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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

cracked windshield

Our cracked windshield

IMG_3578

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Year Five of Our Trips to Arizona


Many of you know from following me on Face Book that we are now in El Paso, Texas, stranded until we can get a windshield replaced. I won’t go into further details now, because I’d rather share some of the lovely trip we’ve had along the way before this problem suddenly hit us. Before now I’ve not had adequate internet connections to post anything.

 

After his carpal tunnel surgery, Jim was forced to wait until October 17th before he had his second appointment with his surgeon and was given the green light for us to leave for Arizona. By then we had most of what we needed already loaded into the motorhome, and we’d planned to finish up some things in Peterborough while we were there, in preparation for leaving the next morning. Well, as usual, the best laid plans don’t always work out. The US money that I ordered wouldn’t be into my bank until the next day, and our barber wasn’t working that day. We got the rest done and figured we’d just stop back in on our way through Peterborough in the morning.

We were up very early to load the remaining items, mostly the food and the electronics. It didn’t seem like much, but it was 10:30 by the time we got away. When we were finished making our stops in Peterborough it was lunch time. We picked up wraps at Tim Horton’s and then finally got on the road. We’d planned to go only as far as Jim’s cousin’s place which we thought was near the Windsor/Detroit border. They were expecting us for dinner. It was just a tad further than we thought, but we arrived by 6:00 pm, exhausted. After a delicious meal of organic beef and fresh vegetables from their own farm, a couple of their friends joined us for some old fashioned hymn singing. One son played his guitar and Jim played his ukulele. It was a lovely evening.

The problem with getting together with long-lost relatives is that there is so much catching up to do and it’s hard to stop talking! Once again, we didn’t get on the road until after one in the afternoon. Therefore, we didn’t get too far that day either. We did have one new little adventure though. Dave had suggested we take a the ferry across the river from Sombra, Ontario to Marine City, Michigan, instead of our usual trip over the bridge into Detroit. It was small, and we had our doubts that there would be room for us, but they squeezed us on! It was a short and easy crossing into the US.

Wondering if they will take us

Wondering if they will take us

We squeezed on!

We squeezed on!

Entering the US

Entering the US

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

US Customs, Marine City

US Customs, Marine City

From Marine City we just pushed onward. Traffic going through Detroit was very slow, taking us over an hour to get through the city. Shortly after 6:00 we crossed the state border into Ohio and forty-five minutes later we called it a night in the Walmart parking lot in Napoleon, about two hours from the border into Indiana. The sunset was beautiful.

Sunset in Ohio

On day three we were up early and barreled right through Indiana and Illinois, stopping only for gas and meals. As usual, we got a little lost going through St.

Louis Missouri. We stopped at the KOA RV park in Stanton Missouri for a couple of nights so we could see the Meramec Caverns that we’d missed due to timing the first couple of times we were there. It had been raining off and on all day and was still drizzling when we arrived.

The next morning we left for the Caverns. This year we don’t have our trailer and motorcycle with us, so we have no transportation other than the RV. Jim thought we would unhook it and drive down to the Caverns, but it was only three miles. I thought we could walk as it was a nice day. After the first mile of winding, hilly road with little to no shoulders, we stopped at a yard sale to buy a backpack for $1.00 because the temperature had climbed and we found our hands were too full with cameras and water bottles, and the sweaters and jackets that we no longer needed. When we saw the sign for a very steep grade, we knew we might be in trouble when it was time to climb back up. The going down was difficult enough. We think that the three miles was as the crow flies, not as the road turns!

When we finally made it to the Meramec Caverns Centre, we had to nourish ourselves with pumpkin pie and coffee at the cafeteria before embarking on the eighty minute Cavern Tour.

At the entrance to the Caverns is a large room that was set up with a stage and chairs, ready for the 150th Annual Gospel Sing that would happen later in the day.

Meramec CavernsOutside Meramec Caverns

Outside Meramec Caverns

 

It wasn’t until we were about half way through the tour that we began to see the beautiful “decorations” inside the caverns, but it was a worthwhile, if pricey excursion.

Stalactites and Stalagmites

Stalactites and Stalagmites

Rippling Texture

Rippling Texture

Water Reflections

Water Reflections

Stalactites and Stalagmites

Stalactites and Stalagmites

Light Show Finale

Light Show Finale

Light Show Finale

Light Show Finale

Light Show Finale

Light Show Finale

When we returned to the surface we considered buying tickets for the Gospel Sing, but I was just too hungry. We hit the cafeteria once again for lunch. Once back outside we watched people taking the Zip-line over the parking lot and river. If we hadn’t been so tired, and hadn’t seen most of the participants struggle to make it back to the stand on their return trip, we might have tried it ourselves. Of course the cost of $50 each was a little prohibitive too.

Taking off

Taking off

And away!

And away!

Struggling against the wind

Struggling against the wind

We could postpone our trek back up the hill no longer, and we were right. We were in trouble. Half way up we started putting out our thumbs. The Gospel Sing had just ended and there was plenty of traffic, but the first half dozen cars passed us by. Finally, a nice senior couple stopped and cautiously allowed us into their back seat. I’m sorry that I didn’t get their names, but we had a nice chat and we were ever so grateful. We had walked over seven miles at that point, once again reminded that we are not as young as we sometimes think we are. We were in bed very early that night.

A Welcoming “Home”


December 8th in Mesa Regal! Yes, we did arrive safely without any more annoyances, last Wednesday. Although it wasn’t hot when we arrived, it was a whole lot warmer than the night before in Holbrook, and it was wonderful to be greeted by our neighbours. It’s like coming home to family. So much so that it takes a long time to get settled in because of all the stories to be shared as people pass by on the street. A couple of fellows helped Jim to unload the bike from the trailer and push the trailer into the lot, something I just didn’t feel quite confident enough to do this time. We love it! By the time we finally got things somewhat organized (slide out, floor swept, cooler outside instead in the middle of the floor, etc.) I was too tired to cook, so we began the walk to see what the Grill had to offer.  We didn’t get too far. Our neighbours Bob and Cheryall saw us going by and invited us in to share their lovely meal of leftover beef and gravy with lots of veggies and salad. After the equivalent of a   large glass of wine (Cheryall kept replenishing what I drank) to accompany it, all my former stresses had disappeared and I felt no pain in my hip that night while I slept.

Thursday morning we were at the weekly coffee and donuts meeting held in Regal Hall, with some of our neighbours who’d saved us seats. This meeting is an opportunity for the Activity Committee and the Sales Team to bring us up-to-date on the coming events for the next week.

When we got home from there, we sorted the laundry in order to take it to the laundry room. I searched everywhere I could think of, but I couldn’t find either of the two laundry cards that we possess. I had to buy yet another when I finally got to the laundry room that evening, while Jim went to the ukulele jam. Somehow we just never got off the block during the day.

But our troubles weren’t over quite yet. On Friday when we did some grocery shopping at the very convenient Fry’s Store I discovered that the change they’d made at the end of last winter season, the one that caused my Debit Visa Card to become “unaccepted” was still not resolved. Fortunately I had some cash. Then we went to the fresh produce market across the street, where I had no problem using that same card last year, only to find that it no longer works there either. Back at the park, I went to the ATM to withdraw some more cash, knowing that was never a problem. The ATM was temporarily out-of-order! By the end of the day I discovered that somewhere along my journeys I’d lost the new bracelet that I’d treated myself to at the Country Store that morning. Saturday morning our fridge decided again that it was a freezer. Luckily most of the fruit and veggies I’d bought the day before were in the outside cooler. It was Sunday morning when Jim figured out how to fix that, and things started to turn around.

We borrowed a neighbour’s car and drove to Phoenix to look for another car; Jim drove back in this 2003 Sebring!

car

It seems to be a very good buy. We might not want to sell this one at the end of the winter. That evening we went out for dinner with a group of ukulele players, and then to the Mesa Arts Centre to see, again, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain – another fabulous two hour show.

img_20161204_213648980

Other than finding out that the local internet provider, Century Link, was unable to connect us up this year because the wiring at this, our new chosen site, is fried, the week has gone well. We went back to using a T-Mobile Hot Spot for internet. We spent some time watching the three-day Pickleball Tournament here in the park; I volunteered a couple of hours working in the kitchen selling lunches.

img_1650

We got the RV washed. Today I was pleased to see that my Debit Visa Card still works at Costco, and that I was able to dance to the rock and roll music of Come Back Buddy on the patio this afternoon.

img_20161208_155845576_hdr

The temperature climbed enough for us to dig out the shorts too. Life is good (as long as I can ignore that little nagging feeling in my gut that something just isn’t right and trouble is on the way). That reminds me – better register with the Canadian Embassy.

That’s all for now folks. Hope to have some new real adventure stories in the new year, but for now it looks like birthday parties and Christmas parties and bocce ball and maybe some pickleball are filling our calendar.

WISHING YOU AND YOURS A MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Texas, Oklahoma and Home: Concluding another RV Adventure


After a goodbye breakfast with neighbours, we finished the last minute preparations, and left Mesa, Arizona shortly before noon on April 1st. At 4:30 we were in Winslow, Arizona sitting on the corner eating ice cream, while watching first-time visitors posing for the same pictures we had taken on our first visit.

When we’d finished the ice cream, we decided to call it a day. We found a campground listed in a flyer we’d picked up so called to reserve a spot. The woman implied that it was filling up quickly, and it was a good thing we’d called ahead. We didn’t expect a lot of amenities because the rates were fairly low, but when we arrived at Winslow Pride RV, we had difficulty recognizing it as a campground. It was located behind a convenience store. The gravel driveway was full of many water-filled potholes, and the water and electric hookups looked very doubtful.  We chose to use only the electrical since we still had plenty of water on-board. There were many empty spots.

IMG_1036

Water tap bearably visible, beside sewer connection.

We’d taken the same course, on I-40 through Gallup, and Tucumcari, New Mexico, through a corner of windy Texas, and into Oklahoma before, but this time the weather was warmer and there seemed to be more RV Campsites available.

We made one stop in McLean, Texas for lunch. McLean is one of the many towns that were once vibrant when Route 66 was the main highway crossing the nation and ran through them, bringing lots of business.  Now McLean is practically a ghost town with many boarded up buildings and dilapidated homes. Not one of the three museums was open, but we did find a The Chuck Wagon Diner, where we shared the daily special of cheeseburger meat loaf served with gravy (of course), mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, a fresh dinner roll and a piece of cake! Even shared it was too much food for us to finish, but it was tasty.

Near Oklahoma City we found a familiar RV Campground, Rockwell RV, where we stayed for the night.  The weather, that had been cooler after we left Arizona, had warmed up to 85°F.

Total length of this rig, including truck, trailer and towed vehicle -- 80 feet!

Total length of this rig, including truck, trailer and towed vehicle — 80 feet!

The next morning we drove into downtown Oklahoma City and spent a few hours enjoying the scenery along the River Walk and taking many, many photos of the magnificent, larger-than-life bronze statues depicting the Land Runs of 1889. Be sure to come back to click on the link and all the menu items on it. It’s a wondrous story. I did find the monument that honoured the natives from whom the land had originally been taken, disturbing.

We had lunch at jazmo’z Bourbon Street Cafe on the canal,

before getting onto the I-44 to Joplin, Missouri where we stayed for the night.

The next day we veered away from I-44 and took a scenic drive through the Ozarks on Hwy 265, stopping for lunch at Lambert’s Café (Home of the Tossed Rolls and extra large coffees) before getting back on course.

After that, home was our only goal. We stopped only for food, gas and sleep. Our last morning, in Erie, Pennsylvania, we woke up to find snow on the ground and Jim said, “I wish I’d listened to the GPS when she told us to make a U-turn when safe to do so!”

We were thankful that there was no snow when we arrived home by dinner time on April 7th.

I, for one, was happy to get out of the motor home that was feeling very cramped after seven months of living in it. But it was an excellent adventure!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this adventure. Thanks for joining us. Likes, comments and new followers are appreciated.

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.

Asbury St. Decor

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

SanFran (16)

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.

Three States in Three Days with Lots to See and Do


It’s hard to believe that it’s been only five days since we left Canada and we’ve already been through Washington and Oregon and are now deep into California.

Our first stop was Seattle, Washington where we arrived at rush hour so spent some time crawling along Hwy. 5 before turning off in search of somewhere to park for the night. Jim wanted to stay in the downtown so we could tour on foot the next day. However, there was only one RV Park that we could find listed near downtown and we were told that it wasn’t really a “camping” type of park, but only for long term, i.e. minimum of 30 days. At 6:30, hungry and tired, we asked if we could park overnight in the gated Home Depot Store/Rental Centre. We could, but had to be out before things got busy in the morning. With no restaurants within sight, we ate my left over Quesadilla from lunch. Close by there was…you guessed it… a train track crossing, and a shipyard! Things got quieter after 11:00 pm, but at 5:00 am street cleaners were at work just outside our door. We were up and out of there by 6:30 in search of breakfast (we hadn’t yet restocked our cupboards and fridge since crossing the border), and a place to park for the day. After a couple of hours I suggested we drive further south to a KOA Campground that was close to public transit. We got settled in there just in time to catch the 10:15 bus that would take us to the rapid transit station. Well, it would have if we hadn’t missed the stop. We waited at the end of the line for another bus to take us back.

Finally, at noon we were sitting down to lunch in a cafeteria, and from there took the monorail to The Space Needle, a remnant the Seattle Worlds Fair, where our tour began. The view from the Needle was worth the hour wait.

Space Needle

Space Needle

IMG_1293 IMG_1303 IMG_1305We caught the monorail back, and then the rapid transit to Pioneer Square, where we took the hour long tour of the Underground City. I found the history of the first city of Seattle interesting, but the actual remains not as impressive as I had expected. The tour guide was excellent though.

Underground City

The sidewalk grates provided the only light to the Underground City

Underground City

One store in the Underground City, perhaps updated?

We’d planned to meet other Mesa friends, Nita and Fred, for dinner, but that didn’t work out for them in the end.

After sandwiches at the nearby Subway, we boarded the train and bus back to the campsite. It was a wonderful day, but by the time we got back, at 7:15 pm it felt like midnight! I opened the fridge to get a drink of water and discovered that, from all the banging and bumping we’d done while crossing cobblestone intersections and jamming on brakes when it looked like someone was going to pull out in front of us that morning, a jar of Kalamati Olives had managed to flip completely upside down and all the juice had drained into the vegetable bins and the door shelves. Sigh. Not quite what I wanted to do that evening.

The next morning we enjoyed a hot breakfast available at the campground, before we got on the road again. We drove through intermittent cloud and rain, but the temperatures started to rise. When we were ready to stop for the night, there seemed to be few campsites around, but I thought I’d found a good one on public land near the reservoir at Cottage Grove, Oregon It took a bit to find it, only to discover that it was closed for the season. I’d missed that little detail at the bottom of the description. However we found a day Park with a paved parking lot right next to the reservoir. We parked there for the night. Fortunately we had stopped at a grocery store to buy a few groceries so we had food for dinner and breakfast.

Cottage Grove Reservoir

Room with a View of Reservoir

IMG_1343The next day, a visit to the Information Centre in California resulted in a decision to camp somewhere near the Shasta Caverns so we could do the 10:00 am tour the next day. It was only 3:00 pm when we pulled into Shasta RV Resort and Campground, but it was nice to have a shorter day. We enjoyed a walk through the forest and along the Shasta Reservoir while the sun was warm, and that evening we had great WiFi connections that enabled us to catch up on email, and I could add the pictures to my last blog post. If you want to see them, check it out.

Shasta RV Resort and Campground, California

Shasta RV Resort and Campground, California

IMG_1372Today, we did the Shasta Cavern Tour. It was quite the adventure, one that I will share in detail in my next post. I will say that we enjoyed it, but we were reminded that we aren’t as fit as we should be.

Tonight we’re at the Vineyard Campground, seventy miles away from San Francisco, where we will go tomorrow for a few days.