Monday, February 9, 2009

Day 5 Sun. 2/8/09 RV Travels

Another wind turbine farm near Oklahoma City, OK They are so huge - compare it to the light pole in front.
Oklahoma City Skyline

We saw alot of fields and grassy areas along the way that had been burned, either from cigarettes or hot cars parked on the high grass. So we thought this was one of them and hoped it wasn't across the road we were about to travel.

Poor people - it was a mobile home.
As we approached Oklahoma City we saw another wind turbine farm. Just like the song says - "when the wind comes sweeping down the plain" and now they can harness all that energy. I bet there are some who do not like the look of the big windmills in their scenery - but it is useful and to us tolerable.
Before we left for the day we did our daily check of the weather on a few different routes. It seemed the wind threat was gone and the only thing we needed to worry about was possible rain / thunderstorms. MapQuest gave us the quickest way to Lakeland, Fl, so that is the route we are following. We also programmed our new Garmin GPS/ Nuvi. It does the directions just fine, but it doesn't talk to us - need to figure that out yet. There are speakers on the unit but some directions say use the car radio. Confusing.
That route took us into Arkansas and once we were past Little Rock, we found another WalMart. This one was alittle scary in that we were the only ones there and the store closed at 10PM. All their gardening stuff was outside so we figured there would be security & /or police coverage all night. Turns out my fears were unfounded - all was fine and we had another great nights sleep. And best of all there was a mailbox so we were able to mail our eBay packages.
Traveling in the RV is quite a bit different than in a car. Comfort for one thing. Gene was feeling weary in the afternoon and we knew we had to travel at least 400 miles a day so we can be in Florida by Wed. We pulled over in a rest area, he took a 15 minute nap while I made him some coffee.
The freezer and refrig are working great so lunch is easy and getting a cold drink is just steps away. Supper was sloppy goes over fresh mashed potatoes.
Miles traveled - 429
still lousy gas mileage
$$ spent in a restaurant for lunch & supper = $00000000000

Alanreed, TX / Review / Short Changed?

As we travel across country, certain things will remain with us for a long time. We stopped in this little town where the signs say population 52. From where we were all I could see was a motel, gas station and gift shop.

The pumps are at the top of a fairly steep hill -even more noticable because of how long our rig is pulling the minivan. The way back to I -40 is down the other side - which is just as steep and then straight onto the highway.

I am collecting magnets for the RV so I had to check out the gift shop. The man behind the counter was on the phone and there were 2 other folks int there as well as me.

When he hung up he stayed behind the counter waiting for one of us the check out. One man did, then me. My total was $8.43. He plopped the change into my hand - the coins and 2 fives - and walked away toward the back.

I looked down and said hey wait a minute, this is not right. He came back and said oh yea, here is the other $1.00.

Now was that on purpose or not? I don't know - but I would suggest to be cautious when purchasing something for cash in the little gift shop in Alanreed, Texas.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day 4 Sat. 2/7/09 RV Travels

The Big Texan, Amarillo, TX Buried Cars, Conway, TX

Cross & Church(?), Groom, TX

Ooops, Water Tower, Britten, Tx
When we pulled into the RV park in Santa Rosa, NM it was almost dark so we couldn't see what was around us. About 10PM we found out. The back of the lot was against the railroad tracks where the long freight trains go through every few hours. But since we were tired we slept through any that went past during the night.
The day was typical SW - Huge blue sky, no clouds - just beautiful. (Most of NM has over 300 days of sunshine a year and it is highly unusual to have more that 2 days in a row without the sun.)
As we were approaching Amarillo, TX we saw a wind turbine farm that we suspected provided some power to the city. There had to have been nearly 100 of those very tall, wind turbines. Pretty amazing. The temperature as we went through Amarillo it was 77 degrees!
Last June on our way to Houston we stopped in Amarillo. When we got to the motel our room key had an ad for free limo service to the Big Texan. This is the steakhouse that serves a 72 oz. steak and anyone who can eat it all in 1 hour gets it for free. The limo was a white stretch car with 6 doors and the huge long horned steer horns on the hood. The big tall cowboy driver got out and opened the doors for us.
The meal was great - NO we didn't try the 72 ouncer and after shopping in the gift shop, the limo took us back to the Comfort Inn. Our table was next to the elevated table where the challengers eat. There was a pail next to the table in case they would barf and if they do, the bet is off.

Back to the present - We stopped for lunch along side of the road at an exit to Conway, TX and there were 5 different cars buried with their noses in the ground including a VW bug and a small pick up truck. They had all been spray painted with graffiti - we couldn't tell if it was intentional or not.

Then off on the eastern horizon was this humongous cross made from pipe. The nearest town was Groom, TX. I think it might have been on the grounds of a church but the building was all boarded up like it was being renovated.
From the NM border to the OK border the panhandle of TX is 180 miles across. We did pass the processing plant for Bar J foods (cold cuts; hot dogs etc - I think).
Our goal for the day was Oklahoma City and a WalMart parking lot. Part reason for having the RV is not to pay to stay someplace over night. Even tho' the RV park in Santa Rosa, NM was only $22.00 it was still $22.00!
Lots of folks (including truckers) stay at WalMarts. With their security and other RVers and semi's it is really safe. It was already dark when a I spied a WalMart in El Reno, OK just 20 miles west of OKC. We pulled in there and asked inside at the customer service if it was OK to stay there. The answer was a very polite 'of course'!
We did some shopping, restocked the Pepsi and BEER (much to Gene's delight), came back and ate the tamales, our family gave us before we left NM and settled in for the night.
Miles traveled - 404
Average MPG = 7
We did some calculations and figure by the time we bought gas, stayed at the motels we like (Comfort Inns - average price $60.00); ate lunch and supper with a tip we are at break even and perhaps even saving some $$ too not having to buy snacks and cold drinks &/or coffee everytime we stop.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Day 3 Friday 2/6/09 RV Travels

Top Photo - Manzano Mts, east of Los Lunas/Belen, NM - what we looked at every day we lived there.
2nd photo - Catholic Church, Peralta, NM north of Los Lunas and south of the Isleta Indian Reservation.
After visiting some with Daniel's FIL, Bennie, and then saying our goodbyes, to everyone, we headed to Gene's cousin Nellie and husband Frank's house. Before we left tho', they gave us bag of homemade tamales, which will be supper on Sat. night.

We haven't seen them in over a year and there was so much to catch up on. They made a trip to NY last fall and then went on a cruise to New England. It was their 1st trip to NY and both had wanted to see the Statue of Liberty and the US Constitution their whole lives. Having been raised there and then just being there again for 3 1/2 years, there was lots to talk about.

After lunch we had to say more goodbyes and on our way out of town stopped by to see Gene's granddaughter at work. By then it was 3:00 ish. We knew we wouldn't get far but had to make a go of getting on our way.

We went back north to Albuquerque to catch I-40 east and got as far as Santa Rosa, NM. That is still about 75 miles from the Texas border and towns are far and few between. Even tho' we hadn't driven very far we decided to stop for the night so I could chat during Danna Crawford's ( radio show. But all the chatters went to bed before us so we could have gone further.

We parked in the La Loma RV park with all the hookups but since it was dark, we only used their electricity. Gene had not connected the other stuff before so we were fine the way we were. The analog TV antenna works just fine.

Now I gotta say, NM is the 6th largest state in the county and you can go for 50 miles without an exit off the interstate. With such a huge windshield the sky is sooooo big!

I made and froze spaghetti sauce before we left, so we had pasta with sauce, salad and Indian Bread. This is bread made by the Native Americans and baked in an horno = a hand made, beehive shaped, clay oven, built outside and heated with a wood fire). Oh man such a treat.

I wrote the blog and collapsed into bed, while Gene stayed up and watched TV for awhile. Alarm is set for 8AM!!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Day 2 RV Travels 2/5/09

Us in the field with the slide out out.
After a great nights sleep we worked some more in getting settled in. Gene's son and wife brought us breakfast/lunch of homemade breakfast burritos wrapped in homemade tortillas. Very yummy - Gene was in 7th heaven eating the food he grew up with.

After we ate it was time to get to busy filling the fresh water tank and hooking up the Direct TV receiver. After several tries Daniel (son) went up onto the roof and see why the satellite dish was not turning. There was no way to check it before we left and Gene was definitely not climbing up there for any reason.

It is stuck so we will have to get it fixed. More than one person has recommended we get a tripod with the dish on it that stands on the ground. We thought it was duplicating what we already have and wanted to try it first. When we get to Florida we will contact Direct TV and have them help us get all set up.

In the meantime we have a very good analog antenna and it will work just fine until we get the other squared away.

DIL - Eileen - and I went grocery shopping and went home to fix dinner. Frito pies with red chile and beans and hot dogs. And a great dessert - vanilla wafers. instant banana cream pudding and bananas layered in a dish. Chilled and just scooped out. No real recipe. Eileen is an excellent cook.

The meat for the chile and beans was venison. The family are big hunters and have a freezers full of antelope, elk and deer. Even Eileen's 9 year old nephew shot both an antelope and deer this past hunting season.

We spent the evening visiting with the family including Genes daughter and grandson and Eileen's mother. We came out to the RV and the gals went crazy looking at and choosing the woven Peruvian earrings we have listed on eBay. They have a friend who is going though chemo and wanted some of our scarves, which are just the right size to cover her head. They took Pink Ribbon scarves in 3 different background colors and a pair of pink ribbon shoelaces.

We went to bed undecided which way we were going to continue east. Back up to Albuquerque and then east on I-40 or south on I-25 to Las Cruces NM where it turns into I-10. The decision was left for the morning when we could really see the 5 day weather reports.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

RV Adventure Day 1 2/4/09

Pictures are in reverse - the bottom one I took first
Top - Sunset just east of Santa Fe looking at the Jemez Mts. (where Los Alamos is).
Middle - The back (east) side of the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Mts. outside of Santa Fe.
Bottom - Welcome to NM sign!!!
After little set back on Tues. we were able to get loaded and pulled away from our home in Colorado Springs, CO at 10AM.

The back up camera quit working over the week end and needed to be replaced. Pikes Peak Traveland originally told us we would have to wait a day or 2 for it to be delivered to them (not a stock item). After playing bad cop (Gene) and good cop (me) lo and behold they found one in the 'back'. Why does everything have to be a battle? They fixed it and we had the rig back at 5PM.

We loaded all the listed eBay items and worked until we were exhausted and decided to finish in the morning, which had us leaving later that we had wanted.

The first real challenge of the trip was going over Raton Pass at the border of NM and Colorado. The crest is about 10,000 feet and the climb is approx. 3 miles long. For the most part our max speed was 35 until the last 1/2 mile. We could see the crest but kept slowing down to about 24 MPH.

At one point a semi pulled up to the drivers window in the left lane but at the same spot he too lost speed and we pulled away from him. Good thing we decided not to fill the fresh water tank with water. It is a 100 gallon tank and would have added a lot of weight. After several more small hills (!), we got to Gene's sons In Laws home about 7:30.

The trip is usually boring - nothing to see except prairie. Having lived here for so many years I am complacent over the real beauty of the wide open spaces. It is just raw land with a border of 11,000 + foot mountains that are snowcapped, just the way God made them.

Usually we see hundreds of prong horned antelope grazing but this trip we only saw about 20. Gene's son said that when they drove from NM to us in CO, a few weeks ago they saw at least 500 of the antelope in herds of 40 or more. They are easy to see. While they are grazing their heads are down but they have a broad white stripe on their sides, so they can be seen from quite a distance.

We also saw llamas ( a very popular animal that people are keeping, in the last few years) and cutey prairie dogs standing on the sides of their hills as a look out. Not a favorite of ranchers because their livestock can step in a prairie dog hole and break a leg.

At one point Gene was tired so we pulled into a rest area, I boiled some water and made him coffee in the French Press and a cup of tea for me. Just that one little thing seemed like such a luxary - a hot drink when and where we wanted, made our way and not some 5 hour old coffee from a convience store. LOL

When we got to Belen, Gene's son met us to lead us to the house. Because there are no street lights it is very dark and we didn't want to miss the turn. His in Laws live at the end of the street on 5 acres, so we are parked in the middle of their pasture. Gene's daughter and her son and daughter were here as was Gene's 96 year old mom (97 in March). We had called and told the to go ahead and eat since we were going to be so late, but our supper of stuffed homemade sopapillas was waiting.

After eating and son (Daniel) and Gene took his mom home, we came out to the RV so everyone could see it. While we were enjoying a bottle of wine, they leveled the rig so it would not move when we walked in it. After struggling with that for 10 minutes, they found out - (by reading the manual) that the emergency brake needs to be on.

Then they put the slide out, out and we just visited some more. When it was time for bed we collapsed and went to sleep immediately. Since it was so dark, the sky was full of stars and it was so quiet, only the occassional train whistle in the distance. I love that - knowing the trains are running - makes me feel all is well. Sorta a weird sense of security!!

Trivia question - Why is the train whistle 2 long 1 short and 1 long? Answer - That is morse code for the letter V. It started in England when officials wanted to alert the towns that the Queen was onboard so V for Queen Victoria!!!

Our plan was to leave today (Thursday) and really start the adventure totally on our own. But we need to get the water in, figure out the TV and finish putting stuff away. I also want to take a shower in here for the 1st time too so we know everything is working OK before we really hit the road.

The shuttle launch was postponed a week so we have alittle more leaway in when we get to Florida. And since we will have a late start tomorrow we may not keep to the original plan of where we are stopping. But then this is a working vacation, so we will sorta take it easy too.

We now know we really can't plan on more that 5 - 6 hours driving or 350 - 400 miles a day. Of course tomorrow will be downhill all the way to the NM - TX border (for the most part - there are some more hills but none as bad as Raton Pass). We will be back at sea level after a few hundred miles into Texas. And we also loose an hour tomorrow because we will cross into Central Time.

Facts - Travel time - 9 hours with 1 hour lunch stop and 2 rest area stops.
Miles - 415
Average MPG - 10.5.