Friday, May 18, 2018

Texas, Texas and More Texas

May 12 - 20, 2018
Spring Branch RV Park
Spring Branch, Texas

After New Mexico,  we spent the remainder of the time either driving through or staying in Texas.  I am glad we are traveling by RV.  It looks like the buses don't run too frequently.

Both Dave and I have family in the same small town of Spring Branch so much time has been spent visiting with our families.  Last night we had a bad storm and we saw RAIN!!  It has been so long since we saw moisture come out of the sky that we had forgotten what it looked like.  Today we are dealing with something else we haven't experienced in a long time - HUMIDITY.

There won't be much to write about for a while because when we leave here we will be on our way to Missouri for the Escapade.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Great Lizard Caper

May 9-10, 2018
Elephant Butte Lake State Park
Elephant Butte, New Mexico

It seemed like it took forever to get ready to leave Casa Grande this year.  One thing after another kept needing our attention.

One of the more exciting things was our lizard adventure.  Dave & I were working in garage one day and since it was very hot, Dave had the door between the garage and the house opened to let a some air conditioned air into the garage.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a lizard climb the steps and run into the house.  This was not a cute little gecko, but a big bad lizard!  The thought of a lizard locked up in our house while we were gone for 6 months was not pleasant.  It kept running under furniture and while we turned one piece of furniture over, it ran to another.  It was quite a scene.  The lizard was winning but he eventually met his demise.  I just hope he didn't invite a friend that we didn't see.







On our way across New Mexico, we naturally made a quick stop in Pie Town.  We picked up a pear ginger almond cranberry pie and were quickly on the road again on our way to see the Very Large Array (VLA).  There are 27 active antenna dishes (each 82 feet across) receiving radio signals from outer space.  The dishes are spread out around the valley.  Computers combine the signals from each of the dishes giving the VLA the effect of a 22 mile diameter telescope.  I was disappointed to not find ET anywhere.





We are currently in New Mexico at a place we have gone by many times but have never actually stayed here.  Lakes are scarce in this part of the country so this place is especially popular with boaters.  














This has to be the steepest and longest boat ramp I have ever seen.  It might just be easier to unhitch the boat at the top of the hill and let it roll down to the water by itself.














Cute sand sculpture of mother elephant and two baby elephants.



Sunday, October 1, 2017

End of the Road

Oct. 1, 2017
Casa Grande, Arizona



While we were in Carson City, Nevada, we were looking forward to seeing the Virginia City Historic District.  Unfortunately the day we drove over to Virginia City was the day of a very large motorcycle rally.







Only motorcycles were allowed to park on the main streets and everything was so crowded we could hardly walk down the sidewalk.







We didn't stay as long in Virginia City as we had planned so we decided to check out Lake Tahoe.









It was very pretty but out of our financial bracket.










After a couple of days of driving we made it back home, ending our summer adventures for this year.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Prison Vultures

September 25 - 27, 2017
Elks Lodge #1712
Shingle Springs, California



Yesterday we started our day with a trip to the Folsom Prison Museum.  It was very interesting but now I can't get Johnny Cash's song out of my head.  I was surprised to see an exhibit about "Sheriff Joe" from Arizona at this museum. 





The original prison was nicknamed "The Castle" due to its design.   It is built in a hole formed after the excavation of the granite used in the buildings.  We weren't permitted to get close enough to see where the road sloped toward the main gate.






All of the license plates for the state of California are still manufactured at this facility.












We also drove over to see the site of Sutter's Mill.  The area now is a state park with a reproduction of the original sawmill.
This is the site of the original mill on the American River.  It's hard to visualize how quickly this area changed after gold was discovered.  The ranger told me that a three once nugget was found five years ago so there must still be gold in the area.  

This is a memorial to the Lincoln Highway and old US 40 which were replaced by Interstate 80.  Notice how smooth the slabs from the original road are?  Too bad the newer road is not pothole free.












We were driving down the road when this group of statutes caught my eye.  These enormous works of art were made by a local dentist in Auburn, California.  The parking lot of his original office is decorated with several of his concrete statutes.














Did I mention that they were very big?






The artist's first statue in the 1960s was of a nude man.  Unfortunately it faced a busy street causing shock and criticism from the town.   School buses were rerouted so they didn't pass by with a load of school children.  That was a long time ago and now no one seems to pay much attention to the art work.

We have been fortunate to time our visit to this Sacramento suburb to coincide with the annual vulture migration.  It is rather disturbing to see large numbers of vultures circling overhead.  I wonder if they know something we don't. 

When we were driving in Oregon we passed a sign warning "Ecology Crew Ahead". I was expecting to see a bird banding operation, turtle crossing or something like that.  It turned out to be people picking up garbage.



Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sundials and Sore Feet

September 22 - 24, 2017
Elks Lodge #1073
Redding, California

I was starting to think the sun didn't shine in Oregon but when we left it was a nice day that showed the promise of getting out of the 30s.




We drove south towards Redding, California and past Mt. Shasta.  Beautiful day!












As we were driving along, we passed this memorial sculpture garden on the northwestern slope of Mt. Shasta.

This garden was started by some northern California veterans on 134 acres of land donated by the Park Service.  Tens of thousands of tree were planted by volunteers representing veterans.  Sculptures were then added to the garden to enhance the memorial.


The Greatest Generation


 POW - MIA
 


Redding, California has numerous nice walking / biking trails.  We are camped right next to the Sacramento River Trail.  This paved trail provides public access to the river along the many miles of the trail.




 
We enjoyed the trail that went over this bridge called the Sundial Bridge.  The decking is composed of metal and glass.






The vertical piece on the end of the bridge functions as a large sundial with markers on the ground to signify the time.  Wonder how that works with daylight savings time.
 View from the bridge.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fire and Ice

September 19 - 21, 2017
Klamath County Fairgrounds
Klamath Falls, Oregon

After we left Florence, Oregon we traveled to Brookings, Oregon for a few days.  Brookings is the site of the fire camp for the firefighters in the area.   A large map was posted in front of the grocery store everyday to keep residents and visitors updated on the progress of the closest fires.  Two days of rain cleared the air and helped with the fires so we decided to try Crater Lake once more. 



Fire didn't stop us but the snow did.  As the road climbed higher the light rain turned into heavy snow. The road and the visibility got so bad we had to turn around and drive back to Klamath Falls.  We're from Arizona so we didn't have an ice scraper or snow brush.  I think we have turned into wimps since moving south!






Today we drove south a few miles to Lava Beds National Park.  I was expecting something like Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument in Arizona but instead of being above ground the biggest attraction at this park was the lava caves.







We didn't leave the RV prepared to go caving so we were lacking the required equipment: gloves, knee pads, safety helmets and flashlights with extra batteries and bulbs.  It is suggested that everyone leave their itinerary at the visitor center so if you don't come back in a reasonable amount of time that they would know where to start the search. This was starting to sound less like fun.










The ranger then told us that if we didn't want that much adventure, there was one cave that had lights, a paved walkway and did not require special equipment. 

Yet again, we chose the wimpy "adventure". 


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Squirrels & Whales

September 14 - 16, 2017
Elks # 1858 Recreation Park
Florence, OR


On our way from Long Beach, WA to Florence, OR we passed through the squirrel infested town of Longview, WA.  Many years ago after witnessing the demise of most of the town's squirrels on the street in front of his office, a local contractor decided to build a bridge over the street so the squirrels could cross safely. 
This engineering marvel was such a success that several more bridges were built. The town now holds a Squirrel Festival each year to celebrate the rodents and their replica bridges.

We had originally planned to travel to Mt. Ranier, Crater Lake and Proxy Falls.  The routes to each one were blocked by wildfires so we switched to Plan B - driving down the coast of Oregon.  It's good to be flexible.




At Sea Lion Cave we went down in the cave even though the seals weren't there.  In the summer they gather on the rock ledges outside the caves.




 




In the winter the seals move into the caves.







South of Sea Lion Cave

                                               North of Sea Lion Cave





We saw whales almost everywhere we stopped.  I was surprised that they were so close to shore in relatively shallow water. 











If you look very carefully a whale fin is visible in this photo.












The biggest problem trying to photograph whales is that you have to be very quick with your camera.  Dave wasn't.  I think we now have hundreds of photos of the Pacific Ocean showing nothing but ripples where a whale used to be.