Saturday, 31 January 2009
Day 20 Jan 31 Saguaro NP to El Paso
Today was 342 miles entirely on I-10; lots of trucks of course. We went shopping in Deming and again at the CostCo in El Paso. I had planned to stay in El Paso but the RV park’s location looked pretty grim like the rest of the city so we just kept driving and found a rural place beside the Interstate at an Exxon. The most exciting event in the entire day was to see a wide load that found itself in a too narrow construction zone over a bridge. There were police cars everywhere and guys out with tape measures checking the width. We did not see the outcome.
Posted on 01/31/2009 6:02 PM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 30 January 2009
Day 19 Jan 30 Joshua Tree NP to Saguaro National Park
This was a long day covering 408 miles. Leaving the campsite an approaching motor home started honking with the drive madly waving his arms at us. We stopped backed up and learned we had left the satellite dish up. This was a first for us in 2 years. We fueled up at Twentynine Palms and headed east on 62 through Parker and on to I-10 at Vicksburg, AZ. We took the Phoenix bypass to Gila Bend and then I-8 and I-10 to Marana. In this way we avoided all the heavy traffic except for 37 miles on I-10 from the I-8 junction to Marana. Not surprisingly, Saquaro Cactus are everywhere in this part of the country. We are camped at the Gilbert Ray County Park just outside the National Park which has no camping. This is a large very well maintained campground with electric at every site but you have to fill your water tank at one of many water stations throughout the park. The Saguaro in the photo is right our View.
Posted on 01/30/2009 9:57 PM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Day 18 Jan 29 Salton Sea RA to Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park covers two deserts; the Sonora on the south and Mohave on the north. A remarkable change occurs when you cross the mountain range between the two. The Joshua trees and rock piles are only found in the northern part of the park. We are at the Jumbo Rocks campsite which has incredible scenery but no power, no water, and no cell phone service. We hiked around the rocks for almost 3 miles. The photo shows a Joshua Tree before some of the unusual rocks. These rocks were formed under the surface by molten rock that rose like bubbles and cooled. Then the overlying rock was eroded away leaving the rounded and incredibly shaped rocks. Mavis and Judith had their last scrabble game while Bob and I took it easy. At 4,300 ft of altitude it is going to be cold tonight. Tomorrow we head east to Saguaro National Park near Tucson. Bob and Judith will head west to L.A. and then fly to New Zealand for several weeks.
Posted on 01/29/2009 3:05 PM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Day 17 Jan 28 Bashford's to Salton Sea Recreation Area
The mineral water hot tub last night was great. Every tub was full even at 10PM. This morning we left at 10AM for the nearby San Andres Oasis. The San Andres fault runs along the east side of the Sea just below the Chocolate Mountains. The Oasis is fed by an artesian water supply and is natural. The palm trees are immense. As you enter the oasis you are completely shaded by the palms. We had a picnic lunch and then headed for the Salton Sea RA with its visitor center. At last we got the whole story on the Salton Sea. It seems that thousands of years ago the area was part of the Sea of Cortez. The Colorado River delta gradually cut off the area and it became desert. In the last part of the 19th century canals from the Colorado were built to irrigate the rich land in the desert. In 1905 the Colorado flooded and washed out the levees around the canal and emptied all of its water into the Salton Sea area for 2 years. When the levees were finally repaired the Colorado returned to its former connection to the Sea of Cortez. The Salton Sea today is fed by agriculture runoff and maintains a fairly stable water level. However, the salt level keeps increasing and if this continues the sea eventually will not support life. The Sea was very popular for recreation in the 50’s but today there is little activity. I have not seen a single boat on the water. There are hundreds of white pelicans here in the Sea and you can see a few in today's photo. Tomorrow is our last day in the area and we will visit Joshua Tree National Park.
Posted on 01/28/2009 6:26 PM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Day 16-1 Jan 27 Red Hill Park to the Mud Pots
This was a day to visit some very strange spaces. It started with a 1 mile trip over some very rough unpaved roads along the side of the Salton Sea to the mud pots. These are small 5 foot high volcano like piles of mud with the center occupied by boiling mud from the center of the earth that burps and belches until the pile is so high it collapses. There are no signs or brochures describing this natural wonder. Only the locals know where to go to find them. The photo only shows the center of one with several boils. We then drove out of the farm lands to Niland and on to Slab City.
Posted on 01/27/2009 9:24 PM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Day 15-2 Red Hill County Park, Salton Sea
We are now beside a beach 248 ft below sea level at the southern end of the Salton Sea at the Red Hill Marina County Park (see photo). It is a very wild but beautiful place in the Sonny Bono Wildlife Refuge. The Red Hill is a large rock that rises from the very flat sea bed. The marina is long gone as the shoreline has receded 1000 ft or so in the last few years. We hiked 2 miles around the rock and campsite. Looking south we can see two very large geothermal power stations on the edge of the Sea. Tomorrow we will head up the east side of the Sea to Bashford’s Hot Mineral Spa.
Posted on 01/27/2009 2:51 AM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Day 16-2 Jan 27 Mud Pots to Slab City to Bashfords Hot Mineral Spa
Slab City is the left over slabs from a World War II Marine Base. All the buildings were torn down leaving concrete slabs. Trailers and motorhomes then moved in on the slabs. However, Slab City is most famous for Leonard Knight’s Sanctuary Mountain. This is probably one of the largest examples of folk art in the world. Leonard found Jesus 22 years ago and began to build his mountain. Over 100,000 gallons of paint were used to create the painted waterfalls and yellow brick road. Leonard was there today and greeted us like long lost friends. He explained how columns were made from old tires covered with adobe clay. We then went a few miles to Bashford’s. Mavis did laundry while I worked with a local RV mechanic to try and get our hot water heater working again. It turned out there were two problems: bad connections and the hot water tank bypass was inadvertently operated a couple of days ago. Even if the water in the tank was hot, it could not be delivered to the taps. The mineral water comes from deep wells at 150 degrees. It is then cooled to 105 and put in a swimming pool and a series of 6 large bath tubs. I will head for the tubs tonight with Bob & Judith. Mavis is not fond of hot tubs.
Posted on 01/27/2009 9:27 PM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 26 January 2009
Day 14 Anza-Borrego to Julian CA to Agua Caliente County Park
Bob & I started the day off right with a 1 mile hike up 260 feet to an overlook of the park and desert beyond. At 10 we left for the town of Julian at 4000 feet. The temperature dropped from about 60 to 40 as we climbed and when we got to Julian we were in thick fog. Julian is an old town with many interesting shops and restaurants. It is best known for its apple pie. We went there to meet with an old friend from my public school days I had last seen 38 years ago at his wedding. He drove over from his home in San Diego and met us for lunch. By 3:00 pm the fog had lifted and we drove down to the desert to Agua Caliente (which translates to hot water). We enjoyed the hot mineral water in a special indoor pool at the campsite. Tonight we have power (for the first time in two days) but for the first time on this trip there is no cell phone service. A sign in the office says you have to drive 2 miles to the top of a hill to get any cell phone service.
Posted on 01/26/2009 6:43 PM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 26 January 2009
Day 15 Agua Caliente to Brawley, CA
This morning we hiked 2 miles through a canyon at Agua Caliente (see photo). We drove south on the Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849 to I-8 then east through the desert. At one point named Plaster City, we passed a large plant where gypsum is mined and made into sheet rock. Heading north the farmland has been recovered from desert with irrigation canals. Hay and straw are two of the main crops. Lunch was at a mall in Brawley. Our water heated failed this morning. A call to the manufacturer went no where but a call to our dealer Cullum and Maxie in Nashville told me one thing to try. It worked but only temporarily. We still have to heat water on the stove.
Posted on 01/26/2009 6:46 PM by Bob Duthie
Saturday, 24 January 2009
Day 12 Jan 23 La Quinta CA to Anza- Borrego Desert State Park
The day began with a visit to the Southwest Arts Festival. This is a juried event so only the best of the best is on display. There were all kinds of paintings, photographs, sculptures, clothing, and jewelry. With 270 artists exhibits it was overwhelming. If you go take lots of money; $1000 doesn’t go far when it comes to original paintings and sculptures. We took Bob’s Pleasureway motorhome to the artshow and left the View at the park. After a shopping trip we went back to the park for a delicious lunch with all the stuff we bought at Trader Joes (see photo). They have wine at $1.99 for a 750ml bottle. We left for Borrego at 2:00PM. It is just about a 50 mile drive down the west side of the Salton Sea. The Sea doesn’t smell so good on this side as it is filled mainly with agriculture run off and has no outlet. The Sea is 235 ft below sea level. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a spectacular setting with a mountain on one side and desert on the other. The town of Borrego Springs is nearby. Tomorrow we will explore the desert and mountain trails.
Posted on 01/24/2009 3:01 AM by Bob Duthie
Saturday, 24 January 2009
Day 13 Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Finding myself out of cash, I rode the folding bike a couple of miles into Borrego Springs and found an ATM that worked. It was mostly downhill to get there so it wasn’t so easy to get back. I walked ¾ mile to the Nature Center with Bob (see photo). It was very well done and had an interesting movie in Blu-ray about a recluse in the 1930’s that lived with his family in the desert. We are in the largest state park in California with 500,000 acres of land. This afternoon I read while Mavis took the bike to town. As soon as the sun went behind the mountain, it got windy and has continued into the evening. Tonight we all had supper in the View and sampled the $1.99 wine from Trader Joes. It is really good. At $23 for a case I will be stocking up before we get to Tennessee. It will be a great wine for boating this spring.
Posted on 01/24/2009 9:04 PM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 22 January 2009
Day 11 Jan 22 Parker, AZ to La Quinta, CA
Our first stop was a McDonald's in Parker for a senior decaffe. I parked the View and walked to the building A crude sign on the door said the lobby was closed. I walked around to the drive in and the order window was closed but the delivery window was open. The clerk said they could only serve if I was in a vehicle. She took pity on me when I said I was in an RV and I got my coffee. She said the lobby was closed because they were short of staff. It was a first for me to find a McDonald’s closed. We crossed the Colorado River and found ourselves in a desert about 100 miles wide. A new kind of graffiti is used here on the bank of the railway track that runs beside the road (see photo). Black stones are placed on the bank to form letters. Sometimes white stones are used to fill in the letters or images. There is no shortage of stones of either color in this desert. Descending on I-10 into Indio we could see the Salton Sea. At the La Quinta campground we met up with our friends from Saltspring Island, BC., Bob and Judith. We will tour the area with them for the next week. The have a motorhome similar to ours and have been visiting this area for many years. It’s great to have a knowledgeable tour guide.
Posted on 01/22/2009 6:14 PM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
Day 10 Jan 21 Parker AZ, Buckskin Mountain State Park
This was “take a hike” day. We went on a 3 mile hike to the old abandoned mines in the hills East of the park. We climbed a total of 908 ft during the hike according to our GPS with a maximum elevation of 620 ft and a minimum of 350 ft. I used the GPS track file to plot a profile of the hike from which I could determine a climb of 908 ft. (see plot). The mines were little more than small holes in the rock. It is doubtful that much copper was ever taken out of the hills here. The desert vegetation and views over the Colorado River and mountains made the hike worthwhile. The photo shows just how rugged this country is. It is hard to image mules dragging ore out of this terrain.
Posted on 01/21/2009 4:58 PM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
Day 9 Jan 20 Quartzsite, AZ to Parker, AZ
We watched the inauguration on our satellite TV. As battery voltage was low we had to turn on the generator. This is where solar panels would really help. Only one other View had its generator going during the ceremony. Then we headed 46 miles North West to Buckskin Mountain State Park. This is a beautiful spot with power and water. We hiked up a mountain beside the park and took today’s photo. I drew a circle around our motorhome. The Colorado River runs beside our campsite. California is on the other side. The buildings in front are called cabanas and are used by picnickers in the summer. We will stay here two nights and then drive 155 miles to La Quinta CA.
Posted on 01/20/2009 3:08 PM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 19 January 2009
Day 8 Jan 19 Quartzsite, AZ
This was our first day of not driving anywhere. The morning was spent touring other Views and Navions and talking about all the modifications people have made. Our View is a rare model that many of the others have never seen. It has the most storage space but the least living space of the three models Winnebago makes. The hottest addition that 3 or 4 people have put in is solar panels. They are huge and there are all sorts of ways to mount them. However, they are pretty awkward to set up. In the afternoon we went back to the RV and flea market. The market is immense. One India/China/Tibet vendor had some strange stuff (see photo). He was unpacking a big wooden crate with the stuff just thrown in every which way. Tonight we gathered about as the sun went down, ate snacks and told stories. It’s a good group and at least two other couples are boaters.
Posted on 01/19/2009 6:28 PM by Bob Duthie
Sunday, 18 January 2009
Day 7 Jan 18 Mesa, AZ to Quartzsite, AZ
Quartzsite is a tiny town in the desert near the California boarder. Originally a stage coach stop it can now boast having one of the largest flea markets in the world with 2.2 miles of aisle frontage. The Bureau of Land Management owns huge tracts of desert land just south of the town and allows camping. They charge $40 whether you stay for 1 night or 14. There is no power or water and you just park anywhere you like.. The climate is such that 1000s of RVers come here for the winter. We are here with 9 other owners of View/Navions at what was advertised as a tech rally. We are in our own small area 100’s of feet from any other motorhomes. Some motorhomes are gathered in circles just like the wagon trains used to do to defend themselves from the Indians. View/Navion owners are showing off the modifications they have made to the standard product including towing bars, jacks, solar panels, satellite dishes, and my on board WiFi network to the Internet. An annual RV show is on and today we walked 0.7 miles to an enormous tent with a vast array of exhibits of RV related stuff. We plan to stay for at least a couple of nights. In the photo we are on the right side.
Posted on 01/18/2009 8:56 PM by Bob Duthie
Saturday, 17 January 2009
Day 6 Jan 17 Las Cruces, NM to Mesa, AZ via Old West Highway
We drove 330 miles today, mostly on US70, known in Arizona as the Old West Highway. Tonight we are in Apache Junction, one of the eastern Phoenix suburbs. The Old West Highway is a spectacular route through several mountain ranges each one more interesting than the last. It is much more exciting than taking the Interstate. The weather today was near perfect rising from the low 30s to 75. The local weatherman on the TV news was bragging that today this area has the best weather anywhere in the USA. The photo was taken in the Gonzales Pass just west of Superior.
Posted on 01/17/2009 10:20 PM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 16 January 2009
Day 4 Jan 15 Haskell,TX to Roswell, NM
It is cold; we woke up to 18 degrees F. outside. The propane heater really works well when it is this cold so nothing froze. Tonight it is going down to 22, nothing compared to Nashville where the forecast is for 5. The route today continued on US380. This road, built in 1932 is 677 miles long, mostly 2 lane, and straight running due west from Greenville, TX to San Antonio, NM at I-25. Most of the counties in West Texas are all exactly square 32 miles per side. The county seats are mostly dead center. Consequently when you cross a county line you know it is 16 miles to the next town. The speed limit is 70 mph but since there is so little traffic we ran at 55 mph. This is the most comfortable speed in the View. It is quiet, more relaxing, and saves 2 mpg compared to 65 mph. Roswell is best known as the place where a UFOs crashed in 1947 and was kept secret by the US Military. The UFO Museum and Research Center is here. The big discovery for me was to learn that one of the few 3rd kind encounters with beings possibly from another planet occurred near Hopkinsville, KY. In true southern hospitality the visitors’ first welcome was from a 12 gauge shotgun. Witnesses reported the creatures would float or fall over and scurry for cover when hit by the bullets. (see photo). Mavis learned that in the event you sight a UFO do not call 911 (government office) call the UFO Museum in Roswell.
Posted on 01/16/2009 2:30 AM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 16 January 2009
Day 5 Jan 16 Roswell, NM to White Sands National Monument to Las Cruces, NM
The cruise today was a relative short 198 miles to allow time to explore the White Sands NM in the Tularosa Basin. The White Sands are ground up gypsum crystals formed from dissolved gypsum that flows in streams from the surrounding mountain ranges. Since there is no outlet from the basin when the water evaporates the gypsum is exposed. The wind then blows the crystals into sand dunes up to 60 feet high. It is a really beautiful place. Today there was no wind, the temperature was close to 50 and it was sunny. We visited the nature center, read all the markers and hiked through a few of the dunes. Mavis took the "hero shot" of me. White Sands is also the location of a Missile Range and at times when missiles are being fired the highway and park are closed. Tonight we are in a KOA in Las Cruces that is high up with a magnificent view over the city.
Posted on 01/16/2009 11:00 PM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 15 January 2009
Day 3 Jan 14 Mount Pleasant TX to Haskell TX
Out at 7:55AM, after an hour we left the Interstates for an old US highway #380 that takes you north of Dallas and Ft Worth to Roswell New Mexico. Haskell is half way to Roswell and has a public park campsite with power and water that is free the first night. We stopped in Denton TX to visit a Radio Shack in the hope I could buy a 12 volt power cord for the D-link mobile router that lets the iPod Touch, and two computers share one connection to the Internet via WiFi. The first cord I tried didn’t work at all. The second one worked but when I plugged it in to the Dlink, the Dlink would not light up. I checked the fuse in the power cord and found it had smoked. When all else fails read the instructions. They showed I had connected the tip improperly. Now I worried that I had also blown up the Dlink. The store gave me a fuse at no charge and the Dlink started up properly. I was greatly relieved. The new cord even has an on-off switch so I can turn off the Dlink easily and save the coach battery when necessary. The photo shows the view ahead on US380 20 miles east of Haskell. I love the blue sky country. So far we are the only camper in the park at Haskell. We walked around the town square. There were some good looking stores but also many were empty. There were no local restaurants that we could find. So we came back to the View for dinner. We returned to the sad news on TV that Nortel (my old employer) had declared bankruptcy today. It’s the end of an era.
Posted on 01/15/2009 1:00 AM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Day 1 Jan 12 California Here We Come
We left home at 7:45AM, filled up with gas and coffee and were on our way to Kenlake to drop off some of the new cushions for the boat. At 10:15 we were at the storage shed. The View started right up and soon we were packing all our stuff aboard. I turned on the propane, started up the propane heater. pumped up the air springs, and put the car in the shed. I had arranged to fill up the water tank at nearby Ryan Marine (see photo). With water in the tank we were underway and headed for Memphis. For some reason I-40 was blocked just before Memphis and we had to detour losing 45 min. In spite of that we got to Brinkley Arkansas at 5:19 just at sunset. We are camped in the RV Park behind a Days Inn. It is the cheapest commercial RV Park I have seen yet at $17 + tax for electric only. We will need electric heat tonight as the forecast calls for a low of 30. The Mobile WiFi Router is working perfectly with 2 computers and the iPod all sharing the Internet connection.
Posted on 01/13/2009 2:00 AM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Day 2 Jan 13 Brinkley AR to Mount Pleasant TX
On the road at 8:00 our first stop was McDonald's for the 53 cent senior decaf. The next 40 miles on I-40 were in the worst shape of any road we have seen in 21,000 miles. The pot holes were everywhere. Then suddenly near Little Rock the pavement became super smooth. The area of rough road appeared to be a massive wetland used only for duck hunting. Little Rock is a large city now with skyscapers on the horizon in the downtown. We left I-40 and headed southwest on I-30 at Little Rock. We passed through Hope AR, President Clinton’s birthplace. It is also the home of the Klipsch Museum. Paul Klipsch manufactured audio speakers. We elected to keep moving and skipped the opportunity to see such museums. We crossed into Texas at noon. Surprisingly there isn’t even a sign at the border. At Mount Pleasant we checked into the KOA and toured the antique shops in downtown. There is one real antique store and another called “Tiques and Uniques” which had everything but antiques including a restaurant, bakery, fudge counter, candles and stuff. In the photo note the faded “F.W.” no doubt for F.W. Woolworths. Did the “AN” letters fall off the sign. The lady at the real antique store “Jo’s” was pretty huffy about the “candle” store as she put it.
Posted on 01/13/2009 10:40 AM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 9 January 2009
Planning the Salton Sea Trip
This is a difficult trip to plan because of the uncertainty of weather. We want to get to Quartzsite AZ by January 18th. There are three possible routes. If it is not too cold the northern route along I-40 to Albuquerque NM then down to Phoenix AZ and on to Quartzsite is the shortest route. If its really cold (below 20 degrees) then we will take the southern route along the Mexican border. The middle route is through Abilene TX and Tucson AZ. On the return trip we are going to spend a week in Destin FL so we will go along the Mexico border route then. I am installing a Wi-Fi mobile router in the View that will let me use my iPod Touch to get the weather and current temperatures at any time. The Verizon datacard I have been using in my laptop computer just plugs into the mobile router and then my computer , Mavis's computer and the iPod Touch can all share the same internet connection. It is pioneering as I have never heard of anyone else using this device. We leave Monday Jan 12 and pick up the View in Murray KY. We have to pack, grocery shop and fuel up in Murray. I hope to make West Memphis on Monday.
Posted on 01/09/2009 5:44 PM by Bob Duthie