Friday, March 26, 2010

Deming, New Mexico 2010 Stopover

We spent a week in Deming NM at the Escapees Dream Catcher RV Park on our trek to the Phoenix area. The day after our arrival we went to one of the best small town museums we have ever seen. It was the Luna Mimbres Museum in downtown Deming. We got through only about 1/2 the museum and luckily for us that included the pottery collection of the Mimbres Indians who lived in the nearby valley between 950 A.D. to 1250 A.D. Nobody knows for sure what happened to the Mimbres but they left an incredible amount of pottery and this is one of the best collections in the world. We also saw one of the best rock collections we have seen, actually a world-class exhibit of Thundereggs, Geodes, and Nodules.

The next day we went to Columbus NM and visited the site of the last armed invasion of the United States, the 1916 Pancho Villa raid. We stopped first at the Pancho Villa State Park which was the military post there and where a lot of the fighting took place. The visitors center had a lot of exhibits detailing the life in Columbus at the time and the battle. There was a neat film there. We then went to the Depot Museum in the old train Depot where we saw another neat film and a lot more exhibits and displays. On the way back we drove through Spring Canyon State Park which was scenic.

Just across the border from Columbus is Palomas Mexico. We had been to Mexico before and it just did not appeal to us but people at the RV Park mentioned they were going to Palomas so it got us thinking. What sealed the deal was one of the volunteers at the Depot Museum in Columbus said they were taking their lunch break in Mexico and eating at the Pink Store. If someone who lived in the area would do that we decided we could too.

We are so glad that we did! We stopped in the Pink Store and talked to a lady from Las Cruces NM who had just eaten at the Pink Store after getting dental work done. She was with a group that had done the same thing and was going to shop at the Pink Store and then hit the Pharmacy. She raved about eating at the Pink Store and she was right, more on that later. Las Cruces is over 90 miles one way from Palomas so we were feeling more confident.

We first decided to hit the Pharmacy since we weren't quite hungry yet. We were directed to the Farmacia Express where we got some of our medications at incredible prices. We then went to the Pink Store and did some browsing. We ended up buying a purse and earrings for Jo and Mexican vanilla. We then ate at the Pink Store and it was wonderful. Jo got the tostada trio which she said was as good as she has had anywhere. Bob got the chile relleno which was good. Definitely a place we will visit again.

We then crossed the border and just in case we did not say prescriptions or medications along with the other shopping but said 'drugs' instead Jo hung back a little so she could bail Bob out of jail if need be :-)

Photos from this trip have been added to flickr.com.

Till next time,

Bob & Jo

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Weather Delay (kinda)

We are still in Holbrook AZ and saw the weather that Albuquerque, our next destination, and the rest of the midwest was getting overnite Friday so we decided to stay here one more day. We said kind of a weather delay because we had the fortune to eat at the Turquoise Room at the La Posada Hotel in Winslow AZ for breakfast. This was the day before we were thinking about leaving and the food was excellent, so excellent that it was an easy decision on where to eat when we decided to stay. Bob got the Arizona Green Chile Eggs both days, 2 over easy eggs on top of polenta on top of green chile (AZ green chile not NM green chile but still good) topped with corn salsa. Had black beans the first day and their famous green chile potatoes the next. Jo had the french toast the first day and the corn maiden the next which was two poached eggs on top of polenta with corn salsa on top and jalapeno cheese and fire roasted tomatoes. We split the prickly pear bread pudding the first day and we each got one the next day it was so good. Seriously, this place is worth spending time in Winslow just for being able to eat there.

Tomorrow we head out to Albuquerque unless the weather looks bad :-)

Till next time,

Bob & Jo

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Finally on our way back to Kansas City area

We say finally because we were planning on starting the journey on March 15th but did not leave until March 17th. During the day before departure ritual Bob makes sure that the air pressure in all the tires is OK. Since we were in Goodyear for 5 weeks we had put the tire covers on so we did not see the tires. One of the trailer tires was low so air was added and the rest of the tasks were completed.

The first thing Bob did the next morning was to check the pressure again and sure enough it was down 10psi. We have an Emergency Road Service from Good Sam's RV Club and one of the benefits is to put the spare on which we had them do. Not willing to travel without a spare we took the leaking tire to S&S Tire in Goodyear, now doesn't that sound strange. Inspection of the tire showed a long nail had caused irreparable damage. Finding the same tire proved to be a challenge so this turned out to be an all day affair. Since we had lost our mojo for traveling we decided to stay one more day and because it would be the first 80 degree day we would have full-timing. You just knew we had to work in how great the weather has been didn't ya : )

A lesson learned from this is that we will be investing in a tire pressure monitoring system, probably PressurePro. Bob checked the pressure when we left Benson AZ on our way to Goodyear so the nail had to happen somewhere between. PressurePro would have notified us immediately when the pressure dropped. We were so lucky to not have a blowout. Another lesson learned is that we need a better compressor which we also be investing in.

We left Goodyear about 10:00 a.m. on the 17th as we like traveling between 10a-2p. It does not seem to matter when we get up we always seem to leave about the same time. The cats weren't quite in travel mode as JJ hid under the recliner again. But once we dislodged him he walked into the bedroom on his own. Tiger had to be picked up off of the bed so we could put the slide in. Sandra was the champ again as she waited patiently by the bedroom door so she could go in.

We took the northerly route from Phoenix so we went through Flagstaff. Now Flagstaff has had over 140 inches of snow this winter and the weather can change at any instant so we kept track of the weather and road conditions before we left. We did see our first snow while full-timing on the side of the road and on the mountains near Flagstaff.

In addition to the first 80 degree day and our first snow we also encountered our first really steep grades, both going up and down. Although we have been on steep grades before the length of the grade was the most challenging, a downhill grade of 6 degrees lasting 6 miles for example. We are so glad we bought the F-350 because it handled quite well. There was one time going up the hill that we got caught behind a heavy load and knew we just did not have the power to get around and not impede the cars that we were whizzing by at 75mph. We also got caught on the down grade in the slow lane. This was the first time Bob had to downshift the transmission, usually the tow/haul mode handled the speed reductions but like mentioned before the down grade was not 6 miles long as it was here.

There were some rough roads around Flagstaff but we guess that is to be expected since it is probably still winter there and the road crews have not had time to fix them. JJ took a long time coming down from the bedroom after we got there and setup. We leave the bedroom slide in until he comes out because he wedges himself under the bed while we travel and we are afraid that he may get caught in the moving slide. He eventually did come down so we could put the slide out and setup the bedroom for our stay in Holbrook AZ where we will see the Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, and maybe a few other things while we are here. We will only be staying here 3-4 nights and then heading off to Albuquerque.

Till next time,

Bob & Jo

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Blog features updated

As we near the 40th post the blog is becoming big enough that it needs some features to make it more readable by our faithful readers. We have added a blog archive for the posts beginning in 2008. Most of the posts in 2008 and 2009 deal with getting the house ready for sale so that we could begin our full-timing lifestyle, although 2008 had reviews of the Kansas City and Seattle areas. Early on the 2009 posts dealt with getting the house ready for sale sprinkled in with a report on Bob's Canada fishing trip in June. In August of 2009 it all changed as the house sold quickly and full-timing began on September 10, 2009. That means loyal readers that it has been 6 months since we started full-timing and that is scary how fast time is flying by. What is even scarier is that it has been over TWO years since Bob retired and started this blog.

We also added a search feature so that you can more easily find what you are looking for.

Till next time,

Bob & Jo

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Kerrville Texas and Texas Hill Country 2010

We had read great things about the Guadalupe River RV Resort in Kerrville, Texas online so we were excited when we were able to stay there on our trek across Texas. After staying there we feel that this is our favorite campground and the Texas Hill Country is one of our favorite areas. We were in a river site that is backed in where our rear windows of the fifth wheel overlooked the river. There was a lot of land from the rear of our site to the river with walking trails and benches hanging from the trees. The layout reminded us of our old house that overlooked Silver Lake in Raymore, Missouri with a large lot between the house and lake. Maybe that is why we like this park so much. We spent a lot of time just walking the trails and sitting in the benches and reading. This was also our cat’s favorite park as there was about 20 deer that roamed throughout the park that caught there eye plus birds galore along with squirrels that ran up and down the tree right next to our fifth wheel. Bob kept trying to get a picture of one squirrel who would stare at JJ our cat upside down from the tree but alas that Kodak moment was not captured. We liked the place so much that we stayed more days than we planned.


We also did a lot of sightseeing while we were in Kerrville in addition to just sitting in the swings along the river or walking the trails when the weather was nice. Our first stop was the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. The main reason that we wanted to visit this museum was that there is a 6 foot scale model of the USS New Mexico which is the ship that Jo’s dad served on in WWII. Bob’s dad also served in the Pacific on the USS Wasp so this was a very special moment for both of us. The National Museum of the Pacific War was the result of the desire of the town of Fredericksburg to honor its native son Admiral Chester Nimitz after the end of WWII. To his credit Nimitz stated that not just him but everyone who fought in the Pacific should be honored so this museum is unique in that it honors Navy, Marines, Army, etc. not just one branch of the armed forces.


The tour starts out in the old Nimitz Family Hotel with a history of the Nimitz family and of Fredericksburg with its German influence. Exiting the hotel takes you to an outdoor area where plaques honoring ships, divisions, planes, men, etc. are on walls along a walkway. Bricks in the walkway are in honor of men who served in WWII. There is a Japanese Garden of Peace donated by the military leaders of Japan in honor of Admiral Nimitz. The inscription reads “The Garden of Peace is a gift to the people of the United States from the people of Japan with prayers for everlasting world peace through the goodwill of our two nations, symbolized by the friendship and respect that existed between Admiral Togo and Admiral Nimitz.”


Still outside on your way to the main gallery is the Plaza of the Presidents which is a tribute to the ten American Presidents (Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Ford, Reagan, and Bush) who served in the armed forces in WWII.


The main gallery of the National Museum of the Pacific War is named the George H. W. Bush gallery in honor of President’s Bush service in WWII where he was a US Navy pilot with 58 combat missions for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Entering the gallery one of the first things you see is one of the five 2-man submarines that took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor. This sub is right across from the gift shop. Just a few steps beyond the gift shop is the main entrance which takes you on a journey from the build up to the war along a timeline to the end of the war detailing all of the armed forces involved in the conflict. We came away amazed at how much we were able to accomplish in the Pacific considering the destruction at Pearl Harbor and with the focus being not on the Pacific but on Europe, what was called the “Europe First” strategy. There were so many artifacts to look at, history to read and to listen to. Each station had recorded remembrances of veterans that were both chilling and sometimes funny at the same time. Also part of the complex is a book store with loads of great historical novels. With all there was to see we were very glad that the tickets were good for 48 hours because we saw all we could the first day and had to come back the second and finish. Even with that we did not get the chance to visit the Pacific Combat Zone, an outdoor exhibit area detailing the island hopping conflicts of the Pacific.


At first we were not sure if we wanted to visit the LBJ Historic Site east of Fredericksburg since LBJ is not one of our favorite Presidents but we are sure glad that we did. The site is actually a State Park and consists of a living history farm which was our first stop after the Visitor Center and the LBJ Ranch. The Visitor Center is not to be missed as it contains memorabilia from President Johnson's presidency and interactive displays about the Land and People that shaped a president. The living history farm consisted of buildings from the 1800’s, farm animals, and people costumed for the era. They were fixing lunch using everything grown on this farm to ribs, bread, and vegetables and boy it sure smelled good. We had just eaten or we may have fought them for it.


The highlight of this stop though was the Ranch. Leaving the living history farm and driving to the Ranch you drive by the original gate to the Ranch that is now closed which took you on a road that drove over the dam that is on the Pedernales River. LBJ delighted in taking guests to the Ranch in his car and driving on water and watching their expressions. Among the sites on the Ranch are the one-room Junction School first attended by the four-year-old Lyndon B. Johnson in 1912, reconstructed birthplace and nearby Johnson family cemetery where the former President is buried, and the Johnson home which became the Texas White House, the first private residence that actually functioned as a White House while the President was there. Earlier President’s went on vacation like Truman to Key West but the residence there did not have the level of equipment and security so it could function as a White House. We saw the Secret Service building that was added which will someday be an exhibit.


While we were waiting for our house tour we saw the cars that LBJ had and boy did he like cars. Upon entering the house we were a little shocked as to how plain it was, nothing like you would expect. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the house. Although this is a State Park the National Park Service is in charge of restoring the house so this was a work in progress. For one thing they cannot find the pink carpet that was in the study which Lady Bird hated and had removed after LBJ’s death. The kitchen was much smaller than we expected for a house of this size. There was a nice photo collection of all the generations of Johnson on the wall in the kitchen. We did not know that Lady Bird lived in this house until her death in 2007 so the restoration is really just beginning. We want to go back when the Secret Service building is completed, along with an aircraft hanger that was made into a movie theatre during LBJ’s presidency, and to see if they ever find that dreaded pink carpet.


Although we were only in Kerrville for a little shy of two weeks we were able to work in some good eating. There is a little hole in the wall place near the park fittingly called the “Hole in the Wall” that serves sandwiches. The philly steak sandwich and the ½ pound burgers are good and the fries are freshly cut at this location. In fact they make their own buns which are real good. We ate many times at the since it was so good and a convenient location. The highlights of our eating though had to be the Lakehouse in Kerrville which is situated right on the Guadalupe River and der Lindenbaum in Fredericksburg. At the Lakehouse we got the baked catfish, which was some of the best baked catfish we have ever had, and the fried catfish which was mighty tasty. At der Lindenbaum we got some of the best Jaeger Schnitzel we have ever had. We tried the Hunter House CafĂ© in nearby Ingram for breakfast and we just cannot recommend it. So far on our travels we have struck out breakfast wise if we try some of the local places. They just cannot beat Cracker Barrel which was luckily in this town and we ate there several times. We also ate at Mamacita’s which was highly recommended but although it was OK it just was not as good as advertised.


We love the Texas Hill Country and the Guadalupe River RV Resort so much we are already talking about our next visit even though we still have the vast majority of the country to see. We will just have to visit here on our way to places yet unseen. We have a lengthy list of things to do next time, some of which are repeats of this visit:


* spring great time to visit for bluebonnets in bloom

* 'Canyon of the Eagles' with nature walking trails

* revisit LBJ National Historic Park

* revisit National Museum of the Pacific War and the combat zone this time

* Pioneer Museum complex

* Enchanted Rocks State Park

* Willow City Loop

* Pedernales State Park

* “Let’s go to Luckenbach Texas

* eat at Cooper’s BBQ in Llano, Buffalo Nickel Bar and Grill, Big Earl’s, Francisco’s, Billy Genes, The Rails-A Cafe at the Depot


Photos from this trip have been added to flickr.com.

Till next time,

Bob & Jo

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bird Feeder

A neighbor of ours at the Guadalupe River RV Resort in Kerrville TX mounted a bird feeder to the rear ladder of their fifth wheel. We liked the idea so much we tried it ourselves after we got to Goodyear AZ.

At first there was no activity but we are finally seeing some birds and boy does it make our cats happy. As you can see from the picture two of them, you have to look carefully to just see the ears of the second cat, were mesmerized by this bird and luckily the camera did catch this Kodak moment.

We are a little sad right now because our time in Goodyear has about come to an end. We will spend 5 weeks total and already 4 weeks and a few days have past, much too quickly if you ask either one of us, or our cats for that matter. I have tried to tell them not to worry the bird feeder will go with us and we will have birds every place we stop but all they hear is "yadda yadda yadda"
.

Till next time,

Bob & Jo

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cactus League

Baseball that is fun again, even if it is watching the Kansas City Royals : )

We enjoy baseball games but the going to baseball games is not fun. Paying to park your car miles away from the stadium then paying exorbitant prices to watch the game is only part of the reason it has been a long time since our last baseball game. Another major reason has been the weather, you go early in the year and it will likely be cold and rainy. Late in the year and it will be hot and humid.

Now compare that to our experience on opening day of the Cactus League in Arizona. As you can see from the pictures the sky was blue and the temperature was in the low 70's. Our parking was free and just across the street from the 1st base entrance to the park. Our tickets were also significantly cheaper than at Royals stadium in Kansas City. We were told not to expect a big crowd since neither the Royals and Rangers are the big draw that the Cubs and the local team the Arizona Diamondbacks are so we were sure surprised when there were lines at the ticket windows. With the weather being so bad back in Kansas City maybe more people decided to come to the Phoenix area.

The larger than expected crowd also affected the concession stands which were running out of food and drink left and right. Now we have not paid concession stand prices for a long time so we do not know if this is out of order or just normal these days but Bob paid $6.50 for an italian sausage and peppers on a bun and $4.50 for a diet coke. If these prices are also much lower than what is paid at Royals Stadium then all we can say is WOW!!

Our first impressions of watching this game is that the Royals players seemed less developed physically than the Rangers; it looked like a pro team playing a college team to be honest. Rangers were 6'2" 225 lbs while the Royals looked like 5'10" 180 lbs. When the Rangers starters walked past us we thought we were looking at a football team while the Royals looked like soccer players. As the game progressed it took on the nature of batting practice except the poor Royals pitchers did not have the screen to duck behind. Also as the game progressed it became more apparent that the Rangers also had more talent top to bottom than the Royals. At the end of the game you could tell it had an impact on the announcer who announced the game summary as "for the Rangers 13 hits, I mean 13 runs 21 hits 2 errors", guess when he sees a double digit number it usually is hits and not runs.

The Royal still have Zack Greinke who pitched one the second day of Cactus League and the Royals won 4-2 at least temporarily wiping the bad taste out of their mouths due to the 13-3 shellacking on Opening Day.

We have really enjoyed our stay in the Phoenix area, the weather has been great, the park we are staying at is real nice, we have found great places to eat all of which will be documented in a future blog entry.

Till next time,

Bob & Jo

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