Sunday, 21 March 2010
March 20, Day 41 Saturday, Wappapello State Park, MO to Kenlake State Park, KY
We had a really quiet night at Wappapello State Park since there was no one else around. The most exciting moment on the drive to Kenlake was crossing the Mississippi River on a very narrow old bridge and watching a transport truck coming at us and wondering if we would lose at a minimum our mirrors. However, I guess the bridge is wider than it looks. Arriving at Kenlake Marina we dry camped in the parking lot. I worked on sumerizing the boat which means filling the water tank, draining the antifreeze, opening up the A/C seacock, and the worst job is hooking up the aft head. I was done at about 5:45pm just in time to attend the opening of the boating season party at the Grand Lakes Yacht Club. It was nice end to our trip, catching up with boating friends and having a good dinner and entertainment (see photo). On Sunday we unpacked the View, took it to its storage shed in Murray KY and picked up the car. We're spending the night on the boat and will drive to Nashville in the morning. In a few days I will make one more post with the trip statistics.
Posted on 03/21/2010 10:13 PM by Bob Duthie
Saturday, 20 March 2010
March 19, Day 40 Friday, Joplin, MO to Wappapello State Park, MO
Wappapello State Park is a few miles north of Poplar Bluff in the Southeast part of the state. Tonight we have virtually the entire park to ourselves. There is one other couple in a tent down the hill. The lake is a large reservoir with low water. We were impressed with the Missouri Roads. Coming east on US60 it is almost new and soon will be four lanes all the way. We stopped at Mansfield to take a break. I spotted a sign advertising an historic home tour. Soon we were touring the two homes, Rocky Ridge Farm (see photo) and the Rock House, of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder. Laura wrote the Little House books. The museum had a ¾ scale model of the covered wagon she and her husband used in 1895 to go from De Smet, SD to Mansfield, MO. It took about 35 days to go 700 miles. Laura didn't write books until 1932 at age 65. Her last book appears to be written in 1943. One of her homes, the Rock House, was a 1928 Sears Catalog house similar to our 1928 Nashville home. It was given to Laura and her husband as a retirement present. However, they preferred the home they had built by hand and only lived in the Rock House for a few years.
Posted on 03/20/2010 12:27 AM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 18 March 2010
March 18, Day 39 Thursday, Clinton, OK to Joplin, MO
Today we learned a lot more about Route 66 at the Museum in Clinton. The road was built over a twelve year period starting in 1926 to connect Chicago to Los Angeles. As the car began to be the major mode of transportation, roads were needed. In the 30s with the depression and the dust bowl, people packed up their stuff and moved east or west. By the 50s with the Eisenhower plan that bypassed the towns with the interstates the glory days of Route 66 were all over. The guide at the museum recommended a book rather than the map set as it was written by a friend of hers and has a lot more information than the maps. (EZ66 Guide for Travelers by Jerry McClanahan). We tried it out twice on our way to Joplin. The book does make it easy to find your way. The photo shows the round barn at Arcadia, just northeast of Oklahoma City. The barn was built in 1898 and was restored in 1995. It got a new roof in 2009. It contains a gift shop and a dance hall on the second story. Route 66 covers 8 states, but only 13 miles out of over 2,000 are in Kansas. We visited this section at Galena and as result we were in 3 states, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri today.
Posted on 03/18/2010 10:53 PM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
March 17, Day 38 Wednesday, Tucumcari, NM to Clinton, OK
This was not one of the most exciting days on the trip. We had to wait 4 hours in Amarillo to get the 40,000 mile oil change done. I had called the Dodge Sprinter dealer, but he couldn't handle such a high vehicle, but said the Chevrolet dealer could do it. We made an appointment for 11 but when we arrived at 10:30 he couldn't do the job until 1:00pm. It was a huge Chev Truck parts and service operation, but seemed to have very little business. We were underway at 3:15 with 150 miles to go. Near Groom Texas in the Panhandle we passed the tallest cross (190 feet) in the Western Hemisphere (see photo). It could be seen for 5 miles on I-40. Checking on the web, it is now the second tallest as a new cross in Illinois tops out at 198 feet. Did you know that Elk City Oklahoma was the home of Miss America 1981? That's what the sign says. It turns out that Clinton is the location of the Route 66 Museum. We'll visit there first thing in the morning and hopefully buy a copy of the Route 66 map you need to follow that road.
Posted on 03/17/2010 10:20 PM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
March 16, Day 37 Tuesday, Grants, NM to Tucumcari, NM
The volcano field at Grants extended for several miles along I-40. In places there were small craters so it must have been pretty exciting 3,000 years ago. I learned a lot more about Route 66 today. Just because you see a sign for Historic Route 66 don't take it. About 32 miles on I-40 from Albuquerque I decided to try Route 66. We headed south and wound up in Los Lunas, 32 miles from Alburquerque. Route 66 then went through Alburquerque and all the way up to Santa Fe before returning to today's I-40. I checked out a Route 66 website which had a map of the remaining parts of the Route. The first one I wanted to take wound up a dead end with no access to I-40. Another stretch had 17 miles of gravel. It is safe, however, to take it through the towns. We are staying in Tucumcari because it was the inspiration for the movie Cars and I thought it was neat on our 1987 trip. It is very sad to see all the gas stations, motels and restaurants closed down along the main street, Route 66. The Blue Swallow Motel with its Refrigerated Air at least had a sense of humor with the painted wall on the back of the rooms. (see photo). The street was very wide and at times there was no traffic at all. The Economic Developers have a real challenge at Tucumcari. The name comes from a legend about the old Apache Chief whose daughter, Kari, had two suitors. One she loved, Tocom the other she hated. The Chief told the two braves they would have to fight to the death for her hand. The daughter entered the frey and killed the winner with her knife. When the Chief learned the outcome he grabbed Kari's knife and killed himself crying in agony Tocom-Kari (which evolved to Tucumcari. I thought we had seen the last of the snow at Flagstaff, but for 20 miles after Albuquerque the fields were covered in snow.
Posted on 03/16/2010 8:49 PM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 15 March 2010
March 15, Day 36 Monday, Sedona, AZ to Grants, NM
We got an early start by Sedona time but 7:15 by New Mexico time. I decided to take the I-17 interstate route rather than face climbing the Oak Creek Canyon to get to I-40. Although this route is 27 miles longer, the narrow winding SR89 and construction can easily take longer. It's a long hill up to Flagstaff on I-17 but there are no switchbacks. We stopped at Gallup for lunch and a visit to the Wal-Mart Superstore for groceries. We got to Grants, New Mexico around 4:00PM and stayed at the KOA. This RV Park is in the Zuni-Bandera Volcanic Field. The RV Park is surrounded by collapsed volcanic bubbles (see black lumps in today's photo). The snow covered mountain is about 7,100 feet high. There is no snow on the ground here but the temperature is going down to 20 degrees tonight. The coldest ever for us in the View. A friend told me about the La Ventana Restaurant in Grants and we were not disappointed. They serve a mix of steak, roast beef, seafood and Mexican food. In business for over 40 years they are surviving the recession in Grants where many stores and other restaurants have closed along Route 66.
Posted on 03/15/2010 10:59 PM by Bob Duthie
Sunday, 14 March 2010
March 14, Day 35 Sunday, Sedona, AZ
After setting all the clocks ahead last night, we found out that Arizona stays on standard time all year. Tomorrow we'll be in New Mexico so the clocks will be right again. We walked to the nearby Tlaquepaque (ta-lockey-pockey) upscale area of art shops and restaurants. After lunch I hiked up Schnebly Hill Road to the the Munds Mountain Wilderness. The trail encircles Sedona. The views of the various mountains are spectacular (see photo).
Posted on 03/14/2010 8:22 PM by Bob Duthie
Sunday, 14 March 2010
March 13, Day 34 Saturday, Kingman, AZ to Sedona, AZ
Snow was the word for today. We climbed to 7,000 feet near Flagstaff before heading south to Sedona. It was great to see the snow but not have to worry about the roads. On our last trip in 1987 we got to Flagstaff at night and had to go down 2,000 foot steep, winding Oak Creek Canyon Road in the dark. It was frightening. Today after 23 years we saw what we had missed. It was beautiful but probably the wildest corkscrewing main road in the country. As in 1987 when we couldn't fint the hotel we had lots of trouble finding the campsite. The GPS kept taking us up wrong roads. However, we did get to the Rancho Sedona RV Park (formerly the Rancho Sedona Mobilodge) which is the only RV Park anywhere near Sedona.
Posted on 03/14/2010 6:19 PM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 12 March 2010
March 12, Day 33 Friday, Valley of Fire State Park to Kingman, AZ
We retraced the Northshore Road as the scenery looks different when you go the other way and with almost no traffic it was much more relaxing than going through Las Vegas. I had a chance to check out 2 more marinas whose boat ramps were high and dry with the water down about 100 feet from the more normal water level. Boating on Lake Mead would be a challenge with such fluctuations. At Hoover Dam I learned the spillways have only been used once in 1983 when the water level was reaching the top of the dam. The photo shows how low the water is above the Dam. Security is tight with every bin and the inside inspected. The traffic jams crossing the dam are huge, because of the inspections, the narrow road with pedestrians crossing at will, and this is the only road that crosses the Colorado River and heads east to Arizona for many miles. We had lunch at the dam, toured the Power House and watched a 1931 presentation using a very large model of the Colorado River basin on why the dam was built. Tomorrow we will go to Sedona.
Posted on 03/12/2010 10:02 PM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 11 March 2010
March 11, Day 32 Thursday, Lake Mead NRA to Valley of Fire State Park
We hiked up to the outlook over Lake Mead then packed up and headed north for the Valley of Fire State Park. The drive through Lake Mead NRA is spectacular with high mountains of all colors and previews of the Valley of Fire. The red rocks here were formed from ancient sand dunes which were fossilized and eroded into exotic shapes. There are caves, natural bridges everywhere. The terrain looks much like the Jumbo Rocks in Joshua Tree NP which were formed from eroded magma bubbles. Tomorrow we will loop back through Las Vegas, visit Hoover Dam, and head for Kingman and I-40.We hiked up to the outlook over Lake Mead then packed up and headed north for the Valley of Fire State Park. The drive through Lake Mead NRA is spectacular with high mountains of all colors and previews of the Valley of Fire. The red rocks here were formed from ancient sand dunes which were fossilized and eroded into exotic shapes. There are caves, natural bridges, and red rocks everywhere. The terrain looks much like the Jumbo Rocks in Joshua Tree NP which were formed from eroded magma bubbles. The photo shows the campsite. Avoid Site #30 as it slopes so much our levelers couldn't cope. Tomorrow we will loop back through Las Vegas, visit Hoover Dam, and head for Kingman and I-40.
Posted on 03/11/2010 6:01 PM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
March 10, Day 31 Wednesday, Las Vegas to Lake Mead National Recreation Area
We left the glitz 30 miles behind as we drove south west out into the desert to the campsite at Callville Bay Marina on Lake Mead. This lake was formed by the damming of the Colorado River in 1936. Before that time and before the railroads steamboats came upstream to the Mormon town of Callville. It was tough going in the rapids where the boats had to be winched upstream via hooks cemented in the rocks. This marina (see photo) is mostly rental houseboats. It has an enormous boat ramp and parking lot. The length of the boat ramp is made necessary by the extreme variations in the water level. Launching your boat is a major undertaking with long walks up and down the ramp. The season here runs from May to September. Today the park was virtually deserted. There is a good weather window through Flagstaff, AZ on Friday with no snow or freezing weather during the day so we will be leaving the Lake Mead area then.
Posted on 03/10/2010 7:06 PM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
March 9 Day 30 Tuesday, Las Vegas, NV
We woke up to rain, high winds and cold 40 degree weather. In spite of this we took the free casino bus to Harrah's on the Las Vegas strip. How wrong I was to think we would have the place to ourselves. The crowds were huge and everywhere. There must be direct flights from Japan to Las Vegas. The architecture of the strip is just a massive jumble of different styles, electronic signs, and fiberglass sculptures. It's much worse than Disney World. We toured the fancy shops in Caesars Palace and the Bellagio. Sony had an exhibit of 3D TV that requires special electronic glasses to watch. That's the next I got to get one. The casino floors are so large as you walk through you wonder if you will ever get to see the light of day again. The water show at the Bellagio is well worth a visit. The photo shows one of the buildings at Caesar's Palace attempting to imitate the Louvre. The city has come a long way since my last visit around 1986.
Posted on 03/09/2010 7:24 PM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 8 March 2010
March 7 Day 28 Sunday, Death Valley to Beatty, NV
We splurged on breakfast today at the old Furnace Creek Inn. After all the money saved with our Golden Age Passport that gets you into the park free and discounts the campsite by 50% we could afford it. The Inn was opened in 1927 by the Pacific Borax Company which mined borax nearby. The adobe bricks that make up the mission-style architecture were created on site by Native Americans. Furnishings and decor in the lobby and bar draw upon the classic look of the 1930's. The Inn is only open from mid-October through mid-May. Breakfast was magnificent and the service first class. Then we headed for Mosaic Canyon. It was a 2 mile gravel road climb up the alluvial plain to a spectacular smooth marble narrow canyon (see today's photo). I have always thought Death Valley was a desert like the Sahara. There are a few areas of sand dunes but it is only a small percentage of the land area. We stopped at the Mesquite Flat Dunes and then drove 36 miles to Scotty's Castle. This is a 1920's Spanish style mansion built by Arthur and Bessie Johnson with Arthur's friend Scotty. Scotty was a performer having worked with Wild Bill Cody's touring show. He convinced Arthur there was gold in the hills and after seeing the area, Arthur decided to build a winter home. Frank Lloyd Wright prepared a set of plans for the home, but Arthur didn't like the look and fired FLW. As an aside, our tour guide mentioned that Bessie went to Cornell with FLW. The tour was very interesting and ended with an impressive organ concert in the music room. (see tomorrow's photo). We ended the day driving the Nevada route to Beatty. The sky was incredible with rainbows, rain showers, fluffy clouds, on a foundation of snow capped mountains and desert. We camped about 5 miles north of Beattie across the highway from Angel's Ladies, a Nevada brothel, with free all night truck parking. This was our last night with Judith and Robert as they are heading back to Vancouver Island in the morning.
Posted on 03/08/2010 5:34 AM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 8 March 2010
March 8 Day 29 Monday, Beatty, NV to Las Vegas, NV
We have returned to civilization and Internet access after 3 days in almost complete isolation. We now have 14 more days vacation to spend before our return to Nashville. Our strategy is to spend as much time in the warm parts of the west to allow the east to warm up so the probability of snow in the passes is reduced. We will tour Lake Mead, visit Sedona, and then head for Nashville. Today we are at staying at Sam's Town Hotel, Gambling Hall & Bowling Center at their 500 site RV Park.
Posted on 03/08/2010 11:37 PM by Bob Duthie
Sunday, 7 March 2010
March 6 Day 27 Saturday Tecopa, CA to Death Valley, CA
We went ahead of Robert & Judith and had breakfast at the Crowbar CafÃ© in Shoshone. We all got together and drove the 72 miles to Furnace Creek in the center of Death Valley. The Valley is roughly 100 miles long about 13 miles wide and runs north & south between two mountain ranges. The mountains on the west side were snow covered with the peak 11,300 ft above the Badwater Basin. The Basin (see photo) is 282 feet below sea level. As the water in the lake evaporates it leaves the rectangular pattern of sodium chloride crystals. We walked a mile out into the lake to get that photo. There was a huge 100 and 200 mile race of bicyclists today. We must have passed 500. At one point they had to ride up hill for 10 miles on a 5% grade, then turn around and head down hill. After Badwater we took the one way Artists Drive up to a canyon called Artists Palette. As you might have guessed the rocks here are all different colors. Vehicles over 25 feet are not allowed on this road because they would get stuck in the dips. We set up camp at Furnace Creek in a large new campsite. There is no power or water at the sites.
Posted on 03/07/2010 5:32 AM by Bob Duthie
Saturday, 6 March 2010
March 5 Day 26 Friday Tecopa, CA
We all went in the View today. We stopped in Tecopa at the elementary school where there was a water tank. The pressure was so low it was hopeless trying to fill our tank, so we went on to China Ranch. There is steep canyon with sharp turns to get into the ranch. We made it through the canyon and I filled the tank with their hose. We had date milkshakes which were very good and toured the 25 acre date palm farm. We climbed back out of the China Ranch and went to Shoshone. Originally the town was built to serve the Tonopah and Tidewater railway line in 1908. Now it is one of the gateways to Death Valley. We had lunch at the Famous Crowbar CafÃ© & Saloon. We joined the motorcycle crowd and had a pretty good lunch there. Next door is the Shoshone Museum which had WiFi and I managed to get a couple of emails off. The service was too slow for access to the blog. After lunch we toured the caves built by talc miners in the area and headed back to the campsite. I was intrigued by the dunes in the area and hiked a mile along the road to see them (see photo). They are fragile mud hills according to a sign along the highway. Tonight we will take to the mineral water hot springs again. The water here is rated highly by spa lovers worldwide. The very high sodium content makes the water very smooth and it has no odor.
Posted on 03/06/2010 5:30 AM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 5 March 2010
March 4 Day 25 Thursday Twentynine Palms to Tecopa, CA
We took the Amboy Road from Twentynine Palms to Amboy. This was a famous stop on Route 66 in the Mohave Desert. Roy's (see photo) was a restaurant, car repair, gas, and motel stop on this route from New York to LA and opened with the highway in1926. In 1973 the highway was bypassed with the completion of I-40. Today you can get gas, and bottled water, cold drinks, and snack. There is no brewed coffee as the health department won't allow trucked in water. The restaurant was left as is with the lunch counter intact and and a stack of photo albums. A mile along Route 66 is the entrance to Amboy Crater. This volcano last erupted 10,000 years ago. We walked 3.1 miles to the cinder cone, climbed to the rim and toured the craters in the crater. It was my first time in a volcano. We continued driving north through desert, sand dunes at Kelso, to Baker. My last visit to Baker was July 2, 1950 with my family driving in our 1950 Studebaker from Toronto to Los Angeles. My father wrote in his blog which records that because the daytime temperature was 120 degrees, we drove through the desert at night and had breakfast at Baker. Another 51 miles and we arrived at the Tecopa Hot Springs and Campground which is operated by California Land Management. The rate is $19 with power, water, and use of the hot spring. For the first time on this trip there is no Verizon cell phone service here.
Posted on 03/05/2010 3:41 AM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
March 3 Day 24 Wednesday La Quinta to Twenty-nine Palms
Judith planned the trip today which started with a visit to Coachella Valley Preserve where we hiked 2 miles to an oasis beside the San Andreas fault. There was a large pond in the Oasis surrounded by huge dense palms. We climbed up to 2500 ft and had lunch at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. Then it was on to the town of Joshua Tree and one of the strangest sculpture gardens anywhere by artist Noah Purfoy. An African American growing up in Alabama he filled his 7 acre lot in the high desert with assemblage sculptures made from various scrapped items. Many pieces have a message based on his life experiences. The artist died in 2004 but a foundation was formed to try and preserve the works as best as possible. More on the web by googling Noah Purfoy. Today's photo shows his "Kirby Express" named after the vacuum cleaners.
Posted on 03/03/2010 8:22 PM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
February 28 Day 21 Sunday Cardiff by the Sea to Rancho Santa Fe
It rained hard all night and by morning at high tide, the surf was huge and water was coming across the beach parking lots and US 101 road loaded with rocks. They had to use bulldozers to clear the roadway. We drove to our friends, Phil and Lee's home in Del Mar and then went out for lunch at Jakes. This is a very good restaurant right on the beach. It was packed with people watching the surf. Phil having sold his business two years ago, has passed his real estate brokers exams and is ready to start work. Phil and I have been friends since Grade 2 in Toronto. After lunch we picked up the View and headed for Tony and Gillian's home in Rancho Santa Fe. Tony and I worked together at Nortel. We were greeted by 5 dogs, 3 horses, a cat, and 2 very loud birds. Their home is a beautiful, sprawling, 50's ranch with views over the orchards and hills. We spend a couple of hours touring the beautiful gardens and home. Gillian rides for miles on the horse trails in the area. For dinner a reservation had been made at, you guessed it, Jakes. That night we watched the Winter Olympics closing ceremony in Tony's theater room on a 120" screen. The photo shows two of the dogs, left to right, Violet and Lincoln walking on water at the swimming pool. Lincoln is the alpha dog and is a rescue dog from Mexico that lived in the streets of Tijuana. He is very smart.
Posted on 03/02/2010 10:13 PM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
March 2 Day 23 Tuesday Rancho Santa Fe to La Quinta, CA
We left Rancho Santa Fe and headed northeast for the first time. I was surprised at the amount of traffic on the back roads. We climbed to 4,000 feet over a distance of 80 miles and then dropped south of Palm Desert to 40 feet in about 10 miles. The photo shows the severe switchbacks in US 74. We are camped now at the Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area where we met up with our friends from Saltspring Island, Judith and Robert. They have a motorhome similar to ours and we will be travelling together through the Mohave Desert for the next week.
Posted on 03/02/2010 10:20 PM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 1 March 2010
March 1 Day 22 Monday Rancho Santa Fe
Phil had told me about the Rotary Club of Rancho Santa Fe which meets Monday noon at the Rancho Santa Fe Inn. This is an old 1923, posh inn built to provide accommodations for prospective land buyers in the early days of Rancho Santa Fe's development. It's one the Historic Hotels of America and Conde Nast Johansens Recommended. The Rotary sign at the hotel is a modest bronze plaque. I arrived in suitable style having borrowed Gillian's red Jaguar convertible. The meeting was very interesting with an author describing his book about how he escaped from the Nazis, and Russia during WWII, emigrated to America, and became an engineer with NASA developing the Apollo Simulator used to train Neil Armstrong. Our friends are building another home in Carmel with an ocean view. Lifelong golfers they will be close to Pebble Beach. That evening we spent several hours in the Theater showing slides. I was very gratified after showing 200 of my pictures, when Gillian asked "Is that all you are going to show." Naturally I showed a bunch more. Today's photo shows the view of the garden from the View.
Posted on 03/01/2010 10:17 PM by Bob Duthie