Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A windy drive home and a huge cross

Since we had heavy winds the first day out it was only right that we had heavy winds on the last day. Other that the wind while crossing New Mexico on our way west we had really nice weather for the whole trip. That all changed Sunday night while we were sitting in Teacumcari. The winds came up really strong. So the winds were still blowing really strong as we pulled out this morning. Fortunately, the wind was coming straight out of the west so it was pushing us which was a great help to the fuel mileage. We enjoyed that good tail wind until about Elk City, Oklahoma. (That's about 100 miles from home.) At that point the wind shifted to coming directly from the south which meant it was hitting us broadside. Even slowing down to 55 it was hard to keep the rig on the road. I had to stop a couple of times because our awnings appeared to be coming loose. The third time we stopped I put a bungee cord around one of the arms to the awning over the door to keep it from being ripped off. At El Reno, about 30 miles from home, we finally gave up and pulled off the interstate and took old route 66 the rest of the way in. By doing that we could safely drive at 40 miles per hour. We finally did make it in around 5:00 pm but I was worn out from fighting that wind.

But, there was a highlight to the day. Some years ago the folks around Groom, Texas, built a huge cross along I-40. Over the years they have added many sculptures around the cross. These represent the thirteen Stage of the Cross that represent Jesus' road to cruxifiction. We have seen this many times but decided to stop for a close up look. These folks have done a tremendous job with this and I would recommend anyone going through that area to stop and look, regardless of your religious beliefs. To give you an idea of how big this cross is, the sculptures around the base are life size figures.

Here is one of the images of one of the stations of the cross. They also have built a replica of the empty tomb with the "stone rolled away".

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Heading home---and a big hole in the ground

We left out of Lake Havasu yesterday morning and headed east on what is the last leg of this trip. On the way out Joanne mentioned that she'd someday like to stop to see the Meteor Crater out in the Arizona desert. Well, that someday was yesterday. Somewhere between Flagstaff and Winslow is a huge hole in the ground that was formed my a meteor crashing into the earth some 50,000 years ago. Since our goal for the day was to reach Gallup, New Mexico, we figured we had plenty of time to stop. The crater is located about six miles south of I-40.

This property is owned by the Barringer Family, the off springs of the scientist who originally did research on the crater in 1902. The original studies were to determine if a part or all of the meteor was buried under the crater. Subsequent studies and research has determined that the meteor vaporized on impact blowing tons of tiny rocks and particles over several miles. It is estimated that the meteor was traveling at 40,000 miles per hour upon impact.

The crater today is 4000 feet wide and 2.4 miles in circumference and it is around 550 feet to the floor. When the research was being conducted several shafts were drilled in the floor looking for remnants of the original meteor. Today that area is ringed by a fence to keep the few people allowed into the crater away. To give you an idea of how far down it is they have placed a six foot tall replica of an astronaut and a 6x8 foot U. S. flag. It is impossible to see these two items with the naked eye and can only be seen by telescope. If you click on this picture to enlarge it you may be able to see them attached to the fence. I took this picture with full 10x zoom on my camera. An interesting sidenote is that NASA used this crater for training the Astronaut's who were scheduled to walk on the moon.

If you find yourself on I-40 in the middle of the Arizona desert, somewhere between Flagstaff and Winslow and have a little extra time on your hands, you definitely should take the six mile drive to the Meteor Crater. The route in is a good blacktop road and they have plenty of parking for the big rigs. We spent about an hour and a half and that included viewing the crater, climbing to all three observations platforms, viewing the film in their theater and the necessary visit to their gift shop.

After leaving the crater we again headed east and reached Gallup around 6:00pm. (Actually it was 7:00pm local time since we had not changed our clocks after leaving Arizona.) We spent the night, along with several other RV's in the Wal-Mart parking lot after a good dinner at Applebee's. Today we crossed New Mexico and are now spending our last night on the road at the same place we spent the first night out on this trip, the Cactus RV Park in Teacumcari, New Mexico.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A trip to Quartzsite

If you were going to identify "the middle of nowhere" you would call it Quartzsite, Arizona. Quartzsite is roughly 90 miles south of Lake Havasu but is actually in another universe. This is a place that people from up north, where there is snow and cold, come to spend their winters. Although there are some real to goodness RV parks in town most folks just pull up out in the desert and drop anchor. Most of the land is owned by the U. S. Government and is overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). For the most part folks can stay on BLM land for free. The only problem with that, even though these massive beast we tool around in are fully self-contained, periodically one has to find a place to empty the holding tanks and replenish the fresh water supply. That requires pulling up stakes and trekking into town to pay someone a small fee to use their dump and fresh water spigot.

Quartzsite is located at the intersection of Arizona Highway 95 and U. S. Interstate 10. It is about 100 miles west of Phoenix. The large crowds are more apt to be there in January and February. Here in late March most of the northern folks, or "snowbirds", have left and headed back home. In January of each year they have a big RV show. Many of the Arizona RV dealers will bring out RV's for sale. Also, a huge circus like tent is set up and vendors from all over rent space to hawk their wares to the RV community.

Our day trip, in the car, today was to scout out the area to see what it is all about. It was around 90 degrees there today and in the summer months it will go well over 110. We have several friends in our Monaco owners group who go out in January and have been asking us to join them. So far our scheduling has not allowed us to travel this direction during that time frame. When these folks get together they all park together for a week or two and have a good time. This always includes checking out the latest RV items in the vendor tent, having pot luck dinners, tending a large campfire, and having the required "happy hour" each evening.

The biggest down side to joining our friends is it would require us to "dry camp". Even with the fact that when dry camping we are not paying an RV park for use of their space it means we also don't have the luxury of plugging in our home on wheels to a convenient electrical source, a water hydrant or a sewer line. We have done some dry camping, most recently for a few days in the California desert while we helped with the Baker to Vegas run. The longest we ever dry camped was at a RV rally in Brooksville, Florida, in 2007. We were there for eight days and had to really be conservative with water usage so that our "gray tank" did not get too full. (The gray tank holds all the water that comes from the sinks and shower and holds 54 gallons. The "black" tank holds the contents from the toilet and holds 36 gallons.) All in all, I'm not a big fan of dry camping. Yes, as previously stated, our coaches are set up to be fully self supporting. We have an 8,000 watt generator that will produce all the electricity we need plus a bank of batteries that perform well when the generator is not running. The generator does burn diesel fuel so we normally do not run it continually when dry camping. We also have a fresh water tank that holds 100 gallons. But, I still can't see why folks will sit for months out in the desert. I figure that if God had wanted me to subsist out in the desert he would not have had the builder of this coach put a big 50 amp electric cord that comes out of the back of this thing.

Every RVer has a different idea of what is fun. It may very well be that we join our friends out in the Quartzsite desert for awhile one of these January's. We'll just have to look at the schedule when the time rolls around and see where we are. For today, we are back at our coach in Lake Havasu with both air conditioner's running. Joanne is taking a nap and I'm relaxing in anticipation of our leaving tomorrow morning and starting the trek east and back to Oklahoma.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A boat tour of the lake

We decided to really see the lake today and the only way to do that is by boat. We signed on for a two hour tour with Cap'n Rick and his Kon Tiki. The tour was supposed to leave the pier at 12:30 pm but we actually left a little early and did not get back until 3:00 pm so the trip lasted longer than scheduled. The good Captain really knows the history of the lake and the area. We really enjoyed his monologue.

Around the lake the BLM has, over the years, placed navigational lights. These lights were just a red light on a pole and could only be seen for a couple of hundred yards. A local group has organized the Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club and is slowly replacing the BLM lights with new, high powered lights. These new lights are housed in replicas of real lighthouses from around the country. So far they have 15 of these built, four more under construction and plans to eventually have 50 around the lake. The boat tour took us by 15 of the current lighthouses. Of course our favorite is the replica of Split Rock Lighthouse that is located in Northern Minnesota on Lake Superior. Split Rock is considered to be one of the prettiest lighthouses in the country. Another popular replica is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse that is located on the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

In addition to the lighthouses the tour took us a few miles up stream to a place on the California side called Copper Canyon. This is a protected cove with some great rock formations. Due to this being Spring Break for the schools in this area the cove was full of boats loaded with college students partying. There was also two Sheriff's boats in there keeping order. As we continued around the lake and back onto the Arizona side the Captain pointed out several rock formations such as Balancing Rock. All in all it was a fun day and was great to be out on the water.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lake Havasu and the London Bridge

We arrived in Lake Havasu about noon today. As opposed to what we have been accustomed to it is hot here. Although we saw temps in the high 70's/low 80's in the California desert and in Las Vegas it was 89 here today and is expected to be 90 tomorrow. Due to this we limited our exploring today but did get down to the London Bridge. An English bridge sitting in the middle of the Arizona desert? Really an unusual sight.

The London Bridge, currently located in Lake Havasu, was originally constructed in London, in 1831. The bridge was the last project of engineer John Rennie and completed by his son, also named John Rennie. By 1962, the bridge was not structurally sound enough to support the increased load created by the level of modern traffic crossing it, and it was sold by the City of London.

The purchaser, Robert McCulloch, was the founder of Lake Havasu and the chairman of McCulloch Chain Saw Corporation. McCulloch was purported to have purchased the bridge to serve as a tourist attraction to his retirement real estate development at Lake Havasu City, which at that time was far off the usual tourist track. The idea was successful, bringing interested tourists and retirement home buyers to the area.

Originally an "English Village", a quaint English-style open air mall with hedge maze and historical museum was built by the bridge. Over the years this has been replaced with the normal tourist shops you find in the Southwest United States. They do still have some English style things including an English phone booth and a large fountain as you enter the lower bridge area. Due to the heat we did not spend very long at the bridge today. We will go back tomorrow to take a boat tour of the lake area.

Viva Las Vegas!

We are now in Fabulous Las Vegas. At least that is what the famous sign at the south end of the Las Vegas Strip (known as Las Vegas Boulevard) says. We awoke Sunday morning out in the desert, still at the Stage Two location north of Baker. The two Vicki/Vicky's fixed a great breakfast for the six of us. Soon Steve & Vicky headed south to their home in southern California and Don & Vicki and Joanne & I headed northeast toward Las Vegas.

We have been staying at the Oasis RV Park in the far south end of town. Staying down here is almost like not being in Las Vegas. We are very removed from the bright lights of the casinos and hotels. It is actually very pleasant to just sit around and recuperate from the time out in the desert. Although we did not have a lot of wind the sun and heat alone will tire a person out.

We have actually done very little during our stay here. We had been provided tickets for the buffet dinner at the Southpoint Hotel/Casino for Sunday. The Southpoint is the only large hotel/casino that is actually south of where we are staying. After dinner I dropped Don and Jo off at their respective coaches and Vicki and I headed for downtown Vegas to donate a little money and check out Fremont Street. On Monday Don and I spent time looking for the local Monaco Dealer and a Chevrolet Dealer. He needed to schedule someone to come out to do some repairs on his coach and he needed to get a door handle repaired on his Chevy Avalanche. Monday evening we all ventured to downtown for a good dinner at the Magnolia Restaurant at the Four Queens Hotel/Casino. I don't feel I've really been to Las Vegas without a prime rib dinner at Magnolia's.

Jo and I spent a big part of Tuesday trying to get her cell phone repaired/replaced. We were not successful and will have to wait until we get home. Don & Vicki had repairman at their coach most of the day. After dinner Vicky and I headed to the Southpoint to again donate to the local economy. I did want to spend a little time at the Black Jack table before leaving town. Don and Joanne don't care to gamble so they stayed home again.

This is our last night with the Leith's. Tomorrow morning we will head south to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and Don & Vicki will be heading south and east for a rally in Louisiana. We have had a good time with our friends and hate to part company. Besides it has kind of become comfortable following that big coach of theirs down the road,

BTW, some folks have asked for more information about the Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay. I thought I had added a link to their website in a previous post but apparently have not. If you want more info on the race please go here.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Race Day--"I want a mug!"

The day of the Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay has finally arrived. The motor home support group has strung themselves out across the desert in anticipation of the runners. Coming out on Friday evening was a good idea. Not only did we get to sleep later but we were already parked and had our RV's set up before the rest of the volunteers, participants and spectators arrived. Once we started setting up the Stage Two area things got busy in a hurry. In addition to the three RV's from the motor home support group we had a fourth that belonged to a member of the Ham Operators Group. The Ham's set up so there was communication between the stages and the folks working the race. One ham would go out one mile in front of the stage to radio in when a runner was a mile out. That way the people at the stage could have the next runner in place and ready to go. Part of the preparation was setting up the "chute". This was an area three feet wide and eight feet long that the runner had to enter, swipe his baton (which had a micro chip in it) across an electronic pad on a table and then hand the baton to the next runner. This picture shows a baton hand off in the chute during the race.

In addition to pride of winning the team with the best time in each flight is given a mug. That's right, no trophies or plaques for this officer's. They get a mug. The mugs are made of glass and are unique to each year's race. They are very coveted by all participants. A few of the mugs are given out to individuals who have gone beyond their normal duties. I was fortunate to be presented a mug for my volunteer work on Friday morning of helping to sort out and distribute all the equipment. Don Leith has received a mug each of the 17 years he has volunteered to work the race, although he did lose some of them when the tornado hit their house last year.

We also received other goodies for helping with the race. Each of the Motor Home Support Group was issued a t-shirt, a long sleeve denim shirt and a cap, all with the XXV anniversary logo on them. In addition to these official shirts most of the running teams had their own team shirts with their unique insignias. One young man, who was running in one of the later flights, had arrived very early to Stage Two. He spent a great deal of his time hanging out with us at the coach. He said his team had elected to have long sleeved t-shirts this year and he did not care for the long sleeves. He gave his shirt to Joanne. As it turned out he was from the "Stars Team" made up of members from the Los Angeles Police Academy and one of the fastest teams in the race. Not to be outdone, I got a badge. One young man approached me to see if I had a portable air compressor because he teams mini-van had a low tire. I no longer carry the portable compressor since this coach has air bag suspension and air brakes and has it's own on board air compressor. I had him pull his van over to the front of the coach and was able to get him aired up. Turned out this was a team form the U. S. Marshal Service. For my help he gave me a Junior U. S. Marshal badge. It is on the side of my cap in the picture.

Our assignment for the day was to support the motorcycle safety patrol group. Our assigned motorcycle riders were working the area between Stage Two and Stage Six at Shosone. Around 9:00 am eight beautiful Honda Gold Wing bikes came rolling in. They turned out to be a great group of guys, mostly retirees who took their job of safety patrol very seriously. Their job was to make sure all the runners and their support teams were obeying the safety rules along the highway. They could write penalty tickets, called "greenies" since they were on green paper, that could definitely hurt a teams final time. This was definitely a case of civilians giving tickets to cops. The guys would normally go out of their way to keep from having to issue a greenie and would give the offender verbal warnings first.

The first flight left the starting line at 9:00 am and the first runner made it to Stage Two about 9:45 am. There were nine flights, each starting at one hour intervals. The picture to the left is of the first runner arriving at Stage Two. With 247 teams running we pretty much had runners coming in all day. We had several stations set up to assist the runners. The Ham Operator set up his RV directly behind the chute and kept track of communications and the arrival times. Next to them was the medical tent where the EMT's had to administer aid to several of the runners during the day. Nearby were two ambulances that had to be used to transport some of the runners to Stage Three where medical helicopters were waiting. Next to the medical tent was the two RV's belonging to RV Support Group (Don & Vicki and Steve & Vicky). They checked in the runners and issued them their numbered bibs they pinned to the front and back of their running shirt. Next was our location to support the motorcycle safety patrol. All around us were the cars, vans and other vehicles that brought the runners and their spectators to our location. At any given time we would have 50 to 100 vehicles there. Also, we usually had around 200 people around, either working or watching the race.

Our last runner for Stage Two arrived around 5:30 pm. Once this runner was through the chute and his team mate moved out we were through for the day. By 6:30 we had everything broken down and ready to load on the truck as it came behind the runners. By 7:00 almost everyone had pulled out leaving the three RV Support Group's coaches plus the coach owned by the Ham Operator. The Ham moved his coach away from us so he could run his generator late while his family enjoyed some movies on their TV. Joanne and I, Don, Steve and the two Vicki/Vicky's sat down to relax. Don got out his grill and cooked hamburgers and we had a leisurely dinner before turning in and to watch the sunset on Stage Two of the XXV anniversary of the Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Getting ready for the race

Thursday and Friday were spent getting stuff together, making plans, visiting with folks and playing some games. During the day the RV Support Coordinators had set up a washer toss tournament for Thursday afternoon and a bean bag baseball game for Friday morning. On Thursday a bunch of us went into Baker to have lunch at The Mad Greek Restaurant. Thursday evening we had a pot luck dinner in the High School Gym. With approximately 53 motor coaches in attendance there was plenty of food for all.

On Friday morning the trucks showed up from the Los Angeles area with all the equipment necessary to set up the 20 stages of the race. This years race had 247 teams entered, with 20 runners each. To keep track of all of this, set up baton exchange areas, take care of traffic control, etc., it takes a large logistical effort to accomplish. Each stage was assigned the necessary equipment to do their job. These included signage, traffic cones and flood lights for the stages that would be receiving runners during the night time hours. All this equipment was off loaded in an enclosed area and a small team of volunteers sorted it all out for each stage. Our friends, Don & Vicki, were part of the sorting team with one other couple. To keep busy I jumped in to help with this effort. In about three hours we had it all sorted out and ready for the stage support leaders to pick up to transport out on the race course. Pictured here is the sorting team of Vicki, Don, me, Steve and Vicky.

After all the work was done we had a chance to relax. On Friday evening the High School kids put on a spaghetti dinner as a fund raiser. Most all of the RV Support people bought tickets and dined together. After dinner the six of us assigned to Stage Two (Don & Vicki, Steve & Vicky and Joanne and I) decided to get a jump on every one and go on out to our stage and set up. To get all the RV's out of the school parking lot before the race they were asking everyone to leave by 7:15 am on Saturday. That would mean getting up by at least 5:30 or 6:00. By going out Friday evening we not only missed the made house of 53 coaches pulling out at the same time but we would already be on site and get to sleep later. By 7:30 pm Friday evening we were on site out in the desert. This picture is the view we had from the door of our coach of the desert.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What is the Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Race?

Okay, here is the scoop, to the best that I could find out, on the B2V race. This started out as a grudge match between the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. They decided to each form a relay team and go out in the desert and have a race. The winning team would get beer mugs. Over the years the race course has changed and the teams come from all walks of law enforcement. Although most of the teams come from Southern California there were many teams from Arizona, Nevada, Utah and other areas of the country. In addition, several teams come from foreign countries. This year we saw two teams from Germany (Hamburg and Berlin), one team from Australia and four teams from Canada, including one made up of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

This year's race was the 25th anniversary of the run. The current race course starts a few miles north of Baker, California, on State Highway 127, and goes to Shosone. At Shosone the course veers northeast on Highway 178 into Nevada to Pahrump. From Pahrump it takes Highway 160 into Las Vegas and the race ends at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. The total length of the race is 120 miles. There are 20 legs of the race so each team is made up of 20 runners. At the end of each leg, or stage, is a baton transfer station and rest area. We were assigned to Stage Two of the race.

The race is broken down into several flights. Each team must send in, prior to the race, their team averages for running distances. The slowest teams are put in the first flight and on down until the fastest teams are in the last flight. The first flight starts out from Baker at 9:00 am on Saturday morning and should finish at the Las Vegas Hilton around 4:00 am on Sunday. The last flight leaves Baker at 5:00 pm on Saturday and should reach the Hilton by 9:45 am on Sunday. The longest stage was the one we were working which is 8.2 miles. The other stages were between that on down to the shortest stage of 4.4 miles.

Each runner had a follow vehicle directly behind it. The follow vehicle had other team members to give the runner moral support but also to be there in the event of an emergency. At the stages the RV Support Volunteers were there to check in the next runners, set up the baton transfer areas and help in any way they can. In addition to these RV Support people there was a medical station set up with EMT's available, ambulances, volunteers directing traffic, etc.

In addition to the runners and the follow vehicles they have a team of motorcycle riders who are in charge of safety on the race course. Since the race course is a public highway that cannot be closed down for the race it is important that certain rules be maintained for the safety of the people involved. There are certain routines for when a runner and follow vehicle need to pass a runner in front of them. The motorcycles, which consisted of guys on their Honda Goldwing bikes, have the authority to issue penalty slips for rule violations. These penalty points could hurt a teams final run times. Our job, at Stage Two, was to support the motorcycle riders. We had nine riders assigned to our area, which went from Stage Two through Stage Five. We had coffee, water, snacks, chairs, etc., set up for them to stop and rest throughout the day. Had it turned cold, which can easily happen in the desert, we would have used our motorhome to allow them to get inside to warm up periodically. (The other Motor Rest Station was at the highest point in the race at Spring Mountain. The segment of the race took place during the night time hours so their riders needed to comfort of the motor home that was stationed there.) Since we were parked in the desert during the race we had no RV hookup facilities. We relied on our onboard generator to keep everything going. Since we did not experience cooler weather down where we were our biggest concern was keeping the bottles of water cold for the guys when they came in.

To the best of my knowledge, this is what the B2V is all about. This is a very big deal in this part of the country and very important to the law enforcement community.

Now on to Baker

We pulled out of Laughlin this morning heading for Baker, California, and the race we came out here to work. As usual we followed the Leith's down to I-40 and entered into California for the first time. After awhile on I-40 we turned north towards Baker. Our first stop was at the Kelso Depot. This is an old train depot out in the middle of the desert. This was mainly a rest stop for the train crews. Also, due to the steep grades the trains had heading west from Kelso, they would pick up extra engines to pull/push the trains up the mountain. The Kelso Depot has been completely refurbished and is now under the control of the National Park Service and is a part of the Mohave National Wilderness Preserve.

From Kelso we moved northwest to Baker, which is on I-15 about halfway between Barstow, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada. The town has become a waypoint for folks going from Southern California and Las Vegas and has about every fast food outlet known to man. The town is also home to the World's Largest Thermometer which displays the local temperature in digital numbers. One of the locals said the highest temperature it has ever recorded was 136 degrees.

The RV Support Teams for the Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay Race set up in the parking lot of the Baker High School. We had no RV hookups so we set up to dry camp for the next several days. Each night while here some type of activity is planned for us. Tonight the RV Support Coordinators have serving us a meal of Pepperbellies. This actually turned out to be a fairly mild form of chili. Today was spent meeting many new friends and getting settled in and learning what our responsibilities will be during the race. Still wondering what the Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay Race is all about. That will come in a later post.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A day of visiting friends

We took time out today to visit with friends who are staying in the area.

After we checked into this RV park last Sunday we were pulling around to find our assigned space when we saw this guy waving his shirt at us. Then he removed his cap and took a big bow. At that point I realized it was Frank Damron. Frank and his wife, Sharon, are full time RVer's who have been working the RV shows and rallies for several years as vendors. They sell safety equipment for the chassis' of these beast including Bilstien Shock Absorbers. He has put these new shocks on our last two coaches in addition to a Safety Plus steering aid. Over the years of seeing them at the different rallies we have become good friends. So today we took some time to go look them up at the RV park where they are currently camped. They not only live full time in their coach they travel with their pet parrot Rocky. Rocky took to Joanne and had to give her a kiss before we left.

After leaving the Damron's we drove over to see Rich & Linda Cotterall's vacation house in Bullhead City, Arizona. They have a very nice place on a corner lot with a large garage to store their boat. After seeing the house Rich suggested we go see the lake they play on during the warmer months. I was not aware that the Colorado River in this area had more than two lakes. I knew of and have been to Lake Meade and Lake Havasu. In addition there is Lake Powell and Lake Mohave. Lake Mohave is just north of Bullhead City so we piled in their car and headed out. This is a beautiful lake with very blue water. From my Navy days I know that blue water means depth. That is why we were referred to as "blue water sailors" since we spent most of our time out in the ocean. Joanne was curious of just how warm or cold the water was this time of year. Definitely not warm enough to put the boat in and try some skiing.
This was our last day here in the Laughlin/Bullhead City area. Tomorrow morning we will head west and north to Baker, California, to get ready for the Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay Race.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A ghost town and burros too

Today the four of us decided to go visit Oatman, Arizona. This is an old mining town about 30 miles east of Laughlin. The mines were deserted in the 1930's and the town was pretty well abandoned. Today the place is pretty lively for a "ghost town". It is a major tourist attraction with many stores and shops to spend your dollars. Here is a picture of the Oatman Hotel with many tourist out in front.

One of the major highlights of visiting Oatman is the wild burros. Burros were used by the prospectors as pack animals looking for gold. They were also used in the mines to pull the ore carts out. After the mines closed many of the burros were turned lose into the wild to fend for themselves. Today many of the ancestors of those burros roam the area. The wild burros are protected by the U. S. Government. These burros come right into town and seek out the tourist to feed them. Many of the shops along the street sell bags of carrots to feed to the animals. As a matter of fact, the burros will walk right up to you and if you have nothing to feed them they will just keep going until they find someone with a carrot. Here Joanne poses with a mama burro and her baby. The baby burros have had a sticker placed on their forehead indicating they are not to be fed carrots. Apparently they have not developed enough to handle them and can choke to death on them.

One of the many shops along the street was called Jackass Junction. Here is Don doing his best pose as the local jackass. While we were in town we only saw the one mama burro with her baby. As we were leaving we came upon a fairly large herd of them coming up the road.

Oatman is out in the desert but is surrounded by some really neat rock formations. Here are some pictures of these rocks.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What arrow? I didn't even see the Indians!

We have contined our trek west. After leaving Flagstaff and a stop in Kingman, Arizona, for fuel we moved on to the Avi Resort & Casino just south of Laughlin, Nevada. This resort is located on a large Indian Reservation and everything is controlled and operated by the tribe. We had been here several years ago when Monaco America held a rally here.

The resort has a very nice RV park with all the amenities except for grass. The entire camping area on a gravel lot. Buddy Joe is not always crazy about these places since there is no grass for him to do his "business". As with all places in the desert you can get grass to grow anywhere you are willing to pour the water to it. Here in the RV park there is a very large grassy area in the middle that is very well maintained. Not sure what it is for since we have not seen anyone use this area and it is definitely marked "No pets allowed".

While we were in Flagstaff I had called our friends, Rich & Linda Cotterall, to let them know we were headed for Laughlin. (Rich is President of Monaco America RV Club.) They have a vacation house across the Colorado River in Bullhead City, Arizona. As it turned out they are currently staying at the vacation house. This afternoon they came over to the RV park and we had a good visit, catching up on the happenings since we last saw them at the Monaco America rally this past summer in Amana, Iowa.

This evening we joined the Leith's and went over to the casino to enjoy a buffet dinner and relax. Another eventful day in our western adventure.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

"We call the wind Miria"

We pulled out of Tucumcari around 8:30 this morning. Our next stop was to be Flagstaff, Arizona, somewhat over 500 miles. That is an unusually long day of driving time in an RV at 62-65 miles per hour. When we first crossed into New Mexico yesterday afternoon the wind picked up. Today it was terrible. The high wind was coming from the south so it was hitting us broadside. Don & Vicki were in the lead and seemed to be handling the wind better than we were. Their coach weighs around 46,000 pounds plus a 5,000 pound car they tow. Our coach weighs around 27,000 pounds and the towed car is around 3,500. We got buffeted around pretty bad.

When the wind is blowing from the side in these high profile vehicles it makes it hard work keeping it on the road but keep it on the road we did. Out of habit I tend to drive mostly with my left hand/arm. This gave my healing left arm a good workout, exercise that is needed. We fought the wind all the way across New Mexico and then, to make matters worse, at Gallup we hit a snow storm. At first we just thought it was blades of grass blowing in the wind but as it got heavier and "wetter" we realized we were getting heavy snow. This lasted about twenty minutes and then we drove right out of it. All of a sudden the sun was shinning again and but for the wind all was well with the weather.

We continued west and as we entered into Arizona the wind died down some and the driving became easier. We arrived in Flagstaff around 6:00 pm and checked into the Black Bart's RV Park. This is an older park that was designed for travel trailers and definitely not large motor homes towing cars behind them. The sites we were assigned were not going to give us a chance to get the coaches level so we took it upon ourselves to find some better ones. The park office was closing as we checked in so it really didn't matter where we parked for just the one night.

Black Bart's has a unique feature for a RV Park. They have their own restaurant with a fine menu. In addition they hire their wait staff from the music department at the local university. In addition to waiting tables they take turns on stage singing and entertaining the patrons. After a good meal we made it back to our respective coaches and turned in for an early nights sleep. The picture to the right is the view we had from our site at Black Bart's RV Park.

Friday, March 6, 2009

We are actually on the road

After all of these months of sitting at home, whining about being bored, we have actually gotten underway in the coach. We are headed west for a new adventure.

Our good friends, Don & Vicki Leith, arrived in Warr Acres yesterday afternoon. They live in Central Arkansas now after spending a few years living as nomads in their motor coach. They parked their coach at the almost abandoned shopping center a few block south of our house and then joined Joanne & I at the house for dinner and a good visit. At 9:00 this morning we met them at the shopping center and pulled out. We are headed for Baker, California to work as volunteers for the Baker to Vegas Challenge Relay Race. More info will be given about the race and our activities as we progress on this journey and actually learn what we are supposed to be doing

Tonight we are at the Cactus RV Park in Tucumcari, New Mexico. This place was originally a 1939 era motor court type motel. The original buildings are still here, around the perimeter of the property. The RV hookup slots are out in the middle of the motor court plus some more to the south of the buildings. Of course, the old motel rooms are all closed up now and it is strictly an RV park.
A couple of doors west of the RV park is Del's Restaurant so the four of us walked down there this evening for dinner and then back to the coach to rest up for tomorrows travels. Our next scheduled stop is Flagstaff, Arizona.