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.

From Kaslo to Vancouver in the Motorhome, With a Few Detours


Our Canadian Tour has nearly come to an end. It’s been a busy time and I’ve fallen behind with blog posts, so before we start a new chapter with the US continuation of the trip, here is a summary of where we’ve been and what we’ve done since leaving Kaslo. Two posts about interesting things in Kaslo will follow. Since media uploads seem to be limited where we are, I will have to add more pictures, or do more detailed posts about some of these places later.

After a week of mostly sunny weather in Kaslo, and a trip with Sarah to Nelson, the weather turned dark and rainy when we left on the Saturday. We arrived in Vernon mid-afternoon and spent two nights with our friends, Judy and Keith. The sun was shining there. One morning Jim helped Keith pick the grapes from his vineyard, ready to be picked up by a commercial wine-maker. And I didn’t take any pictures! On the way home from dinner that night, we saw the eclipse of the harvest moon. I did take some pictures of that, but without a tripod handy, they didn’t turn out very well.

Monday morning we were on our way to Kamloops to meet up with some friends from our ukulele group in Mesa. Debby offered to put together a jam session with others from her Kamloops Ukulele Orchestra, and we had a great time playing for an hour or more. I was reminded again that I need to do more practicing if I want to keep up with that bunch, but it was fun. Thanks for organizing and hosting it, Debby.

Ukulele Jam

Ukulele Jam

Our campsite was along the South Thompson River, where we could watch some dragon boats glide by on their practice night.

South Thompson River

South Thompson River

Fortunately we were within walking distance of downtown Kamloops, since our trailer was parked up against a cliff, making it too difficult to get the bike out. We’d booked for two nights so we spent Tuesday walking across the Red Bridge and around the downtown. It’s a very interesting city to explore, but we were exhausted by the time we’d walked back to the motor home.

Crossing on the Red Bridge

Crossing on the Red Bridge

Before leaving the next day, we met with another friend, Patti, and her husband Wayne for lunch. Patti is another ukulele player from Mesa, but she couldn’t make it to the jam the day before. Thanks for a great lunch! It was fun to catch up.

From Kamloops we turned back south towards Hope. On the way, we stopped at Coquihalla Provincial Park to view the old Othello (railway) Tunnels, a stop recommended by Patti. They are amazing and well worth the stop. Also amazing was the fact that we met a woman, along the trail, who’s sister lives in the little Ontario town of Hastings, where we live!

Othello Tunnels

Othello Tunnels

IMG_1083 IMG_1090We spent the night in Hope, and were in Vancouver at Capilano River RV Park by noon the next day. It’s conveniently located just under the Lions Gate Bridge in West Vancouver, close to Park Royal Shopping Plaza, but the lots are very close together, with barely enough room to use the slides. The day was sunny and warm, but because we had domestic chores to catch up with, we got out only long enough to walk across the little bridge to the plaza for lunch.

On Friday we wanted to go to White Rock to another ukulele jam, also recommended by Patti, so off we went on the bike, ukuleles strapped into the back pack. Since we hadn’t yet put the GPS onto the bike we were going by Jim’s memory of a map. Three hours later, after getting lost while trying to visit Granville Island first, and then ending up on Hwy. 99A rather than 99, we finally arrived with ten minutes to spare! This group was much larger and zipped through tunes from their own song books. I had trouble keeping up, and even Jim got lost at times. But again, we had fun and learned a few things. We each purchased one of the two books which we will be able to use in Mesa.

None of the family we planned to visit was in Vancouver that week, so we spent Saturday just doing some shopping and staying in out of the rain. Early Sunday morning we loaded up the bike and caught the Tawassan Ferry to Victoria. After a cool start, the sun came out and warmed things up. Victoria is a marvelous place to visit. We took the Hop-on-Hop-off bus tour and had lunch at the award-winning Barb’s Fish and Chips outdoor eatery on Fisherman’s Warf. If we couldn’t go to Arizona, this would be a nice place to spend the winters – not as warm, but seldom snow or freezing temperatures. It’s very expensive though.

IMG_1120On the ferry to Victoria

On the ferry to Victoria

Tiny Floating Homes at the Warf

Tiny Floating Homes at the Wharf

IMG_1168Fishermen"s Warf, Victoria

Fishermen”s Wharf, Victoria

The sun was beginning to sink behind the hills when we finally got back onto the bike and rode to Nanaimo, where would stay for the night and catch the morning ferry to Denman Island, and then Hornby Island. By the time we got to Nanaimo I was shivering so much I couldn’t stop. We warmed up with bowls of hot chili and mugs of tea/coffee at Tim Horton’s, across the street from the Howard Johnson Hotel, where we stayed. We were impressed with the cleanliness and quality of the hotel, and especially liked the front desk clerk, Billy, a bubbly blond woman who was interested in the fact that we were on a motorcycle because she’d just recently bought herself a bike.

We just missed the 10:00 am ferry from Buckley Bay to Denman Island. We enjoyed lunch in the sunshine on the deck of the Subway Restaurant at the terminal, and waited for the next one.

Waiting for Ferries

While Waiting for Ferries

While we waited for the ferry on Denman Island that would take us to Hornby Island, we watched a seal dive for fish.

Seal fishing off wharf on Denman Island

Seal fishing off wharf on Denman Island

Watching the Ferry ramp descend

Watching the Ferry ramp descend

The next five days we spent just relaxing with my sister Pauline, her husband Jim, and the “woofer” (young travelers who work for room and board), Stephan, and three Retrievers. My niece and her family were away on a trip, so it was quieter than usual. Heavy rain on most days after we arrived deterred us from taking our usual walks on the beach, but we did enjoy coffee on the deck of the general store at The Cove one morning, and walked among the boats moored in the harbor. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a home cooked chicken dinner on Saturday night, and then Sunday morning we were dashing for ferries again, this time back to our motor home in Vancouver.

Toll Bridge, Surrey BC

The new Toll Bridge on Hwy 1 at Surrey, heading into Vancouver.

This is where we are as I write this blog post. We’ve shared as much time as possible the last few days with my daughter Ann and great-grandson, Lucas, and cheered for the Blue Jays. But during the day Ann has to work while the sun shines (she’s a landscaper) and Lucas goes to school.

On our own one day, we found our way downtown to Canada Place, and Gas Town, both busy and interesting places during the summer, but much quieter this time of year.

Canada Place

Canada Place

Where Cruise Ships dock. Sadly, none there that day.

Where Cruise Ships dock. Sadly, none there that day.

Canada Place Vancouver

Gas Town, Vancouver

One of the many interesting old buildings in Gastown, Vancouver

Stream Clock in Gastown

Stream Clock in Gastown, a popular attraction

IMG_1264

The time spent with family has been precious, but today it’s time for us to start making our way to Arizona.

Exploring and Camping in Canada’s National Parks Part II


Banff National Park

We were awake at dawn the next morning so thought we’d postpone breakfast and get back onto the Parkway before other traffic, hoping, again, to see some of the wildlife that a multitude of signs along the road warned us about. We saw none. Fifty-two kilometers later we finally came to the only service area on the Parkway so we stopped for breakfast. It was nearly 9:00, but neither the restaurant nor cafeteria were quite ready to open. We looked at the restaurant menu and decided that we’d just grab some coffee at the store and eat cereal in the motor home. The Continental Breakfast would cost us $14.95 each, and the full breakfast buffet of bacon, eggs, sausages and pancakes, would be $25.00 each! As it was, two coffee cost $7.50.

The higher we climbed over the mountain pass, the more snow we saw on the evergreen trees and in the ditches. Fortunately it wasn’t on the roads. That’s the kind of snow I like to see! It was beautiful. By 10:30 we had crossed into Banff National Park.

Glacier Parkway

Glacier Parkway between the Glacier Centre and Banff

Glacier Pkwy (176)

It was just before noon when we reached our next planned destination, Lake Louise, but because it was still early we agreed to continue on to Banff and stop at Lake Louise on the way back the next day. An hour later we were at the Information Centre in downtown Banff getting campground information and lunch locations suggestions. We walked to JK Bakery and Cafe to fill up on salad and homemade lasagna for much less than the breakfast offered along the way. I also picked up a big loaf of their fresh multi-grain bread for less than the price of it in a grocery store. Look for it if you are ever in Banff.

We found a lovely, full hook-up campsite at Tunnel Mountain Trailer Park, that included a bus stop to catch the bus back into town, which we did as soon as we were hooked up. After looking around the shops, we found a grocery store where we bought a few supplies, and then had dinner at Tony Roma’s. To our surprise, the same cheery young Australian woman who’d waited on us at JK Bakery was our hostess here. In fact, most of the servers in the restaurant spoke with Australian accents. They love Banff, and I can’t blame them.

Banff

Banff

Banff

Our Campground

Banff (7) Banff (11)While we waited for our return bus I chatted with Wendy from London, England, who was in Banff on a bus tour.

The next afternoon we were out of the National Parks and into British Columbia. We decided to bypass Lake Louise this trip.

Exploring and Camping in Canada’s National Parks, Part I


Jasper National Park

We said goodbye to Edmonton just before noon on September 13, and entered the Whistlers campsite in Jasper National Park at 5:45 pm. Once we got out of the city suburbs the landscape began to change to hills and forests and then mountain vistas. I managed to capture some of the splendor with the camera, finding some clear spots between the splattered bugs and drops of rain on the windshield.

Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park

Jasper (16) Jasper (21)At the entrance to the National Parks we had to purchase a Park Permit at $8.25 per person, per day. Not bad for all that we saw! We purchased for two days to start.

We roamed around downtown Jasper, checked email and had a late lunch at Denny’s before we went to the campsite.

Jasper, Alberta

Some of downtown Jasper, Alberta

Jasper (29) Jasper (31) Jasper (32)It rained off and on most of the day, but had stopped when arrived at Whistlers, and we got a walk in before it started again. We’d hoped to get a glimpse of some more elk. We’d seen a family at one of the campsite areas on our way in. Jim tried to get a picture through the window, but we had to keep moving as we were blocking the road. Again the only wildlife that we saw was birds and squirrels.

Glimpse of Elk

Our only Glimpse of Elk

The next morning we moved on, returning to Jasper for a little more touring before checking into Wapiti Campground a little further down the road, where we left the trailer and drove the motor home to Maligne Canyon to spend a few hours walking the trails and snapping pictures. It was a good workout, not recommended for people with walking difficulties.

Maligne Gorge

Maligne Gorge, a beautiful hike

Jasper.Maligne Gorge (14) Jasper.Maligne Gorge (47) Jasper.Maligne Gorge (48) Jasper.Maligne Gorge (60)Next Stop, Columbia Ice Fields

We took the Glacier Parkway toward Banff the next day. The temperature had dropped and the off-and-on rain sometimes became wet snow.

By the time we reached the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre, Jasper National Park early in the afternoon, the wind was blowing large snowflakes around. I dug out our toques and gloves, the only winter wear I’d packed, and we climbed the hill from the parking lot to the Centre. We booked a tour of the Glacier and had just enough time to grab something to eat in the motor home before we had to line up. We’d climbed more stairs to the cafeteria/dining room, but didn’t think we could get through that line in time. We had to climb back up the hill to the Centre to catch the tour. We sure got our exercise that day! While I waited in the tour line, Jim bought an extension for our National Park Pass and found out that we could camp in the parking lot for the night.

The tour took us by bus up a mountain road to the edge of the glacier, where we transferred to an Ice Explorer, a massive vehicle especially designed for glacial travel. We bumped over the packed snow and held our breath as we did steep climbs up and down until we reached the parking spot where we were able to disembark for photo shoots in front of the base of the glacier. There were many tour groups there, and some were so fascinated with the snow that they had to sit in it and make snow balls. The sun came out just in time for us to see the mountain peaks. Another awe inspiring experience to add to our memories.

Glacier Icefields

Glacier Icefields as seen from our campsite

Jim standing on the glacier

Jim standing on the glacier

Glacier Pkwy (110)

Our transportation

Icefields

The dark line in the middle is where the tour stops

Glacier Pkwy (87) When we got back to the Centre the crowds had dispersed. We had some dinner at the cafeteria before walking back down to the motor home and snuggling under mounds of blankets to get warmed up. After a good night’s sleep we were on our way again.

Four and a Half Days Crossing Ontario in the Motor Home


We’re on the road once again, this time taking the long way to Arizona to see more of Canada on the way. We left on Wednesday, September 2nd and spent the first night at Carol’s Campsite at Sudbury. Other than the fact that when I opened the fridge to get out the makings for dinner I discovered that the fridge had been off, it was an uneventful afternoon of driving (it was after noon when we finally got on our way).

The next morning I moved some food items into the electric cooler, thankful that I’d brought it along this trip. Later Jim solved the problem with the fridge and all is good now. We continued onto our next destination, Wawa, Ontario where we stopped at a Good Sam Park for the night.  Internet connections have been poor, so I made no attempts at blogging. We were lucky to get emailing done.  Even our phones were often out of service amongst the hills and trees of that part of the province.

I thought we’d given ourselves plenty of time to get to BC for a few weeks before turning south,  but when we stopped in Wawa I was already wishing we’d scheduled more time so we could spend a day exploring there. We met a couple outside the Welcome Centre,who were slowly making their way back home to Qualicum Beach in BC, having traveled all the way to Montreal in a very old, wide-body camper van, similar to the one we owned for a few weeks before deciding we needed something larger for doing long trips. They had been there all day, just enjoying the beauty and catching up on internet tasks (WiFi was good there).  They told us of the beautiful beach in downtown Wawa that we should visit,  but we had to keep moving; we had made plans to visit family along the way.

Wawa (11)

The Goose at Wawa, Ontario

The Goose at Wawa, Ontario

On Friday we decided to look up some Mesa Regal friends, who spend their summers on Loon Lake, in the small community of Shuniah, which is just east of Thunder Bay. While motoring along highway 17, we were startled by the flashing lights and a siren when a police car suddenly passed us.  A minute later, a small red car cut in front of us, just missing an oncoming transport.  It then passed the transport in front of us, forcing an oncoming car onto the shoulder! That was followed by second police car, also in warning mode, and cutting in and out of traffic. We both sat with our jaws dropped. How close had we come to being involved in a terrible crash?

We arrived at Loon Lake  at 5:00 pm to find Harp and Joan  thrilled to have us. Unfortunately the cottage turned out to be on a dead end road and there wasn’t a lot of space to turn our big rig and trailer around. Harp, his son Sandy, and I tried to direct Jim back into a narrow driveway, but cedar trees on one side stopped him, and when he attempted to drive forward to straighten out, the motor home was uphill, the trailer down. This resulted in the trailer hitch becoming buried under the gravel of the road. I left the men to rectify that situation and remove the trailer, while I went indoors to help Joanie with dinner. By the time it was about ready, the motor home was parked out front, facing the right direction to get us out of there, and the trailer was again connected. We could all relax and enjoy a drink on the dock before partaking of  a delicious meal on the deck.  We spent the night there in the RV and shared breakfast with Joanie and Harp before leaving the next day. Again, we would have liked to stay longer.  It’s a beautiful spot.

Cottage Life at Loon Lake

Cottage Life at Loon Lake

IMG_0517We stopped at the Terry Fox Memorial at Thunder Bay. The story still brings tears to my eyes, as it did when I tried to read about this brave young fellow back in 1981.

Terry Fox Memorial

Terry Fox Memorial

So far the weather had been sunny, hot and humid.  We made it to the outskirts of Kenora on Saturday night before stopping at The Willows RV Campground. Around 9:00 pm the rain began, followed by thunder, lightning and wind. It  stopped for a while, but after we got to bed it started again. The rain pounded on the roof for a half hour or more, not a gentle rain to put me to sleep. In the morning the park owner was out with his little back hoe leveling out some of the  holes in the roads caused by the storm. When we left the park an hour later, we watched two pickup trucks slowly make their way through a flooded area of the road we needed to take, then held our breath as we edged through it too.

Flooded Road

Yes, we had to go through that!

An hour later we were out of Ontario and into Manitoba, after traveling 1700 kilometers (1200 miles approx.) Jim says he once tried to tell a Texan how long it takes to drive across Ontario to Manitoba and the fellow replied, “I had a car like that once too.”

A Visit with Dorothy in Kansas, The Old Town Museum, and The Indy 500


We’ve been home for over a week now and I’ve taken no time to write! Time to catch up!

As when we headed south, it was our plan to spend more time exploring on our way back home too, but somehow that doesn’t last too long. I don’t know if it’s the poor weather that we encounter, or just the anxiety of getting home. This year our “summer” home is all new to us, since we moved into it just two weeks before we left for Arizona. There is still a lot of unpacking and organizing to do. We did make a couple of stops though.

The wind blew us into Liberty, Kansas and we had to take a look at Dorothy’s House.

Dorothy's House

Dorothy’s House

The storm shelter

The storm (root) cellar

Dorothy and Toto

Dorothy and Toto

After we looked at things outside, we tried to get into the Museum. We were greeted by a live Dorothy, who informed us that the Museum was just closing. We told them that we’ d come all the way from Ontario, so we were allowed a quick look around the main floor and the gift shop, while Dorothy filled us in on some of the history of this Dorothy Memorial.

Not far down the highway, at a truck stop near Greensburg, Kansas we camped in the “RV Park” that a sign advertised as newly opened. It had hookups, but construction debris and other garbage still littered the area. We went into the restaurant for dinner and were entertained by the conversation that flowed around the small room between the truckers.

We were the only ones there!

We were the only ones there!

By noon the next day we were in Wichita, where we spent some time touring Old Town Museum. blog4Old Town, Wichita, Kansas

blog9 Old TownOld TownWe lunched on Brats and Sarsaparilla in Fritz Snitzlers Saloon.

Fritz Snitzlers Saloon

Fritz Snitzlers Saloon

barber chair

Barber chair

Interesting story about whistles and time.

Interesting story about whistles and time.

Funeral Parlour

Funeral Parlour

Couch in the office of the local newspaper.

Couch in the office of the local newspaper.

Then we watched the Kansas Twisters Motorcycle Drill Team practice in the parking lot next to where we were parked.

Drill Team

Precision DrillFor more action, check out this video, courtesy of Jim Victor. https://youtu.be/3xwjI5FKhv4

By the time we left it was time to find a place to stay for the night. We looked up an RV Park listed in El Dorado, a half-hour drive off the highway. On the way we stopped for dinner at an Italian Restaurant. Despite its tired look, the food was good and the owners friendly. The RV Park, however, had to be the worst spot we’d ever seen. I was surprised that it was endorsed by Good Sam. There were very few sites that could accommodate large rigs, as they’d advertised, and all but one spot was filled. There was no one in the office to even tell us that, so we had to drive down the two rows in search of something. It was near the end of the final row that we spotted the empty site, which was barely big enough for us to turn around in, and turn around we had to because there was no exit! Twenty minutes later we were back at the Walmart parking lot for the night, listening to the rain and being rocked by the wind.

Easter Sunday we stopped into visit friends from Mesa Regal who were now home in St. Louis, Missouri. Dave and Nancy were gracious hosts, treating us to a wonderful late meal of their Easter dinner left-overs. That night we found what would be our last good KOA campground of the trip, at Granite City. The further north you get this early in the season, the scarcer they become. Most don’t open until Memorial Day.

By the time we arrived in Indiana the next day the dreary weather and heavy clouds were weighing me down, but one stop on our schedule was the Indy 500 Speedway, so we took a camping site for the night at the State Fair Grounds in Indianapolis. It was not an easy place to find as only one gate was open and the GPS didn’t know that. It was even harder to find out way back out the next morning because the exit signs all led to closed gates, until we eventually found ourselves back where we’d entered. It was after noon when we finally drove into the parking lot at the Indy 500 Speedway. I have to admit that by that time I was feeling a tad hungry and grumpy. We paid the $8.00 each to walk through the very small museum. It would have cost another $30.00 each to have the tour behind the scenes of the track, so we passed on that.

Indy 500 Museum

Indy 500 Museum

Former Championship Cars on display

Former Championship Cars on display

1969 winnerWe did hand over $8.00 each to take the twenty minute mini-bus tour around the track.

blog6 blog5Indy 500 TrackThat night we were at a private campground at Enon, Ohio, next to the freeway and a train track where freight trains frequently rumbled past, and airplanes heading into Columbus flew above us. I didn’t expect to get much sleep, but I guess I was tired enough to tune them all out. Our last night on the road, after driving through Pennsylvania, we ended up where we’d started our trek across the US, at a Walmart in Ferdonia, NY.

Homeward Bound – Petrified Forest and Painted Desert


On Tuesday we decided we’d had enough of the extremely hot temperatures in Mesa, so packed up to leave, one day earlier than necessary. But we were delayed. Our “out-of-here-by-noon” plan fell apart when a check of the trailer’s lights revealed that we didn’t have any! It probably wasn’t crucial because the RV lights are clearly visible around the trailer, but Jim thought he could quickly solve the problem. An hour and a half later he succeeded, but by then he was hot and dirty and in need of a shower and a dip in the pool. I think our friends must have been tired of saying goodbye to us already! It was 4:30 before we finally got on the road. The plan was to visit the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert that day, but we were still an hour away when the sun went down over the narrow road. Visibility wasn’t good and we could find no campgrounds, so with the permission of the manager, we parked in the lot of a service centre for the night and got away early the next morning.

We followed the twenty-eight mile road through the Petrified Forest, near Holbrook AZ, stopping at several stations to look at the petrified trees and petroglyphs, and taking many pictures. It’s amazing how the trees fell into the swamp thousands of years ago and were eventually filled with minerals, transforming them into beautifully coloured rocks.

Petrified Tree

Petrified Tree

Petrified Tree

Petrified Tree

Petrified Tree

Petrified Tree, cut into blocks

Brilliant colours

Brilliant colours

Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs

image

At the end of the road was the Painted Desert, another array of colour.

Painted Desert

Painted Desert

Today, day three, has been uneventful, even boring. The winds on I-40 swayed us back and forth and we half expected to see the repeat of two major accidents we saw yesterday involving trailers tipping over along that road, but fortunately there were none. We quit early for the night.

More Adventures Through Texas


After two nights in San Antonio, we spent the next day on the road crossing the barren plains of Texas on I-10, stopping only to eat lunch and fill the gas tank. There wasn’t much to see. Four hundred miles brought us to a KOA in Van Horn.

Since it was already 6:30 we decided to try dinner at the Grill. The menu was limited and prepared by the work campers who were on duty. It was not the best meal we’d ever eaten, but it was adequate. Being late in the season, there weren’t many other amenities open or activities happening, but it was a clean, well-maintained park. After a walk around the park for a bit of exercise, we soon crawled into bed. To save time in the morning we returned to the Grill for what we hoped would be a quick breakfast, before striking out again. Unfortunately, a new, quite elderly couple was beginning a three-day stint and already they seemed tired and confused. I felt badly for them as I overheard the man exclaim that he had retired once before. I got the feeling that they had to do work camping just to survive. It reminded me how fortunate we are. The eggs were fried in the bacon fat, the toast was too thickly buttered and, although I had eliminated some things from my order, such as an extra egg and home fries, I was still charged the full amount. The $20 bill for breakfast seemed rather steep compared to the full hook-up camping fee.

El Paso

Interesting sculptures along main street through El Paso

At 10:00 am we were on our way again, although we soon realized that we’d traveled through another time-zone and it was actually 9:00 am. By the time we reached El Paso the busy traffic, slowed down by construction and accidents had tired us out. We’d seen signs along the highway for The Saddle Blanket and thought we’d take a wander through there for a break before lunch. When we turned off at the designated exit, however, we saw no more signs as to which direction to take. We chose the wrong one. A Google search told us that it was on the other side of the highway, so we made our way back through the congestion, under the overpass and back along the service road until we found it. We found an out-of-the-way parking spot and I gratefully pulled the door latch to get out. The door wouldn’t open. Jim tried to no avail. While he tried different things I opened the window to wave down the first person who saw us. A kind woman in a white Lincoln stopped and asked what the problem was. I explained that we couldn’t get out. We both had a little chuckle, and then she took the key that I offered and tried opening the door from the outside without success. A younger fellow in another Lincoln also stopped, but he too had no luck. By this time Jim had managed to find the only screw driver that wasn’t in the trunk, and was starting to disassemble the lock. When the woman offered me “the office phone number” saying to call if we needed more help or wanted them to call a locksmith, we realized that they were both from The Saddle Blanket. They went off to lunch and Jim got the lock torn apart. He discovered that all that jarring on Hwy 90 out of New Orleans had displaced the bolts, causing them to obstruct the opening of the door. He put it back together, fixing the problem, and we were finally able to do the tour of The Saddle Blanket’s massive two warehouses. We discovered that our “rescuers” were two of the owners, Bonnie and her son Luke. After we’d finished the tour, while we were having some lunch in the RV, Bonnie stopped by again to make sure we’d gotten out and were alright. A big thank you goes out to Bonnie and Luke for their concern.

We carried on until 5:15 before stopping again at a little KOA in Lordsburg, New Mexico. It took a bit to find it, buried at the end of a street behind some dilapidated house trailers and rusted old automobiles. We were doubtful, but kept following the signs and were pleasantly surprised to find, as we rounded the last corner, that there was a line of motor homes waiting to register. We figured it couldn’t be too bad, and was probably the best RV Park around before the border to Arizona. At least there were a few trees and a small store/office, unlike the many others we’d passed along the highway. Again, it was in the off-season, so not much was happening, but it was pretty park with much to offer in-season.

By mid-morning the next day we were in Arizona.

San Antonio, Texas


When we left New Orleans we headed in the direction of San Antonio, Texas. Traveling along Hwy 90 was the worst road we’ve ever been on. It is made of concrete slabs and they have all heaved just enough to cause the RV to thump over the uneven seams with each set of axles. Dishes rattled, doors and drawers that we thought were secured banged open and closed. My body began to ache and my head began to pound. At one point we turned off it to take the much smoother service road that ran alongside it, until that took a turn north before meeting up with 90 several miles later. It was 4:45 pm when we crossed the border into Texas and were back on I-10.

Jim takes a break under the Texas Star

Jim takes a break under the Texas Star

At 6:30 we stopped for dinner at a Cracker Barrel near Houston and called it a day. Most Cracker Barrel Restaurants have parking spots at the back just for RVs and as long as there is space, they are welcome to stay for the night. Of course it’s good for business because we always return for breakfast.

By 2:00 pm the next day we were entrenched in the San Antonio KOA. We unloaded the bike and rode downtown. After finding a spot in a nearby parking lot, we walked to The Alamo and did the tour with headsets that told us the history. It’s an interesting story.

Alamo Alamo5And the gardens around it are beautiful.

Alamo Gardens

Alamo Gardens

Alamo GardensThe sun was hot, so the cooler air that enveloped us after we descended  the stairs to the River Walk was a welcome relief. We strolled on the walkway beside the river banks, and checked out the many restaurants before settling on an outdoor café that featured polish sausages, sauerkraut (or potato salad) and fresh baked pretzels.

Yummy Sausage, pretzel and German Potato Salad

Yummy Sausage, pretzel and German Potato Salad

While we ate we were entertained by two fellows dressed in German-style knickers, vests and hats. One played an accordion, the other a lap drum kit; both sang and told jokes. They quit about the time we were finished eating.

Enertainers

Sign on bucket: “All Donations Benefit the Home for One-armed Accordion Players”

We climbed back up the stairs to the hot pavement, returned to the bike and attempted to find our way back to the campground. We needed a little help from a traffic cop who allowed us to make a U-turn after he told us we were going in the wrong direction. Following his directions we found a much easier route back than the one we’d taken to get there, one that we would use again the next day.

After breakfast we returned to the same parking lot and made our way back to the River Walk. This time we took the hour long boat cruise through all the branches of the river while our captain told us of the history of the building of the River Walk, its main purpose being to prevent flooding. Over time the building of a multitude of restaurants, a shopping plaza, convention centre and two towering hotels has turned it into a major tourist attraction. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the atmosphere, listening to the music being played on the terrace of the plaza, and ending our visit with a fine dinner at The County Line BBQ, after waiting in line for twenty minutes. We were disappointed to see that not all of the lights along the walk had been turned on, but it was a lovely evening just the same.

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk Tour Boat

Five & Dime

A good place to purchase t-shirts and other souvenirs

River Walk

The birds found a good place to eat, but we couldn’t get a seat here.

The next morning we were on our way again.

We Did Make It to Mesa Arizona!


Sunrise

Sunrise

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been at Mesa Regal for over a month now. I’m sure some of you have thought the journey had taken us a very long time, since my postings have been far between and without an arrival at our destination. I apologize for that, but for much of the time we had difficulties with internet connections, and upon our arrival we immediately began connecting with many of the friends we made here last year. There have been street parties, ukulele lessons and jams, dances, and Pickle Ball and Bocce Ball games. Some of our old friends have not yet returned; some new friendships have formed.

We solved our internet troubles with a T-Mobile hot spot that seems to be working well, since we had the original SIM card (purchased with the device in San Antonio) replaced.

Our arrival also brought us some sad news. We learned that our dear friend Mary Lee from across the street had been recently diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. For the first couple of weeks we were helping her out in any way that we could. When the pain became too unbearable she ended up in hospital and is now in a Hospice, with her family at her side. She is greatly missed by our little 7th Street community.

I have a few more places along our way that I will soon write about, to get up-to-date before we begin more exploring around this area, so stay tuned.