandered westerly until reaching the town of El Centro, California where we plan to spend a few days taking care of laundry and other chores. Pulling into the local Naval Air Facility RV park we noticed a number of open sites, unusual for this time of the year. Apparently, the mild winter in the Northeast encouraged many snowbirds to head home early.

Following dinner, and a cocktail, we sat outside as the setting sun bounced off some low hanging clouds.

Goodnight!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018-El Centro, California: Only planned to spend one night here, but a windstorm kept us pinned down today…a great day to stay indoors, get in some reading and journal writing, and basically just veg out!

Around 0800 hours, the wind was clocked at 40 MPH and the gusts exceeded 55 MPH!!

Yikes! Guess we made the right decision…not a good day to be on the road in a high-profile vehicle!

I disconnected our truck from the trailer, so we could get in some shopping and refill a depleted propane tank. With the strong winds, the nearby farm fields were losing a bit of their soil.

It looks like there will be a lull in the storm early tomorrow morning, so I reattached the truck and camper, disconnected all the utilities except power, and basically prepared for an early departure.

Thursday, March 15, 2018: On the road at 0705 hours under hazy skies and brisk winds.

Found our way to I-8 and headed west toward the Cuyamaca Mountains. The wind was predicted to increase from the southwest, accompanied by a rain squall, as a cold front came through. This portion of Interstate 8 can be very hazardous in high winds, and even more so if the roadway is wet. We figured that there was a fairly narrow weather window of opportunity to navigate the mountain highway, so we didn’t dally.

As I drove with both hands on the wheel, Kit was able to snap a photo with her iPhone of the sunlit highway and the rain clouds beyond…she even captured a rainbow that stretched from horizon to horizon!

What a great shot!!

We were actually making too good of time, and there was a concern that we may encounter very high winds and heavy rains at the summit. So, I reduced speed, put on the four-way-flashers, and crawled up the steep mountainside along with about a half dozen long haul truckers. The scheme worked, as we came to our offramp at the small town of Boulevard with minimal buffeting and only a few sprinkles.

Once leaving the interstate and heading south, we were in the lee of the mountains and the wind abated. At around 0930, Kit and I pulled into the village of Potrero, California and found our way to its namesake state park.

Then all heck broke loose…wind, rain, and a bit of surface flooding! So much so, that I didn’t bother to set up for our stay but rode out the storm from the safe and dry confines of our camper.

It rained throughout the afternoon, so we just sat inside, read, enjoyed dinner, and turned in early…goodnight.

Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17, 2018-Potrero State Park: Woke to a beautiful morning in one of our favorite county parks.

The rain stopped during the night, and the sunshine was quickly drying everything out. I was able to disconnect the rig and connect the utilities.

Potrero, California is in the Mountain Empire region of Southeast San Diego County and at 2,336 feet in elevation, the vegetation is lusher then in the coastal areas to the west. A rural and peaceful community, Potrero was embroiled in controversy a number of years ago when the quasi-military firm, Blackwater USA, of Bagdad atrocities fame, applied to purchase land and were approved to establish a weapons training facility for its employees…much to the displeasure of the locals. As a result, the citizens of Potrero launched a recall campaign that forced all five members of the local planning board out of office, and the Blackwater training facility was cancelled.

The park was lightly populated for a nice California weekend, so we were able to select a private and roomy site.

I love walking in the woods after a heavy rain…everything smells so fresh and the pungent odor of the vegetation is intoxicating. So, while Kit relaxed at camp, I struck out on one of the many trails that honeycomb the park.

All along the trail, I kept noticing these bushes covered with unique looking flower buds.

Not sure what they are, but the fragrance was incredible!

The walk was only a few miles long, but I thoroughly enjoyed getting out in the refreshing mountain air!

Our high school friend, Rod and his wife Gloria, live a few miles away in Tecate, Mexico. Gloria has just lost her 102-year-old mother a month ago. We met Minga on one of our earlier trips south of the border and found her to be a delightful woman.

So sorry for your loss, Gloria.

We invited Rod and Gloria to a barbeque at our campsite, but Gloria was battling a cold and wasn’t up to attending…however Rod did slip across the border for a few hours to join us.

After, a nice steak meal, we sat around enjoying a few beers and reminiscing about old times in the old neighborhood…and our various shenanigans to ditch school and go surfing. It was a much simpler time in 1960’s San Diego…the school officials let kids get away with some things, especially heading to the beach if the surf was up, because many of the teachers enjoyed the sport as well.

Speaking of sport, the winds were favorable coming across a large grassy field in the park, so I was able to introduce Rod to the sport of high performance kite flying! We started him out with a 1.5-meter parafoil kite which he was able to figure out in short order.

Then transitioned to one of the delta kite’s.

Which gave Rod a bit more trouble, however he figured out the basic maneuvers on that one as well! You may notice the two kite strings, known as a line-set, attached to the kite. Those allow the flyer to control the direction and speed of the kite and facilitate a number of aerial tricks. Rod seemed to have a great time flying the kites, and a few days later texted me that he had ordered a foil kite for himself…another kite flyer is born!

Sunday, March 18, 2018: Kit and I departed Potrero County park at noon and wound our way west on California Highway 94.

This narrow, winding road with little traffic is a prime magnet for sport bike riders to test their mettle. Piloting a large cumbersome vehicle as I do, I’m constantly aware of fellow travelers that I may be holding up and pull over to let others pass when it is safe to do so. Most wait patiently, but some tempt fate by passing when the road ahead is obstructed. Sadly, a few riders have met their demise on this stretch of road over the years.

We navigated through Imperial Beach and turned north up CA-75 toward the City of Coronado, and our destination for the next few days…Fiddlers Cove Marina and RV Park.

This is one of our favorite military RV parks in the system…it is also very popular with folks that reside near this Navy community, and therefore difficult to get into. Some campers reserve a year in advance, but that’s not our style, so we just call periodically and hope to score a site from a cancellation…as we did this time!

In addition to great RV sites, a large fleet of watercraft to rent, and close proximity to the resort city of Coronado, the park is situated to enjoy some very nice sunsets!

So, with cocktails in hand, we bid you all a goodnight!

Monday, March 19, through Saturday, March 24, 2018-Fiddelers Cove, Coronado, California: Kit and I have decided to use our six day stay in this area as our ‘vacation” from being on the road…seems odd that retirees would need a vacation, but we have learned that occasionally we need time to relax, recreate, and otherwise goof off.

We did enjoy a few meals in town, but for the most part, we cooked at the camper…illustrated by this fine breakfast made by Kit.

Which was even more enjoyable since we had views like this from our dining room table.

There are two rows of RV sites in the park, and even though a view can be enjoyed from any of the spots, the waterfront sites are the best…

…and that’s where we were!

There is a walking and biking path that goes by the RV park and leads right into Coronado, which is about 2 miles to the north.

Kit and I left early one morning and walked that path to town.

Along Glorietta Bay, there are vast lawns, picnic shelters, boat ramps, marinas, and a municipal boathouse that rents paddle and sail craft.

The landscaping is first rate, and at this point in the year there were many flowers blooming, such as the Bird of Paradise.

A new sculpture has been installed on the waterfront honoring the US Navy’s UDT and the Seals.

The card hanging around the statues neck has two numbers written on it…the top number notes the BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALS) class in session, and the bottom signifiers the number of students that have been dropped from that class. The drop statistics are updated frequently as the failure rate from BUD/S is near 80%.

Near the small boat launch I came across a young man unloading this piece of equipment.

Made by L3 Corporation, it is an autonomous submersible that can be programed by computer to dive to the sea floor and map contours…pretty neat!

While walking about downtown, we made a pilgrimage to the scene of our nuptials.

Almost 53 years ago, in this very building, Kit and I were married!

After a nice meal in our favorite Coronado Mexican Restaurant, we walked back to the RV park tired but pleased that we had a great day while amassing over 17,000 steps on our fitness app!

Being on the coast, the beach just south of the RV park is excellent for kite flying, so I spent a few days doing just that!

That kite is fairly large at 2.5 meters and the tail is 75 feet long! Had a great time in the sunshine on a secluded beach flying…and Kit equally liked the peace and quiet back at the camper!

Kit and I enjoyed a really nice vacation, but as we sat outside, watching the sun set over the RV park, we came to the realization it’s time to get back to the business of being a traveling retiree.

Goodnight!

Stay tuned for more of Bill and Kit’s adventures in their ancesteral hometown!

Kit’s Bit’s: I’ve decided that Potrero County Park and Fiddler’s Cove are my favorite parks while in San Diego. Potrero because it’s so remote and during the time of year we are there, it has very few campers. And, Fiddler’s Cove because it was where we got married and from the park, we can walk in to town for the day and, there are always cool breezes off the water. Plus, it’s nice to see the Coronado Bridge all lit up at night. It was not there when we got married in 1965, we had to ride the ferry to Coronado. The bridge was built in 1969.

And here is a night shot from our campsite across the marina with the Coronado bridge in the distance.

Looks like a string of pearls!

Bill

Bill and Kit’s 2018 Excellent Adventure, Journal #6

“This Year Marks Our 10th Winter RV Trip”

If I leave here tomorrow, will you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on, there’s many places I’ve got to see!
Ronald Wayne Van Zant

Wednesday, January 24, 2018: Woke at Boulder Creek RV Park in Lone Pine, California to partly sunny skies and temperatures in the low 50’s. Today, Kit and I head south, but first we call brother Dan to wish him a 54th birthday…how did you get so darn old, so darn fast?

Climbing into the truck for the day’s drive, I spotted our traveling mascot, Mr. Bill.

Who has been a constant companion on these adventures for the past ten years. Our older readers will recognize Mr. Bill from the early days of Saturday Night Live. However, Mr. Bill also played a significant role in our retirement roast and even appeared in a few videos that showed the occasional ineptitude of his namesake.

Sad to leave as we had a very nice time in this area, but time to head down elevation to more warmer climes.

Kit and I have vowed to return to this region a bit closer to spring so we can further explore more of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and, also further north to Lake Tahoe.

On the road at 1110 hours and headed south on US Highway 395.

This will be a very short travel day, plan is to pull into the military campground near Ridgecrest, California and hunker down for a few days. You see, both Kit and I came down with a wicked case of the Bogaydus and need to recuperate.

By 1320 hours we pulled off the highway and made our way to the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station and set up camp in their nice new RV park.

Only three years old, and sparsely populated, we had our pick of RV sites.

A sunny, warm and relaxing place to get over our “couple’s colds”! Hope it doesn’t take too long!

 

Thursday, January 25 through Thursday, February 1, 2018: Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, California. Yep, eight days…we originally signed up for three and then extended day by day until we both felt well enough to travel. Kit and I initially thought we may have had a touch of the flu, even though we both had received flu shots. However, it became apparent we were battling colds and the Dayquil/Nyquil regimen got us through! It’s no fun traveling while sick, and even worse is trying to stay clear of folks, so you don’t infect them…so we basically spent the down time getting caught up on some correspondence, enjoying daily walks, drinking tons of water and lying low for the most part.

Neither Kit nor I had ever been to this area, so once beginning to feel better, we decided to poke around a bit…first stop was the local museum.

Where we learned about the history of the area, and the development of the town. Amongst the artifacts of early desert living, there was a number of paintings from the towns favorite daughter, Sylvia Winslow…including the following, my personal favorite.

Alongside the painting was a framed poem she had composed to accompany her donation to the museum.

Some of the museums more interesting features were located outside and included a really neat Labyrinth.

This pathway was constructed of local stone as an Eagle Scout project and is the typical native style circuitous route that leads to a center alter. Along the way are signs indicating the sun and moon positions relative to the seasons. It was somewhat mesmerizing and fun, but took a bit of walking to follow the path.

The town of Ridgecrest is a pretty typical military town of 27,626 folks located in the Indian Wells Valley of south central California. Prior to the establishment of the base, the area was populated by less than 100 folks and was known as Crumville, named after the family that farmed the area.

The name was changed to Ridgecrest when a super-secret base, Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake, was developed during WWII to research, design, develop, build and test munitions for aircraft.

At 1,100,000 acres which by the way is bigger than the state of Rhode Island, NAWS China Lake is the largest single tract of land owned by the US Navy. Less than 5% of the area is developed, and most of that is the air field and support buildings…which is a base within a base. We could gain access to the base, where the administrative facilities are located as well as the commissary, exchange, military and civilian schools, family housing and of course, the RV Park. However, trying to venture out from this area into the furthest regions of the base one is confronted by these barriers.

And the patrolling of the fence line by armed guards amplified the point. As in many military installations, China Lake has an on base museum…So one day, I walked over to find out what made this Navy base so unusual.

Housed in the former Officers Club, the museum profiled many of the top-secret weapons projects that are now public. Supported by scientist and engineers from California Institute of Technology (CalTech), the base has seven times more civilian personal than military, and some of the former reside on base in housing alongside their military counterparts. During WWII, when the military was trying to develop guided missiles to affix onto aircraft of the day, a military/academic/industrial partnership was initially formed. One of their first products was the MK 57 BAT.

Named after the nocturnal animal that uses echo ranging to locate its prey, this anti- ship missile featured the very earliest application of Radar to detect a target. The electronics bay looked similar to the insides of an early television set.

As I stood and scrutinized this section of the missile, I was struck by how familiar the components were. Back in 1965, while stationed in Key West, Florida, I attended a military technical school that taught us how to operate, troubleshoot, and repair similar looking electronic equipment. Vacuum tube-based systems were very finicky and prone to malfunction due to heat and vibration…hard to believe this early version of a guided missile was durable enough to successfully make it to its target.

Other weapons that were developed or tested at this sprawling base included the Sidewinder.

With a tailfin apparatus called a Rolleron.

This freewheeling, simple and inexpensive device, kept the missile from excessively rolling while in flight.

Also, some surface strike weapons were flight tested here, such as the Tomahawk Cruise Missile.

And anti-air missiles like the SM-2.

This Standard Missile, a surface to air weapon, is used extensively by the Aegis Weapons System onboard Navy warships built at Bath Iron Works in Maine.

In addition to ordnance, the base also develops and tests, unmanned aircraft…such as the X-47A shown below.

Which is the first large scale UAV (drone) to take off and land on an aircraft carrier.

And ejection seat development, refinement and testing are accomplished here as well.

Even though the base airfield is many miles away and off limits to everyone but authorized personnel, one can still see military aircraft in the skies above. The primary Navy aircraft assigned to the base for R & D work is the F/A-18 Hornet.

This decommissioned example of the Hornet, festooned with missiles tested here, sits in front of command headquarters.

The vast base also protects thousands of acres of archaeological sites, including the highest concentration of Petroglyphs in the hemisphere…some of which have been documented as older than 16,000 years! In addition, due to the restricted access, there are thousands of clay pot chards, tools, and spear points, lying undisturbed where early native peoples had left them.

Since the region is a seismically active area (think Andres Fault), the base hosts an experimental geothermal electric generating plant that can supply enough power for over 378,000 households!

Currently, it is not feasible to produce at that level, but does provide clean unlimited power to the base complex.

With this extra time sitting in one place, Kit and I decided to enjoy some more common activities. Our daughter Kim had highly recommended a new movie playing in the theaters, so one afternoon we headed a short distance into town and enjoyed, “The Greatest Showman”.

This film, staring Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron, is loosely based on the life of circus pioneer, PT Barnum, and is a must see if you enjoy high energy and uplifting stories!

Then there was the inevitable Wal*mart session of retail therapy. I declined to participate and spent time fueling up the truck and making a quick stop at Home Depot…a much more time worthy endeavor. Arriving back in the WM parking lot, I waited for Kit to emerge, then we made our way back to the camper. After putting away her purchases, and while I sat at the table hammering out some of this journal, this object was ceremoniously placed in front of me.

Suddenly I was immersed in a cold chill, as my mind raced trying to figure what this rather ghastly looking object might be…other than the obvious. Needless to say, I’m a bit concerned, and have been on my best behavior ever since.

Near the end of our stay, which by the way coincided with the two of us feeling much better, we traveled about an hour south and visited the historic town of Randsburg, California.

Formerly a ghost town, which has more recently been discovered by counter-culture folks, the town is now billed as a “Living Ghost Town”…which sounds like one of those Ox Morons to me.

Randsburg has been partially repopulated, and some of the old storefronts have been repurposed into retail establishment which cater to the tourist trade.

Other structures are the way they were when shuttered long ago.

Including the Opera House.

And an establishment called a Floozy House.

Note the weirdo taking a photograph through the window!

Then to offset all the debauchery, there is a church which appears to be hold services on a regular basis.

Even though, as you can see, the outside walls must be supported by sturdy poles.

Our visit coincided with a weekday so most everything was closed, and there were very few towns people about.

Remnants of the mill that once sustained the community can be found west of Randsburg, and a short distance up a dirt road.

When operational, the ore was extracted from the earth and carted to a “Stamp Mill”.

Which contain hammers, operated by a crankshaft device, to pulverize the stone.

Then the desired minerals were extracted and shipped off to market.

I like to poke around old ghost towns and have enjoyed many over the years. Even though this one is partially inhabited, we really enjoyed the visit.

Back at the campsite, we turned in early to be alert for the Super-Blue-Blood-Moon event at 0530 in the morning…which was interesting to see from this clear sky desert location, but my weenie camera doesn’t really do it justice.

However, looking through the binoculars, it was an amazing site!

 

Kit’s Bit’s: Well, this hasn’t been the most exciting place to be, especially for nine days and being sick. Fortunately, we were able to take a few days to rest some before we continued our journey. For me, the big issue was the Laundry Center. Brand new, nice and clean, there were 4 washers and 8 dryers. However, only one washer worked properly! And, due to Govt. Rules & Regs, the local Maintenance man was not allowed to fix the 3 other washers! It had to wait for someone from DC, I suppose! With all the campers vying for the one washer, it was quite a feat to get through a weeks’ worth of laundry, especially being down with a bad cold. Enough said!

Bill and Kit’s 2018 Excellent Adventure, Journal #2

“This Year Marks Our 10th Winter RV Trip”

Wherever you go, there you are
Buckaroo Bonzai

Tuesday, December 5 through Friday, December 8, 2017-Pensacola, Florida: We love waking to sunlight streaming through the window while camped beachside on the shores of Pensacola Bay.

As Kit rolled over for some well-deserved late sleepers, I quickly dressed, grabbed my camera, and walked across the dunes by way of the boardwalk which protects the delicate coastal grasses.

The beach was deserted at this ridiculous hour except for this other stick-in-the-mud!

The morning chill sent me back to the warm camper, where Kit was rising to meet the day.

Pensacola, Florida has become a traditional stop for us over the years…it features a nice RV Park on the Naval Air Station, and a great opportunity to rest, recreate, resupply, and prepare for the trip west. In addition, Kit likes the idea that there are plenty of attractions within walking distance to keep me occupied so she can enjoy some peace and quiet!

So, one of the mornings, I took a stroll along the walking path that parallels the bay.

Which led me to the Pensacola Light Station, where I found the tower shrouded in scaffolding.

We have visited this light station many times in the past, but this is the first time I have seen it undergoing restoration. The First-order Fresnel lens has been removed for repair so the light on this navigation aid has been extinguished…for the first time since the civil war!

Back at the camper, I joined Kit for lunch and we made a list of things to accomplish during our stay…one of which was to visit some old friends from Maine. There are many retirees living in Florida, and Pensacola is no exception, especially military retirees. A former shipmate of mine and his wife reside in the area, so we invited them by to visit. Ray and Trini spent many years residing on Maine’s Sabattus Pond before moving south.

Ray and I were stationed on the same US Navy ship back in the 1970’s…the USS Donald B. Beary.

A Knox Class Frigate out of Norfolk, the Beary has the unique distinction of sailing in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the North Sea…all in one 7-month cruise! This unusual accomplishment was brought about by trouble in the Indian Ocean where we were sent from our regular Mediterranean deployment. The Beary was dispatched to transit the Suez Canal and support our allies, including the Shah of Iran…boy have times changed in that region! Arriving back home, she was scheduled for a one-year baseline overhaul at Bath Iron Works in Maine where, following retirement from the Navy, Ray and I eventually settled and worked at the shipyard.

Ray and Trini treated us to a very nice meal at one of their favorite seafood places…The Fish House located on the waterfront of Pensacola Bay.

It somehow seemed appropriate that the staff sat us in an alcove dominated by a model of a US Navy Battleship.

It was great reconnecting with them and seeing their beautiful new home in Pensacola…thanks guys for the hospitality!

Another attraction that we visit frequently is the National Naval Aviation Museum, located a mile up the road from the campground.

Even though I have enjoyed this premier repository of military history dozens of times, I always want to return as it is impossible to view all the displays and read all the material in a few visits. In addition, the museum is constantly adding to their collection or holding special events, such as this tribute to the heroes at Pearl Harbor of December 7, 1941.

Today’s ceremony, honoring the remaining veterans was especially poignant as there are so few survivors left to tell their personal stories. The museum atrium, flanked by historic aircraft, was packed with young and old alike listening in rapt attention to speakers detailing the events on that horrific day of infamy. This day is especially personal to me as my father enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday, December 6, 1941…and was on his way to recruit training when the sneak attack unfolded. He later served on a destroyer in the South Pacific during the war. Then, six years after the attack on Pearl Harbor I was born in Kaneohe, in the Territory of Hawaii.

Located on 37 acres with 300,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space, the National Naval Aviation Museum contains over 150 historic aircraft and many other aviation related artifacts from the Navy, Marine Corps, and US Coast Guard. I have attempted to chronical many of these iconic planes during past visits, and this year I focused on the story of the Great Lakes Fleet and its contribution to the war effort.

What was the US Navy doing operating on Lake Michigan?  Well, with a two-ocean war raging, and the Navy’s surface ships vulnerable to submarine attack, a safe, calm, and convenient body of water was needed to train new pilots in the art of taking off and landing on an aircraft carrier.  So, two coal-fired, side paddlewheel propelled passenger steamers were acquired, fitted with a 500-foot-long flattop deck, and pressed into service.

17,000 pilots, including former president George H. W. Bush, and many more deck operating personnel received their initial carrier qualifications on these ships.  But not without incident, as over 100 aircraft were lost during the three years of training on Lake Michigan.  Fortunately, most pilots survived these crashes, but the aircraft were lost to the deep and cold fresh water of Lake Michigan…until recently.  These submerged wrecks remain the property of the US Navy and a concerted effort has been made to retrieve some of the historic planes, including this F-6 Hellcat.

The submerged Hellcat was recovered in 2008 and restored by Naval Aviation Museum volunteers to display worthy condition.

A portion of the fuselage was left as found to document the superb condition of the aircraft due to the protective elements of the Great Lakes.

During the height of production, Grumman Aircraft Corporation on Long Island, New York turned out one of these planes an hour, around the clock, seven days a week for a total of over 12,000 aircraft constructed during the war!  The Hellcat was used extensively in the South Pacific…who knows, this very warplane may have helped protect my father’s destroyer squadron!

As an interesting side note, the funds for this Hellcat’s recovery and restoration came from Mr. Jack T. Taylor, the founder of Enterprise Rent a Car, who flew the Hellcat during WWII and later named his company after his ship, the USS Enterprise.

Another historic aircraft recovered from Lake Michigan, a SB-2 Helldiver, waits in the museums storage yard for its turn at renewal and display.

Enjoyed a great day at the National Naval Aviation Museum…if you’re ever in the area I highly recommend visiting this incredible facility. It is free, open to the public, and you will not regret it!

The weather during our stay has been variable…one day sunny and in the 70’s and the next rain with temperatures in the 40’s, but that didn’t keep us from our daily walks provided we were bundled up!

Then on those days where Kit needed some space, with me not in it, I would leave her to her Christmas card project and walk the beach…usually bringing a few of my kites along.

The sparsely populated and wide sandy beach is normally perfect for high performance kite flying…when there is sufficient wind. But alas, this year that wasn’t to be…so I would just walk along and commune with other birdbrained creatures that were challenging the cold windless environment.

And try to figure out what kind of critter would dig down in the sand like this.

There were dozens of these symmetrical tubes penetrating the wet sand to a significant depth…all within the tidal zone!?!?

Speaking of tides, when it is out, there are a few pools that contain thousands of minnows darting about.

Tried to get a clear photo of them but was in danger of sliding in up to my waist…a real problem as I was few miles from the camper and the temperatures were on the chilly side.

Well tomorrow we depart and begin our Western trek…plan is to be in Las Vegas by Christmas to enjoy the holiday with daughter Suzie and her family!

 

Saturday, December 9, 2017: Woke this morning to brilliant sunshine.

Grabbed coffee and camera then headed across the icy boardwalk.

Even though it is departure day, I couldn’t resist a short stroll along the beach this frosty morning.

Going to miss this place, even though it has been much colder than normal.

Back at the camper, Kit was stirring…so following a hearty breakfast, we headed out from Oak Grove RV Park on Blue Angel Highway just before 1000 hours. The sun is bright, and the temperature is a balmy 39 degrees. Everyone in the panhandle of Florida has been bundled up and complaining about the severe weather this week.

By 1030 we intersected I-10 and headed west…this will be our main artery for the next few weeks for our travels to the left coast. Crossed into Alabama at 1038 than over Mobile Bay on The Jubilee Parkway as downtown Mobile came into view.

And abruptly dove into the George Wallace Tunnel that takes travelers below downtown and under the Mobile River.

Old Axe Handles tunnel was constructed in the early 1970’s by building sections on land, barging them to the site and submerging the tunnel sections to be joined together. When completed, the tunnel was pumped dry, finished off, and opened for traffic…hopefully in that order.

Within 30 minutes we were crossing into Mississippi, and soon noticed the looming cranes of Pascagoula’s Ingalls Shipyard…a competitor to Bath Iron Works.

Crossed the Louisiana border at 1431 and shortly after left I-10 to take I-12 which traveled northwest along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. This route took Kit and I toward the town of Covington, where we pulled into the dooryard of Johnny and Eileen…old Navy friends from our Key West days.

After a wonderful time of reconnecting and catching up on each other’s lives, as per our custom, we treated our hosts to a meal at a new place none of us had tried before.

New Orleans Style Seafood was a small place with lots of character.

And the fried oysters, shrimp, catfish and hush puppies were outstanding!

We all agreed that this is a keeper, and I will go on record as stating that this spot is now my second favorite place for fried seafood on the north shore!

Returning to their home, we sat up until late in the evening reminiscing and telling stories about our days as teenage parents on that tiny island off the coast of Cuba.

 

Sunday, December 10, 2017-Covington, Louisiana: A very slow morning unfolded, so following breakfast, I put the finishing touches on the first travel journal of the trip, then asked Kit to review and proofread it, then posted the journal to our website.

About 1000 hours there appeared to be life within the house, so Kit and I made our way in to join Johnny and Eileen for coffee. The rest of the day was spent visiting, except for a trip to get one of our 40# propane bottles refilled. What should have been a half hour chore, turned into an hour and a half challenge. To begin with, being a Sunday in this Bible Belt, many places were closed. So off we went to the heathens at U-Haul some 20 miles to the west. Pulling into their yard, I spotted the large propane tank, but alas…they could not dispense any gas due to broken equipment. Then followed a couple of dead ends at places that advertised propane fill stations but, all they had were bottle exchanges. Arrrg…where are the cowboys on Blazing Saddles when you’re in dire need of gas! Finally gave up and as we meandered back, traveling through the countryside, I spotted a propane fill station at an ACE Hardware store, a quick U-turn and pulling up to the bulk tank only to discover the store had closed 10 minutes ago!?!? Oh well, we have the other 40# tank so we won’t be in extremis.

Eileen, a native New Orleans girl, makes some incredible Cajun dishes and tonight was a special treat. Her sausage and chicken Gumbo was incredible and was devoured before I could snap a photo of it, but take it from me…it looked as good as it tasted!

Following dinner, we enjoyed some more visiting before, saying our goodbyes and turning in…plan is to depart at 0700 in the morning, we’ll see if that happens!

 

Monday, December 11, 2017: Well, we didn’t make it at 0700, we actually departed at 0650! A quick stop at Café Du Monde is a tradition when in Louisiana and today was no exception.

Filling our travel mugs with Chicory coffee and grabbing a bag of fresh Beignets, Kit and I pulled out on I-12 to continue the loop back to I-10…and soon were crossing the Atchafalaya Swamp, the largest wetland in the United States.

By 0820 we were passing over the Mississippi river at Baton Rouge, and noticed the massive Exxon Mobile refinery.

The fourth largest oil refinery in the US, this mammoth facility is capable of processing over 21,000,000 gallons a day. And, at the main gate, there lies an Exxon gas station…wonder if they give free samples?

Made a quick stop at a roadside rest area for breakfast around 0900 then, two hours later we were crossing the Texas border. Following a few more rest stops we threaded our way through the megalopolis of Houston and noticed the temperature had risen to very nice 77 degrees.

One discovers some interesting vehicles while on a road trip…such as this rather large truck and trailer.

Nope, it’s not a military asset…at least not anymore. The rig had Louisiana license plates and the 4X4 truck towing the trailer with a restored military vehicle onboard had been converted into an RV…pretty impressive!

Much of the westward trek of these trips are basically miles and miles of miles of miles. Many times over the past ten years Kit and I have deviated from the asphalt ribbon of Interstate 10 and explored much of the surrounding terrain. A few times we have chosen to drive US-90 West enjoying the many small towns along the way. However, since we want to be in Vegas by Christmas, we need to plod along at a steady rate.

Soon, the sun was low on the horizon, and since we had been on the road for nine hours, Kit started looking for a place to stop for the evening.

Many states allow overnight breaks at their interstate rest areas, and Texas is no exception. So, pulling into a facility at mile marker 689 shortly after 1600 hours, we pulled in for the evening.

 

Thursday, December 12, 2017: Woke early after a restful evening. Taking a walk about the rest area, we noticed a few other RV’s spent the night as well as a larger number of long haul trucks. Skipping breakfast, we filled our mugs with freshly brewed coffee and hit the road by 0720. Our goal for today is to meet up with some RV’ing friends from Maine for a mid-morning breakfast.

Back on I-10 West, Kit and I crossed over Woman Hollering Creek (need to look that up!) and headed for San Antonio. Generally, we take the various loops around this large Texas city, but this morning I took the chance that traffic would be light…and I was correct, relatively speaking. Downtown San Antonio has a unique solution to adding Interstate lanes in a congested area…they just stack the additional lanes on top of the existing ones.

If you’re on the upper level of I-10, you become an express traveler, as there are few opportunities to exit the freeway, at least in one piece.

At 0940, Kit and I pulled into a Cracker Barrel restaurant just off I-10 which features parking for Busses and RV’s. Within minutes, Ray and Darlene arrived and we went in to enjoy some good food and great conversation.

During the summer, these two fine folks travel to Maine as they have family and friends in the area. Consequently, we meet up, usually with mutual friends Don and Jane, a few times a year. Kit and I enjoy their company and much of the time visiting revolves around RV travel experiences.

Saying our goodbyes, we were back on the road by noon. Earlier, during my daily safety check of the rig, I noticed a suspect tire on the camper that I had been watching was getting a bit worse. The tire in question is the last original one on the rig, as the other three had been replaced previously due to various mishaps. So, since San Antonio would likely be the last large city we would be near for a few days, I decided it would be prudent to replace it.

So, after calling ahead, we pulled into a Discount Tire franchise where they were ready with the new tire and quickly swapped it out.

I like to use Discount Tire while on the road as their coast to coast network and superb customer service is important to me when tire problems arise in who knows where.

Back on the road, Kit and I decided to head for South Llano River State Park for a bit of R&R. During these long periods of back to back travel days we like to take a down day to relax, and what better place to accomplish that then in a wilderness park?

Well, that’s it for this episode…stay tuned for further adventures on the road.

Kit’s Bit’s: So far, our trip this year has been smooth and easy. The highlights have been visiting with friends Debbie & Sam, Ray & Trini, Johnny & Eileen and Ray & Darlene. Its always nice to see all of them and catch up on all their doings. Now that we’re back out in the desert and, can see the surrounding area for miles and miles and miles I’m looking forward to seeing family in Tucson and of course, Las Vegas. We’ve been texting with our two youngest Grandboys and they are eager to see us as we are to see them! Hang in there, guys, we’re almost there!

Bill and Kit’s 2017 Excellent Adventure, Journal #17

Presents

Jack and Tucker’s Most Excellent Spring Break Camping Adventure

 That’s why I love road trips, dude. It’s like doing something without actually doing anything.

John Greene

 

Monday, April 10, 2017:  Leaving Oasis RV Park in Las Vegas with these two chuckleheads in tow.

The morning is sunny and clear with temperatures near 70 degrees which makes it a great day for a road trip.  Heading south, we passed through Boulder City and down into the valley of the Colorado River and its impoundment, Lake Mead.

Due to the recent rains, the lake is much higher than in the past, and the snows in the mountains haven’t begun to melt yet!

A successful road trip requires entertainment along the way, and plenty of rest stops for food, drink, and exercise.

Where the boys can release some energy by running amuck in the vast desert.

The reason for the barbed wire is to keep pre-teen boys away from the free-range cattle.

This is a surprise road trip so neither Jack of Tucker know where we are headed.  However, Jack took that as a challenge.  Paying attention to our direction and asking a few questions he deduced that we were heading to Arizona…and he was correct!

Doesn’t look like Arizona? Well, that’s because this is one of the most ecologically diverse states in the union and we are in high desert country heading toward the mountains!  An hour to the east brought us to our first destination…Williams, Arizona.

Where we set up camp at the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park.

Tomorrow, the train to The Grand Canyon and the boys are some excited!

 

Tuesday, April 11 and Wednesday, April 12, 2017-Williams, Arizona:  Up early to catch the train to the South Rim…but first we enjoyed an introduction to western culture.

Where we interrupted an “encounter” between some outlaws.

And the law.

And, as the song goes…the law won!

Next it was time to board the train to Grand Canyon National Park.

The trainway was developed from an old ore mining track by The Santa Fe Railroad in the early 1900’s.  It was the primary vehicle (no pun intended) to bring folks to the railroads hotels and tourist camps at the new Grand Canyon National Monument, recently protected under the Antiquities Act by President Theodore Roosevelt.

An agreement was worked out by the boys as to who would sit with whom during the trip.  Tucker has a window seat with Gumbo.

And Jack got stuck with me.

Then on the return trip, the boys agreed to swap…pretty diplomatic as well as a great compromise.

During the two-hour trip, there were a series of musicians that came through the coach to entertain the passengers.

While the high desert countryside rolled by.

Many trips to the diner car, resulted in the boys discovering they could straddle the coupling between cars and feel the sensation of the two coaches moving over the rails independently.

Arriving at Grand Canyon National Park train station, we made our way up the hill toward the rim.  Allowing Jack and Tucker to lead the way was strategic, as we knew the “oh wow” factor of seeing the canyon for the first time.

And…as if on que, upon initially viewing the grandeur, both boys gasped and emitted the waited for “oh wow”!

They both divulged that this was their first National Park, but it wouldn’t be the last!  Glad we could be a part of it!!

We walked the rim trail toward the west and stopped for lunch at Bright Angel Lodge.  Then it was back east along the trail where some Navajo Indians were holding court.

Then some more gawking at the magnificent Grand Canyon!

What a great day!

Walking to the train station, we spotted this unique camper.

Kit and I have seen a number of bus conversions on the road…but never a Woodie!

Back on the train, Jack who usually has his head buried in his iPad, was lost in quiet reverie as the train rolled along.

We firmly believe that exposing children to Americas natural wonders in the various units of the National Park System will create lifelong conservationists, and adults that will protect funding for these beautiful places.

The trip back to Williams had musical entertainment as well.

And those dastardly outlaws reappeared!

This time to hold up the passengers!

It should be noted that these outlaws have a warm heart as all their ill-gotten booty went to charity.

A great day was had by all at one of America’s great National Parks!

Thanks Jack and Tucker for sharing the day with us!

We also spent some time touring the frontier town of Williams, which being on Historic Route 66, had its fair share of gift shops.

This particular place features many sculptures and other items made from castoff junk and expended brass.

As we walked down the street, music from the early years of rock was heard emitting from Cruisers Café.

Which lured us in for some great barbeque.

While John kept us entertained with many classic tunes.

Tomorrow we are off to the next stop on Jack and Tuckers Spring Break Adventure!

 

Thursday, April 13, 2017:  Woke to sunny skies and temperatures in the low 60’s.  Broke camp then headed east on Route 66, until we came to I-40 which we traveled on toward the town of Flagstaff.

That’s 12,633-foot Mount Humphries in the photo above…it usually has snow until late spring, and sometimes even longer.  Heading south a short distance from town found us at Fort Tuthill, a US Military Recreation Facility located in the foothills of the San Francisco Mountains.

Unlike campgrounds found on most military installations, these recreation facilities are for the troops and their families to get away for, well…recreation.  In this case, 140 miles away from its sponsoring installation of Luke Air Force Base outside Phoenix.

In addition to a nice wilderness campground, Fort Tuthill also features a lodge, cabins and yurt’s. on elevated platforms

Located in the Coconino Forest, the area contains the largest stand of Ponderosa Pine in the world, so the boys found plenty of room to explore.

On one of their hikes, Jack and Tucker discovered a “debris hut” that someone had meticulously created.

Evidence showed that this rather large structure made of branches, twigs and pine boughs had a substantial roof and was relatively weathertight.  Unfortunately, the ravages of the severe winters and/or human vandalism has caused the hut to deteriorate.  Nowadays, the only inhabitants are forest creatures such as this fellow scurrying about the branches and twigs.

That folks, is a Horned Toad similar to the species I used to capture for pets as a youngster…and chase the neighborhood girls with.

So, what do two city boys do when in the forest?  Why dig in the dirt of course!

They both fashioned primitive tools and used basic physics to try and unearth a rather large boulder.  A great effort, but that was one huge boulder!

Back at the camper, and following dinner, it was time for a game called “Pile on Gumbo!

Goodnight…tomorrow more adventures await!

 

Friday, April 14, 2017-Flagstaff, Arizona:  Woke early to sunny but cool weather with temperatures in the 50’s.

“While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping”… Yep, while lying in bed enjoying the cloud formations viewed through the skylight and waiting for the boys to begin stirring about, this visitor appeared.

Being an inventive soul I decided to name him/her, Nevermore!  Which was appropriate as he/she never appeared again during our stay.  If it hadn’t been for my iPhone nearby I would not have photographic evidence and the family would think I’m crazier than I actually am.

There are many reasons Kit and I decided to bring the boys to this part of Northern Arizona…cool crisp mountain air in a pine forest surrounded by lofty peaks, and one of the premier Ropes Courses in the country!

Within walking distance of the campground lies a tree-top adventure course known as Flag-X which features a series of challenging sections one must negotiate to move along the course.  Able to proceed independently at your own speed, and having the opportunity to descend to ground level when desired, makes this course suitable for most every ability.

After signing the waiver forms, the next step is to harness up with two opposing safety lines then test out the safety gear on a low-level rope…actually, a steel cable.

Then it’s off to the first course which consists of logs,

Plank Bridges,

And Zip Lines.

Both boys aced the first course, then it was off to the next one.

A bit higher, and more challenging, Jack made short work of this course as well…doing the route three times, and with each lap he gained more confidence.  Tucker, however had a bit of difficulty with this more difficult course.  A Flag-X staff person climbed up into the trees and spent a great deal of time working with him which gained his success in a few more of the sections.

But at the swinging log bridge, he couldn’t quite make it across…maybe next year!  Jack on the other hand was all smiles as he zipped the final section.

Both boys were happy and tired at the end of the day and agreed a return trip to Flag-X was in their future!

 

Saturday, April 15, 2017: Today we head back into the city of Las Vegas.  Deciding to take a different route home, we headed for Laughlin, Nevada and then northerly on US-95 paralleling the west shore of the Colorado River.  And, no surprise, windflowers were carpeting the desert here as well!

Along the way, the boys discovered our antique music playlist on my iPad and started rocking out to classics from The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Beach Boys, and others.  Kit and I enjoyed the tunes and the boys received an education in great music…a win-win!

Back in town, we backed the camper into the kid’s driveway to unload gear.  Since it was Easter eve, and the nonbelieving boys were sure they would wake to plastic eggs full of money, both Jack and Tucker wanted to stay in their home this evening.  So, Kit and I headed over to Oasis RV, enjoyed a nice meal and a few cocktails before dropping off to sleep.

 

Sunday, April 16, 2017-Las Vegas, Nevada:  Woke to really nice spring weather.  Suzie has invited us over for a traditional Easter backyard barbeque this afternoon, so we spent the morning relaxing about the RV park.

Our contribution to the meal was goodies from Freed’s Bakery…a Vegas institution, where we stopped on the way over.

This place is consistently packed with drooling patrons.

We selected four large pieces of cake…Chocolate Parisian, Lemon Chiffon, and Carrot Cake.

Hey, don’t be judgmental…the chocolate deliciousness is balanced out by the fruit and vegetable offering!

We also enjoyed grilled meat, broccoli salad, and deviled eggs made from the boys Easter handiwork.

After the meal, there were a few rounds of full contact ping-pong which provided a lot of entertainment.

New rules were developed that allowed caroming off the side of the house, and multiple do-overs of the serve.

Saying our goodbyes and getting prolonged grandkid hugs, Kit and I headed back to the RV park for the evening.  Tomorrow we continue east toward home…stay tuned!

Gumbo’s Brief’s:  We thoroughly enjoyed our Spring Break Adventure with Jack and Tucker!  The train ride to The Grand Canyon was fun.  We were able to see a lot of the countryside without having to worry about driving.  A rare treat for us!  The boys had so much fun, both at the Grand Canyon and Fort Tuthill.  Much of my enjoyment comes from the fact that Pop is “reliving his childhood” with the kids.  Watching the three of them “playing” is a hoot, as you can imagine!  He never misses an opportunity to be a kid again.  😉

Bill and Kit’s 2017 Excellent Adventure, Journal #9

Bill and Kit's Woody and Airstream-2015

The ideal is to feel at home anywhere and everywhere.

Geoff Dye

 

Saturday, February 4 through Tuesday, February 7, 201NAF El Centro, California:  Woke to “The Sound of Freedom”!

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Yep, Naval Air Facility, El Centro is the winter home of the US Navy’s Flight Demonstration Team, the incomparable “Blue Angels”!  And a real thrill was their daily practicing in the skies above the campground, followed by a complete practice show routine in the afternoon.  The morning sessions were interesting as you could always pick out the newest member of the team as they were frequently out of position.

Another thrill while in town, was to connect at a local Mexican spot with our childhood friend JoAnne and her husband Ron.

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They are eastbound on their own RV adventure and stopped in El Centro to spend the day with us.  Had a great time catching up on our lives and swapping RV stories…thanks for making time for us folks…look forward to seeing you in San Diego whenever we all make it!

El Centro, a city of 44,124 folks, sits at an average elevation of minus forty-two feet making it the only town in the United States that lies completely below sea level!  El Centro is the population center for the Imperial Valley, and the valley is an important element in the growing and distribution of food crops to the American and world markets.  Irrigation that turns the Imperial Valley desert into fertile farmland comes from the Colorado River via the All-American Canal, at 80 miles it is the longest aqueduct in the world.  Agriculture in the valley is a billion-dollar industry, thanks to 350 days of sunshine a year, and over half the population is involved in farming.

A short drive in any direction from El Centro and one encounters farmland.

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And driving down any of the farm roads you are likely to come across bee hives placed in close proximity to the crops for the pollination effort.

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You can’t tell by the photo, but millions of bees were swarming about the truck as we slowly crept past.

And a bit further afield there is miles and miles of miles and miles.

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Which, I imagine, is the way this part of the Sonoran Desert has looked for thousands of years …well, except for that ribbon of asphalt with the sand blowing across.

Other than sand, scrub brush, cactus and the occasional hardy residents, this desolate place has little else…which makes it a prime location for America’s finest men and women to practice their craft.

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The instructions to “do not stop” is pretty much a given, especially with the skies harboring weapons laden fighters and bombers from the surrounding military bases.

And on the outskirts of the military bombing range, appropriately lies Salvation Mountain.

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This lifetime work of one man is a lasting symbol of his faith and devotion to God.  Kit and I have enjoyed this unique piece of folk art in the past and noticed that there is now an historical marker in place to honor the man that created Salvation Mountain.

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Of particular interest to me was that one of the sponsors of the tablet was E. Clampus Vitus, a fraternal organization in the west that seeks to honor overlooked historical sites.  Founded in 1849, and currently numbering 50,000 “Clampers”, this secret society can only be joined through invitation.  Their motto is Credo Quia Absurdum, which is Latin for “I Believe It Because it is Absurd” and the organizations leader is known as “The Supreme Grand Humbug”.  So, why do I wish to join this Fraternal Organization?  Well, they are dedicated to the principal of not taking anything too seriously, especially themselves…which has long been my personal philosophy as well.  So, if you happen to know a member of E. Clampus Vitus, please put in a good word for me…thanks!

Right next door to Salvation Mountain lies Slab City.

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Which is another desert institution that I reviewed last year.  If you’re interested in my ramblings on Salvation Mountain or Slab City, whey can be found here:

https://bilnkit.com/2016/02/29/bill-and-kits-2016-excellent-adventure-journal-9/

At the far end of Slab City, one comes to a fork in the road.

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Where a decision must be made…veer left toward West Satan, or head right toward East Jesus.  Being pious folks, and not wanting to take chances, we took the road less traveled toward East Jesus!

Where a world of folk art, whimsy, and unusual characters awaited.

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The first to greet Kit and I was a fella named Mopar, or as some call him…The Wizard.

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Being a slow day, Mopar gave us a personal and in depth tour of the art garden.  A dynamic display that is added to daily by the various residents of East Jesus…some who actually live in their pieces of art!

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Everything in the art garden was built form castoffs of modern society.  Rather than bury this trash in a landfill, the artist recycles it into these amazing and thought provoking sculptures.

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An example is this wall of words made from familiar items that seem to become obsolete at a very rapid rate.

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Yep, the wall above is indeed a stack of old televisions and computer monitors with their screens painted white to provide a suitable canvas.

Then there is a wall of bottles imbedded in adobe that serves to separate the public art space from the artist’s homes.

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The residences are made up of scrap, trash, and abandoned vehicles.  Many decorated with art as well… such as this old tour bus.

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Many other resident artists were milling about but not as eager to talk or have their photo taken…such as this barefoot fella with a piece of duct tape for a bandage. And, yep…he’s wearing a dress.

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Unusual place, but fascinating as well…there are a lot of fringe element folks living in the California Desert and making art.

Last issue, I alluded to a “huge rotating kiddie barrel from our early family travel days” an item of nostalgia that Kit became obsessed with finding.  Well one afternoon we were on the hunt for information of the huge rotating kiddie barrel…first stop was Bucklin Park, the huge rotating kiddie barrel’s last known location.  Searching the grounds, we found no evidence of a huge rotating kiddie barrel or any knowledge of a huge rotating kiddie barrel amongst the pigeon feeding geriatric set sitting in the park.  Next stop, El Centro Parks and Recreation, where the thirty something clerk was amused and confused about our inquiry until an age appropriate director came out of her office and verified the existence of the huge rotating kiddie barrel in Bucklin Park!  Then pay dirt at our final stop…El Centro City Hall.

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Where more stories of youngsters from yesteryear playing in the huge rotating kiddie barrel, and a vintage photograph emerged!

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This pre-litigious playground apparatus was made of wood and features a huge rotating kiddie barrel propelled by said kiddies running inside hamster style.  Whoa be the child that tripped because they soon found themselves on their bellies sliding along the splinter encrusted floor… wasn’t childhood in the 1960’s grand!

Well, tomorrow we continue west toward the land of the setting sun.

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Goodnight!

 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017: Woke to strong winds from the south with predicted gusts into the 50 MPH range.  Since our travels are westerly, the winds from abeam would likely make driving hazardous, so we decided to spend an extra day in El Centro.

Spent the bonus time off the road in taking care of correspondence, straightening up the inside of the camper, and just lazing about.  Kit made a nice roast beef dinner and we enjoyed a glass of wine before retiring to read in bed…again, goodnight!

 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017:  Up and on the road by 1042 hours under sunny skies with a temperature of 76 degrees, and most importantly, very light winds from the west.  Headed out on

I-8 through the desert and toward the coastal mountains of California.

We noticed that alternative sources of energy are very popular out west by evidence of the miles of solar panels that line both sides of the interstate.

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The two million solar panels of the Tenaska Solar Energy Center can supply up to 44,000 homes with clean power when generating at full capacity.

Not to be left out, the wind turbine electricity generating complex further to the west is up and running as well.

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The 112 turbines scattered over 10,000 acres of land generates 315 megawatts of power at full capacity.

These two projects are in response to a California congressional mandate that electric utilities produce 33% of their power from renewable sources.  Makes sense…the politicians have an abundance of hot air to efficiently operate the solar and wind systems!

Pulling off I-8, and onto California Highway 94 where a lot of road maintenance was going on.

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This winding and guardrail less mountain road can be a bit treacherous, especially when pulling an 8 ½ foot wide by 30-foot-long camper, so any improvement is welcome to the RV traveler.

At 1222 hours, we pulled the rig into Potrero Regional Park…a favorite camping opportunity of ours.

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And set up in a very nice site for the next few days.

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Following dinner and a nightcap, we turned in for the evening enjoying the silence of the East San Diego County mountains as a full moon shown through the bedroom skylight.

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Goodnight!

 

Thursday, February 9 through Saturday, February 11, 2017-Potrero County Park, California:  Located in the Mountain Empire region of San Diego County, the small town of Potrero, population 656, lies 45 miles Southeast of downtown San Diego.  A rural and remote country location, the closest city is Tecate, Mexico, a mere 5 miles to the south.  Potrero Park features a picnic area and campground situated on ancient pasture land festooned with centuries old Live Oaks trees

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There is an abundance of wildlife in the surrounding hills, but the only wild resident we encountered was this cute little fellow.

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A Western Fence Lizard, (yep, didn’t make that up) and a frequent target of my brother, my friends, and I for capture and enslavement in our pockets.  Great fun to find and apprehend one of these guys during a walk to our elementary school…not so much fun for the teachers however.

The park and campground features hiking and walking trails, some with exercise equipment arrayed alongside the path.

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Something is just plain wrong with a mechanical walking apparatus within inches of an actual walking path!?!?

A short distance away is the town library, a favorite stopping point for Kit, and a great photographic opportunity for me.

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The libraries sign was originally accompanied by a cactus garden, but native wildflowers have taken over masking the transplanted vegetation, much to the chagrin of the library staff…but not to the pleasure of color loving passersby!

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One change to the area since our last visit was a wildfire that blanketed the area last June and forced the evacuation of the entire Potrero community.  The fire blackened over 7,600 acres and was brought under control by a combined force of 1,937 fire personnel.

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There were a few structures lost but fortunately no fatalities, and the fire was halted within yards of the county park.  Eight months later the charred section is regenerating and signs of thanks spontaneously put up by residents popped up as well.

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As mentioned, Potrero is just a stone’s throw from the Mexican border town of Tecate…the home of my childhood best friend Rodney and his wife Gloria.  As in the past, they graciously invited us south of the border to spend the day with them, so we headed through the rural countryside toward the south.

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Where Rodney met us for the short trip through the town of Tecate.

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To their beautiful compound in the heart of the city.

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After an enjoyable few hours of visiting, Rodney and I walked into town to his favorite “Street Taco” place.

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The menu was classic Baja Mexico, and very reasonable.

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And everything was freshly grilled and prepared on site.

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The sight, sounds, and aroma emanating from this open front taqueria were incredible!

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Thanks, Rod and Gloria for treating us to an excellent meal and for your hospitality…next time it’s our treat!

We’ve mentioned in past Excellent Adventure Journals of our 1965 trip from San Diego to Key West Florida…well much of that trip was pre-Interstate days and was made by following US Highway 80 toward the east.

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US-80 parallels the Mexican border before as it travels through the towns of Manzanita and Jacumba.

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You’ll notice in the photo above that the existing border fence ends where the mountainous terrain becomes steep…good luck building a wall in this rugged terrain!

All too soon, Historic US-80 get gobbled up by Interstate 8 but not before we snake under the massive ribbon of asphalt and head out on In-Ko-Pah Road toward the Desert View Tower.

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This stone tower was built in the 1920’s by a real estate developer who was trying to lure customers to his new projects in the area.  Sitting at 3,000 feet elevation, the three-story tower can be ascended by a central spiral stairway made of native wood.

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Where a commanding view can be enjoyed of the surrounding countryside.

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Adjacent to the tower is a sculpture garden called Boulder Park.  Built into the huge boulders, the park features many whimsical creatures that were carved from stone by an unemployed engineer during the great depression.

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A maze of tunnels and stone steps takes one up into the stack of boulders.

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Where more sculptures await discovery.

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Desert View Tower has been honored as a California Registered Landmark with the help of my new favorite fraternal organization, E. Clampus Vitus.

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Those guys really get around!

Speaking of getting around, there are repair shops in America for most any mode of travel…cars, trucks, motorcycles, aircraft, boats, etc.  And if you arrive in the area via spacecraft and happen to breakdown near the Desert View Tower, you’re in luck!  Coyote’s Flying Saucer Retrieval and Repair Shop has your little green self covered.

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Well, with that, we head back to Potrero County Park in time to enjoy a nice sunset.

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Goodnight!

Kit’s Bit’s:  We didn’t make many miles on this trip, but we enjoyed every bit of it.  So many times, over the last 50+ years, we’ve blown through this area and never had time to stop and explore anything.  Rather than making a beeline for an amusement park, we seem to seek out the weird and unusual things.  Who knows why??  I suppose the good thing is, we enjoy every minute of finding and exploring these strange sights.  We meet up with the nicest people, who are eager to share their knowledge of the local area and their experiences with us.  A fun (but strange) way to travel the countryside of the USA!