Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pacific Ocean here we come

Internet connections are harder to come by than we thought. Maybe we should have invested in that ATT air card after all. No pictures today, just a quick update to let you know where we are.

Last night we stayed in Bakersfield, California and today we'll reach San Simeon State Park. Tomorrow we'll visit Hearst Castle and tomorrow night we should reach EJ's brother's house in Monterey.

We'll be taking a detour back to San Angelo next week as Frank's Dad will be having a knee operation and could use some help while he's recovering. Where the trip goes after that we're not sure. We'll be in San Angelo, Texas a week from tonight.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

It's 102 degrees !! - May 15

We know the folks back in Florida are probably laughing their heads off in their mid 70 degree weather while we're roasting out here. However, we haven't had 10+ inches of rain either.

Headed out for Tucson and stopped by White Sands National Park. What a neat place, huge sand dunes made of gypsum. We took one of the nature walks on a boardwalk through the dunes. Way to hot, but very interesting. There were school buses of kids and they were climbing the dunes and sledding down on carboard or coasters. Looked like they were having a blast.

We made it to EJ's niece and nephew's place in Tucson and had a great visit. It normally should have been in the low 90's,but it was 102 degrees when we got there. It's amazing how it cooled off once the sun went down. It was the first night we were able to sleep without the AC. We had the windows open and a fan going and slept great. It was 68 degrees the next morning. What a difference.

Alamogordo Here We Come - May 14

Had breakfast with Bill and Jean (Frank's Mom and Dad) and left around 10am. Basic Texas landscape as we head west. Flat, some cattle, a few derricks and dry. Stopped in Artesia, NM for a stretch break and found a neat park with bronze statutes and information about the oil business in town.

It's been in the 90's so we decided to take the high road up thru Cloudcroft NM. Got up to 8650' and 70 degrees,what a relief. Not long lived as we went back down to Alamogordo, NM and 92 degrees at 4400'.

Found a great state park (Oliver Lee Memorial State Park) with mountains on one side and valley desert the other. Very peaceful and lots of stars.

The Folks and the Mystery Flower - May 10 - May 14

First a little housekeeping as we used to say before every JEA meeting. It's been awhile since we have updated, so now we're catching up! Hope everyone is doing well. I think we are finally getting used to the time difference. We had one day where we went through 2 time zones and gained two hours. By the way if you want to get a better look at the attached pictures, you can click on them and get a bigger view. On with the news...

We arrived in San Angelo on Sunday, May 10, Mother's Day scoring extra points for both of us. Frank's Dad had called earlier in the day and suggested we not eat anything 4 hours prior to arriving since they had a big chicken dinner waiting. And it was good.

We set up Roadie out in the parking lot next to a power pole and dubbed it the "Rio Concho River Resort". It had everything we needed, showers, restrooms and even a restaurant on site. The first day we were there the temperatures were in the mid 70's but it went up every day after that.

We had a good visit. Frank did some computer work for his Dad, we ran errands and we ate. Every day we were there we had at least one buffet meal. And you know us, if it's on the buffet, we gonna try and eat it. Another interesting aside, Frank's Dad is on Facebook and we're not. Hmmmm....we'll have to ponder on that.

And being Putnams, we don't like missing a happy hour, so every day at 4PM we would migrate to Nick's apartment, one of Frank's Dad's friends, to have our adult libations. Being invited to attend was a special honor.

Early in the mornings (well early for us, 9am-ish) we took walks along the Rio Concho River. San Angelo has really developed a nice system of parks along the river which includes a walkway in excess of 4 miles. One morning we spotted what we thought was a piece of brightly colored trash or maybe a flower someone had stuck in a bush along the river's edge. As we got closer it turned out to be a flower and it was attached to the plant. The plants have straight branches ith large thorns every few inches and leaves that are opposing and oblong. There is only one flower per bush/plant. We took pictures and showed them around but nobody seemed to know what these flowers/plants were. One person even speculated that they were tied to the stalks for a wedding. However the flowers were growing from the stalk and not tied on debunking that suggestion. Maybe one of you can identify them?

And one final shot. Along the path we passed beneath a bridge and were treated with a view of a colony of swifts (that's my best guess) making mud nests on the side of the bridge.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dr Pepper

Our wanderings took us to Dublin, Texas home to the last Dr Pepper bottling plant to use the original Dr Pepper formula. No artificial sweetners for these guys, we're talking pure unadulterated sugar.
Dublin, Texas

They only use the original Dr Pepper bottles here. That is to say, these bottles are no longer made. They are found at garage sales, flea markets and who knows where.

Last Day on the Interstates

Well it sounds good whether or not we stick to it. For those of you that followed the 2007 edition of this blog know of our dislike for interstates. However, this time I must grudgingly admit that they haven't been unbearable. Traffic has been lighter that expected, we guess due to the economy. We haven't seen many motorhomes, people haven't been driving too crazy, and the truck traffic has been OK.

After DeFuniak, our first diversion was Gulfport/Biloxi to check and make sure Barry was spending our tax dollars correctly.

The Armed Forces Retirement Home was rendered uninhabitable as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Some residents moved to DC to a similar facility. Others had to fend for themselves in other cities and towns.

This facility is supposed to be completed in October 2010 so those folks can begin to move back home.

Then, our second diversion was Bay St. Louis. The gambling bug had bitten EJ and the itch had to be scratched.

True to form we made our contribution to the Casino establishment and continued on our way.

Our next stop was a Louisiana campground/resort/golfcourse named Percy Quinn State Park. We apparently had brain fade forgetting it was Friday night and all those frustrated golfers were aching for another chance to avenge their bloated scores. That's a long winded way of saying that the campground was full. That's only the second time the last 7 or 8 years of camping that we've encountered a full campground.

Continuing our policy of being flexible, we went for plan "B". Walmart here we come. No, wait a minute, that's plan "C". Using our limited library of campground locations that we carry with us in Roadie we found another state park just over the Mississippi state line called Bogue Chitto Water Park. We weren't sure what we were in for but it was late and part of the purpose of this trip is to embrace adventure. So adventure here we come.

As it turns out after we passed all of the canoe/kayak/tubing businesses that lined the road to the park entrance it turned out to be a pleasant experience. Not to say we would ever venture there again, but we had a good time.

Meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole and a bottle of wine from the cellar.
Who said you had to rough it when camping?

At the site next to ours a couple rode in on a Honda GoldWing pulling an amazing trailer.

This little baby turned into...

THIS !!!

They had large rotating fan, two lawn chairs, an awning, stove, coffee pot and awning lights. And for friend Larry who is probably wondering how to hook up one of these babies up to his Miata here is the contact information.

There is even a phone number so you can order one today.

OK, OK, I couldn't stand it. One last Interstate rant. The Interstates in Louisiana are the pits and that's putting it politely. From New Orleans west, up I-55 to Mississippi the Interstates were so rough that it broke the laptop we use for our GPS system. The constant pounding stripped one of the screws that holds the front and back pieces together that contains the LCD screen. With the judicious application of duct tape we hope that it survives the rest of the adventure. It never fails to amaze us how Louisiana manages to pick contractors that can't build a smooth Interstate Highway.

The Wine Leg

We didn't get away from Jacksonville until late on Thursday. We left Fox Valley around 2PM and immediately stopped for lunch and then gas. But being retired means being flexible and we flexed. It was obvious we would not make DeFuniak Springs that day so being flexible, we said "OK" "We'll stop there on Friday instead".

It worked out well as it gave us the opportunity to revisit one of the highlights of Florida, that being it's tallest waterfall. We decided to overnight at Falling Waters State Park to be able to view this marvel.

This looks promising, but we are actually standing in a sinkhole.

The reason it's the tallest in Florida is because the falls end at the bottom of a cylindrical hole thus accounting for the claimed 74 foot water drop. Still it was fun to see.

The next day we were off to Chatauqua Winery to replenish the wine cellar in Roadie. We started out empty and needed to fill it for the trip out West. We knew pretty much what we wanted but still had to sample a few types to ensure the right selections.

The sign is visible from I-10. They bottle great muscadine wines.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

D-day! It's time to hit the road.

D-day!! Today is the day we hit the road. Roadie is loaded and we're shutting down the house for our absence. We have to remember to turn down the thermostat, cover all the furniture, shut off the water, unplug all the electronics, and so on. That will take several hours on it's own.

The great cat experiment didn't work so our good friends Ron and Dale have offered to take care of them while we're gone. The great cat experiment consisted of two trial runs of camping with cats. The cats didn't think much of the experiment, so they get to stay home by themselves.

Cats voicing their opinions about camping.

Friend Jeanne will be handling our mail for us while we're gone, ever vigilant for that wayward bill we've forgotten about.

Roadie is ready and it's time to hit the road. First stop is DeFuniak Springs to restock the wine cabinet in Roadie.

Roadie is raring to go!