Sunset in PV

Sunset in PV

Monday, October 31, 2011

October 23 - 31, 2011 "Childress, TX to San Antonio, TX"

We arrived in Childress, and got set up at the Best Western RV Park, which is only a few blocks from CC’s daughter’s house. But, come to think about it, EVERYTHING in Childress is only a few blocks from anywhere in town. CC and I prepared a dinner of penne pasta with sausage, crimini mushrooms, onion, and green peppers in a savory marinara sauce, and Letta and Billy arrived around 6 pm. We had a wonderful visit over dinner and shared a glass of wine.

On our last visit, we journeyed to Palo Duro Canyon Sate Park, so today we decided on the closer and lesser Caprock Canyons State Park, 100 miles southeast of Amarillo in Briscoe County, which opened in 1982. It consists of 15,313.6 acres (including the Trailway, a 64.25 mile Rail-to-Trail conversion, acquired by donation in 1992 from a Railroad entrepreneur). This acquisition added recreational adventure, stretching from the western terminus at South Plains up on top of the caprock escarpment to the eastern terminus of Estelline in the Red River Valley. This multi-use trail (hike, bike, and equestrian), opened in 1993, stretches the park through Floyd, Briscoe, and Hall counties crossing 46 bridges and running through Clarity tunnel, one of the last active railroad tunnels in Texas. The 64.25 miles of the Trailway are open to the public from Estelline to South Plains. (As usual, click on any image to enlarge.)

The escarpment's scenic canyons were home for Indians of several cultures, including the Folsom culture of more than 10,000 years ago. A decrease or disappearance of some species, from Folsom times to present, indicates a gradual drying and perhaps warming of the climate. Later paleolithic hunters, associated with the Plainview culture, also occupied the area from 8000-9,000 years ago. Only slight traces of these people have been found at Caprock Canyons. As the climate became increasingly drier, the period of hunting and gathering cultures began. Smaller animals, as well as plant materials, made up the diet of the people. The Archaic period lasted from 8,000 to 2,000 years ago. Artifacts from this period include boiling pebbles for heating food, grinding stones for processing seeds, oval knives, and corner-notched or indented dart points. The Neo-Indian state was characterized by the appearance of arrow points and pottery. During the latter part of this period, 800 years ago until the Spanish exploration, permanent settlements were established, and agriculture was being practiced to some extent. These people traded Alibates flint for pottery, turquoise, and obsidian from the Puebloan groups to the west.

The region's historic era began when Spanish explorer Coronado traveled across the plains in 1541. After Spanish colonies were established in New Mexico around 1600, two-way trade between Plains Indians and New Mexicans began and gradually increased. The Plains Apache, present when Coronado arrived, acquired horses and became proficient buffalo hunters. They were displaced by the Comanche, who arrived in the early 1700s and dominated northwestern Texas, until they were finally subdued in the 1870s. During the Comanche reign, trade prospered and New Mexican buffalo hunters, known as ciboleros, and traders, known as Comancheros, were frequent visitors to this area. Las Lenguas Creek, a few miles south of the park, was a major trade area, and a site excavated on Quitaque Creek has produced artifacts indicating that it may have been a cibolero camp.

After 1874, Anglo settlement began, counties were organized, and ranches were established. Famed cattleman Charles Goodnight moved cattle into Palo Duro Canyon in 1876. In 1882, he bought vast areas of land for John G. Adair, who became owner of the noted J. A. Ranch. The land on which the park is located was included in the purchase. A railroad was built into this area in 1887, and by 1890, the town of Quitaque, with a population of 30, was a regular stage stop. The use of suitable lands for farming increased as more settlers arrived in the early 1900s, but most of the broken country is still ranch land. After passing through the hands of several owners, most of the land that now lies within park boundaries was acquired in 1936 by Theo Geisler, who died on August 15, 1969. The state purchased the land in 1975, and the park's Lake Theo was named after Geisler.

No family outing would be complete without at least one family photo. From left to right, CC and I, CC's daughter, Letta Jo, and her husband Billy Don, and far right, Letta’s son, Lane, (with hat and sunglasses), and his girlfriend Mary.

Missing from the family photo is Hurley, which belonged to Lane, but now resides with Grandparents Billy Don and Letta Jo. (Bet THAT hasn't happened to anyone else. LOL) We speculate that he is part Boxer, part Pit Bull, and part Spook. When surprised, his bark and demeanor would indicate Pit Bull and/or Boxer, but most of the time he is just Hurley being Hurley. Such a sweet face!

After a wonderful visit in Childress, we departed via US-287S to US-281S, in route to Coffee Creek Campground in Santo, TX. The trip thankfully, was uneventful. We bucked a pretty stiff head wind, but arrived unscathed around 3 pm. This is a fairly new, very pleasant RV park, one of the nicest we have stayed in; paved roads, wide lots, extremely clean restrooms with spacious showers, and a great hot tub and pool. Who would have thunk it in Santo?

We made our way, continuing southward on US-281 to Elmendorf, TX, on the southeast side of San Antonio, to Braunig Lake RV Resort, where we will lay up a few days in order for Allen from San Antonio RV to repair our Dometic refrigerator. It has been giving us an error code “ER-13”, and that indicates that the heating element in the freezer defroster is not working properly. From here we will venture southward to Mission, TX, where we have an appointment to get the oil changed at Camping World, before we park for the winter. (Cummins STRONGLY recommends that the oil be changed before letting the engine sit for prolonged periods without running.) From Camping World, we will take 83W to Weslaco, where we will once again winter at Country Sunshine.

Until next time, take care and stay well……………………..

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October 10 - 22, 2011 "Oklahoma City Area"

Two weeks in Oklahoma City went by sooo quickly. CC spent the majority of her days de-cluttering her mom’s house, making it easier for her (Jo) to navigate, while I managed to arrange for a new windshield and repair a few small items on the motorhome (MH).

Since CC and I partially grew up in the area, we still have many friends here, and trying to catch up with all of them is nearly impossible, but I did manage to have lunch with Sid before he bolted off to Perry for a wrestling coaches meeting. John and Vicki invited us for the OSU-Texas game, and we collectively prepared a lasagna dinner with two of their kids, Daniel and Danae, who were home from college on mid-tern break. Chuck and Kelly drove up from Norman for dinner at Rococos, where we met Bobby, the Oklahoma equivalent to Ted Nugent. Before Rick headed to Key West for his daughter’s wedding, we squeezed in a dinner at Trapper’s. We took Jo on the 45 minute drive to Okarche, and dined at Eischen’s Bar for their famous fried chicken featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. CC and I also managed a lunch at Spencers BBQ and one (or two) at Braums. And last but not least, no visit to Oklahoma would be complete without a meal at Hideaway Pizza. CC and I both gained a few pounds as we dined on our favorites, and re-connected with friends from our youth. Thanks to all. We can only hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

The Dometic refrigerator has been giving us a “ER 13” flashing code for the past few weeks. After researching it, I discovered that more than likely it is a bad heating element in the freezer defroster drain tube. I called Lee’s RV in OKC to see if they would be able to order the part and install it. The first question they asked was if I bought the MH from them, to which I replied, “no”. Immediately they said it would be mid-November before they could look at it. Well, OK then. Since we are headed south, I found and authorized Dometic dealer in San Antonio, aptly named San Antonio RV, and called them to inquire about the possibility of fixing the refer. After a brief conversation with Allen, he said he would call Dometic and call me back. A few days later he called and said he had the part, and to just call him when we arrived in san Antonio. That was easy; the way it should be.

We left Oklahoma City on Wednesday, and traveled 220 miles SW to Childress, TX, to spend some time with CC’s daughter, Letta and her husband Billy. CC’s grandson, Lane, is living and working about 4-5 hours away in Andrews, TX, so the verdict is still out on whether or not he will show up to give CC a neck hug.

From here, we will head south. No definite route planned, and that’s the way we like it. Until next time, take care and stay well………………..

Sunday, October 9, 2011

October 4 – 9, 2011 “Pheasant onto Glass”

After a wonderful month in Colorado, we departed CherryCreek State Park on Tuesday morning. When we started the engine, I noticed an unusual sound of a small motor emanating from the front of the rig, so I unlatched the generator compartment to take a look see. The source of the noise was quickly and easily identified as a vacuum pump; but why was it running constantly? Before we hit the road, I decided it was probably prudent if we stopped at RV America in Aurora and got it diagnosed. The service manager took one look and listen, and said the motor would stop running when we got to a lower altitude where the air wasn’t as thin. He was correct. Soon after crossing into Kansas the pump quit running constantly. We learn something new every day on this adventure.

We made it the 340 miles to Hays, KS, arriving about 6:00 pm. After provisioning at Wally World, we declared this the “first boondocking” in the new rig. The next morning we topped off the diesel with 84 gallons at $3.53 per gallon, and headed eastward on I-70 shortly after 8 am.

In the 30+ years we have traveled this route, there has ALWAYS been road construction, and this trip would be no different, as the road narrowed to 2 lanes just east of Russell, and the speed limit reduced to 60. I had my hands full trying to avoid orange construction cones, coupled with a 25 mph side wind hitting us broadside, at times almost forcing me into oncoming traffic. 


“What the hell was that? It sounded like a gunshot.” As soon as I uttered those words, my eyes were drawn to a different area of the windshield. (Click on image to enlarge)

The only thing CC saw, out of the corner of her eye, was a bird flying, and then “Wham”.  As we slowed to 50 mph, I wondered IF the windshield would stay intact until we got to Salina. Luckily for us, it did, as we gingerly drove the 30 miles to Safelite for a closer and professional inspection. Matt, the service manager, told us we were the third vehicle this week that has come in after hitting a pheasant. He also said the windshield “would probably hold together” but if we got stopped by a Kansas State Trooper, they would more than likely ticket us AND not let us drive it until the windshield was replaced.

I had that “Have you ever been to Vegas?” feeling, "How lucky do you feel?"; not sure if that’s bad or good, as I once again looked around for Murphy. We called our insurance company, and the soonest they could arrange for a replacement windshield in Salina was 3 days. Our other option, limp on for 250 miles into Oklahoma City, straight south into 25-35 mph head winds. This time, CC and I both looked around for that Irish lad, and he was nowhere to be found. So…………………next stop Oklahoma City, providing our Guardian Angel was present and up for the task.

We decided to bypass the Kansas Turnpike from Wichita to the Oklahoma border, knowing there are usually one or more State Troopers at the gate. Keeping our speed between 50 and 55, coupled with the head winds, was the equivalent force on the windshield of driving 75 – 90 mph. We finally arrived at Twin Fountains RV Park in Oklahoma City around 6:30 pm. Thank you GA!

We’ll be here for a couple of weeks visiting family and friends. CC is having one-on-one time with her Mom, under the guise of helping her clean house.  (Translation for us guys: Girl talk and shopping)

Until next time, take care and stay well. Thanks for stopping by.

ps Seems like we may have left the Denver area in the nick of time. In the comments below, Zoe mentioned the change in weather, and posted this picture of their fountain / waterfall on her Facebook page.

Monday, October 3, 2011

September 18 - October 3, 2011 "Cherry Creek State Park CO"

After returning from Powell, we needed some R&R. For those of you that have been, understand, and for those of you that haven’t, it’s no cake walk. Actually it took only a few days to unpack, clean, and store the items that won’t be used until next year, but one has to ask the question “Is it worth it?”

CC has been busy reuniting with old friends and workplace associates, with the customary lunches and happy hours. Since we only have one vehicle, while she has been whooping it up until the wee hours of the morning, I’ve had my nose to the grindstone, re-arranging the basement and eliminating duplicate (or semi-duplicate) items. After 3 trips to Wally World for plastic storage trays, I can now declare the basement “tolerable and manageable”.

While here in the Denver Area, we have also been invited by friends Tom and Leslie for a Mexican Fiesta dinner complete with the best damn margarita ever. Dave and Jeannie offered up some “Q” from Tony’s and also imbibed on a few adult beverages. Fellow Goldwingers and RV’ers Ed and Bev visited us in Elizabeth. Our old neighbors Gary and Michelle, along with their 2 kids,  (German Shorthaired Pointers, Cash and Windy) joined us for simple, and slightly overcooked burgers and Michelle’s homemade brownies. Another friend, Jeanne, from the "hood" stopped by for a visit and a chance to catch up on what has happened since we moved. To all, a heartfelt thank you. We enjoyed every minute of our visit, and value deeply your friendships.

Rick and Zoe cut off our electricity in Elizabeth, due to non-payment of rent, forcing us to move to Cherry Creek State Park. (Not really…..just kidding……but they did threaten to…. Really….Would I BS you?)

On Friday morning, Rick and Zoe joined us at the campground in their motorhome. (I personally think they felt bad about forcing us to move, and were just trying to make amends….Really) Later in the day James and Jenna arrived, and later that evening Steve and Penny pulled in, to totally disparage me and my synopsis of the situation. So, ......  this had been planned(?); imagine that!  With that said, only one thing to do; Party On!  All pictures and videos of the weekend were destroyed, to protect the innocent(?).  All kidding aside, we had a great time and truly enjoy the company and friendships of the "innocent".

Our plans for the next couple of weeks are to move southward to Oklahoma, to visit CC’s mom, and to catch up with old friends there. I’m not ready to move, as the weather here has been just perfect; highs in the 80’s with lows in the 50’s. (Perfect for getting your sleep on!) But as the old adage reminds us, “All good things must come to an end”. So with that……………….

Until next time, take care, stay well, and thanks for stopping by.