Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On our way back to the KC area - in Wichita KS

Well we ended up staying 3 nights in Oklahoma which gave us a chance to eat at Sid's Diner in El Reno again for an onion burger. This is another place that is as good or better than you remember. It is so good we have added a 'Best Burger' to 'Our Favorite Things! (Food)' listing.

There were no severe storms where we were but we either did not want to drive in the rain or prepare for departure in the rain. The nice thing about this lifestyle is the flexibility to stay an extra day or two or leave a day earlier if need be.

Maybe we are getting used to travel days, or maybe because it was only 180 miles with no clock changing or demonic plastic storage box to deal with, but yesterday was a good travel day from OK to Wichita. Started out partly cloudy and then cleared up and then cloudy and sprinkles of rain as we were finishing setting up.

Looks like it will be three nights here in Wichita and then off to Peculiar MO for a few weeks for friends, family, doctors and dare I say good BBQ!!

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Quite a windy day

We drove about 230 miles from Amarillo TX yesterday to the KOA west of Oklahoma City. We have seen worse winds but never seen anything like this. In our truck bed we have an auxiliary fuel tank/toolbox combo unit right behind the cab. Since we have a fifth wheel we have a hitch mounted above the axle. Between the hitch and the tank/toolbox we have three plastic storage boxes with lids. We have towed in higher winds but today was disruptive. One of the plastic storage boxes has books, one has some filing and other books, and one, the lighter one, has miscellaneous items.

About 50 miles into the trip Bob looked back and saw the lighter plastic box lifting up. We stopped along the side of the road and adjusted the boxes and started up again. Well that worked for about 10 miles and it happened again so we stopped by the side of the road and Bob added some books and the charcoal bag to weigh it down. Back on the road Bob noticed that the plastic bag around the cardboard box that we use to carry our satellite tripod was ripping off in the wind. At the next rest stop Bob re-taped the bag around the box. Not to be outdone the demonic plastic box was now at it again after about 20 miles from the rest stop, this time one of the latches on the lid came loose and Bob saw it flapping up and down still attached luckily to the other latch. Another stop to adjust the latch figuring he must have hit it with the tripod box and back on the road.

Well you guessed it the latch came loose again and Bob saw it flapping up and down so we pulled off yet again and Bob just put the dang thing in the back seat. So that makes two rest stops and four times on the side of the road on our trip. Once we got to our campground Bob got some tape and taped all four sides of the lid. We'll see how that goes on our next leg to Wichita KS hopefully it won't be the same wind direction and speed that must have been just right to cause such disruption that we have not seen before in all of our towing.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Turquoise Room (again) and Meteor Crater and Meteor Crater RV Park

Our last day in Winslow we first ate at the Turquoise Room again. Since our two favorite breakfast meals are here we both ordered the same thing. Bob got the Arizona Green Chile Eggs which is creamy polenta in a pool of green chile and tomatillo sauce topped with two eggs, covered in melted jalapeno jack cheese and garnished with roasted corn salsa and diced fresh tomatoes, served with green chile potatoes and warm corn tortillas. Jo got the Corn Maiden's Delight which is a bowl of warm yellow corn polenta topped with fire roasted tomatoes, fresh spinach, two poached eggs, Jalapeno jack cheese and a fresh roasted corn salsa.

After our excellent breakfast we went to the Meteor Crater. It has been said that it is hard to judge distances in the desert and Meteor Crater proves that old adage. Driving to the Crater and seeing the Crater from the parking lot we were kind of underwhelmed, it just did not look that big but we continued anyway and we are sure glad that we did. We first went through the displays which explained Meteor Craters and other craters. A lot of neat and informative displays to be seen here. Now Meteor Crater may not be the largest crater of the 150 or so known sites but it does have it's place in history as it was where meteors hitting the earth was first  proven and it is the best preserved crater on earth since the high desert climate kept erosion to the minimum.

Here are some other interesting facts about Meteor Crater:
- approximately a 154 ft meteorite struck approximately 50,000 years ago
- lies at an elevation of about 5,709 ft above sea level
- it is almost a mile in diameter and some 570 ft deep (a 60 story building on the floor would not reach the rim)
- the crater floor could accommodate 20 NFL or College football games with 100,000 fans per game or two million fans total
- due to its Moon-like conditions NASA Astronauts trained here in the 1960's to prepare them for the Moon landings, there is an Apollo Test Capsule on display
- The crater was used as the setting for the climax of the 1984 film "Starman"
- the site was formerly known as the Canyon Diablo Crater and fragments of the meteorite are officially called the Canyon Diablo Meteorites. Scientists also refer to the crater as Barringer Crater in honor of Daniel Barringer who was first to suggest that it was produced by meteorite impact. The Baringer family owns Meteor Crater.
- it is privately owned and is a National Natural Landmark (our first clue that it was privately owned was the 5 mile road to the crater was in excellent condition!)

As mentioned previously the first picture above is a little misleading as to how big the crater is. It is not until you see some evidence of construction in the area for drilling in the center of the crater that is a little whiter than the surrounding area and you zoom in. The cutout image of the astronaut near the flag is 6' tall and it is barely noticeable from the rim, dang it is barely noticeable here too. There is a huge boiler to the left that is also barely noticeable from the rim. We don't have a picture of it but one of the telescopes on the observation deck is pointed at a rock on the rim the size of a house but you could not tell that. We are very glad we took the time to visit Meteor Crater and hope other travelers do the same.

We stayed at Meteor Crater RV Park which is owned by the same group that owns Meteor Crater. Typical of high desert parks in Arizona and New Mexico there are gravel interior roads and gravel sites. The sites are level and there are 50a full hookups. We got a coupon at Quartzsite for a free second night but we really chose this park for its convenient location. It is 5 miles to Meteor Crater, 20 miles to the Turquoise Room and Homolovi Ruins, 25 miles to Walnut Canyon National Monument, and 35 miles to downtown Flagstaff. If we are ever in the area we plan to stay here again.

Photos have been added to the Winslow 2001 set on here

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On our way back to the KC area - in Amarillo TX

There was a forecast of high winds for the Amarillo area tomorrow so we decided to leave from Santa Rosa NM this morning. If you have ever been to Amarillo or New Mexico for that matter you know you will be dealing with winds so when they say it is high winds you pay attention. When the gusts get close to 50 mph we get a little nervous and plan accordingly.

Bob did our checklist of departure tasks for the outside tasks yesterday. We did our inside departure tasks this morning and hooked up the truck and journeyed a short trip of 160 miles. We also had a one hour time change from Mountain to Central time so that is why we went with such a short leg today. We pulled into the Oasis RV Resort just west of Amarillo a little bit before Noon our time and set up the condo on wheels for a couple of days stay. We have stayed at Oasis before and after the gravel sites and roads in New Mexico we really appreciate the asphalt streets and concrete pads. What is not asphalt nor concrete is landscaping rock so the dust is minimal. Oasis has a buy 2 nights get 1 free rate so for $48 you can stay 3 nights with 50a full hookups with cable and wi-fi. The last part of our arrival tasks Bob just did; updating current location and current trip on the blog and our current location for which will place a phone call in call of bad weather. Being in tornado alley this is comforting to know that we will get a phone call when the weather turns bad. We tried a weather radio but got tired of getting woken up with a warning for 'Whoknows' county. The phone calls from are targeted to you exact physical address.

Based on the threat of thunderstorms in Oklahoma we will probably only stay a couple of nights.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Monday, April 18, 2011

On our way back to the KC area - in Santa Rosa NM

We left yesterday from Grants NM and headed to Santa Rosa, about 190 miles. We checked the weather forecast and Monday and Tuesday would be very high winds in Santa Rosa so we figured we should leave Sunday because if not Sunday then we would have to wait until Wednesday. The high winds of 40 mph or higher wind gusts were forecast to start on Sunday afternoon, with 50 mph wind gusts on Monday and 60 mph wind gusts on Tuesday.

So Bob did his normal outside tasks on Saturday and when we got back from Mass we hooked up the truck so there would be less to do in the morning. We also raised the big foot levelers which made the fifth wheel a little more rocky than we like so we figure the next time we want to get an early start we will still hookup the truck but leave the big foot levelers down since it does not take that much time. With an early start and a short trip we arrived in Santa Rosa just before 1p. The winds picked up as we were setting up but we still felt comfortable raising our satellite antenna that is on the roof. With the high winds later we will lower the antenna and have to deal with cable TV and watching our shows live. Who says we are not roughing it!

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Friday, April 15, 2011

On our way back to the KC area - in Grants NM

Technically it is probably Milan NM which is right next to Grants. Boggles our minds how in the 5th largest state with the 5th lowest population and not that many towns why you would have two towns so close together. The guy at the office of the Bar S RV Park where we are now says they have three exits off of I-40 but it takes them two towns to get that many.

Bob did our checklist of departure tasks for the outside tasks yesterday which is a lot less since we don't put out bird feeders or lawn chairs or other outside stuff when we are heading somewhere. We did our inside departure tasks this morning and hooked up the truck and journeyed 220 miles. The weather forecast calls for an overnight low of 22 degrees so the only thing Bob did after we got setup and the truck disconnected was to connect power and add some fresh water to the fresh water tank. The last part of our departure tasks Bob just did; updating current location and current trip on the blog.

We plan to spend a couple nights in the area not sure of what sightseeing we will do.

We plan to finish up blogging on our Winslow activities shortly.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Buster's Restaurant and Walnut Canyon

Next we headed towards Flagstaff to see the Walnut Canyon National Monument. We got a late start so we first ate lunch at Busters Restaurant and Bar in Flagstaff and it is certainly worth another visit as this has the potential to be a favorite. Buster's started out as a seafood place in 1983 but they now have a full menu although probably best known for their steaks and seafood. We both got a grilled portabello mushroom sandwich with havarti cheese and the attention to detail that makes this place so great can be seen. The bun was excellent, the veggies (lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, and sprouts0 were all fresh, the portabello was marinated and grilled just right, and the homemade herb mayonnaise was excellent. They are open for lunch and dinner only but music to our ears was that they had an early bird menu beginning at 4:00p. We will be back to Flagstaff's Favorite Restaurant the last 10 years!!

We then drove to the Walnut Canyon National Monument about 10 miles southeast of Flagstaff just off I-40. The canyon rim lies at about 7,000 feet. We visited the Visitors Center to learn more about the canyon. There are two trails; a 0.7 mile loop trail that goes along the rim that is rated easy called the Rim Trail and a 0.9 mile loop trail that descends 185 ft into the canyon that is rated strenuous called the Island Trail. The Park Ranger that took our Golden Age Passport (free admission) said the Island Trail was not that bad.

So we took off on the Island Trail and the first thing we noticed that it was pretty cool temperature wise. Bob was in shorts and had counted on cooler temps than Winslow since at a higher elevation but did not factor in the convective cooling factor of 50 mph winds. The winds also made the narrow trail more fun than it should be. But we pushed on anyway because the scenery was wonderful and we both had always wanted to see cliff dwellings up close. The Park Ranger did say that there was a rock slide on the trail and that if we wanted to take only one side to go left since more and better cave dwellings could be seen there. Left was about 2/3 of the 0.9 mile to the rock slide but then it was 2/3 back again. We descended passing 25 cliff dwelling rooms constructed by the Sinagua, a pre-Columbian cultural group that lived in Walnut Canyon from about 1100 to 1250 AD. We are really amazed that people could live here smack dab in a canyon wall. How they got food and water up the hill or visited neighbors is beyond us. We were on a paved trail and steps with some handrails carrying a camera and a bottle of water and were still a little unsure of ourselves.

What goes down must come up again so we then took the strenuous part of the trail and that is back up. There are a couple of pictures in our Flick album of Winslow 2011 trying to show just how far down we were. Luckily there are benches along the way which we took advantage of several to rest and to enjoy the view. Jo did not have enough energy at the Visitors Center to tell the Park Ranger it may be a good idea to NOT tell seniors that you have just taken a Golden Age Passport from that the Island Trail is not strenuous.

That being said we are glad that we can now cross cliff dwellings off our list and if the trails to future ones are as strenuous as the Island Trail was these will be the last cliff dwellings we shall see!

Pictures from this adventure have been uploaded to Flickr in the Winslow 2011 set.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Turquoise Room and Homolovi Ruins

The Turquoise Room in the La Posada Hotel in Winslow is one of our favorite places to eat. We both got our favorite breakfast meal from the list of 'Our Favorite Things (Food)' list; Bob got the Arizona Green Chile Eggs and Jo got the Corn Maiden's Delight. After ordering and while waiting for our food we got to talking about how some times you build something up so much in your mind that when you go back later it never seems quite as good, well the Turquoise Room is as good or better each time we go back. We plan to eat at least one more time before we head out.

After our great breakfast we went to the Homolovi Ruins State Park where along the Little Colorado River an ancient people, the ancestors of the Hopi, built their homes. Although the area only receives 8 inches a year on average they were able to farm in the rich flood plain. Homolovi was occupied from about 1200 to 1400 AD with the seven complexes built as the colony grew, two of which are open to the public. There is more to see in Homolovi II with more excavations along a sidewalk with information signs. Homolovi II was occupied between 1330 and 1400 AD, and has about 1200 rooms with only a few available for viewing. This ruin features three large rectangular plazas and about forty kivas (underground ceremonial chambers) an excavated one is shown here.

The people of this period are called Hisat'sinom, which is the Hopi word for "long-ago people". It is believed that they left due to an increase of mosquitos which they viewed as a sign to leave the area. They migrated to the Hopi Mesa about 60 miles north.

This State Park was closed due to budget cuts but recently reopened and also includes Petroglyphs that date to earlier than the ruins available a short distance from the road to Homolovi II. With all the sand and wind in the area they are really hard to see.

The weather was gorgeous and it was interesting to see how people lived in this region 800 years ago. There are sites where you can see more ruins and Petroglyphs but this site is still worth stopping at.

Photos from today have been uploaded to Homolovi Ruins.

All of our photos from all of our travels are on Flickr

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On our way - in Winslow AZ

Or should we say "Windsblow" AZ. The high winds and snow in mountains finally subsided so on Sunday Bob did our checklist of departure tasks for the outside tasks, we save the inside for the day of departure. The outside tasks include putting up the bird feeders, chairs, rugs, king pin stabilizer, dumping the black and grey tanks and stowing the sewer hose and sewer hose support. Since we were heading into cool nights we topped off the propane tank we were using so now we have two full tanks.

We slept in a little later than a normal departure day on Monday since we wanted the sun to melt any potential ice that there could be in Flagstaff since there was 11 inches of snow in the area on Saturday and the Monday morning low was 17 degrees. The inside tasks are basically making sure all the drawers and doors are secured and moving stuff to the couch and recliner for transit and putting the satellite dish and TV antenna down. We get the cats in the bedroom after the slide is in and then finish up put the two slides in the kitchen/living room area in. We then hook up the truck and off we go.

The drive was uneventful except for the couple of times Bob got caught in the slow lane going up to Flagstaff. The F-350 has the power to move us along real well but passing can sometimes be a problem since it takes awhile to get there and it is not wise to be in the passing lane all the time as that tends to upset other drivers. The road from Phoenix to Flagstaff goes up and down and the F-350 performed well on the 6 percent downhill slopes downshifting in Tow/Haul mode. We are very pleased with our truck selection. The last part of our departure tasks Bob did this morning; updating current location on the blog and adding a map for our current trip.

We plan to spend four nights in the area seeing the Homolovi Ruins State Park, Meteor Crater, eat at the Turquoise Room at the La Posada Hotel, and maybe see Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, and Waputki Indian Ruins. There is a lot to do in the area probably more than we will be able to do this visit.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weather Upside Down

We are still in Arizona due to the crazy weather of high winds and snow in Flagstaff. Just when we thought it could not get any crazier the temperatures here set a new low for a daytime high of 54 degrees with rain and hail. Contrast that to the Kansas City area where we are heading soon and the high there was 88 degrees with a low of 57 degrees that was higher than our daytime high. This was after one week ago when we hit 100 degrees so believe us when we say that 54 felt cold :-)

We did see a very bright double rainbow last night coming home from Mass so that was nice!

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tryst Cafe

One advantage of staying a little longer in the area due to high winds is that we were able to try a new place for us, and a new place for Phoenix since it has just been opened about 4 months, the Tryst Cafe.

Located in north Phoenix just north of the Tatum Blvd and the 101 Loop intersection the Tryst Cafe offers up a couple of great omelets. Jo had the tryst omelets which has roasted tomatoes which were excellent, buffalo mozzarella and pesto. Bob had the meat lover's omelet of ham, sausage and bacon with white cheddar. Besides the great reviews online what drew us to this place was the sweet potato tots which were oh so good. One of us got the tots and the other got their roasted red potatoes which we shared and both were tremendous.

This is definitely on our list to try again when we are back here this November as the menu looks appealing.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Departure on hold

We have been thinking about leaving and heading back to the Kansas City area for friends, family and doctors and we planned on doing prep work tomorrow and departing on Thursday for Winslow AZ. Part of our departure ritual is to check the weather for our destinations. Our neighbor here in Goodyear drives for Wal-Mart and he calls Winslow "WINDSblow" and we know why. The forecast calls for 70 mph wind gusts in Windsblow on Thursday. We then checked the Phoenix area and there will be 50 mph gusts so we are staying put for a couple extra days. The extended forecast for both areas call for high winds so we are now planning on leaving Sunday. The great thing about this lifestyle is that we can make these adjustments easily. The added bonus is we will be able to eat one last time at some of our favorites.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo