Photo taken at Winchester Bay, Oregon

Friday, September 29, 2017

Colorado and Fall Colors

At Enchanted Trails RV Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico...

We had a nice reunion with old friends Bubba and LouAnn at Priest Gulch Campground near Dolores, Colorado:

Here are our rigs, parked right on the bank of the Dolores River:

This is a very peaceful wooded setting at about 8,000 ft. above sea level, so it is a nice cool place to escape the Texas heat in the summertime. Since we were there in late September, there was already quite a chill in the air, with the temperature getting down to around 25 degrees one night while we were here. What we were really interested in seeing was the fall color in the mountains, and that did not disappoint. Take a look at these photos:

Near Ridgway, Colorado

Near Silverton, Colorado
Even when we weren't blessed with fall color views, the scenery in the clean autumn air was just magnificent:

Near Ouray, Colorado

Near Telluride, Colorado
Driving on the "Million Dollar Highway," we made a brief visit to Ouray, Colorado, a place we hadn't seen in decades, and we liked it so much that we have vowed to return next summer, if possible:

We are headed south from here, returning to our Livingston, Texas address of record to take care of some auto registration and driver's license renewals. Then we will continue to Conroe, where we will be in and out for the next few months. We are going to miss the Colorado mountains and our friends, for sure. 

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the world and see little of it.  --Alexander Sattler

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sedona, The Painted Desert and Petrified Forest

At Sun Valley RV Resort, Sun Valley, Arizona...

Yes, we are moving again, having enjoyed our stay near the Grand Canyon and some more fellowship with new "old" friends, Dave and Janice. Acquainted almost by accident through Janice's friendly hello on RVillage, we now consider these two like family. We come from very similar backgrounds, and we discovered that we are, in fact, neighbors when they visit their home base near ours in Conroe, Texas.  They've gotten us hooked on a game called "Rummykub," at which they are ringers, and we have them hooked on "42." The abuse at the table is brutal, but it's all in good-natured fun. 

Dave and Janice
We consider ourselves fortunate to have met so many really wonderful friends in our RV lifestyle, and we love to get together when we can. We hope to see these two again in Conroe.

We took a brief side trip to Sedona, about 35 miles south of Flagstaff. We had visited there before, but it was a long time ago. It's still the bustling, touristy place that it ever was, but few towns have ever been established in a more beautiful setting. We took this photo from the airport overlook:

Before leaving town, we had dinner at the Mesa Grill Restaurant at the airport. It was quite good--amazingly so, in fact, for an airport restaurant.

From here, we're making our way to southwest Colorado, where we will meet up for a few days with longtime RV friends Bubba and LouAnn. On the way, we decided to stop in and take another look at the Petrified Forest National Park and its environs, the Painted Desert. Here are a few photos we took:

I have long had a fascination for the history of Route 66, the iconic "mother road" that traversed half the country and was the means by which many families got their first look at the magical place that is the American West. In Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, Interstate 40 follows much of the old highway, and I'm always delighted to be able to drive down any part of it, observing some of the relics of that golden age of travel. Here is a photo of the carcass of a 1932 Studebaker that is placed exactly where the now abandoned Route 66 traversed this national park. 

The desert plants have since reclaimed the highway, so the only indications of the roadbed location are the old telephone poles, also abandoned, that are visible beyond the car. This was only a few miles from the Painted Desert Inn, also in the park and overlooking the Painted Desert:

This place was built as a CCC project from 1937-1940, when it opened to the delight of travelers as a hotel. When Interstate 40 was built, it lost some of its allure for the fast-paced traffic and closed its doors in 1963. It was going to be demolished at one point but, after being designated as a National Historic Landmark, it will be saved for posterity. It now houses a museum and bookstore. We didn't get a look inside, as it had already closed for the day when we arrived. We love the architecture, and we were able to walk all around it, taking in the spectacular views:

A few miles farther down the park road, we encountered the fascinating areas of petrified wood that had once been part of a thriving forest eons ago. The trees fell and were buried in river sediment and, over unfathomable ages, absorbed minerals that displaced the organic matter of the trees, only to be unearthed through erosion and now visible to onlookers. We thought the minerals in the logs made them quite beautiful:

At the end of our day in the Petrified Forest National Park, we drove back to the little town of Holbrook, also situated on old Route 66. We were delighted to see the iconic Wigwam Motel, where all the rooms were designed to look like teepees. It was easy to imagine how many travelers stopped here in the heyday of Route 66, much to the excitement of their children:

Our summer travels are coming to a close, and what a summer this has been! We have been away from the Texas heat for the four hottest months of the year, and now we will be returning to milder weather--perfect for more spoiling of our grandsons! 

We will not be idle, though. We have rallies to attend in San Marcos and the Rio Grande Valley. The ladies have a trip planned to First Monday in Canton and, after the holidays, we will be headed back to Arizona for our first visit to Quartzsite--known as Woodstock for RVers. After that, we will probably be wintering somewhere in the great Southwest. Next summer, we will be taking a Hawaiian cruise and then spending the rest of the summer somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. And who knows what else?!!

So, stick around and travel with us as we make our retirement dreams come true! 

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the world and see little of it.  
--Alexander Sattler

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Las Vegas to The Grand Canyon

At Grand Canyon Railroad RV Park, Williams, Arizona...

We decided to stop in Las Vegas on our way to the Grand Canyon, knowing the temperature there would be even hotter than St. George, but we scored a Passport America discount at the Oasis RV Park and thought we might see a couple of shows. 

It was every bit as hot there as we thought it would be, but thank goodness for Phannie's new bedroom a/c! It took all three a/cs running to keep cool, but that's why we have them, isn't it?

We went to see 'Vegas,' a musical variety show with music from the 70s, 80s and 90s, and it was just okay. It was pretty well done, but we didn't know a lot of the tunes. It is a bit unsettling that the 'oldies' shows in Las Vegas no longer include music from the 50s and 60s, which are the 'oldies' we know. My guess is that our crowd is largely confined to assisted living and nursing homes, and their Wal-Mart bus won't take them all the way to Vegas! 

I must say that I'm a little conflicted about our good fortune as far as our health goes; so many of our peers do have health issues that are commonly a part of getting older, and we feel extraordinarily blessed to be out here roaming the country in a motorhome while their world is steadily shrinking. I think that's a pretty good reason not to wait too long to do the things you've worked for and dreamed about.

The other show we saw was Donnie and Marie. Now that would be full of oldies, we thought! Well, they did include a few of their saccharine hits from the past, but the emphasis was clearly on attracting a younger crowd with insanely loud amplification and hard rock histrionics. This was not money well spent for us; it was very disappointing. We have arrived at the conclusion that the music we like is largely extinct--you know, the kind with a melody you can hum and lyrics that are meaningful and decipherable above the noise?  There are perhaps vestiges of this kind of music still around in Branson, but who knows how long that will last after our generation is gone? Seems like we're going full circle back to where we began beating on logs and chanting some kind of mystical nonsense and calling that music. Give me a break.

Our primo find in Las Vegas was one of the best Thai restaurants ever. Lotus of Siam was so good that it made our stop in Las Vegas completely worthwhile. It's in a very nondescript location that belies the very large and well appointed restaurant inside, and everything we had was just superb. We ate there twice, and it definitely goes on our list of favorite restaurants linked on this blog.

We had an uneventful trip to Williams, Arizona, the gateway to the Grand Canyon, except for the bone-jarring condition of I-40 east of Kingman. I think Trump is right about our infrastructure crumbling; we had to move Phannie over to the passing lane for quite a distance to keep the fillings from falling out of our teeth.

We've been in Williams a few days, again scoring a Passport America discount at this very nice RV park. The only problem with it is the BNSF railroad track nearby but, fortunately, there are very few trains per day that go by with their horns blaring.

We've also failed to find a restaurant in Williams that is worth mentioning. Friends Janice and Dave are showing up soon, and we're going to have to break the bad news to them. Looks like Flagstaff will be a better bet for eating out.

We made a trip to the canyon today because the weather was just perfect for taking some photos. Here are a few that I thought turned out pretty well:

We had a visit by some Indian dancers.
The next one is my favorite, caught just moments before sunset:

The weather here has been so nice, with temperatures mostly in the 70s and low 80s. What a difference after St. George and Las Vegas!

I'll have some more photos to share in the next post, so stay tuned!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the whole world and see little of it. 
--Alexander Sattler

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Adios, St. George

At Temple View RV Resort, St. George, Utah...

Aside from the sweltering heat, we have had a pleasant stay here in St. George. It is a city in which the residents take pride, with streets that are clean and wide, boasting numerous shopping areas, well-kept neighborhoods and nothing that caused any safety concerns. The topography around the city is typical of the desert area with multicolored buttes and mesas nearby. Here's a view of the city from an overlook north of town:

The city maintains a very nice desert garden on top of one of the buttes nearby:

We scored tickets to a local community theater that had ambitiously put together a production of "Singin' In The Rain" that was actually quite good. If you find yourself here, whether on purpose or due to bad judgment in the summer--like us--their theater group can afford some good entertainment at a bargain price:

During a hot busy day while we were here, the RV park had an electrical brownout of sorts, probably due to so many air conditioners on so many big rigs that came in for the holiday. Our EMS apparently sensed some anemic power coming into Phannie and knocked us off the grid for a time. When the brownout subsided, the system powered us up again, thankfully. If you don't have an EMS, you might want to reconsider. I know of some horror stories about fried electronics in some coaches, and that is easily preventable with one of these handy devices.

Next stop: Las Vegas. Yes, I know it's hot there, too. (I must be a masochist.)

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the world and see little of it. 
-- Alexander Sattler

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Bryce Canyon National Park and Relief From the Heat

At Temple View RV Resort, St. George, Utah...

It was a treat finally to be heading back up into the mountains northeast of St. George to find Bryce Canyon. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive, and we chose to go eastbound on highway 9 through Zion again to intercept U. S. 89 to Bryce. This was really good fortune, as we only drove a short distance through Zion on our previous visit and didn't see the section of highway 9 that continued beyond the Zion canyon. It was a gorgeous drive, and we highly recommend it. 

As we gained altitude toward Bryce Canyon, the temperature outside steadily fell until it read 79 degrees at the 8,000+ foot elevation in the park. Now this was more like it, since the Mae's outside temperature gauge read 105 degrees when we left St. George. 

Because it was so pleasant outside, we spent quite a bit of time walking around the trails overlooking the remarkable hoodoos (the totem pole-like pillars of rock that are more prevalent in Bryce than anywhere else. These are formed, according to Wikipedia, by the erosion of softer layers of sediment underneath harder layers that protect the spires beneath.) Here are some photos:

Such colors!
I liked this one because it reminded me of the entrance to some ancient temple with people standing in the entrance.

This one looks a bit like the Parthenon in Greece with smaller buildings around it. 

This grouping looks like people very close together lined up for something.

The setting sun in late afternoon proved perfect for accentuating the vivid colors of the canyon and the thousands of hoodoos. 

I loved the look of this long-dead tree standing sentinel-like over this amazing spectacle.

And so we bid goodbye for now to this fantastic geological wonder:

Before we left the small community of Bryce, Utah just outside the entrance to the park, we stopped at Ebenezer's Barn to see the western music show that also included dinner:

This was a recommendation by friends Chuck and Tita. The singers and instrumentalists were an unbelievably talented group doing western swing music probably as well as it can be done. I think their rendition of "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" was the best I ever heard. The dinner, unfortunately, wasn't so memorable, but the show made up for it. Thanks, guys, for telling us about this.

What a fine side trip this was! I hope everyone has an opportunity to visit both Zion and Bryce Canyon Parks. They are well worth the effort.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the world and see little of it.  
--Alexander Sattler

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Hot Time in Zion National Park

At Temple View RV Resort, St. George, Utah...

Okay, let's go ahead and get this out of the way:  We are spoiled, whiny, tenderfoot, prima donna deplorables. No one reading this post could arrive at any other conclusion, based on what will be my sniveling account of how hot it is here in St. George. Furthermore, this post may get the prize for being off-the-rails silly. I think it's because of the heat, but sometimes I just feel like writing something for fun.

Here's the strange part: I knew it was going to be hot before we headed down I-15 to get here. I assure you that my faculties have not yet deteriorated to a point where looking at a high in St. George of 105 degrees on Weather Bug doesn't enable me to associate that with a certain level of potential human discomfort. Yet there we went, undeterred, as though I were thumbing my nose at silly little things like, well, facts. 

In this case, my discomfort level when we arrived at St. George and I descended the steps from Phannie's air conditioned cockpit led me to believe that, somehow, I had flatlined at the very moment I opened the door and, having perished, stepped squarely into the afterlife which, to my surprise, turned out to be hell! I must tell you that this was not the outcome I had in mind as my exit strategy.

I looked again at the sign that read 'Temple View RV Park' in an effort to convince myself that I had not, indeed, been cast into the lake of fire. I instinctively raised my forearm to cover my mouth and nose in an effort, I suppose, to keep from inhaling the hot wind that would surely char my lungs. 

Across the driveway, I could see the park office's entrance door, and I staggered toward it, hoping it wasn't a mirage. After I took a few halting steps, I looked at the soles of my shoes to see if any melted asphalt had clung to them, impeding my only chance to save myself. Then it occurred to me that I had left in Phannie's cockpit cupholder my Yeti mug that was filled with ice water. I was beginning to panic; I think I saw buzzards circling overhead.

I was thinking that if I could just make it inside the door, perhaps one of the staff members would call 911 before I dissolved into a puddle of lard before their eyes. Sandy, of course, was oblivious to all of this, as she had probably resumed her nap back there in Phannie's copilot seat, footrest extended, and with four A/C vents blowing enough cold air directly on her to make her usually cover up with a light blanket as we roll down the highway. 

Before I had brought Phannie to a stop in the driveway, I had fired up the genset to give life to the roof airs, which I turned on before heading outside. With the dash a/c and the roof airs on, it was downright frosty in Phannie. Except I wasn't there; I was busy succumbing with a heat stroke there in the driveway.

I had just enough strength left to pull open the office door, where a blast of cool air washed over me. After a few minutes, the room stopped spinning and I could barely see the counter clerk, gesturing toward me and saying, "Are you Mr. Mills?" 

I wondered, "How did she know?" My first delerious thought was that she had read my name on a secret 'Do Not Resuscitate' list circulated by some left-leaning group toward anyone whose vehicles show Texas license plates. After a few minutes of deep breathing, I was able to make sense of things and finally get registered.

Okay, maybe I've embellished things a little, but my point is that it is pretty danged hot here in St. George and, after months of our frolicking in cool and mild temperatures north of the equator--which I believe runs exactly through St. George--we were not accustomed to this hellish climate where the sun is certainly no more than about 65 miles from earth.

So why would we come here in the summer, you may ask? Other than the obvious answer--stupidity--my thinking was that, since we are headed toward Flagstaff anyway, why not stop here and see a couple of national parks we had not visited before? It made sense to me, and I thought we could just 'man up' and git 'er done. And really, that's what we're doing, but not without plenty of shared speculation as to whether my dementia is becoming really obvious.

We really didn't know what to expect as we drove toward Zion N.P. We had looked at it online, but there is nothing quite like seeing it in person. The photos and videos don't quite do it justice. It consists of a relatively short canyon whose many-hued rock walls soar almost vertically above the fast-flowing stream that runs through it. It is a beautiful and colorful display of nature's wonder, and I would like to have spent a good bit of time there, walking on some of the many trails and taking photos. 

But that wasn't going to happen. It wasn't any cooler in the canyon than it was in St. George, and neither of us enjoys the outdoors in these conditions. As luck would have it, the shuttle bus that drove us through the park was a brand new air-conditioned one--the only one in the fleet--and we didn't dare get out of it for more than a minute or two at its stops. Nevertheless, I was able to get a few decent photos, but this place is worth another trip when brimstone isn't falling from the sky like it was on this day.  Here are a few photos I was able to shoot:

I kept thinking how lucky we were to have had Phannie's bedroom air conditioner replaced in Salt Lake City. If it had gone out here, I guess we would have had to be airlifted out or something--who knows?

I hope you've had fun reading this silliness; it was fun writing it.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the world and see little of it. 
--Alexander Sattler

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Stop in Provo to See New Old Friends

At Lakeside RV Resort, Provo, Utah...

Did you ever run into folks you've never seen before, yet they seem like old friends? Such was the case when we met Dave and Janice as we were parked near Yellowstone about a month ago. These are retired fellow Texans who have been fulltiming for 14 years, their current rig being a Monaco Dynasty motor home. A very brief visit on our departure day led us to conclude that we must get better acquainted because our personalities and outlook on life are so similar. So, as we were leaving Salt Lake, we decided to stop by their campground in Provo where they were spending a few days  and do just that.

We enjoyed three fun afternoons and evenings in Provo with Dave and Janice and, even though we didn't do a lot of sightseeing (here is a photo of Bridal Veil Falls, near Provo that I snapped as we were together with them on the road to Sundance Mountain Resort. (We wondered if Robert Redford was at home.)

Janice and Dave also joined us for games in the evening. We played 42 and a new game to us, Rummy Kub, which we enjoyed. The laughter was pretty much nonstop as we came to know these new friends better. Thank you, guys, for showing us a good time. (I have a feeling we'll be running into them again soon!)  

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the world and see little of it. 
--Alexander Sattler

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Goodbye, Salt Lake!

At the Salt Lake City KOA...

We must tell you that we have enjoyed our stay in Salt Lake City, checking out some places we didn't go on a previous visit two years ago. We've faithfully posted about these and, having nothing else on our agenda after Phannie's repairs, hitch itch has set in. So, we'll be moving along to St. George, Utah, with an intervening stop in Provo to see some new friends we came to know through RVillage when we were back at Yellowstone.   

Speaking of, the social media site that is a bit like a Facebook for RVers, I have been a member almost since its inception. One of the purposes of the site is to allow RVers to become more engaged in social networking within their group, but that seemed to have taken off a bit slowly in the first couple of years. However, now that the site is up to about 75,000 subscribers, I'm getting an increasing level of social contacts by fellow members. Besides Dave and Janice, our friends we're meeting in Provo, we met a delightful couple from England named Murray and Barb while we were at the KOA in Salt Lake. Our visit with them was brief, unfortunately, as we were scheduled to leave the park the day after they arrived. The RVillage website alerts the user when new RVillage members arrive in the user's RV park. Introductory greetings by Dave and Janice and Murray and Barb are the first we've actually received since we've been members. I guess the generally older RV population has been slow to warm up to the technology.

We're leaving with our wallet a few thousand dollars lighter, but we have a new air conditioner and a new microwave oven to show for it. The new A/C makes us especially happy since we're going toward some much warmer weather in southern Utah as we pay visits to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. We don't need any A/C hiccups while we're there in the heat. 

A few nights ago, we attended a play in a community theater in downtown Salt Lake City. Sandy loves live theater, and this was part of her birthday gift. The show was a musical comedy named "Utahoma," performed at the Off Broadway Theater. It was a spoof of the classic "Oklahoma" musical and was conceived, written and produced here in Salt Lake using local actors. The whole thing was woefully low-budget and not terribly well attended on this, a Monday night, but I must tell you that it was absolutely hilarious. I think that if we had been staying longer, we would have seen it again, just so we could catch more of the rapid-fire jokes, puns, songs and antics of the energetic little troupe of actors:

What we've posted over our three weeks or so here in Salt Lake City is fairly typical of our life as fulltimers. Reading back in the blog, we see we've been quite leisurely in our sightseeing, not wishing to over-schedule ourselves. A proper schedule, in our retired way of thinking, involves planning only one activity on a given day and making sure there is least one intervening day of rest before scheduling something else. And we must remember to try to make time for a daily nap to keep up this strenuous pace. 

I can see your wheels turning; you're probably thinking: 'You mean to tell me that it took you three weeks to see the few things you posted about?' Well, yes. But you have to remember that we also had to perform everyday living chores in the meantime. We had to shop for groceries, make trips to Wal-Mart, get the car washed, cook meals, do the laundry, clean house (even though it only takes 15 minutes to make Phannie spotless inside), go to the beauty shop (not me--Sandy), try new restaurants, etc. Scheduling our activities and down days while tossing in some nap times is almost work in itself!

According to the generally accepted wisdom regarding the experiences of new fulltimers, we seem to be settling, as expected, into this more thoughtful and measured existence--staying longer at the places we go and avoiding the frenetic traveling excesses that come from the first taste of freedom. And that's a good thing; we find ourselves enjoying retirement even more now in this leisurely mode. 

We stopped at Speedco just outside Salt Lake City to have an oil change and lube job for Phannie. 

We've covered a good bit of territory in the old girl this summer, so we had to have an interim service done before the annual one that will be due next spring. We're not sure where we will be then, but we like to take it to Bay Diesel in Red Bay, Alabama.

After we leave Provo, we'll stop in St. George for a week, finally to see Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks for the first time. Then, we'll be headed to Williams, Arizona for our first visit back to the Grand Canyon in 20 years.  Stick around!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

I had rather see the world and own little than to own the whole world and see little of it.
--Alexander Sattler