Wheres Ray/Wendy yr 2

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Smokey Bear

Hi all,
 Wow good thing we don't spend all our time on the road I would barely have time to write the posts. We had one more day in the Alamogordo area and decided a drive was to be. Our aim was north to the Billy the Kid Scenic Highway. It lies north of Ruidoso, New Mexico in the Lincoln National Forest.
 Another sunny day with cool morning temps and as we were near the Capitan Mountains cooler temps prevailed. There also was another aim for this drive and that was to see the birth place and burial site of Smokey Bear. Who could miss crossing this off their bucket list?
 The drive took us from desert mesquite areas to shorter pinion pines and into the taller spruce and fir pines. Along the way we spotted a interesting cemetery and stopped. It was a public health service and Merchant Marine cemetery. Most of the sites only holding wooden crosses and small numbered stones as markers. As we looked about we noticed coins placed on the monuments and some of the graves, we found a sign explaining the meaning.

 Onward we drive stopping at a sign placed in front of the Capitan Pass where a small bear was found clinging to a tree after a fire on May 9, 1950. The cub was badly singed and taken to a vet in Sante Fe for care. At first getting the name of Hotfoot it was later changed to Smokey Bear.
 The Forest Service had actually been using Smokey Bear since 1944 but now had a real bear to use as our fire fighting mascot.
 Smokey was flown to Washington DC to reside in the National Zoo. Smokey became so famous that he received his very own zip code only second to Santa Claus in receiving mail.
 In 1976 Smokey passed away and at the urging of his many friends was returned to the city of Capitan, New Mexico for burial.

 We took in the nice museum amazed at the amount of items that have been used to keep Smokey's advice alive- Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.  .
 Not done yet we continue on to more of the Billy the Kid Highway. Along the way you enter the town of Lincoln a Historic Site. The town of Lincoln and Lincoln County were stomping grounds of William H. Bonney, better known as Billy The Kid.
 Lincoln remains one of the best preserved old west towns looking as it did 130 years ago. There are five buildings that offer a self guided tour giving the true Billy the Kid story along with stories of range wars and the Regulators of that time.

   Boy, how is that for a history lesson? Learning new things along the way is another perk of this life style

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Alamogordo Part II- White Sands

Hi all,
Today the plan was to head to White Sands National Monument. But first we wanted to check out the pistachio farms and store nearby.
 This is one of the big areas for growing pistachios and now pecans are also grown in huge fields about. They have two different stores close by competing for the tourist dollar. We hit PistachioLand, USA first as it has the worlds largest pistachio drawing you in. We had samples of different flavors including the green and red chili, bbq, and ranch. We also had wanted to sample the pistachio wine but being a Sunday would not be able to until noon, oh darn- another day.
 We next stopped at the Heart of the Desert which boast being the oldest grower in New Mexico. They had many of the same offerings of flavored but also offered a pistachio ice cream and pistachio flavored popcorn. We happily spread the wealth between the stores.
 Finally on to White Sands we stopped at the visitor center for some quick knowledge of the park. White Sands is a 275 square mile of gypsum sand of wave like dunes. The dunes are ever changing driven by the strong southwest winds. White Sands Missile Range (4000 sq. mi.) surrounds the park and is still a important testing site today.

We had brought a picnic lunch and planned to stay to see one of the famous sunsets. We had a pretty good time checking different areas out and taking walks up and down the dunes. Our weather was sunny and 70 great for exploring and not getting to burnt out from the sun or reflection. One other item of note is the gypsum sand always remains cool even in the peak of summer.
 Hiking is not the only activity in the park, you can buy or rent a sled to do a bit of sled riding.  Wendy and I were hanging out in one area and a sled that was left by some other patron kept calling our names. So why not we gave it a short go, while not quite as fast as snow it was much more fun doing in 70 degree weather.
 We grabbed our chairs and to relax a bit waiting for the beautiful sunset but it was not to be today as some heavy clouds rolled in.

Alamogordo Part I

Hi all,
Wow what a change of scenery! We stopped at Edgington RV Park just north of Alamogordo, NM. It is a passport park no frills but only $15.00 a night not to bad. It looks like a good campground to check out the area.
 The big draw here is White Sands National Monument after checking the weather forecast we decided to hold off on that.
 Our first drive took us into the Sacramento Mountains, nothing better than working the truck up a mountain. The route we chose  started at 4,300 feet and went up to Cloudcroft at 8,650 feet. Along the route up is a pullover showcasing a old trestle bridge that was once used to carry  passengers up to the cooler mountain temps in the summers. The trestle was one of 43 along the route and now the only one left. Restoration has been part of the rails to trails efforts although the whole trail is yet developed.

Cloudcroft is a neat little mountain town offering some nice shopping on the old main street. We browsed through the stores not buying to much.
 I don't always write on the food offerings along our way but an exception can be made. A store owner recommended a newer BBQ restaurant to us. We thought sure she was probably the owners mom. Boy who would care, Mad Jacks is true fresh barbeque, sold by the pound or on sandwiches that were literally dripping. I had the Twisted Brisket and Wendy the Devine Swine, as it was lunch hour and really busy we decided to take out and enjoyed our lunch at a nice mountain pullout with a great view.

 We continued down the road to Sunspot, New Mexico home of the National Solar Observatory. A beautiful 16 mile drive along the ridge of the Sacramento Mountains. This site sits at 9200 feet and overlooks White Sands Missile Range in the Tularosa Basin. It was chosen for its isolation from any major air pollution sources and plenty of sunshine, a excellent site to observe the sun. We took a self guided tour that took you from the visitor center to two facilities housing telescopes that are currently used. There are also two other telescopes no longer in use.

 The largest telescope stands in a tower 136 feet tall but extends underground 228 more feet. It utilizes a main mirror that is 64 inches. The rotating part of the telescope weighs 200 tons and is suspended by a container holding 10 tons of mercury which has a low friction enabling the 200 ton instruments to rotate.
 We finished up our drive making a loop drive along 244 through the Mescalero Indian Reservation making a full day.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

On the Road Again part II

 Hi all,
 Continuing on with our trek west we came upon super strong winds. They picked up as we went along and by the time we got to our camp destination of Halstead, Kansas we were bushed. It is no fun driving in the wind not to mention the crappy fuel mileage.
 Our plan was to just stop for the day but we did extend as the wind was still gusting to 35 mph. But that is what full timers to do, although we have a volunteer gig to get to we have some cushion time to use along the way.
Travel through NM

 We stopped at Spring Lake RV resort, a Passport America member so a full hook up site for $14. a night. Not to much to do in the crazy wind we caught up with laundry and relaxed.
 On the move again the next day had us leave Kansas, drive through Oklahoma and Texas ending up at Ute Lake State Park in New Mexico. I know that sounds crazy but it was just under 400 miles and with some rain and no scenic reason to stop we just drove on.
 Ute Lake is a large reservoir that like many others around here is experiencing low water levels due to a prolonged drought. The campground is pretty nice and sites are quite spacious. They also only charge $15.00 for a water and elec. site. Wendy really splurged on this one as they said we could have the camp host site as it was unoccupied. Nice site with a good lake view.
Ute Lake State Park

 As we pulled in we got excited as we saw another Excel Camper just like ours, I know it doesn't take a lot to excite us. Well we got all set up and then it started to rain so we didn't get a chance to meet them then. The next morning cleared and as they were packing to go I strolled over for an introduction. Turns Jane and John are also fulltime RVer's and bloggers, not only that but we have each read the others blogs (http://flamingoonastick.blogspot.com). Small world as they say. We had a nice quick visit and they showed us some nice renovations that they have been doing. I was a bit reluctant to let Wendy see those.)  Their RV is the same model as ours 30RSO albeit three years newer. They had already extended their stay getting some new springs put on after one of them broke on the way.
 It was nice to meet them and hopefully we can meet up again down the road.
 Our next drive was Alamogordo to spend some time checking out White Sands National Monument and the area.

Monday, October 19, 2015

On The Road Again

 Hi all,
So we left out on Monday, plan was to head to Lake of the Ozarks for a few days but the drive Monday was to get us closer. We don't have a strict rule when traveling but do try and keep the drives to around 250 miles.
 Day one ended at Chapin, Ill. just west of Springfield. Wendy searches out Passport America parks and found Buena Vista Farms Campground on the list. We pulled in at about 2:30 so time for a few short strolls in the park and then guess what? They have private ponds so a little time to cast a line and relax. I did catch a few small bass and quite a few blue gill but kept nothing. While I did that Wendy spent her time on a couple pine needle baskets- ahhhh!- finally relaxing.
 Day two got us into Lake of The Ozarks State Park, we had not made a reservation and asked for a non reservable site. We scored nicely getting a site right on the lake. Lake of the Ozarks is a beautiful area and we were hitting it at almost peak fall colors. Not visually as grand as many areas it still boast pretty autumn shades and seeing the leaves drop into the water is a site.
 Weather was great and we got in some nice hikes in the park. A must do in the park is visiting the two swinging bridges that are still in use today.  The bridges became a necessity in 1931 due as the Bagwell Dam that created the Ozark Lake increased the streams crossing.
 The first bridge over Mill Creek spans 125 feet has had more recent repairs it is covered by corrugated steel panels causing quite a noisy  crossing. The second bridge, Au Glaize Bridge at 400 feet still contains the wooden planks, some looking to be in dire need of repair. 
 Another day we drove about the area and checked out a large outlet mall, we didn't spend much time doing that as the weather was to nice to be inside. I almost forgot we checked out Ozarks Distillery although they only do tours on Saturdays.
 Friday we made a trip to nearby Ha Ha Tonka State Park. This is a neat day use park that holds numerous unique geology features including a natural bridge, a steep sinkhole named the Coliseum, a couple caves, and Ha Ha Tonka Spring- discharging 48 million gallons of water daily.
 It also boast the remains of a huge castle, this was started in 1905 by wealthy businessman Robert M. Snyder. Construction halted a year later with Snyders untimely death, one of Missouri's first auto fatalities. Eventually his sons completed their fathers dream although not as elaborate as he had planned. The property eventually leased as a hotel until a fire erupted in 1942 from sparks from a chimney. It also destroyed a carriage house nearby, a water tower was later destroyed by a fire caused from vandals. Today only the stone remains are left to be seen.
 There are nice trails and boardwalks that make it easy for visitors to explore and views from bluff overlooks that gave awesome fall colors.

 Sunday we took a 1-1/2 mile hike along the lakefront then had supper at Buffalo Wild Wings watching the Packers get to 6-0. Sure is nice to get back on the road again!