Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We’ve been a little delinquent in providing updates about life on the road.  A lot has happened since our last real update in January.  So here is a brief synopsis beginning May 2010.

This is about our second of three trips to Texas this year.  The first trip, in January, we covered pretty thoroughly in an earlier blog.  The next event was that we acquired a 34 foot diesel powered Class “A” motorhome.  Quite a step up from a 19 foot Roadtrek Class “B”.  A year’s search had finally yielded the motorhome we had been looking for.  It’s a Winnebago Itasca 34H with 2 slideouts.  It’s so big after being used to a 19 footer for 4 years.  Since our creative juices have not yet produced a satisfactory name for the new motorhome, we’re using “Big Guy”

This trip to Texas, which took place in May and June, was primarily focused on making sure Mom and Dad’s finances were in order.  Much time was spent learning Texas rules on assets, income and trusts.But Frank and EJ with the help of Frank's brother Terry and his wife Joy managed to successfully get everything into place to satisfy Texas.  Actually it was a pleasure working with the agencies here in Texas.  Everyone was very helpful.

By the time we pretty well had that wrapped up, we had endured all the 100+ degree weather we could and it was time to head to a cooler location.  Mom’s health was such that we didn’t want to travel more than a day’s drive away.  So we drew a circle around San Angelo to locate all of the mountains within a days drive.

There was no use checking North, East or South as there are no mountains or cool weather in those directions. So we checked out Ft. Davis, Tx and found it was not high enough .  The temperatures were still to hot.  The only direction left with mountains of any size were the Sacramento mountains which are West NorthWest of San Angelo.

Things were looking promising because Cloudcroft is over 8000 feet and the Solar observatory in Sunspot is over 9000 foot.  Things we’re looking good.  Temperature checks yielded figures near 80 degrees for highs and high 40’s low 50’s for overnight lows.  Destination locked in….off we go.

Ooops, side track.  In the last half hour of our trip to San Angelo we realized we had a serious generator problem.  The thing that makes 110v electricity for the coach.  It was overheating but we didn’t worry too much because we had a place to plug in at Dad’s.

They had to lift Big Guy to get the generator out - twice!!

I wanted to get it fixed before we headed off to the mountains because I wasn’t real sure where we were going to stay and we might even be boondocking.  The nearest authorized service center was Midland/Odessa where we made an appointment for noon on Thusday and off we went.  Long story shorter, everything the generator needed had to be delivered from somewhere else and always took at least overnight to get to Odessa.  5 days, and many new parts later, we were back on the road.  We still weren’t 100 percent positive the problem was fixed, but it looked promising.  (We’ve since put over a 100 hundred hours on the generator and are convinced Cummins Southern Plains in Odessa knew what they were doing)

Side track over, we’re back in search of cooler temperatures.  As we were heading up into the Sacramento Mountains, we kept checking the elevation and the temperature.  At 7000 feet things weren’t looking good.  Temperatures were still in the low 90’s.  On to 8000 feet.  Hmmmm….a little better.  Temperatures were now in the upper 80’s.  Well, on to 8663 feet, the elevation of Cloudcroft.  Temperatures were now near 80 degrees at about 5pm.  I guess this will have to do.  The campground was a little rustic but it quickly grew on us.

We had wifi, a beautiful view of the lake, a view of an open field and lots of humming birds.  This was the first time we had heard humming birds chirp constantly.

Their favorite trick was to soar way up into the sky, do a hammerhead stall, and dive bomb you. The campground office and several of the campers had hummingbird feeders out for the little guys.

And the best part, as the sun got lower in the sky it cooled off real fast.  At about sundown you needed a light jacket or sweater if you were sitting outside.
Playing tourist, we visited the Space museum in Alamagordo , a winery, the solar observatory in Sunspot, an old wooden railroad trestle just outside of Cloudcroft, the Lodge in Cloudcroft (very fancy for the area), the local cherry festival,  Inn of the Mountain Gods Casino  and Resort, a Civilian Conservation Corps fire tower, Ruidoso Downs, the Apache casino and more.  There’s plenty to do and see around the Cloudcroft area.

The first observatory at Sunspot was ordered from Sears and Roebuck.  It was a modified grain bin.
A week in the mountains was over all ready and it was time to head back to San Angelo.  We wanted to check in on Mom and Dad before we headed home.  Unfortunately, Mom had a stroke the 2nd day we were back and she had to go to the hospital again.  Another battery of tests and still no definitive answers.  Human bodies need on board computers you could plug into and read the error codes like you can with automobiles.  Although we did learn she had already had several ministrokes in the near past.  We stayed to help Dad out some more and finally we needed to head back to Orange Park.