Another View of Wickenburg, Arizona


Well, we managed to get another road trip in, this past weekend!

Shortly after 6:00 a.m. on Saturday we were up (me, reluctantly) and out the door an hour or so later, because we didn’t want to be late.

Where were we headed? Back to Wickenburg to check out the 70th Annual Gold Rush Days celebrations. We hoped to get a good spot to watch the parade that was to start at 10:00 a.m. On the way Jim mentioned that he thought he’d read that there could be something like 200,000 people show up! Wow, I couldn’t imagine getting through a crowd like that in that small town. Did I really want to go?

We arrived before 9:00 a.m. and spent twenty minutes following the many signs pointing to parking areas, only to find them already full. We eventually drove across the bridge and found a spot on a residential side street. It was a bit of a hike back to the downtown, but the weather was still a little cool, and we’re thankful that we can still walk distances without pain.

Remember the almost empty streets that were in my pictures of our previous trip to Wickenburg? This is what the corner near the old railway station (now the Chamber of Commerce) looked like when we arrived on Saturday.

We were lucky enough to get spots to stand behind a couple of rows of people who had their chairs already set up, but directly across from the judges stand and announcer. Hollywood actor Stuntman and trick roper, Will Roberts, was just finishing up his roping performance. A few children were practicing the skills he’d taught them.

While we waited for the parade to reach us, this fellow strolled down the route, shaking hands and posing for photos. Not quite sure what he has to do with the Gold Rush Days, but young and old alike jumped in for the photo op!

The announcer kept us informed and entertained while we waited. He told us that the usual number of people in attendance at this parade was (only) between thirty and fifty thousand, depending on the weather.

For an hour and a half we stood watching the parade of 78 entries that began with the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Motorcycles and ended with the Wickenburg Fire and Police Departments. In between there were entries representing the local schools, car clubs, riding clubs, museums, saddle clubs and businesses and many, many horses and mules. The high school provided the only band. The Grand Marshal was World Champion Cowboy, Cody Custer, a Wickenburg native.

 

Part way through the parade, when there was a bit of a gap, the announcer asked if there were any people in the crowd from another country and we put up our hands. He took us out into the street and told Jim to say something so they could guess where we were from.

“Well, we’re not from America…”

Before he could finish the sentence the announcer said, “You don’t sound any different than us.”

Jim tried again. “We’re not from America,” and we both said “eh?”

The crowd yelled, “Canada!” and applauded.

 

Arizona Saddle Club

Arizona Saddle Club

What’s a Parade without the Shriners?

These ladies put on shows to raise money for the American Legion

Whew! I think I took way to many pictures. These are just a sample, but I won’t bore you with more of the parade. It was sure a different parade. I really enjoyed it.

Once the last of the parade had passed by us, we wandered down the street to see what there was to eat at the vendor stalls and then watched people go by while we sat on a wooden bench to eat our breakfast burritos.

A few blocks further was a huge arts and crafts show, crowded with people looking at unique art, jewelry, wood work and various other things. If I’d had an Arizona house and some extra cash I’d have a blast decorating it with some of the art.

By the time we’d gotten through all that, an hour later, it was time for more food. We made our way back to the main street and got one of the last vacant booths at Rancho Bar 7 Restaurant.

From there we turned back toward the craft vendors and came across the midway. We just caught the last song of our favourite band, Come Back Buddy, performing on-stage. We wandered through the midway, and then returned to the stage area to watch Will Roberts’ complete show.

If we’d had the time, and a hotel room, it would have been fun to stay for the evening entertainment, but we didn’t. So, before our feet gave out on us, we made our way back to our car and left for home, the end of another fun adventure in sunny Arizona.

 

A Sunday Road Trip to a Casino and a Copper Mine in Arizona


Another month has quickly disappeared and I didn’t get any more posts written,  not because we haven’t been busy, but because we’ve been too busy with things such as ukulele (Jim is now teaching two beginner classes and leading a weekly jam session here in the park) and trying to get some pickle ball in to keep ourselves fit.

On Sunday we finally got away for a road trip, heading north-east toward Globe. The terrain was a little different than on other routes we’ve taken.

We spotted a few brave hikers climbing the steep cliffs beside the highway.

The main road, Hwy 60, through Globe is wide and scattered with many familiar and prosperous –looking gas stations and restaurants, and other businesses, but when we ventured off the highway we were disappointed to discover a rather derelict community; however, one large shop sitting on a side street beckoned us in to see some unique gifts and crafts for sale.

When Jim asked one of the sales people what was happening in Globe that day, without much hesitation she replied, “About the same as yesterday. Not much at all.”

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It looked real!

Back on the highway, we followed the sign to “Historical Globe” only to find not much open. Some of the old buildings had been converted into restaurants or bars. I had to record these interesting signs.

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Waterbeds sign

Does anyone still sleep in waterbeds?

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Further along the street got wider and there were some buildings that had been beautifully restored.

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We decided to continue through town to find the Apache Gold Casino out Hwy 70, where we enjoyed a big lunch and the quickly lost our $15 each that we were given with our slot machine cards. We seldom gamble with our own money, so it was time to leave.

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A different route home allowed us to visit the Kennecott Copper Mine, now owned by the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO). This remarkable operation hadn’t been open for public viewing on other occasions when we’d driven past. It’s really quite amazing to see the many layers of colour in the rocks and the size of the monster trucks that look like toys from the observation deck, and to read about the capacity of the ore removed and the copper separated.

Open Pit Mine

Can you see the trucks way down there in the pit?

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This was the highlight of our day.

 

A Visit to Wickenburg, Arizona


After a few days of stressful times, both good and bad, I felt a need to just get away for the day. Jim suggested driving to Wickenburg. The trip should have taken less than two hours, but we were slow to get away and had to stop for lunch. Then after we got back on our way we realized we’d made a wrong turn somewhere. We had to consult the GPS. It did get us to Wickenburg eventually, but we had to back track. As a result, it was 3:30 when we parked in front of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, only to find that it closed at 4:00. When we got inside we knew that we wouldn’t have time to see all that was there, but they didn’t charge us for admission. We did a quick tour, taking lots of pictures, and vowed that we would return another day.

The main floor, in the main building, is divided into art exhibits that are on permanent display on one side, and art exhibits that are on loan on the other. We took in some of this.

Then we went downstairs to see the exhibit that depicts life in Wickenburg during the early 1900s.

Inside Mercantile Store

Inside the Mercantile Store this fellow appeared (by projector) and told us about life in Wickenburg.

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Looking into the local Saloon

Looking into the local Saloon

The museum staff was waiting for us when we climbed back up the stairs. They told us that there is another whole building yet to explore!

All of the buildings that make up Historic Downtown Wickenburg, no matter what business they hold, have been restored to match the original old western town that it was in the early 1800s.

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We strolled around the town, stopping to take pictures and captured the the historic first train to arrive in Wickenburg on January 26, 1895, just as a modern locomotive streaked by on the modern track.

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Jim and traveler

Jim welcomed this pretty train traveler to town.

We stopped to watch some flamingo dancers performing for a gathering in a Mexican church courtyard.

Flamingo Dancers

Dancers at some sort of Spanish Festival in a Church courtyard

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Unfortunately, most of the interesting-looking shops and buildings had also closed at 4:00, but we did get into a few antique/second-hand stores where we saw many things that we wouldn’t see in similar shops back home.

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This guy didn’t talk much either

Prospector

He didn’t notice Jim looking through his pack

One shop in particular had textured tin ceilings and bold ornate wallpaper and plush floral carpet on the stairs to the second floor that contained several small rooms. We were told that the building had originally been a hotel, but it had become in such bad repair that all but the original room walls upstairs, which made up the hotel bedrooms, had been completely gutted and the foundation replaced. The tin ceilings and beautiful old wallpaper was all new! We never would have guessed.

Climbing the velvet staircase

Climbing the velvet staircase

Inside an antique/new to you boutique

Inside an antique/new to you boutique

New "old" tin ceilings and ornate wallpaper

New “old” tin ceilings and ornate wallpaper

There were no crowds. I think we were the only tourists about, which made it very relaxing – just the medicine I needed.

By the time we got back to the car daylight was nearly gone and pretty Christmas lights shone on the lampposts and the train.

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As we were leaving we saw this lit sign indicating an Arizona Cowboy Christmas Town that might have been interesting to explore.

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Next time we go, we will leave home earlier and use the GPS from the start!

Sites of El Paso and the End of the Journey


We’ve been in Mesa Regal for two weeks now, and I’m finally getting this post done. Because of competition for internet connection, I decided the only time I was going to be able to get the photos added was to work during the night. So here I am.

We finally got our windshield replaced on Monday, November 6th and were on the road by early afternoon. Once we got back into New Mexico, Jim searched out a State Trooper, hoping to file an Accident Report, but he told us it was too late. However, after seeing how upset Jim was, he offered to give our “friend” Mark a call and try to mediate a settlement. It turned out that Quality Towing was on the rotation in that part of New Mexico, so Mark was a little worried when he got the call. However, he first said he didn’t remember the accident, then had a great excuse as to why he wasn’t paying – “They wanted me to pay for their accommodations, and food as well as the windshield!” We sat with our mouths hanging open. Sure, he should by rights pay for the extra days at the RV Park, but we’d never mentioned that. The insurance company just might, though. Anyway, he finally agreed to have Jim call him to work out a settlement. Before we stopped for the day, Mark called us and asked Jim for a mailing address. He said he’d have a cheque for the window in the mail the next day. As of the date of this posting, the cheque still has not arrived. Fortunately the insurance company paid for all but our deductible, but we had hoped to get that back and pay the insurance company back. Enough of that saga.

While we were in El Paso, Shawn introduced us to many things that we would never have seen if we hadn’t been stranded in the city. As I mentioned before, he checked on us every day of our twelve day stay, and when he learned that we were not yet leaving, he took us out. One day was spent searching for a windshield wiper without success, followed by lunch and grocery shopping; another was spent trying to find someone to weld a very small spot on our old wiper after Jim had managed to fix it to work. Shawn saved the day when he thought of a friend who works for Job Corps. We took it there and had the job done by a student in no time flat!

On other days we saw the highlights of El Paso:

We drove up the mountain to view the city of 700,000

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We visited the Chamizal National Monument

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Cool Murals on the Outside Walls

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Jim and Shawn

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Interesting that the US and Mexican Gov’ts could come to an agreement

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The sculpture in the distance marks the US-Mexico border

We peeked through the gates of Southwest University Park, a fairly new Baseball Field that is seldom used, Shawn told us.

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We toured some of the History Museum

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A moving history lesson on the wall, controlled by the observer

History Museum Digital Wall

We had our picture digitally taken and emailed to our friend in Cincinnati

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A very Antique Fire Engine

We strolled through Concordia Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in El Paso. It was the Week of the Dead, following Halloween, a time when people visit and decorate the graves of their loved ones, and there are often parades through the cemeteries, but this one had few visitors. Except for the Monument to the Buffalo Soldiers, it looked to be abandoned.

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Donators to the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial

Donators to the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial

We spent a good portion of another day enjoying the warm sun while walking through the very modern campus of the University of Texas El Paso (UTEL).

University of Texas El Paso Campus

Beautiful Buildings

Lovely Parks

Lovely Parks

University of Texas El Paso Campus, plants

Interesting Plants. Who knows what this is, at the base of a palm tree?

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By Sunday, Shawn’s wife was home and she and her mother met us downtown in the afternoon at the Art Museum where we found many interesting works of art, especially the Day of the Dead collages created by students from many of the local schools, mostly commemorating deceased music artists.

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We stopped into the Ysleta Mission, located in the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. It is recognized as the oldest continuously operated parish in the State of Texas.

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On the way back to our “home”, at Jim’s suggestion, we stopped into the largest Harley Davidson Store in the country. I think we got Shawn dreaming of riding down the highway with the wind in his hair.

Again we expressed thanks to Shawn. We really did enjoy seeing the city through his eyes, and he said he enjoyed learning a thing or two about Canada. It worked out well. But by Monday we were ready to be on the road again.

Year Five of Our Trips to Arizona – Continuing the Journey Part 2


After our stroll around the Camp Washington property, and chatting with our RV neighbours, Lisa and Vicky, and the maintenance guy, it was 10:30 before we left to go back to the Caverns. We spent a couple of hours taking our time and taking pictures on the 1¼ mile walk down to the bottom, doing the self-guided tour. Trying to capture the beauty was difficult without more sophisticated equipment, but we did our best. It’s amazing!

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By the time we reached the bottom it was well past lunch time and we’d worked up good appetites, so we took advantage of the sandwiches and drinks that could be purchased in the only area where food was permitted. We wanted to continue touring the 8.2 acre “big room” but decided, since it would take another hour and a half to explore its perimeter, we would have to return another time. We were anxious to get to El Paso so we could touch base with the glass company and the tow truck driver and get the windshield repaired.

When we got back down to the highway and saw a sign telling us that there were no services for the next 138 miles, Jim pulled into the only gas station around to top up our tank. That shouldn’t have taken long, but a while earlier there had been a gas spill there and the pumps had been turned off. We had to wait until the manager returned to reset them!

At last we were headed back south at 2:30 pm. The scenery was boring with nothing but  dry, empty fields for miles and miles. The sun shone bright and hot through the front windows.

Desolate road

Desolate road

The battery on our Bluetooth speaker had died  so we could listen to no music – no radio stations, no cell service, just desolation. By the time we arrived at Mission RV Park in El Paso at 5:00 local time, we were both out of sorts. The sun reflecting on the windshield cracks (which had spread further) made it difficult for Jim to see where he was going to find our spot. I had a major tension headache. When Jim checked in he asked how far it was to the nearest restaurant. Five miles! Across the highways! But they did have take-out menus for a Chinese Restaurant and a Pizza House. After a heated discussion we settled on an order from the Chinese Restaurant. Jim tried to order from his phone; it wouldn’t work. Before that he’d tried to put the slide out; it didn’t work. Hence the “heated discussion” over what to eat for dinner! I called in the order. The menu was very confusing and we ended up with enough food to last us for three meals, which was a good thing, since we were miles away from a grocery store and had no idea how long we’d be here.

The next day Jim called the glass place (Safelite), only to be told that none of their suppliers had our windshield and there was nothing they could do for us. We wondered if that meant the motor home would be written off because the windshield couldn’t be replaced! One reason we chose this RV Park is because it has an RV Repair Shop and the windshield wiper also needed to be replaced. Jim went in to see them but they didn’t have a wiper for us and made no offer to try to track one down. They did, however, have the name of another glass place that might help us. Jim made the call and got good/bad news; they could get it in, but it would take 5 to 7 days! He called the glass place back home that had previously replaced the passenger side glass. They could have one shipped to us in about the same length of time. Jim called Mark Moisa at Quality Towing in Carlsbad to tell him what was happening, since we had not heard anything from him. He didn’t answer his phone, but returned the call right away. He asked Jim to send him the information for the local glass installer that we had, saying he’d call him. Then we waited for his approval to order the glass, because he was going to pay for it. And we waited. Jim called again in the afternoon and was told by whoever answered the phone that Mark was in a meeting and would call back in about an hour. He didn’t. Jim called the glass fellow and learned that Mark had called him to get the quote, saying he’d call him back. He didn’t. Later that evening, Jim blocked his cell phone number and called Mark again. When he answered and found out who it was he gave an incredulous story about being at an accident scene that involved his driver being hit and there were police cars, and ambulances and he had been talking to the police for three hours and had to go talk to them again, but he would take care of us as he’d promised. He’d call back “in a few minutes.” That was the last we heard from him.

Jim tried once more on Friday, but was again told that he was in a meeting. We gave up and called our insurance company with the story. An adjuster called back for more details. Jim gave him a quote from the local glass company, and the one in Canada, but still the adjuster said he’d have to send out an appraiser, and then we’d need to get more quotes. He also wanted quotes for the other damage (windshield wiper, and few dings/cracks in the fiberglass). He said it would be two weeks before the windshield would be fixed or replaced! Jim told him that was unacceptable and reminded him of our circumstances and the extra expense of continuing to stay in this park. He relented, called the local glass company for the quote and then gave permission to order the windshield.  We have to pay the $300 deductible. The insurance company will go after Quality Towing for reimbursement. I hope they have better luck than we did.

Oh, Jim asked the adjuster if the motor home would have been written off had we not been able to find a replacement windshield. His response, “No we’d have a new one manufactured, but it could take up to six months.” Thank goodness we found one and it is now on its way to us! We are still here, waiting.

There have been a few positives since then. Jim figured out what was wrong with his phone, and was able to fix the slide out problem. I did some baking and made a pot of chili. I got caught up on my blog posting and laundry.

We have made a few friends that have made the waiting easier. On Wednesday night we shared drinks and conversation with a couple from New Zealand who were parked next door to us. Sadly, they left the next morning. Friday afternoon another couple came in on the other side of us. They were here for the weekend to watch their son play hockey. They took us with them to the Friday night game (about which I’ve already posted). We stayed mostly in the park on Saturday, venturing only a couple of miles on foot up to the highway interchange where we found a full service center that carried some groceries and a Subway, if we got really in need of food. We bought some bananas and a bottle of wine to carry back. We played some pickleball on the vacant tennis court.

Thanks to Nawton and Peggie, Carol and John for taking our minds off our troubles for a bit.

A friend of Jim who lives in Connecticut happens to have a friend, Shawn, in El Paso. He suggested Jim give him a call. On Sunday Shawn took us out for a tour of the city, lunch, and then to stock up on groceries. He’s recently retired and his wife is away for the week so he was happy to have company and something to do. Yesterday he took us sightseeing again, and drove us around in search of a wiper, to no avail. Today he’d planned to take us downtown to some of the museums, but when Jim showed him how he thought he could repair the wiper if he could find someone to do a tiny bit of welding for him, Shawn thought of places he could take us. Each place was unable to help. We even went to the Ford Dealership to inquire about ordering a new wiper. They had nothing in their catalogue. Then Shawn came up with the idea to check with a former colleague of his who now works for a job training center. What a good call! His friend got one of the students to do the welding.

An enormous thank you goes out to Shawn, who has kept us from going insane. Maybe tomorrow we’ll finally get to tour downtown. 🙂

Now we have everything taken care of except the windshield. We’re hoping it will be done by the end of the week and then we’ll be on a direct route to Mesa, Arizona.

Life is much better now, thanks to these generous people.

Year Five of Our Trips to Arizona – Continuing the Journey


We left Stanton, Missouri on Sunday morning and headed toward Springfield, hoping to have lunch at Lambert’s Café again. Unfortunately it was just too busy. We didn’t feel we wanted to wait the hour and a half to get a seat, so we found a little Mexican Café in the mall across the street, and were soon on our way again. We pushed on to Edmond, Oklahoma before stopping for dinner and the night at the local Cracker Barrel Restaurant. That was not a good place to spend the night. It was located at the intersection of two highways and there were two truck stops on the corners. The noise continued until well into the night, so we didn’t get much sleep.

We were on the road by 9:15 the next morning and crossed into Texas before noon. Since we were not far away, we made a detour into McLean again. This time the restaurant and the museum were open. We spent a couple of hours eating and looking around, before journeying on through to Amarillo arriving in late afternoon.

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Just a few of the many, many interesting historical items in the Museum

As we turned south onto I-27  Jim saw the sign for Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Remembering that our friend Alice had suggested we should go see it, we followed the directions. We were glad of it. It’s beautiful! We drove around the canyon before the sun was gone, and took lots of pictures. We camped there for the night. All was dark and quiet, a big difference from our last night stop.

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The next morning we continued on to New Mexico. Our plan was to go to the Carlsbad Caverns. When we stopped for gas at Tulia, Texas, we watched this crop duster at work.

We arrived in Carlsbad at 2:30 in the afternoon and stopped into the Chamber of Commerce to get information about the Caverns and camping. We were too late to catch the last tour of that day, but we learned that there was a big bat exodus from the caves in the early evening. Donna was very helpful in finding us a place to park for the night as there was nothing at the Caverns. After stopping for some groceries on the way out of town, we drove south toward the Caverns.

That is when our plans took an unwanted turn! The highway wasn’t very busy. We were cruising along in the right hand lane and coming up to a flatbed tow truck that was riding in the left hand land. It had two pickup trucks on it and Jim hesitated to hurry past it because the load looked possibly precarious. I was just going to comment on it when suddenly the cap came up off the first pickup. We thought it would just go over the other truck and land in its bed, but instead the wind turned it into a flying missile heading directly for us! Jim braked as hard as he safely could and swerved slightly to the right. Visions of the thing crashing through the windshield and knocking Jim out flashed through my mind. With a very loud thump it hit the windshield right in front of his face, but fortunately it didn’t break through! The tow truck seemed to keep on going until Jim blasted the horn several times. Our windshield was badly cracked, but the worst of it was below eye level, so Jim could still see. Eventually the truck pulled over to the right shoulder ahead of us and a white company pick up pulled in behind it. We were both in shock! The tow truck driver/owner walked back to see if there was any damage. He was looking at the body of the RV. Jim pointed out the windshield. He introduced himself, apologized many times, got a clipboard from his truck, and began writing down the details of the damage. The windshield wiper was broken off and there were a few dings on the fiberglass. At first I thought he said that the cap hadn’t been strapped down, but later he said that it had but the strap had broken. He said that he saw it go flying. He immediately took responsibility, calling a mobile auto glass repair company and asking them if they could get a new windshield for us. He told them that he wanted to pay for it right away, but they said they would let him know if they had one first. He told us we should drive to the nearest big city, El Paso Texas where we should be able to get the wiper replaced, and to let him know where we were when we arrived so that the glass company could find us. He gave us his business card. I asked about compensation for an extended stay and, although he didn’t think that would be necessary, he agreed to pay for one night. We had no cell service on that desolate highway, but we felt confident that he was going to make sure we were taken care of.

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Our cracked windshield

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The cap being put into truck

We watched the cap being loaded into his pickup truck and strapped down (the tow truck had already been taken away by the other driver), before we pulled back onto the road and made our way to Carlsbad Caverns. There was nothing more we could do.

The bat flight was to begin at 5:45. We arrived in the parking lot, after a seven mile up-hill climb, at 5:00 and had a quick snack before finding our way to the amphitheater situated at the entrance to the bat cave. A Park Ranger talked to us about the thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats that would fly en-mass from the cave for a night of feasting on insects. He told us that there would be no more than two chances to witness this flight before the bats would leave to migrant south.  In fact, there was no absolute certainty that they would even appear that night, but shortly after six the exodus began. Everyone, even the small children, sat in perfect silence, watching with mouths agape, as the bats flew in funnel –like formation before moving off in clusters in search of their prey. By seven o’clock they were still emerging, but the sun had gone down and we were cold and tired and still had to find our campsite further down the highway so we left. Our hearts were in our mouths when we noticed that we’d left the motor home lights on! Jim was amazed and relieved when the motor turned over with the first turn of the key.

Bat Flight

We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the actual flight. This is a picture of a picture.

Us in front of bat cave

The accommodations that Donna had booked for us were not at an RV Park, but one of three sites at the Camp Washington Conference Centre. The two nearby RV Parks were both completely full. We knew from the map the general area of the Camp and we put the address into the GPS. Finding the exit off the highway was easy, but we were taken on a long winding dirt road back into the woods, toward a mountain, and then a sharp turn. We were told that it was a beautiful spot, but it was so dark, we had no way of knowing. Finally we came upon a large building with a lighted parking lot – the office. We were told that it would be closed, but someone would collect our money in the morning. The trouble is, we could see no sign of any other RVs. There was supposed to be one other. We looked around with a flashlight, and started down another road that seemed to lead to other buildings, but it was narrow and the willow trees hung too low for us to get under them, so we backed up and turned around. Jim found a notice on the building that said the RV sites were on the north side of the property, which would be somewhere behind the building, but we saw that there was a lake there! We drove back the way we’d come until we found another dirt road to the right. It looked doubtful to me, but Jim pushed on. The road got more and more narrow. We came to an old Fire Station. Then we saw an arch with the sign Camp Washington. We eased our way through and as we turned around a clump of trees we saw the other motorhome and a few other buildings. After we pulled in, our neighbour came out to greet us and assured us that it was a really beautiful spot in the day light. At least it was quiet, if cold. We were so happy to crawl under the covers for a good rest.

I was up at the break of dawn hoping to catch some good photos in the sunrise. Here are some of the things we saw before and after breakfast.

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I was wishing we could stay another night, but we wanted to see the Caverns and then had to be on our way to El Paso. On the way out we discovered that at the fork in the road coming in, we should have taken the one to the right, not the left.

Hockey in the American South West


I’m working on another post about our trip, but this morning I’m going to do a brief rant about hockey, from a Canadian perspective.

We’ve made friends with a couple, Carol and John, here in the park who just arrived on Thursday night and they were kind enough to take us with them to their son’s hockey game on Friday night, knowing that we were going a little stir crazy.

Right from the beginning we noticed a different atmosphere than we are used to seeing at Canadian hockey games, or even at the ones we watched in Buffalo, NY. At the entrance they were handing out free Crispy Cream donuts: seating was reserved to that on our tickets we’d just purchased at the box office, but the seats were still the usual benches, this time aluminum. I wished we taken our blanket cushions with us.

The home team was The Rhinos; the guest team was The San Diego Sabers, for which our friends’ son was a goalie. When the game was about to start, a huge blow up rhino appeared at one end of the ice. From inside it, with much fanfare and spot lights, each member of the team was loudly introduced. The Sabers quietly moved into their bench and were never introduced. Even though several members of the Rhinos are Canadian, the American Anthem was played but not the Canadian.

From the moment the puck was dropped, it was obvious that these junior teams were not at all equally matched. We learned from Carol and John that the Sabers is an all-new team, and they had arrived by overnight bus from San Diego just a few hours earlier, so they were even more disadvantaged and didn’t expect to come out well in this three game series. But still they tried.  The goalies made some amazing saves, but most of the action was at their end, so it must have been very challenging.

So, we were shocked when, after each goal by the Rhinos, a chant was started by the announcer and the words, “Hey Goalie…” showed on the TV screens. The crowd finished it with “you suck!” They repeated it three times, each time. Throughout the game there seemed to us to be many incidents of Rhino players getting in the faces of Saber players and saying something that we can only guess. Other times Sabers players were tripped as they maneuvered the puck towards the net. Once, after a play had ended, a Rhino rushed toward a Saber who wasn’t even in the play and smashed him so hard into the boards that he went down and took some time to get back up. The Rhino gave a hand pump. No penalties or mention of that. The crowd cheered.

Often the game was stopped for a “Noise Meter” asking everyone to make noise. Breaks between periods lasted 15 minutes, with some sort of entertainment on the ice each time after the Zamboni had finished. Then there was the kiss cam, and the dance cam (Jim and I actually won one of those! LOL).

After 8 goals by the Rhinos spectators were offered hot dogs for a dollar. Sadly, the Rhinos scored 12 goals; the Sabers couldn’t get one.

Carol was as annoyed and frustrated with the whole thing as we were, but John assured us that that is the norm for hockey in the American South West, and that their son actually enjoyed the razing. It makes him strive to play better.

To us it seemed like the goal of the Rhinos was not just to win, but to bully and humiliate their opponents. We were there for three hours. It was not an exciting game to watch. We did appreciate the night out though!