Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Love My Gertie - finally!


Thursday, May 31st.
     It finally cooled off enough last night to shut off the AC - it's quite loud - and turn on the fan and open windows.  Started out warm but cooled off enough to sleep comfortably.
     This a.m. I had to turn AC back on by 8 and right now at 5:15 it's 101 with an "excessive heat warning" according to weather.com.   But it's dry:)   Tomorrow is suppose to get to 107 (so it might just be a pool afternoon - in the shade):  
The adult pool

but back down to 103 on Sat. when Sally joins me.  And poor Rhoda just can't cool down very much with AC running constantly.  I bet Sally will be looking at the map tonight to find the fastest route to the mountains:)
     I rinsed the coffee pot out under the outdoor faucet and the water coming out of it was hot enough to make instant coffee with but it was so easy coiling up the electrical cord when I got ready to pull out for my little jaunt because it was so warm and pliable.
     From a list of places & stores to see in L.V. from all the brochures they gave me at front desk, Gertie & I set out to see what we could find and she did an astounding job!  I'd like her to be a little quicker with what turn is coming up but I've learned to be patient with her and hope that the 4 lanes of traffic aren't so bad that I can't get from the right lane to the left when she tells me "in a quarter mile, turn left on Dean Martin Blvd.".  Only once did I have to say "Oh come on Gertie, REALLY!!".  
     I found the next TJ MAXX combo Goodwill store in L.V.  It's called:  SAVERS.  Have you ever heard of it before?  Most of what I bought was brand new - probably what stores couldn't sell but maybe some was used but the only way I'm guessing that might have been the case was because a tag was cut out.  I think much of the home goods were donated stuff though.  I think their charity is Boys/Girls Clubs.  Anyway, I did alright!  Also went to a grocery chain that I was introduced to last year in CA that was fun:  TRADER JOES.  Anyone been to one?  I went to their website and found that there's one in Albany, NY (to hit on my way back to FL) and one in Sarasota, FL (good excuse for a trip to the west coast).  Most everything is their brand but really good quality and different.  (Can you tell I'm stretching for things to talk about today?)
     Because I couldn't take any pictures of "The Strip" as cars were honking at me when I tried to stop in the middle of the road and because I think you already know how pretentious it is, so I took pictures of my "Resort"where I'm staying for 3 nights.

The entrance to "The Oasis RV Park" in downtown L.V., NV
The gardens

The children's pool
DATA:
Mileage:  27 (round trip)                 Groceries:  $25                    Shopping:  $70
Camp:  $45 plus $6 internet
Most interesting "business":  Remnant Ministries ???
     

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Deadline #1 met

Wednesday, May 30th

     Left at 9:15 this a.m. not knowing if I had to be in Las Vegas on Friday or Sat.  I thought I was picking up sister-in-law Sally H. at the airport on Sat. June 1st but looked at the calender this a.m. and saw that Sat. was June 2nd. so sent out a panicky e-mail asking which day she was arriving.  I still had plenty of time either way but it's just a good thing to know.  (At end of day I found out that it is Sat. the 2nd).
     I needed gas but yikes, it was CA prices - over $4/gal.  Again, I'm in prime Grand Canyon territory so decided to drive a little further.  Next stop was even higher - $4.29 so one more exit and I settled on $4.19.  Still yikes but I got this extra treat at this funky little strip on old Route 66 (I think it was Seligman) again:
Make sure you read the name of the cafe!  I wasn't hungry yet!

     Again, beautiful vistas - from pine covered hills back to barren knobbly mounds which are very rocky with just some little rounded shrubs dotting the red ground.  Very weird but interesting landscape.
     People are so inventive - when you don't have any trees to tie your clothesline to, just string it from your porch to your car's side-view mirror.  Seemed to work just fine as long as the kids don't have soccer practice before the sheets are dry.
     Signs kept saying "Watch for Elk".  I did but I didn't.
     In Kingman there is an Andy Devine Blvd?? and as you descend into this also barren valley, there is a swath of dark green which upon getting closer, were trees people had planted in their sand-colored gravel yards.  They must do a lot of spot watering.
     Got my hair cut in Kingman - at a day spa and it cost about 1/2 of what I pay at a regular salon in FL and it was a good hair cut.  Sounds like Kingman is a lot like FL - retirees are flocking in because nice warm weather year round but no humidity but dry skin.  Can't have everything unless you move from place to place in Rhoda:)
     From Kingman, I got on Rt. 93 to Las Vegas which is a wonderfully interesting route but make sure your tank is full because it's also desolate - not of traffic but of civilization.  You're driving right in these multitude of funny little rugged, rocky mini mountains and I got to thinking (I know, too much time on my hands) - I wonder if these formations seem so different to me because there's nothing growing on them, unlike in the east, and so you see every little peak, every rock, every crack.  I wonder if westerners feel claustrophobic when they go east because there is so much foliage surrounding you and the land.
    I was so worried that I wouldn't have any pictures to show of this very interesting topography but you're in luck - there was ONE scenic pull off and so I did:
     The sun was on the screen so I couldn't really see what I was shooting and I zoomed a little too much to see the whole scene but this is called the Black Canyon with is part of Lake Mohave which isn't far from the Hoover Dam.  Whew! When I got out of the car to take this picture, it must have been 100 degrees.  I got back in Rhoda and changed clothes fast - I left this a.m. in about 40 degrees.
     At the point I left Kingman I knew that there were no opportunities for camping until I got to the Lake Mead/Hoover Dam/Las Vegas area so I was committed.  I mistakenly took the road down to the Dam - just because I was here, even though I remembered it well from our famous cross-country trip back in the 80s so didn't get out to see it again, turned around, looked at Lake Mead:

and headed for "The Strip".  Casinos began appearing as soon as I crossed into NV but I resisted:)  I did notice mega homes in Boulder City - wow!  And Las Vegas is a bustling little oasis which by the way is the name of the campground I'm at - about 1/2 mile from the airport and the office and grounds of the campground look like a resort but is no more expensive than the KOA I was at last night near the Grand Canyon.  Still hot out at 10 p.m. 
     At least I'm here - deadline #1 - in time so as not to miss Sally - whenever she decides to fly in:)  Now I wonder if I can find 2 nickels to rub together and a machine that'll still take real coins or just enjoy the Oasis.

DATA:
Had to unfold the last section of map for today's destination.

Mileage:  236                   Gas:  $89   @ $4.20                     Hair cut:   $23
Oasis:  $45 plus $6 for internet                                    Weather:  HOT
Street I wouldn't want to live on:  Devil Dog Rd.
Town I wouldn't want to live in:  Chloride, AZ

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Look out above !

Tuesday, May 29th
Happy Anniversary Patrick & Joanna!!



     Woke up again needing the heat but it warmed up quickly, did my extended morning routine and thought I was doing well to drive out at 10.  I needed to mail a pkg so first stop was the P.O. and was surprised that it wasn't open yet.  I asked someone what time they opened and they said 9 - in just a few minutes.  OK, I'm now in Jeff & Katie's time zone so I gained an hour again except that that means I got up at 6 instead of 7 and I don't like to do that.
     In case you've been wondering - Gertie's been doing better.  She's a typical woman - if you know what she likes then she performs better for you.  You have to talk her language, tell her exactly what you want and read between the lines with what she's telling you.  When she says to turn Left onto King St. then turn left - she doesn't mean to take the next left - she means to stay left and in a minute she'll tell you which left she wants you to take - ask me how I know:)
     Reflections on:  at what age do you really appreciate and enjoy seeing the country and it's wonders?  I've observed all ages on this trip, in addition to adding in the feedback from my own 3 on our wonderful cross-country trip when they were pre-teen and teen.  Some young children are engaged but with lots of help from their parents and my guess is that they've been at this a while.  I've seen some teenagers who've been what you might expect - totally bored and yet others who are as enthusiastic as their parents at seeing such things as the Petroglyphs.  Obviously all the adults are enjoying the sights because it was their choice to come.  I haven't seen as many "seniors" as I expected - maybe it's the time of year?  So, I don't know what the best age is for this kind of sight-seeing.  My parents took us to see the sights at each new city we lived in and we lived in many but we didn't take vacations to see sights or National Parks, we went camping at the same state park each year Fish Creek in upstate NY or we went to visit Grandparents.  So, what do you think?
     My highlight for the day, again not planned or something I even knew about but followed a sign along the road - was to Meteor Crater, west of Winslow, AZ.  Again it was a few miles off the highway and again traveling over flat, flat, barren land to another surprise.


Do you see that black speck just right of center?


     The meteor hit earth 50,000 years ago and left this crater which is 1 mile around and is the best site in the world of a meteor crater.  The black speck at the bottom is a 6' tall cardboard cut out of an astronaut (all the moon-landing astronauts trained here to experience being in a crater) to give you an idea how deep and large it is - 20 football fields and 1 million spectators could fit on the floor of the crater.  Anyway, it was well worth the detour.  I didn't take the guided tour walking the whole rim as it was getting really hot and I felt that between the museum and movie I'd learned enough.
     And lucky for all you blog readers - the battery in my camera died after this last picture so I (you) were out of luck for the rest of the day.
     Drove into Flagstaff and did something very unlike me - I went shopping or rather I walked the streets of the old part of town.  Didn't buy anything except a Mango Gelato. Drove about another hour to just outside of Williams, AZ to a KOA which is the most expensive so far but later found out why - it's very near the turn off for the Grand Canyon.  Oh well, it's a nice one with big pine trees - haven't seen those in a few days.

DATA:


Mileage:  138                              Camp:  $42                          Meteor Crater:  $17
Gelato:  $3.25
Weather:  for the most part - perfect but tonight it's suppose to get to low 30s :(

Monday, May 28, 2012

Another National Surprise

Monday, May 29th

Happy Memorial Day

     Once again, I love my Rhoda !  I woke up at 4 a.m. freezing cold even though I was sleeping under my duvet.  I had thought last night - knowing it was suppose to get quite cold - I wonder if the furnace in Rhoda works and how??  I'd never used it or even tried it before.  I wasn't sure if it worked off elec. or propane or only the generator.  But at 4 a.m. I was willing to give it a try so reached above my head and flipped the switch and gratefully!!! on came the furnace so I snuggled down and went back to sleep and work up at 7 warm as a bug in a rug.  Later found out it was 40 degrees and that was at 7.
     Took a walk into the Red Rocks:
video
     I was walking along just as fine as could be, enjoying the scenery 

until I came to this posted sign:

From then on, I made sure I stayed on the path and stomped my sneakers - as much a you can stomp in the fine powdery sand here.  I enjoyed doing my Tai Chi facing these rocks and know the rattlers saw me doing this and just slithered away.

     By now it had warmed up nicely and I left about 10, drove into the nearest neighborhood Wal-Mart and had an oil change and tire pressure upped to 55 in front as suggested by other Roadtrek owners. (not sure about it though - I don't seem to be holding the road as well and I think I caught air going over a dip, we'll see). Also bought a cheap smoothie blender as I've been missing my green smoothies too much and Rhoda's been complaining that the refrigerator is getting too full because I can't chew as fast as I can swallow all those good fruit & veggies.
     Got going about 11:30 and crossed into AZ at noon again following the Purple Heart Hwy as I have been throughout NM.
    Saw several big billboards for Ron Paul and for 50% off Meteorites??
    As last year with the Joshua Tree National Park that I just happened upon, the Petrified Forest National Park just was there for me to get off bus, Gus and go see.  Again, a great surprise because not only was it a Petrified ancient Forest but it was the Painted Desert and the remains of an ancient pueblo  with many petroglyphs.


 These 3 are the Painted Desert
Can you see the petroglyphs?

These are called tepees (wonder why)
A Whole Petrified Tree fallen over
Close-up of the tree


End of the tree showing the petrification
A "field" of petrified wood
Close-up of a large hunk of petrified wood



Another field of petrified wood


     An all-together great day - calm, blue skies, warm but not hot but I do think it got hotter as the day went on because the tar was melting in the last pull-over parking lots in the park.    
     Drove on to Holbrook to a KOA campground and ate their "grub" of chili & petrified toast.

DATA:

The map seems to be getting smaller and smaller


mileage:  130                                  gas:  $40  @ $3.53                             camp:  $30
oil chg:  $38                                   blender:  $20                                      Nat'l Park: FREE with Sr. Pass

     

The Sky's the Limit - Acoma

Sunday, May 27th

     Woke up without no more smoke in my nostrils, blue skies, good visibility, and less wind.  Good choice in pulling over early yesterday.
     Left at 9 for the beginning of a really good day of seeing, listening, reflecting.
     The first thing I noticed was that the mountains all had flat-tops and I don't think it was because they were in keeping with the whole historic Route 66 theme.  It looked like someone had come out with their level and shaved everything even.
     How many times on this trip have I wished I could have been a fly in the sky - high enough to not be in danger but close enough to have seen everything in warp speed as our earth changed.  It's just amazing to me all the shapes, all the differences in formations and colors.  To see the mountains rise up, to see sand dunes turned into rock, to see rocks splitting off and tumbling down. To watch the power of water creating amazing shapes and canyons from seemingly impenetrable rock.  You may believe that God created the heavens and the earth but Mother Nature made it into something ever changing and always amazing.
    OK, enough of the reflecting part.
    I went to the Pueblo Village of Sky City of the Acoma people.  Driving to the Visitors Center I noticed how all the homes on this reservation looked exactly like the surrounding rock - they blended right in - Frank Lloyd Wright would have been pleased.  Originally I think they either made bricks out of the powdered rock or the rock itself but now they stucco their homes in that exact color.  Very impressive.  Of course there were a few trailers some opted for which spoils the ambiance for us tourists.
     I didn't see any businesses, any gardens, any cattle but did see a large food distribution center and a large housing authority building so unless everyone works for the large casino and hotel down the hill, it must be a lot of government subsidy.  But the land is so bad that we "gave" to the Indians, no wonder it's hard to make a living on it.
     Acoma means "a place that always was" and these people have lived in this area since the 13th century.  They've survived invasions from the Spanish, taken into slavery, plus surviving our own treatment to them.  But they are still a very proud people, very patriotic and very protective of their ways.
"Modern" Pueblo Architecture

Mission church

Mother selling her crafts
A "street" scene


Can you see what's used for mortar-straw & mud
Ladders into the kivas - through the roof


View from on top of the mesa
Home built into the rocks


Another mesa in the reservation
Modern conveyance up to their mesa home


Can you find Rhoda in the parking lot below?
     To go on this tour - up on the top of a mesa, we had to not only buy a ticket but buy permission to take pictures and even then we couldn't take pictures of the people without permission, no pictures in the mission or of the cemetery, no cell phones or cell phone pictures, no videos, no tripods.  And when our tour guide was talking, if anyone else talked, they'd be asked to leave immediately.  But it was very interesting to hear of their history and culture and what life is like for them today.  Time very well spent.
     With no intentions on more sight-seeing today, I was drawn off the highway onto 117 S to see what National Monument El Malpais (bad land) was all about.  Again very interesting rock formations but what made it a National Monument was to protect the lava beds from thousands of years ago.  I drove into the Monument for about 25 miles and then came back as I didn't want to end up that far south.


Some of these lava beds looked like giant cow plops for those of you who've seen such:)



Second largest natural arch in NM

   
    Got to thinking about why I like rock formations so much??  Don't know why I feel the need to take pictures of them all but. . . just try and stop me.  BUT you don't have to look at them all but I bet you do - caught you looking.
     Anyway, to end the day, I again drove 16 miles off the highway to get to Blue Lake State Park before I cut my loses and turned around when the road turned to dirt and I had another 8 miles to go.
Drove another 30 miles to just east of Gallup, NM to Red Rock State Park and you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see pictures of that because it was heavy into sun-setting shadows by the time I got there.

DATA:

mileage:  214                     gas:  $57  @$3.64                     camp:  $20
Acoma pueblo:  $17
weather:  breezy, cool (70s) 


Saturday, May 26, 2012

"Wipe Out !! "

Saturday, May 26

     For those of you old to enough to remember Route 66 and the music of that time - the song "Wipe Out" applies to my travels today.
     Before I left this morning, I cut up a papaya that I had brought from FL totally green from sister Barbara's tree.  I was surprised that it ripened so well.  Nice treat!

     I left the campground at 9:30 to find The Blue Hole:



    Very interesting - it is the beginning of the river that runs through the Carlsbad Caverns in southern NM.  It is a natural spring with a constant temp. of 61 degrees so the kids you see jumping into it are real dare devils and there weren't many.  It's known for scuba diving and there were several there, as it's only 60' across at the top but 120' at the bottom which is an underground river that flows down to the Caverns and then I don't know where.  Very pretty color.

     I then drove a little on the old Route 66 but they were beginning to line up for a Memorial Day parade so I got on my way to the strongest winds yet.  No wonder they're having trouble fighting that forest fire which I still don't know where it is NM or AZ??
     Enjoyed the little glimpses I dared look at in the barren landscape with the yucca blooming and a low-growing purple ground cover blanketing the landscape with clumps of bright yellow somethings on a background of sage green scruff.  Very pretty.
     I'd had it by 1, plus it was getting very hazy with blowing dust I guess so decided to stop at the same RV Park I stayed in last year because I loved their funky old Route 66 vintage campers, cars and memorabilia - www.enchantedtrails.com.
An old Wurlitzer organ from a silent movie house in PA that they've totally restored





   All afternoon Rhoda has been rocking and rolling in this really strong wind and I'm glad to not be on the road.  I hope it lets up tomorrow because I want to go to the "Rocking Rods" show:)

  DATA:

 mileage:  131
Gas:  $71 @ $3.66
Camp:  $26
town name of interest:  Zuzax, NM  (too bad it's a proper name or it'd be good in Scrabble)   

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gobble, gobble, gobble

Friday, May 25th

     That's what woke me up this a.m. - gobble, gobble, gobble.  I thought my sister-in-law Sally P. had come to visit.  I'd seen the turkeys the day before just wandering around from campsite to campsite so I shouldn't have been too surprised when they were there calling for breakfast.
     Left the campsite at 9 to go to a trail head thinking I'd beat the heat but didn't go too far as the thermometer was already registering 90 and besides, I wanted to get to the top of the canyon so I could call Lorraine to see how Antonia's appointment went and YEAH, very good news.
     Went back to Amarillo to get back on I-40 as it's really the only way to go east/west in this neck of the states.  I needed a few groceries but couldn't find a grocery store so used my handy-dandy "Where" app and even though it meant going 3.6 miles east, I did it and was I ever glad I did.  I want to live in Amarillo so I can shop at the Market Street grocery store!!  OMG!!  I spent an hour in there just looking and buying  too much.  My eyes and stomach are bigger than Rhoda's refrigerator (but I still love my Rhoda).  The store was 4 times as big as Whole Foods in Orlando and what a selection.  Think I'll buy stock:)
     Got back on I-40W and again drove past flat, flat, flat land with lots of grain growing but again I don't know what the cows were grazing on but they were luckier than the cows I next saw - 100s of them squooshed together in a muddy pen:(
     And then, all of a sudden - Buttes and the wind picked up to again 30-40 mph and hold on Rhoda.
     Entered NM - the Land of Enchantment and I felt like my trip was really starting.
     Am staying in Santa Rosa - on the old Route 66 - half way between Amarillo (I keep wanting to say Armadillo) and Albuquerque.
     Do you know about the Blue Hole?  I'm going to see it tomorrow.
     I'm definitely in a different time zone - tried to go to a restaurant attached to the RV camp which opened at 5 and I got there at 5:45 and was told they'd be open in 15 mins.  Good to know.
TX Lizard
NM Lizard

DATA:



Mileage:  203                                 Camp:  $28                         Groceries:  $68
Names of the day:  Toot 'n Totum  &  Pak a Sak  - gas station/convenience stores
                               Stuff It  - Taxidermy
                               Deaf Smith  - name of a county