Monday, March 31, 2008
Well, it is Colorado and it is March...or almost April. This is the time of year for contrast. We went from the top picture on Saturday, an absolutely glorious spring day, to....
This is what Sunday morning looked like. Not a whole lot of snow and it was gone by the afternoon but is sure is a mood breaker. This morning looks exactly like Sunday. We had another snow last night. Only about an inch but it's cold and dreary.
I took full advantage of Saturday's nice weather and did some modifications to my RV. The major one was to install a vent cover over the fresh air vent in the bedroom. The picture above shows the original vent. It basically is a big hole in the roof with a screen over it. If it rains and the vent is open, guess what, you get wet. You can't take advantage of the vent while the RV is moving either because you're likely to have the vent ripped off by the force of the wind.
If, you install a cover over the vent, you can open it in all but the most severe rain storms and you can also open it while the RV is moving. This is a great way in the summer time to keep the inside cool without using air conditioning. It's a fairly straight forward operation and the cover itself costs less than $20. I had already installed one on the forward vent so I was comfortable with the installation technique. I have two other vents, one over the bathroom and one over the shower. I believe I'll install one more over the shower.
Saturday evening The Bride and I went to dinner at a restaurant close to home. The Old Blinking Light is the second of two restaurants with the same name. The original is in Taos, NM. A pretty nice menu with an informal feel. I had Poblano Relleno with Risotto, Spanish Paprika, Ratatouille and Tomato Buerre Blanc. It was very good with a slow burn on the spice side. When I ordered, the waiter made sure I knew that this was a meatless dish....worked for me.
Because the weather was less than optimal on Sunday I started a chore that I've been planning to do for some time. Bad weather and the fact that The Emmer is out of town made this the perfect opportunity. We finished off the basement about 9 years ago and in that time we've never shampooed the carpet. The Emmer's bedroom is in the basement as well as a dining area and a TV room. About 1100 square feet in all. That was my chore. I've just about finished The Emmer's bedroom and will start on the rest of the space later today....
In other news, the local rag reports that a skier died on the slopes this weekend after crashing into a tree. This is the 14th fatality of the year for skiers and snowboarders in Colorado. This is why I snow shoe and don't ski anymore. At my age I can't get up enough speed on snow shoes to make running into a tree dangerous.
Thanks for visiting.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Wow, it's been a week since my last post. Time really flies now that I'm retired. I'm keeping pretty busy with not very interesting stuff to post about. It really is nice to have the time to do all the routine stuff that I used to try and pack into the weekends.
Thursday night was cheesbugha night at Bud's and all of The Circle was there. Saturday night we all got together again for dinner at our place so we've had our Circle Fix for sure this week.
I've been doing little things to the RV like replacing some of the "speciality" light bulbs that were burned out. Had to order them online as I couldn't find anywhere in town that carried them. They are for the footlights in the bedroom, bathroom and doorway and look more like a fuse than a light bulb. I've also got an appointment with a locksmith on Friday morning. The previous owner had a home built rack on the roof for his kayaks. they were fastened to the luggage rails with Yakima towers and he had lost the keys to the locks. I would leave the rack there except I want to put a vent cover over the vent in the bedroom and the position of the rack won't let me do that. So, the rack goes.
The rest of the week is pretty filled up. Sometime this weekend I cracked a tooth and have a dental appointment tomorrow morning to have it looked at. I'm guessing I'll probably need a crown. On Thursday, I have to take The Emmer to the airport. She is going to North Carolina to see her grandmother for a week. She is looking forward to the trip.
Thanks for visiting.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday morning broke cold, windy and snowy in Raton so I was pretty well decided to hunker down for another day. As the morning wore on, snow gave way to sunshine and I checked the Denver weather on my computer. The weather folks did it again....missed the forecast. It seems like the 12" of snow that was forecast for the Denver area ended up further north and east. Just to be sure, I called The Bride at work and got a first hand report that there was a little snow but the roads were fine.
I decided that I would start towards the Denver area and if the weather started to look bad I would just stop where ever I was. The south side of Raton Pass was fine but by the time I got to the summit it was snowing pretty good and it continued until I got north of Trinidad, CO. Once I was north of Trinidad, the sun came out and it was just another spring day.
This leg of the trip was all on Interstate. About 240 miles. This gave me a good opportunity to see what kind of mileage I could get if I held my speed to right around 55 mph. Slowing down to that speed did help. I got the best mileage of the trip by doing that. Are you ready for this??? 8.7 miles per gallon!....and remember that was the best of the entire trip. So now you see why I will not be able to take endless trips of thousands of miles. Gasoline prices in New Mexico ranged from $3.19 to $3.29 a gallon....average it at $3.24 and it costs about 40 cents a mile to travel in the RV.
Anyhow, I arrived back home at around 4:30 and unloaded most of the stuff in the RV. Today I unloaded the rest and installed a roof vent cover on one of the vents on the roof of the RV. This will allow me to open the roof vent while travelling or when it's raining. I did not buy this brand but this will show you what I did. I have three other vents on the roof and I'll probably add covers to all of them.
So now it's time to sit down and start plotting my next trip. Hopefully, yesterday's snow was the last of the year for the front range. Maybe eastern Wyoming??? Stay tuned.
Thanks for visiting.
After a pleasant night in Las Vegas the following nights destination was to be either Cimarron or Raton. The route however, was not to be straight line, as I wanted to explore some more side roads and I wanted to visit the famous cavalry post, Fort Union.
First things first though. Before leaving Las Vegas I wanted to search out the old downtown area for classic signs. I was rewarded for my efforts. In the search for old signs, old theaters and old drive-in theaters are of special interest to me. Not just because they normally have cool signs but they are truly "historical" and are of a culture now gone in these United States. The small downtown theaters were once the lifeblood of the weekend in many rural towns. Drive-ins had the same cultural effect but for a much shorter time period and are disappearing at a much faster clip.
Las Vegas has both a theater and a drive in. Neither are still operating and I'll wager that in a few years both of these will be lost to history. Click and enlarge the picture of the drive-in at the top. You can not only see the marquee in the picture but you can also see the screen in the background. The really neat thing about the screen is that the lower third of the screen is painted in a mural....must be a New Mexico thing? You can see in the tile work under the ticket window of the Serf theater that it opened in 1937. I don't have a clue about the significance of the name "Serf"?
After my sign hunt I headed north on Highway 518 and then east on the smaller highway 161 back to the Interstate. Highway 161 once again took me into ancient New Mexico. Twisting roads just barely two lanes wide took me through old Mexican settlements and farmlands. These people were here almost a hundred years before the first "American" showed up. Many of their descendants still own and work the land....fascinating.
After about 30 miles of ancient New Mexico I was back to I-25 and modern day America...but not for long. Just a few miles up the road was the turn off to Fort Union.
I have mentioned before that my father "The Colonel" started his military career as a horse cavalryman so ALL things cavalry, interest me. Ft. Union was a premier cavalry post from the 1850's to the 1890's. It was not only a cavalry post but also a Quartermaster post that received, stored and re-shipped supplies all over the southwest United States. It was a huge installation at the time.
Not a lot is left of the post but the bones. Bones of buildings. There are a lot of bones and you can get the feel for the post by walking among the bones.
As you can see from the photo the sky was overcast. The wind started blowing and the temperature was dropping. One of the park rangers told me that the forecast was for about an inch of snow at Ft. Union that night.....and that the Denver area could get about 12" of snow!!
My plans changed immediately. I needed to get to a safe place where I could hunker down for a day or two if necessary, so I headed to Raton and went to the KOA campground. They have full hookups and WiFi so I could be comfortable there whatever the weather. I checked in at about 4 pm and settled down for the night.....Stay tuned for the last day on the road.
Thanks for visiting.
Monday, March 17, 2008
I spent Saturday night in Vegas. Yup, Las Vegas….Las Vegas, New Mexico. A much older, more historical Las Vegas with absolutely none of the glitter of the other Las Vegas.
First of all, I made a good choice in staying in Tucumcari for another night. Not too far down the road there were measured wind gusts of 66 mph. Hurricane force winds start at 72 mph so this indeed was something I did not want to expose my moving RV to. My route took me through Santa Rosa which is another old Route 66 town but without a stockpile of surviving signs that Tucumcari has. Santa Rosa’s claim to fame is The Blue Hole. People come from all over the United States to see The Blue Hole. If you are a SCUBA diver you are more likely to know about The Blue Hole because The Blue Hole is a natural crystal clear swimming pool that is sixty feet across and 81 feet deep. It’s fed by an underground river that flows at a rate of 3000 gallons per minute and keeps the water temperature at a constant 61 degrees.
I was there at about 10:30 am on Saturday morning and the parking lot was over half full. Lots of Colorado, Kansas and Texas plates on the cars. There were probably 50 SCUBA divers either in, or preparing to go into the water. Once again interesting things are where you least expect them.
From Santa Rosa it was north towards Las Vegas on a scenic two lane road. About halfway to Las Vegas I took a detour on an even smaller county road through the villages of Dilia, Llano del Medio and Anton Chico. This is ancient New Mexico and probably closer to Old Mexico that to New Mexico. I really had the feeling that I was in a different country. Small adobe houses and classic adobe churches added to the feeling. I saw one sign that the land was private, owned by heirs of the original grantor.
When this land was owned by Mexico a number of huge land grants were issued to private individuals. These grants sometimes encompassed millions of acres. The most famous of these was the Maxwell Land Grand which was almost 2 million acres. I had never heard of the grant of Anton Chico, but as soon as I get home I’m going to do some research.
Since I stayed in a commercial RV park for two nights while in Tucumcari, I decided to try dry camping at a WalMart in Las Vegas. It turned out very nicely. The area that the store set aside for overnight RVs was almost at the back of the store and consequently very quiet. I did a little shopping, made some dinner and watched Lonesome Dove on DVD. Tomorrow I’m headed to Raton. Stay Tuned.
Thanks for visiting.
With all the faded glitz of Tucumcari, the last thing I expected to find was a very current and lively public art. The art was in the form of murals. Murals on the outside of buildings. All kinds of buildings. From the Chamber of Commerce to the local pharmacy to a tobacco shop. There are somewhere around 30 different murals all over town and I probably saw twenty to twenty-five of them on my walk. All I can say is WOW. Totally unexpected and really, really cool.
The majority were painted by the husband and wife team of Doug and Sharon Quarles. Their style is photo realism so when you look at their murals there’s no need to “interpret”. The subjects range from historical scenes to humorous to personal memorials. I’ll say no more….the murals speak for themselves.
Click on any picture to enlarge it.
This on one side of the building
And this on the other....
To absent friends...
Thanks for visiting.
Friday, March 14, 2008
It is a very good thing I decided to stay in Tucumcari today and not drive on. As I type this the wind is blowing at about 50 miles an hour. The RV is really rocking back and forth. Fortunately there are no large trees near the RV or I would be worried.
As soon as the sun came up this morning it started blowing and according to the weather report it will not abate until after the sun goes down. I'm very sure the news will report vehicles blown over by the wind on the interstate. Driving in conditions like this with a high profile vehicle is really asking for trouble.
The wind can be considered to be a blessing in disguise for me. If not for the wind I wouldn't have stayed here for another day. I only would have seen a half mile stretch of old Route 66 and that would have been a shame. Because of the wind and my proximity to Route 66 and the old Tucumcari downton area I had a loooooong kitschy walk this morning. When I say this morning, I mean ALL morning. I left the RV at about 8:30 this morning and did not get back until right at noon. Walking all the way.
I walked up and down old Route 66. I walked to and around the old downtown area. I walked my socks off and I walked in the wind. As I record this post, I can tell that I have a good case of windburn. I wore a had....no I brought a hat but had to carry it all morning because it was so windy that it would not stay on my head. I saw a good part of Tucumcari.
Tucumcari is alive and dead at the same time. It is exciting and sad at the same time. This once glitzy town is now for the most part a has been. Being a has been can be exciting in an odd sort of way. The main strip of old Route 66 has thirty or forty old, run down, boarded up businesses. The surviving business are struggling. You can get any number of motel rooms on this street for less than $20 a night. (I'm really glad I have an RV!)
Most of the businesses, alive or dead have great old signs...or remnants of great old signs. Even the old boarded up businesses have elements of kitsch and/or charm. What a great walk...a walk back in time. At the same time it's depressing because every where you look is failed dreams. Dreams of a thriving business that would support a family. Untold dollars that never made a profit.
Exciting or depressing...it's still interesting and I enjoyed the day. This is not the only thing I have to show you about Tucumcari. Another great story is just around the corner but that will have to wait till the next time I'm hooked up to WiFi.
Tomorrow, I'm headed very slowly back to the Denver area. I will not make it to Carlsbad Caverns as I had planned. It's just too expensive to travel like this. Tomorrow morning I will head west to Santa Rosa a distance of only 50 miles. If it looks interesting, I may stay there for the night. If not I'll head north towards Las Vegas, NM. Wherever I end up there will be stuff to see and do.
Thanks for visiting.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
After a couple of false starts....having to have some additional "adjustments" made to my new (to me) RV, I finally hit the road for New Mexico on Wednesday, mid-morning. This was the first time I had driven it on the Interstate and it was a "white knuckle" affair for an hour or two.
I'm used to towing a trailer behind a big SUV, but it's totally different to be sitting high in the air and right over the front wheels of a giant brick shaped vehicle. It actually requires a light touch, rather than a death grip on the steering wheel. After two full days of driving I feel much more comfortable but it will still take more time for it to feel "normal".
The first stop was Trinidad, CO. When I was there last, on my trip with Guitar, we went to the cemetery to try and find "Uncle" Dick Wooten's grave. We were there on a weekend, couldn't find it and there was no one to help us. This time I found someone not only who knew where the stone was, but also had a great story to tell about the grave.
It seems as if some years ago, some of Uncle Dick's descendants wanted him to be near other family members....but they didn't want to spend a lot of money to do it.
The solution was to provide a new headstone next to the family....but not to move his body! The picture above is the memorial stone and somewhere in the next picture, where you see a lot of "blank" ground, is the bodily remains of "Uncle" Dick. Even after his death, Uncle Dick provides a good story!
Three quarters of the day on Wednesday was driving on the Interstate; Denver to Raton, NM. At Raton I took a smaller road to just past Des Moines...New Mexico. I chose Des Moines as my stopping place for two reasons. First, I wanted to visit Capulin Volcano National Monument and second, because there is a state operated rest area in the area that allows overnight stays at no charge.
I got to the rest area at about 4:30 pm. Because of daylight savings time this gave me a couple of hours before it got dark so after I set up camp, I broke out my metal detector to see what I could find. It was a rest stop after all, so most of what I found was "antique" metal pull tabs from drink cans. I did find one 1967 Roosevelt dime which was cool. I'm still trying to find my first Mercury dime with the metal detector.
The night was very windy and pretty cold. As you can see in the picture above, there was not a lot to hinder the wind so I rocked around for most of the night. The wind died down as soon as the sun came up and after breakfast I was off to Capulin Volcano, 10 miles or so up the road. I was there right after the National Monument opened and there was no one else in the park except the Rangers....I'm glad because the drive to the top is on a very narrow road!
The top of the volcano is 2,200 ft. above the surrounding plains and the view from the top is just spectacular. At the parking lot at the top is a trail that winds around the rim of the crater and is about a mile long. I hiked the trail and took lots of pictures but it was a bit hazy to get a really good picture. I had to do some adjustment to this picture so that you could the the Rocky Mountains (over 100 miles distant) clearly. Believe me, nothing I could do to the picture on the computer matches the incredible beauty of the real thing.
I was down off the volcano by about 9:30 and headed in a round about route to Tucumcari. My original plan was to stay at a small town to the east of Tucumcari that has a city park that allows free over night camping. Several things caused me to alter my plan.
The atrocious mileage the the RV gets, the rapid increase in gasoline prices and the distances I have been traveling means that I have been spending in excess of $100/day on fuel. I just cannot justify that expense, especially when I am traveling alone. If I am going to continue to do these outings, I will have to do shorter trips or drive less miles per day over a longer period or find some other way to contain the costs.
It really is disheartening to come to this conclusion after planning for and looking forward to this lifestyle for so many years but that is the reality. It would be different if The Bride and I were "full timing" and did not have a stick house and all of the associated expenses that entails....but we aren't and we do and that will not change. Don't start crying for me just yet...if you want to send money that's OK but don't cry. There's still plenty to do without driving these very large distances and I will do those things. Tons of stuff within one days travel from the Denver area that will keep me busy for quite a while
The other reason I chose Tucumcari instead of the free camping at San Jon is....Tucumcari itself. A classic relic of Route 66 culture. I've been through Tucumcari about twice before but I never had the time to stop and explore. There are literally dozens of motels and other businesses with classic neon signs and the thought of being able to see the Blue Swallow Motel sign at night lit up was irresistible!
I checked into the Cactus RV Park just a couple of doors down from the Blue Swallow at about 4 pm. The Cactus is a defunct motel that an enterprising Indian or Pakistani family had turned into an RV park with hookups and WiFi...$20/night. It's on old historic Route 66 so I couldn't wait for sundown and a neon treat. I was disappointed.
I will continue the story tomorrow. It's late. I am staying in Tucumcari all tomorrow as the forecast is for very heavy winds and I don't want to drive in that. Check again tomorrow for "The Rest of the Story" about Tucumcari.
Thanks for visiting.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
It's been a very busy week. I finally got my RV back from the mechanic and then had to have the refrigerator checked out. The previous owner said he was having an "intermittent" problem with the refrigerator when it was powered by propane. Turned out to be a minor problem, thank goodness.
I have spent most of the past 2 or 3 days cleaning the inside of the RV and packing all of my stuff away in the closets and cabinets, getting new license plates and a new title. The inside of the RV is in very good condition and really didn't need to be cleaned but it's a personal thing. I even went so far as to shampoo the carpet.
In addition to cleaning, I dewinterized the plumbing system and tried out all of the different systems, heat, A/C, water pumps, stove, generator etc. I found one small leak in the fresh water pump that I will have to get fixed this coming week. I'm hoping that can be done by mid week and then I'm off to New Mexico on the maiden voyage.
Friday evening The Circle met at Bud's Bar in Sedalia for a gourmet cheeseburger and a couple of drinks. It's been about two weeks since we were all together and it sure was good to enjoy each other's company again. The weather is starting to cycle towards springtime now. We'll get a couple of nice days and then a little snow. Knowing that spring is not far off we are all starting to talk about camping trips, and where the first Circle The Wagons trip should be.
Finally, my iPod crapped out on me last night. It is an original "fat boy" model and is almost four years old. I was crushed when it crashed.....that's a nice little cadence don't you think? Crushed when it crashed...could be a country song. Anyway, I was not in a good mood. Then, The Emmer said that she had just gotten a new iPod and I could have her old one, which is only about a year old. What a great daughter! As a kid I got used to hand me down clothes but I've never had a hand me down iPod. The Emmer even reset her old one and copied my music library to it.
I didn't realize how important this little piece of electronic wizardry was to me until I faced a day without one. I'm not much of a TV or movie type of guy but I've got to have music in my life. Apple sure has a lifelong customer here!
Stay tuned for my first voyage in the new to me RV.....
Thanks for visiting.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
I am a dunce. I am an unknowing lout. I am all of this and worse today......Gladly!
In my last post I told you that the repair crew was coming for the third time in 5 days to attempt to repair my KitchenAid built in oven. I couldn't follow the logic of their repair plan as the last 3 times this issue seemed to be the thermostat. I did say however that it would be fine with me if I was wrong and would gladly profess that I was an unknowing lout if only the oven would work the way it was supposed to.
This trip they replaced the main circuit board in the oven. This means that they have replaced every electric part in the oven, except the heating elements themselves. They couldn't stick around the three and a half hours it takes to run through the self cleaning cycle to see if the repair worked, so I started it the minute they walked out the door. I had zero expectations....that's not correct. I had every expectation that the oven would once again self destruct. Wrong! Wonderfully wrong.
For the first time since we paid a lot of money for this oven, almost one year ago, it actually worked the way it was supposed to.....and didn't leave me without an oven for at least a week. I'm totally and wonderfully happy right now but I also have a nagging fear that the fix is only temporary.
Just to be sure that this was not a fluke, a string of one, an improbable chance of fate, I think I will run it through the cycle every other day for a week. I hope I'm not disappointed. If I'm not, I'll also have the cleanest oven on the planet!
Thanks for visiting.