Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Seeing It With Eyes Of Appreciation

I really don't know what the big difference is on this journey thru New Mexico or Texas over past trips through these states along Interstate 10.  We've crossed the country on I-10 probably a half dozen times over the past 20+ years and previously I would sort of dread part of it. 

Once you get into New Mexico a few miles, and all the way through West Texas until almost San Antonio, the landscape is rather brownish with some smattering of green sagebrush and the like.  There are mountains to see, but those are mostly brownish in color also.  This time it was different for us.  We were seeing this area with "eyes of appreciation".  We rode through this area the past 2 days with a feeling of excitement and joy, I guess you could call it.

This time we really looked at it with different eyes.  We could still see the brownish landscape of New Mexico with the stark and sometimes barren look of it all but we saw the contrast of the brown mountains with the blue sky.  We saw how some of the rocks and mountains were a different shade of brown.  Some mountains were jagged and some had been sheared off by centuries of stiff winds until they were turned into a plateau.   Same thing for West Texas.  As we looked at everything, we talked about how difficult it must have been for the early settlers to cross that desert like terrain, filled with all sorts of unknown dangers. 

(click on any photo for a larger view)

Here are some beautiful rocky mountains in Arizona just before you get to New Mexico.  Awesome!
Just after entering New Mexico we could see some beautiful yellow wildflowers.
The wildflowers lasted only a short time and then the landscape turned into a dry prairie with the mountains in the distance.
Just after you cross from New Mexico into Texas,  the folks from the Lone Star state greet you with a huge sign.
Another wonderful part of Texas is their pride in their home town and the entire state.  In even the smallest towns, they honor their high school teams by painting the water tanks with the sports teams achievements.
Here is a photo of west Texas many miles east of El Paso.  The wide open spaces of this area hold great appeal to the residents of this part of the state.  They don't want close neighbors as they prefer to farm the land or graze cattle.
Before we got to the turnoff for Hwy. 290 toward Johnson City, we could see many of the wind machines erected on the hills and plateaus here.
The Interstate took us through more hills, with green shrubs and sagebrush, and then we saw our turnoff for Hwy. 290.  Making our exit from the Interstate, we were now heading into the area known as the Hill Country.  We will be here for 4 nights.
I think most people travel to see different places and experience new things they don't find at home.  That is why we travel.  We are not content to sit all year long looking at the same scenery.  Every traveler will have their own preferences on what is most important to see.  How boring would we find life if everything looked the same?  If there were nothing but large cities to visit, I wouldn't be happy.  If there was nothing but desert to visit, I wouldn't be happy.  If I could never see the ocean, I wouldn't be happy.  We may have been driving through barren land most of the past 2 days, but how refreshing to NOT SEE constant strip malls, gas stations, fast food joints, and rows and rows of homes that look identical to the one next door.

So this is why we could see this area with our eyes of appreciation.  We appreciate the diversity of this state of Texas, but we also just appreciate being able to be fulltime RVer's and go where we want.  We are so blessed and that makes us very thankful, too.

Until next long for now!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

PARK REVIEWS: Valley Vista RV Resort and Van Horn KOA

We were able to find an ROD membership park for our overnight stay in Benson, Arizona on Monday.  We checked into the Valley Vista RV Resort, a Western Horizons Resort.  This was our first time visiting this RV park, and we feel that it is one we do plan to return to next year.

Valley Vista is located in high desert country in Southeastern Arizona, elevation 3,500 feet.  Nearby sightseeing is available in Bisbee, Douglas, and the Nat'l. Historic Sites of Tombstone.  There is a lot of beautiful scenery to take in as well.

Upon arrival we went into the office and were greeted by a very friendly park manager.  He had assigned us Site # 137, which was a pull through site.
Following the manager's directions we drove slowly to our site and crossed this dry wash on the way.
Here are some of the remaining RV's that haven't flown the coop yet from their snowbird vacations.

Here is space #137.  All of the spaces in this park have full hook-ups with 30 amp electric.  I will have to say that it was a little difficult getting the big Tour leveled out, as the site sloped to the driver side a lot.  We observed that many of the RV's had several leveling boards under jacks or tires, too.  We got the job done, though, and our tires weren't off the ground. (I don't like to have our wheels up off the ground)
After getting organized I took the camera for a walk around Valley Vista.  I found the pool area and it was small, but well kept with very clean water and nice landscaping.  Plenty of patio chairs, too.
Next to the pool area was the laundry.  Wow!  What a clean place.  I was impressed.  They had a rack full of magazines to borrow and there was even a sewing machine set up on a counter.  It was available for any park guest, but it needed to be used inside the laundry room.

Next, I went into the clubhouse area.  Again I found a neat and clean facility.  There were tables for games and social gatherings....plenty of space for potluck suppers!  There was also a pool table on the other side of the room.  Adjoining the dining room was a TV room.  There was a seating area for watching television, a library with books to trade, and boxes of jig saw puzzles for guest use.

There are a total of 145 full hook-up sites at this park.  There were also areas for horseshoes, shuffleboard, and a hot tub by the pool.  It was a great park and an easy find from I-10.  It is affiliated with Coast to Coast, RPI, AOR, and ROD.  We did see a sign by the road that said, "$25.00 per night".  We figured since peak season was over now, they probably accept campers not associated with membership parks.  We are hoping to return to this area next spring and plan to spend at least 3 or 4 days at this RV resort.
Today...Tuesday, March 30th....we are staying at the Van Horn KOA in Van Horn, Texas.  Here is that brief review:

I have to admit that normally we do not choose KOA parks.  Most of our experiences staying at KOA parks have been so-so to lousy, plus the prices have been a little high compared to some other parks we'd stayed at.  Coming into Van Horn, Texas today we decided to choose an RV park rather than dry-camp as we had planned.  It was about 90F and we wanted air conditioning for the evening.  There were 2 parks in our Trailer Life Directory to look at and the KOA sounded best.  I phoned for reservations when we were driving through El Paso.  The manager who answered the phone was extremely polite and helpful.  He took the information for our reservation.  The usual large KOA sign greeted us upon arrival.
The office was right at the gate with plenty of room for the larger RV's to pull in and forward to allow room for several to park while checking in.  There is also a small "Kafe" on the property that serves breakfast and dinner.  The manager was on hand to check us in when we arrived.  He could not have been a more gracious host.  First of all he shook hands with us, then handled the check-in procedure with efficiency, and then bade us a good-night and "thanks for the business, I appreciate it."  What an awesome experience! 
We were assigned to a long pull-thru site with full hook-ups and 50 amp electric....for $35.00.  I think that is a very good price by today's standards for a full service park.  This park also has a barn and corrals for campers bringing their horses with them.  This is Texas you know!

The pool was still empty from the winter season, but will be ready for lots of swimming very soon.  There is also a little mini-golf course that kids will enjoy.  This KOA offers free wireless internet service also.  I really like this KOA park and will choose it again if we pass this way on another trip.  You might want to try it, too.

We didn't get here tonight until 7:30 as we encountered a time zone change.  So, I didn't get a chance to take many photos of this campground.  This will give you a brief peek at what this place looks like.

Until next long for now!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dinner With Jerry And Suzy

First of all, welcome aboard to my newest "Follower" Wheel Estate Travellers.  THANK YOU so much for joining my group of followers.  I appreciate your interest in reading my RV blog from time to time!  I hope it will entertain you.

We had a wonderful evening here in Benson, Arizona meeting fellow blogger Jerry and his sweet wife, Suzy.  Jerry writes the blog Our Life On Wheels and I hope you will give it a look, if you haven't already.

Jerry read on my blog that we would be stopping overnight in their hometown of Benson and asked if we could join them for dinner.  Well...YEAH.....we sure could do that.  We got into Benson this afternoon around 3:30.  We got registered at the Valley Vista RV Resort (I'll give my review of the park tomorrow) and did some chores around the RV until time to meet Jerry and Suzy.
We met them at a local restaurant here in Benson called Palatianos, located at 601 W. 4th St.  It was a good choice and the food was wonderful.  We took Jerry's advice and ordered the Chicken Marsala and were glad we made that selection.  We enjoyed our meals as we began to get acquainted with our new friends.  Jerry and Suzy did fulltime RV living for 7 1/2 years before being sidelined with some medical issues.  They are not done with the RV travel, though, and still get out for as many trips as they can work in.  Again...check Jerry's blog for details.

After finishing our meal, Suzy invited us to their nearby home for dessert and coffee.  Who could refuse such a warm invitation?  I dare anyone to disappoint Suzy.  It just isn't possible!  We followed Jerry to their home at the Saguaro Co-Op Escapee park in Benson.  Once there, Suzy put the coffee on and Jerry began checking through the cabinets for some coffee creamer for me. 
Once the coffee was finished, Suzy got busy cutting some large slices of delicious carrot cake.  We enjoyed our visit and we all had some RV travel stories to share.  They gave us some great tips on some quirky museums that we will need to check into at some point in the future. 
Before we knew it I saw it was 9:00.   We would have to make our good-byes as Annie the Schnauzer was waiting at home for her evening walk before bedtime.  Before leaving our friends, they showed us their newly renovated casita.  It isn't quite finished but it won't be long now.  And it is really going to be a great space for them when it is completed. 

We hope to return to this part of Arizona next year at this time and stay for 4 to 6 weeks.  Hopefully, we can meet these Blogging friends and share another fine time talking about the wonderful RV lifestyle we all enjoy so much.

Thanks Jerry and Suzy for a wonderful evening!

Until next long for now! 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Busy Day With Stuff

Today I got around to that whole house cleaning job I wanted to do before we left Tumwater, but didn't do because of illness.  Before getting to that, we took a 1 hour walk before breakfast.  The sun was low in the sky and made some funny people shadows.  We saw some nice cactus blooms along the roadside on this walk.  (click any photo for larger view)

After breakfast we began to tackle those chores.  Bruce got busy washing the bugs off the windshield and the front of the RV in preparation for our drive to Benson tomorrow.

He had pulled some things out of the outside storage compartments so I thought I'd take a few pictures of our outside "stuff".  On this side we have a large ladder, a little rug shampoo machine, chemicals, hoses, fittings, RV cleaners, oil, engine coolant, and all that other boring stuff.
Then we have an assortment of other stuff on the passenger side of the motorhome.  You know, the same stuff everyone has....patio chairs, folding table, rug or mat, covered indoor dining chairs, extra indoor supplies (paper towels, etc), toys for the Grands, dehumidifier, space heater, and tools (hoping you won't need them, but knowing you will at some point).  One thing we don't have is an outdoor TV.  Good thing since we would have taken it out to utilize that space for storing more "stuff".

We have one of those slide out drawers in one of the compartments and that is handy.  Helps us keep a few non-perishable grocery items we get at Costco in there.

We'll be leaving here early tomorrow morning so I went down to the river bank to get one final photo of the Colorado River with the mountains of California in the distance.
Until next long for now!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Pleasant Surprise and A Toad Question

Those desert winds kicked up again last night while we were dry-camping at the Casino in Cabazon, California.  Before going to bed we pulled in the slide on the windy side and then in the wee hours we woke up to hear the winds gusting harder, so we pulled in the bedroom slide as well.  This is one of the main reasons we aren't particularly fond of desert dwelling for long periods of time.  We enjoy the desert for a bit but then want to move on.  We still slept well, so no big deal.

We left this morning around 8:30 and drove the short distance east to the Flying J for a fuel stop and then breakfast at the McDonald's next door.  It was already above 70 degrees. we're talking!   We've finally found some warm weather, after a cold couple of months.

We had made reservations for 2 nights in Ehrenberg, Arizona at the Colorado River Oasis RV Resort, a Western Horizons park.  We pulled in and parked the RV.  As soon as we walked into the office to check in, Bruce spyed a blog posting they had featured on the wall.  It was MINE!  Who knew?   We had stayed at this membership park in January and after leaving I did a blog post on my review of this park.  It had garnered the attention of the Western Horizon corporate office and they printed it out and sent it along to the Colorado River Oasis to be posted.  After we saw it on the wall, I said to the lady behind the counter..."hey, that's us".  I was quite surprised.  She immediately ran to get Kathy (manager?) to see that we were out there checking in again.  Kathy and 2 young men came out with big smiles.  We talked for a bit and Kathy told us how pleased they were with my review and very surprised that I had blogged about it.  I told her that a lot of Bloggers do that and that they also read other people's reviews.  If you want to read that review click here because I won't be posting a second review since we were here such a short time ago.

I was very surprised to see that blog post displayed.  I know that all of our posts are open for viewing by anyone who Googles our subject matter or whatever...but when it comes to my attention specifically, I'm still blown away by it all.  You really never do know who is reading your posts.

I received a comment today from Sue and Doug about our Toad.  They also write a great blog and I encourage you to head on over and give it a look.  Anyway, they asked about our towed vehicle.  We tow a Ford Explorer 4 x 4, all 4 wheels down on the tow dolly for us.  Sue and Doug, I did a post on our choice of vehicle, and how we tow it, last year in November.  Click Here to read about the Neutral Tow device we had installed to enable us to tow this Explorer (the 3rd one we've owned and towed).  We have towed this car from Washington to Alaska, from Washington to Nova Scotia, and from Washington to Miami, Florida and back without problems.  If you have further questions that the post reference does not explain, just let me know and I'll try to give a better explanation.  Thanks for reading my blog, and for making comments.  Much appreciated.

We will be here at the Colorado River Oasis RV Resort for 2 nights, leaving on Monday.  We'll be buzzing right on past Phoenix and Tucson and landing in Benson, Arizona for Monday night.  We have dinner arrangements with fellow bloggers Jerry and Suzy for Monday evening.  Check out Jerry's blog, too, as he is a gifted writer.  It will be great to meet them.  We are also hoping to meet Marlin, Paul and Mary, and Cindy and Walker in Texas if possible.  Busy life this RVing!

Until next long for now!

Friday, March 26, 2010

We're In Cabazon and A World of Stuff

We got through the heavy Friday afternoon traffic and arrived at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon, California a little after 5 pm.  Things went fairly well until we turned onto the 210 Freeway heading towards Pasadena.  Well, it was Friday afternoon.  Bruce did the usual stop and go driving until we got way past Pasadena...San Dimas...Rancho Cucamonga to connect with I-10 heading east. 

In the beginning the air was clear and crisp and the traffic looked like this:

By the time we got well into the Pasadena area, the haze and smog was showing itself and the traffic looked like this:
We got settled into a spot in the RV parking lot at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon, north of Palm Springs.  Within minutes there were 3 other RV's making their way to a spot of their own.  It'll do for one night.

I was reading in the paper the other day that a woman named Annie Leonard has written a book about stuff.  The exact title is The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession With Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities and Our Health--And A Vision For Change.  Wow, long title.  Fellow Blogger, Kim, made mention of the "Stuff topic" today.  Click here to read Kim's post.

I've always been interesting in the subject of "stuff" myself.  One of the great parts about the fulltime RV life is that you really cannot keep a lot of stuff around.  Bruce and I have never been very sentimental about accumulating much stuff and then keeping it for generations.  We moved to a few different homes over the years, and that was always a time to purge ourselves of extra stuff.

I did have a couple of collections of stuff, but I got rid of them, too.  They weren't important in the big scheme of things.  In 2008 when we decided to become fulltime RVer's we got rid of almost everything that we didn't want to take in the motorhome with us.  There were a couple of family heirlooms that I did keep and packed away securely in our daughter's garage.  I kept about 10 scrapbook photo albums I'd made with family photos.  Everything else....and I mean everything else.... went to a garage sale, Goodwill or we gave it away. 

We did not want to pay rent on a storage facility of any kind.  We did not want the extra expense of it, but also, what would we put into it?  We didn't own expensive art work, furniture, glassware, dishes or things like that, nor did we want to.  It didn't make sense to pay money to store a bunch of ordinary things for who knows how many years.  Here's an example:  We met a couple last summer down in Wachula, Florida.  They were fulltimer's going on 8 years.  They also had originally been from Washington state and when they moved into their RV they put a bunch of things into a storage facility.  The man told us that they had this storage place for 7 years and they hadn't even been back to Washington in over 5 years.    He said, "I guess we really should go back up there and get the stuff out and get rid of it."  Ya think?  My guess is if they haven't even looked at the "stuff" in over 5 years they probably don't really want it anymore.  But they keep paying that monthly storage bill. 

As a society, I think we are a little obsessed with stuff.  I know people that can't get through a week without doing some heavy duty shopping.  Relatives...but I'm not giving out any names!  How much does any of us really need?  In our RV we keep our winter and our summer clothing.  I just change out the heavy coats for the light weight jackets when the weather dictates.  We keep a bin in the basement just for this purpose.  For clothing Bruce keeps 3 pair of jeans, about 6 pair of shorts, 10 knit shirts, 2 pair of dress slacks plus a suit, 1 dress shirt, and 2 nicer knit shirts for church.  He also has a couple of flannel shirts, a swim suit, 1 pr. of sweats for cold winter walks, 3 hats, socks and undergarments (of course!), and 4 pair of shoes.
I keep a little bit more (of course...I'm a woman!) -- 10 total pair of jeans or slacks (including dress slacks for church), 1 suit, 1 skirt, 2 nice blouses, 6 pair of shorts, about 10 sweaters or sweat shirts, 3 nicer sweaters for church, 8 long sleeved t-shirts or turtle neck shirts, 10 short sleeved t-shirts or knit tops,  a swim suit, warm clothes for cold winter walks, 3 sun visors, socks and undergarments (of course!), and 8 pair of shoes. 

We don't buy too many other things either.  We only have 1 cell phone, 1 computer with a printer, 1 camera and some scrapbooking supplies, including my Cricut machine.  We keep about 50 paperback books on hand and trade them or leave them at RV parks along the way.  We don't have lots of pictures hanging in the RV and we have no knick-knacks.  They'd just fall when we drove anyway.  I know we have a lot more stuff, but it is all for everyday living and we use that stuff everyday!

I guess we are very low-key kind of folks that don't need a lot of stuff.  We still seem to fill up the hours in the day with some type of activity even without a lot of excess stuff.  I guess it makes sense for our way of life as fulltimer's.  Not having a lot of stuff to worry about gives us a real feeling of freedom.  There's nothing left behind to worry about....except the kids....I always worry about them!

Until next long for now!    

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yreka, CA to Santa Nella, CA

It started raining hard last night around 8 pm.  By 9 pm. we were sound asleep, drugged by the cold medication.  Sometime in the night the rain quit and when we woke up this morning the mountains around the Yreka RV Park had a nice dusting of fresh snow. 

We got ourselves ready to roll and pulled out of the RV park and were soon heading south on I-5 again.  As we got a little closer to the town of Weed those little rain drops began turning to light snow flurries.  We pulled off the interstate in Weed and parked at the local McDonald's for our favorite breakfast of English muffins and coffee.  Ate our fill of that and soon enough were back "on the road again".

As we began to drive further south, those little snow flurries turned back to rain drops again.
We had an uneventful drive (thank goodness) and chugged merrily along until we stopped for a fuel stop and lunch break at the Flying J in Corning.  We ate our sandwiches in the RV and played a few hands of Gin Rummy while Annie stood watch over the front seat area and barked at those people having the nerve to walk too close to "her" coach.

After the lunch break we got back onto the interstate.  We hadn't decided where we were going to go tonight.  Would we dry camp?  Would we go to an RV park?  Toss a coin maybe.  This time of year in California's central valley you ride along being able to view the lovely green hills.  You can see a lot of farmland along this interstate, too.

In a couple of hours Bruce decided it was time for Annie to make a pit stop.  We pulled into one of the Rest Areas.  There were some pretty wildflowers blooming here.

After gettng back on the road we decided to make a stop for the night in Santa Nella, exit 407.  The decision was made to try the Santa Nella RV Park right off the interstate.  We had stayed here on a couple of previous trips, but it was a long time ago.  We quit stopping here because the prices were getting too high and they charged you $5.00 per pet.   Before we got there I called them to check on the daily rate.  The woman quoted me $23.40 and NO charge for a pet.  OK, it was a done deal.  That rate was with our Good
Sam discount.

The park is sufficient for an overnight stay.  It sure isn't first class, but then we rarely need first class.  It works great for a stop over, especially after a long day of driving.  Here is the office/manager's home.  There is also a separate building for restrooms.  I didn't inspect them as we will not be using them.

Here is one of the rows of RV's behind ours, and here is our motorhome.  This is an older RV park and in order to fit the larger rigs you need to park at an angle.  They give you 2 spaces for this but still only charge you for one space.  It has full hook-ups with 50 amp.service.  It was a level space with room for both slides and the car to park behind us....what more do we need for tonight?   Nothing.

Tomorrow we are having another long day.  We plan to drive to the Morongo Casino north of Palm Springs for an overnighter before moving on to Ehrenburg for 2 nights.

Until next long for now!