Sunday, February 23, 2014

It's 2014 - We Are Moving On Down the Road


It has been a while since our last posting to this blog on December 24, 2013. Janet and I had a wonderful three months just laying back at the Wine Ridge RV Park 55 miles west of Las Vegas in the rural community of Pahrump, Nevada. That RV Park spoiled us for sure and it will certainly be the park which we will measure all others against.



Well, we are off and running as the 2014 excursion of the BooniePeople got underway from the Las Vegas area with our 268 mile move to the Phoenix area on Saturday, February 1st. We met our friends, Ken and Jane K. from Henderson, Nevada, at the Pleasant Harbor RV Park in the Phoenix northern suburb of Peoria. Actually, the RV Park is at the marina and on the shore of Lake Pleasant. It is basically a “Snowbird” hangout for those that come south annually from the Arctic temperatures in the north. This park has all the conveniences including a large fenced space to park the coach and jeep.

  

As everyone knows, the last three months have delivered some unusual weather patterns in the entire country. Living in an RV during this period was certainly different than I assumed it would be. The challenge was in keeping us warm enough. The heater on-board the RV is just like the auto heater in a house. You set it to the temperature you want to maintain and just turn it on. It runs until the desired temperature is acquired, and then it continually goes on and off holding the temperature. Although we wore heavier than normal clothing during the winter we did run our heater constantly using up to 20 gallons of propane monthly. The weather in Phoenix is supposed to be in the mid 80’s in the next week so the propane expense may be declining!


We got to the Phoenix area a couple weeks to soon to take in a few of the spring training baseball games that take place around Phoenix. In the next few months we could possible see major league baseball in Tampa Bay, Miami, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, and Denver. And maybe some college or pro football in a variety of places in the fall.


Our coach remains in good shape. We had preventative maintenance done in Las Vegas during the holidays. Lube, oil, and filter is a little different on a diesel motorhome. It runs around $400! There is always something amiss on the coach. Hopefully just little things that require a screwdriver. I’m good with a screwdriver!


As time passes Janet has gotten more daring with her cooking on-board. She has always been a good cook but with the limited space on a motorhome you can’t get extravagant. Although we have a small portable propane bar-b-que stored in our basement the weather didn’t allow its use hardly at all during our summer to fall 2013 excursion. We hope it will see more use this spring.


Speaking of good eats. If any of you should get off the beaten track to Pahrump, Nevada, be sure to try the baby back ribs at Red Sky Bar-B-Que. We will be in Texas in a couple weeks but Red Sky was the best ribs I’ve had so far - ever. Always in search you know!


A couple of days back we went to a craft fair in Cave Creek, Arizona, 20 miles from Peoria, and came across the El Encanto Mexican restaurant. That is way better than average also. A wonderful indoor to outdoor setting. The best Tostada I have ever had also.


We met Janet’s brothers Joe and Greg, Joe’s wife Ann, and Greg’s daughter Janina, for lunch on Sunday the 9th over in north Phoenix. It was fun catching up with them.




Ken and I took in the Ben Avery Shooting Facility north of Phoenix for three rounds of trap shooting. Bottom line was we stink at trap shooting! The facility, run by Arizona Fish & Game, is fabulous. The long rifles were shooting a competition at 1,000 yards nearby. I know this stimulates some of my friends back in Henderson!


Recently we had one of those interestingly different nights that pop up in the desert every once and awhile. At about 3:15 AM, out of nowhere, the wind started blowing about 35 miles an hour. Very noisy! It stopped blowing completely at 4:00 AM. Creepy!


On Monday the 10th we drove into the Sun City development in northwest Phoenix to visit “RioBarb”. Janet and Barbara worked together at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas back in the late 1990’s. Barbara moved away from Vegas to Sun City around 2009 and it was fun reconnecting and getting up to date with her. We hope you enjoyed your trip to the fridge mid-west.


On Tuesday the 11th we spent the afternoon with Ken and Jane visiting the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden. Interesting to see the concentrated presentation of many different types of desert vegetation found in the southwestern states along with many glass pieces presented by Dale Chihuly. Amazing work! We had an outdoor lunch at “Gertrude’s Restaurant” in the gardens. If you get there try the Salmon Salad.


On Wednesday the 12th of February we took the 30 mile drive back up our trail to Wickenburg, Arizona, where we visited the Desert Caballeros Western Museum with Ken and Jane. Wickenburg’s history goes back to its origins around 1861 and this entire experience was well worth it. Wickenburg is a town where the old is refurbished and mixed with the newer architecture. The public golf course, The Wickenburg Country Club looked well-manicured and worth the adventure if you are into that sort of thing! The pro said the course drives the local players kind of crazy with its small but rapid undulating greens. The 6,300 yard par 71 course is rated at 70.5 with a 128 slope. The first hole at 311 yards looked about as wide as three pencil shafts out in its fairway when viewed from the elevated tee box! Good luck.





Our Thursday was a slow day getting some simple stuff done around the coach. We got together with Ken and Jane and went down to the marina restaurant on the lake for lunch. Eventually we spent the five o’clock hour in the shade at their coach.


Friday, Valentine’s Day, we spent like a couple of beached whales really not doing much of anything. Cleaning the front windshield on the coach was accomplished in advance of our move tomorrow morning (Saturday) to Benson, Arizona. Estimated departure time for the 200 mile move was at 7:30 A.M. and we did get off at a very reasonable 7:45. The drive through the early morning traffic of downtown Phoenix was swift and un-eventful. Really an easy freeway type drive all the way to Benson.


Benson, Arizona is on Interstate 10 about 45 miles east of Tucson. The population here is approximately 5,000, and the town is bounded on the west by Arizona Highway 90 which is the gateway to Kartchner Caverns State Park, and on the east of Arizona Highway 80 which is the gateway south to Tombstone, Bisbee, and Douglas, and eventually Mexico which is approximately 70 miles from Benson. It took us about 3-1/2 hours to get here from just north of Phoenix.





A couple of months back we joined the Escapees RV Club, a.k.a. S.K.P.s. Our destination here in Benson was the Escapee Co-Op RV Park known as “Saguaro”, pronounced “Saworo”, after the cactus. All of the 300+ spaces in this park are larger than any individual spaces we have ever stayed in during our travels. They are all owned by individual owners and rented out when the owners are not present. We were lucky to get a space here as the park is virtually full. We will be staying here for three nights over the President’s Day long weekend.


On the Saturday afternoon of our arrival we immediately headed down Highway 80 the 22 miles to visit the historical town of Tombstone, Arizona. Made historical that October day in 1881, (133 years ago!) when Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp along with Doc Holiday, faced down four members of the Clanton Gang in a gun fight at the O.K. Corral. Seeing the site of the actual fight followed by a staged gun fight between characters in a made for viewing replica was dramatic. It was billed as “30 shots in 30 seconds”. Very loud in the enclosed outdoor set. The actual site where history took place appeared to be an area about 20 feet by 40 feet, and was right next to the area where the made of audience presentation was made on this day. A very small area to have a gun fight with eight participants. With three of the Clanton Gang dead, Virgil, Morgan, and Doc Holiday wounded, and Wyatt unscathed, I felt there was a certain reverence in the crowd of some 200 as the staged battle and presentation ended. Kind of breathtaking! While Tombstone is a major tourist attraction we found the soft goods to be pretty reasonably priced in the shops. Definitely do this if you ever get close enough to have the opportunity.






Our Sunday adventure took us to Bisbee, Arizona, on the same highway but 25 miles past Tombstone. Bisbee was a huge mining town back in the late 1800’s. The town is very old looking and is staged in a canyon across its eastern hillside. Many restaurants in the town with the major tourist attraction being one of the open-faced mines.


We picked up Highway 90 a few miles north of Bisbee on our return trip and made a run by the Kartchner Caverns State Park. The tours were sold out on this long weekend and we decided that was okay as we would be going underground in a few days at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.


The weather has been great, 75-85 with Montana high-skies, for our stay in Benson. The people in the S.K.P. co-op were fantastic. During the next few weeks we will be staying in S.K.P. campgrounds in Pecos and Hondo, TX, on our way to the S.K.P. home park at “Rainbow’s End” in Livingston, TX. We hope they are all as nice as the facility in Benson, Arizona.




NOTE:  I’ve been adding information to my notes for this blog since we left the Vegas area back February 1st but haven’t made a posting because the Wi-Fi in the hinterlands is virtually non-existent. When we do find a signal it is so weak it would probably take a day to upload with pictures. So the first posting of this year may not be until we get to the Houston, TX area around February 24th.



On Tuesday, February 18th we departed Benson, AZ at 7:30 A.M. for the 480 mile trip down Interstate 10 & Texas Highway 20 to our next stop at the S.K.P. RV Park in Pecos, TX. We stopped for diesel fuel in Las Cruses, New Mexico where we took on about 75 gallons. About 45 miles later we came to El Paso, Texas. El Paso was much larger than I expected and traffic was heavy for the 35 minutes it took to drive through town on the freeway. We arrived in Pecos, TX around 4:00 P.M. after a long but easy drive. Our RV Park in Pecos goes down as what I call RUSTIC! A little older park that was inhabited by plenty of long-term oil field workers. We were given a nice pull-through site and we settled in for the two night stay. We took in the local Mexican restaurant, Alfredo’s, and rubbed elbows with some of the local guys. Tomorrow we drive the Jeep north into New Mexico to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park. 





Wednesday morning found us up and excited to take the drive to New Mexico. We got started at 7:30 A.M. and got to the park entrance about an hour later. Miles and miles of oil wells. Carlsbad Caverns Visitor’s Center was a nice presentation of T-shirts, sweatshirts, shot glasses, trinkets and things situated just an elevators ride approximately 1,000 feet down into the caverns. We took the $6 park ranger’s tour which guided up and down for about a mile and a half through the caverns. If you have never been below the surface of the earth don’t forget to take a jacket! The air was fresh, and the formations and history of the caverns were well presented and we were back on the surface after about two hours. We drove about 20 miles into Carlsbad, NM and ate late at an Asian luncheon buffet. It was great! Kind of like the Krazy Buffet on Sahara in Vegas. No further meals would be needed this day. Eighty mile drive back to Pecos.

 
Hondo, Texas

On Thursday, February 20th we left Pecos for the 365 mile drive to Hondo, Texas. Hondo is a western suburb of San Antonio. It is pretty much of a country drive to downtown San Antonio. This was a trying day for moving the coach. It started out on time at 7:30 A.M. but was hampered by strong winds for 80% of the drive. Most of it was on Interstate 10 at around 65 M.P.H. but the wind was blowing out of the north (my left) and it was gusting to 35 or 40. Seven hours made for a long driving day and we pulled into the S.K.P. RV Park in Hondo none too soon. We are going to be here for four nights and leave for “Rainbow’s End” in Livingston, TX next Monday morning. Here are a few things I will remember about Texas.




            Wanting to beat the weekend crowds we decided to spend Friday in downtown San Antonio from 10 A.M. until after lunch. San Antonio is like another large city. Heavy traffic and downtown construction hampered our maneuvering. We knew where to go but construction seemed to be everywhere. We finally found parking about a block from the Alamo about 9:30 A.M.





            
           This is an interesting area. The Alamo, built in the 1720’s and with all its 1830’s history and glory is downtown in the San Antonio metropolitan area situated between the modern Hyatt and Marriott Hotels. The subterranean “River Walk” has entrance within a few yards. This is entrance to all the great restaurants along the river. After touring the Alamo for a couple hours we picked a Bar-B-Que restaurant, “The County Line”, for lunch. This day is why we are traveling.



"The County Line" Restaurant on the River Walk




            We spent Saturday and Sunday hanging around Hondo, and on Monday the 24th we will drive 300 miles through the Houston area for a week’s stay in Livingston, Texas. The home RV Park of the Escapee RV Club. Stay tuned in 2014 as we hope to have blog postings that will interest everyone.

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