Monday, October 26, 2009

That doesn't look like Texas!

I know we told everyone we were headed for Big Bend National Park in Texas, but you never know with us.  We are still headed that way but we made a small detour.  Can you tell where from the photo?

We have had satellite internet for about 8 years now.  Setting it up involves erecting a tripod mount, mounting the dish, installing the arm, cabling everything together, and then aiming it at the correct satellite.  It usually takes me only 20 minutes or so to get online, and about 10 minutes to get it all disassembled and stowed, but it feels like it takes longer and gets heavier each time.  I finally broke down and bought a used automatic dish that mounts on top of the trailer.  All it takes is a push of a button and the dish unfolds, searches for the satellite, and locks on.  Stowing for travel is just another button.

So, what does all that have to do with the picture above?  Well, the man I bought it from lives in Ouray, Colorado.  We made the deal Saturday morning and decided to go get it.  Part of the deal was that I would help him remove it from his RV.  We decided to make an adventure of it, and left the trailer in Deming, NM, taking only the truck.  We didn't get on the road until almost noon after a stop at the bank to get cash.  We are very familiar with New Mexico and headed north to Hatch, NM where we joined I-25, past Elephant Butte Lake, Socorro,  through Albuquerque to Bernalillo where we left the interstate and headed up to the northwest corner of the state.  It was well past dark by the time we got to Aztec, NM where we decided to spend the night in a hotel.  Afterward we kind of wished we hadn't.  We paid $83 for a room that was worth less than half that, but there were no other options in town.

Sunday we headed north into Colorado, stopping in Durango for coffee, and then up over Molas Pass and down into Silverton at an elevation of about 9,300 feet.  There was not a cloud in the sky in Durango but by the time we reached Silverton the mountains were all covered with fresh snow and the roads were still wet and icy in places.  Beyond Silverton the road is one of the most spectacular in the world.  By spectacular I mean that it hugs the sides of magnificent mountains, has uncountable twists and turn, climbs to well over 11,000 feet, and has no shoulders or guard rails.  It has no guard rails because there is no room for them.  In many places the  edge of the pavement is the edge of the several thousand foot drop off.

I love such roads but Dianna does not.  We sit up very high in the truck and when we are on the outside of the road, all she can see is the canyon below when she looks out her window.  That and the fact that the road was wet and slushy in places, and that it was still spitting snow occasionally, really frightened her.  She became so nervous and scared that she finally moved to the back of the truck where she could just close her eyes.  I reminded her that she has ridden millions of miles with me, including hundreds of miles on similar roads, and that in all those millions of miles I have never driven off the edge of the road.  Not only that, but given the  consequences of driving off the road in those mountains, I was acutely aware of the situation and would not let that happen.  Didn't make any difference.  She was scared.

Anyway, we arrived in Ouray, had lunch, met the man selling the dish, drove up his extremely steep and muddy driveway,  removed the dish from his rig and headed back.  Except for a short distance, we were on the inside of road most of the way back, and Dianna felt somewhat less uncomfortable.  We continued over the mountains, back into New Mexico, and all the way back to Albuquerque where we slept in the truck in an Indian Casino parking lot.  Today we drove back to Deming with just a stop in Hatch for some green chile.

So, that was our weekend.  1,100 miles.  Snowy  11,000+ foot mountain passes.  Beautiful scenery.  New toy waiting for me to install it.

P.S.  All the scenery pictures on on my gallery.

From Tears to Cheers

Dayna called yesterday to tell us that Deidra had been involved in a road incident. It was dark so no one really knows what happened. An 18-wheeler passed her and then the next thing she knew she heard a noise that sounded like someone had hit her. It wasn't until she got home and they looked at the car that they found some of the damage. (She and her three friends who were with her were really freaked out by the time they got home.) The windshield on the driver's side is totally spidered, there is a huge dent where the windshield and roof meet and scratches and dents along the roof. Later they found a major scratch right above the driver's side headlight. When we realized how close Deidra came to being seriously hurt it brought tears to Mom & Nana's eyes. Needless to say her car is parked until they can find the money to fix it.

Dayna has been studying and taking pre-tests for her CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner) license for months. It is tough and similar to a CPA exam as it is in multiple parts with about 800 questions all together. She finished the actual exam this weekend and heard this morning that she passed! So now she is well on her way to being able to fulfill a life-long dream to work for the FBI or possibly Homeland Security!! A former supervisor has friends who work for H.S. and told Dayna he'd call them this evening to see what he could do for her.

She called later to say Deidra (after months and months of putting in applications all over Denton, Aubrey and Providence) has been hired at her first job. She started tonight as a hostess at a small Mexican restaurant near their home. Her first comment was, "Now I'll be able to afford to fix my car!" Her bubbly personality ought to bring in lots of customers!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We saw a Cherry Cow today!

That title will mean something to only 5 other people, and they will know exactly where we went today.  The rest will have to read on.

We left Apache Junction Tuesday about 11, and drove only 150 miles to Roper Lake State Park near Safford, AZ.  Our original plan was to continue east yesterday, but just didn't feel like it.  Instead we rode the scooter up Mt. Graham.  The road is very scenic, but also very winding.  Most of the way the speed limit is 25, but many, many turns required slowing to 10.  The road is paved to a little over 9,000 feet and we were plenty cold by the time the dirt road started.  We don't enjoy dirt roads on the scooter so we turned around.  The trip up and back only took a couple hours and was a lot of fun.  The views on top were incredible.  We could see the Chiricahua's, the Dragoons, Willcox, the Rincons, Safford, and a lot more scenery that I used to know the names of.

It was seeing the Chiricahua's from the top of Mt. Graham that gave me an idea.  Instead of leaving today, why not make another trip down memory lane?  So that's what we did.  First thing this morning we loaded the scooter on the back of the truck and headed south, through Willcox, past the Dairy Queen where we used to eat banana splits and I first had Dilly Bar's, and south to Chiricahua National Monument.

For those who are not familiar with Lafferty family history, we spent 2 or 3 weeks camping there in early 1959 after Mom sprained her ankle.  The camping we did there in the old school bus is one of our favorite family memories.  During that time there, Dale and I hiked every trail in the park, some of them multiple times.

We parked the truck at Faraway Ranch, the original homestead in the area which has been preserved as it was in the 20's or 30's, and unloaded the scooter.  The roads in the monument are narrow, with overhanging trees, and I didn't want to add a new sunroof.  We stopped at the visitor center, then rode up to Masai Point at the end of the road.  On the way we rode through the campground were we had spent that time years ago, but I could not remember which site we camped in.

We ate our lunch at a picnic table at Masai Point, and were quickly visited by some old friends.  Chiricahua Jay's are a kind of blue jay, although the visitor center called them something else, and they are notorious camp robbers.  Dianna couldn't resist tossing them a few small pieces of bread.  They were totally brazen, and came right down to the table.  I remember them well from years ago.

After eating lunch at a picnic table we rode down about a half mile to the Echo Canyon Trail  parking area where we parked the scooter, put on the rucksack, and headed down the trail.  The formations were even better to view from up close as we walked through them and down Bonita Canyon. It was a pretty steep descent, but the loop back up to the parking area was a little more gentle.  Regardless, this little 3.2 mile hike was much, much tougher than any of the trails Dale and I took back in 1959.  I wonder why they made the trails so much steeper and more difficult?

We rode the scooter back down to the truck, loaded it up, and returned to Roper Lake, getting home just about 5:30.  It was great fun.  The place looked different after 50 years, as I only have general memories of the places and trails.  I had forgotten most of the details and would not have been able to describe much of the roads, campgrounds, visitor center, Masai Point, or any of the other places.  But it sure felt familiar and good.

And now, for those who have never seen a Cherry Cow, here is the story.  One day in early 1959, when camping at the campground there in Chiricahua, we all watched a white tail deer wander through the area.  On of my young siblings asked, quite innocently, "Is that the Cherry Cow?"

Today, shortly after arriving and unloading the scooter, the Cherry Cow pictured below came wandering through.

The rest of today's photos are on my gallery.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

On The Road Again, Again

After 6 months camphosting at San Onofre we are once again on the road to places elsewhere.   The campground closed on the 1st of October and we spent a couple quiet days getting ready to move.  Sitting in one place for six months results in lots of things to put away.  All was ready by this morning and we hooked up and were on the road by about 10 AM.  We drove south on I-5, around San Diego and then east on I-8.  Up and over the mountains, down into the Imperial Valley and across the desert to Yuma we went, with the winds pushing us all the way.  I'm sure glad we weren't headed west today!

We'll be here for a couple days to get some dental work done, then it's off to the Phoenix area for a couple weeks, and a big family reunion.  We'll be staying in an RV park in Apache Junction this time.  Normally we like to boondock near the river but it's still warm to be without air conditioning in the desert.

Our long range plans, which are cast in Jello, are to spend another month or so getting to the Denton area for the holidays, then back to the Arizona desert for three months until our season starts again in April next year at San Onofre.  We have been thinking about only staying there for 3 months next year.  Six months in one place starts to feel like a job about half way through, and by the time we are ready to leave there, the summer is over in the mountains where we love to spend time.  Maybe we will find another park somewhere to volunteer for the other three months, or maybe we will just travel and explore.  Who knows.  Like I said, Jello.