Sunday, October 24, 2010

A fast trip to the East Coast in the planning

2400 miles in five days.

We are in the process of adopting a rescue dog as a little sister to our Buddy Joe. A friend from high school now works on the staff of the county shelter in Chatham County Georgia and lives in Savannah. They have a small Miniature Schanuzer that has been abandoned by her owner and is in need of a new home. Since Diane already has six dogs of her own it is impossible for her to keep her so she thought of us next. Now I'm trying to put together a very quick trip from Oklahoma City to Savannah. Two days on the road to get there, one day to take care of everything with the shelter and two days to get back home. Am planning to have my son, Alex, go with me to help with the driving but am having some scheduling problems. He cannot leave until Wednesday. Our friends in Savannah plan on leaving for vacation on Thursday. Stay tuned to see how this drama turns out. As the attached picture of her shows she is a sweet little dog and needs a good home.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Arizona Bound--Day 22--Home

A hard drive in the wind and another adventure is over.

After a good nights rest in Amarillo we headed out for our last leg. The planes coming in low over the coach finally stopped around midnight and we were able to get some sleep. Wound up getting up about an hour later than planned so we did not actually get on the road until around 9:30. After a refueling stop we hit the road with a raging wind coming straight out of the north. When you drive a large vehicle that is almost 13 feet tall and shaped like a loaf of bread a side wind can make for hard driving.

Actually the trip was fairly uneventful and we made it home about 3:30 this afternoon. We spent the next couple of hours unloading most of the stuff in the coach and then collapsed. There are still a few loads of stuff to bring in but that can wait until tomorrow. The coach needs a bath after three weeks in the desert and there are a few minor repairs that need to be attended to. When you take a house, put it on wheels and then drive it up and down the roads in our country things are going to work loose. Most of the things can be fixed here at the house but there are a couple of things I'll need to get the RV dealer to take care of. Those items can wait until the first of the week. After that it will go back to the storage lot until time to get it ready for the next adventure this next month. Stay tuned to see what's next and where we are going.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Arizona Bound--Day 21

Beautiful mountains, good roads and a bunch of wind.

Today was another day of driving but before we could pull out of Alamogordo I had to trek across the road to take a picture of the World's Largest Pistachio Nut. (One of our RV friends seeks out these "World's Largest" on their travels, so Rod this is for you.) This is at a pistachio farm and winery just across the road from the Boot Hill RV Park. After that we hit the road around 8:30 and headed northeast. We traveled up into the mountains and through Ruidoso, a fantastic place up in the high mountain area of east central New Mexico. From there it was through Roswell and then up to Clovis before we crossed into Texas. At the Texas state line, as has been our experience in the past, the wind picked up greatly, this time out of the north. Since we were traveling as much to the north as the west we found ourselves driving straight into the wind most of the day.

As we crossed into Texas we came into the Central Time Zone so we lost an hour at that point. We arrived at the Overnite RV Park in Amarillo around 4:30pm. This is the same place we stopped over on our way home this past April. It's a nice and inexpensive park to stop for the night with full hookups, including cable TV. We decided to stay in this evening and did not even unhook the car. Now it's time to just rest before we tackle our last day out tomorrow. One pleasant surprise here in Amarillo is our computer access. Earlier in the year I had purchased an internet Hot Spot unit from Sprint. This was so we did not have to rely on the WiFi in the RV parks. This unit offers 3G service in most of the United States but offers 4G coverage in about 25 cities around the country. Eventually they plan to have 4G coverage everywhere. So far we had not been anywhere that 4G is offered since they said they were starting with the major cities. We've used the unit in Oklahoma City, Little Rock and Tucson and did not get the 4G. So it was a big surprise that Amarillo has 4G availability. I've been told that 4G was a very fast connection but am totally blown away at how fast it is. I cannot remember having anywhere near this kind of speed even with the DSL coverage we have used at home. One major drawback, and something we did not remember about the last time we stayed here, this RV park in directly in the flight line of the Amarillo Airport so we have all these aircraft coming in very low directly above our coach.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Arizona Bound--Day 20

A drive through missile ranges, a stop at Boot Hill and another beautiful sunset.

We pulled out of the RV Resort in Tucson around 8:30 this morning. Three of our remaining four coaches left at the same time. The fourth was getting ready to pull out as we left. There were only a few remaining RVs scattered throughout the park but they too had to be out by 11:00 am. We headed east on Interstate Highway 10 toward Las Cruces, New Mexico. There we turned north on U.S. Highway 70. After about 340 miles we stopped for the night at the Boot Hill RV Park in Alamogordo, New Mexico. This is a relative new RV park and has almost all the amenities we would want. The only thing missing is cable TV. We tried to get some local stations over the antennae but did not have much luck. We'll spend the night here and then head out again tomorrow morning.

The drive today took us through the White Sands Missile Ranges. This is where the government designs, perfects and tests the many types of missiles used by the United States Military. Part of the drive took us up to about 5700 feet above sea level and then we dropped down to the desert floor in the White Sands area. Now we are in Alamogordo where one of the first nuclear bombs, one of the two that were dropped on Japan during World War II, was developed and built. After getting settled in at the RV Park we took a drive up through town. The main part of town is basically just like most of these towns along the highway. Many hotels and about every brand of fast food chain in the country. We elected to stop at a good old Oklahoma companies establishment, Sonic. We have not had a good Sonic burger since we left home, although Sonic is abundant in this part of the country. We did get to see another nice sunset. This picture was taken from directly in front of our coach this evening.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Arizona Bound--Day 19

More goodbyes, great lunch and a little coach maintenance.

By the time we got out and around this morning several more of the rally attendees had left. We did take advantage of not having rally responsibilities so we slept a little later than normal. When we did venture out there were only seven of our coaches left. As the morning went on more left and there are four of us still sitting here. We had some mail to get out so we left out about noon to find a local post office with an outside mail box and then stopped at a Denny's for lunch. This Denny's was different than their regular places in that it was fashioned as an old time diner.

After returning to the coach it was time to complete the job I started last week with the installation of the new house batteries. Part of the problem, well actually most of the problem, with the old batteries was my lack of properly maintaining them. These batteries should be checked for proper water levels at least once a month. The way they are situated it is almost impossible to see into the batteries in the back of the bay. I have to admit I have not been the best about keeping them adequately watered. To solve this problem I purchased a system that permanently attaches to the batters, a system of small tubes, that only require dropping a small hose into the bottle of distilled water and squeezing a rubber bulb until the batteries are full. A very easy way to maintain these very large batteries. Now I have no excuse for not taking proper care of them. While working outside I noticed the Metlife Blimp flying over. Since there is not major stadium in this area we had to assume that it was just traveling from one place to another rather than covering something local. All in all this was a good last day in Tucson with beautiful weather. Tomorrow takes us back on the road as we start working our way back home to Oklahoma.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Arizona Bound--Day 18

Goodbyes, cactus, animals and a hike in the desert.

The majority of the coaches here at the rally were packing up and leaving this morning. We got out and wished the ones leaving goodbye until we see them next May in Kerrville, Texas. Later in the morning we headed out west of Tucson to the Arizona-Sonara Desert Museum. This is a combination of botanical garden, museum and zoo. The place has a couple of miles of trails out into the desert with all the different types of cactus and plants that grow in here in the Sonora Desert. As we entered there was one of the docents showing one of the owls on display in the zoo portion of the park. The Sonora Desert is very large and goes into several states: Arizona and California in the United States and the Mexican states of Sonora, Baja California Sur and Sea of Cortez. Due to this they have different types of cactus and plants that grow in the different regions. Also they have many different animals that are native to the different areas. I was surprised to find long horn sheep on display but they are native to the higher regions such as around Sedona, Arizona.

A major portion of the park was the different cactus and plants. They had everything from large saguaro cactus to the native grasses that grow in different regions. The saguaro cactus are very abundant in this part of Arizona. The hills and mountains are covered with them. This is the cactus with the arms that grow toward the sky that we normally visualize when we think of the southwest desert. Another of the interesting cactus is what is called the organ pipe cactus. They grow in clumps and look very similar to the pipes on musical pipe organs. The park consist of 21 acres and has more than 300 animal species and 1200 kinds of plants, all in their natural desert settings. This made for a very enjoyable day of exploring the beautiful Arizona desert.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Arizona Bound--Day 17

Some wind, some rain and then a great rally.

Saturday, Sunday and Monday were spent getting ready for the rally. All of the club officer's, which includes me, were busy getting everything done. Getting golf carts delivered, setting up the Rally Hall, insuring the bar was set up and ready, etc. We are at the Beaudry RV Resort in Tucson. This is a beautiful park with all the facilities an RVer would ever need. As happens at most of the Monaco America rallies most of our attendees are in and parked by Sunday afternoon even though the rally does not officially began until 5:00pm on Monday. To get everyone together we have a "pot luck" dinner on Sunday evening. As has always happened in the past it was a great feed and a good time was had by all. Monday evening started the rally with our welcome meeting with open bar and light snacks. During these three days the weather changed dramatically from the hot 100+ temps we had been seeing to cooler days with rain off and on. We also saw some pretty good winds coming in which meant we had to keep our awnings pulled in since wind can mean "death" to an awning.

Starting with Tuesday we had catered meals at breakfast and dinner each of the three days of the rally. The caterer this time was the operator of the restaurant here at Beaudry's. Each time we experience a new caterer it is an unknown of the quality and service we will get. This time the choice of caterers was an outstanding pick with delicious and well prepared foods. It did rain a big part of the day and into the evening. The rally hall was in a large tent like structure so the rain coming down on it sounded more like one of the big hail storms we have back in Oklahoma. The rain did slack off by the time we finished dinner and the entertainment started. In one of my trips back to the coach to retrieve things I had forgotten the it was clearing and gave a great view of a beautiful rainbow. Also we were treated to another great Arizona sunset.

For this rally we had professional entertainment on Tuesday night, watched the move "The Blind Side" on Wednesday and play bingo on Thursday night. Tuesday brought was the music of Julie Anne Jazz. This was a lady with an outstanding singing voice backed up by a six piece jazz band. The movie was a bit disappointing, not the movie itself but the venue. Being in a tent like structure the acoustics were less than were desired. For those of us with hearing problems it was almost impossible to understand the dialog, even with the assistance of my hearing aids. After about ten minutes I headed back to the coach to work on the books for the rally and do some paperwork. (I am the elected Treasurer for the club and am responsible for maintaining the accounts and paying all the bills related to the rallies.) Bingo on Thursday was a rousing success. Joanne and I both won a game. I won a bag full of neat and useful items such as pliers, duct tape, wash mitts and several other items. Jo won the final game of the evening in playing a "black out" game. Her prize of the major one of the night, a folding bicycle. This things folds up fairly small and goes into a canvas bag. When unfolded it is made for an adult to ride. (Another thing to find a place to store away in the "basement" of the coach.) Fellow Oklahoman Ernie Robertson did the bingo calling and my brother Bill, the club's Wagon Master, presented the prizes to the winners. The bicycle in the picture is the one that is now stored away under our coach.

With the rally over as of last night we just relaxed today. Our Rally Masters, Roy and Kathy Goble, treated us coffee and donuts on the patio of the main park building this morning. This gave everyone a chance to say their last goodbyes before either heading out for their next destination. Most of the rally attendees left out during the morning. We still have a dozen or so coaches here for the weekend. After making a trip to the bank to deposit the monies we took in during the rally, plus the deposits we received for our next rally in May 2011, Jo and I headed out to do some shopping. First stop was Trader Joe's. We have heard about Trader Joe's from many of our RV friends. These stores, apparently, are in the western states. We definitely do not have them in Oklahoma. They are combination wine store and exotic grocery store. We found many unusual items at very reasonable prices. Next stop was an outlet mall so Jo could indulge herself with a stop at her favorite store, Bonworth's. We closed out today by going out to eat with several of the folks still here. Although I'm not fond of Mexican food we did go with them to Little Mexico Restaurant. Fortunately they did serve a few non-Mexican dishes. All in all it has been a good last few days and it's not time to head home yet. As a side note we were notified yesterday that this RV Resort is closing as of next Monday. The Resort is part of Beaudry's RV, a large sales and service company. This is where we bought our current coach four years ago. They have been in bankruptcy for the past two years and the sales and service departments closed this past Tuesday but it was thought that the Resort would remain open since it was making money and usually fills up in the winter months. There are approximately 1500 RV sites here in the park. It is sad to lose this great park and is especially bad for the employees who have done a fantastic job for us this week.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Arizona Bound--Day 10

New juice for the coach, a good steak dinner and a great visit with friends.

As this adventure continues we rolled out of Camp Verde on Wednesday morning heading to our main destination of Tucson. Arrived around mid-afternoon and started setting up the coach for the week and half we will be here. Spent the rest of the afternoon getting everything squared away, including cleaning several days of bugs off the windshield. Several of the coaches that are coming to the rally were already here. In the evening several couples got together and went down the street to Denny's for dinner. During this trip we have been experiencing problems with our house batteries. These batteries operate the DC electrical system and are used for power when we are not parked and plugged into AC power. When plugged in the on board charger/inverter keep the batteries charged up. Each day of travel after unplugging from the RV parks power pedestal we would lose the battery charge almost immediately. The battery bank consist of four large six volt batteries, the same that are used to operate golf carts. So, on Thursday it was off to Sam's Club to buy four new batteries. Thursday afternoon was spent removing the old and putting in the new ones. (The white batteries are the old ones, the black are the new ones.) In the 100+ degree temperatures we have been experiencing this type work gets to a person relatively quickly. Anyway, the new batteries are in and all is well. After getting cleaned up we joined some other couples and went to a local steakhouse called Lil Abners for a one pound T-Bone steak with all the trimmings. It was a wonderful meal. We also closed out the day with another fine Arizona sunset.

Today was a down day as far as rally preparation goes so we headed out this morning for Casa Grande to have lunch and visit with some good RV friends. We went to Bob & Marlene Rea's house for lunch. We were joined there by Rod & Jean Bahnson and Hank Corbin. The Rea's and Bahnson's had been full time RVer's but have now bought "stick" houses in Casa Grande and have become part-time RVer's like us. Hank and his wife are full-timers from Tennessee staying in a Casa Grande RV Park. We had a great lunch and an even better visit. Pictured here are Jean, Joanne and Marlene. We have had a fantastic trip so far and the rally start is still three days away.