About blogengeezer

My other site http://daflikkers.blogspot.com/ has my life story in the right sidebar. Weekly posts are about whatever crosses my thoughts and travel in the USA. http://blogengeezer.wordpress.com/ and http://interglacial.wordpress.com/ are History of climate extremes on Earth.

Last Holiday Rambler trip of the year

 

We loaded up the old coach for one last short trip on a Wednesday afternoon. We were not exactly sure the destination following, but sure about Datil Well National Campground NM RV sites…. without ‘individual site’ water or elec.

Invited also to Conchas Lake NM with son and wife, to watch the water overflow the dam for the first time in twenty years, but distance is wrong way for this trip.

Datil NM National Forest Camp site costs are $5 a night, $2.50 for holders of Golden Age [was previously Golden Eagle, which I liked better]. The National Park pass [good for life] now costs $80. It was $10 for countless years ‘way back when old Hector was a pup’ 😊

150 miles from ABQ, Datil on edge of Gila National Wilderness near Arizona state line, is relatively short drive. Beautiful weather for camping and hiking. Nice scenic drive through altimeter 6,000′ rolling hills, box canyons, high desert, and surrounding mountain ranges.

Very quiet camp. Ground squirrels look like the tree variety, but primarily live in tunnel systems. Gathering the Pinon seeds is their ongoing project for winter survival. Always interesting camping remote, self sufficient, away from civilization, with birds and wildlife to observe on arrival.

Lots of Flickers, Finches, Crows, Hawks and other interesting birds migrating through on way to Mexico for winter. Navigator reads books while camped in remote areas. She finishes large books, historically based novels, or non-fiction, in 24 hours… with only minor disturbances.

The five camp ground water faucets are still working this trip in mid October, spaced among the 24 camp sites. The toilet systems spaced between camp sites, are in process of upgrades.

One faucet nearby our camp site was leaking a little bit, so I placed a plastic container to catch the drips for the birds before the water soaked into the ground. Fun to watch from the coach dinette windows.

Did the same for three more faucets. Birds with little black bibs, cling upside down to the faucet for their drink in spite of water drops falling onto their bodies. Others perch under the dripping valve spigot and catch the drops, about five to ten drops, before flying off. Many just hop around on the ground and drink from the puddles, or in this case, the little plastic trays I set into the ground. Bees also gather to drink the water. They pay no concern to humans.. if left alone.

The water gets shut off next week and the camp hosts, Carlos and Theresa will leave for their home in Arizona for the winter. They are already packed and ready. The gated campground stays open on honor system, but dry camp only.

They mentioned to the local Forest Service guys about the little items now on display in the visitor center locked case. Items that I and grandsons found just under the dirt surface on our camp site, with the metal detectors. The workers said that they “never heard them clearly, as that is illegal on Forest Service land”. 😉

Seems that exuberant bureaucrats writing the laws, forgot to discriminate between big mining claims, compared to hobbyists picking up small metal objects, many concealed below a couple of inches of dirt. Items left from previous humans traveling through.

In spite of the law, I did pick up a few coins dropped at our camp sites. One item of interest, .44 or .45 slug, fired from an old frontier style weapon, likely when the trail riders and cattle/sheep were herding on this Federally certified, CCC improved, ‘Hoof Highway’ from the mid 1800’s to the 1970’s. The older item of course went into the little display case in the visitor center cabin.

Fifteen wells, to water the cattle from long troughs, were constructed by Govt. One well and trough every ten miles, which was considered one day for cattle, two days for sheep. CCC Boys constructed fencing on over 150 miles of trail. Laying out one fence on each side to preserve the grazing for the trail herds.

Much of their original fencing remains to this day along side the camp sites. The last concrete trough at Datil Well, a 100′ long staged affair with two inch pipes, is still in place, though no longer functioning.

A nice steel bench is positioned for meditating how the scene appeared, as the trail riders arrived with their herds and set up for camp. The big water tank’s circular concrete surface base near the newer well, is still intact, minus it’s large steel walled tank of 8 to 10 foot height. The latest well is used only for the campground.

Some of the old 2″ pipes and structure for stabilizing the old tank, are still visible sticking from the ground and piled close to the site. I hiked to the site of what appears to have been the original well. Placed up on a hill to the west of camp, it was higher to catch the wind for the windmill of that time. Obviously electrified for a time [remnants of poles, wires and switch boxes], it is now barely discernible.

The later well, one that operates today supplying water for campers, was placed in the hollow near the camp ground, to make it easier for the electric pump to draw water for this last govt revision of equipment.

This Arizona-New Mexico herding trail rivaled the big Texas trails leading from ranches and range lands to rail heads, such as Chisholm and Loving-Goodnight Trail in importance, all through the 1800’s and early 1900’s, the New Mexico-Arizona trail was still in use, peaking in early 1900’s. I recall the last trail drives to Magdalena, as I worked the NM territory.

Rancher Dave Farr described the long trail rides as tedious hard, long hours, all night watches on horseback, served chow out of chuck wagon kettles, and back in the saddle before dawn. His note for holding onto your horse at all times, even while sleeping,…

“Well, without a horse, you’re worthless”.

The old Magdalena railroad has since been removed. The old roadbed and trestles across small arroyos, remains alongside our NM highway 60, as we drive to Datil past the Very Large Array of deep space antennas. Arrow straight for over 40 miles from horizon, to horizon on approach to datil, it is interesting. The first official highway to California, pioneered with a high clearance Pathfinder automobile in 1912.

The San Agustine Plain was once a very large lake surround by mountains. Climate Change [horrors of all horrors 😉 turned it into a high desert of western New Mexico ranch lands and open range, where cattle graze today among the VLA antennas.

The deep space antennas demand little to none, interference from outside radio waves. We could not obtain cell service, nor TV, nor radio.

After dark, ‘skip’ off of the ionosphere allowed us to listen to Nashville Tennessee and other distant stations

After darkness fell at the 7,000 foot altitude camp ground and ‘skip rolled’, due to low sunspot activity, my old single sideband 4 watt CB also picked up [illegal] multi thousand watts CB transmissions from the southern parts of the eastern states, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, all of the way to southern west coast, 29 Palms California.

Nothing of importance is ever said on those brief ‘skip’ transmissions. Only proudly announcing the wildly amplified wattage (7,000 from 29 Palms Marine Base) of their ‘Big Radio’s ‘Talking’ from wherever to wherever. Mostly in a deep southern drawl followed by key buzzwords and announcing who they were, in names like ‘Swamp Gator and Old Marine’.

Side note: Story of the Loving-Goodnight trail was told in ‘Lonesome Dove’ and ‘Comanche Moon’, by Larry McMurtry. Movies later followed the story lines.

Home now and likely drain the water system on the coach for winter storage….. if freeze appears eminent..

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Datil Well Campground… Again

Loaded a few items  on Wednesday and drove the coach 150 miles to Datil Well National Campground for the third time this year. Great place for quiet and nature. Lots of birds this time, must be migration. Chickadees, Nuthatches and lots of little Finches were in the trees next to our coach.

Crows fly over regularly, as does the occasional Hawk. Camp hosts, Carlos and Teresa have a Chihuahua that likes to ride in the Mule 4 wheeler, as they make the rounds checking the camp sites. The Hawks circle, just waiting for the chance to grab Cha-cha.

Elk hunters were our neighbors this stay. Elk hunting bow season attracts those hardy souls that enjoy the sneak-up and possibly take an Elk. The first night, a big bull Elk was bugling around the camp ground at 2:30 AM [they are nocturnal, staying safely bedded down during daylight], as if to tease the hunters.

The camouflaged hunting party were a father and two adult sons, one with his young wife. Each morning at 5am, they set out with their bows to locate their prey. Returning after the sunrises, they rested until dusk and set out again. Returning for camp supper at 10 PM, they slept until 5 Am, when it was time to set out and hunt again.

The father, Mark, was presently working heavy equipment in the coal mines near Grants NM. He was retired from one of the privately owned prison systems near Grants, a Prison Guard with his 20 years of service, he still enjoys working to supplement his retirement. The additional funds allow him to enjoy his hunting and the costs associated.

We discussed crime, criminals, and I then told him of my grand daughter running down the thief and retrieving her stolen race bike.

The ‘chase’ story reminded him of an episode in his early career. He mentioned the prison escapee that he was sent to locate, fortunately immediately after graduation from the Sate Police Academy, when in his 20’s.

The bad guy ran from the residence, from where the wife had called to report him as a violence prone intruder. He was accustomed to altitude and ran fast, up the mountain side, through the snow. The senior guard told the new graduate, Mark, to…. “Go get him”.

Having a 500 yard head start, the escapee sprinted away from Mark at a fast clip, figuring that any prison guard would be fat, out of shape and not able to catch him.

Mark kept up a steady trot, following the tracks through the snow, as the escapee attempted to elude the guard. Every few dozen yards of steep terrain, the escapee had to stop and catch his wind.

turning, he watched for Mark, who accustomed to running twenty miles during training every day, never stopped.

As the escapee gradually wore out, Mark continued to close the gap, until the escapee could no longer even walk, let alone run through the snow. When Mark, still at a trot, approached the escapee, the guy was dripping snot from his nose, heaving loudly, sweating profusely and his legs were like rubber, shaking uncontrollably.

He astonishingly asked Mark,…. “What are you, a machina” [machine]? …Mark grabbed him by his collar and dragged him back down the mountain through the snow, stuffed him, cuffed, into the back of the prison car. The entire chase took up over three hours and covered about eight miles, start to finish.

I used the metal detector every afternoon within the RV campground and located the usual junk, plus a few treasures. Special finds, were the extra large tent stakes, barn nails, that held in place, the old canvas tents of the trail riders and Corps of Engineers crew. Each large round head under the dirt, gave a distinctive sound on location, like a quarter and iron.

Two of the massive ‘nails’ have now ended up in the little museum display in the office. Teresa, the camp host, locked them into the case. An old ‘Dip’ United States Tobacco tin {remarkably, I found both halves] and a few bullet casings, couple of lead bullets, joined the little office display, where I can return and say, “I found those”. Coins located near the RV sites during each day’s ‘detecting’, are now joining others in my treasure cigar box.

We left ABQ on Wednesday and returned home on Saturday, covering just over 300 miles. Making one detour off the highway 60 old original route to California, we drove up into Water Canyon. Fortunately as the pavement ran out after 4.5 miles, we found a large enough turn-around space for the coach.

I explored the Cibolla National Forest Camp site briefly on foot, in case of future exploration side trips. The old logging and mine roads lead through some really rugged and beautiful canyons and trees. I hunted this area when in my 20’s and had a Jeep for prowling and growling along the trails. Son Eric and I camped on the ground in sleeping bags….., back when he was too young to recall.

We returned to Alb on Saturday, stopping in Socorro NM for a Subway sandwich, we scurried back toward home with a fill up of fuel at Sam’s Club, in prep for next trip. Texas is stressed this year. We may not be welcome, so are making several small local trips.

A great celebration of our 49th wedding anniversary, we enjoyed the company together in the forest on Thursday, the natural environment, watching birds, squirrels and just relaxing in the mountains at over 7,000′ altitude, with interesting weather conditions daily. All in  All,  a great celebration of those last and fast 49 years together. 😊

Holiday Rambler return to Datil NM

9 Aug 2017

We packed up the coach once again on Wednesday with enough chow to feed our little group for a couple of days. Peg did the buying choice, depending on what what she figured would be consumed by the group on each day. We loaded two local grandsons for a few days return to the small National Park in Datil NM, near the Arizona state line.

 

The old Datil Well RV campground recreation area, along the old 130 mile cattle and sheep trail drive from Springerville Arizona, to the old rail head at mining town Magdalena NM, is so remote, so pleasant, yet close relative to Alb, that we really enjoy it and figured the young brothers would have a good time there.

 

Driving south in the coach alone, with no tow vehicle, out of Albuquerque and turn west at Socorro for a total 150 miles to campground, passing the famous ‘VLA’, and set up beneath the trees, in our favorite space number 5, early afternoon for the planned stay of a couple of days.

 

Each afternoon was spent metal detecting close to the camp site and actually doing the following campers a favor. We scavenged ‘stuff’ at each repeat tone, until an accumulated pile of scrap metal shards, rusty wires, burned and melted foil, bottle caps, pull tabs, old tent stakes, nails and screws, intermixed with one or two treasures [coins], consumed an hour or so each day before evening and a meal following.

The brothers used the lighter, but very proficient ‘Bounty Hunter’ metal detectors. One being the old faithful, well used ‘Tracker Four’. An analog dial detector discovered on Ebay, that has ‘detected’ numerous finds and enabled a young man to master/decipher the tones and dial needle readings of items beneath the soil..

The recently purchased, three tone Bounty Hunter ‘Quicksilver’ was used briefly by a friend, stored away for years and has ‘detected’ numerous coins, as well as the plethora of other items all detectors locate with no trouble, nor remorse.  I used the Whites Coinmaster happily acquired at a charity thrift store.

Pinpointers were reluctantly shared, as we were one short. Garrett ‘Carrot’ and an AT Pro copy of the Garrett, worked wonders to locate each object in the little dirt piles. Another hopefully excellent AT Pro ‘carrot’ is on order from Ebay for $33.

 

The 1st night initially was warm from the coach running gear heat depleting until after the sun set and an evening mountain breeze came through the open windows.

Nights are dark and cool in this area of several mountain ranges, a pass overlooking the 7,000′ altitude of the San Agustine high plains. Formerly an ancient and vast, high altitude lake bed, surrounded by snow capped mountains, the retreating Ice Age kept the lake filled to capacity.

Dark, at least when no moon is over us. Silence is typical in this  little campground of a couple dozen privacy welcome spaces, widely interspersed through the trees.

Hiking and toting gear through the conifer trees, such as various junipers, pinon pine, scrub oak and scrub cedar with a few Ponderosa Pines., the volunteers will be busy maintaining trails, repairing and repainting trail infrastructure, shelters on this weekend.

 

Squirrels are busy with the pinon seeds, burying during times of harvest and digging them up as need arises. Navigator saw what appeared to be a large roadrunner, half flying and running across a meadow. No coyotes this time. A few very bright blue birds flitted about, dropping a few blue feathers beneath the trees.

 

The mornings were cereal, frozen blueberries, apple slice, bacon, sausage and eggs, toast, all prepared in gourmet fashion by our camp ‘Cookie’.  Tea for the camp ‘Cookie’ and a couple of big, hot cups of early morning ‘Joe’ for myself. The grandsons on the sofa conversion bed in their sleeping bags, could not sleep-in during my noisily preparing for breakfast and making coffee. Still, we did not get out onto the trail hikes until after 10 am in the mornings.

 

The trails are presented on large and smaller sets of excellent sign boards. We used the cell phone cam to save map images, in case we forgot which way the junctions went.

Cell phones are mostly non-functional in this area and especially anywhere near the massive array of radio telescopes. Cell signals would overwhelm the faint signals from the universe beyond. A little Garmin Geco GPS recorded our trail traverses and provided basic reference back to where we turned it on where it acquired satellites.

 

The little Garmin Geco is not as user friendly as it seems. For one thing, it recorded every trip we ever made, both to and from this campground as we drove from/to Alb [I was observing altitude… over 7,000′], added to every hike, the data became basically a heavy black highway line, and tangled web of small dotted lines for hiking. To say Geco never forgets certain details, track, pan, routes, history……no matter how many times it is cleared, is an understatement.

 

In spite of all of the references to our saved trail map images on my phone, all three of us deciding where to turn, we somehow missed a faintly marked turn junction at a small rock cairn and repeated a mile or so of trail loop on the way back, taking us farther from camp. Oh well, after our good breakfast we needed the added exercise… I think.

 

Youngest grandson found an old ‘snap purse’ frame, like the style my grandmother carried. It is now in a place of honor in the display case of the visitor office at the Datil Well campground. Two of the old cartridge casings that I ‘detected’ while searching the area with the Whites Coinmaster, have joined two other vintage casings. We forgot to search the area of the purse near the trail, to find all of the money buried 😉

 

The Rocky Point overlook, high on a ridge, was visited more than twice. Often in the repeated excursion around the ridge top overlooking our campground.  We could see the distant coach in the valley slope below, but getting back down there seemed to be the problem. All trails, all junctions, led us back to the high Rocky Point. “We’re back” was our code for lost…sort of.

 

After spending a couple of hours wandering in circles, we finally discovered the small side trail that led us down off the ridge and toward the trail gazebo closer to the campground. Seeing the trail gazebo shelter told us that camp was only a few minutes further. Not a good idea to get lost on the edges of the Gila National Wilderness. One of the largest wilderness areas in the USA, countless folks throughout history have entered it, to never be seen again.

 

The boy’s parents would be upset at me for losing their sons.

GPS, I will blame the GPS Geco…and the maps, and the trail markers. Using today’s logic, it can’t all be my fault, as the group leader..sort of.

 

The following day, the last day of hiking the forested valleys, canyons and ridges, we finished the rest of the designated trails and heard thunder following distant lightning strikes.  Seeing a few lightning burned tree trunks and stumps, we agreed to take the shortest route back down to camp. Locating the shortcut down through the valley proved a little daunting…. as we passed the trail to Rocky Point… again. All trails lead to Rocky Point.

 

Returning in time for a nice late lunch prepared by Cookie, added to some more leisure metal detecting, we decided to stay one more night.

Dropping the envelope into the vault pipe, set off only one complaint from the youngest member of our party. The one that had decided he had enough of mountain man life and desired a return to city…. TV… and video games.

 

Settling the difference of opinion by some more metal detecting around the campground, he and I were caught in a deluge and sat out the downpour of rain under a shelter on the other side of the campground from our coach. Trudging back in mud afterward was a mistake. I spent the next half hour cleaning shoes for the next day’s adventures.

 

Early morning last breakfast of bacon [Hormel pre-cooked in package of 30. Remarkable stuff] and eggs, then break camp, we began the return to Alb.

Passing the VLA, we decided to turn off and visit the site. One curious young antelope even approached the coach when we stopped along the 4 mile entrance road.

https://public.nrao.edu/visit/very-large-array/

 

VLA was open to public today, as most days. Visitor center had all of the info about the creation of the massive array that listens to the galaxies far far away. A 20 minute documentary even showed clips from ‘Contact’ with Jody Foster narrating, a Terminator with Arnold Schwarzenegger, where the dish array was again featured. Added all in total several films, with more to come, the Array is quite the film star in itself.

 

We drove up in the coach, alongside one huge dish setting on concrete mounts outside the tall structure, a very large building where they are sheltered during maintenance. Each dish is over 85 feet wide and 92 feet tall. They are moved around on the 40 miles of rails by a unique diesel electric locomotive. A hydraulic device with jacks and swivels for positioning each dish onto rail sidings and then precisely raised and positioned, bolted onto concrete mounts set for firm observation points, as demanded.

 

Each session of remotely controlled time, bought by various entities around the world, lasts for 6 hours. I would imagine a huge bill submitted for each time slot. The array, constructed during the 1960’s, was saved from obsolescence when a Canadian firm provided the latest updates. The newest ‘listening’ units bolted into each dish, took over ten years to construct, install and tune, after mounting on the 28 large dish devices.

 

Today, used periodically in conjunction with other radio telescopes across this hemisphere, located in the Virgin Islands, Northern California, Washington State, Hawaii, Ohio, Los Alamos NM and the east coast, considered the Long Baseline Array, it’s life expectancy will extend to the the next generation of scientists curious of our origins and for whatever reason we were created to temporarily exist on this unique planet Earth.

 

Leaving with a new appreciation for yet one more of the many remarkable structures that seem to be prolific around the remote and secluded, sparsely populated land mass of the State of New Mexico, we head for Socorro, lunch stop at Subway and drive home.

Passing the water intensive miles of California style Pistachio groves south of Belen NM, amaze us in the desert environment, supposedly deficient of water. Makes one curious of the politics involved in acquiring Govt permits, let alone legions of EPA bureaucrats, for such water intensive, obviously [the overflow return sluiceway] soil eroding endeavors.

 

Re-fuel at Costco in preparation for next adventure. The driveway ‘roost’ of Thunder Hog is for unloading, water resupply, dump holding tanks, schedule maintenance projects… and call parents for return of their treasured young ones.

 

Tonight we rest assured that other blessed days of adding to the preparation of the young ones for their future, was accomplished with relatively little investment and shared fun time of prime memory quality.

 

Holiday Rambler RV to Datil New Mexico

8-2-2017

Holiday Rambler RV NM to Georgia

Left ABQ NM on Friday afternoon in late March 2017, following a typical, mild, pleasant winter at our home in ABQ NM.
 Arrived at Roswell 200 miles south around 7:30 pm with no water in fresh tank, due to dump valve not sealed tightly. Attendant at Sam’s Club opened the office water valve at their fueling station, to let us refill the 60 gallons that had gradually watered the high desert. Camped at Sam’s overnight then left for Texas town of La Mesa. Great site that has city park free camp with water, dump and electric. Leave donations in honor box.
Next stop was Brownwood Texas, college town with Walmart free camp overnight. Fueled after the 500 miles from Roswell last top off of tank. Ink’s Lake State Park was available for three nights. Amazing. We seldom get to stay at Ink’s Lake as it is very popular and reservations are required most of the time.
We are close to the lake shore. Lots of Ducks, Geese and surrounded by singing birds. Texas is on the major western flyway for migratory birds. In process of birds migrating, Texas boasts the most variety of birds of any state.
Visited a few little local charity and antique shops on Tuesday. Will be tourists again on Wednesday and visit in another direction in the tow Honda, using our Ink’s Lake as base, leaving the RV as our ‘home’ to return to each night.
Buchanon Reservoir, first in this area’s series of dams and reservoirs, was begun by Sam Insull during the 1920’s, as he envisioned the Edison power grid across the USA. Great Depression left the task to the US Army Corps of Engineers and CCC boys to finish.
Buchanon levels rise and fall drastically as seasonal flood waters pour off of the high plains. The floods during the 1800’s swamped away San Antonio Texas, until the series of dams controlled the floods and provided electricity in the process. Will leave Ink’s Lake Thursday, for Lockhart State Park south of Austin.
Texas has over 100 State Parks, most with a man made lake. Their are no natural ‘lakes’ in Texas. Each reservoir has a purpose. Flood control being the major purpose, with electrical generation a benefit.
Thousands of Wind Turbines are covering the western plains of Texas. Mixed in among the oil wells, cattle and cotton, makes it very profitable to ranch in Texas. Game Ranches are scattered where cattle are not able to forage. Lots of Goats and a few sheep keep things tidy and weeds in control..

On Mar 24, 2017  wrote:

We tried to get fuel at a really tight gas pump yesterday on approach to the North Padre Island National Seashore and ended up pinching the towed Honda against a post. Two doors and structural repair are now required, upon return to home and access to Crown Coachworks :<

 

Corpus Christi for today and leaving for San Antonio area, after a windy night on the North Padre Island RV sites. Not really pleasant on the gulf shoreline in spring. Wind and humidity brought the refrigerator to a halt, until morning sun dried out the circuit board. 60 degrees is not cold enough to preserve food.

Were not really quite able to make the tight turn required to escape the old design ‘Stripes’ station on North Padre Island. Almost didn’t pull in because of the RV access. Should have paid attention to instinct.

 

Oh well , back in San Antonio for 4 nights at KOA where we base operations during exploration to favored haunts. Texas is still doing very well in comparison to other parts of the USA. Texas actually spends their road taxes on …Roads.  Except for liberal Left Progressive Austin, that spends their road taxes on ‘Saving’… everything….. but roads.. Austin is solid gridlock most mornings and evenings due to old narrow highways and bridges.

One ‘Progressive’ politician actually said on TV  “It is a shame to leave over $2 Billion dollars in road taxes just sitting there, when there are so many ‘Needy’ children requiring…. programs..

My barn find $35 metal detector is still busy finding ..pennies. Lots of old pennies. People drop lots of pennies, according to the metal detector anyway..

 

On Mar 25, 2017 wrote:

Beautiful weather [Climate] today. Blue skies, light breeze and 80 degrees. Far nicer than Corpus Christi weather. The highway system is in constant upgrades so the GPS is lost when it comes to taking exits and entrance ramps. Traffic flows fast. Driving 80 on the freeways is common place. Any speed slower is impeding traffic.

We made a couple of wrong turns and it takes miles to reverse the errors. Nice soup/salad bars make up for the wrong turns. Tomorrow we do it again, hopefully better oriented as to the highways.

Consignment stores in San Antonio are stocked with furniture and decorative items fit for luxury living. We would require a trailer to return with some of the really nice items at very good prices. What people discard is indicative how the well to do live in Texas.

Charity shops like Assistance League are a little lower in quality and the Goodwill stores are lower than that in most cases.

Time of day to take the metal detector and let it ‘sniff’ the dirt. Surprising what it finds. Lots of metal ‘stuff’ in the dirt. Few items of it actually treasure-able.

We packed up and drove out of San Antonio towards Lockhart on Tuesday morning with no events to hinder our progress. The outlet malls attract us to find navigator’s clothing finds. Talbot’s always has great clothing of stylish nature for great prices.

While navigator was in trying on outfits, I dragged out the metal detector and swept the area like a true ‘Detectorist’, as the British program on Netflix series portrays. They are searching for Celtic and Roman treasures every Monday night. Using their metal detectors, they weave personal stories into the show.

nuggettnoggin is another You Tube metal detecting series. He is a fine young man with enthusiasm to go along with the detecting. The Hoover Boys are yet another to watch. They find some fairly fine treasures in Civil War battlefields.

I only found bits of wire, paper clips and parts from their mall landscaping equipment. Texas dirt between rainfall, is hard as rock below the first inch of topsoil. Instead of digging, I must only scratch a little patch, to find ‘whatevers’.  Amazing that they can maintain grass in one inch of topsoil.

We  left the highway outlet malls and headed for nearby San Marcos and a quick bite at Fazouli’s to hold until evening meeting with friends at Salt Grass Steakhouse…. after we set up camp at Lockhart State Park. We arrived in time to acquire the last full hookup on the RV ‘circle’, edging the 9 hole golf course. Our Texas state park pass is working it’s magic, with discounted entry, plus coupons applying to RV sites.

Driving back into San Marcos past their evening baseball game, was a bit time consuming, but we arrived within estimate. Nice evening meal with old friends that moved to Texas. They were our neighbors in Alb NM when we first moved into our home with kids of short stature.

They had left ALB NM some years back, to live in Palatine Illinois for several years on job assignment, returning to ALB NM for a time before moving to San Marcos Texas. They told of saving a Deer that had caught it’s back leg in their fence. Hanging with it’s head on the ground, she calmed it, while he cut the fence. It escaped with cuts and scratches. The last Deer had not been so fortunate. It had died many months before being discovered on the fence line.

The Saltgrass Steakhouse [a Landry affiliate] is positioned with a deck over the river. We look forward to dining there with them every time we are in the San Marcos area. Happy Hour steaks are great, as well as local craft Beers. Friend had a Silver Star and I had a ‘Hoppy’ Red.

Driving ‘home’ back south 17 miles to our State park camp originally built by CCC Boys during the 1930’s, is pleasant across country fields with cows and horses. As fast as Texas develops, the cows and horses will soon be replaced by corridors of business.

Next day, a couple of finds at a local junk shop and then drive on into Austin for dinner with our grand daughter that is attending UT [Longhorns]. Evening meal at Applebee’s, following a few charity thrift store visits with remarkable finds, is the routine.

UT student grand daughter is getting good grades, enjoying her second year and looking forward to more, as her life evolves. Traffic in Austin while visiting, did not disappoint, as gridlock is ever present on the Austin freeways. That Austin ‘thing’ of spending road taxes on caring for the world’s needy, with expanding govt programs, is always looming. Next trip we stay off the overloaded freeways.

Left Lockhart State Park after two nights in the area and drove further east/north staying at College Station Sam’s Club parking lot overnight. Refuel and a few necessities sufficed. Quiet night in comparison to the rain storm and heavy lightening at Lockhart.. We were tilted to the left and water seeped in under the slide, wetting our bedroom carpet, causing a musty order for the last couple of days.

Seems that water problems are this trip’s events. Even the shower turned on while driving, when a squeegee fell precisely onto the faucet handle.

Tonight is still spent in East Texas [it is 1,000 miles across Texas] on border. Shreveport Louisiana, then Mississippi is next, with Natchez Mississippi, followed by Pearl, then Jackson Miss, as goal for two nights on the ‘Rez’.. reservoir on the Pearl River along the Natchez Trace. We enjoy the consignment shop nearby to the state park RV sites. Lots of ducks and geese with babies, roam the RV sites.

That is the plan and excitement always presents itself, as we make fast decisions involving turns and detours as we drive along. GPS plays some really confusing tricks. Today was about 240 miles travel, following Sam’s  Club camp, which is a long day on these highways with small towns intermittent.

 

After an extended drive, arrived and set up in Timberlake RV campground for three nights for $69 total. A flood control dam with reservoir, this state Pearl River Mississippi campground is larger each year. At 300 sites in tall trees, it now has Wifi but very restrictive and sporadic. Could not get on every night.

Last night began raining and lightening. Continued all night with 10 inches falling in some areas that flooded. Our area got 3″ alone. We only had a small damp area from all of that water falling, with some leaking under the bedroom slide out. Holiday Rambler designed the slide out flawed, with a box-like lower section that lets water migrate along the lower edge into the inside unless we tip the coach, using the hydraulic levelers, to the right side slightly.

The bigger living area slide out is designed better, with side walls that extend below the bottom floor. No problems there. Both awnings have now pulled the roof sections loose and will require repairs when we return home. This area gets really wet storms with constant tornado warnings on the phone all night long.

Nothing we can do about it, so told navigator to just turn off the phone and sleep. If it gets us, it gets us. My metal detector is apparently a dangerous weapon. Park ranger informed me after seeing me in office carrying it, that a permit is required by the state. Obvious that it is an AK-47, fully automatic style, that can instantly render mass destruction? Went back to coach to drink beer. Govt prefers that recreation, to metal detecting?

We did find some old treasures today in consignment malls. A small organ from the 1800’s, designed for travel. An old copper watering can, a small desk chair to go with the little desk we found days ago. I wrap each item in cardboard and stow in the basements as best can.

Tomorrow we head on out for eastern states and more adventures. Fuel is below $2 on most occasions. Adding a bit of Marvel Mystery Oil to fuel keeps all running smooth in the fuel and injector system. Tightened the exhaust manifold donuts twice so far, making sure no repeat of the last fall trip.

Wed 4/5

Westward to Oregon

After full preparations including loading the 13 year old, 94,000 mile Holiday Rambler with all necessary items, and leaving home ready for the adventure of the Pacific Northwest, we made it about eight miles and a fuse blew. One that provides the Air conditioning blower with it’s power. No way we travel without AC…. or Heat.

After a few hours of diagnostics, blower motor removal and a helpful Auto Zone counter-man, taking the old blower to the warehouse, to find correct new blower [cross reference to 2004 Chevy S-10], we returned home, and are spending another night in home bed.

I had forgotten my little Craftsman ‘Lion’ drill and always need a drill. The 20 minute trip return to home was needed anyway. :>)

I installed the new blower motor [contortionist style] and tested it for 15 minutes while cleaning up my tools and mess.  Draws less amperage and so far works ok,…. but we have been at that rodeo before.

The new bypass relay was burned in the overload process, so now the blower motor is direct wired with the speed control, but no ‘off’ position. After 13 years and 94,000 miles, surprises are around each corner. Better to have this one near home.

Early tomorrow, we try it again.. Must have been a reason for the Lord to Not desire us staying at the Farmington Sam’s Club for the night?

Reason for driving the 200 mile remote highway across the reservation tomorrow,….. rather than today?

Tomorrow we leave earlier, breakfast at McDonald’s, then drive on our way and stay somewhere in Utah for the night.

Reason for Everything, every delay. We just do not know it.

After finally getting the new blower motor and replacing it in the AC-heater under navigator’s feet side of dashboard, we left again for our ride on toward the Pacific Northwest.

We often stay in Walmarts along the way, another night at Ogden Utah one night and Green River State Park in Utah another night, we rolled on toward Idaho and Boise, Walmart ‘camps’.

Goal along the beautiful Columbia River, was one night at Memalose State Park near The Dalles Oregon. Big dam on the Columbia River. Our ‘New’ Garmin said to take it’s choice of highway.

BAD choice. Garmin took the coach up over a mountain with no turn arounds and far from the State Park. In the process of the thousands of feet altitude, low gear climb and low gear descent on twisted old highway, the two engine exhaust ‘donuts’ burned out… Again.

Loud and with carbon monoxide odor while we drove and an emergency night with little sleep at a KOA. These things deprive me of sleep as I imagine All sorts of mechanical horrors. After a crawl under inspection, we drove on toward Portland in morning, accompanied by the exhaust roar and stink. TA fuel stop advised of nearby Ed’s Muffler in Cheshire for repair, we gladly detoured. Shannon crawled under and swapped out the ‘Wrong’ flat styled donuts ……installed by the muffler shop in New Orleans.

Cost in New Orleans was $300…..Cash.

Cost at Ed’s was $129 and on credit card. Shannon gave me two spare donuts ……for next time. Ed even came out and thanked us for our business. I bought them their three Starbucks frappes for their fast attention. note: Turned out that Shannon’s recommended donuts were not correct, too thin, unlined and caused further problems later.

Stay away from sleazy New Orleans, unless risking it is your idea of thrills. One last time in New Orleans, porn sites infected our computer.

As we approached the coast, Costco in Warrenton [outside of Astoria] let us stay for the night after fuel fill. State Park of Cape Disappointment in Washington State opened in morning. Crossing the 5 mile long bridge from Oregon Astoria to the Meglar Washington side, the blower fan blew off the shaft and was destroyed in the loud bang. No AC/heat blower for a while. Had fun in tow car, exploring up north along the Long Beach Peninsula up the southern coast of Washington.

Auto Zone of Warrenton [near Astoria] Oregon ordered a free replacement, shipped out of Portland, it arrived on Tuesday, in time for leaving our stay back in Fort Stevens Oregon State Park. Explored around Astoria for a day while waiting for new blower. Fort Stevens is historic. It’s countless concrete structures, originally built for guarding the mighty Columbia River, are still intact after well over a hundred years.

The first electricity was installed in Fort Stevens following the Civil War. The large diameter, old DC wires for powering the huge rifled cannon drive motors and ammo lifts, are still hanging from the ceilings. The famous attack on US soil by a Japanese submarine, lobbed a few cannon shells at the fort during WW II. No response from fort gunners, as the there was no danger.

Continued south along Pacific Ocean coast and a one night stay in Kelly’s Brighton Bay Marina. Kelly’s daughter boiled up a two pound Dungeness Crab and two pounds of ‘Steamer’ clams for our supper. Enjoyed the rare feast in our coach and observed the seagulls roosting for the night on the breakwater in front of the coach. Comforting to see them fly for a nice evening’s sleep. We were 20′ from the bay, windshield was our viewing screen, as the sun set with a colorful show of dusk.

Left Brighton Marina after a day and half of exploration in nearby small villages in the Honda. Tillamook Oregon one night stop, dry camp at Tillamook River RV with No facilities $25. Fell off edge into thick blackberry bushes while hiking. Took a while to crawl back out of the thorn infested hole. Navigator pulled out the stickers while I moped in bed. Discovered Ashland Hotel RV near Fred Meyers store, with overnight fee of $16,…. facilities included. Will stay there next trip. Tillamook McDonald’s has RV parking… free.

Dumping of holding tanks too expensive in EPA controlled Tillamook Valley [Tillamook Cheese Factory]. Saved our dump tanks for Newport Oregon Marina, where we are staying for three nights. Wireless Fi is obviously available :>) We will explore the area tomorrow. Lincoln Oregon is back 20 miles and Honda will suffice for backtracking tomorrow. Nice laundry facility at this marina RV park.

Beautiful sunsets each night. Red and green lighted Newport Bridge is a magnificent Gothic structure built to specs by master engineer Conde McCullough back in the 1930′-40’s, he designed and had bridges all finished along the coast within a couple of years or less….each. Formerly ferry systems or long circuitous routes were the way across coastal rivers. Today the same projects under Govt EPA rulings and legalistics would take a half century. Even longer.

Drove around the Newport harbor this afternoon. Sea Lions at the harbor commercial marina [fishing boats] were barking as usual. Way too many Sea Lions. They take over the docks. Cover the harbor jetty rocks. We can hear them ‘singing’ at night, even across the bay, their endless ‘barks’ can be heard. :>)

Have been hunkering down in our Newport RV Marina of this harbor town for the last days. NOAA has a facility here, near the oceanic research center and aquarium. We have experienced rain, cloudy dark days and wind, with few sparse minutes of sunshine. Wind is really brisk,….. to say the least.

Driving rain is noticeable… and loud. Trees are bent over level on high cliffs near the ocean. Many in clusters are broken off from extremely high winds. They look seriously distressed from the winter’s endless ocean wind. The waves have been eroding of this fascinating shoreline for millions of years. The ‘Haystacks’ of volcanic rock are stretching for endless miles offshore. Scenic for picture taking :>)

Navigator injured her back and stayed inside, watching TV, recuperating for all of yesterday and has only left the coach for brief periods of time, washing of clothes, etc. Temps are in the 50 ish range at night, 60-70 days. With the coach facilities convenient, it is cozy good to stay and recuperate.

Today we drove north in the Honda, back to visit a few thrift stores and antique shops (bought another old bronze boat prop]. Goodwill is big in Lincoln and apparently a popular place for locals gathering on Saturdays. Returned home for fish and chips/oysters for our late lunch.

Set traps and caught the mouse that had stealthily crept up the shore cable and water line, deep into the coach guts and vitals during an overnight stop days ago. It had eaten into my cereal stash …which I had to replace. Navigator sent a pic of the little cutie to family and friends. She had heard it noisily browsing at night.

I was busy cleaning out the cabinets and washing all of the canned goods after the mouse intrusion. Discovered sagging cabinet floor and braced it back level. Too many pots and pans that we never use. All bouncing as the highway miles of bumps and rolls.

Morning chores will finish replacing the AC/heat blower under the dashboard, dumping the holding tanks before leaving for Winchester Bay Marina for another night and brief exploration of the little tourist area. Coo’s Bay follows with one night before Brookings Harbor Marina RV, our last scenic stop along the coast.

The small, mild climate harbor is a brief, calm weather respite for ‘Grizzly’ and other big 90′ footers from TV’s ‘Most Dangerous Catch’. They like Alaska’s Aleutian’s and the Arctic Ocean for serious fishing, but like the much cheaper docking in pleasant Oregon for repairs and a few hundreds of tons of easy fish, from local fishing grounds offshore.

Left our night in Winchester Bay and arrived in Coo’s Bay and an ‘Old Mill’ casino RV lot for one night. It was a logging mill before it was a casino. WIFI is a perk, as is the chance to empty the holding tanks

[note: Hillary’s campaign bus dumps her ‘sh–‘ onto the street and into the local storm drains, where it spreads into the environment and water table… note You Tube],

otherwise a Walmart lot would have sufficed for a night just as well and saved $15. We had stayed in this parking lot on the bay side, before the casino became established along with their serious RV park. It did not cost anything in years past and we could observe the bay.

We did locate a couple of charity thrift stores and find a few little items for resell and personal use. Shark vacuum cleaners, such as Navigator and others in their line, are excellent and compete with Dyson for power. LOTS cheaper btw. Found a Meade spotting scope in a case, like new for about $100 less than Ebay and saved shipping. Removed the resident spider from inside and it works like new.

Coo’s Bay still does lots of logging. The numerous piles of logs, being delivered and shipped, are a few stories high along the bay side. Great stacks of wood chips are accumulating for uses in industry. Several old museum style tugboats from years past, are on display along the riverwalk.

Japan owns their own forests, purchased long ago, they continue their harvest and reforesting their Internationally owned forest land. They have factory ships that process the logs to order, as they are shipped. Even cities along the US coasts are customers for the japan owned log products, cut and planed to order.

The new LG Trac Phone from Fred Meyers [a Kroger affiliate], is 4 G most everywhere we have traveled. Costs far less than the other smart phone that we are toying with. LG Trac only cost $9.99 and the plan is for 90 days at $30. Great deal btw,

it is voice actuated and does more than the other phone, which only has 2 G most of the time. Our old basic ‘flip’ phone was nearing it’s yearly contract end and the yearly cost was almost as much as the smarter little Trac Phone contract… ‘Open’ phone with SIM choice option. Navigator with her online tinkering, even has gotten it to retain our old number, or so she assumes.

Our little Charleston Marina fish shack on the docks, was closed today. We used another tavern style restaurant nearby, not too bad, but a little more costly. The weather is rainy and much colder than average for this time of year. That is according to the locals, they should know. They lament the fact that they went from summer, directly to winter ‘climate’ this year.

After checking the morning forecasts, discussing our options, we may possibly proceed directly south to California, to escape the wet rainy weather. Brookings Oregon and the marina RV on the shoreline, is usually our next stop, but with current rainy conditions, it is not a really great place to enjoy the area. I like to hike, but not in the rain. Navigator can comfortably remain in the coach with it’s facilities, but that is not why we travel.

The last time we stayed at the Black Rock Reservoir in California, we watched our favorite mountain lion prowl around the campsite. Lots of deer, so the lion was not hungry. The deer walk up to the coach and peek into the door. I saw the nocturnal ‘Miner’s Cats in northern California, while on night hikes wearing red LEDs. Animals can not see the red LEDs, but I can see their eyes reflecting the ‘glowing coals’ in the darkness. Wild and a bit skittish, they look sort of like ‘ring tailed’ house cats.

Medford Oregon inland is usually along our path, in order to catch Interstate 5 south. Even Medford is getting rain. When it rains here, everything gets wet… and rusty.

After experiencing a lot of wet, windy and dismal weather this last week, the type that ensures the growth of lots of Pacific coastal forest,… think Lumber,…. we are in the ‘Banana Belt’ of southern Oregon. With afternoons of sunshine and a bright blue ocean view from the front of the coach, the Ocean view stay is now sunny and pleasant.

The coach is parked on the ‘front line’ 100′ feet from the ocean waves. A beach is visible between high tides. A breakwater somewhat deters the big waves from splashing on the front of the coach. Night is great sleeping with the rhythmic sound of the big waves roaring against the shore line and nearby rock jetties.

As winter storms increase, the front line will be off limits for RV parking. The fence behind us is braced against the winter winds. Crabbing is in progress at this time. Various methods are used to catch the crabs. A ‘butterfly’ trap is thrown by heavy line, rod and reel.

Baited with nicely rotting bait, the crabs enter the butterfly. When reeled in, the butterfly closes and a crab of the acceptable size is retrieved, if lucky. The local nearby fishing pier is busy during crabbing season, as well as salmon fishing. Seals take advantage of the catch and steal the fish from naive fishermen and women.

Crab ‘pots’ are common. Large traps resembling cages and carried off shore by boats, they can gather a number of crabs overnight, or day. When retrieved, they contain lots of crabs… if lucky. Salmon will begin their up river spawn run soon. The salmon are quite large, often exceeding two feet in length. Chetco River had a record spawn run, a couple of years ago.

Already a lot of small boats are lurking in wait for a few early running fish. A sailboat is heading out from the harbor this very minute. The weather is great and the brilliant blue seas are mild today. Several larger [up to 90′] fishing boats of the ‘Most Deadly Catch’ type {Alaska], are heading out at this time. Crab ‘pots’ are being set locally at this time. Crab brings lots of cash… for the fortunate.

Bandon Oregon is a touristy little village a bit north of our Brookings harbor on the Chetco River. A small open craft with three men, [not from the area], set out from Bandon Harbor two days ago during the large waves. As they attempted to ‘cross the bar’ [the often dangerous area just off the harbor entrance not protected by the rock jetties], where the out flowing river meets the incoming tide.

The small open craft [18′ to 21′] was tossed, swamped and capsized, drowning the three men [apparently not wearing life vests] before the coast guard could rescue them. 6′ to 8′ breaking waves were reported by the 47′ coast guard cutter.

Daily visits into town are planned. Three charity shops are targeted for our visits. So far our trip has been fruitful with finds. Nice Shark vacuum cleaner and a beautiful compact Meade Cassegrain telescope are our charity thrift treasures. Using the 90 mm telescope to watch the boats setting out from the harbor today.

The St Georges Lighthouse is visible on the southern curve horizon of the Crescent coast, six miles off landfall from Crescent City California. It was quite dangerous, killing a couple of lighthouse keepers and seriously injuring others, while they were being transferred from tenders to the dock in wild weather. Today it is restored by Lighthouse aficionados.

The ‘Harbor Cats are still in residence here at the marina. The lady that maintained them for years has passed away. Fortunately for the feral cats, their are others that care for them, bringing feed and neutering them as required.

I will check out the ‘Jetty Cats’ one evening. Their eyes glow like burning embers when the LEDs of my headlamp illuminate their crevasses, their haunts. They are a different colony and somehow reside among the massive jetty rocks. Assisted by the same ladies, they survive the harsh winters.

We packed up and left Brookings Oregon, driving south and again having the California Border Patrol board the coach and peek into the refrigerator, then through California’s Jedidiah Smith Redwood Forest narrow twisting mountain highway [quite scenic] we crossed the state line again. We passed through Grants Pass Oregon into Medford.

Crossing state lines is the only short way to get from southern Oregon into the inland sector. Navigator is not appreciating the narrow twisting highway, especially when greeted by a big fat speeding logging truck or another motor coach. The alternative is to backtrack to Coos Bay and then into Medford. Highway 5 is the other way south toward home.

Medford also has the Klamoth Falls route eastward. We spent the night at Walmart near Eagle Point. It is the newer, quieter store, 8 miles north of Medford. Left this morning eager to proceed across the wide open western USA toward home, we began to climb the pass. One big roar and the donuts instaled by Shannon at Ed’s in Cheshire, blew out on the exhaust exhaust header pipes… AGAIN.

The carbon monoxide filled the cab as navigator called muffler shops. None open on Saturday. Monday earliest. We returned to Walmart and verified with salaried manager for another two nights stay. Looked into having the catalytic convertors cut off and straight pipes installed this time. Possibly the ‘Cats’ are clogged and back pressure is destroying the exhaust donut seals? note: illegal to cut off cats.

We looked at smaller motor coaches today, but the concept of downsizing on this trip is not doable with the amount of ‘stuff’ we have accumulated in this coach over the years. Hopefully the exhaust seals will hold after this gastric operation.

Monday morning. After an additional couple of nights spent in Walmart ‘camp’ of Eagle Point [N of Medford] we located a man that knew what was happening with the exhaust system donuts. A couple of phone calls, two helpful advisors that were booked up for weeks, and one caring man willing to do the actual repair.

Along the coastal route, we stopped in a small antique shop that also deals in coins and bullion. He said all ‘stuff’ is being cleared out and only coins and bullion are his business. No longer remains a viable tourist trade in this Obamaconomy, he is shifting his business to tangible assets, silver, gold coinage. Sold in national coin shows, he sees profits in the future for coins [rounds] over ‘stuff’. He had a display of old smooth worn nickles. Not even silver, … Each sold for a dollar.
While in the Oregon coin dealer’s shop, he mentioned Oregon’s legalization of ‘substance’ abuse [Colorado did likewise]. His comment of sarcasm, was that ‘with this present government now in power, it will soon become mandatory for everyone’ .
So many strange happenings across this USA of today that we are no longer surprised. We are surprised at the large number of Trump signs. In a liberal mentality such as Oregon, it is interesting. The media would have everyone believe that Trump is a lost cause and only Hillary can save the deliberate sinking of the USA.
Morning and we will know our fate in the hands of muffler experts.. Drove the tow to the two options for repair. One looks as small as the other, but with a higher roof. We are taking the closer first. After telling our desires, we will know the plan. Hopefully a relatively quick repair and we will be on our way again.

The problem was originally from New Orleans. The donuts replaced…. for $300… by the good old cajuns, were wrong. They lasted for 3,000 miles, blew along the Columbia River and were replaced at Ed’s Muffler in Cheshire, with another set of really wrong donuts…… that lasted only 400 miles.

Apparently the linked chain of errors that caused all of the problems are now solved and Alex from ‘American Iron Exhaust systems’ came to the Walmart lot, surveyed the situation, as I told him about the conversations with experts, he found the correct parts, crawled under the coach and replaced the blown donuts… for only $100. I gave him the new set of wrong spares that Ed’s gave me. Lots of prayers connected us with Alex.

Catalytic convertors were fine, according to his basic tests of hand pressures. He is fairly confident that the new, obviously thicker, metal lined, graphite impregnated donuts made by Victor in USA, will last for a while. Big guy, he crawled under and quickly swapped out the parts. We happily left Walmart at 1 PM for Klamath Falls Oregon.

Through some beautiful mountainous valley country with hay, horses, cowboys/girls, cows and ranches stretching for a hundred miles or more, it is pretty. Desolation, with few other vehicles on this highway, but pretty. High mountain passes, but pretty. As the engine revved louder and louder, climbing higher and higher, I cringed at the test for the exhaust system.

All seems fine as we camp tonight in the Lakeview County Fairground RV lot. $10 for the night, including to dump tanks, fresh water fill and a quiet night with fairground wifi in their vacant lot. No fair or other venues going on, so no one is here. We are all alone in the fairground tonight. Freezing is possible tonight in this high mountain valley.

Lakeview, a forlorn ex logging community, formerly surrounded by forests, with no close forests remaining, once was on the shore of a large lake that extended south into California. Due to droughts and heavy demand for water from California, the lake, like the forests, is now far out of sight of ‘Lakeview’. There is a National Forest ski area on the remote highway between here and Medford. Slim chance that skiers would travel that far to ski. Must be a desolate ski slope as well.

We would not recommend this route [highway 140] for anyone that was concerned with being away from civilization for days at a time.

Just in time, storms are hitting the coast.
It froze in Lakeview Oregon the night of our Lake County fairground ‘camp’. The heat device that keeps the ‘basement’ water pipes from freezing turned on and did the job. We pulled out of the fairground, unknowingly with a 60 gallon tank full of brown rusty water….. after paying the $10 they stated.
It showed up as a dark amber flush water in the toilet. When no campers are using a facility, things get rusty. Lakeview is in dire straights and no relief in sight. They are using all of the liberal “Save the Earth” suggestions that Oregon demands.
One small wind turbine spinning and sun tracking solar panels minimally help provide a bit of ‘clean green’ electrical energy. Too bad their water system is Ka-ka. Horse trailers stop in here and stable or swap horses. Tough as nails, survival oriented, ranch women are the horse ‘swappers’ this evening.
A few log trucks are working the forests… distant from the mill in Lakeview. Most of the little town is shut down since the Liberal agenda is in charge. Democrats have a super majority in Oregon, from governor, the house, the senate..
We have noted this self imposed ‘depression’ as we cross the mid section of Oregon, away from the scenic touristy coast and the busy shipping port of Portland on the Columbia River, where outside money keeps things running and prosperous for those involved.
Crossing the ‘Range and Basin’ geologic formations of the great American western states, we grind the coach up… and down many mountain passes. Astonishingly beautiful scenery.
When on top, we see the valleys stretch to the horizons, with high mountain backdrops. Without irrigation, these valleys would be arid desert, just as is much of New Mexico. This part of Oregon really looks like our home. Vegetation and all.
Interesting to drive open highways all day and see significantly less than 50 other vehicles over the hundreds of miles driven. Most remote small settlements we see on our travels, are boarded up, abandoned little ‘has beens’ of dreams and little families, businesses, all leftover from prosperous years ago.
Do not attempt this crossing with less than full fuel tanks. Only two or three well prepared, international style touring motorcycles are noted. No fuel thirsty Harleys. One important fuel station in the middle of nowhere, still listed on Garmin, had been closed years ago.
So much for the ‘new’ Garmin. The latest and greatest that has taken us across some archaic highway…. highway not even in use today. Who diabolically programs these things, ISIS?
Elko Nevada Walmart was our night stay. Up on a ridge above the small city, it was quiet sleeping. Fewer customers, fewer cars and trucks in the parking lot were noted this crossing.
The western states economy is definitely not “Recovered, robust”, as described by certain political wanna be’s. If not for government and govt contractor vehicles noted every several miles across Nevada, there would be far less traffic.
We always look forward to crossing The Great Salt Lake Desert, southern end of the actual Salt Lake that has a substantial amount of very salty water.
Comparative [to what we have experienced from Oregon’s midsection] lot more traffic across the 40 miles of ‘Desert’ salt. At least we sometimes see vehicles a mile or so apart.
Flooded sections along side the highway were fairly common today. Must have rained recently. Still fascinating every time we cross this ‘toxic wasteland’ [EPA’s description?]. We curiously tasted the roadside salt on one previous trip. It will really burn your tongue.
Several deep tracks where sleepy drivers ran off the razor straight highway and got stuck in the wet mushy stuff. Many other places where curious individuals did circular burn outs across the dry salt, for kicks.
Formerly Lake Bonneville, filling the entire valley with a beautiful lake, countless thousands of years ago, it’s long term process of drying up, was an ecological disaster, not fixed by political promises… and ever more taxes. No SUVS involved.
Morton Salt has big plants processing the endless supply of white stuff near Salt Lake City.  Piled in snow white mountains, it is a picture in itself. We turned south and stopped to refuel at Spanish Fork Costco. Lithium, used in rechargeable batteries involved in all modern devices, is processed from deeply situated salt brine deposits, south of here in Nevada,
The business and residential corridor leading north from Spanish Fork, up through Salt Lake City to Ogden, is a multi lane 70+ mph freeway of prosperity leading for 100 miles. Lots of Costcos. Countless Walmarts.
To say it contrasts with, poverty obvious, liberal economics based Oregon, is an understatement. Noted a billboard near militarily relevant Wendover Utah. ‘No private Drones’, under penalty of law. Dugway Nevada is another govt supported facility.
We drove on to Green River State Park, on the Green River of Utah. The famous Powell expedition passed through here to map and document the Grand Canyon. Their story is told in the little museum near the campground.
The Green River is not green here. Carrying sand and silt from the iconic badlands of ‘Wiley B Coyote and Roadrunner’, it stays perpetually brown.
First chore was to drain and flush out the rusty amber coach water system and refill with clean water. Nice quiet night, with fewer campers, fewer travelers on this return trip…. after school started.
A passing train or three, was a nice little comforting lullaby. Talked to a few adventure seeking travelers with trailers. Mountain biking the surrounding national park trails is their fun.
Driving up and over Soldier Summit, down through the beautiful canyon with tree colors changing, is always a pleasant time… except in a rainy deluge amidst traffic… at night.. This trip was exceptional. Colors were primarily yellows and golds. Energetic, enthused hunters were not present in the canyon this trip.
Long ‘Coal’ train, climbing the canyon with ‘helper’ engines….. from the little town of Helper is busy. If coal is further demonized by liberal politics, even that remaining prosperity and important source of low cost energy will be a scene from the past.
Moab Utah is a busy, prosperous, expanding little tourist town with international visitors year around. The Utah badlands are the attraction. A massive national park surrounding, it is covered in trails and challenges for the adventuresome. Rentals of all sorts of vehicles keep the entrepreneurs busy outfitting the tourists. McDonald’s was our lunch.
Four Corners, where states of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah all converge, is along this route
Destination Farmington New Mexico Sam’s Club lot, for last camp. Fuel was $2.01. Could have possibly made the distance to Albuquerque, but more restful to sleep one more night, then make the long home run today.  Nearby ‘Freddies’ steak burger and a chicken sandwich sufficed for our supper in the coach.
Our home state is still interesting as we note similar rock formations along the route from NM’s north west corner. Farmington NM [2nd largest NM city] is a bit sluggish as the oil/gas prices govern much of it’s economy. Still surprisingly bustling.
Well ‘service’ business [well pump maintenance] is strong no matter what price fossil fuels bring. The Four Corners coal fired power plant delivers low cost energy in large amounts to the western USA. Now attacked politically as ‘dirty’, it faces shutdown.
Anyone that ignorantly professes political faith in solar and wind electrical generating, has No education in the ‘laws’ of physics. They are Not sustainable.. without copious amounts of fossil fuel, nuclear and hydro powered generating stations.
Boom Bust, is the history of Farmington. Situated in the middle of Indian Reservations and oil/gas fields, if one venue lags, another picks up the slack. Mormons settled this area since the beginning and still govern it ‘conservatively’,… like they do prosperous Salt Lake City.
A few more hills to climb, I note a faint exhaust rumble from the ‘doghouse’ engine cover. Fuel costs are $1.91 at Warrior Fuel in Bernalillo north of Albuquerque. Indian tribal owned, like their nearby casino, it lacks a significant bit of state, county, municipal tax bite common everywhere else.
Arrived home after another rewarding adventure. Good to be home. Memories are now rehashed and the hours of routine, punctuated by seconds of shear terror, as we pass inches from speeding log trucks on narrow mountain curves. Repeatedly this scenario is experienced on a couple of forest highways so fascinating to travel.
Now we unload the ‘stuff’ and ready for storage, drain, blow out the water lines of the coach for winter, add anti freeze to drain traps. Change oil, grease the 13 fittings.
Noted the the now familiar, faint exhaust rumble and carbon monoxide odor of another set of failing ‘donuts’….again, as backed coach into driveway.
Maybe weather will stay mild for my personal attention to the recurring problem.
We are fortunate to make it home over a thousand miles, on the third set of better exhaust donuts installed by Alex in Oregon Walmart parking lot. Prayer works.
As luck would have it, the chain of events began in New Orleans and were made worse in Cheshire Oregon. The flange studs had come loose and dropped out from the manifolds, after all of the tinkering. New set is ordered from AutoZone. New graphite packed, steel  lined donuts from NAPA, as factory originals. Finally I will have control of the process. Hopefully I can do better :>)
Added note:

After lying semi-awake a few nights, figuring what to do about the recurring problem with the exhaust manifold donuts, I decided to crawl under again and remove the two new ones that I had ‘squished’ mistakenly [ignorantly] during installation.

As I figured, they were deformed and would not have lasted any distance. I reinstalled the proven durable set. Those installed in Medford Oregon by Alex, [working on the pavement in the Walmart parking lot]. I also ordered a carry spare donut from Auto Zone,… just in case.

During this last repair, I also replaced the two missing studs and nuts, that had fallen out after loosening during the repeated heatings and coolings of each days travels from Oregon. The ‘Help kit’ studs by Dorman, I had acquired from Auto Zone.

After Alex installed the durable donuts, I should have been re-tightening the flange retainer nuts each morning, before each day’s hundreds of miles of driving, until they had settled in and retained their ability to stay tight.

This time, with new studs and nuts, close attention to torquing the nuts in sequence, after greasing the outside of the header pipes, [those sections in iron flange retainer contact], to allow smooth, even pressures, I hope the system will retain it’s tension and alignment. I will drive to the local station for a top off of fuel for winter storage tomorrow.

After return and cool down, I intend to re-tighten the nuts. By doing this a couple of times, the system should stay tightly sealed for more extensive trips.

A wash and wax, before storage in the back yard, should be the last item before spring travels.

Twin Spruce RV park Ruidoso NM

Traveled from Alb NM 200 miles south to Ruidoso NM Twin Spruce RV Park camp on Wednesday ….for a few days trial run with grandsons on their first overnight.

Twin Spruce RV Park

On approach to the mountainous area nearing Sierra Blanco [12,000′], the hills are low gear demanding, for a significant time. The Nogal ‘shortcut’ east of Carrizozo is pretty steep in sections.

Co-pilot noted a forest fire on the horizon towards Cloudcroft NM. The Timberon Fire eventually encompassed about 400 acres and consumed 20 homes. Fire risk is historically present across mountainous NM during hot summer days.

The Ruidoso, Capitan, Alto Fire was extreme a few years back and the remnants of  wide spread destruction are still visible today.

As entering Ruidoso, low gear is the mandatory method to save the rig’s brake rotors and pads. Driving down through the narrow main street of Ruidoso is a bit tight when tourism is at peak. There is the Gavilon canyon route that saves a bit of nerves, related to pedestrians and slow traffic through town.

As the junction leading to Twin Spruce is in sight, we slow for the turn and mosy on into the RV park where site reservations are waiting. Three rigs arrived all at the same time. Took a bit of maneuvering to sort out the rigs and for ‘Stump’ to guide us up the steep hill into our site for three nights camp.

First time away from the grand sons parents, extended nights sleeping in the RV. Campers told of evening herd of Deer and one regularly wandering Black Bear that raided some leftover watermelon from a nearby campsite. The kids sat up for a while, watching for the Bear and Deer.

They did fine and seemed to have a bit of fun in the process of setting up their fold out sofa bed each night. Days were wasted in leisure as we prowled around a few little touristy shops, finding some crystals of quartz to add to their collections.

Entertainment for us grandparents, watching as they drove gas powered go carts for first time….. around a figure 8 track, under an overpass, several laps, 15 minutes, while racing other kids. Enjoyed their laps enough to do it again on 2nd evening.

Although a swimming pool is on RV park property, they never showed interest. When the three grand daughters living in Alb, went with us as youngsters years ago, All they wanted was to be in the pool. When the little one even had a poopy problem, she wanted to go jump in the pool… yuck.

Brought along an Airsoft rifle that I had acquired at a charity shop, but had no little plastic BB’s.

As  obviously destined, we were assigned site #78… further up the hilly sites on the mountainside… which by chance had been occupied previously by three families with a lot of kids.

They had dropped hundreds of little colorful plastic Airsoft balls. So many were on the ground, stuck in cracks of the deck and laying around the sites nearby, that our grand sons ‘re-shot’ airsoft BB’s for days, with never running out. The forested mountain range was next to our site, so no campers were in danger of little colorful BB’s in their stew :>)

Flying J Wranglers were performing in their ‘Bonito Village’ entertainment town. Thursday eve, we arrived at 6pm and left at 10pm, poking around their little village, shooting wax pellets from real six shooters, then watching a gun fight in the street.

Sheriff said “Take ten paces, turn and fire at will”. Troublemaker then shot his own partner, claiming his name was ‘Will”.

When Sheriff addressed the bad guy to stop, draw and fight, the troublemaker just turned around, walked away from the Sheriff, while replying to the Sheriff,

“No”.

Sheriff said “just where do you think you are going”? He defiantly replied…” I’m going to Rehab”… “Just like everyone else today.”

Troublemaker walked away, replied, “I’ve seen you shoot, I’m not worried”

Sheriff shot at him anyway, in a finale of crowd laughter as he shook and rang to the tune of a cow bell after bragging, ‘You missed me…sort of”.

Then the tasty dinner was served efficiently to the large group, on steel plates from the chuck wagon serving line as we hustled through in orderly fashion. Lots of seconds and thirds left everyone fed up.

One grand son went back four times for the Bar B Q Chicken, must have liked it :>)  Lots of Cowboy/Cowgirl singing, guitars and comedy during a well done fun performance ……after trail chow was served.

One grandson desired a train engine of vintage new HO ga at a little train shop. His allowance went for that ‘investment’.

The other grandson had not spent all of his wealth on rocks or trains and saw a little plastic rifle-pistol set at the little shop in the Wrangler’s Village. It took lots of older wisdom to get him to wait until Walmart, to see what the same allowance wealth would buy.

After a call to his parents for approval and blessing, he now owns his first Daisy Red Ryder. Lots of gun slinger lessons later, as he went through his first little jar of BB’s, he has not “Shot his eye out’..yet..

One grandson and I walked down the hill to the office shelter and breakfast served from 8am to 10am on Saturday. While waiting for her son to prep our order, Kay the owner, stopped by for a chat. Have not seen my friend Kay since last time, two seasons ago. Great biscuits and gravy, two pancakes and bacon for me and one pancake and bacon for grandson. He loves bacon.

Break camp after dumping and rinsing the holding tanks. Grandsons were fascinated by the fast flow of poop passing through the clear viewing tube. Doesn’t take much to interest kids.

Hook up the Honda tow, remembering to connect the additional stop and tail lights taped to the roof. Gradually descending the steep hill to the highway, we bid adieu [until next trip] to Twin Spruce.

Taking the Gavilon Canyon by-pass to save bit of traffic and tight hill climbing through town, we were on our way. AC blower circuit [resistor block?} had failed a few times in the past, so a 12 ga jumper wire to the cigar lighter socket, kept the blower functioning on the return during a very hot driving day… 99 degrees.

200 mile trip home after three nights in camp, was four hours total. 1/2 the distance was of up and down mountainous driving in low gears, followed by a long stretch of volcanic lava scenery across Valley of Fires and of interstate 25 into Albuquerque.

The twenty miles or so, of maturing Pistachio or Pecan groves were interesting near Belen NM, south of Alb NM. Today’s temp was 99 degrees. Kind of warm but, as true in NM, no humidity to sweat about.

Parents picked them up on arrival, as they showed their mountain treasures and a rock… a big rock.