Saturday, November 30, 2013

Picacho Peak State Park, Day 3

Looking East From on Top of Picacho Peak
Saturday, November 30, 2013, Picacho Peak State Park, AZ, Day 3 - 0 miles, 4,515.6 For the Trip

Today was a quiet, do nothing day. Cloudy and cool, it would have been a much better day to climb the peak than yesterday, but who knew?

I did notice that you can hear some of the louder trucks on I10, and the engines of the trains at night. Not so loud that they bothered me, but I read one review of the park that stated the noise was so bad they couldn't sleep. Some of the sites are closer to the road than mine, so it could be a problem, particularly for light sleepers. Here in site B1 the furnaces of the near by trailers & motorhomes were louder than the trains...

Another interesting fact - there are two other trailers here in the campground that are being pulled by a RAV4 V6. One is a ProLite Escapade , and the other a Gulf Stream Visa. While there are more small trailers here at Picacho than most of the other campgrounds I've been in, these are the first I've seen towed by RAV4s. Both are from Quebec, Canada.

I did spend much of the afternoon catching up on web pages, banking, and, of course, reading. No photos for the day, so I used one from yesterday.

Around 5:00 it finally got too cool to sit outdoors, so I moved into the trailer & started dinner - A Chicken & Mushroom Pot Pie.

Until Next Time -

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Climb to Picacho Peak

Down From Picacho Peak
Friday, November 29, 2013, Picacho Peak State Park, AZ, Day 2 - 0 miles, 4,515.6 For the Trip

There was a sign attached to the Dairy Queen at the I10 exit about 2 miles from the campground that said "Breakfast"! So like a fool, I decided to try it. Undercooked pancakes & undercooked bacon, although the coffee was good. There is another restaurant next to the Adult Book Store (yes, complete with truck parking) but since the roof has caved in I suspect it isn't open (the restaurant - the book store looks like it is doing business).

After breakfast I decided to take the hike to Picacho Peak. I'm not sure what possessed me, but rather than taking the 2 mile Hunter Trail Hike, I decided to take the Sunset Vista Trail, a 3.1 mile hike. It was a nice hike through the desert, but the return seemed to take forever. I was hoping for sight of the parking lot over every hill!

As the photo of the trail information states, the first 2 miles are a climb, but not too difficult. The last mile definitely meets the description as "difficult". I'd compare the overall hike and climb to going up Angels Landing in Zion National Park. I have to admit I didn't do the last .4 miles at Zion because the downhill traffic was so heavy you waited 10 - 15 minutes for every section of chain.

That said, while the drop was higher at Zion, here at Picacho it is still long enough that going over the edge would have the same result. Rather than a chain, here they have cables, which are a bit rougher on the hands, particularly if you try to slide along them rather than make new grips with each move. They recommend gloves, which I didn't bring.

The first set of cables you come to (taking the Sunset Vista Trail - Hunter Trail does not go up this section) go almost straight up with not all that many footholds. Making the climb requires mostly arm work rather than legs & feet. I almost turned back, but remembering how I kicked myself for not finishing Angels Landing, I ventured on. While the rest of the cable sections were difficult, none were as steep as the first one, although most had tricky footing.

In any case, the view from the top is great. One of the photos shows the campground - if the resolution was better (I was only carrying my 17 - 35mm lens) you could see my trailer right behind the green roofed restrooms. The return trip was uneventful, although as usual, the footing going down was more difficult than going up. At least gravity was on my side so I didn't have to stop for breath as often. All in all, a great hike, although I am pretty beat. Angels Landing was 3 years ago, and I definitely feel every one of them! Lots more photos of the hike at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Back at the campground I tried to sit outside and read, but everything I was wearing was sweat soaked and the light breeze was freezing me (I know, too much information!) so I gave up, took a shower, put on some sweats, and did manage to sit until dinner, which, by the way was a Black Angus Burger (couldn't find Bubba Burgers), Macaroni & Cheese, and a Yellow Cling Peach Del Monte Fruit Natural. These are individual servings that are kept in the refrigerator, and taste far better than canned fruit. I shot a couple more sunset photos while cooking dinner.

Until Next Time -

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Picacho Peak State Park, AZ

I10 & the Stars

Thursday, November 28, 2013, Picacho Peak State Park, AZ, - 38 miles, 4,515.6 For the Trip

Happy Thanksgiving, at least to those in the US. The Canadians had theirs last month.

A short drive today. I did take a photo of the sun setting on the mountains at Catalina last night and included it here. I was hoping Picacho Peak would be a dark campground. Parts might be, but my site is too close to the restrooms - lots of spill. In addition, I10 is a couple of miles below the campground. While you can hear the traffic (and trains) when sitting outside, they are far enough away that it isn't annoying. Once inside I can't hear them at all. I did take a photo after sunset that shows the headlights on I10 along with the stars. I'll check before I go to sleep to see if it gets any darker to try for some star photos. The rest of today's photos at LakeshoreImages.

I'm in site B1, a very level gravel site with electric only (like the entire campground).

Dinner was Chicken Parmesan with spaghetti. A frozen, pop in the toaster oven meal, the only Boston Market meal I like.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Catalina State Park, AZ, Day 3 & The Pima Air & Space Museum

SR71 Blackbird
Wednesday, November 27, 2013, Catalina State Park, AZ, Day 3 & The Pima Air & Space Museum - 0 miles, 4,477.6 For the Trip

Another day here in Catalina. While I didn't do any towing today, I did put some mileage on the RAV4. Speaking (well, typing) of mileage, I often have people ask if I actually tow the trailer with the RAV4. I, of course, say yes, and then mention how many miles I've towed it. I've been saying 39,000 miles when I hit 4K on this trip, but decided to actually add the trips up for a more accurate count. The result - as of today, 43, 535.2. Not bad for a little RAV4!

I decided to check out the Pima Air & Space Museum. I love looking at old airplanes, and this place is huge. A couple of buildings filled with airplanes, engines, rockets, etc as well as acres of outdoor storage of all kinds of airplanes. While I enjoyed the indoor sections, the field outside was cool and very windy. Since it was hot and calm when I left the campground only 24 miles away, I didn't bring a jacket. Big mistake! While I didn't walk through all the rows of airplanes outside, I did see a bunch that I wanted to see. The only one I was looking for that they didn't have was a P38 Lightning. My uncle worked on the design of the P38, a very neat looking airplane. They had one, but it was traded off to another museum. I took a bunch of photos - no captions, but they are all from the museum. The last image is one of a piece of moon rock brought back on one of the Apollo missions. Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I got back to the campground around 3:30 and sat in the sun reading until dinner. One of the campers across the street from me locked his keys in the car. It took a locksmith an hour and a half to get here, and 10 seconds with a Slim Jim to open the door. I don't want to guess what it cost, but less than breaking a window!

Dinner was a salad. I should have waited - the guys with the locked door stopped by around 6:30 asking me to bring over a plate for a share of their turkey dinner!

Until Next Time -

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Catalina State Park, AZ, Day 2

Cactus at Catalina State Park, AZ
Tuesday, November 26, 2013, Catalina State Park, AZ, Day 2 - 0 miles, 4,477.6 For the Trip

A note for anyone living in a small fiberglass trailer - Bean soup and a 14' well sealed box don't mix all that well. Good thing I'm solo!

After breakfast I headed to the Catalina Park trail head and did one of the shorter loops. Took lots of desert photos, including many cactus. After getting back to the trailer I opened up the folding chair, got out some snacks, and prepared to enjoy the warmth. Of course 5 minutes after I sat down Toyota called telling me my car was ready. On the way to pick it up I did stop at the Camera Store and picked up a Nikon lens cap to replace the one that seems to have disappeared, and a replacement battery cover. I was glad to get rid of the Highlander and back to my RAV4.

While it is a lot warmer today than yesterday it was still a fairly cool shower in the campground bathroom. Large showers with a bench (but only one hook) but fairly anemic water flow & barely hot. It does help you set record drying time!

Dinner was Orange Chicken.

Until Next Time -

Monday, November 25, 2013

Catalina State Park, AZ

The View From My Front Window
Monday, November 25, 2013, Catalina State Park, AZ - 76 miles, 4,477.6 For the Trip

I can't tell the mileage today because the RAV4 is in Tucson getting a recall done. I'll fix it tomorrow when I get the RAV4 back. After setting up in site 14 at Catalina State Park on the north side of Tucson, I drove to Precision Toyota to get an oil change, possible brakes & a cover reattached that I think the people at Mechanicsville Toyota left loose after doing my transmission service. They needed the vehicle overnight, so because it was a recall I got a free rental. They gave me my choice of vehicles, and since my local Toyota dealer stated that the Highlander would be my replacement for the RAV4 as a tow vehicle (starting with the 2013 model they dropped the V6 in the RAV4). It's a pretty vehicle, but drives and rides like a boat. Maybe I'm used to the "Sport" suspension of the RAV4, but the Highlander feels like the driver is detached from the vehicle. On to of that, it feels very under powered. It is bad enough by itself; I'd hate to try to tow the trailer with it. I do admit that the RAV4 is the fastest car I've driven since my 1969 Camero, but I definitely don't see a Highlander in my future.

Unfortunately, I broke one of my plans for the trip - I wanted to stay above freezing for the entire year. Not a very practical goal, but I didn't expect to break it in November. Last night it got down to 31°F in Kartchner State Park. I was warm in the trailer, but it did freeze outside. When I stopped by the bathrooms in the morning they had an oil filled electric heater in the middle of the men's room. Evidently it got cold enough that they felt sorry for anyone wanting a shower. Wish it was there yesterday! I also saw my first snow on top of one of the mountains outside of Tucson. The photo is a "Through the Windshield" shot since there was no where for an easy pullover.

Catalina is a very pretty park with mountains all along one side. I had hoped I would be able to stay through Thanksgiving, but there are no sites (including mine) available after the 28th. I checked with the next state park along I10, and now have 4 nights at Picacho Peak Campground, Site PCP-B1. Since the state parks seemed to be heavily reserved, and they don't have non reservable sites like some states, I also made a reservation for a week at the Lost Dutchman State Park near Apache Junction, AZ. So, I know where I'll be until December 8th.

I hope my car will be done early tomorrow - I want to find a Nikon dealer in Tucson to try to pick up a replacement lens cap for my 70 - 200mm lens. The Nikon cap "pinches" to attach, which is pretty necessary when the lens hood is on the 70-200. I also need a battery cover door for the D700. The hinge pins are a very poor design - I've always been careful & have broken the plastic pin on two covers in the 3 years I've owned the camera.

Dinner was the second to last batch of frozen Crock Pot bean soup.

Until Next Time -

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Kartchner Caverns State Park, Day 4 & Tombstone, AZ

Tombstone, AZ

Sunday, November 24, 2013, Kartchner Caverns State Park, Day 4 & Tombstone, AZ - 0 miles, 4,401.6 For the Trip

The sunset tried last night, but never turned into anything. I included a photo mostly to show the view out my front window. The park overlooks what would be called a "Park" in Colorado. Don't know what it is called in Arizona, but it is a large flat area surrounded by mountains & hills. It rained off and on during the early evening, but stopped after dark. It did get cold - down to 40°F. I suspect it will be colder tonight since at 4:00PM it is already down to 48°F.

After breakfast and reading the Sunday Post Standard (my local paper) on my iPad, I decided it was time for a shower. I'd been putting it off since the temperature in the men's restroom was quite cold. The family restroom was about 10 degrees warmer, so, feeling a little guilty, but warmer, took a shower there. At least the hot water was hot!

Since the rain stopped, I decided to play tourist. First I headed for Fort Huachuca near Sierra Vista. Not what I expected - it is a huge, active military base. I finally found the museums, but they were closed on weekends. So, after driving around I headed to Tombstone. That is a real tourist trap! Lots of actors in the streets, storefronts, and the usual shops selling "stuff". I watched one reenactment of a bar fight, then headed to the courthouse museum. It was OK, although I suspect the main attraction of the town is the gunfights in the streets. More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After that it was back to the campground. Dinner will be a Bubba Burger & rice. While I have some chicken left over, I'm going to toss it - two days is enough!

Until Next Time -

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Kartchner Caverns State Park, Day 3

Saturday, November 23, 2013, Kartchner Caverns State Park, Day 3 - 0 miles, 4,401.6 For the Trip

You know, I've always considered that I have a eclectic taste in music. As part of my work at SUNY Oswego, I've chosen the music and designed sound for over 150 productions. My iPod (actually an iPhone) sounds like a mistake, even though I believe I have finally removed all the sound effects (you really don't want to be listening to a shuffle of your music when the next "tune" is a crack of thunder or a drag race).

Everything from a live recording of of Rosalie Sorrels at a local music hall, many recordings of students at a local coffee house, Tom Waits, Thelonious Monk, Randy Newman, Queen, John Coltrane, The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Women's Chorus, even Jason Mraz. So where is all this going? Well, there is one genre of music I just can't get a hold of - Modern Country. Don't get me wrong, I listen to Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, love bluegrass, in fact one of my favorite sound designs was for the little known musical "The Robber Bridegroom" a production that is about as country as it can get. Still, I can't take much of most of the country music played on radio stations.

So, guess what radio stations I've been able to receive on my trailer radio the last week? Yup, country. While the Sony RDP-XF100P is great in that it is a FM radio, iPod dock, has great sound quality, and will run for 4-6 hours on its internal battery, its FM receiver is about the weakest I've ever owned. Even my jogging headset receives more stations. While I can listen to my previously recorded music, and do, I like to hear what is going on locally. It rained all day, so I'm countried out. It did let up for a bit & I had to get out of my 6'X14' box, so I walked to the Discovery Center (the Visitor Center) for a cup of coffee. Of course while I was there it started to rain again, so I was soaked by the time I got back to the trailer. Still, it was good to get out.

I didn't do much else - did some fixes on my web pages, read a bunch of blogs & forums, read (I'm currently reading the 3rd book of a 4 book series by Jeffrey Overstreet - The Auralia Thread), etc. My reading interests are just as strange as my taste in music.

Dinner was left over boneless chicken fingers and a salad. I hope it clears up tomorrow - I'd like to see some area forts and other historic sites, but none of them sound like much fun in the rain.

Until Next Time -

Friday, November 22, 2013

Kartchner Caverns, Day 2

Friday, November 22, 2013, Kartchner Caverns State Park, Day 2 - 0 miles, 4,401.6 For the Trip

No photos today unless the sunset gets interesting. As of now it is trying...

It rained off & on overnight, as well as during the day. Also cooled off quite a bit. The little ceramic cube heater is doing a good job keeping the trailer warm. I took the Big Room tour through the cave this afternoon. I'm not sure where to rate the cavern. It has many beautiful formations, the big room is big, and the tour guide was excellent, however, compared to the Caverns of Sonora, it doesn't have the "life". Probably unfair to provide a link to my visit to the Caverns of Sonora since I don't have any photos of Kartchner, but I still don't see any reason for not allowing cameras.  Definitely worth a visit, but Sonora still remains my favorite.

After the tour I drove into Benson (about 12 miles north) to a Safeway to replenish supplies. I'm amazed that my phone number still working to give me the store discounts since I only use it on trips out west. As usual, I went overboard, but since there is still room in both the freezer and the fridge, I'm good. Dinner was Safeway's boneless chicken wings and a salad. Definitely edible, however not my favorite flavor of sauce. I'll throw the leftovers in the fridge for tomorrow.

Until then -

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Kartchner Caverns, AZ

Moonrise Over the Golf Course
Thursday, November 21, 2013, Kartchner Caverns State Park - 71.8 miles, 4,401.6 For the Trip

Well, yesterday was the last time I'm going to hope for a less boring day. Last night my headache came back, so I decided rather than worry why, I'd stop to get checked on the way to Kartchner Caverns. I didn't find a clinic, so I stopped at the emergency room at the Sierra Vista Regional Health Center. A bunch of tests, lots of discussion, and the result - nothing serious is wrong, but they couldn't find out why I'm getting headaches at night over the last 10 - 11 days. Oh well, at least I don't seem to have anything serious wrong with me although I do wish they had found something that only required a simple cure. I will have to see how it goes over the next couple of weeks. Can't wait until I get the bill.

After the 4 hours at the emergency room I was back on the road and pulled into Kartchner around 3:30. I'm in site 25 for the next 4 nights. I signed up for a tour of the Big Room tomorrow.

As to photos, here are a couple of the moonrise over the golf course last night, and, of course, the campsite photo. See them at today's LakeshoreImages page.
Until then -

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Douglas City Park, Day 7

Wednesday, November 20, 2013, Douglas City Park, Day 7 - 0 miles, 4,329.8 For the Trip

I hope this is the last completely boring post for awhile. I did find out that the workers running around in orange jump suits are just what they look like - prisoners on work release. I saves the park money since I'm told they are only paid $.50 per hour. They sure spend a lot of time running around in golf carts. While the campground certainly shows its age, it is well kept up, including the bathrooms.

I did laundry today - didn't really have to, but at $.75 per wash and $1.00 to dry, the price was right & I did have enough for a full load.

Tomorrow I'm heading to Benson, AZ. I plan to try for a couple of nights at the Kartchner Caverns State Park, and tour the cave. I wish they allowed cameras, but they don't, so there won't be any cave photos. More on that tomorrow.

Until then -

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Douglas City Park, Day 6

Tuesday, November 19, 2013, Douglas City Park, Day 6 - 0 miles, 4,329.8 For the Trip

While I am enjoying doing nothing, I'm also getting bored. Tomorrow is my last day here and it will be good to get back on the road. I did get to meet more of my neighbors. A good group of people that have been spending part or all of their winters here in Douglas. I also found where the non existent campsites went. The developer that started rebuilding the golf course, housing, and expanding the campground went broke, and the area came back to the city. The expanded campground is partially built, but not enough to use.

Dinner was home made pizza with my sauce, onions, mushrooms and lots of mozzarella cheese. I have discovered how long pizza dough can be kept frozen - less than 3 months (the age of the dough I used) Although edible, it didn't rise, and was very tough. Still better than frozen pizza, but I guess I should try making fresh dough in the trailer.

Until tomorrow -

Monday, November 18, 2013

Douglas City Park, Day 5

Monday, November 18, 2013, Douglas City Park, Day 5 - 0 miles, 4,329.8 For the Trip

Hardly worth a report today - no photos, didn't do anything, but here it is! OK, there was one thing that happened - the guy who's WiFi was blocked moved out, so no loud radio all day.

One other interesting discovery - I've been using Safari as my browser and to post my blogger updates.  A couple of days ago the editor stopped working.  I can no longer type or past into the editor.  Works fine if I use Firefox, so I suspect it is a Safari problem.  Oh well, it adds a bit of excitement to a boring day.

Until Tomorrow

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Douglas City Park, Day 4

Ricketts Glen State Park, PA
Sunday, November 17, 2013, Douglas City Park, Day 4 - 0 miles, 4,329.8 For the Trip

Another quiet day. I spent some time talking with a couple of the neighbors. We have one "neighbor conflict" where a trailer moved into a slot between another and blocking the WiFi. Not the end of the world, but I guess one of them is moving tomorrow. I can see both sides of the problem, but the tactics are not pleasant - turn the radio up loud & leave, etc. Glad I'm a couple of spaces away.

Other than that nothing much. I listened to Prairie Home Companion on the internet - there is not local NPR station that covers the area. I probably should move the XM Radio from the RAV4 to the trailer, but I'm over half way through the month and well under half my 20GB of internet quota, so I'm still using the net.

No photos, although when the moon comes up in about 1/2 hour I'll probably take a few. I used one from earlier in the trip for this post.

Dinner is a Chicken Pot Pie.

Until tomorrow -

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Douglas City Park, Day 3

Moon Rise Over the Golf Course
Saturday, November 16, 2013, Douglas City Park, Day 3 - 0 miles, 4,329.8 For the Trip

Today was lots of doing nothing. Listened to my hometown NPR station for a couple of hours, read the Syracuse Post Standard on my iPad, sat outside and read, again, lots of nothing! I did take a break and drove to town to find a pair of easy slip on/off shoes - ended up with Airwalk loafers. Cheap, probably wont last long, but they are light, easy to put on, and have no tread so they won't bring stones from the site into the trailer.

The moon is almost full (although The Photographer's Ephemeris tells me it is only at 97.3%) Full moon tomorrow night. I took a couple of photos over the golf course, and on the way back one of the sun setting behind the campground. That's it for the day. More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page, although I have to warn you there is sunset photo even though I swore to stop!

Dinner is baked, stuffed chicken (frozen), snap peas & a Vanilla Fudge Drumstick for dessert.

Added note - it is after dinner, and while I have found that many of the frozen stuffed chicken meals from folks like Barber Foods are not too bad, I don't have much to say for Koch Oven Cravers Chicken Breast stuffed with Swiss Cheese, Portabella & Button Mushrooms.  Sounded good, and the stuffing was, but the chicken was barely edible.  I now have a better understanding of "rubber chicken"!  Oh well, at least the Ice Cream Drumstick was good...

Until tomorrow -

Friday, November 15, 2013

Chiricahua National Monument

Interesting Building
Friday, November 15, 2013, Chiricahua National Monument - 0 miles, 4,329.8 For the Trip

I woke up with a stiff neck & headache; I guess the cold of the other day isn't done with me. After breakfast wrote out Christmas cards for my daughter & family as well as granddaughter Valerie's 6th birthday card. They are in Botswana, so it takes quite awhile for them to get there. Hopefully they will make it on time!

I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and do something. I received some email from a Escape Forum reader named Kenneth who is sailing in what I suspect is warm waters asking if I was planning to visit nearby Chiricahua National Monument. Since I try to see as many National Parks & Monuments as possible, I took him up on the suggestion. It is about a 60 mile drive from Douglas on good 2 lane (and mostly empty) roads. Along the road I found a wonderful old building I had to stop at for a photo or two.

The monument had a fire in 2011, and heavy rain this year that caused flooding of many trails and the campground. Most of it is fixed at this time - one trail is still restricting horse travel.

Since I wasn't quite up to par, I didn't do any of the hikes, although Heart of Rocks Loop was awfully tempting since there is a striking balanced rock along the trail. An 8 mile round trip, so I passed it up. I took the scenic drive through the monument. Lots of interesting rock formations, many of which can be seen from the road. There are a few pull offs so I took a few photos, but there is much more to see. I tried for a panorama at Massai Point, but Photoshop let me down - it just could not seam together the images. It was cool (the monument is 3000' higher than Douglas, and very windy. More of today's photos at LakeshoreImages.
I took a loop through the campground. Very pretty campsites, although you can still see the damage done by the flood. There was a Casita in the campground, so, of course, I took a photo. On the way out of the monument I talked with the volunteer at the visitor center about the campground. While it looked like the flood would have destroyed many of the campers, they had plenty of warning & got everyone out before the water arrived. The stream goes through the middle of the campground, with a steep "dip" rather than a bridge over it. If you are camping on the opposite side from the main road you will have to wait till the water goes down before leaving.

After driving back to Douglas I stopped at Walmart & purchased a heating pad. It did wonders for my neck! Dinner was simple, a couple of ham sandwiches, chips, and coleslaw.

Until tomorrow -

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Douglas City Park, Douglas, AZ

Last Sunset Picture, City of Rocks State Park.  I'll try to stop!
Thursday, November 14, 2013, Douglas City Park, AZ - 192.4 miles, 4,329.8 For the Trip

A new day & a new state. I even crossed the Continental Divide, although you would hardly know it. Unlike further north, here is is just a sign along a flat road. I've reached my "winter" goal - Arizona, although I don't plan to stay in Douglas the entire season. Actually,it might not be a bad idea - I'm here for a week at $75.00 plus tax for a grand total of $11.67 per night (full hookups). While the price is right, it really isn't my kind of campground, so I will relax for a week & then head for greener pastures. There isn't much to do here unless you like golf since the Douglas City Park is part of the local golf course. No picnic tables, but the sites are not too close together, the showers are the strongest of the trip, and clean. For a commercial campground it has everything I would expect (well, except for the picnic table) and the lowest price of a site with hookups of the trip. While a couple of the guides list it as having 66 sites, I believe some of them are either hidden back in the park or have disappeared. I only see about 30 sites, and most are filled with snowbirds.

I talked to a guy from Parachute, CO, and now know how it got its name. I've never been there, but have passed the sign for it on I70. Seems there is a dome shaped mountain that, when first covered with snow shroud lines appear running down from the snow covered dome, making it look like a filled parachute.

After setting up the trailer I drove to the local Walmart. Probably the largest I've ever been in, and one of the few that has both Spanish & English labels on everything. It sits about 200' from the Mexican border. I've set all my cell devices to no international roaming, and AT&T tells me that as long as my iPhone shows AT&T as the carrier, I'm good. Hope the same goes for Verizon. My iPad looks OK, but it is difficult to ID the carrier on the Hotpot. I did turn off roaming so I should be able to post this close to the border.

Not a lot of photos or anything else to report - I did take a few more sunset photos at City of Rocks, and will inflict you with one of them, otherwise just a campsite photo and a few of the park.

Dinner was the steak I've been putting off cooking, along with coleslaw and a bit of pre made macaroni & cheese from Walmart. Overall not to bad, although I do feel like eating lighter than usual. I suspect I'm getting into or over a cold - had a bit of a fever last night that a couple of Tylenol took care of. While traveling by one's self has a number of advantages including not worrying about schedules, not deciding who is going to climb over who to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night, what to cook for dinner ( I could keep going, but to be honest, it would be far more fun if my wife was still alive), being sick on the road is not one of them. Glad things seem to have settled down.

By the way, for those of you in Oswego or other parts of the North, it was 78°F today, and the overnight predicted temperature is 50°F. Can you understand why I'm here?

Until tomorrow -

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

City of Rocks State Park, NM, Day 2

Sunset At City of Rocks 
Tuesday, November 12, 2013, City of Rocks State Park, NM - 0 miles, 4,137.4 For the Trip

I took a couple of sunset photos last night and added them to today's page. Sure wish the moon would hurry up and reach the new moon phase so I can take some decent star photos. Then again, it is cold enough here at night that it is just as well that I don't have to stand outside in the dark

While I had zero towing miles today I did put 89.2 on the RAV 4. I went to Silver City to do laundry, and while there, got a haircut. I thought about driving north to the Gila Cliff Dwellers National Monument, but discovered a sign along the road that said it was a 2 hour drive, it closed at 4:00PM, and it was already 1:30. So, I decided to find a Ghost Town a little way outside of Silver City shown on my AAA map. I don't know if the Santa Rita Ghost Town still exists, but I sure didn't find it. I did find a huge copper mine about where the map said the ghost town was located. The mine was big enough that I took a panorama of it. There is a large 2.9MB version that you can click on if you have a fast connection.

The rest of the normal sized photos for today are at the LakeshoreImages Page.

After that it was back to City of Rocks. I seem to have a pretty good Verizon connection here (no AT&T) so I spent some time catching up on email & reading some of the RV & photography web pages I like to visit.

Until tomorrow -

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

City of Rocks State Park, NM

Fort Bliss Soldiers Climbing at City of Rocks State Park, NM
Tuesday, November 12, 2013, City of Rocks State Park, NM - 42.9 miles, 4,137.4 For the Trip

Today was another short drive from Rockhound to City of Rocks State Park. I'm here for two days - I wanted to spend the afternoon goofing off after climbing almost as high as you can go without technical techniques at Rockhound. Saw some very pretty minerals, but it would take a sledge hammer to get them out. I did pick up a couple of small pieces to add to my type box at home.

I didn't get to immediately relax - the campground host told me there was a group of soldiers from Fort Bliss climbing the rocks. Pure bare hand climbing - no ropes, pitons, etc. I climbed around (not up) the rocks until I found them & shot a bunch of photos.

I'm not sure I have the energy left to grill the steak so dinner may be something simple.

Until tomorrow -

Monday, November 11, 2013

Rockhound State Park, NM

Sunset Over Rockhound State Park, MN

Monday, November 11, 2013, Rockhound State Park, NM - 88.8 miles, 4,094.5 For the Trip

For all Veterans, thank you for your service, and have a great day!

They have interesting lighting at Leasburg Dam State Park. Like some of the other New Mexico parks I've been in, they use movement sensors to turn on the lights at night. This afternoon they didn't turn on the lights, but start the fans, which only run for about 10 seconds before you need to move again to restart them. Not thinking too much about that, I waited until after dark to take a shower. The fans still started & ran for 10 seconds when you entered the bathroom, but the lights never came on. I tried waving, moving to the shower room, etc, but never managed to turn on the lights. Since it was pitch black, & all I had was my little Harbor Freight 9 LED flashlight, I decided to pass up the shower until morning.

I did shower around 9:30 AM, and it was cold! While the water was warm enough, the building was still retaining the 36°F nighttime temperatures.

I was not in a hurry to leave since the drive to Rockhound State Park was short. I thought about taking US 70 rather than I 10, but there were signs that there was 20 miles of construction, expect delays, etc so I took the interstate. I stopped at the Deming Walmart to pick up some English Muffins & Grill gas. Of course by the time I got out of there I had 4 bags of stuff & spent more than I should have.

I'm in site 17, one away from where I stayed last year. Like last year, I marvel at the quality of the light here in the desert. Unlike last year there are no wild fires to produce the wonderful clouds in the 2012 photographs, but the light almost has a life to it. Hard to capture on film (well, on a sensor) but I love it. The weather is much better than the last time I was here - temperatures in the 70's rather than the 100's. Still, the sun is just as strong; I stayed in the shade of the trailer until around 4:00. Once the sun sets I suspect it will cool off fast. The rest of the photos are on today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner will probably be a Bubba Burger, with broccoli & cauliflower. I bought a steak at Walmart, but I think I'll save it for tomorrow.

Until tomorrow -

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Leasburg Dam State Park, NM

Moon & Tree

Sunday, November 10, 2013, Leasburg Dam State Park, NM - 250.8 miles, 4,005.7 For the Trip

Well, I finally made it across Texas! I stopped for the night at Leasburg Dam State Park near Radium Springs, NM. I tried for an electric site, and even though I got here pretty early (another time zone change) at 12:30, someone beat me to the last electric site by about 10 minutes. So, I'll be running the furnace tonight rather than my little cube heater. The cube heater does a good job, keeping the trailer warm even with the outside temperature in the 30's. I haven't had a chance to try it at temperatures below freezing yet, but I suspect it will do the job. In any case, I'll be burning gas tonight.

After talking with the volunteer at the park office and discovering that this is one of the busiest times for New Mexico parks, I decided to try for reservations for my next two stops. I know both Rockhound & City of Rocks state parks have non reservable sites, but when I called Rockhound they told me all the non reservable sites were taken, and there was only one reservable site left for tomorrow. I tried calling New Mexico's Reserve America 800 number, and they are closed weekends. Luckily, there is good cell service here at Leasburg, and I managed to get the open site on line. Since I was there, I did the same for Tuesday's stop at City of Rocks State Park.

You can tell Leasburg Dam State Park is desert. If not by the vegetation, by how fast my rolls dried out while waiting for the sausage to grill. They were crusty in 5 minutes! Your lips also dry out very quickly.

Not much in the way of photographs. I did try for a couple of the moon but there is lots of "trash" in the images. I may try for some night shots if there isn't a lot of background light. The moon doesn't set until close to midnight, so I might not make it...

Until tomorrow -

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Balmorhea State Park, TX

A Coot
Saturday, November 9, 2013, Balmorhea State Park, Junction, TX - 262.2 miles, 3,754.9 For the Trip

Although this was one of the longest drives of the trip, it went quickly since all of it was on I 10. In this part of Texas, with no large cities, I 10 is almost pleasant to drive. Still boring, but the traffic is very light.

I included one photo of some doves from the bird blind at South Llano River State Park. The rest are at Balmorhea. I stayed here in 2012 in Site 20; this time I'm in 21. I almost decided to go for a swim in the pool - it is in the 80's this afternoon, but it is about as far away as you can get from my site and still be in the park, and I decided to relax and read instead. Besides, the water was pretty cold. I took some photos at the same locations as last time - the man made Cienega that replaced the natural one destroyed when they built the swimming pool in the 30's. More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I stopped and talked with a couple in another small single axle trailer - they sold their home and are traveling around the country. We talked about all the places we've both been to.

Dinner was a steak, broccoli and a quick fix noodle, broccoli & cheese dish. I'm learning to mix fresh vegetables with the packaged side dishes while they cook to allow preparation on the one burner stove I use.

Until later -

South Llano River State Park, Junction, TX

Buck Lake, South Llano River State Park, TX

Friday, November 8, 2013, South Llano River State Park, Junction, TX - 177.3 miles, 3,492.7 For the Trip

Rather than wait until the traffic into San Antonio died down, I decided to bypass the city on Texas 46. Seemed like a good move - not much traffic, and a good road. My GPS kept telling me there were traffic problems on I 10 in the city. I joined I 10 at Boerne, and found the traffic light and comfortable, other than the 75 - 80 MPH speed limits and me only doing 60. Yes, 60. I usually only travel at 57 MPH, but the flatlands of Florida and the rest of the coast built up my MPG far enough that I can afford to go a little faster as long as I'm cruising the interstate. I'm still over 15 MPG for the trip.

I debated (well, as much as one can do with one's self) as to stopping at South Llano River State Park, or doing another 70 miles or so to stop in Sonora. Since I've already been to Sonora, and not to South Llano River, it wasn't all that much of an argument. It will make tomorrow's drive a bit longer than I usually do since I have a reservation for the night at Balmorhea State Park.

After setting up I went for a walk through the turkey roosting area. They have a number of trails here in the park, some blinds to watch birds, at least one of which even has a water fountain in front to attract birds. There is a herd of White Tailed Deer running in the woods behind the campground. And I do mean running. Most of the deer I've seen is state parks just stand around, but these don't ever stop running and leaping around, not even for me to take their picture!

While returning I walked through the campground & found a Casita. Guess that makes sense since they are made here in Texas, but I still haven't seen very many fiberglass trailers either in campgrounds or on the road.

The plan was to come back to the trailer, get out the chair, and sit & read, but it is raining. Very light, so maybe it will stop & I'll still get to spend some time outside.

By the way, I doubt you will see this until tomorrow - the only internet connection I seem to be able to make isn't fast enough to post photos. Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

It is now tomorrow, and I'm in a rest stop along I 10 about 20 miles east of Sonora.

Until later -

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Palmetto State Park, TX

CCC Built Shelter
Thursday, November 7, 2013, Palmetto State Park, Gonzales, TX - 198.7 miles, 3,315.4 For the Trip

I waited until 9:00 to head out, hoping the morning rush hour would be over heading into Houston. While the traffic was heavy, no stop & go, so maybe it worked. I got off I 10 after getting past the city & continued west of US 90 alt. Much more pleasant driving, and according to the GPS, only added 1/2 hour to the drive. Well worth it! I saw my first Texas Longhorn, but it was too far away for a photo.

Another reason for never completely trusting a GPS - I had entered the park coordinates listed on the Palmetto State Park web page & Matilda (the voice of the GPS) tried to take me down a one lane, dead end dirt road for the final leg of the trip. Luckily, I met someone coming out of the road and they gave me better directions.

A very pretty park, although it looks like they had a heavy storm recently - lots of large branches piled around the trees, etc. I wonder if this is the part of Texas that had the terrible Halloween rainstorm? In any case, you can tell you're in Texas - most of the grills in the park are built like a small smoker. Of course the other way to know you're in Texas is by the interstate exit markers. Unlike NY (about the only state left that still does this) where they are consecutive numbers, exits are identified by miles from where the interstate enters from LA, and starts with mile marker 880!

The campground was built by the CCC, like many of the state parks around the country. They have a sign at a picnic shelter describing the project. Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I met the campground host & he confirmed that the campground had a flood Halloween night. Parts of the campground were underwater, along with the roads into it. Most of it is back to normal, although there is a low water bridge across the river that is still underwater.

If I can figure a good way to warm it up, dinner will be orange chicken. The grocery store had a 2 for the price of 1 Chinese dinners, so I gave them a try.

Later - Well, I found that using the vegetable steamer is a good way to heat up a refrigerated orange chicken with rice dinner. Unfortunately, it really wasn't worth it - didn't taste like any orange chicken I've had before, and the clean up of the steamer was a real project! Still, I'm fed. I don't expect to spend time sitting out in the lawn chair. No sun, and it is already down to 62°F with a cold wind. I checked the weather reports for the next few areas I will be camping, and it sure looks like cold nights. I may hurry through New Mexico faster than planned!

Until next time -

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sunset Leisure RV Park, Wallisville, TX

Sunset at Sunset Leisure RV Park
Wednesday, November 6, 2013, Sunset Leisure RV Park, Wallisville, TX - 197.8 miles, 3,116.7 For the Trip

I can't quite understand it - traffic noise all night, and I slept better than I have over the last couple of weeks! It was still an early morning, and I was on the road by 9:00. Most of the drive today (and probably for the next couple of days) was on I 10. After getting through Houston tomorrow I may try switching to US 90 Alt, depending on the traffic. I suspect it will be terrible in the city.

I was going to stay in Wallisville County Park but although AllStays listed it as having bathrooms & showers, it doesn't, no one was there, and you have to find city hall to get a permit. So, I stopped for the afternoon at the Sunset Leisure RV Park a few miles away. $30.00 for the night, assuming the owner shows up to collect the money. If not, there is a slot in the door where I can drop a check.

Right now it is pouring out; if it keeps up dinner will be soup cooked in the trailer. The rain stopped long enough to get a campsite photo. I'm in site #4, a concrete slab with full hookups, but no picnic table. I got out my roll up table & cooked a couple of veal cutlets to use up more of the spaghetti sauce. I like my home made sauce better, but I still have half a jar of Ragu.

After cleaning up I shot a couple of photos showing where the park got its name. The rest of the photos are, as usual, on today's LakeshoreImages Page.

Until next time -

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

New Iberia, LA

Konriko Rice Mill
Tuesday, November 5, 2013, KOC Kampground, New Iberia, LA - 152.7 miles, 2,918.9 For the Trip

Another early morning. I hope I get used to the time zone change soon; waking up before 6:00AM is just wrong, at least on a trip! I did take a shower since it was already 67°F at 7:00. The showers were clean, plenty of hot water, even a shower curtain. On the down side, the shower sprays right at the curtain, and under it, soaking the entire drying area & the shower room outside the stall. There is no seat in the drying area, no shelf in the shower area for soap or a shampoo bottle, and only one hook for your stuff. I do sometimes wonder if any of the campground staff ever showers (or even attempts to put themselves in the place of a user of their showers).

I ate breakfast, read my Syracuse paper on the iPad, and headed west around 9:00. Most of the drive was on I 12 & I 10 since trying to get from LaCombe to New Iberia on secondary roads was many hours longer than the interstates. There is a big swamp in the way!

As I mentioned in the 1996 post, I love the area around New Iberia - I first read about it in James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series of books. I have to admit the Belmont Plantation campground reminded me of the novels far more than here at the KOC.

I wish I had been able to find the campground we stayed in in 1996, but it no longer is in any of the guides or campground reviews. In any case, I'm in site 50 at the KOC Kampground (yes, that is a "C", not an "A" in the name). Right of US 90, in fact, lots of traffic noise. Good for an overnight. I revisited the Konriko Rice company store - the name is back to the 1996 name. This is the oldest still operating rice mill in the US. While they have all kinds of rice & other products for sale in the store, none of the Pee Wee's Green Spiced Pepper Sauce both Don & I liked on the previous stop. In fact, when Don's bottle ran low he ordered a case of the stuff over the internet. Alas, it seems the company disappeared in the early 2000's. I purchased a different green pepper sauce (Louisiana JalapeƱo Hot Sauce) made by Bruce Foods Corp here in New Iberia. Not as good as Pee Wee's, but I'll let Don test it.

Continuing the tourist track, I headed to Avery Island for the Tabasco Factory tour, a visit to their store to replace a worn out "T" shirt and to drive through the Jungle Gardens, something we skipped on the last trip. The gardens were a bit of a disappointment since the large flock of birds were vacationing in South America, and most of the flowers were in in bloom, but there ware some great Live Oak trees & a Buddha. Someone left a plastic frog posing as a Buddha in front of the door. The photo isn't all that good - the Buddha is inside a glass walled building that makes many reflections. There were a couple of elephants guarding the steps to the exhibit. I also included a photo of the nesting area that would be filled with egrets if they weren't on vacation. As usual, more photos at today's Lakeshore Images page.

Not sure what dinner will be - I have no picnic table, so outdoor cooking would mean dragging out my folding table. I might hit a restaurant since there are lots of places to eat in the area.

Until next time -

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fontainebleau State Park, LA

A Dead Oak Tree

Monday, November 4, 2013, Fontainebleau State Park, LA - 220.8 miles, 2,766.2 For the Trip

I woke up raring to go at 6:00AM this morning. The time zone change, going back to standard time, and the extra light in the morning all contributed. I do like the idea of a new time zone - it means I'm really heading west! In any case, I got an early start leaving the campground. Much of the drive was on US 90 across Alabama & Mississippi. I definitely could have made better time on I10, which paralleled US 90 part of the drive, but I still prefer the non-interstates even if they do go through all the towns & cities along the way. I stopped to pick up a Texas map at the Slidell, LA AAA.

I'm set up in site 110 in the older campground here at Fontainebleau State Park. We camped in the newer section on our 1996 trip. The older section is filled with huge oak trees, including a beautiful dead one. I did laundry, and forgetting how early it gets dark with the new time zone, I skipped cooking dinner using a flashlight and made a couple of sandwiches. More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Till Tomorrow -

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Gulf State Park, AL

Another Escape (and a Casita)
Sunday, November 3, 2013, Gulf State Park, AL - 189.7 miles, 2,545.4 For the Trip

A quiet day with few photos - just a campsite and one of the first Escape Trailer I've seen on the trip. I spent most of the day on US 98, a mix of 2 & 4 lanes, much through fairly large & busy seaside resort towns. I'm in site 66 here at Gulf State Park - full hookups for $29.25 for the night. As I noted, there is an Escape 19 a few sites up from me, along with a Casita parked next to it. The owners stopped by to say hello.

Since there isn't all that much to write about today, I'll tell you all about my other insect encounter at Shellmound (at least I'm fairly sure that is where I "picked up" the bugs. Woke up Friday morning with about 50 red bites around my ankles, all at sock level. So, having no idea what was eating me, I did a Goggle search - key words red bites, ankles, socks. Well, up comes Chigger bites. I'd heard of them, but somehow had this idea that they were some kind of burrowing insect that got under your skin and eventually chewed their way out, somewhat like a miniature version of the Alien movie. Come to find that they are small enough to be invisible, hide in your hair follicles, and make soup from your skin cells. While I have had other bites that itch far more, the number of them makes up for it. By today, they seem to be going away, but I'll use DEET on my socks, and pant legs the next time I go walking in the damp grass.

That is about it for today. Dinner will be spaghetti and meatballs.

Till Tomorrow -

Saturday, November 2, 2013

St Joseph Peninsula State Park, FL, Day 2

Dunes on St Joseph Peninsula
Saturday, November 2, 2013, St Joseph Peninsula State Park, FL, Day 2 - 0 miles, 2,355.7 For the Trip

Not to much happening today. I went for a walk on the end of the Peninsula, although not the entire 8 mile length. Took a few photos of trees, another Florida "Cabin" (sure wish they made them like that in NY). I did see a couple of eagles fly by, but, of course, had the wide lens on the camera so it isn't much of a photo. After getting back to the trailer I sat around & read. The campground power went off for a couple of hours - seems a sailboat took out one of the power lines. No one hurt, but it must have been a shock (OK, sorry for the pun!) As usual, the rest of the photos are at today's LakeshoreImages Page.

Dinner will be a Bubba Burger & fruit cup with ice cream for dessert.

Till Tomorrow -

Friday, November 1, 2013

St Joseph Peninsula State Park, FL

Sunset at Shellmound County Park
Friday, November 1, 2013, St Joseph Peninsula State Park, FL - 233.6 miles, 2,355.7 For the Trip

Since yesterday was only a 7.5 mile drive, it is only fair that today's was a bit longer. All of the drive was on secondary roads, mostly on US 19 & 98. I'm set up in Site 118 for two days.

Back to Shellmound County Park (particularly since most of today's photos were taken there after yesterday's post). While it looks like a quiet, relaxing location, two things beg to differ with the appearance. First, the No See Ums. I've heard of them, but never camped with them. According to the previous link, in Spain they are called "Flying Teeth". Apparently, Spain has never lived with Adirondack Black Flies. Now those are flying teeth - you will often actually bleed after a bite from one. Still, the No See Ums have their place in producing misery. They are small enough that a dozen could fit on the period at the end of this sentence. Standard screens are like barn doors to them. And their bite, while not as painful as a black fly or horse fly, is extremely annoying. I finally gave up on sitting outside, even covered with DEET, took a shower, and spend a couple of hours sitting in the trailer slapping various parts of my exposed skin (and hopefully a few no see ums) until I went to bed. While it was over 85°F in the trailer, I still had to sleep with a sheet covering everything but my face to keep them away. At least they are small enough that they don't bite through a sheet!

The other event leading to a break in tranquility of the park was an invasion of air boats. While they are interesting, the park seems to be the launch site for the area, and the "Good Old Boys" like to take them out throughout the evening & night. I now know what it would be like to camp in an old prop only airport. Very loud, and when they return from their adventures they have to gun the engine (usually unmuffled V8's) to get onto their trailer. They did stop by 11:30PM, although they were back at it at 7:00AM. I took some photos of them launching a couple of them, as well as a few sunset images. The weird lighting is courtesy of the dock's Sodium Vapor streetlight. More photos at today's LakeshoreImages Page.

Till Tomorrow -