Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Boondocking at Big Lake

We have had more rain but not enough. Yesterday we made a trip into Springerville for groceries and laundry. That was about all the excitement for the day. Last night we watched Return of the Jedi and I think the kids finally understand how it all connects.

This morning was our check out for Rainbow Campground. We have been here seven days and did not want to pay for any more days. They charge $16 per night and provide no hookups of any kind. They even charge an additional $3 to dump the holding tanks. I don't think I have ever paid more for less.

While we were wandering around the past few days we discovered several free boondock places where we could stay for free. We had heard that the forest service might be closing them due to fire danger so we stopped in town yesterday to ask. They gave us a map of the areas they are closing but the place we wanted to stay was not effected. This morning we left Rainbow and drove down the road about 10 miles to a really neat spot. I wish we had spent the whole time here. We are at the edge of a huge meadow nestled up against a forest. There is only one other RV in sight. And best of all -- it is completely free.

We are closer to Springerville now so we ran into town to buy propane today. We plan to stay here tomorrow and leave for California on Thursday. Three days to make Valencia. I think it's going to be hard to stay cool starting Thursday.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Chillin' in the high country

This is what relaxation is all about. We are doing a whole lot of nothing and getting pretty good at it.

We made our trip into Springerville for laundry and a few groceries. That was the highlight of Thursday. Friday the kids went swimming again for a few minutes and we went for a short hike in the afternoon.

Yesterday we did absolutely nothing. It was the first day we have had clouds and even a few sprinkles. Not enough to do anything about the dry conditions and even somewhat dangerous as the lightning is what they really worry about. It was really cold in the evening (57 about 8 PM) so we stayed inside and watched another movie. The first Star Wars this time. The kids are really confused about the timeline.

This morning we are having our first real rain. In fact, there is a major thunderstorm raging around us right now. We are getting a steady rain but no lightning close. I talked to one of the rangers yesterday who said we needed to get 2 1/2 inches of rain before they will lift the campfire ban. That ban sure puts a damper on camping activities and that most likely explains the fact that the campground is not full at all.

More later.

1:00 PM -- It's 57 degrees now and a gentle rain is falling.  We have the furnace running.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


This is Deidra posting today. Dom and I braved cold Big Lake yesterday. We took our blow up tubes and layed out in the lake for about half an hour until Dom got too cold and tired. Poppa and nana tried to convince us that it was cold but it actually wasnt that bad. But once we splashed ourselves and got wet the wind chilled us. So I just layed out on the beach while Dom skipped rocks.

Nana here. Looks like we need to make a trip to Springerville to do laundry and get a few groceries today. I bought the kids cross stitch kits and Dom has been working diligently on his. He's learned three stitches and how to count a pattern. I'm very impressed. Deidra got frustrated at the beginning & hasn't gotten back to hers yet. I started an embroidery project for Lauren (a sundress Donna is making for her), ran into some difficulties and haven't gotten back to it as we don't have electricity here. I will have to finish it in CA - sorry Lauren.

I got my baby fix in NM as two friends had babies in March. It was great! Haven't been around them in far too long. Dayna is there this week for her last trip as auditor. She starts her new job in Payroll July 3rd.

Sure are enjoying this 70-80 degree weather after the heat, humidity and wind in TX & NM. Lots of cloud cover this am so it's only 74.

Julie just wrote that Mom and Dad went to their doctor and he thinks Daddy has Alzheimers from some tests that were run previously. He gave him a B-12 shot & wants to see him in a month to recheck him. I'm not seeing symptoms but maybe this is the beginning and hopefully, with new meds that are out now, he can be helped.

We're planning a 90th birthday party for him next month. Dayna, Chris & Darin will all be there as well as other family members from CA. We're really looking forward to seeing some we don't see very often. Julie is also planning a 25th party for Marie the same weekend so lots of doin's!

Stay cool.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Big Lake

After much begging I finally relented and agreed to stay in Edgewood through Sunday. The church we used to attend has an annual Fathers Day car show that is quite an event. We stayed so we could see that and and it also gave us an opportunity to see a lot more old friends. Thanks again to Jason and Jeneane Weaver for the use of Weaver's RV Park.

We went to Gardunios for dinner Sunday. We needed a New Mexican food fix and they do it right. Once you have eaten New Mexican food you will never be satisfied with plain Mexican food again.

We left Monday morning and drove south to Socorro and then west toward Datil. We stopped at the VLA (Very Large Array) which is currently the largest radio telescope in the world. We have driven by there many times and had never stopped. Now we are retired so we don't have a schedule. Yeah! It was interesting and the kids seemed to enjoy it.

We continued about 15 miles west and stopped for the night at Datil Well, a BLM campground at the site of an old cattle drive. This was our first night without any hookups and we managed just fine. Nice quiet campground and only $5. They have firewood available for your use and we had a nice weenie roast followed by smores. Only drove about 150 miles.

Tuesday we continued west to Springerville where we stopped for groceries, and then up to Rainbow Campground at Big Lake. We camped here many times when I was growing up in AZ but it sure has changed. Everything is much more developed. Even without reservations we were able to get a very large pull through campsite. Even though it is a pull through, the loop is in the form of an arc. Our huge rig makes even these tough but I got it in eventually. Actually, back in sites are usually easier as long as we have room to swing the truck.

The campground is run by a private company for the forest service. Costs have certainly gone up. It is $16 per night with no hookups of any kind. We are trying to conserve water as much as possible since moving to dump and refill will be a major undertaking. Last evening we were going to take showers at the central shower facility until we found they charge $3 per person! We are going to be dirty or take sponge baths.

I need to work out a method of hauling fresh water and hauling away grey water. Our trailer can only be filled with a pressure connection so I have no way of just dumping water in. I need to rig up some kind of pump along with a large water bladder of some sort. As for hauling away grey water, I think I need to mount some kind of tank on the truck and then use a macerator to pump waste to it. Lots of things to do.

We took a hike when we got here yesterday afternoon. We went up the the fire lookout about 1 1/2 miles from the campground. The rangers there are really nervous. The fire danger is the worst in memory. Campfires are not allowed anywhere and other restrictions are in place. We will be very careful.

I set up the satellite this morning so we can check email and keep everyone posted on our comings and goings. We will limit our use since we are running off our inverter which uses battery. Until we add solar collectors for electricity we have to run the generator a couple hours a day to charge the batteries. The less of that the better considering where we are and the cost of gasoline.

More later.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

We get the hook

To catch you all up -- I passed the driving test (very easy) and we are now both licensed Texas drivers. I have a class A and M so I am also covered for the motorcycle.

We left Livingston Monday afternoon after getting the licenses and drove west on secondary highways to the town of Lampasas where we stayed the night. We found diesel there for 2.64 per gallon which was at least 20 cents cheaper than anywhere else on the trip.

Tuesday we drove as far as the little town of Brownfield, Texas which is about 100 miles due east of Roswell, NM. Many of these little west Texas towns have free campgrounds that the city provides to encourage travelers to stay and spend some money. We always appreciate those kinds of places. The chief of police dropped by to talk about our rig and take some pictures. He was really enthralled and wanted to someday do something like what we have done.

Wed. we drove through Roswell and headed north toward Vaughn. I am trying to take more senic routes and so decided to take a lightly traveled highway through Corona and come into Edgewood from the south. We drove about 40 miles on NM 247 and saw only a couple other vehicles when at about 1:30 the engine suddenly just quit. There was no warning of any kind. I coasted to a stop on the shoulder of the road in front of a ranch house (the only one for miles). We were in the middle of nowhere. Cell phones did not work and the nearest town was still 12 miles away.

I walked up to the ranch house and there was a lady there. Turns out it was a hunting lodge and her son owned it. They cater to celebrities who want to hunt and play cowboy. It was a really nice place and she gave us the run of it after letting us use the phone. She even left us there alone as she had other things to do. She said no one out there ever locked their house.

I called the towing insurance service (Continental Car Club) I had paid a few extra dollars for when we insured the truck and trailer. They were incredible. They had a big rig tow truck out to us in about an hour (from Vaughn which was about 45 miles away) and he hooked up to the truck and pulled both the truck and trailer together. His tow truck was not air conditioned and certainly not nearly as nice as our truck.

We had him drop the trailer in Edgewood at the church parking lot and then he took the truck on into Albuquerque. The Cummins shop was closed by the time we got there (about 8:30) so we left it in the parking lot. I unloaded the scooter and rode it back to Edgewood.

First thing this morning I rode back in to arrange repairs. About 2 this afternoon it was fixed. Turns out it was a wire that runs from the engine computer to the battery that had broken at the battery. The repair took all of 5 minutes and cost about .25 in parts, but you had to know what to look for. That wire is the only wire other than the main battery cables that runs directly to the battery.

I picked up the truck and moved the trailer from the church lot to Weavers where we have full hookups. They are good friends and have a spot next to their house which her folks use for their motorhome when they come to visit. We call it "Weavers RV Park".

My towing service just paid for itself for the next 50 years. The tow cost the car club about $950. We were towed about 120 miles, which is exactly how far the middle of nowhere is from Albuquerque. My bill from Cummins was about $200 which included reinstalling the drive shaft and troubleshooting the problem.

The heat has been unbearable this trip and we are anxious to get out of it. Here in Edgewood it is unusually hot and the winds are incredible. Huge clouds of dust are blowing everywhere. It is not a nice place to be right now and we plan to head for the White Mountains on Saturday.

Dianna may have more later but that's it for now. I do not set the satellite up when we only stay overnight so unless we find free wireless somewhere, our postings and communications may be a little show.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Well, almost. We left Denton Thursday around 11 am and took the blue highways to Livingston. We arrived at Escapees headquarters and campground about 5:30 pm and got settled in. South Texas is hot and humid this time of year and the pool was very inviting.

Friday we went to MVD to see about drivers licenses. Dianna did not have enough identification with her so she could not get her license until we brought in some additional documentation. I had enough stuff with me so I was able to take the Class A and the Motorcycle written tests. I had been given the wrong manuals to study so I just barely passed the Class A. Those tests contain some of the most useless information I have ever seen. Why would I care about the minimum and maximum heights of reflectors on trucks? Those were two of the questions. I want to drive a truck -- not build one!

Anyway, I need to go back on Monday to take the driving part of the test. Hopefully it will be more straightforward since I have been driving these big trucks for about 4 years now. But you never know....

Yesterday we just laid around and spent a lot of time in the pool. Same thing today except I took the kids to see the new movie Cars while Dianna worked on some embroidery project for Donna.

Assuming I pass the test tomorrow, we will head out for points west by early afternoon. Don't know where we will get to and don't really care, but it will be very nice to get out of the heat as soon as possible.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

On your mark, Get set......

We are almost ready to GO!!! Dom's team ended up in third place. They did very well and Dom improved a great deal this year. He likes baseball and will probably play winter ball next fall.

Therefore, we are ready to get under way. I have my 3 month check up (at 2 months and 2 weeks) tomorrow and we plan to leave here on Thursday for Livingston. I am doing very well and this is just a formality. You could not tell by looking at me working like a dog in the heat around here that I had back surgery. I feel fine and have no pain.

I have been working on getting everything ready including my motorcycle loader. It is designed to be installed in the back of a pickup or fastened permanently on the deck of a truck. I needed to install it so that we could load the scooter from the side in a rear position and then move it forward so the trailer will clear it on turns. I have worked with a local welding shop to fabricate some mounting hardware and finally found the heavy duty wheels which will be installed tomorrow morning. That is the last thing on my list.

Deidra and Dom are excited to be off on another adventure. They love to travel with us and we love having them although it is a very different lifestyle when they are with us. Seems we spend most of our time catering to them and things sure are more hectic. It is very obvious to us why young people have kids and not grandparents.

Internet access will be available most of the time, but any of you who correspond with us should realize that sometimes it will be a day or two when we are without. We will get back to you as soon as we can.

Guess that's it. Check back often as we will try to do a better job of keeping this up to date since we will now have something to report.