Monday, March 31, 2014

Standin' on the Corner in Winslow Arizona

Well, I'm a runnin down the road tryin to loosen my load.  Well, it was more like blowing down the road.  We left Golden Valley, AZ and set out for Gallup, NM.  It was a brilliant sunshiny day, but the wind was fore casted to blow from the SW at 25-35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph!  We were headed east so the wind would be on our rear quarter.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Homeward Bound

I hadn't been in Las Vegas for almost 14 years.  At that time, we stayed three days and it was one day too long.  This time, I stayed two days and it was one day too long. 

Sam's Town RV Park

I stayed at Sam's Town RV Park out on Boulder Highway.  The Sam's Town Casino is a large complex and has an RV park on its property.  The RV park has full hook-ups, cable TV, laundry, and a pool.  The spaces are close together but at $24/night its a pretty good deal.  The casino also runs a free shuttle to the Strip several times per day.

I spent my first day at the Sam's Town complex exploring all it had to offer.  The buffet was very good and reasonable ($7.99 for lunch, $10.99 for dinner)  It has a cinema, bowling alley, a large atrium with a water fall, restaurants, and what seems like acres of slot machines.  I tried my luck at the roulette wheel but found my luck was non-existant.

The throng of people outside Paris Casino

On Day two, I ventured out to see the Strip, which was four miles away.  I was brave and drove the RV.  It took lots of focus, but I found a good free sparking space right behind Paris and Bally's with all the other truckers and RV's.  The Strip was mobbed with Spring breakers.  The sidewalks were crammed with people drinking and hucksters every few feet trying to sign you up for some not-so free freebies.  It was uncomfortable just trying to walk two blocks.  After about 1 1/2 hours I escaped back to the RV and took a nap.  I'd had my fill of the Las Vegas for at least another 14 years.

But, I did get to see Elvis.  He's shrunk with age, but the King is alive and well in Vegas.

I now head east and begin the homeward trek.  I've been gone for about 3 months and am anxious to get back to my familiar routines and surroundings.  The weather in some of the areas we planned to visit is still too cold for comfortable camping.  The night time low temps at Grand Canyon Village are still in the mid 20's as is most of northern Arizona and New Mexico.  Too low for me so we'll skip most of the plan for those areas and head for the Texas panhandle.

It will take nine days to get home.  Hope the snow s gone by then.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Parker, AZ

Where the heck is Parker, AZ?  Well, you drive across most of Arizona on I-10 until you come to Quartzsite and then you take a right and go north for about 25 miles.  After we left Tucson, we did just that.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tucson, AZ

Although I'm not a fan of big cities, there were a few things we wanted to see in Tucson.  All were on the south end of the city so we stayed out by the airport boon docking at the Desert Diamond Casino for a couple of nights and then spent a night at the Mission View RV Park in the same area.  The RV park catered mostly to seasonal snowbirds and full time residents.  It is a nice park with lots of activities for the snow birds.  For us, it was a good place for a nights stay, do the laundry, to shower up, and dump the tanks.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Arizona - Willcox to Tucson

We left New Mexico and continued west into southern Arizona.  It was desert landscape all the way with miles and miles of straight line highway.  Not as pretty as west Texas, but still a little dusty.  I wanted to visit the south eastern part of the Arizona.  This is the area that Apache's lived for over 400 years.  We spent the night in Willcox staying at the Magic Circle RV Park.  The park is right off I-10.  Its a pea stone lot with no shade, but it's was nice enough for an overnight stay with full hook-ups.  The owner was very helpful in giving me input on the road conditions in the area and what was worth seeing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Las Cruces, NM

No too much to report from this destination.  We stayed at the Hacienda RV Resort in Las Cruces.  It was a very nice RV park.  We stayed here because of the closeness to Old Mesilla and easy access to the highway. I noticed in Big Bend and more so in Las Cruces the dust that is in the air.  When the wind blows in the desert it picks up dirt and creates a big haze.  It blocks out the views and you can even taste it.  And it gets on everything.  It was pretty bad during our stay in Las Cruces.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Living on the Road

I've learned a lot about traveling from others - people I met on the road and from reading other people's travel blogs.  Most of the info is about places to see, places to stay, places to eat, roads to travel.

But, I've found little out there about living on the road.  I'm sure there are books and blogs about being a full time RVer, but I'm in between.  I guess you'd call me a "sometimer". I'm still tethered to a home, a hometown, and local family, but I spend about 4-6 months of the year traveling on the road.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Big Bend National Park to Marfa

Day three in Big Bend brought some cool weather, clouds, dust, and windy conditions.  It was 55 degrees down by the Rio Grande and our plan was to spend the day hiking up in the Chisos Basin which is at 5,400 ft.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico

Don't go anywhere near the border!  Don't cross into Mexico!  Have you see the news about murders and kidnappings by the cartels?  These were the words of advice from family and friends about my comment that I might cross the border while visiting Big Bend National Park.  So, what did I do?  I crossed over anyway.

Boquillas del Carmen
Near the southern tip of the National Park and right across the Rio Grande is the little village of Boquillas Del Carmen.  Its the only place within Big Bend where you can legally cross the border into Mexico.  And its the only sign of civilization within 40 miles of the park.  The village is one of three that are across the border from the National Park.  These villages are remote and the nearest towns to them on the Mexican side are over 100 miles away via dirt roads.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Big Bend National Park - Part 1

We left Fredericksburg and continued west along I-10.  The terrain started to change more as we headed west.  The trees became smaller and more sparse until eventually there were no trees.  There was also no development, no houses, no towns.  Just wide open rolling desert plains for miles and miles with mesas and buttes in the distance.  The elevation also climbed from 1,200ft to 4,300 ft. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Texas Hill Country

It was so nice to leave the big city sprawl of Austin and start to see wide open spaces and gentle rolling hills.  West of Austin the terrain starts to change to rocky scrub grass land.  There are less trees, less development, open range, and the elevation starts to increase.  They call this area the Hill Country of Texas.  This is what I envisioned Texas would look like.  And you see people wearing cowboy hats and boots.

Roadrunner RV Park Johnson City
Our first stop was Johnson City.  Its not much of a city, more like a small town.  We stayed at the Roadrunner RV Park right in the middle of town.  This was a nice place to spend the night.  The spaces were close together but they had concrete pads and all the full hook ups.  The host was super nice showing us to our site and giving us recommendations for food and site seeing.  We had some nice Mexican food for dinner.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Austin, TX

After spending 3 days immersed in Cajun culture, we said "adieu" to Louisiana.  Now its "Hola Tejas!" as we traveled west into the Lone Star State.  Its one big state.  From the Louisiana border to El Paso is about 850 miles.  Its like driving from our home across six states to Indiana.  We'll take about 10 days to get across.

After driving through miles and miles of I-10 sprawl that is Beaumont and Houston, our first stop was Austin.  This city became the capital in 1839, when Texas was its own country.  President Miribeau Lamar didn't like having the capital in the swampy bayou area in Houston, so he moved it to Austin, a more central area.  Today, Austin is hip, funky, and full of its own culture.  Its also huge with over 800,000 people.

Mrs. with LBJ
I totally under estimated the size of Austin.  It was a just too big for us to explore in the RV in 3 days.  Traffic, even at mid day, was a crawl through the center of the city (due to the SXSW festival and spring break).  To really see it you need to stay downtown and spend a few days just walking around and taking the food, music, and culture.  I had planned to visit the San Antonio Missions, but after driving thru Houston and seeing Austin, this country boy just couldn't take going into another big city.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Cajun Prairie Revisited - Part 2

Day two on the Cajun Prairie found us meandering north to the town of Eunice, going through the small towns of Washington and Port Barre.  We drove the back roads which we found to be a little rough and narrow.  Our base was the Lakeview RV Park in Eunice.  This is probably the nicest campground in the area, but it's got some serious shortcomings.  Its party central for the locals on the weekends and pretty noisy.  The bathhouse facilities could use some serious upgrades.  The RV park normally hosts Saturday night barn dances but they were taking a break to recover from Mardi Gras that had just occurred a few days earlier.  That didn't keep some local campers from holding their own parties well into the early morning hours.  It was a noisy couple of nights.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Cajun Prairie Revisited - Part 1

From the Florida Panhandle, we said goodbye to the ocean and made our way west to Louisiana to visit the Cajun Prairie.  I visited this area in 2000 when I spent a week bicycling thru the area.  You can read my blog entry about our trip at Louisiana Cajun Prairie May 2000.  Physically, this area of Louisiana is flat and nondescript.  With its rice field and craw fish ponds, it could be any flat farming area of the country.  But culturally, it is very very different.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Navarre, FL

J. Dawg at Navarre
We just finished up 5 days on the Florida panhandle in Navarre, FL.  We had a very restful stay.  It was good to take some time to transition from condo living to RV living.  The weather was pretty good, but cool with daytime highs in the 60's and nights in the 40's.  Not really beach weather but it sure beat what was happening back home in New England.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

On the Road to Shambala

Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain, I'm on the road to Shambala!  Not the exact song phasing, but close enough because it feels so good to be on the road again.  After being parked for the past month, we packed up and rolled the RV west on I-10 clicking off over 425 miles to the Florida panhandle.  I always love the start of a new adventure.  New roads to drive, new places to see, new people to meet.