• Channel Islands National Park-National Park #41

    Today was the most incredible day!  We boarded an Island Packers boat in Ventura Harbor to cruise the 21 miles to the Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the Channel Islands. Channel Island National Park is comprised of six different islands that are each unique for the animal life, vegetation, scenery, etc.

    Right after leaving the harbor we saw all these California sea lions vying for a place on this buoy. About 30 minutes later we started seeing hundreds of dolphins.  We were told that for each one we see, there are seven others in the water.  What a magnificent gift it was to be able to watch them while we sailed.  On the way back we not only saw hundreds more dolphins, but also hundreds of California pelicans and two hump back whales.

    IMG 7012

    California Sea Lions

    IMG 7129

    Ordinary Dolphins

    We arrived on the island around 11:30 and had five hours to explore the island before catching our 4:30 boat back to Ventura Harbor.  We first ate the sandwiches we brought and then spent several hours hiking around the island. Here there are rugged mountains, grass-covered hills, and some animals and plants that you have never seen before. Island features historic ranches (where sheep were once raised); island fox; island scrub jay; and Painted Cave, on of the world’s largest sea caves.

    Island Packer Boat

     

    IMG 7059

    IMG 7069

    We first hiked the Cavern Point Loop Trail with it’s magnificent coastal vistas.  It was only a two mile hike, but it was steep going up and coming back down. 

    IMG 7044

    IMG 7071

    IMG 7039

    IMG 7102

    After the hike we walked in the campground where we were told hundreds of foxes live.  It didn’t take long for us to several.

    IMG 7085

    We are staying at the Emma Wood Beach Campground.  Our camper is directly facing the Pacific Ocean and parked right above the beach.

    60789676 627F 47CE A051 7C96B50D5E54

    IMG 6996

     

    Trip Statistics 


    Miles driven in motorhome 212; Total on trip: 1,795
    Gasoline Cost: $3.689 per gallon or $130.90 ; Total on trip:  $660.90
    Emma Wood Beach Campground, Ventura $43.33  

     

     

  • California! Joshua Tree National Park -our 40th National Park (Day 6 of 101)

    California

    We crossed the California border at 9:15 this morning.  All vehicles had to stop at the inspection station, but most of the cars and RVs were waved right through.  The speed limit on I-10 for all RVs and trucks is 55mph while cars can still drive 75mph. This is an absolute desolate stretch of highway reminiscent of west Texas.BMT CA

    IMG 0620

    We drove into Joshua Tree National Park from the south entrance of the park near the Cottonwood Visitor Center on the Pinto Basin Road.  We were  driving the motorhome and towing the car through the park to get to the north end near our campground at Twentynine Palms.  We weren’t able to stop at too many places because there was no where to park.

    IMG 6903

    We are wearing our matching National Parks shirts that have box beside each park to mark off after we visit.

     One quick stop was Cholla Cactus Garden.  There was a warning to take care around theses cacti.  They are commonly referred to as “jumping” cholla as segments can beak off and attach to people and animals as a way to reproduce.

    IMG 6877

    We drove to Twentynine Palms and parked the motorhome at the 29 Palms RV Campground.  Ben unhitched the car and after we ate lunch, we headed back into the park with our car.

    IMG 6924

    IMG 6925

    Joshua Tree

    Keys View

    Our first stop was at Keys View where we saw a panoramic view of the southern side of the park. On a clear day, it is possible to see Signal Mountain in Mexico 90 miles to the south.  We were also able to see the Andreas Fault which runs roughly 800 miles through California where the Pacific Plate and North American Plate meet.

    IMG 6919

    IMG 6913

    I can’t believe I am now the short one at 5’7”

    IMG 6922

     IMG 0680

    We walked the 1.7 mile trail to see Skull Rock

    IMG 6935

    IMG 6937

    IMG 0641

    We drove back into the park in the evening and hiked to Arch Rock and then stayed there for sunset.

    IMG 6951

    IMG 6973

    Sunset in the park with a Joshua tree in the foreground

    Twentynine Palms

    The City of Twentynine Palms is where the US Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center is located.  It’s the world’s largest Marine Corps training base.  According to the city’s website, “The city is known for its world class murals and artists, supportive business climate, pristine air, beautiful natural surroundings, desert and mountain vistas, and friendly family lifestyle.”

    IMG 0689

    When we walked up to this mural, we thought the guy was actually asleep on the scaffolding, but it’s just part of the painting.

    IMG 0687

    IMG 0685

    The roadsigns are hot pink

    Trip Statistics 

    • Miles driven in motorhome today 146; Total on trip: 1583
    • Gasoline Cost: $2.729 per gallon or $121.38 ; Total on trip:  $651
    • 29 Palms RV - 39.75; Total for campgrounds $173.18

  • Benzon, AZ to Quartzsite, AZ-Electrical Panel Lights-Oh no! Day 5

    This was our second day to drive across Arizona . We are now only 24 miles from California.

    When I was diving the motorhome through PHOENIX today on I-10, the electrical panel on the dashboard started flashing, the acceleration vanished and the speedometer went to zero and, the brakes didn’t work. SCARY!!! After two minutes or so everything started working and seemed fine. We stopped in a parking lot and called every RV and Ford dealership in Phoenix, but it’s Saturday afternoon on Memorial Day weekend and could not get any assistance.  Since everything seemed fine and none of the lights remained on, Tom thought we should go ahead and drive to Quartzite.

    We arrived safely in Quartzite where the temperature is 99 degrees, but it’s a dry heat, right ???  We walked about .5 miles to dinner at Silly Al’s Pizza.

    IMG 6854

    In front of Silly Al’s Pizza

    IMG 6850

    Check out the size of these cactus needles!

    IMG 6857

    We talked to the man who built this from three different buses.  He said there are two bedrooms on the top level.

    IMG 6858

    Space #40 in Koa Mountain RV Park

    Trip Statistics 

    • Miles driven in motorhome today 286; Total on trip: 1,437
    • Gasoline Cost: $2.729 per gallon or $102 ; Total on trip:  $530
    • Kofa Mountain RV - $22 (Passport America Member price). Total for campgrounds $133.43

  • El Paso to Benzon, AZ

    Benson, Arizona

    Another day of driving on our way to reach California. This morning we left El Paso and drove through New Mexico and into Arizona.

    Ben managed to get two flat tires on his bike before we left El Paso. so he and I went to Walmart as soon as we arrived in Benson to get two new tubes.  Tom changed both tires shortly after we got back to the RV Park.

    MBT Arizona

    IMG 6832

    IMG 6837

    The RV Park is very nice with a pool, jacuzzi, game room, exercise room, observatory and pickle ball court.  The temperature was 93 when we arrived, but the humidity was only 7% (unheard of in Louisiana!!). We swam and used the hot tub for about two hours.  We were amazed at how chilly it felt when we got out of the pool in the hot temperature.  It was a beautiful day.

    IMG 6840

    Trip Statistics 

    • Miles driven in motorhome today 286; Total: 1150
    • Gasoline Cost: $121.66 today; Total $426
    • Butterfield RV Resort $23.23 (Passport America Member price)

     

     

  • Driving Across Texas - Days 2 and 3

    El Paso

    Every time we cross the border from Louisiana into TX we see the sign that says El Paso 857 miles.  Driving across I-10 in Texas has to be one of the most monotonous drives to get across a state, but we have arrived!  This is only a one night stop over on our way to California.  We took a slight detour off I-10 when we went up to Austin to visit with Michael.  Last night we stopped in Fort Stockton, TX for the night.

    MBT el paso

    The Border Wall at El Paso

    IMG 6812

    We told Ben we could try to drop him over the fence into Mexico, but he didn’t even think that was funny (like we could even begin to lift him)!

    IMG 6816

    El Paso is mostly sandy dirt and this RV Park is no exception.  The Cordova bridge into Mexico is in the background.

    Trip Statistics 

    • Miles driven in motorhome today 230; Total: 876
    • Gasoline Cost: $180 today; Total $305
    • Ft Stockton RV Park - $36 (Passport America Member price)
    • Mission RV Park El Paso - $22 (Passport America Member price)

  • On the Road Again! Day 1 of 101-Lake Charles to Austin

    We left Lake Charles at 11:00 AM to begin Day 1 of our projected 101 day summer vacation —also known as “Getting the Hell out of Dodge” to avoid the summer heat and humidity in Lake Charles. This was supposed to be the year we drove to Alaska once again, but since the Canadian Border is still closed because of COVID, that is not a possibility.  We were always planning to drive up through CA, OR and WA to visit the National Parks in those states so all those reservations were made months ago.  Once we realized that the Canadian border was not going to open for summer travel, Tom had to scramble to make reservations for the alternate routes in the Northwest.  

    IMG 6731

    Our summer vacation shirts

    Screen Shot 2021 05 26 at 10 39 32 AM

    This is the route for our trip.  

    We arrived in Austin at our campground at 5:15 and Michael drove out to eat dinner with us.  After dinner I walked along while Michael and Ben played a round of Disc Golf.  After the game we returned to the campground and played a few games of Flip Uno.

    IMG 6787

    IMG 6791

    Trip Statistics

    • Miles driven in motorhome:  303
    • Gasoline Cost: $125, averaged 6.4 miles to the gallon
    • Austin Lone Star RV Park - $24 (Passport America Member price)

  • Gatlinburg - Laurel Falls, Mirror Maze and Putt Putt

     

    We drove into the Great Smokey Mountains National Park today and hiked to Laurel Falls, a 2.6 mile (round trip) hike on a paved trail up the mountain to a beautiful tiered waterfall.  Along the way we were able to see some magnificent vistas of the mountains.Once we got there Tom, Vicki and Dan climbed down to a lower level of the falls where Dan slipped and fell (luckily, he wasn’t hurt).

    IMG 1293

    IMG 6478

    IMG 6482

    IMG 6490

    Frame 21 05 2021 02 44 29

    IMG 5527

    Ripley’s Indoor Putt Putt and Marvelous Mirror Maze

    After the hike we drove back to Gatlinburg and played a round of Black Light Putt Putt and found our way through Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze.($10 for both). These were both indoor attractions and it was supposed to rain, so we decided to give it a try.  I was very disappointed with the Putt Putt.  The lighting was so bad (which I should have expected since it’s black light illuminated , that we had to search for the hole each time we went to putt.  I can’t complain too loudly though because I won—Ha!

    IMG 6495

    IMG 6498IMG 6502IMG 6504

     

     

     (

  • Cades Cove, TN

    We drove back into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but this time we were headed for Cades Cove, one of the most popular tourists’  destinations in the park.  It was a 30 mile drive to get there and then we drove an 11 mile loop through the cove.  "The first Europeans settled in the cove sometime between 1818 and 1821. By 1830 the population of the area had already swelled to 271. Cades Cove offers the widest variety of historic buildings of any area in the national park.”  The National Park Service recommends allowing two to four hours to drive the 11 mile loop.

    It is supposed to be a great place to view wildlife, but we only saw a turkey and some deer.  The drive was very pretty though.

    IMG 6440

    IMG 6460

    IMG 6456

    IMG 6457

    Going back to our cabin we spotted this bear STANDING on the side of the road eating holly berries off of a tree.  While I was trying to back up and get a better picture, he decided to eat them sitting down.

    IMG 0496

    IMG 0501

  • Gatlinburg-Skybridge and more

    We rode the open-air Skylift, which has been operating since 1954, up to the 1800’ overlook at the Skybridge. The Skybridge is billed as the longest suspension bridge in North America and has a few glass panels in the middle to look straight down. It’s really not as thrilling as we thought it would be—definitely a big tourist attraction though.  The Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, BC was much more thrilling to us. The cost for seniors was $20.95 and in my opinion, highly overrated.   It’s a pretty view on the way up, but nothing spectacular.

    IMG 0462

    IMG 6406

    IMG 6272

     

    IMG 6402

    IMG 6283

    IMG 6268

    Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

    Our next stop after the Skybridge was Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.  We saw many amazing fish, but my favorite fish was the Sawfish (also known as carpenter sharks) that has a long nose extension with sharp transverse teeth that resemble a saw.

    IMG 5467

    Have you ever seen a shark that looks like it’s a saw?

    IMG 6352

    We found Nemo

    IMG 6359

    IMG 6393

    There was a nice penguin exhibit,

    A tribute to Conway Twitty 

    In the evening we went to the tribute to Conway Twitty Show featuring Travis James in the Main Event Theatre.

    IMG 6419

    Lots of activities packed into one day and it was a good one.

  • Gatlinburg, TN and The Great Smokey Mountains National Park

    Gatlinburg is a LONG drive from Lake Charles (860 miles), but we broke up the trip in three days.  The first stop was in Carriere, MS where we spent the night with Glen and Donna and the second stop was a night in Brent, AL where we visited with Brent, Spring, Kennedy, Ben, Tommy and Crystal.  Day 3 we arrived in Gatlinburg.

    IMG 6409

    The cabin we rented with Dan, Vicki, Glen and Donna was SO nice and spacious, but the drive getting up to it was a little more thrilling than I would have liked.  The road was very steep and curvy with no guardrails and a dead drop off over the side of the mountain on one side and into a 4’ ditch on the other.  The driveway could not even be seen from the road when we turned in (It was marked with a reflector on a pole).  We had four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a wrap around porch, and three living areas—1860 Luzern Road.

    IMG 6410

    IMG 6617

     

    IMG 6611

    Our bedroom

    IMG 6551

    IMG 6619

    IMG 6620

    We rented it for one week and spent the days doing activities and hiking in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg and spent the evenings playing Phase Ten, Navy Bridge, and Uno Flip.  I must admit that was inordinately lucky this week and won almost every game we played!

     

     

     

  • Las Vegas!

    After spending two days in Death Valley National Park and hiking Valley of Fire State Park, we drove back to Las Vegas and spent two nights at the Bellagio Hotel.

    We were shocked with the mask compliance while we were in Las Vegas. Most people were wearing a mask while walking down the sidewalk, which iwas something we haven’t seen in any other city except when we were in Austin during last summer.  Wearing masks was mandatory in the hotel lobbies and casinos.. 

    Tm lv SIGN

    We walked from the hotel up to the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign which was 5.5 miles.  Both days we walked over ten miles.  When we got to the sign, we were surprised at how many people were standing in line waiting to do the same thing.  In fact, a tour bus stopped to let the passengers do the same thing.

     IMG 6162

    The Bellagio

    On the way walking to the sign and back we stopped at many places to take photos and check out the sites.  No casinos though.

    IMG 6098

    158B32C1 C145 49BC A81A 7A70B6E8709F

    Anyone remember the use for these??

    IMG 6100

    Bellagio flower show was amazing!

    IMG 6129

    IMG 6133

    IMG 6138

    IMG 6141

    In the evening we drove to the original part of Las Vegas and enjoyed walking down Fremont and seeing all the venues.

    Frame 18 05 2021 02 29 43

    I wished I had waited in line to zip line down Fremont Street, but the line was too long.  

  • Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, NV in the Mojave Desset

    We left the Mesquite Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park, CA and drove 200 miles to Valley of Fire State Park, near Overton, in the Mojave Desert.  40,000 acres of bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops nestled in gray and tan limestone, Valley of Fire State Park contains ancient, petrified trees and petroglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years.

    IMG 0291

    We were greeted by the dessert bighorn sheep that were walking along the road as we entered the park. 

    IMG 0282

    IMG 5988

    Tm vALLEY OF FIRE

    IMG 6002

    This is one of a group of rocks called the Beehives

    IMG 6025

    The entrance to the White Domes hiking trail.

    IMG 6041

    Tom is standing on top of the Fire Waves trail rock.

    IMG 0354

    We hiked the 1.5 mile Fire Wave Trail to see these incredible rock coloring and vistas.

    IMG 6047

    IMG 6050

    IMG 6055

    This a picture of the Seven Sisters, but I guess of few of them must have been running errands when we drove past.

    IMG 6064

    Our last short hike was to see Elephant Rock.  After we climbed up to see it, we realized we could have also seen it from the road—but didn’t realize it at the time.

    Afterwards , we drove 65 miles to Las Vegas.

  • Death Valley National Park

    This morning we visited our 39th National Park—Death Valley.  It was 69 degrees when we entered the park at 9:30 and 101 degrees by 1:00 when we were walking on the salt flats.

    Death Valley is the hottest place on the Earth, with a recorded temperature of 134 on July 10, 1913.  It is also the driest U.S. national park and features the lowest elevation in North America.  Last summer the temperature reached 128 degrees which was the hottest recorded temperature anywhere on Earth since 2013, hence why we planned NOT to go during the summer.

    T M Death Valley NP

    Our first stop was after the welcome sign, of course, was  Dantes View, over 5,000 above Death Valley.  We took several of our pictures with the Altitude app to record the actual elevation because it ranged from the elevation in this photo of 5,470 feet above sea level  to a low of -282 below sea level.

    IMG 5802

    Twenty Mule Team Canyon was our next stop.  It is a 2.5 mile one way drive on unpaved roads through the eroded badlands. Several movies have been filmed here including Star Wars VI: Return on the Jedi

    IMG 5826

    I remember the 20 mule team that was featured in the Borax commercials when I was young. Starting in 1892 Borax was mined here.  I had totally forgotten about the product, but can now remember my mom using it in the washing machine to assist in removing stains from of our clothes.  If you take the time to goggle uses for Borax, it appears to be a miracle  substance for all kinds of cleaning jobs including washing clothes, cleaning the toilet, disinfecting the garbage disposal, and many more (25 miracle cleaning jobs when I googled it).

    IMG 5846

    Zabriskie Point featured golden colored badlands.

    IMG 0240

    We drove down to  Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, at 282 feet below sea level and walked two miles on the salt flats.  The temperature was 101 degrees by the time we arrived.  It was a dry heat, of course, but still very hot.

    IMG 5854IMG 5858

    Artist Palette was our last stop for the day..  I was really looking forward to seeing this point, but the colors were not never as vivid in the pictures I took.  We were there in the afternoon and I drove back in the evening, so the time of day to catch them must be in the morning as the sun rises.

    IMG 5946

    Created by volcanic activity, heat and water this rocks contain iron, aluminum, magnesium, and titanium and depending on the time of day, the colors are very vivid.

    IMG 5945

    IMG 5905

    We stopped briefly at Golden Canyon Trail, but we were exhausted by the time we got there, so we walked a short distance and took a couple of pictures.

    IMG 0254

    By 2:30 we were back at the Ranch and worn out.  The shower felt wonderful!  

    IMG 5913 2

    We are staying at the Ranch of Death Valley at Furnace  Creek.  We ate dinner in the courtyard of the Forty Nine Cafe.  Tom had a filet magnon, asparagus, and a baked potato while I had chili and a Caesar salad.  Because of COVID, all meals were served in paper boxes.

    IMG 5914 2

    Today was a day well spent enjoying God’s magnificent creations.  

     

    Day 2 in Death Valley 

    After checking out of the motel we drove 22 miles further north to see the Mesquite Sand Dunes.  According to the National Park Service "there must be a source of sand, prevailing winds to move the sand, and a place for the sand to collect. The eroded canyons and washes provide plenty of sand, the wind seems to always blow (especially in the springtime), but there are only a few areas in the park where the sand is trapped".  The Mesquite Sand Dunes is one area, but there are also four other sights within the park with sand dunes:  Eureka Dunes, Saline Valley Dunes, Panamint Dunes and the Ibex Dunes.

    IMG 5968

    IMG 5982

    IMG 5984

     

     

     

     

  • Big Bend National Park - Day 2

    We drove back into the park today from the Big Bend Resort & Adventures campground in Terlingua, but this time our destination was the total opposite end of the park near the Rio Grande Village Visitor Center (50 miles one way).  We stopped at the Rio Grande Overlook and then stopped in Boquillas Canyon to hike the Boquillas Canyon Trail.  We wore our swimsuits today because we were hoping to enjoy the Hot Springs, but we found out the springs were closed because of COVID.  The other excursion we had hoped to do was a row boat ride across the Rio Grande to a Mexican village and had our passports on hand,  but once again we were not allowed because of Covid. It was another good day though and by the time we arrived back at the campground, we’d driven 110 miles.

    IMG 4452

    IMG 4453

    IMG 4471

    Rio Grande Overlook

    IMG 4467

    Boquillas Canyon Trail

    IMG 4483

    Mexicans row across the river and place handmade items on rocks along the trail with a money jar.  We passed at least five of these spots. Apparently, they watch their items from the other side of the river and come back across to collect their money.

    IMG 4480

     

    IMG 7759

    IMG 4484

    We hiked as far as we could go up the canyon before turning around to return to the car.

    IMG 4496

    Tom waded out to the middle of the Rio Grande.

    IMG 4503

    Check out these holes!  These were used to ground corn into cornmeal.

  • Big Bend National Park - Our 37th National Park (Day 1)

     

    Day 1 - We drove into the Big Bend National Park from the western entrance near the town of Tergingua. 

    We turned right from the main road and drove down the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.We stopped to walk around the Sam Nail Ranch  and  the Homer Wilson Ranch, both homesteads that were vacated when the land became a National Park in 1944. When we got to the place on the map called Castolon,  we expected to actually see a little town, but there were a total of about four buildings, one of which was a TINY store selling some bottled drinks and snacks.  There was a fire there in 2019 which destroyed a few other buildings whose remnants remain.

    eIMG 4516

    Big bend

    IMG 4337

    Remnants of the Sam Nail Ranch

    IMG 4347

    Homer Wilson Ranch

    8F51325F C6EC 48B1 A381 D719F84B089A

    From there we dove to the Santa Elena Canyon, a 45 mile drive from the entrance into the park, where we hiked the Santa Elena Canyon Trail.  The trail starts after crossing a partially dried creek, but on the other side, the trail is VERY STEEP and slippery for first few hundred feet or so and goes straight up and then there is another steep downhill before leveling out for a while before going up again this time on a paved switchback.  Once we got to the top we walked downhill and flat before reaching the end at the Rio Grander River.  The hike was scary to me at the beginning and then again at the end, but totally worth doing it!

    IMG 7659

    IMG 4392

    IMG 4399

    IMG 4421

    The view between the two mountains is called The Window

    IMG 7720

    A roadrunner - Beep Beep!

    IMG 4434

    IMG 4420

    IMG 4405

    We drove 125 miles today and enjoyed Day 1 in Big Bend

    IMG 4443

    I enjoyed a bowl of Tergingua chili at the Starlight Restaurant.  Delicious!

    IMG 4441

    Tom had his usual--hamburger and fries, but said it was good also.

    IMG 4437

    We stayed at the Big Bend Resort & Adventures Campground in Tergingua.  Although the park was level, the name resort is definitely a misnomer. — However, there were no parks any nicer that we saw.  Just dirt, a table and hookups.

  • El Paso to Terlingua (outside of Big Bend National Park)

    After leaving El Paso, we drove to Van Horn, TX, a sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere with a population of 2,000, where we stopped for the night at the Van Horn RV Park.   Once we arrived, we discovered our coach battery was dead.  Luckily, there was an Auto Zone store in town and we were able to buy a new one.  After installing the battery, we discovered the positive connector cable was corroded, so  we replaced that also.  This was the last semblance of civilization for 100 miles on our drive toward Bib Bend National Park.

    El paso to big bend

    Van Horm TM

    IMG 4261

    View from our campground at sunset

    From Van Horn we drove to Terlingua, outside the entrance to Big Bend National Park.  The drive today was once again very rural and boring, but to our surprise there is a art display 26 miles north of Marfa called Prada Marfa.  This display is in the form of a building, specifically a Prada storefront, and was constructed in 2005. On the front of the structure there are two large windows displaying actual Prada shoes and handbags from 2005.

    IMG 4314

    As we were driving further down the road we saw the road art below.  There was no sign or explanation beside it, so I have no idea of it’s significance besides a fun way to interrupt the boredom of the drive.

    IMG 4289IMG 4287

    IMG 4307

    We arrived at the town of Terlingua around 5:00PM and are staying at the Big Bend RV Resort & Adventure Campground.

  • El Paso, TX

    We are staying at the Mission RV Park.  When we got ready to leave for the day to tour El Paso, we noticed a huge nail close to the sidewall of the front passenger tire in the CRV, so we head to the tire store to get it fixed.  As our luck (or lack thereof) would have it, the tire could not be fixed and we had to buy another one.  We chose to buy two new front tires, so add those to the two back tires that we bought last week, we’ve spent $888 ion tires on this trip.  We had an 1.5 hour to kill while we waited to get the tires changed so we decided to walk 2 miles to Sam’s Club and walk around.  After walking back to the tire dealership to pick up our car, we drove first to the Casa de Azuca.

    IMG 4239

    For 25 years Rufino Loya Rivas built "La Casa de Asucar" around his home as a tribute to the city of El Paso. The House of Sugar’s ornate statues and features were inspired by Catholic churches Rufino recalled from his youth in Mexico.  This beautiful tribute was sculpted from cement by Rivas and is meticulously maintained.  It took him 25 years and hundreds of hours to create his masterpiece.  The home behind all these sculptures is a very simple home in a regular subdivision.  Very unique and worth the drive just to see!

    IMG 4237

    Our next stop was a visit at the US Border Patrol Museum and finally, a drive through parts of Franklin Mountains State Park.

    IMG 4242

    IMG 4244

    IMG 4245

    IMG 7598

    The US Border fence

  • White Sands National Park - Our 36th National Park

    We stayed in Alamagordo, New Mexico at the Edgington RV Park.  From there we drove 24 miles to White Sands National Park.

    Alamagordo2

    IMG 4101

    This is our 36th National Park!  White Sands became the 62nd National Park in December 19, 2020 after being a National Monument since 1933. The “white sand” is actually composed of gypsum crystals. The gypsum dunefield is the largest of its kind on Earth.  The depth of gypsum sand across the entire field is about 30 feet, while the tallest dunes are about 60 feet high.

    IMG 4106

    IMG 4155

          About ten miles into the park and thirty miles from Alamogordo, we discovered we had a flat tire. We pulled over and took off the flat and put on the little mini spare tire from the trunk.  We drove on that until we got back to Alamogordo where we bought two new tires and had them mounted.

         We bought a set of snow discs from Amazon and brought them with us into the park.  Ours didn’t work, but some girls let us take a couple rides on theirs which were a softer plastic than ours.

    IMG 7559

    Tom WS

    After getting the new tires and shopping at Walmart, we drove to McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch.

    IMG 4169

     Here we are standing beside the World’s Largest Pistachio

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico

    While in Albuquerque we stayed at the Coronado RV Park which was very nice.  Our space was conveniently located behind the clubhouse where we went to play online bridge with our Lake Charles Bridge Club almost as soon as we arrived.  After our less than memorable bridge game, we had a 3:30 reservation to visit the Hot Air Balloon Museum.  The museum was interesting, but would have been more interesting if all the hands on exhibits weren’t closed because of Covid-19.

    The most fascinating exhibit for me was the one documenting the flight of Salomon Andree, a Swedish engineer, who set out on July 11, 1897 with two fellow countrymen on an exhibition to the North Pole in a hydrogen ballon. After Andree and his two companions lifted off from Svalbard, a group of islands in the Arctic Ocean about 400 miles north of Norway, the balloon lost hydrogen quickly and crashed on the pack ice after only two days. The men were unhurt, but not prepared  with proper  equipment or clothing and lacked the fortitude to make the grueling trek back south and died. Their ship, journals, undeveloped film, supplies and skeletons were found in 1930, 33 years later.  They had survived almost 3 months.

    Andree camp

     

    Back at the RV Park we visited with a couple from Houma, LA for several hours.

    Thursday, September 24, 2020

    IMG 4056

    Tom’s favorite place to eat—Tuscano’s Brazilian Steakhouse

     The National  Museum of Nuclear Entergy Museum

    IMG 4044

    Replicas of the Atomic Bombs Little Boy that was dropped on Hiroshima and Fat Boy that was dropped on Nagasaki 

    IMG 4041

    This watch was stopped at 8:17 am on August 6, 1945 when the atomic bomb "Little Boy" detonated over Hiroshima.

    IMG 4038

    This tricycle belonged to three=year-old Shinichi Tetsutani, who was riding it in front of his house when the atomic bomb flattened it.  He died that evening.

    IMG 4046

    25 cent stamps that were purchased one stamp at a time and when $18.75 was accumulated, the card was traded for a war bond.

    IMG 4050

    Cute little postcard in the gift shop 

    Old Town, Albuquerque 

    We walked around  the square at Old Town in Albuquerque.  The shops all feature the typical Indian 

    IMG 4059

  • Santa Fe, New Mexico

         Today we drove from Eagles Nest to Sante Fe and walked by the NM state Capitol Building. We are trying to visit each state's Capital building when traveling, but this one and the Texas Capitol buildings were both closed because of Covid. 
          New Mexico has the only round state capitol in the United States, and is known informally as "the Roundhouse".

    IMG 3988

    IMG 3990

    Memorial to the New Mexico National Guard's involvement in the Bataan Death March

    Following the fall of the Bataan Peninsula, Philippines, on April 9, 1942 the United States surrendered to the Japanese and instantly, more than 75,000 U.S. and Filipino soldiers were forced to become Prisoners of War. The POWs were soon forced to make the 65 mile trek – with no food or water – to confinement camps throughout the Philippines. Thirsty and exhausted, those who attempted to steal a sip of water from roadside streams or collapsed along the way – were shot or bayoneted on the spot by their Japanese captors. In total, 10,000 men – 1,000 American and 9,000 Filipino – died during the Bataan Death March.


    From there we walked around the Sante Fe Plaza and did some shopping, but the art galleries and museums were closed because of Covid.

    IMG 3991

    Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi

    IMG 3994

    Museum of Contemporary Arts (closed because of Covid)

    IMG 7482

    IMG 4002

    IMG 4006

     

  • Black Rock Hot Springs, Rio Grande Bridge & Taos, NM

    Our view from the front of our motorhome this morning in the Golden Eagle RV Park.

    IMG 3882

    Today we drove an 85 miles loop from Eagles Nest through Red River over to the Black Rocks Hot Springs, Rio Grande Bridge, Taos and back to Eagles Nest.

    IMG 3959

    IMG 3916

    Black Rock Hot Springs

    Our first stop was at the Black Rock Hot Springs.  To get there we drove on a curvy dirt road for several miles and then hiked about .25 miles down to the river.  The water temperature in the hot springs was probably around 95 degrees and the water in the river beside the hot springs was very cold!

    IMG 3918

    IMG 3926

    There was a sign by this innocent looking river saying, " This may not be the best place to put in your raft or Kayak.  The river has Class IV rapids and if you don’t know what those are, you are in the wrong place!"

    IMG 3939

    IMG 3931

    IMG 3934

    Rio Grande Bridge

    The Rio Grande Bridge was only a 12 mile drive from the hot springs and the view was magnificent!  It’s amazing to see the river flow through those tall canyon walls!

    IMG 3948

    IMG 3944

    The trees are beginning to change colors on this first day of fall.  Most of the trees are evergreen, but it’s pretty to see the yellow leaves mixed with the green.

    IMG 3951

    IMG 3950

    Back “home” in our campground, a couple other fabulous carvings to enjoy!

    IMG 3908

    IMG 3909

     

  • Angel Fire and Eagles Nest, New Mexico

    We spent the night in the Walmart Parking lot in Trinidad, New Mexico after seeing HIGH WIND warnings on I-25.  We definitely did not want to do the Raton pass in those conditions. There were at least twenty other campers in the parking lot with us!

    IMG 3868

     On Sunday we continued our drive to Eagle’s Nest, New Mexico where we stayed at the Golden Eagle RV Park.

    After plugging in Big Hat, we drove up to the Angel Fire Ski Resort to look around.  We were hoping to take a zipline tour, but they were not open. Not much happening up there since it is between seasons.

    Our next stop was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Museum and Chapel near Angel Fire which was built by Doc Westphall in memory of his son David who was killed in an ambush near Con Thien, South Vietnam on March 22, 1968, along with all Vietnam Veterans.

    IMG 3894

    IMG 3897

    Interestingly enough, we met two couples in the RV park near us who are from Louisiana.  One of those couples is like us in that the wife is a native West Virginian and the husband is a native Louisianan!

  • Bicycling down Pike's Peak

    Today was one of those “Bucket List” items that I have really wanted to do.  We booked a bicycle tour with Pike’s Peak Bicycle Tours to bicycle from the summit of Pikes Peak down the mountain.  We met our tour leaders and the six other members of our tour group at the bicycle shop at 7:15 this mornin where we were given our helmets and the proper size Canondale bicycles for the ride.  The tour guides loaded the bicycles on top of their van and drove us to the top of Pike’s Peak.IMG 3806The Pikes Peak Highway is 19 miles from the Tollgate entrance to the summit and has a 2 lane road ascending more than 6,000 feet in elevation. The admission is $15 per person or $50 per car —unless you have the Senior Pass like us, then it’s free.  Because of the construction for a new visitor’s center at the summit, cars are not allowed to drive all the way up.  There is a temporary lot about 2 miles down and visitor’s are shuttled to the top from there .  The bicycle company had a special permit to drive all the way up, and we arrived at 9:00am.  We spent a few moments walking through the gift shop, using the restroom and taking pictures by the sign, and then got back in the van and drove less than a mile to a safe spot with no construction equipment, to begin our ride.

    The temperature was 37 degrees and dry—cold, but a perfect day to start our ride.  I was wearing many layers including a short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, lined vest, lightweight jacket, a windproof jacket and gloves when we started  the ride, but by the time we finished, it was about 67 and I had removed the windproof coat and gloves.

    Our total downhill ride was just over 20 miles as we descended from just below the summit to beyond the gate and past the North Pole Village in Manitou Springs.  What a day!

    IMG 3811

    9:00 AM - 37 degrees

    IMG 3819

    9:30AM at 13,387 feet

    IMG 3823

    IMG 3834

    Tom on bike

    IMG 3828

    IMG 3809 2

    Round and round and down and down we went! 

    IMG 3808

    IMG 3846

    Enjoying the view of where we started our bicycle ride.

    After the ride we were treated to lunch at a Greek Restaurant Afterwards, we walked the streets of Old Colorado City and enjoyed looking at all the unique merchandise.  Tom’s site was the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Sign!

    IMG 3856

  • Estes Park, Colorado

    After spending three days in Lakewood, CO with The O’Briens, we headed north to Estes Park, CO.  As soon as I parked Big Hat in lot 65 of Manor RV Park, I looked out the window and saw this beautiful Elk walking right behind the motorhome!

    IMG 3742

    Because of COVID-19 we had to make reservations to enter Rocky Mountain National Park.  Our time slot to enter was at 2:00PM. We drove to the top of Trail Ridge Road and saw a little snow on the side of the road as the road increased in elevation  After parking at the Visitor’s Center at the top of Trail Ridge Road, we hiked all the way to the very top to reach an elevation of 12005 feet.  This is at least our fifth time to hike it, but I guess it’s our RMNP “tradition.”  The temperature was 73 degrees when we entered the park and fell to 53 degrees by the time we got to the Visitor’s Center.

    IMG 3796

    IMG 3772

     

    IMG 3776

    IMG 3771

    The visitor’s center had this cool shirt made from 6 1/2 water bottles.

    From there we drove down to the Continental Divide for our final photo opportunity before heading back to the campground.  The weather was perfect and we enjoyed the vistas.IMG 3784

  • Roswell, NM

    Today we drove 75 miles from the Carlsbad RV Park to the Red Barn RV Park in Roswell, NM.  About 30 miles south of Roswell we ran into a blinding sand storm.  Tom carefully pulled the motorhome over on the side of the road and we sat 40 minutes in amazement waiting for the storm to pass.  We watched eight emergency vehicles pass while we were waiting.  Once the sandstorm cleared we saw all the emergency vehicles blocking the highway about 100 yards ahead of us.

    IMG 4378

    Roswell, NM

    IMG 3670

    Roswell NM

    As soon as we parked Big Hat at the Red Barn RV Park, we drove into town to visit the International UFO Museum which was interesting.

    IMG 3664

    IMG 3663

    IMG 3665

    IMG 3666

    While we walking down the street, we saw a pink Women for Trump bus  coming and we stood around to see what that was about.  Someone in a call yelled, “Mary Hatfield!!”  It was our friends Chuck and Jo from Lake Charles!  We talked briefly and then made plans to meet for dinner at the Cattle Baron which was right by the Fairfield Inn where they were staying. Small world!  Nice evening—great dinner!