A Day of Exploring Scottsdale with Good Friends


It’s amazing to find how much more there is to learn about the places we’ve visited before. We’ve been to the Scottsdale area when we went to the Botanical Gardens, and the Museum of Instrumental Music (MIM) both of which I’ve written about before, but after being introduced to the blog. Chocolatour, by a friend, I knew we’d missed some interesting things in the downtown. So one Sunday morning we picked up our friends, Alice and Joe, and headed out.

The drive from Mesa is a good hour and a half. Once we found parking we decided that the best way to find what we wanted to see, and a place to eat, was to hop onto the free trolley. We stayed on it until it made a stop at the Western Museum, and then we got off to take some pictures outside.

When we discovered that it had just opened, we went into the lobby and the gift shop for a little exploring.

There were some incredible works of art.

We were getting hungry so we didn’t take time to do the tour. That will have to be another time. We set out on foot to see what we could find.

We were looking for Zak’s Chocolate that Doreen had mentioned in her blog, but we couldn’t find it. While waiting for our lunch at David’s Hamburgers (I enjoyed a very thick and tasty BLT while the others got their mouths around the tall Texas Burger), we learned from a Google search that Zak’s was a few miles out of the downtown core, and unfortunately, it isn’t open on Sundays. Of course the couple who run it, and make all of the chocolate with little help, need a day or two off, but our taste buds were disappointed. That will have to be next time!

However there were plenty of other things to see and explore!

After lunch we visited “Old Scottsdale”. We admired the old architecture and wondered at the antique farm equipment on display outside the many antique shops.

We took a tour of the beautifully restored Mission Church.

Back in the “new” downtown, we did some window shopping, lusting over the intricate, jeweled, had-made belt buckles and other dazzling jewelry that we knew we could never afford to own. We sauntered down Frontier Town where Alice satisfied our sweets craving by sampling some fresh fudge at Outrageous Olive Oils and Vinegars. We made our only purchase of the day when we split on the special deal of three pieces, to take home. Yumm.

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The sound of music drew us toward this beautiful park and museum area, which I later discovered was the Scottsdale Civic Centre Mall.

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This memorial depicts Scottdale’s founder, Chaplain Winfield Scott, welcoming newcomers, with his wife Helen seated on their beloved mule “Old Maud”

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Herb Drinkwater and his dog Sadie, Scottdale’s Mayor 1980-1996

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This Lagoon is filled with fountains and bronze statues and ducks

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We tried to catch a trolley back to where we’d parked the car, but kept missing it. Once we got walking in the right direction we discovered it wasn’t as far away as we’d thought, but we were all tired after that busy day. Next season we’ll try to return to explore the things we’ve still missed.

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Lost Dutchman Days in Apache Junction, and a Fine Arts and Craft Sale in Fountain Hills, Arizona


One cold Saturday morning, not too long ago, we got up early to travel east for the Lost Dutchman Days Parade, the start of the two day festival. By following another car through some gravel back lanes we managed to find ourselves a perfect place to park, just a short walk from the beginning of the parade route. We opened our folding chairs and settled in with our hot tea, bananas and granola bars. We hadn’t taken time for breakfast. Before long the Flag Bearers started things off and for half an hour we watched and waved as the numerous entries passed by. Some were familiar, having been in the Wickenburg Gold Rush Parade. Others were more local, and again, there were numerous horses.

When it was over we got back into our car and drove to the nearest restaurant that offered a hot breakfast. Our toes and fingers were feeling the cold. The Sports Grill served up a generous portion of orange juice, bacon, eggs, home fries and toast.

Once we were sufficiently warmed and fed, we drove out to the Rodeo Grounds to see what was there. I’d forgotten we’d been there once before. We wandered through the many vendor booths and the midway, but the only thing that interested us was this band that was playing under the big tent. The idea of paying to sit on cold metal benches to watch the rodeo appealed to us no more this time than last, so we struck out on another road trip that led us to Fountain Hills.

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The guy in the overalls has some of the fastest picking fingers we’ve ever seen!

We’ve been to Fountain Hills for the Fine Arts and Craft Sale a few times and each time it has been bigger. This year we got too tired, even after sampling some of the food-truck food, to walk the complete route, but we saw many beautiful things that would look great in our condo or motor home, if only they were bigger!

 

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The Fountain of Fountain Hills

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An Animal Rescue Centre had a live Armadillo, something we’d never seen before!

Fountain Hills is always a beautiful town to visit, located east of Scottsdale, Arizona, and a twenty minute drive along East Shea Boulevard, off Loop 101. We often take guest there so look for more on this community in future posts!

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.

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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

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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).

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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


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.