Life

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A bit of a hike

View of campground and lake from the ridge

We have enjoyed Roper Lake. It is a quiet place and we’ve met some very nice folks while we’ve been here. The other night we spent it around a campfire with the couple next to us from Colorado. He was the Postmaster at Yellowstone for quite awhile but recently retired and they have some land in Colorado they eventually want to build on. He has had some health problems so they are just traveling full time this winter. They had a lot of great stories and we all laughed a lot and enjoyed a beautiful Arizona night. 
Steps up the trail
On Thursday we went out for a hike. There is a trail that goes up along the ridge behind the campground. It wasn’t too steep or too long but make for a nice little hike. Another of our neighbors, a couple from Albuquerque, told us they had seen a Great Horned owl in the trees at the day use area so we went to find it. Met them out there looking again too. Laurie was just sure she had found it, pointing to the area. John said “it sure looks like a squirrel to me” and sure enough that’s what it was. All she had seen were the little ears sticking up. John had fun teasing her about the squirrely looking owl. The real owl was no where to be found. I did have the pleasure of listening to him the night before after we went to bed.
I don’t think I mentioned before that this campground has it’s own hot tub. The water in it is from a natural hot springs. We haven’t tried it out but mainly because I would call it more a “warm tub” vs a hot tub. I did take a few pics of it.
Natural Hot Tub
Tomorrow will be a travel day. We are headed toward Phoenix and are hoping to stay at Cave Creek a Maricopia regional park. John has decided on a Banks exhaust system and brake package and Banks set us up with one of their certified installers in Phoenix. Cave Creek is the closest of the Maricopia parks to him. We know they are popular and will call ahead as we travel to check on availability. There are two other Maricopia parks in the area as well, McDowell Mountain and Usery that are also possibilities. We also have several people we would like to visit in the area. It looks like we can stay up to two weeks and still make Vegas with a stop in between so we don’t have to travel any long days.
Our squirrel siteing
Happy trails.................

Friday, October 29, 2010

Roper Lake


Well, John is working on some research things so it may be a little while before I get him back to the blog. We are going to add an exhaust brake to the truck, so far I think it is the Banks system he is going to go with. We’d like to get it done when we are in the Phoenix area. Pulling this trailer he’d just like to be safer on the mountain passes.
Gamble or California Quail
We are really enjoying Roper Lake. Not many people here but the ones that are here are very friendly. A couple from the Albuquerque and another from Colorado. It looks like there should be more people coming in today as most of the reserve sites have tags on them. We look right out on the lake and the rushes. This park was one of the ones set to close due to budget cuts here in Arizona but the local communities saved it. The cattails have really grown up here and you can’t see as much of the lake as previously but there isn’t money in the budget to control their growth (or so we were told). However, the birds love it.
There are some birds here we hadn’t encountered before, not that they are all that rare, they just don’t populate the area around where we have camped before. The first night the Gamble or California Quail was hanging around our site. The feather on the front of their head is cool. The lake is filled with American Coots. The rushes are filled with a bird it took awhile for us to identify but looks to be the Yellow Headed Blackbird (Judy, maybe you could confirm that for me). There are huge flocks of them hanging out in the cattails and they are very loud. It is hard to get very close for a photo but with the long lens and the cropping tool I finally was able to get a close enough look for identification. There was an owl hooting last night when I went to bed that I think is a Great Horned Owl. Laurie, one of the neighbor told us you can see it in the trees over in the day use area. I’ll have to check that out and see if I can get a photos.
American Coot
We have been relatively lazy lately, which has been nice. We did get the bikes down and rode through the park and today we are going to hike a couple trails. They aren’t very long so it shouldn’t be too stressful. We hope you all enjoy your day.
Yellow Headed Blackbirds?
Happy trails...........

From Day use area. Our Excel is the one on the left.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Deming to Safford AZ

I know we didn't write much about Deming. Nice little town, good to see my aunt and cousins that I haven't seen in 15 years. They had 2 nice wineries too - St Clair and Las Lunes. Of course we had to try the local product and now after our NM visit we have lots of wine to drink - oh, how we suffer. The campground was basically a gravel parking lot with hook ups but what you do find at Escapees parks are wonderful people who are willing to share their vast knowledge on RVing, something we always value and a good price.
View from our camper door 


Marshes across from site
We left this morning for Roper lake State park in Arizona. Only a 3 hour trip and this is a great place. The campground isn't anything special but the views are outstanding. Mountains in the distance and the lake and marsh area right out our door. I've already seen a couple birds that are new to us. I'll write more on that later when I get a few more photos. For now we are just taking in the view and relaxing in our recliners.  We are certainly enjoying our new lifestyle.


Happy trails............
Our current campsite 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Last Days in Calsbad

Guadalupe Mountains on our way to Deming NM

Well, I am writing this as we travel along US62 on our way to Deming NM. We really enjoyed our time in the Carlsbad area. Brantley Lake is our kind of place. A nice campground with beautiful views. I met a lady here that is a snow bird. She stays all winter between Brantley Lake and another NM park north of here Bottomless Lake. She just loves this area and I have say at $14 a day, it is economically. I could see staying in this area about 2-4 weeks but after that I think I would want to move on. 
full moon over the campground


One of the things we really haven’t talked about is that Carlsbad is where John was born. His dad was a mining engineer and was here with the Potash mines. Potash is still being mined in the area. Neither of us has a clue as to what they use potash for. They lived in Carlsbad until he was four.  He has a few memories of the area. His first girlfriend, Vicky, lived across the street and the house they lived in was one his dad designed and had built. We drove past the house and he really didn’t remember it and it looked a lot smaller than he remembered. We did take a photo, hope no one thought that was strange. 
John's 1st home

Carlsbad today looks like it has been hit hard by the downturn in the economy, lots of empty stores. Friday we walked around the downtown area. Walked through a very nice gallery and even found something we may want for a birthday gift for one of the boys. I took a couple cards. We also wanted to check out the Trinity Hotel. It is home for the Balzano winery, another of New Mexico winery. We tried several of their NM reds, three of which were Balzano wines and decided on a glass of their Shiraz. The restaurant didn’t open until 5 but the wine bar opened at 3, the menu looked wonderful and the smells made us decide to return for dinner. Dinner was also very good. This is a very upscale restaurant but reasonably priced. One thing you noticed at  restaurants like these is that the portions are more reasonably sized. Though sometimes it is nice to take some home and get a deal. I think we still eat too much when the portion sizes are so large. The meal was delicious, we both had pasta. I had a lobster and cheese ravioli and John had the manicotti. We had enough room for desert so had a wonderful tiaramisu. I forgot to mention at the wine tasting they gave us (on the house) their signature appetizer. It is a goat cheese with a caliente blackberry sauce with walnuts. it is amazing and has a real kick to it. It ended up being a nice romantic after noon and dinner a nice way to end our time in Carlsbad. 
Trinity Hotel Restaurant and Wine Bar
Saturday was a cooler day so we used it to go for a long hike in the park. We walked to the day use area and then did the wildlife trail again. The first time it was too hot to go all the way to the visitor center. We got about 4 miles in and then spent the rest of the day preparing for our move. Now on to Deming and visiting with some of my relatives.
Brantley Lake by the boat ramp
Happy trails..........

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bugs of New Mexico by the DH

John's still writing! Yipee!! to Judy, the flamingo's stick has been ailing lately and John hasn't decided how to fix it yet, soon he should be back up, that would be cool if the aliens visited him. Now for the real post:




Site1-Human

One of the local trails here has numbered posts along the route with a guide that explains something about whatever it is you’re looking at. In this case, what you’re looking at is a concrete impression of what various local animal tracks would look like if that animal had stepped in wet concrete. (Just to be thorough, the first station was for a barefoot human although you would have to be demented to be walking through the scrub without shoes. Thick soled hiking boots would be best.) We never saw tracks of anything other than in the concrete patches, but we did see a jackrabbit. And some bugs.

I was washing the rig today and got to wondering if it might be possible to identify bugs by the splatter pattern they leave. They’re not as consistent as animal tracks, but you might be able to puzzle out some characteristics of the deceased bug, depending on the speed of impact and the surface it met. The bugs that managed to hit the cooling fins behind the truck grill are easy, since most of the bug is still there. This bug population should be representative of what hit the truck grill and the front of the rig so we have a shopping list of bugs to match to their splatter patterns along with a rough frequency of occurrence.

Most of the bugs are nat size and just leave a single splat about the size of the original bug. No way to tell how many of them were those really annoying biting ones, but good riddance. The larger ones include dragonflies and butterflies, with about twice as many dragonflies as butterflies. The wings and stuff are gone, so it’s hard to tell what’s what but I’m guessing the dragonflies make the bigger mess. Also, there’s at least one bug that doesn’t just spread out on the gel coat; it seems to bond with it.

I didn’t see many grasshoppers behind the grill, but they’re all over the campground so I’m thinking they just don’t stick to the cooling fins as well as some bugs. Also, some of the bugs were from Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma so I’m not even sure which ones are from New Mexico. But I’m sure New Mexico has mosquitos. And flies.
View from the visitors center Carlsbad Caverns

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Roswell NM

We’ll give John a break today. I am amazed I got him to do 3 posts in one week.  He is a talented writer and a funny guy and I encourage him to share his talent. I don’t mind writing but I enjoy his posts so much that I’m hoping I can get him to do at least a couple  a week.

Yesterday we drove up to Roswell NM. We may have been abducted but I am not sure yet. When we were at Carlsbad Caverns it did look like another planet. Many of you know this is where an alien craft was suppose to have landed with a couple aliens that the government quickly stepped in and covered up. The UFO museum and research center is here and it lays out all the info of the time to support the theory that it was really aliens. It is all pretty interesting but I’m not sure I buy it. I don’t discount that life could exisit outside this galaxy but what I do have trouble with is how they are always portrayed. Have you noticed they always seem to have a humanoid form. I mean not that they look just like us but they always seem to have eyes, nose , mouth, arms, legs etc. Or at least some of these in some combination. I’m not sure that would be the case, we might not even recognize that it was an alien. Hmmm. I need think about this some more.
Inside the UFO Museum



John's favorite bumper stickers
We also visited the Pecos Flower Winery. Sat and did a tasting with Dale, the bartender. They only carry New Mexico wines. It is kind of hard to believe they grow grapes here but they do. He says there is an underground river that runs through southern New Mexico and they use it to irrigate the vines. Wine growing came to New Mexico with the Catholic Missionaries as they needed wine for communion. There is one monastery here that still makes wine. We bought a Cabernet that is the first born wine of the Pecos Flower winery. It was actually quite good. 
Our wine selection from Pecos Flowers

Returned home just before the weather changed. There were storm warnings last night and they predicted heavy rain, hail and high winds. We were wondering how this campsite on top of the hill would weather the storm. We did get the rain but no hail and no problems with the wind. We are really enjoying this park and I am glad we decided to stay a week. We have done a couple fun things and we have had a chance to kick back. Now I have to work on our next move.We will take off Sunday or Monday. Not sure if we will go to Deming NM or stay around Las Cruces.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Carlsbad NM

Ok everyone, I've really got him going now, lets see how long I can keep him blogging. Oh, and to Laurie and George, John liked the You Tube idea now if he could just convince me that we have $300 extra to buy one. (lol)
Here's Johnny!!!!
Sunset Brantley lake



Carlsbad (DH)
We’re camped out just north of Carlsbad enjoying some great views. The evenings are cool enough to be outside, so we made some margaritas and Janie’s taking pictures of the sunset. I’m trying to ignore the mosquitos. They’re ignoring my bug spray.

Earlier I was out here by myself veging out with a book when a roadrunner walked right up to me, gave me a quick once-over and walked back into the scrub. It might have been a sign that I should live in the desert and follow the ways of the roadrunner. Or maybe it meant I should have another margarita.

Today we visited our first National Park: Carlsbad Caverns. Totally impressed. Did you know bats pollinate the cactus tequila is made from? So without bats, there would be no margaritas. Yea bats.
Formation in the caverns

Speaking of which, we are now out of tequila. This tequila was a retirement present from some friends (thanks Brenda and Rick). Patron. Not sure what’s it’s going to cost, but I hope Walmart carries it.



Monday, October 18, 2010

Rule the Air by the DH

Sunset Lake Brantley Oct.17th

Verizon has been promoting their latest slogan to “rule the air” with their cell phones, but my brother was having fun with it by suggesting it might apply to other situations also. I was pondering this while we were camped at Quartz Mountain (did I mention we had no TV stations that could be reached by our antenna?) thinking it might be more applicable to the United States Air Force: they’ve demonstrated they “rule the air” on numerous occasions by applying superior technology and training to their battle space.

So I was contemplating my local air space in the RV where a few flies were kicking my ass. These were the normal annoying flies that like to hang out inside the RV like they owned it. I had the clear advantage of brain power, but I didn’t have the technology to control my air space. The best I could do was a fly swatter, and then only if the flies would land in a spot where I could smash them. I had nothing to knock them out of the air. I needed more technology.

With Google, I quickly found you can actually buy one watt green lasers that can ignite matches. That should work. Not sure what it would do other living things, but it should destroy a fly. Just $300. Now If I could just aim it and maybe even track the fly with it. It would be really cool if the fly would actually ignite. Not so cool if I blinded the wife.

In the mean time, I’ve been perfecting my fly swatter technique and I’ve gotten much better. Turns out, speed is not the key: accuracy counts too. I used to think you had to hit the fly while it was on the ground, but you can go in slower and allow the fly to lift off into the swatter before you slam it back into the ground. Same result, but slower is more accurate and easier to clean up after. And it didn’t cost me $300. But that laser would be so cool. And I love green.

Sunset Lake Brantley Oct.18

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ready to move & Hockey

Today was a day to just get things done. We needed to do laundry and get a few groceries. The closest laundromat was in Altus about 16 miles away - not bad. It is big enough to have a Super Wal-Mart so we knew we could get groceries too. We had heard the little town of Blair was having a Bluegrass festival and it was on the way to Altus so thought we would check it out on the way through. It would make a fun activity. Well there was one sign that said “Bluegrass Festival”  but no sign of the festival???  Oh well so much for that and it is back to the weekly duties. 
Heron on the reservoir 
On the way into Altus we passed a Walgreens and the sign reminded me we hadn’t had our flu shots yet so in we go. I always hate this shot because it makes my arm sore but I had Influenza B once and that was enough. True influenza is hell - first you think your going to die then you just wish you would and then you finally get better, very,very, slowly. So as much as I complain about my sore arm, and John will tell you I complain plenty, it is much better than having influenza. The gal giving us our shots also gave us directions to the laundromat. 
So laundry is done and the cupboards refilled. We leave tomorrow. The plan is similar to our last move. We have decided to head towards Carlsbad NM and there really isn’t anywhere on the way we are interested in staying so we will drive tomorrow and try to stay at a Wal Mart lot and go into Calsbad on Monday. Once we get to New Mexico there are more places we are interested in investigating so I think our travel will slow down.
Quartz mountain has been a nice change of pace. We have been really lazy except for the day we hiked. It is a beautiful place and I have had fun with the camera but we are ready to move on.
Tonight I am having fun with the internet. I have 3 fellas playing hockey that I am trying to follow. So I have the audio feed of the Cedar Rapids Roughriders, they are ahead 3-1(Brady is in goal), The Rio Grand Killer Bees on Pointstreak live (Sean Muncy has had a shot on goal and a penalty) and the Minnesota Golden Gophers game on a Facebook feed (last check they are down 2-0 to UNO). Won’t know how Kevin Wehrs did until after the game ends.  Gotta keep up with my kids, even the ones I only had for a little while.


Here is a little chuckle for you. The  photo above is a bridge from the Quartz Mountain Lodge to their music center. Notice the ground beneath it.
This is the sign as you cross the bridge.  Duh!!!!!


Hockey Update: Roughriders win 4-1,  Bees are down by one, Minnesota is down by 2 but Kevin scores a goal.


Happy trails........

Friday, October 15, 2010

John's thoughts on retirement

Told you he was working on this so here it is........




The Retirement Party
This blog has two voices; mostly Janie but occasionally I contribute also. I’m the DH but I don’t always cooperate as much as some would like so maybe “dear husband” doesn’t fit as well as baseball’s “designated hitter”. I think I like that better anyway: I’m not the featured player, but sometimes I get to bat.

When I graduated from college in 1975, I figured I should get a job. The Navy had a job for me, but they wanted to send me back to school for nuclear engineering (I graduated as a mechanical engineer). That was ok, and it had the added incentive of being my only offer. That was until Rockwell came back for their second round of interviews. They wanted a mechanical engineer and I wanted a job. Perfect. Rockwell apparently was hiring a bunch a new grads that year. It was like being on campus again, only with money. Lots of new friends and we had lots of fun. None of us thought we would be working for Rockwell forever, but some of us were wrong. Jump forward 35 years and there I was: retiring from the same company I had started working for. Amazing.

The retirement party that looked like a good idea in June started to look like work in August. There were so many things going on and a party just added to the list. But sometimes things just have a way of working out and this party was on rails. The boys stepped up for grilling the brats and their friends joined in also. Another coworker who was also retiring joined us and his family jumped in to help. And on the day of the party the weather was perfect.

It was an open invitation, so it was hard to figure how many would attend. I certainly didn’t think that some of the guys I had started working with 35 years ago would show up. I hadn’t seen them in years but there they were, from as far away as Colorado and Nebraska. My aunt and cousin also drove in from Wisconsin. Lots of friends and coworkers. What a great way to celebrate a retirement. I wasn’t able to spend as much time as I would have liked with everyone, but it was great to see them again.
Retirement
We first became interested in full time RVing after reading about the experiences of others who were actually doing it. Not just the good things, but all the dumb stuff that happens too. So to carry on the tradition, I’m offering up some of the stuff that has happened since we’ve retired; not as an example of how it should be done, but just because that’s what we’ve been doing.
I’ve only been retired for about six weeks. The longest vacation I’ve had before that was two weeks. So what’s retirement like? It’s sweet.

I thought retirement might be like an extended vacation, but it hasn’t been like that. Our vacations were often planned months in advance, and we tried to pack as much as we could (or as much as we could afford) into a couple of weeks. But eventually we knew we would have to get back to our normal lives and maybe even looked forward to reconnecting with friends and finding out what happened while we were away.

One of the places the road to retirement has led
Retirement has been different. A friend of mine had a shirt that described retirement as “no schedule, no job, no money”. He also had a clock with days of the week instead of numbers. I can appreciate the clock now: I usually have to consult my phone to find out what day it is. The shirt was partially right: I don’t have a job. We have some money coming in, just not as much. And we sometimes have a schedule, but scheduled events are less frequent. A lot less frequent. We sleep in more and stay up later. Sometimes we don’t have any TV channels where we’re camping, so we might go weeks without TV, but we’ve always had internet (we use Verizon’s data card with a Cradlepoint router). We both have more time to read. 
Some deer visiting John outside the RV

I kept a few tools but the only power tool I have is a drill. The tools come in handy because I still fix stuff (like Clint Eastwood’s character in Grand Torino). I still have a list of things to work on, but nothing that has to be done right away.
Some more friendly deer
I spend less time on the computer now that I don’t work, even less than Janie. She keeps me up to date with our travel plans and what’s happening on some of the blogs we follow and some facebook stuff. I still don’t have a facebook account but that may change. Someday. I might put it on my list of things to do.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quartz Mountain

On the road in the Flint Hills of Kansas
We have now added Kansas and Oklahoma to our states visited in the RV. We arrived around noon at Quartz Mountain Nature Park. We are in the Scissortail campground in a long pull-through site with FHU and 50 amp and it is only $22.00 a night. We are happy campers. We have just started investigating the park. There is a short paved bike trail, only about 1.5 miles long but it is nice. Looks like there will be some great hiking opportunities too. We are going to check that out tomorrow. Besides the “Mountains”, more like big rocky hills there also is a reservoir lake which is beautiful. There are deer every where. It is deer hunting season in Oklahoma and the deer seem to know that there is no hunting in the state park so they are hanging out here with us. The ones we came across today seem unaffected by our presence.
Along the lake


It has been a hard day for John. He started today by cutting his head on the vanity door. He has a nice long cut along his forehead. Then when we were setting up he took things out of the compartment under the hitch and when I went to level the rig we found out when we hit them. It made the door not fit right so while I was taking a walk he was fixing the door. That is, after he had a little rant about how stupid we are. We are still on that learning curve for newbies and he gets a little hard on himself. Once he has his rant he settles down and is  his laid back self.
paved bike trail
Neighbor says this is a buzzard (vulture?)
One thing I forgot to mention is that while in KC we bought 2 new recliners at Nebraska Furniture Mart. We had the Euro recliners and while we liked the way they looked we could tell they wouldn’t hold up well so while we had a taker for them (Walt) we bought 2 new Lazy-boy burgundy leather recliners. They look great and are nice and comfy. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wal-Mart

Yes we are parked in a Wal-Mart in western Oklahoma. To all our friends who told us we weren't real RVers until we had an overnight here --we have arrived!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Time with family

We’ve been in KC for almost a week now and it has been a busy one. Our main reason for being here was to visit family. We have had a wonderful time doing just that. John’s brother and his family are here with the exception of one son (Mark) who is teaching in South Korea. If you are catching this Mark, we missed you!

Niece Mary and her husband Daryl have a little boy, Bennett, that just turned one about a month ago. This was our first time to see him and what a cutie and of course a photographers dream. He is learning to walk which is a treat to see. It just takes me back to when my own sons were doing that. Where does the time go???
Daryl and niece Julie both had birthdays this week so Friday we went to a local Pizza place, Stone Canyon, for a great night of pizza and then back to Mary and Daryl’s new house. Just a nice night with family.
Hockey anyone?
Saturday, brother Walt and nephew Andy took John and I to a minor league hockey game. We have seen plenty of junior hockey and college hockey but this our first minor league experience. Great arena. The hockey is a little different, the pace is similar to the USHL but there is a lot of fighting. Now I don’t mind a good hockey fight. I learned to understand the whole thing from the fellas who lived with us but I don’t think it should overshadow the whole game. They did say there were more fights in this game than usual. It was great to see hockey though. I took my camera in as hockey is my favorite thing to shoot. The ticket people didn’t say anything so I took it that it was ok but when I got to my seat and took a photo of Walt and John the usher came and told me professional cameras are not allowed. He really would have had a fit if he’d seen the long lens John carried in for me. Oh well, no hockey photos.
Andy's TV
Dave & Kelley
Sunday was a day to watch football on Andy’s huge TV (the KC Chiefs were on, too bad they lost). Then to Lawrence KS to have dinner with my brother Dave and wife Kelly. I don’t see them nearly enough. They have a beautiful home and we had and enjoyable dinner together. Their son Nick joined us for a little while too. He and John talked trucks. 
Not sure what today holds. It is a rainy day so something inside. We are waiting for our mail (via UPS) to show up at Walt’s, we hope today. Our plan is to leave out tomorrow morning if the mail comes or we may have to wait until Wednesday morning. We are headed into Oklahoma with our eye on a State Park called Quartz Mountain. I found it in my research and it looks to be the kind of place we will enjoy. It is about 8-9 hours from here so we are thinking we may drive a long day and boondock at a Wal-Mart and then have a short drive to the park the next day. We will see. We have been told we aren’t true RVers until we have spent a night in a Wal-Mart lot. :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Kansas City Zoo





Thursday John had a great idea to visit the Kansas City Zoo. We have been to many Zoos in the midwest but never this one. His brother said it had been 20 years since he had been there. So off to the Zoo we went. I put the long lens on my camera and was as excited as any little kid. It was a beautiful summer like day and being a weekday there were very few people there. It is a nice little zoo. We have been to better zoos, Omaha being our favorite but this was very enjoyable. So today I will just share with you a few photos from the Kansas City Zoo.