Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Ajo Again!

Odometer 60614
Trip  284 miles

Tucson, AZ

It was a short hop into Las Cruces where we intended to fuel up for the long haul into Trucson on I-10.

We both like the city of Las Cruces, and having spent a couple days here last week, we kinda know where to find some key places around town.  We decided to do a two-fer, get diesel and grab a Starbucks on our way back to the freeway.  You know what they say about the best laid plans...

We got in- but getting out was a little more difficult
I looked at this station on google satellite and it appeared to have enough room to get in and out with our bus-car combination- but that was before we found out that half of the pumps were out of service.
Getting to this pump and leaving room for cars to come and go- I got myself in a bind and we had to do a quick un-hook to get out.

The rest of the trip into Tucson was uneventful, and we arrived early enough to get set-up in the Rincon Country East RV Park with our Passport discount.  This is a destination resort style RV park that fills with snowbirds in the winter.  (All the pictures I thought I took are nowhere to be found sorry)  The park will not be accepting Passport overnighters after the end of the month.
We are here for tonight and tomorrow after a quick provisioning run we'll be on our way to Ajo.

Odometer 60608
Trip 146 miles

On to Ajo

We woke early and by 8:30 we were in the car and ready to SHOP!
I have our stops all programmed into my iPhone and we race out to a key shop where we get a replacement set of keys made for the ones we left at home.  One key is really wierd and the lock shop doesn't have a blank.  Ace Hardware down the street doesn't disappoint- they have it and make it for us!
Next stop Fry's where we load up on groceries- a boat load of things we can't get in Ajo, then back to the park where it's time to check out.
We gobble a quick lunch of soup and bread and head out to get Propane in the bus, the last thing on our list.  We cruised down to the Pilot/ Flying J on I-10 and pay the going rate of $3.09/ gallon for 23 gallons in our 24 gallon (net) propane tank.  This time the in-and-out are a lot easier!

I like going the southern route to Ajo on Arizona highway 86.  Most of the route is through the Tohono O'Odham Nation, and goes right past Kit Peak observatory.  The route up I-10 is longer, and faster, but we only going 146 miles and I prefer to stay off the interstate.

We did not know that there was a dust storm brewing and that we would end up driving through it.   Visibility at the road was never a problem, but we sure choked on dust for about 10 miles before passing out the other side.
Once out of the band of dust, the skies were clear and the air was clear.  Probably took a toll on our air cleaner though.

Home for now
40 minutes later we were arriving in Ajo.  The town has changed a little since our departure last spring and I can't wait to share some of those changes with you in my next post.  Meanwhile time to get setup.

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Texas Hill Country

Odometer 59825
Trip 303 miles

Texas Hill Country

Monday dawned cool and gray, like a day wrapped in damp cotton.  Too bad too, because today we will be traveling through what is know as the Texas Hill Country

Monday's route 

The weather wasn't the only thing I could describe as damp cotton, day two of a nasty cold, had me coughing and sneezing.  We got off to a late start with Joan letting me sleep in as long as I wanted, but eventually we were back on the trail.  Fueled with coffee and bagels, shored up with Dayquil.  Right away we missed a critical turn and ended up taking a "shortcut" up to Hico and back to Hamilton.  The clouds are determined to stay right down on the hilltops today.
We stopped only to fix a quick bite of lunch at Menard.  Soup and sandwiches and a 10 minute nap for me and off again headed for fort Stockton for the night.

US 190  looking west toward Eldorado, TX

It was a little after 4 PM when we topped a rise and saw bright light on the horizon!  Could this be the Edge of Night!

US 190 in Texas just east of  Iraan, TX

A half hour later we actually drove out from under the grey blanket that has had us in it's grips since dawn.  Whew! Glad it was only a 300 mile wide blanket.
I wanted to go on to Fort Stockton, but my energy was running on empty as we got close to Iraan, TX.  Joan found a city park that had full hookups and a fabulous rate of $15/ night.  Incidentally the name of the town is pronounced Ira-anne by the locals.  The town was named after a rancher  named Ira and his wife named, you guessed it, Ann Yates.  They gave up part of their land for the town site.  There are a few Youtube spoofs on the town that promote the premise that it is a ghost town created by our government to hide a secret installation.  All we know is the RV park is quiet, clean, and inexpensive.

A somewhat sleepless night later, we packed up for the 3rd day of our journey out of Texas.

Odometer 60178
Trip  335 miles

Tuesday morning, our route for the day

Today will be a bit of a slog on the interstate, but it's the only route that heads even somewhat in the right direction from here.
We settled into a rhythm of Christmas music and warm sun pouring in the windows, a smile on our faces, when the melody changed to BuZZZZZ..... and a red warning light on the dash!

Dash gauge's showing zero on rear air pressure (bottom center)

Our old friend, the cold solder joint in the Vehicle Display Unit rears it's head again.  This problem first occurred when we were cruising down a steep grade in Tennessee in 2013.  The way we know it's just a display malfunction is that we still have air pressure even though the lower gauge on the dash display shows "0" air pressure.  At zero air, the air brakes would be fully applied and the yellow air brake knob would pop out.  (It didn't).  Joan did a google search and found that several others who have "fixed" the problem have had a re-occurrence too.  Lucky for us the warning fault is not constant (the buzzer would drive us batty) but it comes and goes at random and again, just luck- it mostly stayed off for the next two days (mostly, there were a few notable exceptions).  If you want to read about the first repair click this link VDC fix 2013

Joan read a blog by a fellow RVer that described a route that mostly skirts around El Paso and we decided that was just the thing we needed.  Our last trip through, a little over a week ago was right through town and the freeway was under major construction.  The tri-cities of El Paso, Las Cruces, and Juarez are home to 2.7 million people and it's the largest bi-national workforce in the western hemisphere.  El Paso is also home to William Beaumont Army Medical Center, Briggs Army Airfield, and Fort Bliss.   This place is seriously busy.  Another interesting thing about El Paso is that the city is bisected by a mountain range.  The Franklin Mountains divide west from east in the northern part of the city.  There is an aerial tram that you can ride to the top of Ranger Peak.  One last thing to know about El Paso is that it is 3740 feet above seal level, nearly 2000 feet higher than Ajo, AZ where we spend most of the winter.

The by-pass worked well and was especially important because we were making our transit around the west side of El Paso right in the rush hour.  Shortly after re-joining I-10 north of El Paso, we turned off at Vado, NM where Joan had located a small RV park that would honor the Passsport members 1/2 price deal for the night.

Home for the night at Vado, NM

The Western Skies RV Park appeared to be a little "distressed" shall we say.  We were parked right next to a derelict truck crane, and if there ever was gravel on the roads, it has long since passed.  The roads were very dusty as were the RV spaces.  As careful as we could be, lot of that dust was carried into our bus.   A long day for us, and my head cold has taken it's toll on my stamina, after dinner it was not long before we were both in bed.  I-10 is so close, I am forced to put in my earplugs just to crowd out the sounds of passing cars and trucks.  The forecast says it should be just a degree or two above freezing tonight- thankful for that!

Tomorrow will be freeway all the way to Tucson where we will provision up before heading to Ajo on Thursday.

Your Traveling Friends,

Jeff and Joan

Friday, December 22, 2017

Dallas in December

Odometer 59519
Trip 295 miles

Joan and I had planned to stay at a local RV park while visiting her brother and family, however, we could never connect by phone with the RV park host and actually arrived in Dallas without having gotten a reservation.  This turned out to be good for us because Sally and Jim insisted we stay in their front yard.

Long time readers will recall that last time here, we nearly buried the bus up to the axles in mud attempting to get into this spot.  This year the ground was dry and hard and after a lot of pruning tree branches we slipped in and hooked up to the water and sewer connections from the mobile home that occupied this spot previously.

Our arrival, was timed to coincide with our niece's  graduation from The University of Texas at Dallas.  Savannah is graduating from the Jindal School of Management with a degree in Human Resources.  Even better, she has already landed a job with a large insurance firm as a Human Resources Analyst.
In the days before the ceremony, Jim kept me busy with projects.  I wanted to upgrade the electrical plug-in for the RV space from 20 amp to 30 amp so- I went to the hardware store and got what we needed.  Jim is considering an all electric car in the future, so he was also interested in a 220v outlet for that.  Jim and I had no trouble getting the outlets installed.  Joan was delighted that the power upgrade meant she could use the toaster and the coffeemaker at the same time!
proud parents with the new graduate
Jim and I also tackled removing and installing a new entry door in the garage- the existing one was rotting from the bottom up.  We had done some patching two years ago, but even the patches were falling out.  Jim and I got a replacement door and exterior molding, paint and a brush, and in no time we had a new door installed.

Sally is one of the greatest cooks we've ever met and we are going to leave Dallas a little heavier than we arrived.

Anytime Jim and I get together there has to be some great Scotch whisky involved.  Jim is a whisky aficionado and has built up a pretty good collection from which I am privileged to be able to sample.   Jim took a day off work, and between projects, he took Joan and me to a Goody Goody liquor store that had a particularly good stock of single malts and blends.  We both came away with more precious gold to taste.
We tasted and read up on 6 or 7 of our collective whiskies.  Jim showed me a clever app for your smart phone called Distiller.  The App has information on zillions of individual distilled spirits, including reviews, cost info, tasting notes, flavor profiles, and more.  Jim also surprised me with a hardcover copy of The World's Best Whiskies by Dominic Roskrow.  Nice!

Sally took the whole week off from work, so we tagged along with her when she ventured out on shopping errands.  On one such day we had finally decided that we (Joan and I) would use the opportunity to shop for new carpeting for the bedroom of the motorhome.  When we bought the bus in 2011, we replaced all the old flooring from the cockpit back to the bedroom with vinyl.  Now the carpet in the bedroom has to go.  Joan wanted more vinyl, I on the other hand, like the feel of carpet on my bare feet.  I also recognize that tufted carpet is hard to keep clean.  We decided to compromise and look at carpet tiles.  On our way to visit a carpet showroom we stopped at a dollar store and while perusing the aisles I spotted a stack of "cat rugs" on a lower shelf that looked just like carpet tiles.   Sure enough, closer inspection showed these to be 3-M brand carpet tiles for- you guessed it- a dollar each!  I started sorting the stack to get the same color tiles and found at least 20 beige tiles that I began laying out in the aisle.  Joan found me standing on my carpet of tiles grinning from ear-to-ear.
We left with our $20 new floor!  When we settle down for more than a few days, we'll get it installed.

A week fled past and all too soon it was time for us to head back to Arizona.  Jim and Sally always ask us to stay longer, but we prefer to leave while there is still some welcome left, rather than overstay.  Another determinate is that we have reservations at our winter home in Ajo, and many snowbirds head south right after Christmas- we need to beat the rush to get our favorite spot.

Saturday, the day before our launch, it started raining late in the afternoon.  At first it looked like a passing shower, then it turned into a fairly steady rain and lasted til midnight.  We were not sure if the wet ground would hold the weight of our bus and we'd be able to leave.  Sunday dawned grey and foggy!  I have a new route laid out for us today- we like to take a different route each time we come and go to Dallas.  This route takes us south and east to Terrell and then loosely follows state route 34 and 22 down to US 84 and eventually to US190 which will take us to I-10 into El Paso.

My desire to stay off the interstates as much as possible, means that it takes a little more time to get anywhere, and sometimes the frequent route changes are frustrating.  The line looks very linear on the map above, but what doesn't show is this is dozens of zigs and zags from one small road to another. 

One nice thing about this route is that we get to see a lot of very ornate county courthouses.  We snapped photos of the courthouses in Hillsboro, Meridian and Brady as examples.  
Meridian Texas
A little research reveals that Texas has 254 counties, (more than any other state) that means a lot of county courthouses like these complete with all the levels of administration that go along with county government.  It no doubt had to be like this in the early days, because of the sheer size of Texas and the limits of early transportation.

Today's needs are not well met with the old architecture, we noticed that most towns had annexes, but luckily the old buildings seem to be all well maintained- some even decorated for Christmas

Brady, TX

Hillsboro, TX

Bosque Bottoms RV Park Meridian, TX
I Started out the day feeling pretty chipper, but by noon I was feeling the grip of a cold or flu coming on.  Joan sensing my distress suggested a short day, and began searching for a campsite.  The Town of Meridian has a Passport park which meant 1/2 price overnight stay.  The GPS could not locate the entrance to the park and neither could we.  We found a gas station that had diesel but could not get into the pumps without having our car stick out into the street a bit.  The local sheriff waved us off and whelped his siren- so we cut back onto Main street all chastened, and looked for another station.
The next fuel stop was really grimy and the delivery truck was there delivering fuel- two bad omens, but I was tired and grouchy- so I filled anyway.  On our way to this second fuel stop we passed the entrance we'd been trying to find to the Bosque Bottoms RV. 

We didn't need reservations at Bosque Bottoms.

We were the ONLY RV in the park that evening.  We did our set-up and then bundled up in warm jackets and hats to take a quick walk around town

We spotted this mural on the wall of a downtown building and it got us to wondering, so we Googled up the trail back at the bus.  Turns out the Chisholm Trail (or one part of it) ran through this area.  The trail gets it's name from a Trader named Jesse Chisholm and was started as a wagon road for his trade goods going north to Abilene, Kansas.  Texas Cattlemen found the tracks and drove herds of cattle north along the same route.  Interestingly though, the trail started at the Texas-Oklahoma border (Red River) soon all parts of the connecting trails in Texas also adopted the same name..  By 1884, over 5 million cattle had been moved over the Chisholm Trail- the largest migration of livestock in world history.

Back at the bus, Joan got out all the cold remedies that we had in the cupboard and I doped up and fell asleep in the easy chair.

Your Traveling Friends,

Jeff and Joan

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ft Stockton to Brownwood

Odometer  59155
Trip meter  266

We have mapped out a route today that will keep us off the interstate, but still keep us heading in the right general direction towards Dallas. 

Today's Route

US Route 67 parallels I-20 in Texas

We crossed over into Central Time and in doing so lost an hour out of our day, which we are going to use as an excuse to sleep in and get a later than usual start today.  The overnight temps, as predicted stayed above freezing, so I didn't have the nightmare of freezing pipes I'd had the previous night.  Once we had unhooked the utilities and packed up the interior for travel, we headed out on I-10 east for a few miles before we got to the intersection of US 385/ US 67.
Long Straight Roads- mostly to ourselves!

US 67 turned out to be rather straight and fairly level for most of the trip.  It would seem to most readers that this could be another boring day in west Texas, but I didn't find that to be true.

Rolling countryside punctuated by small towns
US 67 becomes Main Street

The route is punctuated with at least 16 small towns and one fairly large town, San Angelo.
Most of the small towns were bisected by highway 67 and we got to tour down main street in each.  A few of the towns we saw seemed to be still vibrant and the shops, restaurants, bars, and gas stations were still open.  Sadly more of the towns looked to be struggling to make a go of it

Boarded up gas station 

Joan snapped the photo on the left as we rolled through the small town of McCamey.

It is a lot more interesting for us to see these brave and gritty small towns  from main street rather than speeding along the empty interstates.  And before you flame me, we come from a small and struggling town of 1200 residents on the Oregon coast- we feel the pain of not having jobs and industry, and a thriving downtown.  This is America on the back roads.

Oil drilling operations along US hwy 67

US 67 passes right through a corner the Permian basin, and this is still oil country, with tank farms and pump jacks, trucks hauling crude.

Pump Jack
Oil tank truck

Something that surprised us though was that this is also becoming an area where wind power is making a go of it too

Wind Turbines near Big Lake, TX
Quite often we saw wind turbines sharing space in the prairie with the pump jacks- that's covering all your bets!

Home for the Night at Riverside RV, Brownwood, TX

Our destination for today is Brownwood, and the Riverside RV Park, a Passport America affiliate, which means we get a healthy discount on the overnight cost, for a full hookup, pull through space.
The Park is very clean and the utilities are all in excellent shape.  There are only 24  spaces and they appear to fill up fast- we called ahead this morning for our space.  The park is on the edge of Pecan Bayou, and adjacent to a city park with paved walking trails along the bayou.
Tomorrow it's on to Wylie, Tx where we will be visiting Joan's brother's family, Jim, Sally, and daughter Savannah.  More later.

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Friday, December 8, 2017

Las Cruces to Ft Stockton

Odometer 58898
Trip meter  292 miles

Las Cruces, NM to Fort Stockton, TX

I had a restless night.  For some reason I hadn't gotten serious about prepping for a sub-freezing night in our home built for the tropics.  I have drained both holding tanks, drained and stowed both the drain hose and the water hose, poured salt in the grey and black tanks, and set up a tiny 200 watt electric heater in the wet bay (outside water hookup bay).  Then my cogs started slipping.  We went to bed with the electric heat running and set for a balmy 70 degrees hoping the extra heat would keep everything from freezing.
What I didn't do was unhook the ice maker line, take the glass jars of olives out of the basement drawers, open the cabinet doors under the sinks- I think of all this while I'm staring at the ceiling at 3AM.  Damn!  I get up and open the cabinet doors and as I do, I'm thinking why isn't the heater cycling on- it's cold in here.  The heat pump has shut down for some reason and won't start back up.  I switch over to the propane under floor heater- the one I should have had on all along- it's the only one that heats the area underfloor.  I hate cold weather!  I'm down here on the Mexican border seeking sunshine and HEAT!
I crawl back into bed and after thrashing a bit I fall back to blissful sleep.

Icy covering on our CRV

At seven AM Joan is the first to get up, I'm groaning and digging under the blankets.  Visions of shattered pipes solenoid valves, frozen water pumps won't leave me alone.  A fresh cup of hot coffee and a toasted bagel finally tempt me to get dressed and see what the damages are.  The water pump whirs to life and the sinks run water-so far-so good.  After breakfast we run over to Walmart and stock up on salt and RV antifreeze.   The olives came through without freezing- I'll check on the ice maker later.

The Small and the Large of it

Joan and I were amused at this juxtaposition of sizes, a 40 foot motorhome and a 16 foot Casita tow behind.  We all love the travel, and we all love getting there in our own way.  Check this out:

They have a fantastic name for their tiny home on wheels.

Finally, by 10 AM we were hooked up and ready to roll.  I-10 is the only choice for us today and we're heading for Fort Stockton, Texas, and hopefully warmer weather.  The skies are supposed to be blue all week, but at night that works against us with no cloud cover and cooler temps.

Today's route

Joan and I always strive to see something different.  We've been this way to Dallas before, at least 4 times if memory serves.  We've done the interstate, and we went via US 62 above the interstate, now we are going to check out the blue roads below the interstate- US 385 and US 67 towards San Angelo more-or-less parallel the interstate.
I-10 through El Paso
It's only a short hop down the interstate to El Paso, Texas.  El Paso is a large city by any standard, 683,000 people in the city proper and over 1 million in the metro area.  This city has been named an All American City, and consistently ranks as one of the safest large cities in the US.

Constuction on I-10 through El Paso

 For us today it is a minefield, the interstate is under construction and repair.

Mountains Dusted with Snow 

Once away from town the scenery gets a lot more interesting.  The Davis, Finly, Quitman, Van Horn, Sierra Blanca, and Wylie mountain ranges rise dramatically above the relatively flat terrain.  The peaks still show a dusting of the snow that has fallen in the last two days.

Vestiges of Snow from Thursday's Storm

As we continued east we saw the remains of the snowfall we avoided by staying in Las Cruces.  Fun to drive through on a nice sunny day with clear roads.

Our Home for the Night outside Fort Stockton

As we approached Fort Stockton, Joan called RV parks to find us a space for the night.  Our first choice was full up.  We remember from previous trips through this area that oil field workers are using RVs for temporary residences and it can be hard to find vacancies.
On her second try Joan landed us a spot at Fort Stockton RV Park.  As we were registering a steady stream of RV were coming in behind us.  Fort Stockton RV has found a way to cater to the needs of the workers by creating a whole new area especially for them that is, shall we say, more utilitarian.
Think graded gravel lot with hookups and you wouldn't be too far wrong.  They also created a restaurant dining room that serves breakfast and dinners.  As we took our afternoon stroll we noticed that the situation seems to work well.  We did not check out the restaurant, choosing instead to make heat up ravioli and serve it with marinara sauce and some cole slaw.
Not supposed to freeze tonight, but we'll do the preparations any way just in case.

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Snow and Ice?

Odometer  58606
Trip Meter  57 miles

Las Cruces, NM

After a cold and windy overnight in Deming, we woke to leaden skies.  The temperature didn't dip below freezing last night, but it was in the neighborhood.  I got out of bed at 5 to see if the Honda would start or if I was going to need the battery charger.  It started up okay, so I ran it through the gears, and shut it off, turned on the engine heater on our big Cat diesel, and crawled back into bed to snuggle up against my warm sweetie and doze for another couple of hours.

After breakfast we packed up and headed for I-10.  We elected to top off our diesel tank at the interchange, noting that the price had jumped 60 cents a gallon from our fill up in Arizona, even though the diesel tax in NM is 6 cents less- Hmmm.

An hour later as we were descending a long grade into Las Cruces we decided to pull into a rest area and consider our options.  A quick check on the iPad showed hard rain coming to El Paso, changing to snow or slush as the day progressed.  A cold "bulge" was pushing down from Canada right into our path.

Local TV News Thursday

We decided to stop right here in Las Cruces and let the cold weather move through before continuing.  Joan got on the iPad and found an RV park with a spot for us for a couple nights.

Our Rolling home docked in the Hacienda RV park

We checked into the Hacienda RV and Rally Resort and settled in for at least a couple nights as the weather descended.   We suspect we were not the only ones- as the Park filled up pretty quickly.

Mesilla shop

We used this "free" day to tick off another must do on our list.  We drove over to the town of Mesilla, less than a mile from our RV Park.  Mesilla is a well preserved border town originally built in 1800, it was in Mexico, now part of the US, thanks to the Gadsden Purchase in 1854.

The downtown buildings have been occupied by businesses selling artwork, Mexican pottery, carvings, sombreros, clothing and tourist T-shirts, a few are now restaurants or bars.  We had a good time poking through the offerings- but given the size of our rolling home, nothing tempted us to buy.  The building  pictured below is the oldest masonry structure in New Mexico dating back to 1860.  The bricks were made and fired right here.

Leonart-Maurin Store Mesilla, NM
 150 years ago Mesilla boasted 2,500 residents.  It was a major stop for travelers going from San Antonio and San Diego.  Mesilla garnered some fame as the site of famous western outlaw Billy the Kid's murder trial.  In 1881 the railroad bypassed Mesilla for Las Cruces, but Mesilla managed to retain it's integrity and character through the intervening years.

Today the plaza and the surrounding buildings are a National Historic Landmark.

Thursday morning we awoke to a fairly decent day.  The skies were overcast and the temperature was in the 40s.  We slipped out to Cracker Barrel for some breakfast, and afterwards drove over to an O'Reillys auto parts store to have the car battery tested.  I needed to figure out whether the reason for our dead battery was the battery failing or a nasty parasitic draw on the battery as we are towing.  I put the battery tender on it last night and by this morning it was fully charged.  O'Reillys will check for free and they have a fairly sophisticated checker that load tests the battery, measures the cold cranking amps, checks your alternator, and a dozen other things I didn't understand.  The tech assured me that the battery and charging system were just fine.  That means it's something in the car that's using a lot of electricity while we tow.  Bearing in mind here that all the lighting is being powered by the motorhome's electrical system through the umbilical.  I need to find out what else is being powered, or do as friend Paul suggests just take the battery cable off the car when we tow.

Light snow falls In Las Cruces for the first time in 2 years

As we arrived back at the motorhome we were greeted by this scene.  We had seen sparkles in the air a lot earlier, but this looked like it could become serious.  Our luck was holding and the flurries stopped altogether and there were even some slight breaks in the otherwise overcast sky.

Local News for El Paso Friday
Then the next shoe dropped.  We turned on the TV to see the weather forecast and Yikes!  Did they really say temperatures in the teens!!  Grrr!  I am here to escape winter.

So, after dinner I put on my parka and went out to drain and roll up the water hose, and to put a very small electric heater in the wet bay.  Tomorrow's weather shows a clearing trend that should hold all week.  The lows for this area stay sub-freezing, but as we get closer to Dallas the lows should be above the frost line.  We don't have a lot of experience in this bus with freezing weather while the tanks are in use (wet), so I worry about the fresh water tank freezing or the piping and fittings near it, the grey and black tanks and the drain valves.
Stay turned to see how we fare overnight.

Your Traveling Friends,

Jeff and Joan

A Trip Through Copper Country

Odometer  58549
Trip Meter  345 Miles

Besides a chance to visit with our very good friends my goal for our visit to Ralph and Ann's, is to learn as much as I can about Model T maintenance, from Mr. Model T himself.  Everyday brings a new project and that keeps things interesting.

The author refinishing a Model T Wheel

Wood Spoke Model T Wheel
Today's project is to replace the wobbly wood wheels on the "new" 1915 Touring.  The spokes on the existing wheels are not tight in the metal rim which gives the car a loose feel on the road, and it makes a distinct clicking sound as the wheels roll.  Ralph just recently procured another set of wheels which, although they are tight in the rim, are pretty beat-up looking.  My job is to sand, putty, stain and varnish this set of four wheels. We started by painting the metal rims with some semi-gloss black and then filled the open checks and voids in the spokes with some walnut colored plastic wood filler and stained them.  We dried them in the sun for a day, before applying two coats of urethane spar varnish.

1915 Model T  Touring Car

The result is nothing short of awesome!  The car looks and drives like new!

Our time with Ralph and Ann is up.  It's time for us to head out on our next adventure, and that is a side trip to Dallas, TX to attend Savannah's college graduation.  We got busy and finished up all our preparations to leave in the morning.  Parting from good friends is never easy, and this time is no exception.  Hugs all around and promises that we'll see each other again in the spring.  Joan and I both feel lucky to have such good friends.

We have chosen a different route to keep things interesting.

We get our usual "early" start at quarter to 9 in the morning, and we are going to go east from Phoenix on a scenic byway that will take us to Superior, Miami, and Globe, Arizona and across hwy 70 south and east to Lordsburg, New Mexico, before joining I-10 east.

Hwy 60 through the Superstition Mountains

The skies are overcast today, but the scenery on our way to Superior, AZ in the mountains is spectacular.  We ended up climbing to nearly 3,000 feet, from Phoenix's 1,100 feet, but the grades were mostly gradual and the highways in good condition.  Superior is a small town with a rich history.  Founded in 1875 with the opening of the Hub and Irene mines, Superior is still mining copper today- some say that it is home to the largest vein of copper in the US and possibly the 4th largest deposit in the world!

Further down route 60 and another 500 feet in elevation is the mining town of Miami, AZ.

Miami, Arizona City Limits

Miami is another small mining town with a population of just under 2000.  There is both a mine and a smelter located here.  The town itself is not your typical "cutesy" tourist town, but rather a collection of modest homes and a few small businesses.  Highway 60 goes through the middle of town but I got the sense that the real downtown was not on the main drag, and we did not have time today to dive off the highway and explore.  Their sign touts "The Copper Center of the World"  We will definitely come back with the idea of doing some exploring.

Globe, Arizona

Six miles more along the Old West Highway (route 60) we come to the town of Globe.  Situated at 3,500 feet in the mountains Globe is home to around 7,500 residents.  Principle industries are mining and tourism, this town is going on our bucket list of places to visit.  It has the look and feel of a Jerome or Bisbee and we'll come exploring when the weather isn't quite so gloomy.  Globe is on the edge of the San Carlos Indian Reservation, it's the jumping off place for the Salt River Canyon Scenic Drive, also the gateway to the Besh Ba Gowah ancient ruins- lots more.  Yep! definitely on the list.

Copper Cathodes on a flatbed truck

We saw a few of these flatbeds hauling copper cathodes of 99% pure copper from the ore processors in the area.  At 560 lbs per cubic foot copper is heavier than steel, that explains the abundance of open space on the truck.

We continued on US 70 from Globe, AZ to Lordsburg, New Mexico where we had the option of staying for the night, or continuing on I-10 to Deming for the night.

The Entrance to Road Runner RV Park in Deming, NM

Ultimately, we decided to push onto Deming.   Lordsburg does not have any Passport America RV parks and we found one in Deming that offers deep discounts at this time of year.  Full hookups and half price- Okay!  
The wind has picked up and the clouds look ominous, time to tuck in for the night and see what tomorrow brings.

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan