November 2002


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November 13

It's been awhile since I've taken the time to update the journal.  Sorry about that, we're just having too much fun, visiting old friends, seeing the sights and getting a nice sun tan.  I'll try and bring y'all up to date while Ginger washes clothes next door.

Let's see, I think the last entry was in Branson, last month.  We had a great time in Branson and really did enjoy the Escapee RV Park, Turkey Creek.  We had planned on leaving on the 19th but it was raining pretty hard, so (being retired) we decided we'd just stay another day.  We left the 20th heading for Texas.  It was a beautiful drive down through the Ozarks, while US 65 was a major highway, it wasn't Interstate.  We went through small towns.  Most of them had their population on the city limits signs.  Pindall pop 95 with their own post office, St. Joe pop 85 with a 3 lane highway, Marshall pop 1303 with a lovely (and large) high school.  Cattle everywhere, small cabins.  Very rural and getting to look more and more like  we're in the west.  We stopped at a Wal-Mart in Clinton, Arkansas for lunch, Ginger made sandwiches and we had some more of that fine fudge for dessert that we bought in Branson (surprised there is any left!).  When we got underway again we were amazed at some of the names of places.  There was Pickles Gap Village, in Conway (it was raining hard) we saw Toad Suck Park.  We switched to route 430 and crossed the Arkansas river.  It was very wide.  Went around Little Rock, Ginger was very impressed with Little Rock.  Much more metropolitan than she thought it would be.  On our way to Texarkana we went through Hope, Arkansas the birthplace of President Clinton.  There were a lot of RV parks in this area.  About 5pm we arrived in Texarkana, Arkansas, found the Wal-Mart and parked R-Way.  We were both very impressed with the Wal-Mart there.  It was one of the very best and certainly one of the largest we have seen so far.  We walked across the street to a place called CiCi's for a pizza buffet.  It was pretty darn good!

The next morning (Oct 21) we got underway after coffee at Wal-Mart.  Ten minutes later we were finally in Texas!  We stopped for maps at the rest area and were the first people inside.  Very pleasant stop.  We took route 59 south towards Livingston.  There was a bad smell in the air for quite awhile.  We decided it wasn't us because we finally drove out of it.  I should mention that it was sunny when we pulled out this morning, a little foggy, the temp was about 55.  Now it's starting to rain.  Starts with a small mist, then drops, larger drops then just plain ole hard rain.  That lasted about an hour or so.  Sun never comes out, just stopped raining.  We stopped in Nacogdoches at a truck stop for lunch.  Once again, we ate inside R-Way.  Before we left it started raining again.  After about an hour the sun finally came out.  

It was so nice arriving in Livingston, Texas.  The sun was shinning and it looked like a lovely little town, well, not so little.  There was a large Wal-Mart as we started coming into town.  This time, we didn't stop so you can't say we stop at ALL the Wal-Marts.  We arrived at the headquarters of the Escapee RV Club about 2:30, got all checked in, set up and was thinking of driving into town when it started raining again.  It was sort of cool so we decided we'd just sit tight and have some hot soup.  It was great!

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It rained all night.  The pitter-patter of rain drops on R-Way helped us sleep like babies.  The next morning it was still dark at 7am.  I got up and put on coffee.  When I raised the screens I noticed that our awning was weighted down with water.  There must have been 75 gallons or so of water.  I quickly put on my clothes and went outside (could hardly open the door, the awning was quite low) and tried to push up so the water would drain out.  Do you think I could lift that water?  No way!  I tried pushing up with a pole, no luck.  Finally I decided I'd lower one side of the awning and let the water drain that way.  As I released the catch to lower one side, the water shifted, the frame came crashing down and I got soaked as all that water came down too.  What a mess!  I only hope none of the neighbors saw that display of intelligence.  

That afternoon we drive into town, look around, go to Wal-Mart and even stop at McDees to take home some burgers (so Ginger won't have to cook).  When we get back to the park we notice there is a sign up sheet for LP gas for delivery today.  Well, it's about 6:30pm and only a few people were signed up and it had been raining quite hard most of the day.  We took a chance that because of the rain no delivery was made.  We put our name and lot number on the list, went home, ate our burgers and settled in.  The next day, low and behold here came the delivery man with the LP.  Several neighbors saw him pull into our place and came over to tell him they needed some too.  He told them he was sorry but that if they were not on the list they'd have to wait until next week.  I guess the God's were smiling on us, finally!  We also called Verizon and ordered our new digital phones.  We got some wash done today too.  Although it only rained in showers today, it still rained.

Thursday, still raining.  We went into town and ate at the Court House Whistle Stop Cafe.  Nice meal.  In the same building they had lot's of 'old stuff' that was for sale.  We walked through looking at everything and decided we had enough 'old stuff' ourselves, so we didn't buy anything.  

Friday, still raining, hard!  Our new phones arrived.  

Saturday, still raining off and on.  

Sunday, still raining some.  We're on our way to see an old friend of mine, John Karonika and his wife Frances, on the 5K ranch in New Ulm.  We passed 'Camp David' and near Bryan (on US 190) we saw our first oil well.  This is a beautiful part of Texas!  So green, beautiful cattle ranches, you can tell there's money here!  Finally around 5 or 5:30 we arrive at the 5K Ranch.  Big John is down at the road to make sure we don't drive by the road in.  He directs us up on the hill, Frances comes out, we have hugs all around.  It's great to finally be here.  The rain has stopped, well, not really stopped, just turned into a light mist.  We meet John's mother Helen.  Fran fixes us a great ranch style supper and we sit around with full tummies and talk for hours.  

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Monday, pouring rain.  John's daughter, Joyce, who's 'with child' and her friend Dana come over and visit.  John's brother-in-law, Jeff (who's staying at the ranch for awhile while commuting to Sugarland) comes in and we have some Tex/Mex, it's great!  John's son Mark and his future bride, Mandy drop by.  Mandy agrees to bring her equipment (she's a hair dresser) by tomorrow evening so we can all get trimmed up a little.

Tuesday, Sunny!  Ya-hoo!  We pile into R-Way and drive down to Fayetteville for an early supper.  We eat at the cafe, have steaks (what else?) and Blue Bell Ice Cream!  Wonderful!  True to her word, Mandy brings her equipment over and we all lose a little hair!  Tonight we can really hear the coyotes.  One of them (or something) runs into the RV and spooks us for a few minutes.  We heard on the news that Livingston got 10" of rain yesterday in TWO HOURS!  We were sure glad we left when we did.  We are starting to think that perhaps we should look for some plans for an ark!

Wednesday (10/30) our last day with John & Frances.  We go into Bellville and have lunch, Chinese food, and see the area.  This is the 'big town' in this area.  Nice town.  We settle down this evening and watch a little TV.  It's nice to see TV again, we didn't get a lot of good reception on our little antenna.  Although Fran is not a great fan of the West Wing, she put up with it for this one night.  Quite a trooper, that Fran! We really enjoyed the show.  Actually, we really enjoyed our visit.  Their 5 dogs got used to us and their 5 cats just ignored us (like cats are supposed to do). 

Thursday morning, we're off to visit some ole friends from our El Paso Days.  It's sad leaving John and Frances.  They really made us feel welcome and we had a wonderful time.  It's such pretty country around there (when it's not raining), I'm sure we'll be back more than once.

 I just got an email from John, his daughter Joyce is no longer 'with child' as Miss Delanie Ray Janosky made her appearance yesterday (11/12).I understand mother and child are doing well!

Halloween morning, we're off to San Antonio.  We have a wonderful trip through the country, this just has to be 'God's Country'!  We arrive in San Antonio without incident.  Find the Village Green Campground, it's a Good Sam campground.  Very, very nice and it's quite close to our friends house.  Once we get set up we try to call them using our new cell phones.  We can't get an answer on any of their numbers.  Once I get voice mail and leave a message but no call back.  Using our DeLorme Street Atlas program, we locate their house and take off to go trick or treating there.  We have a great reception and actually get to eat some Halloween candy!

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Can you believe it, it's November already!  We have a wonderful visit with Pete Hale and Charlie Davis.  We teach them how to play Mexican Train Dominos, Pete picks it up real quick and wins a few times.  Poor Charlie, he acted like he didn't know what he was doing, but I think that was just a show.  I'm not sure he really wanted to play.  He'd rather take care of the two cat's.  He does love those cats.  Feeds them, well, every time he sees them I think.  Well, not really, but you can certainly say they don't go hungry!  We did have one problem while in San Antonio, we lost our muffler system on the SAAB.  Three hundred and seventy-one dollars later you can hardly hear us coming down the road.  

We've been really anxious to get to El Paso.  So, on a sunny Wednesday morning we struck out.  Planning on staying the night at a park in Ozona that offers a 15% discount for Escapees.  $14 a night WITH cable.  That means we'll be able to see West Wing!  When we arrive we get set up, take the SAAB off the dolly and head into town in search of a grocery store.  We find one, get some things and head back.  On the way back we see a Taco Bell and decide to stop and get Taco's for dinner.  They were the very best Taco's we've ever gotten at a Taco Bell.  There must have been a new employee making them because they had plenty of meat and cheese on them.  Boy, they were good!  We were about the first people in the park that day but lot's of people came in behind us.  

Thursday morning, it's 55-60 and sunny, not a cloud in the sky.  Beautiful day to head for El Paso.  When we leave Ozona we don't see another vehicle for close to a half hour.  It's nice having the road all to yourself but it gets a little spooky after awhile.  It's like, "where is everybody?"  After awhile we start seeing trucks, then more trucks, then lots more trucks.  It's amazing just how many trucks there are on the roads.  Literally thousands of them.  When you get away from the major cities you certainly see more trucks than cars.  We're also surprised at the number of RV's we're seeing.  A lot more than we saw in Maine.  A lot of nice big diesel pushers, going uphill very fast.  We can't do that! We go up sort of slowly.  That's okay though, we're retired!  

There are mountains all around us.  We see hundreds of wind mills.  Not the normal ranch windmill to pull up a little water for the trough.  These are BIG ones, only 3 blades but really up there.  On top of some of the mountains.  Somebody is generating a lot of power.  These are all on the right of us, North, when you look to the left, or south, you see miles and miles of Texas.  Real movie type landscape.  Just beautiful.  We gas up at Fort Stockton, we're getting about 7.73 miles to the gallon.  Not too bad.  It's starting to warm up a bit, it's in the 70's.  Lot's of Pecan groves.  Lot's of flat land with the mountains in the distance.  Just miles and miles and miles of nothing.  Texas sure is big!

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About 58 miles from El Paso we finally pick up one of their radio stations.  We're running alongside a very long railroad train.  Freight train heading towards El Paso too.  It takes us awhile but eventually we pull ahead of the train.  Before you know it we're almost to Horizon City.  Oh my, there is no desert between Horizon City and El Paso.  All buildings.  We can hardly believe our eyes.  This place has grown and grown.  The traffic is starting to get pretty thick too.  We're seeing a lot of those orange/yellow license plates from Juarez, Mexico.  I try to give them plenty of room but they seem to do the same for R-Way.  Maybe I scare them a little.  We are starting to see streets we recognize, George Dieter, Lee Trevino, Yarbrough, McRae but the places, the businesses that used to be there are no longer there.  Things have really changed.  We're heading for the Fort Bliss Army Base RV park.  We find US 54 north and take it, a nice four lane road that wasn't here when we left.  It quickly takes us through the northeast and we find our exit.  Over into the RV park and greeted by some really nice guys.  The manager is retired Navy and a lot of the help is retired as well.  I really feel right at home!

Friday morning, it is sunny and the temp is in the 70's.  We put on shorts and tee shirts and strike out to locate our old neighborhoods.  What a time we have.  Eventually we do find the old houses we lived in and it's a surprise to each of us how the neighborhoods have changed.  It really took us awhile because we didn't actually have the street addresses.  We though we'd surely recognize things . . . wrong!  Things really change in 20 years!  We had fun though, taking pictures, driving around in circles saying, "where is such and such"  it was fun.  

Saturday, sunny and windy.  As a matter of fact, they recommend we NOT put our awnings out because of the strong winds.  We have our little ones out on the street side but not the big one.  We notice that no one else has theirs out either.  We find a Wal-Mart and put a couple of rolls of film in for developing.

Sunday, sunny and still windy.  We had forgotten just how windy it was here in El Paso.  When we were here before, we had gone to a picnic in the Upper Valley and the wind was so strong it actually blew the food off our plates.  Yep, it gets a little windy here!  We drive up on Scenic Drive and get some pictures of downtown El Paso and Juarez, Mexico.  It's so windy that at one point Ginger has to hold on to a pole just to take a picture.  It's not as high on the mountain as the Trans Mountain Road is, but you can certainly see for miles.

Monday, Veterans Day.  This is the second holiday that we've stayed at an Army Family Camp.  On Columbus Day we were at Camp Atterbury in Indiana and now, Veterans Day at Fort Bliss.  Hmmm, holiday, go Army.  We've noticed that a lot of folks are pulling out.  We decide to drive over to the west side of El Paso via the Trans Mountain road.  It's also known as Loop 375.  Quite a drive.  The Franklin Mountains are pretty big.  Over 6,000 feet as I recall.  It's slow going in the SAAB, I wonder if I should take R-Way over it when we leave, it would save us some mileage.  We can hardly believe the view from up here.  You can see for miles and miles.  It really does cut off a lot of time, yep, we'll go this way when we leave.

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Here it is Tuesday, people are getting back to work and we thought we'd drop by the old shopping mall we used to visit when we lived here.  Cielo Vista Mall was a really nice mall in the late 70's.  We had a little trouble finding a parking place but eventually we made it inside.  There were three or four anchor stores and lots of kiosk type businesses, lot's of cell phone companies but not a lot more.  We spent awhile in there even went upstairs (yep, two levels) and looked around.  They were all gearing up for Christmas and it's not even the middle of November yet.  Just too much for me.  We found a 'Whataburger' and went on back to the park.  We're one of perhaps 20 units in the park that holds 80 or 90 units.  It's almost like having our own park.  We love it!

Okay, that brings us up to today.  Here it is, Wednesday (guess what we'll watch tonight), time to do laundry and start rearranging things because we're getting underway tomorrow.  Time to head for Arizona and hopefully a little warmer weather.  It's been getting down into the 40's at night and the wind chill during the day isn't all that high.  When the wind blows and the temp is in the 60's, it's not shorts weather.  So, we're leaving tomorrow heading over to see Ken.  Arizona, here we come!

Nov 14, 2002

Lovely morning to get underway.  Clear skies, cool weather and very little traffic.  After we top off our fuel at the local Wal-Mart (on North Loop) we head out over the Franklin Mountains.  Ginger is a little concerned that ole R-Way may not be able to pull our toad up and over the pretty steep hill.  Not a problem though, we made it without a problem.  Didn't even heat up.  This Chevy 454 does a pretty good job.  By going over the mountain we save ourselves about 30 minutes time and several gallons of gasoline.  It's a short run to the border of New Mexico.  We decide to stop at the first rest area and get some current information on the state.  The below picture shows you what we saw in the parking lot.  I don't think it was a joke.

So, joke or no joke, we're watching where we put our feet!  We have a really nice visit and get lots of information on New Mexico.  Just a few more miles north and we'll be heading west.  We had a friend in El Paso (years ago) That used to run a train for the Santa Fe.  Malcolm used to run from El Paso to Lordsburg, New Mexico.  We run alongside the tracks he used to run.  It must have bored him silly, there is nothing but sand and mesquite between Las Cruses and Lordsburg.  There are signs along the way that say something to the effect, low visibility next 40 miles due to blowing sand.  These signs appear about every 30 miles.

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More road signs saying things like Sand Storms Next 15 miles and Zero visibility possible.  The Pony Express and Butterfield Stage followed pretty much the same way we're going.  It must have been quite a ride, especially for the people taking the stage through this area.  Just look at what they must have seen,  without the paved road of course.

The dark image in the lower left corner is the windshield wiper.  Those things are so big it's difficult to keep them out of the picture when your driving down the road at 60-70 miles per hour.  You might notice a lack of other vehicles on the road.  This is NOT unusual out here, well, between towns anyway.

It seems like in no time at all we're crossing the state line into Arizona.  Somehow I feel at home again.  I lived in Phoenix for four and a half years.  While there I traveled all over the state.  I really did enjoy living there.  Didn't enjoy everything that happened in my private life then, but did really enjoy living in Arizona.  It's quite a place.  Remember that only 90 years ago Arizona was not even a state of the United States.  It was simply Arizona Territory.  The wild west!  Think about that, how many of those 90 years have you lived already?  Hmmm, 90 years isn't so long after all, now is it.

So, here we are, Arizona.  First stop, Safford.  Very quickly we're upon exit 355, route 191 north to Safford.  It's only 35 miles from the Interstate.  What a beautiful drive, high mountains all around us yet we're down on the desert floor.  We have the Pinaleno Mountains to our left and the Peloncillo Mountains to out right.  The San Simon river is east of us but it has very little water in it.  As we approach Safford we can see the highest peak in the Pinaleno Mountains, Mount Graham.  The peak is 10,700 feet above sea level.  That's a pretty good sized mountain!  I'd hate to have to climb it!

Coming into town we can see that Safford is a lovely little town.  It has a couple of prisons.  One State and one Federal but they are way off the main road and out of town.  Cotton is King in this area.  There are acres and acres of cotton fields, most of it has been recently picked.  Large bales of cotton are sitting alongside the fields, each weighing 5,000 to 6,000 lbs.   There is a cotton gin in the next small town, Thatcher.  Ginger and I are really impressed with this area.  It's lovely.

In no time at all we locate the park we've decided to stay at, Lexington Pines, right on the main drag of the town.  It's a lovely place and they only have two lots left.  After we settle in we go out and look over the town.  We like it.  After checking out the town we look up Ken.  Wow!  There must be something about MacConney's and cats.  Sue, back in New Hampshire has four, Ken has about 20.  Lots and lots of cats, everywhere.  Oh well, to each his (or her) own.  After a few days visiting and being shown around by Ken we decide to head for Benson.  Benson is about 85-90 miles from Safford.  

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We arrive at the Saguaro CO-OP SKP park.  What a lovely place.  This is an Escapee (SKP) park.  There are about 300 lots that are leased in a co-operative agreement.  When people are on the road or otherwise not using their lot, they place the lot in a rental pool.  Other SKP members can rent the lot just like any other RV Park.  The lots are large, level and each has full services including cable.  Many of the lots have concrete pads and others have a casita (small house) with patio's.  The entire park is located on a sloping hill so the roads are terraced giving each lot a beautiful view of the San Pedro Valley.  This is really a nice place to stay.  They have a very nice club house and the activities are well organized and on-going.  We've really enjoyed the place.  We've square danced, played bingo (I won), dominos, Ginger joined the Chorus and I've become pretty active in the genealogical group.  We're close to Tombstone, where we watched a couple of shoot-outs, and did a little shopping.  We're only about 35 minutes from Tucson and also from Fort Huachuca.  We visited the medical facilities at the Fort and got our flu shots.  They have a really nice medical facility there.  Actually Fort Huachuca is a nice Army Base.  We visited the Commissary and Exchange.  The town outside the base, Serria Vista, is also a nice town.  It's growing by leaps and bounds, has lots of businesses for shopping and other services that people want and need.  Yes, Benson is well located for us.  We'll be here for a month or more.