Settled Back into our “Summer Home”


It’s been almost a week since we arrived back in Hastings, Ontario. I apologize if any of my readers and friends have been concerned about us, since my last post was about the high winds. We did get away from there the next day, but poor internet connections prohibited posting pictures so I postponed blogging. Once home, there was a week’s worth of household chores, and of course we had to play some pickle ball. Activity was very much needed after nearly 10 days of mostly sitting in the motor home.

We did have a few adventures along the way though.

We got away from Clovis, New Mexico shortly after 8:00 a.m. and, despite the usual strong winds across Texas, the sun was shining and we made good time. We made one stop in Texas, back in McLean hoping for lunch at the Chuck-wagon Restaurant we’d visited before. We were disappointed to discover that, being a Wednesday, it was closed, so we pulled onto the road shoulder near the highway entrance and finished off some leftovers. We were once more struck by the desolation of the town, which probably had once been booming before the new highway bi-passed it. Beside us was what appeared to be a large motel, now overgrown with vegetation.

By 2:00 we were in Oklahoma; two hours later Jim was beginning to feel the effects of fighting the winds. We’d already stopped once to check the awning on the slide out because it was constantly banging, but it was just the wind playing with the spring. I found a KOA at El Reno, but it was fully booked. This doesn’t often happen this time of year. We moved on for another hour. I called ahead to reserve a spot in the Rockwell RV Park where we’ve stayed a few times, near Oklahoma City. The weather was much cooler than it had been last year.  We took a walk around the park for some exercise, stopping to see the Buffalo in the pen, before heating up the last of the chicken pot pies for dinner.

The next morning we drove to Bricktown, Oklahoma City in search of the Banjo Museum. We found a place to park beside the Land Run display along the River Walk. We had to walk through there again, and discovered many details that we’d missed the first time.  It’s still one of our favourite places.

To get to the Banjo Museum, we walked nearly to the other end of the River Walk and up onto the streets. Jim was following a map he’d found in a travel brochure of Oklahoma City, but it wasn’t quite right.  It took us some time to find it; however, it was worth the effort. Two floors displayed these beautiful instruments that not only are used to entertain, but are works of art!

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When we left there an hour later, we returned to Jazzmo’z for another delicious lunch before getting back on the road again. After that, we focused on our destination – home. We stopped only for gas, meals and sleeping. The folks at the Cracker Barrel chain along the way became our best friends. Construction near Troy Illinois held us up for an hour, meaning we got only as far as the Casey KOA on day seven, but we sailed through Indiana and a good portion of Ohio the next day before stopping at a Cracker Barrel, where we always have dinner and breakfast in exchange for the privilege of staying in the parking lot for the night.

By 3:00 p.m. of day nine we were crossing the border into Canada at Buffalo, New York, seeing only a bit of snow in the ditches of Pennsylvania. While traversing the bridge the side mirror (yes the one that almost fell off on our way down!) caught in a section of the chain link fence that had been erected along the under-construction sidewalk, cracking the case and leaving the lower part of the mirror hanging. There was nothing we could do about it before we got through Customs. There was a big crowd of vehicles filling the lanes right back to the beginning of the bridge. A fellow directing traffic managed to get us across three lanes of cars to the Bus Loading Lane, where we had to go into a building to check in. While Jim answered questions I watched an officer come out of the back, take a look around with his hands on his hips and then retreat without a word. I could be wrong, but the dazed look on his face and the weird eyes made me think that he might be stoned. That could have been a scary thing!

Once we were back into Canada Jim pulled over to put the mirror back together, and a few miles later we stopped for Tim Horton’s coffee, and to change the phone SIM card. Then we were into the crazy slow Toronto traffic. It had taken us only six hours to get from Ohio to Buffalo; it took us four more to get home! The restaurants of Hastings were already closed, so I had to make us some dinner. I was tired and hungry, but it was good to be home.

 

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!

From Las Cruces to Clovis, We’re Still in New Mexico!


 

This might just be our longest trip home yet!

As I mentioned in my last post, we stopped on Monday night at the Coachlight Inn and RV Park in Las Cruces. There were some “interesting” rvs in that park! Obviously no restrictions on what you had or how long you stayed applied.

The weather was good when we left and got warmer as we drove. In fact, at one point my upper legs inside my black jeans got a little bit burned from the sun streaming through the window. Then it was time to change into shorts and sandals.

The scenery gradually changed to more trees and less desert. It was quite beautiful. One snow-capped mountain peak caught my attention, behind lower mountain ranges, and we seemed to follow it for twenty miles or more. I think it might be Captain Mountain.

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We stopped for a late lunch in Roswell and ended up spending a couple of hours there, taking pictures and touring the UFO Museum. Roswell is the nearest town to the suspected site of the UFO crash in 1947. It was really interesting to read all of the articles and eye-witness accounts on display in the museum, some believable; some questionable. Is it true that, after admitting to the event, the government suddenly had a change of heart and covered it all up ?

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The theme of the whole city is aliens and UFOs, with souvenir shops selling every sort of thing that could be imagine from post cards to green soccer balls painted to look like alien heads.

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This creative interpretation was outside one shop.

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It was a fun few hours, but the delay meant we wouldn’t make it out of New Mexico that night. And today extremely high winds are keeping us put right where we ended up, at Travelers World Good Sam RV Park outside Clovis, New Mexico! The temperature has dropped and we’ve had a bit of rain. Because we don’t dare engage our leveling jacks for fear they won’t retract, the coach is really rocking.

Hoping tomorrow we might make it across Texas, but that’s not even certain. Good thing we allowed ourselves two weeks to get home.

Leaving Mesa Regal


The time has flown by this winter, probably because we were late arriving in Arizona in the fall. The last weeks were filled with a bit of pickleball and a whole lot of eating out with friends before saying goodbyes. I will really miss all those people who have become an integral part of our lives. But I am anxious to get back to my efficient, well equipped kitchen in Ontario.  It’s been over a month since I’ve had a properly working fridge, which meant we ate out too much.

We left Mesa Regal at noon on April 1st, after our motorhome played a trick on us – the leveling Jacks refused to rise up off the ground. It took about an hour before the problem was solved with an electric drill being used to manually lift them to their traveling position. When we finally got the bike loaded into the trailer, said our final goodbyes and started off, we realized that when we’d parked and covered the car in its storage spot, we’d left the GPS in it! Fortunately it was just a few streets away so we swung by, uncovered the car, retrieved the GPS and re-covered the car. We were already tired! Some lunch helped, and then we were on our way.

By 4:00 we were almost at the turn off for Tombstone. We decided to stop there for the night, and spend part of the next day seeing some of the things we missed the last time we visited that old city. We found a spot in the Stampede RV Park, within walking distance of all the attractions. In the morning, after breakfast served in the park’s Coach Stop, we took the trolley tour,

witnessed a comedy version of the notorious gunfights common in the old west

and looked around the Rose Museum, where the world’s largest rose is huge and presently blooming.

A big thanks goes out to Sue in the RV Park office who gave us a great summary of what to find and where.There are still a few more sites to see, but at 1:00 we knew if we were going to get out of Arizona before the day was out, we had to get back on the road.

We made it to Las Cruces, New Mexico before it was too dark, and stayed at the Coachlight Motel & RV Park.

A Cruise on the Dolly Steamboat and New Views of Superstition Mountain


As many times as we’ve driven up to and around Superstition Mountain, we’d not taken a trip on the Steamboat that we often saw when we skirted Canyon Lake so this year we decided this would be one of the highlights when Jim’s daughter Karen was here. Two old friends and two new friends joined us.

After lunch at Tortilla Flat, we drove back down the road to the Dolly Steamboat Boarding Area and waited in line to pick up our boarding passes. We’d reserved our spots online a week or more earlier, which was a good thing because tickets were sold out.

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The day was perfect. We were too far back in the line to get seats on the upper deck, but there were plenty of opportunities to duck outside to the open bow and stern decks to capture some of the natural wonders hiding in the 1300 foot cliffs around us. The captain, using a PA system, let us know where to look for things he knew would be of particular interest.

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Long-horn Sheep roaming the cliffs

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Bald Eagle Nest – some were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the eagle

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J. S. Bach gave us a performance (with the help of the captain and PA system)

Because spring has come early to the area this year, we saw a whole new version of Superstition Mountain. Instead of the various shades of browns, grays and reddish rocks that were in all our previous photos, this time there were the yellows and reds and greens of the flowering trees and cacti, and mosses and lichens. Everything was in bloom!

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We also managed to find views without hydro wires, after the cruise was done and we were on our way back down to Apache Junction.

Wishing Everyone a Happy Easter!

 

 

No, We Never Get Bored in Mesa, Arizona


We thought we had a good internet solution with our T-Mobile hot spot, and for the first few weeks it was. But we soon ran out of data when we started sharing pictures and looking at videos. It became impossibly slow so I had to give up on trying to post on my blog. Now we are hooked up with Century Link and hoping that it will continue to serve us well.

Contrary to the impression we have given of always having warm sunny weather here, today is rainy and cold. In fact yesterday morning it was colder here than it was back home in Ontario! So it’s a good day to catch up on all the things that have been keeping us busy the last few weeks.

When I was talking to my sister at Christmas time last year, she thought we would have been home already. I told her we wouldn’t be “home” until the middle of April. She said, ”Aren’t you bored?”

I replied, “If you get bored down here, it’s your own fault!” Here are some reasons why:

Besides enjoying good food and music and dancing on the patio with our many friends at Mesa Regal, we’ve enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast with our American friends;

We celebrated the birthday of one of those friends, with an evening at the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas display;

We’ve spent a good part of a day touring area roads on the motorcycle, with other Mesa Regal enthusiasts;

We’ve played pickle ball and bocce ball, and for three days last week cheered on good friends who were in the Pickle Ball Tournament, held right here at Mesa Regal RV Resort.

Jim makes a good shot at Bocce Ball

Jim makes a good shot at Bocce Ball

Patti and Mark Earned a Silver Medal

Patti and Mark Earned a Silver Medal

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We participated in the Tree Lighting Ceremony and caroling on the west-end patio;

We rounded out the last week with a ride on the light rail train to Tempe with two of our neighbours for dinner, followed by a stroll to the Salt River to watch the annual Lighted Boat Parade and Fireworks on Saturday evening,

And a drive to Glendale on Sunday with friends and neighbours to view these marvelous Sand Sculptures that were still being finished off near the end of the three-day competition.

So, no, we are never bored down here. But we might be when we return to our Ontario home!

San Francisco, Again, From a Different Perspective


As I mentioned in my last post, I was suffering with some major pain in my left back and hip the morning after we did the Shasta Caverns Tour. I really don’t know if that walking had anything to do with it. It could be sciatica; it could be a worn out hip joint. I was hoping that the pain would dissipate before we reached San Francisco.

We arrived at our reserved spot next to the wall overlooking the beach, at the San Francisco RV Resort in Pacifica at 1:00 p.m. on October 21st. This spot is a lot pricier than the one we stayed in the last time we visited, and we had only dry camping (no water, sewer or electrical hook-up), but the view was worth it. The temperature was warm enough for us to don our shorts for the first time. Unfortunately, Pacifica is ten miles away from downtown San Francisco. The plan was to ride the motorcycle to the Rapid Transit Station, and then take that downtown. But the pain in my hip was not letting up. There was no way I could lift my leg over the bike seat. It was all I could do to walk a few blocks to the nearest restaurant for lunch. After ice and pain medication it felt a little better and I could take no more sitting inside on such a gorgeous day, so we decided to try walking down the boardwalk along the beach to the pier that we could see in the distance. It wasn’t so bad going, and we took lots of pictures, but it was much further away than it looked.

Distant Pier

The distant pier along the shore at Pacifica

Shoreline Trail

The shoreline trail where we were camped above the ocean

SanFran (5)ShorelineWe were fascinated with these little birds that scurried in and out from the edge of the waves along the beach’

Birds on Beach

Tiny birds running on the beach

On the pier we watched many different coloured sea gulls that waited for fish or food scraps from the fishermen, and a lone pelican that sat still on the railing.

SanFran (8) Birds on the PierWhen we arrived back at the RV two hours later, I was in agony. From the front of the RV, we watched the beautiful sunset over the ocean, and the moon rising behind us. I was determined to do better the next day.

Sun setting

SunsetMoon RisingI still wasn’t up to climbing onto the bike the following morning, but after sitting on an ice pack, taking more pain meds, and rubbing on some lotions, I was able to walk the few blocks to catch a bus to the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) Station that took us downtown. The first thing we did was purchase transit passes. For $26 each we got three-day passes to ride any city bus, street car or cable car as many times as we needed. Jim really wanted to do the tour of Alcatraz, so we caught a street car to the Piers where the tour began. He was disappointed to discover that it was booked up until Saturday and we had to leave on Friday. He’d read that some of the City Tours included Alcatraz in their packages, but it took us several tries and a couple of hours to find one that did, only to learn that they too were sold out.

Alcatraz

Alcatraz, so near and yet so far

Instead, we purchased a regular tour package, at a discounted price because of the late time of day. We were assured we could use it again the next day too. We took a one and a half hour tour around the downtown, learning some of the history of the different parts of the city. When the tour was done strolled around the Fisherman’s Warf area, and had clam chowder in a bread bowl for dinner before catching the street car back to the BART station.

Seals at Fisherman's Warf

Seals basking in the sun at Fisherman’s Warf

The temperature had taken a plunge once the sun went down, and I hadn’t taken a sweater along. By the time I got off the bus back at the RV Park, I was cold, tired and ready for more Advil.

The next day we did it all again, this time taking the tour through Golden Gate Park and down to the coast for pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. The park is huge, and beautiful. I would like to have explored it more.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

When we got back to the downtown we did get off at the Ashbury and Haight corner to experience what’s left of the” hippy era”. Instead of stepping into the “Glass Gallery” that a friendly, bearded fellow wearing a top hat assured us we’d like, we relaxed with a wonderful Chai Tea at a little café.

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A fine example of some of the interesting decor on Ashbury and Haight Streets

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Glass Gallery?

We had to take at least a short ride on the cable car before we said goodbye to the city, but I wasn’t up to hanging on the side like we did last time.

Cable Car

Cable Car

It was certainly a different visit than our first, when we took the ferry into the downtown, from the other side, and spent our days walking and hopping on and off streetcars and trolleys. This time we had a new city walking tour app that would have been a great help, had I been able to walk more. Here’s your chance to try it out for free.

Mind Traveler has recently partnered with GPSmyCity to bring you access to one of these detailed apps that will answer all your questions about what to do and where to find it, in whichever city you choose. To get this free app all you need to do is be one of the first 20 Mind Traveler readers to like and comment on this post, telling me what motivates you to travel, and which city you plan to visit next. The codes for the free apps will be sent at the end of two weeks from the date of this post, or shortly after I’ve received 20 responses, whichever comes first. Note: These apps are currently available for only Apple devices. For a list of cities that are covered, visit www.gpsmycity.com

Be sure to follow this blog to get notifications of future posts and opportunities.

Shasta Caverns, Shasta Lake, California


We are already much further south, at Ventura, California as I write this post, but I promised I’d give you the scoop on Shasta Caverns, so I will do that first and hope to catch up again soon.

I have to say that these caverns are very interesting, and the area around them beautiful, although not as colourful as others we have toured. However, the tour comes with a warning – they aren’t for those with heart conditions or walking difficulties, especially stair climbing. And if you are in a large motor home, pulling a trailer, your driving skills and brakes need to be optimized. Here’s why:

The road into the Shasta Cavern Tours office is 1½ miles of narrow, uphill roads with hair-pin turns that had me holding my breath at times. It was a relief to finally reach the parking lot and see that there was actually room there for us to turn around and park!

We bought our tickets. When the announcement that the tour would start was made, we were given fifteen minutes to get to the boat that would ferry us across the lake. That was a another warning. We had to walk downhill almost as far as we’d driven up it seemed. One Hundred and Fifty stairs (or ramps if you preferred) switched back and forth, and then several more switch-backs on sand and gravel took us to the shore, where a large open pontoon boat with metal seats along the outsides and down the centre and powered by two 150 H.P. Yamaha motors, picked us up. The trip across the lake was beautiful. On the other side a ramp was let down so we could disembark, and then climb up a small hill to an awaiting mini-bus. The captain of the boat was also the driver of the bus, and the tour guide. If you think the sound of the drive up in the motor home sounded nerve-racking, you wouldn’t want to be on that bus; more hair-pin and S-turns sometimes at a 17% slope and hanging on the edge of the cliff. Good thing I was in the outside seat! We soon arrived at the little log cabin where the actual tour into the caverns began. Again there was a lot of climbing and although the stairs didn’t bother me, the high elevations did cause some heart palpitations that forced me to stop now and again for a rest. After any long climb there were always benches to sit upon. Our guide gave us lots of the history of the caverns and helped keep our minds off the physical challenge with some light-hearted chatter. The walking paths and stairs were all solid and railed. We saw some amazing examples of nature inside the several rooms that had been discovered. I’ll let you decide if it would be worth it to you.

The drive up

The drive up

The narrow road

The Narrow Road

Driving UpThe Walk Down to the Lake

The stairs to and from the lake

The stairs to and from the lake

Walking down

Crossing the Lake

Crossing the Lake

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View from Above

View From Above

Inside the Caverns

Inside Caverns

inside caverns inside caverns inside caverns IMG_1461 IMG_1458Inside CavernsWhen the tour was over, we had to climb back down many more stairs to the bus, make the return trip to the lake, cross the lake, and climb back up the hill. Someone asked how many stairs there were in total and we were told 150 up and down the hill to and from the boat, and 691 through and out of the caverns! Is it any wonder that we were exhausted when we crawled into bed that night, and that I suffered with major hip pain for the next five days? It did make me feel better to hear some of the much younger people on the tour huffing and puffing just as much as we. It was another Adventure, for sure!

Next time I’ll tell you about San Francisco and a little contest, perhaps.