Sunday, February 17, 2008

February 15, 16, 17--The Long Trip Home

What a long trip! Bob and I drove the CR-V from El Paso. It was over 1700 miles. We knew it would take 3 days, but I had forgotten how long those days would be!

The first day we drove from El Paso to Giddings, Texas which is west of Houston. The beginning of the drive was on interstate 10 with little traffic, nothing much to see, and a speed limit of 80 mph! We took a 'shortcut' on US 290 through Fredericksburg and Austin to avoid San Antonio and go north of Houston. The thought of driving through the big city was more than we could take.

It turns out Austin has grown quite a bit since 1980 and the traffic was horrendous at 7:45 p.m. on Friday night. US 290 joined I-35 and split Austin down the middle. We drove through Austin and stopped in Giddings, Texas. It was our first night in a motel (not counting Jennifer's wedding) in a few years and we hated it! We missed our 'big car!'

We continued on US 290 Saturday morning. The route took us north of Houston, but it was stop and go all the way because of the timing on the traffic lights.

Once we were away from Houston, the going was not so bad. We picked up I-10 in Beaumont and had easy going until we got to the Louisiana-Mississippi border. There was an accident on the Mississippi side and traffic came to a halt. We sat for 20 minutes and inched forward after a car somewhere in front of us would cross the median and return to the west. Finally, Bob asked the semi-driver next to us what happened and how long it might take to clear--he said it would be quite some time as there was at least one fatality. We decided to turn around, too. It took us about 20 miles out of the way and added more time to our drive--we drove back to US 190, then south to US 90 which took us through Gulfport and Biloxi. The road is still under construction from the hurricane, but passable. Those beautiful ante-bellum mansions are gone. Some have been replaced, but the feel is not the same. The once stately old oak trees have new growth where the branches were ripped off, but they give the area an eerie look and feel.

Our initial plan was to make it into Florida before we stopped. By the time we reached Alabama, it was 7:00 p.m. and we were hungry. We stopped at a barbecue place and had fried shrimp! Driving along the coast will do that to you!

We continued on to Milton, Florida, east of Pensacola before stopping for the night. Did I mention that we don't like motels? Well, this one was a little better, but we still longed for the 'big car.'

Sunday morning we knew we had a long day ahead of us, but we just didn't want to get in the car! We finally packed and were ready to go by 8:00 CT. About an hour later it was 10:00 ET!. We had an uneventful day of driving and arrived home a little before 4.

The cupboards were bare and the power was off to the refrigerator. We needed to go to the store! Instead, we picked up Chinese and will do the store stuff on Monday.

The best thing about being home is that we don't have to go to work! We're still retired!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

February 9, 10, 11, & 12 Fun with the Grandkids

Saturday morning Bob and I knew if we were going to climb above the trail at Rockhound, we would have to do it before Bobby and Cathy arrived with the kids. We wanted to find thunder eggs. We hiked up the steeper part of the trail to find the elusive rocks. We found one small thunder egg and one half that someone else had picked open. The mountain was steep and the rocks were loose so we didn't take the camera with us.

Bobby and Cathy arrived with the kids around lunch time. Bobby and Cathy are landscaping their backyard and they fell in love with the big rocks. The chose 4 to take home for their yard.

Christopher and DeAnna found some, too.
After Bobby and Cathy left, we all enjoyed some ice pops. Everyone has their own way of enjoying the frozen treat. Sometimes they are hard to push out of the wrapper, but Christopher mastered the technique.
"Look, I can play it like a flute!"After eating our pops it was time to explore the campground again. We walked the garden trail then went back to start dinner. Time flies when you're having fun.

At bedtime Christopher and DeAnna remembered how to make the table turn into their bed. They helped put the sheets and pillows on then looked at the night sky out the window.Sunday we woke up early and played on the playground. There were three different slides....
and ladders to climb. "Let me try that one! Wheeee!" "This ladder is tricky!" After wearing out the playground we went geocaching. We found the 2 caches in the park that we missed last time. Our last one was in Deming. Christopher spotted the 'big yellow m' so we took some hamburgers back to the rv for lunch.

We played around the campsite until dinner time. Not long after dinner it was bedtime. Christopher and DeAnna were going to explore Pancho Villa State Park Monday.

Monday everyone was ready to drive the 'big car.' Pancho Villa State Park was only 35 miles away so it was a quick ride.
It was windy so Bob got out the kite and everyone had a turn at flying it.

At first, Grandpa held it and the kids helped.

Then it was Christopher's turn. The kite was pulling pretty good. "Let me try."
DeAnna had a hard time as the kite pulled her across the play area! We stayed at Pancho Villa until Wednesday. We played on the playground which was bigger and taller than the one at Rockhound.
While we were away having fun, Bobby and Cathy were painting rooms and landscaping their backyard. We couldn't wait to see the changes!
We drove Christopher and DeAnna back to El Paso on Wednesday.
They loved their 'new rooms.'

Christopher's has a Spiderman room.
DeAnna has a Cinderella room. Bob and I are having a great time, but it is time to get ready for the long drive home. Taxes await! We will store the rv at Ft. Bliss and drive the crv home. See ya'll soon!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Friday, February 8 Travel Day

We left Rodeo, New Mexico and drove toward Rockhound State Park near Deming, New Mexico. As we drove, Joyce's cell phone rang. It was Bobby checking on our progress. Cathy and he wanted to paint Christopher and DeAnna's rooms, but they didn't want them in the way.

So we told them to bring the kids to Rockhound on Saturday and we would bring them home early in the week. We have to start back to Florida by the end of the week--what a bummer!

We arrived at Rockhound in time to get one of the last hookup sites! We set up, ate lunch and then went to Wal-Mart for milk, creamer, and bread to last until the end of the week.

Thursday, February 7 Chiricahua National Monument

Thursday was an adventerous day for us. We started by returning to Coronado National Forest to drive the 19 miles to Chiricahua National Monument! Most of the road was on the north side of the mountains--the sun hadn't had a chance to melt the snow!
It was a narrow, gravel road that was snow-covered in many places. But the views were phenomenal!
We arrived at Chiricahua National Monument a little over 2 hours after we left the rv park.
The first stop was Faraway Ranch which was name by the eldest daughter (Lillian) of Swedish immigrants. The ranch is in a very remote area of Arizona. Lillian's family was responsible for having the park designated a national monument.As you ride through the park you realize why it is such a memorable place--the rock formations are unbelievable. The park ranger recommended the Echo Loop Trail (3.3 miles). That trail had the best of all features of the park. It was difficult for us to choose just a few pictures for the blog, but here they are.There were many balancing rocks.Everywhere you looked there were rock formations pushed out of the earth.The trail we hiked allowed us to go through the grottoes.

We passed through Echo Park.

In addition to walking part of the trail in snow, we had to cross an icy creek!Many rock formations had names. These are the kissing rocks.On the last portion of the trail we were walking in the sun. It was warm and there was very little snow.

The trail gave us a good workout--it started above 6000 feet elevation and climbed to almost 7000 feet!

Since the ride to Chiricahua had been harrowing for Bob, we drove the long way back to the rv--100 miles, over half on the interstate!

The evenings have been too cold to sit out and watch the sunsets, but this is one from the front window of the rv. We had a great view!

Friday was a travel day.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Brrrrr! It was cold last night. The temperature dropped to 20 degrees. Bob put a shop light in with our fresh water tank to keep it from freezing. Everything was fine when we awoke. The temperature was not to get out of the 50s so we decided to ride to places where we could possibly sightsee indoors.

Our first stop was the ghost town of Steins (pronounced steens) near the New Mexico-Arizona border. The town is right next to the interstate, but it was closed! It may reopen in the summer of 2008. Someone just bought it and is cataloging all the items. Here are some pictures we took from our side of the fence.
There was a stage coach in need of a paint job. The weeds had almost overtaken it. The mercantile seemed to be in pretty good condition.

We weren't sure what this old wall was from, but it looked interesting.

Interstate 10 was behind the mercantile. On the opposite side of the parking lot, not 50 yards away, workers were repairing the railroad tracks.
Stein's was a big disappointment since it wasn't open. We decided to try the next ghost town which was in Lordsburg, NM. When we got there, we found out it is only open the first weekend of the month!

At least we saw vehicles indicating that some type of work was going on during the off hours.

We stopped in the New Mexico visitors' center and found out that there was an interesting place not far from where we our rv was parked. So we drove back to Rodeo, New Mexico to visit Sky Gypsy Cafe. Rodeo is in the middle of nowhere so we were surprised by Sky Gypsy Cafe. It was founded by Sky Gypsies who fly what look like motorized hang gliders. One of the founders is John McAfee the virus progam mogul.
Under a carport at the front of the cafe were 2 old fords. Joyce thought Walter would like the truck.
The model T looked good, too.
Behind the cafe there were 10 vintage airstream trailers. Each had an old car next to it. We found out the car and trailer pairs were manufactured in the same year!

From Rodeo we drove to Portal, Arizona to see the Coronado National Forest. Most of the drive was on a gravel road.
The American History Museum has a research facility in the national forest. We stopped to see the facility. As soon as we got out of the car, Bob was approached by a deer wearing a bandana!
It seems it was feeding time for the deer and it expected any human to have food!
We also stopped to look at Stewart Campground. It was one of two national forest campgrounds which were open. We didn't see evidence of any campers.
We drove a little further up the forest road, but decided to turn back when we saw the snow on the roadsides from Monday's snowstorm.It turned out to be a nice day, but still chilly. The night time temperature was to drop into the 20s again.
Maybe Thursday would be a good day for hiking and doing things outdoors.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

February 3, 4, & 5, 2008 Bisbee, Tombstone and Travel

Sunday we decided to try our hand at geocaching in the area. We needed 6 to hit 200 finds. First we drove south toward Douglas to find one near the Mormon March Monument. We found that one with little trouble.

Then we headed toward Bisbee to find the next one. It was a type we had never done before--picture clues! The coordinates on the cache page were for the first picture. Each picture was a clue to let you know you were on the right track or if it was an intersection, where you should turn. We only missed a few pictures. We met a couple behind the gate of the shell picture when we made a wrong turn. They let us know that we should go straight, not turn. They had helped other cachers along the way. We finally got to the top of the stairs in Bisbee and found the cache. The walk down was not quite so tough. Bisbee's elevation at the base of the mountain is about 5200 ft. Where we found the cache was at 5900 ft.

Some of the items were on signs, walls, doors, gates and the sidewalk. The second picture up from the bottom right was the grille of an old Chevy.

It took us a while to do this cache so we saved the others for Monday.

Next we went to the Bisbee Mining Museum which is affiliated with the Smithsonian. There was a lot of history about the town and mining. Joyce especially enjoyed the rock and mineral exhibit.

It was time to look for a place to eat and maybe watch the Super Bowl. We tried the Copper Queen Hotel Saloon, but they quit serving at 2:30. We had a drink then went to Santiago's for Mexican food. It was great and we ate way too much! We watched the pregame show there and then hopped over to the Stock Exchange in the old brewery building to watch the game. It was an interesting place with one wall covered in blackboards listing futures and stock prices from long ago. The people were as interesting as the bar. You'll have to ask us about them.

We were happy with the outcome of the game, but disappointed in the commercials. They weren't nearly as good as they have been in the past.

Monday was a cloudy, windy day. We wanted to visit the courthouse in Tombstone so we dressed warm and off we went. We found the other geocaches on our way to Tombstone.

When we arrived and got out of the car the wind was gusting. We walked through the courthouse museum (it is a state park) and then went outside to see the gallows. The wind was blowing so hard by then that we had trouble closing the door when we reentered the building.

We drove to the tourist trap section of town just to walk around. There weren't many people around on this cool Monday morning. As we walked out of the parking lot, it began to hail, then it turned to snow! We continued on our way walking from store to store to keep warm.

This is a view of the main street from the parking lot as we were leaving. Here is our car with the little bit of snow that didn't melt.Tombstone is north of Bisbee, but at a lower elevation. Here is Bisbee as we drove past on our way back to the rv.Even though it was snowing, the temperature was warm enough that the roads didn't ice over. When we got back to the rv, we stayed in for the rest of the day. The wind coming over the mountains was chilling.

Tuesday we said goodbye to Belle and thanked her for her hospitality. She is an amazing rancher at 80 years young.

We drove east on Arizona 80 toward Rodeo, New Mexico. Bob found a Passport America park online and we decided to try it. Since we are members of Passport America we got 50% off the regular price or $24.

The drive was only 60 miles. Now we are on the east side of the Chiricahuan Mountains. We can see the snow on the tops of the highest peaks. We are staying at Rusty's RV Ranch about 6 miles north of Rodeo. This is our first campground with hookups in two weeks! Hot showers with unlimited water for all tonight!