Monday, March 30, 2015

Cuba, New mexico

Odometer  46,519 miles
Trip Meter 100 miles

Monday March 30, 2015

 We woke up early this morning, with the idea of getting an early start on our way to Bloomfield.  Joan called to make sure that there was a space waiting for us at one of the two RV parks we could find on the web.  We had been told that there were very few places to stay.

We realized that we should fill up the fuel tank on the motorhome and the car to be ready for long stretches with no services.  We also figured that we should take a full cupboard of groceries.

The end result was that we decided to stay in Albuquerque for the morning, which also gave us the opportunity to shop at the RV toy store next door to the RVpark- Camping World.  By the time we had finished going to the gas station and the local Smith's Grocery store, it was noon.  So we fixed lunch and ate it in the Smith's parking lot before heading out on the highway.

The Northwest part of New Mexico where we will be traveling today is very scenic.  The road map in our atlas shows it as a scenic highway and we agree. Beautiful clouds today too.

US 550 runs from Albuquerque ( actually the suburb of Bernalillo) north and west to Bloomfield and Farmington in the northwest tip of New Mexico.  The road is a very nice four lane blacktop with a decently wide paved shoulder.  The wind we had yesterday has abated and at most is just a breeze. The high temperature for today would be 75 and the skies mostly clear and sunny.

It's a long uphill climb from 5,000 feet in Albuquerque to 7000 feet where we stay tonight.  

We  are passing through the tiny town of Cuba, NM when we spot a tiny RV park behind someone's house.  Joan remarks that we are very close to the entrance road to Chaco Culture National Historic Park- Chaco Canyon for short.  We loop back around and ask about a spot for overnight at Theresa's Hair Salon and RV Park.  We see Theresa in person who says sure thing- $20 a night with full hookups.  This will save us going to Bloomfield and then driving back down here tomorrow.

We maneuvered into position behind the hair salon/ home and hooked up to the utilities.  There are about 10 other spots in the "park" and the three or four other residents look to be somewhat permanent.  We intend to get up early tomorrow and head out in the car to explore Chaco.

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Albuquerque, NM

Odometer -46419
Trip Meter

Sunday March 29, 2015

Westward ho!  After our overnight in the A-OK RV near Amarillo, we said goodbye to US 287 and headed out on the dreaded I-40 freeway.  Well, not dreaded actually, just not our style.  Our options narrowed by the possibility of  winter weather at high elevations we chose to ride the ribbon of superslab at least as far as Albuquerque.  It is windy this morning- very windy.  A norther is blowing cool air down on us with gusts in the 30 mph range.  Shades of Port Orford, Oregon, our hometown.  The windy city of the West Coast.

Picture of motorhome next to old Route 66 sign

Turns out our route today is the re-incarnation of the "Mother Road"- Route 66.

Picture of water tower in Adrian TX
Water tower in Adrian, TX

I had a restless night last night and by 11:30  I was getting droopy.  Time to pull over have some lunch and take a 10 minute nap.  As we head down the frontage road to regain our spot on the freeway we notice an interesting sign on this water tower and pull over for a closer look.  Turns out that where we had pulled over for lunch, Adrian, TX, was the mid-point of travel on Route 66 from Chicago, Ill to Santa Monica, CA.  Not much here now, one general store and an RV park.  Sad.

Picture of the sign outside Tepee Curios

Forty miles over the Texas/ New Mexico border is the small town of Tucumcari.  The freeway dodges around the town, but I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to tell people I had traveled from here to Tucumcari, so I took the off ramp into town.  I was glad I did!  This is a vibrant little town, okay maybe vibrant is a little over the top- but hanging in there.  What I liked most about the town is they preserved a lot of the old signs (and buildings) from the 50s and 60s

Picture of Safari Motel sign

These signs were made in the day when a sign wasn't just a lighted rectangular box.

Photo of Blue Swallow Motel sign in Tucumcari NM

"100% Refrigerated Air"  the sign says.  Come stay at the Blue Swallow!

Del's Restaurant sign in Tucumcari NM

Think they have beef?  Oh-yeah.  It's Mexi now but I'll bet in the day it was a burger joint.

I-40 freeway entering Alburquerque
I-40 in Albuquerque

We could tell we were getting close to Albuquerque by the build-up in traffic and the number of lanes- the free way was bulking up.  We're glad that it's Sunday at 5PM - at least we think so.  We keep ducking in and out of central and mountain time who can tell?  Actually we lost an hour at the Texas border, but can't remember which clocks re-set automatically and which don't.

Picture of Alburquerque from a nearby hill
Alburquerque, New Mexico from the west hills
We drove through the city and out onto the west side to get to the Enchanted Trails RV park.  We were high above the city and took a snapshot of Albuquerque in the valley below.

Motorhome in Enchanted Trails RV Park

Enchanted is another Passport Affiliate which cut the space rent from $32 to $16/ night.  We got settled in and started taking laps around this large park.

1950 Hudson Commodore pulls a 1954 VaKaShunette

The owners of this park have stashed a little surprise at the end of each row.  These early cars and trailers are in beautiful shape and all hooked up to utilities so that one may rent them for the night-(click this link if you want to know more)

Early Shasta Trailer

1974 Silver Streak

When my iPhone app let us know we'd trekked 2 miles, we turned in for the night.  Tomorrow we have decided to take US Highway 550 from Albuquerque to Bloomfield, NM.  Bloomfield would be a good place to stay while we drive to Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Amarillo for the night

Odometer 46107 miles
Trip Meter 231 miles

Saturday March 28, 2015
Amarillo, Texas

Each travel day starts out with many of the same routines.

Cleaning front of motorhome
Wichita Bend RV Park

The front of the motorhome is what we call the flyswatter, and boy does it do the job!  We use a product called RV Wash which is a rinseless wash that keeps us in the good graces of the RV park owners.  I can do what we call a "bucket wash" where I use a long handle brush or a microfiber towel, along with a bucket of water with a tablespoon of wash concentrate.  Scrub off the fiberglass and dry it with at squeege or microfiber towel.  A quick coat of polish an we're ready for another day of bug catching.

Rapeseed crop in N. Texas

We are on our way northeast on US 287 again today; heading for Amarillo.  This area is almost exclusively agriculture (with a few oil wells thrown in).  We were wondering what the acres and acres of this bright yellow crop is.  We decide it must be rapeseed.

Lighted Phillips 66 gas station sign
Phillips 76 Station  Childress, TX
 We were on the look-out for a good place to buy fuel for the motorhome when Joan spotted this sign.
HOLY COW! $2.09 a gallon for diesel!!
Did we see that correctly?  I come to a stop in the middle of the street as we try to figuire out if this is a hoax of some kind.
Did they just make a mistke posting the prices this morning?

I'm blocking the road while I try to take this in-  Let's find out- I truned into the pumps and Joan got out to look at the pump face to see what the price is on the pump.

While we are fueling, a young man drives in with a diesel pickup and hops out looking at us he says - is this really the price?  He lives in the area and was heading to work looking to fill up on the way.  He told us Walmart up the road was $2.59 and he was kind of tempted at that price.
This is unreal!
Diesel price on fuel dispenser
Yep- that says $2.099-  Yeah!  We can't believe our eyes (or luck)  We took on 58 gallons of the cheapest diesel we have purchased since we started keeping records in 2004.

Valero Gas Station sign shows $3.03 per gallon

A short time later we pass this sign at a Valero gas station- uh-huh...

Brick Street in Memphis, TX
South Fifth Steet Memphis, Texas

I mentioned that US 287 goes through each small town- well I decided I liked the look of Memphis (population 2300) and turned down a side street to see more.  The streets are laid brick,  very smooth with crisp straight lines, giving the town a neat curb appeal.

Hall County Courthouse Memphis, TX
Hall County Courthouse Memphis, TX

Memphis was platted in 1890 and soon sported a law office, a rooming house, general store and drug store.  The town had no name for a while- several names were submitted and rejected by the USPS.  One of the town residents happened to be in another post office and saw a letter mis-addressed to Memphis, Texas and the hand written notation "no such town in Texas"  The town submitted the name Memphis and the rest is history.

Jeff pets a Pit Bull puppy

We arrived at our destination, the AOK RV Park just outside of Amarillo.  The park is a Passport Affilliate making our space rent  just $12 for the night.  The park was nothing special, however they had pull-throughs with full hook-ups and it was reasonably clean.  We didn't have to unhook the car.  I washed the front of the bus and took some of the crust off the tires and wheels.  As I was finishing up the last tire/ wheel, a cute little puppy wandered over to play.

Joan and I took a 2 mile walk up Jack Rabbit Road outside the RV park, before turning in for the night.  I spotted this old sign during our walk, and just liked the colors and the setting
Tomorrow we will push on toward Albuquerque NM and from there up route 550 to Bloomfield.  We had originally intended to take US87 out of Amarillo up to New Mexico 64, but our friend Mark Lankford  convinced us that it was pretty risky this early in the spring.  After looking at the Mountain Directory West we agreed.  The directory shows all the mountain passes on each highway and 64 has some very high passes.

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

The Long Way Home

Odometer 45876 mi
Trip Meter 166 mi

Friday March 27, 2015

We have enjoyed our short stay with the Austins at their Royse City, TX home.  We have such a great connection with them that within a few minutes of our arrival we are feeling like we last saw each other yesterday.  Fish and guests start to stink after 3 days and we've been living in their front yard more than twice that long... so time to get going.

Because of heavy rains in the days before we arrived we were not able to get to Jim and Sally's RV pad, and after staying in their driveway for a week our holding tanks were maxed out.  Our first stop was a the Corps of Engineers Campground, East Fork Park, on Lavon Lake about 12 miles away.  We
were grateful for the RV disposal site and the cost was a very reasonable $2 with our Senior Pass, but jeeze was it a mud hole- gravel anyone?

We headed out of the Metroplex by roughly the same route as we had come in.  We took State Route 78 up to Farmersville where we headed west on US 380 to Decatur.  At Decatur we turned northwest onto US 287 which would take us into Wichita falls.  Our overall plan is to head for I-40 at Amarillo and take that to Gallup, NM where we will head north on 491 to Shiprock, NM. From Shiprock we have plans to see Chaco Canyon before we head west to Page and up into southern Utah.

Highway 287 is a delightful road.  It khas the look of a freeway, with two lanes each direction and a very large grassy median strip.  There are some major differences however. US 287 is not a freeway in that it does not have the limited access of a freeway.  Driveways and intersections can, and do, interrupt the flow every now and then.  Another major difference in my mind, is the traffic, or should I say the lack thereof.  As you can see from the picture below, traffic is well spaced and for the most part unobtrusive.

When you arrive at a town 287 becomes one of the surface streets of the town.  Interestingly, it often isn't even the Main street of town.  Looking off to the sides you can see Main street with its one, or two story brick buildings, wide avenues with angle parking in front of the shops.  The buildings have character, awnings or covered walkways, ornate brick, turn of the century marquees or enameled signs, stately, grand, and sadly, often empty old buildings.

We chose to stop in Wichita Falls early in the afternoon.  A short travel day, so we would have time to get set up, wash the bugs off the windshield, and take a long walk before relaxing on the patio.  Joan found a city owned RV park near the Travelers Information Center between Hwy287 and the Wichita River.  The Wichita Bend RV Park only has water and electric hookups however the price is excellent at $17 a night.

Another great thing about this park is that it is adjacent to the 179 acre Lucy park

A rustic suspension bridge over the Wichita River connects the RV park to Lucy park on the other side.  Notice the lovely color of the water. We crossed over and walked the perimeter of the park on a very nice system of paved pathways.  We saw a sign on one of the paths indicating a falls and we were at once interested.

About a half mile later we were indeed greeted by the roar of tumbling water.  We stopped to read a bronze plaque at the base of the falls.  The replica of Wichita falls was a creation built by the City Council in 1987 at a cost of $400,000

The original falls were destroyed back in 1886 by a large flood.  100 years later, these falls were re-created with water pumped from the river below and cascading back into the river.

The afternoon walk was just what we needed, and the park was a real delight.  There are more walking/ biking trails that allow you to continue in a loop around the downtown.  Those will have to wait for our next visit however.  My Map Your Walk App showed that we had walkled just over 3 miles as we returned to the motorhome to make dinner and turn in for the night.

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Friday, March 27, 2015


Odometer  45710
Trip Meter 69 miles

Friday March 20, 2015

Today we will travel the last 70 miles east over the top of the Dallas metropolitan area and south down to our Royse City destination.   We have been invited to mooch-dock at Joan's brother's home while we visit with Jim, his wife Sally and their daughter Savannah.  We purposely waited until after the morning rush before taking off.   Of course, it was a rain day.

The route was chosen to keep us out of the traffic snarl that is the Dallas Metroplex and it actually worked as planned.  We made a quick stop at Brookshires in Farmersville for some groceries and we made a quick lunch while we were parked in their lot.

We were in need of propane, our first fill up since having the new tank installed in February, so Joan Googled up an Amerigas location that was close to our route and we detoured there.  We got a little worried as we got close to the location the road was all torn up, and we had to negotiate a tight turn onto a muddy driveway.  After a bumpy muddy access we finally were able to get in position to take on some fuel.  The workers at the operation informed us that they don't do private filling at this location- Garrh!  After some conversation and not just a little pleading, they agreed to to fill us up.  The price wasn't a bargain- but we were grateful to not have to search for another facility that could accept our size and length.

We arrived at the Austins at two in the afternoon and the rain had stopped for a moment so we proceeded to back down the driveway and into the spot we occupied in 2013 when we were last here. Joan and I walked it out and the ground felt firm so we decided to venture off the gravel drive- big mistake!  We didn't get far before we sank in- way in.  Thank goodness we have built in leveling jacks.  We put our jack pads under the jacks and proceeded to lift the rear end.  All we managed to do was to bury our 1-1/2" thick 16" square jack pads about 12" in the clay.  After scavenging around the house and barn, we came up with a 3 foot 2x10 and several 8x16 concrete pavers.  With this material and many stolen shovel fulls of gravel from the driveway we managed to get back up on the driveway, and abandoned all ideas of the full hook-ups available 20' away.

We are going to have to say that our visit was characterized by our gastronomic experiences.  Let's just say that Sally is one excellent cook.  Sally has always used predominately grains and vegetables in her cooking, so our vegan diet did not throw her off one bit.  We also were treated to several restaurant meals that were exceptional.   
Savannah suggested a meal at Kalachanji's in East Dallas.  This is a gourmet Indian restaurant that is part of a Hare Krishna temple.  For a suggested donation of $13.95 you are invited to load up your tray with plates and bowls of excellent vegetarian fare- and we did!

Another restaurant that Jim and I went to on one of our several trips to Home Depot and Lowes was Mooyah Burgers Fries and Shakes.  Jim told me they had a reputation for the best black bean vegetarian burger, and he wasn't wrong!  In a metropolitan area of 6.2 million people and 385 square miles, as we were leaving Mooyahs, we ran into Sally and Joan coming to the same restaurant from getting their hair cut in Rockwall.  The mother of all coincidences.(or was it?)

Jim knows that I love scotch whiskey, and as a reward for helping him install several shelving units around the house and garage, and installing a new stainless steel sink in the kitchen, Jim put together an impromptu whiskey tasting.  What fun!  We sampled and ranked each offering, always coming back to the Macallan 18 as the best of show.  The McCarthys was a real disappointment, in that it was distilled in Portland, Oregon from peat malted barley imported from Scotland.  Aged 3 years in Oregon Oak barrels.  I really wanted to like it- maybe by the time it has aged some more, and they offer it at 12 years old... 
 What an enjoyable afternoon- Thanks Jim!

At several of the family dinners, Joan and I were treated to a sampling of Jim's own pear wine.  This is an exceptional wine brewed, bottled and aged right here at their home.  Rather than formulating the typical sweet, fruity dessert wine that you'd expect from pears, this is  demi-sec wine with just the nose of the pear- most excellent!

Friday March 27th

All too soon the whole week had fled by and Joan and I were saying good-byes and making preparations to head back north to our summer place in Port Orford, Oregon.  Jim and Sally and Savannah's special friend Manuel, posed for photos with Joan, while wishing us safe journeys.  We felt badly that Savannah had to work today and missed the send-off, however we brightened later in the day when she exchanged texts with us- and we got to say our good-byes.

Jim surprised us with two bottles of his excellent pear wine as a gift- what a treasure!

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Friday, March 20, 2015

Welcome to the Metroplex

Odometer 45641
Trip Meter  247 miles

Thursday March 19, 2015

I was ambitious and bucket washed the coach after dinner last night.   Driving through the rain really makes things ugly fast.  A "bucket wash" is a collapsible bucket with water and a cap full of RV Wash and a microfiber towel.  I hand wash up as high as I can reach from the ground, and dry with a second microfiber towel.  The RV Wash does not require a rinse.  I have been using this technique for many years now and it keeps things looking decent until I can stop and do a real washing.

The forecast called for a 60% chance of rain overnight and this morning, but we were lucky and it stayed dry all night and all day today.

A glance at the route map above shows that we have about 247 miles to our next destination.  We are going to jump off US 180 and climb up to US 380 in order to avoid the Dallas/Fort Worth traffic all together.   Jim and Sally live on the far side of the Metroplex, so we either have to go over/ under/ or through to get there- we chose to go over and back down the far side.

Transitioning from 180 northward up to 380 took us on Texas 67.  We ran into several long sections of highway that were under construction during this leg of the trip.  Luckily the traffic was light and flowed along nicely.

Albany, TX : Significant photos of the downtown area
Photo courtesy of
On US 380 we passed through the town of Albany and were very impressed with what we saw- the homes we saw were large and stately and the businesses were in beautifully restored buildings.  We looked Albany up on the web and found that it is a "Preserve America Community" with a beautifully restored Main Street.  We will definitely come back some day and spend more time.  We did not get any useable photos so I borrowed this photo of the courthouse from the city website.

We arrived in Denton at around 4 in the afternoon and got an overnight space in the Post Oaks RV park for the night.  After getting set-up Joan and I took about a two mile walk down the local roads here before turning in for the night.  Tomorrow after the morning rush hours, we will make the final leg of our trip to Jim and Sally's house in Royse City.  Rain is in the forcast for the next several days.

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Route 180 East

Odometer 45113 miles
Trip Meter  209 mi.

Tuesday March 17,2015

Joan and I decided that we would make a quick visit to the museum in Deming before heading east this morning.  We got there just as they were closing at 4 o'clock yesterday and by the look of it, we had the feeling that it would be a good one to see.  We got up earlier than we normally would, in order to get to the museum when it opened at 9 AM.  We had a quick breakfast, rigged the coach for travel and drove separately out of the park and down to the local Kmart.  We left the motorhome in the parking lot and took the CRV downtown to the museum.  
Photo of the Deming Museum

The museum was everything we expected and more.  It is housed in the old armory building and has actually outgrown the two floors of the original building and expanded with a wing off the armory that almost doubles the space.  This museum has something for everyone.  We spent the next 2-1/2 hours seeing some of the highlights.

Ancient pottery on display

They have an amazing collection of ancient pottery, basketry, and tools.  the pottery includes many pieces found at Casa Grande.  It humbles one to consider the incredible craftsmanship and artistry that these pots exhibit. 

One selection of spear points is incredibly old dated at 10,000 years old!

Fire Chief's red 1909 Model T

The other areas of the museum are equally well appointed.  We browsed militaria from Indian conflicts to WWII and the Korean Conflict (including a battle tank), we saw lots of cowboy history, early cars and fire equipment, rocks and minerals, a "street" of shops from the 30s to the 50s which included dentists, barbers, telegraph office, appliance store, tack and saddlery, and at least 10 more.  I haven't even touched on the Doll room, the Liquor Bottle exhibit, The Beer Steins, the Alaskan artifacts, Cameras and Office Equipment, the Medical room, which includes an iron lung...  You get the idea.  We were very glad to have carved out some extra time to see this amazing museum.  Those wanting more information should go to Luna County Historical Society's website (

We reluctantly left the museum and rendezvoused with the motorhome to connect up the CRV for towing.  Before leaving Deming we stopped at Taco Bell for a couple of their vegetarian Cantina Power Bowls.  Fast becoming our favorite fast food the Cantina Power Bowl consists of rice, black beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, and we usually have them hold the sour cream and grated cheese.  

Picture looking down US Highway 180 in New Mexico

We now have to lay down some tracks.  We hopped onto Interstate 10 and pointed the bus towards El-Paso.  A blogger we follow has given us the secret way to avoid the traffic tie-ups in and through El-Paso, and since we don't need to do any shopping we are game to miss it entirely.  We took route 404  which heads east above the town, then south on 54 along the east side of town to loop 375 which connects up to US highway 180 which we want to take all the way to Dallas/ Ft. Worth.  This should show us a little different territory and allow us to avoid any further interstate driving. US 180 will take us from El-Paso in Texas, back up into New Mexico at Carlsbad, then back out of New Mexico at Hobbs and into Texas again.  

Military transport passes us near Fort Bliss, TX in a driving rainstorm

Following this route we will drive through the Guadalupe Mountains National Park about half way to Carlsbad, so we formulate a plan to camp at the NP for the night.  Then it starts to rain...we trudge on through the rain all the way to the Park.

Rain smeared image from our rear facing camera

One of the things I'd like to fix about the camera system on our motorhome is to rig a better rain shield for the rear view camera.  Whenever we get a heavy rain the image quality drops off significantly.  When it stops raining I have to climb up and clean the glass in front of the lens.

Photo of Guadalupe Peak nearly obscured in clouds and fog

Close to the park we get a glimps of a high promentory is this the elusive Guadalupe Peak?  Moments later it is totally enveloped by clouds.  With the clouds, the rain and fog drifting in we can't see much of this scenic beauty tonight, maybe tomorrow will be better?  It rains most of the night, and in the morning the towels on the dashboard are soaked from our cracked and leaking windshield.
Arriving at the park we find our way into an overnight spot in their RV parking area (really- it's just a paved lot with white stripes).

Tuesday March 17

Odometer 45394
Trip meter  257 miles

Here is our route for today on Google Maps

Motorhome enshrouded in fog at Guadalupe Mountains National Park

This morning, the scenery consists of FOG.  Pea soup fog, down to the ground fog.  Uou get the idea, it was foggy.

Not much to the set-up to get rolling this morning.  We had breakfast and pulled in the slides, stowed the jacks and started the engine.   The first ten miles, we needed curb feelers to stay on the road, eventually the fog lifted- or we drove out from under it.

Motorhome parked just off the street in downtown Hobbs, NM

By a little after noon, we found ourselves in Hobbs, on the Texas- New Mexico line, where we stopped for lunch.  One of the benefits of this mode of travel, is that we can pull over just about anywhere and have a quick lunch.  Hobbs has a lot of closed businesses, and we had no trouble finding a vacant parking area to pull into.

We motored on down US route 180 through towns like Seminole, Lamesa, on our way to Snyder.  Why Snyder?  No particular reason, it's just the right distance.  There were several miles of road construction, however the traffic seemed to flow fairly well and the delays were not significent.

We got to Snyder at around 4 PM and went to the address of the first RV park we decided on.  There is nothing in the Trailer Life Directory for Snyder, so we were searching on Google.  Google doesn't give ratings and particulars, like we could get in the TL directory or on Good Sam's site- all you get on Google is the address of the park, and it sounded good to Joan when she looked at it.  Turns out the photos on the website for the park we headed for, were at least 10 years old or more and the park was so run-down and empty we just drove on by.  We looked at 5 RV  parks and all were really bad- even the ones that were full and had no spaces.  We finally took a space at Andy's RV, a small park just off US 180, and the clerk told us we could take several spaces if we wanted to angle in and leave the car hooked up.  Turns out the places he indicated were really trashy, however the electric pedestals and sewer and water looked to be very new and in excellent condition.  We hooked up and then I started to pick up trash.   It took about an hour.   I loaded 3 large lawn and leaf sized bags with trash to haul to the dumpster.

I was just about finished, when I spotted a cable TV hook-up that I had missed  before.  Out of curiousity I hooked our cable up.  Low and Behold!  We found we had scores of cable channels- what a pleasant surprise.

I believe that the oil drilling boom of the past several years has ruined a lot of RV parks.  The parks have been full to capacity, and  have found that they don't need to have any curb appeal or even a pleasant appearance and well maintained facilities.  Spaces have been so scarce that crews would live any where they could park their RV.

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan