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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A good rest day

     After days of heavy duty air conditioner use, it was quite a remarkable change to have an overnight low of 38 degrees!  We slept in, made bacon and eggs, read the Albuquerque paper and generally relaxed.  The long showers felt great, too.  Durelle did some wash and got to check out the new drier.  She can now dry the entire set of linens in one load while the original combination washer/drier is doing another load of wash.  It is quite an improvement.
     I walked the dog a bit and took some pictures in the campground.  I suppose I could get off my duff, unhook the Jeep and wander around for some real photo-ops.
         This is where we are staying.  It is a very overtly patriotic place that lets active duty military stay for free!
     If you look closely, you can see that the bottom of the pool is painted with the American flag...and isn't that an interesting chess set?  They offer a BBQ dinner that we'll try tonight.  The highlight is a smoked BBQ platter for $12.95 that includes 6 oz. of brisket, 4 oz. of sausage, 2 ribs and a choice of two sides: ranch beans, potato salad, Cole slaw, and chips.  That seems a bit much, so I'm going to get the brisket sandwich while Durelle will opt for the pulled pork.  There's cobbler for dessert and followed by an ice cream social.  I'm sure we'll go light on that, too.
     This an artifact to add a bit of nostalgia to the landscaping.  I'm sure that saddle has seen a few miles.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gallup, New Mexico

     After five straight days of driving, we have arrived in Gallup, and we are going to squat for a day.  Today was 422 miles  which we accomplished in under eight hours.  The cruise control was on 62 while the speed limit was 75 most of the day.  The mileage dropped off today.  There were some moderately gusty headwinds, but the biggest factor was the elevation gain.  We are camped at 6500 feet, but we had several excursions over 7000...the highest being the crossing of the continental divide at 7275 about thirty miles east of Gallup.  We did Amarillo to Gallup on a half tank of gas.
     I-40 basically retraces the old route 66.  Out here in the open country I-40 sits right on top of the old 66 EXCEPT when you approach one of the infrequent towns.  In that case the newer I-40 makes a broad swerve, usually to the south, of the town while "Business 40", which is the old 66, goes directly through the town.  There are many 66 landmarks.  The campground we are currently occupying is on the old 66.
     As I commented in the 2008 blog, the thousands of square miles of featureless landscape are completely foreign to us coastal inhabitants, but they serve to remind us of the country's grandeur. Tomorrow, I'll post some pictures.  Tonight I'm just going to crash and get outside of a couple of martinis while Durelle makes us some supper.
     Nephew Danny Taylor asked in a comment if we had sampled some of the southwest cuisine.  We will tomorrow.  On that score, however, I should mention the billboards leading into Amarillo.  There is a steak house that advertises the "Free 72 ounce steak".  So, if you feel up to eating ALL of a 4 1/2 pound steak, it's on the house!!  I was just informed by a classmate who grew up in Amarillo that you must also finish the sides which come with the steak, and you must finish it in one hour.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day in Amarillo, Texas

     Today was a 375 mile day.  I-40 through western Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle used to be known as the Route 66 of Steinbeck fame (and an extremely popular TV show for old Corvette buffs).  Between Oklahoma City and Amarillo the steering wheel did not get a lot of use.  Fifteen years ago, driving the Corvette, when I went from NH to CA and back for Ned Ord's daughter's wedding on the Monterrey Peninsula and Jim Dill's retirement at Edwards AFB, I averaged over 80 MPH.  Today I didn't.  It appears that the second planting of several crops has already started. Oklahoma was greener than I expected.  
     The only picture today is almost an exact repeat of one on 20Sept2008.  Long time readers  may remember a picture of Belle when faced with the same dilemma that Baxter faced today.
     Tomorrow we are scheduled to go to Gallup, NM.  It's a 421 mile day, and I got a flat spot today with two hours to go, so we may adjust.  If we make Gallup, we'll stop for a day, do some wash and some sight seeing.  We have not visited Gallup before.  Tomorrow will make five straight days of driving which is far more than our usual routine.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Checotah, OK

     Today we stopped at  a KOA in Chekota, OK.  It's a big spot on Lake Eufala.  There is nothing like a day of driving across I-40 (America's Main Street) to remind you of what a large country this is.  Today we touched Memphis, Little Rock, Fort Smith and some of the euphonious Indian named towns in Oklahoma such as Muskogee and Eufala.  We fondly remember the names from our Oklahoma years from 1966-1969.
     We kept swapping places on I-40 today with an Allegro Bay.  They were traveling faster than we were but stopping more often.  We waved.  When we pulled into out assigned spot, they were in the adjacent site.  They are taking her mother on a "bucket list" trip to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, etc.  I think their names were Bud and Doreen Hyatt.  No pictures tonight.  We are motoring along...with Amarillo on deck for tomorrow,  We will probably spend two days in Gallup, NM before we move on to Nellis AFB .  Keep in touch

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Southaven, Mississippi (actually south Memphis)

     Today was "sorta" uneventful.  We got away just before nine without running over any of the rabbits that occupy the campground.  Although we started out on I-20 West, it was largely a non-interstate day.  Just west of Birmingham we headed northwest on 78 and took it all the way to just short of Memphis.  We got a call from the campground announcing that our "pull-through" site would not be available until five.. Apparently the occupants had paid for a late departure.  A "back in" site was available at any time.  I much preferred  to not have to unhook the Jeep...AND rehook it up in the morning, so we opted to kill some time until five.  The problem was compounded, of course, because we gained an hour by moving into Central Time when we crossed into Alabama.  We stopped at a Flying J truck stop for fuel even though that could have waited another day.  Then we found an out of the way corner to park, start the generator and turn on the AC.  It hit 100 degrees in the area today.  We showed up at the campground just before five. but the site had still not been vacated.  So, we parked, restarted the generator and AC and waited another half hour.  We were set up by six, made some crackers and cheese and a couple of drinks and relaxed.  When you are not in a hurry, major issues become minor.
     Below is a picture of the site.
     It is a good campground...pool, hot tub, etc.  It also has the largest dog park we've ever seen at a campground.  Our 12 year old Baxter thoroughly enjoyed it..Pardon the imperfect focus.  I was moving but not as fast as he was.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Day One of Summer 2012

     Here's the rig in front of our house hooked up and ready to go.  We got up before seven and got away at nine.  That's OK.  There were a number of last minute tasks like shutting off the ice-maker in the house, turning down the water heater, shutting off the water to the washer and setting the thermostats for unoccupied status.  There were several last minute things to load including this computer.  Then, of course, it took more than the usual time to go through the checklist...we haven't done this thing for a while, and we need checklists.  Although she had worked until the wee hours, Cindy got up to come over and see us off.
     It was an uneventful day, and that's a good thing.  It was three hours until we hit I-20 in Augusta, GA.  Route 78 provides a good taste of rural SC.  Bamberg is the home of our governor, Nikki Haley.  We did make our usual glitch finding I-520 around Augusta, but it only cost us five minutes or so.  Otherwise everything was uneventful.  There were a few minutes of congestion as we entered Atlanta at the entrances to the I-285 Loops around the city, but, once past that, everything was smooth.
     We arrived at a Jellystone park at exactly 1600.  Jellystone on Memorial Day weekend would not have been our first choice, but it was the perfect distance and we have stayed here before.  It is a good thing they have 50 amp service because both air conditioners are working hard to get the temperature down.  As is typical, I had to call DirecTV to get everything reactivated.
     So here we are in Bremen, GA...only nine miles from Alabama.  If you look closely, you can see Baxter exiting the bus in order to mark his territory in Georgia.  It is good to be on the road again.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Melissa, Illia and Luke

     For the past day and a half we have enjoyed a visit from Melissa, Illia Zotos and his Australian buddy, Luke.  They arrived early afternoon yesterday and left about 1600 today.  After a lunch of make your own subs, We (Durelle stayed home) made a stop at the RV storage lot so they could see the bus.  Then they dropped me off at Hendricks Chevrolet to retrieve the Corvette.  'Twas more than I planned to spend...eight injectors, plugs, wire plus the usual oil and filters and a cracked valve cover.  The tech said it's good for another 100,000 miles.
     Then Cindy took them to Fort Sumter, a rooftop bar and supper.  This morning I served them a pre-assembled breakfast casserole and fruit, and Cindy took them to the beach at Isle of Palms and a bit of shopping.  They came back here for an early supper so they could have a night drive northward.  I told them I would pick up a couple of steaks and have them ready at three.  I did, in fact, cook two steaks for the six of us, and I had left-overs.  I found a pair of 2 1/4 pound Porterhouses that I did on the Treager and finished with a dollop of garlic/bourbon/butter.  They were special.  Melissa proclaimed it the thickest, tenderest steak ever.  Note the steaks in the foreground!

Dessert was a key lime pie, and we sent them on their way.  Their visit allowed a much more personal opportunity to get to know her Australian husband, Ilia, than will be possible at the wedding next month in Las Vegas.  We all greatly appreciated and enjoyed their visit, and thanks to Cindy for playing tour guide.

Monday, May 14, 2012

2012 Itinerary

The itinerary for this summer is now nearly finalized.

Date        # of days    Location                     miles
26 May          1            Bremen, GA              332
27 May          1            Memphis, TN             326
28 May          1            Checotah, OK            378
29 May          1            Amarillo, TX               374
30 May          1            Gallup, NM                421
31 May          1            Kingman, AZ             311
  1 Jun           7            Nellis AFB, NV          120
  8 Jun           3            Bryce Canyon, UT      257
11 Jun           2            Grand Junction, CO    331
13 Jun           8            USAFA, CO               362
21 Jun           1            Elm Creek, NE           401
22 Jun           1            Des Moines, IA          308
23 Jun           1            Utica, IL                     284
24 Jun           1            Toledo, OH                311
25 Jun          10           Westfield, NY             223
 5 Jul             1            Glenville, NY              334
 6 Jul            14           Humarock, MA           220
20 Jul            3            Athol, MA                  104
23 Jul           48           Belfast, ME                271
9 Sept          21           Brookline, NH             254

     The dates are firm for Nellis, Humarock and Belfast.  There may be some tweaking for some of the dates and places, but this will be close.  For example, we'll probably leave SC on the 24th so as to have some "management reserve" for the trek to Vegas.  By the time we get back to SC in October the total mileage will break 6000.

Friday, May 11, 2012

It's nearly time to get on the road again

     We have mapped out our itinerary from SC to Las Vegas.  We'll leave Nellis AFB (Vegas) on 8 June and arrive at Hanscom AFB's recreation area in Humarock, MA on 6 July.  That part of the trip is still a clean sheet of paper.  After two weeks there, we'll spend a weekend helping our hometown of Athol, MA celebrate its 250 anniversary.  From there we head back to the Moorings in Belfast, ME until 9 Sept and then spend two weeks in NH at an RV Park in Brookline near our old stompin' grounds in Nashua.
     We (and I include Baxter) have been taking care of all possible medical issues before hitting the road.  He had a couple of benign (as pathology confirmed) lumps removed.  See the picture below.  He may appear a bit forlorn, but he and his incisions are doing fine.
     After a hot spell the weather has moderated nicely and added some much-needed rain.  The yard is green and the evening light gave some of the deer pictures a nice warm tint.
     You can see the deer in the background of a shot of our magnolia tree.
     Baxter's stitches come out on the 19th.  Granddaughter Melissa, husband and best man will arrive northbound on the 15th, and we should be leaving a week or so later.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


     What a nice day!  For eight years we have lived within forty miles of a West Point classmate without making the effort to get together.  Today we corrected the situation.  Cy and Judy Wilson live in a handsome home southeast of Charleston on Seabrook Island.  It is a really classic development that epitomizes the best of the "low country"  It was low tide when we were there but the next picture, taken from their deck, shows how the ocean comes up to their dock when the tide comes in.
        We spent an hour or so getting re-acquainted and drove to the Osprey Course at Kiawah for lunch.  Quiet, classy elegance describes the environment, and the local "pluff mud Porter" wasn't bad either.  After lunch we drove over to Kiawah Island's Ocean Course (home of the PGA in August).  We sat on the deck, watching the ocean, the 18th green and the putting green.  Cy managed to borrow a putter, and he and Durelle crossed swords on the putting green for a while as Judy and I watched.
     After a very pleasant afternoon, we headed out.  The Jeep was low on fuel.  I got the low fuel warning beep before I found a gas station.  The area is exclusively residential.  The next picture shows a home with a spectacular live oak in the front yard.
     As we headed home we drove by the famous Angel Oak, perhaps the biggest and oldest live oak in existence.
     It was a very nice day, and we rejoice in the company of good friends like the Wilsons.