Wheres Ray/Wendy yr 2

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Roper Lake State Park

Hi again,
  The last couple days were spent cleaning and restocking the RV for our time in AZ. There is a Walmart in Safford only 7 miles away so we didn't have to over do it. The location of Safford is the southeast corner of AZ, 120 mi north of Mexico and 40 mi from New Mexico. Also about 130 east of Tucson.
  We moved out early Tuesday as we had heard of high wind warnings. As we drove on I-10 we saw several signs warning of 0 visibility possibilities. Later on the news we heard of a terrible pile up on I-10 that took three lives. It was a bit west of where we had driven. These winds pick up the dust so fast people can't react.
  The drive was very nice, there was a mountain range along the south and numerous mountains on the north. We didn't envision the area being quote this mountainous.
 So we pulled in and met Michelle the volunteer coordinator, after a brief chat she led us to our site. It is a great site, we are in the middle of three host sites. The site is very spacious with a nice covered picnic table. We have a firepit that is set to the back that is shared with the other host. At this time one host has yet to come and the one here has been here a while and is set to leave Friday.
 I had pictured the park being in a flat open setting, I could not have been more wrong. It is just beautiful with mountain views in two directions. The 30 acre lake is man made, fed from mountain runoff. They created a peninsula that has a beach and even some palm trees, they call this the island.
There are 8 cabins in the park
 Oh and did I mention the hot tub, Yes! it has a natural hot spring they have made into a cool hot tub.

 We are almost pinching ourselves. We will get settled in the next couple days and begin training on Friday.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Rocks 'n' Rocks

Hi all,
  We are in Deming, a small city in southwest New Mexico. It is about 35 miles from the Mexican border and 80 from AZ. We were surprised having to go through two different border checks. One was coming down the freeway and all they asked was if we were US citizens. The second one today after a hike out on a small highway. There they checked licence, registration, and insurance. Whew, makes you panic finding the paperwork, luckily we had all.
  Wednesday we rode a short distance to Rockhound State Park. It is in the foothills of Little Florida Mountains. Who knew there were Florida Mountains? It is a small park with only about 1-1/2 miles of hiking. The big thing here is that you are allowed to take 15 lb. of rock for your personal collection. Well we don't know rocks and after hearing of five rattlesnake sightings we opted to stay on the wide trail and just hike. No, we still can't cross a sighting off the list, but we did see a tarantula crossing the road.
 Thursday we took drive to Silver City. It has been touted as one of the best small towns in America. It lies in the foothills of the Pinos Altos Range. The area reminded us of Texas hill country. The city looked to have many old buildings housing some antique and art stores. As that is not our thing we decided to head to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. These are located about 45 miles north of Silver City. The drive into the Gila National Forest on the Trail of the Mountain Spirits a national scenic byway. It was a stunning ride and we actually got to see some fall colors. It was a slow drive with a good mountain climb and descents.
 The Dwellings built by the Mogollon in 1276-1289 and were used only until 1300. Unknown as to why they were left. The dwellings have only had some minor repair, what you see is probably 85 percent original.  We finally got back to the RV at 7:30 and boy we were beat.
  Friday I took the truck to get an oil change and 50k service check. I had spotted the Chevy dealer just 1/2 block away. As the truck was getting cared for we thought it was a good time to wash the RV. This is one nice part of the escapee parks being able to wash your rigs.
  Today we drove up to City of Rocks State Park. A neat maze of boulders out in the middle of nowhere. They have some unique campsites in the rocks. We took a good 3-1/2 mile hike around the perimeter and then played in the rocks some. This is one place the grandkids would love, playing hide and seek for hours.

          Tuesday we head to our winter gig maybe we can settle down and relax.)  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Palo Duro Canyon

Hi all,
  It feels good to be back on the road. While we are definitely spending more, we know it will balance out later. We have started to find some warmer weather, seems like we have been wearing pants way to much.
  On Sunday we took off for Palo Duro Canyon Sate Park. It is located about 20 mi. south of Amarillo. Palo Duro Canyon is the Grand Canyon of Texas. It is the second largest canyon in the US. It measures 120 miles long and 800 feet deep. There are horse trails, mountain biking, and good hiking throughout the park.
  We wanted to tour the park and get in a short hike, but you know how that goes. We set off on the Lighthouse trail, a little over 6 mi. round trip. We thought as we hadn't been hiking much lately we just walk until we thought we had enough. Of course the monuments of the Lighthouse Peak and nearby Castle Peak beckoned us on.
  It also was not alot of elevation so we carried on. At the very end it was a pretty tough scramble up to the top and I felt I needed to save some energy for the return trip. That and as we didn't set out to do a big hike we only carried our water battles and one spare bottle. Bad planning on our part- we got very nice water backpacks left in the RV. Hiking in the canyon gets very warm, even though the general temp was about 70 it was over 80 on the canyon trail. I did encourage Wendy to go ahead and complete the climb. After a rest she went for it. The climb up is obscured by trees so you don't know exactly what you're getting into. Wendy reported that you did have to scramble a bit up and she scooted down on her hiney some while coming down. She got the pics for me and we headed back. The trail was very well marked almost every tenth of a mile. It was a great hike, we just hope to get out doing more of this.
View from Lighthouse Peak
Spotted a coyote watching us
   On the drive to the park on FM1151 we came across these combines half buried, we did a double take and spun around to get pics. We counted 14 of them and the sign Combine City. We had seen no mention of in travel brochures or the visitor center.
You never know what you'll see!
  So on Monday we continued on to New Mexico. We decided to avoid Albuquerque and drive some blue roads (off freeway). The drive wasn't to special but we did go from flat to some nice hills with mountains in far view. On Tuesday we continued southbound and Wendy got all excited seeing some trees that were actually in fall color. It was a nice drive and we arrived in Deming New Mexico. We are in Dream Catcher RV a Escapee park. We will stay here a week and check out some nearby state parks.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Amarillo by Morning

Hey all,
  Making tracks now, we left Branson on Thursday and drove to Shawnee Okla. It was a scenic drive, very hilly and curvy. Again had us wishing the trees were in more fall colors.
 We planned to stay at the Firelake Grand Casino for a night. They had RV parking with electric and water sites. Only problem was it looked like squatters had taken up all the RV sites. Maybe they were working in the area but the run down rigs looked to be here long term. Oh well we were able to boondock in another part of the lot. We got a nice meal inside and played a few penny slots. Wendy was lucky and cashed out $22.00. I had won some but ended up $4.00 down. Yeah, we are really big time gamblers.
  Friday we got a nice early start aiming for Amarillo. We left with the temp at 49 and sunny, when we arrived just outside Amarillo at 1:30 pm it was 39 with 30 mph winds. There is a freeze warning tonight. This is crazy cold, but it should be short lived as tomorrow's temp has a high of 66 and sunny.
 Saturday morning we awoke to 33 degrees. Needless to say we were in no hurry to get out of bed. But the sun began to shine and the wind was calm so things warmed up pretty fast. We drove to a nearby visitor center and checked out a few things to do. The main thing we want to check out is Palo Duro Canyon State Park. With the late start we decided to do that on Sunday. I will write on that in the next post.
  We made a plan for the day- first stop was Jack Sisemore RV Museum. What a surprise this place is. Tucked in a building behind the current Sizemore Traveland RV, you enter the RV store and they direct you back through the store to the museum. They have 17 RVs that are pure gems. They also give you a nice history on each. A couple of the stories are amazing. Some of the rigs have been rebuilt, but a couple are amazingly original.
This Bus was in the movie "RV"
We knew someone that had one of these
 They also have some assorted motorcycles and just some neat antiques. Now for the best parts you do the tour all on your own and they let you enter many of the units. There are a few signs asking not to touch certain things but that is very understandable. Oh and did I mention the cost--- FREE!. This is a must stop if you are traveling nearby.
 Next we drove to the Cadillac Ranch, no not the bar. This is one of those crazy things someone did and people just flock to.  It is 10 old Cadillacs buried halfway nose first. This was done by an artist and they correspond to the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. They are in a cow pasture and they have a gate that people are welcome to enter. Now the neat part of this is you are free to do graffiti on it all. People bring the paint and just have at it.
 No trip to Amarillo is complete without eating at The Big Texan. This used to be a staple stop on old highway 66. They moved to I40 years ago. Now this is the place famous for the free 72 oz. sirloin. Free if you can eat it as a meal with potato, salad, roll, and 3 shrimp horderve. You must also do this in one hour. It has been featured on Man vs Food. Well, no we did not try and as we did a lunch no one else was trying. But the steaks we had were great and again something you have to experience once.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bouncing around Branson

Hi again,
  Got out Friday and started to explore Branson. We parked in Bass Pro Shop lot as it is a pickup point for the free trolley. After a brief walk about in Bass Pro, we hit the outdoor downtown mall area.
  There is a nice walkway along Lake Taneycomo. Lake Taneycomo looks more river than lake, 22 miles long and narrow but as there is a dam at both ends it is a lake. We watched the free water fountain  show at noon. This must look cool at night with the flames in the background.
  Then headed up main street for some store browsing. Dicks 5&10 is a must stop while here, everything you can think of and more inside. Next was some of the flea markets. These are consigned booths in a few old stores. Lots and lots of Stuff! Just what we don't need but fun to look at. You see many items that we all had 20 or 30 years ago and thought was worthless. And the money they want now- you can imagine.
  Friday night we enjoyed a nice fire with neighbors and new friends Joe and Angie. They are here training to be Escapee campground volunteers.
  On Saturday they were having a Grape and Fall Fest in Hollister. It was only about a mile away so off we go. They had a full slate of entertainment, food and the feature event the famous grape stomp. No we didn't get to stomp:(.
  Teams of four did the stomps in tubs to music of choice. All were choreographed and fun to watch.
 We mostly enjoyed the free stage entertainment many of the acts were doing shows in the area. We got some nice 1/2 hour snips of some good motown singing, a funny impersonator, and the highlight was a performance by SIX. The group is six brothers singing acapella, they sound like they almost have instruments playing along.
 The night finished with a good local country rock band called Midnight Traveler. 
Midnight Traveler
  Sunday we found a sport bar and enjoyed a Packer victory. Monday we drove around the lake some and toured Table Rock State Park, getting in a nice 3 mile hike. Sure wish there was more color here this place won't be peak for a couple weeks. Tomorrow looks like a rain day so maybe we can just sit back and do nothing.(we'll see how that goes)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Oops and off we go....

Hi all,
  We left out on Monday almost as planned. Turned out Wendy had a crown pull loose from a post. She called early in the morning and luckily they were able to get her in at 8:15. Wendy was a bit mad as this crown had come loose one time before, that and we had just spent money on cleaning and check ups two weeks earlier. Well she changed her attitude when they told her there would be no charge.) Glad it happened while we were still in town. So after that we loaded up and headed out.
  We drove about 300 mi. to Effingham, Ill and boondocked in a Flying J. We had stayed here last year on our first day out so it should have been old hat but- Seems our GPS took us to a Pilot Station that had no overnight RV parking. Then trying to get back on the freeway I messed up and took a construction detour. Wendy was busy trying to figure why the d- GPS wouldn't take us to Flying J. So about 5 miles through town and then back to the Pilot. We went in and found the Flyin J was the next exit down the freeway. Some of you may know and we do now, Flying J and Pilot are the same company. Not a good start on year 2 but it happens. Nothing a couple cold ones wouldn't make all better.
  Day 2 had us on the road early and heading to Poplar Bluff, Mo Camelot RV campground. This was a half way point to Branson where we are planning a short stay. The drive also took us through Sikeston and I couldn't pass up a lunch at Lambert's. (famous pig out place and home of the Throwed Rolls).
Cotton fields
  We are now part of the multitudes of people that have had to change plans due to the govt. shut down. We had planned on staying at some Corp of Engineering parks but not happening. There were a couple state parks not to far but we opted to just stay close to the main road as it would only be two nights.
  On Wednesday we drove up and took a hike at Lake Wappapello State Park. The park is on a large flowage. We toured the park and were glad that we left the RV, some of these hills were really steep grades. It could have been done but for only two days not worth the effort. We then took a drive to see Sam Baker State Park. A small park on a river that didn't impress us. Sometimes you get a picture in your mind of what an area will look like.
Lake Wappapello
  I think Wendy and I both realized we had underestimated the hills. The only thing missing from making it totally awesome is color. Seems we are here two weeks to early. Oh well, always need a reason to return.
 We decided to stay in Hollister at the Turkey Creek RV Village Escapee Park. We are escapee members and it is only about one mile from Branson. Tomorrow we will begin to investigate Branson and the area.