Arizona 2019/20 in the Horizon


Well we’ve been in Mesa for six weeks! I started this post soon after we arrived, and then life got extremely busy. Sorry it’s so late. Hope you enjoy the journey anyway.

The day was cool when we left Hastings on Thursday, October 17th, and the inside of the motorhome was downright cold! Jim jacked up the heater and turned on the blower, but after an hour we realized it wasn’t getting any warmer. Before long we both had our hoodies on, hoods pulled up, and I snatched the leg wrap, that my friend Alice had made me a few years ago, off the couch to tuck around my legs and feet.

It was a cold drive!

It was a cold drive without heat in the motorhome, for a few hours!

The sun came out and warmed us a bit so we kept on trucking until we felt the need to stop for dinner. We were still in Ontario and it was obvious that we wouldn’t even make it to the border to the USA before dark. Jim turned on the propane and tried to start the furnace to warm the place up. It didn’t work either! We left it and went into the Onroute rest stop to eat. When we came out, the furnace still hadn’t come on, so we gave up on that. But, when Jim started the engine, the heat began to blow through the vents, and kept us warm during the days all the rest of our trip! The nights were a different story.

Traffic was slow going through Toronto and further west. We spent our first night at another Onroute rest stop at Dutton, Ontario, too tired and too late to go any further. With temperatures dipping close to the freezing mark our only hope of sleeping was to add to the three layers of covers already on the bed. The extra tightly-woven Mexican blanket that I’d decided at the last minute to bring with us to use on the couch did the job, but we kept our hoodies and socks on!

IMG_5944 (2)

After a quick breakfast the next morning, we were on the road by 7:40 and crossing the bridge from Windsor, Ontario into Detroit, Michigan an hour and a half later. The Border Security Agent was more thorough than any we’ve ever had before (or maybe more suspicious?) He came aboard and began asking questions about what we had for food in our fridge. Before I could reply Jim said something like “Ketchup, mustard…not much at all.

“I’m going to ask you if you are aware of the rules about what you can and cannot bring across the border,” the Agent said.

We both answered “yes” but he proceeded to inform us that we could not have any fresh fruit, vegetables or meats with us. “Do you have any meat or fresh fruit or vegetables in your fridge?” He then asked.

“No,” we replied.

“Are you sure?” he said. “You know there is a $500 fine (or $5,000 depending on how each of us heard) for not declaring it. You know I’m going to look.”

“Go ahead,” Jim said as I shrugged my shoulders. We knew we had nothing to worry about.

After Jim showed him how to open the baby lock that we now have on the fridge to keep the door closed when travelling, he opened it and took a quick look. Nothing to see but the condiments and a few bottles of coolers that we’d told him about. He relaxed a bit then and tried to make small talk. As he headed to the door he turned at said, “How much money do you have with you?” We told him.

“Where did you get it?”

“The bank at home.”

“Do you have a receipt?”

“Not with us. We didn’t know that was required.”

“Have a good holiday.” Then he opened the gate for us.

That was a new experience for us.

We drove through the day, stopping only for lunch and gas, until we pulled into a KOA in Indianapolis for the night. We were plugged into electric and sewer, making things a little more comfortable. After dinner and hot showers we crawled under the covers to read, but it wasn’t long before we were asleep.

The next day we took it easier. We didn’t leave the camp ground until 10:00. Although we drove for an hour and a half before stopping for lunch in Casey, Illinois, because of the time zone we’d passed through, it was only 10:30.

Casey is a fun small town to visit because it’s the home of  “The Largest…”. Here are a few pictures that I took on a previous trip.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We contacted our friends from Mesa Regal, Nancy and Dave, to see if we could hook up for a visit. It happened that they were at their granddaughter’s soccer game, just off I-44 where we would be once we got through St. Louis. We made plans to meet for coffee. But, as usual, we managed to miss a turn while going through St. Louis, Missouri and had to back track and follow detour signs before we got heading in the right direction on I-44. Can you believe that we had two maps, a GPS and two cell phones to guide us and we still missed the turn! Nancy and Dave were waiting for us at the restaurant when we arrived. We spent a nice hour catching up with them. Last year they sold their home in Mesa Regal so we won’t be seeing them here anymore.

It was nearly 5:00 pm when we left them. We drove for another hour before stopping for the night in a Walmart parking lot in Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. The store closed at night and the parking lot was taken over for a couple of hours by a group of noisy teenagers in loud cars, at least that’s what I assumed. I couldn’t see them from my window. Jim slept through it all, but not me!

We were up early the next morning, but our departure was delayed while we waited for heavy fog to lift.

That evening we parked ourselves in another parking lot, this time in Oklahoma City beside the River Walk – one of our favourite places. I’ve written about this beautiful spot a few times, and posted several pictures. But this time it was dusk by the time we had enjoyed dinner on one of the restaurant patios and were strolling along the River Walk.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It looked different in that light. There was nothing else to do but to take a few more pictures.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As we were getting back to the motorhome the sky started to rumble and lightening began to flash. We watched and took pictures until the rain chased us inside.

Oklahoma River Walk 2019 (4)

The Sky is darkening

Oklahoma Riverwalk 2019 (1)

Lightening Flashes Lighting Up the Sky, behind the street lamp

VID_20191020_191910_Moment

A Flash of Lightening

We heard a crowd screaming and rushing back to the Party Bus that we’d seen parked not too far from us. After they left and the storm passed, a motorcycle or two circled around a few times before leaving.

On Monday, we drove and drove: through the rest of Oklahoma and across Texas, where we made a brief stop along I-40 to see the Cadillac Ranch to see the line of old Cadillacs buried nose first into the sand, and painted with spray paint by every tourist who stops by.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We ended the day in Santa Rosa RV Park in New Mexico. The BBQ Rib special that was offered at the restaurant was very welcome. We were in higher elevations again and the temperatures were dropping.

Anxious to get to the warmth of Mesa, we made no more touristy stops. Well, maybe a little in Winslow, Arizona the next afternoon. We took a few pictures, bought a T-shirt, and slept in the RV in the Tourist Information parking lot.

Winslow guitar

We were up at 5:45 feeling too chilled to even make our own coffee.

“Can we just find a place to get a good hot breakfast before we carry on?” I asked Jim. “Sure.”

But there was nothing open in Winslow at that hour of the day, and Jim had planned to get off the busy highway and take Hwy 87. We thought surely there would be a truck stop somewhere along the route. We’d never travelled that road before; we didn’t know that it went through Coconino Forest, and then Tonto Forest. Before long we saw signs warning of low visibility ahead due to a forest fire.

Fortunately we didn’t see much of the smoke and we soon drove past it.

It was 8:30 before we came to an inhabited community and a hot breakfast and coffee at the Early Bird Café. Don’t know when I’ve enjoyed breakfast out more.

At the little hardware store next door,  I spotted a selection of colourfully painted metal flowers for sale at a price much less than I’d paid for my smaller one in Mesa a couple of years earlier. I couldn’t resist. It now graces our little “garden” in front of the motor home.

IMG_5947 (2)

Shortly after noon, on Wednesday, October 23rd, we arrived in Mesa, Arizona. The earliest we’d ever arrived. The sun was hot!

More about our first couple of weeks in the next post. I promise it won’t take so long to get posted.

Settled into Life at Mesa Regal Again


We’ve been in our winter destination for nearly two weeks now. It’s about time I got caught up on posting the rest of our trip!

The day we left Nashville, we drove until time to quit for the night, stopping only for lunch in Jackson at the Catfish Gallery. The catfish wasn’t anything special, but we smiled all through our meal while listening to the wonderful southern accent of our very chatty and bubbly waitress. We made it to Brinkley, Arkansas and after much searching, found an RV parking area behind the Super 8 hotel.

By 3:00 pm the next day we had reached Texas. That was the beginning of a long drive. We stopped for the night at the lovely KOA Mt. Pleasant RV Park.

We broke the next day up with a  stop in Dallas to do a tour of the 6th Floor Museum, dedicated to the story of the Assassination of J F Kennedy and located in the 6th floor room of the former Texas School Book Depository Building where the assassin fired the shots.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures. We bought a couple of postcards.

Find out more by clicking the link above.

It was very interesting, but the stress of finding a place to park the motor home (it took about an hour) left me anxious to get out of the city and settled in for the night. We stayed at the Wetherford/Fortworth West KOA.

The following day was another long driving day, across Texas. The landscape was littered with oil wells, and distant flames spewing from the refineries stacks.

Very long box-car trains stretched along the tracks running beside the highway, and trucks carrying oil or machinery for often times crowded the highway and parking lots.

IMG_4816 (2)

 

There were also a number of small “RV Parks” along the highways, where seasonal oil workers parked their various temporary homes.

IMG_4838 (2)

That night we were in one of those parks, in  Monahans, Texas after spending over an hour looking for the advertised RV Parks. There were very few amenities, but we had what we needed. It was raining and there was lots of mud. I was glad I had my rubber boots with me. When the rain stopped we took a walk up the road to the Travel Centre to get some exercise, snacks, and lottery tickets. We were in bed early that night, but still a little later getting away the next morning.

At lunch time we pulled into the town of Sierra Blanca, hoping to find a restaurant. It turned out to be mostly a ghost town! There was one Mexican restaurant that was in one of the old buildings, a newer sign hung beside the original sign. There was also an Exon Station with a Subway. We enjoyed wraps there, with the Border Patrol officers who were taking their lunch break. Doing a search later, I found some of its interesting history.

Shortly after one in the afternoon we had reached our destination for that day. We were back at Mission RV Park in El Paso! It felt like home! Jim had discovered that the RV was in need of one new spark plug and he hoped that the Repair Shop there would have what he needed. But, like the windshield wiper we needed last year, they didn’t. This time we were told that they only did work on things inside RVs, such as appliances. We did find a set of plugs at another location, but it was too big a job to do while travelling and nothing that was urgent.

We did get to enjoy a lovely reunion dinner with Shawn, our new-found friend from last year in El Paso. It was so nice to see him. We regretted that his wife was unable to join us.

We were in Deming, New Mexico for lunch the next day and happily in Arizona by mid-afternoon.

Some highway signs across the desert.

Our last stop before reaching Mesa was in Wilcox, home of Rex Allen, Sr. We did the tour his Museum before booking into the Grande Vista RV Park for the night.

20181025_152627 (2)

There was a section for Rex Allen Junior, and other Country Hall of Famers

Rex Allen Junior in his younger days

Rex Allen Junior in his younger days

 

The Memorial continued in the park across the street.

IMG_4887 (2)

Grande Vista RV Park

 

We were “home” in time to make dinner the next day.

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.

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.