Travel Log for April, 2003

Updated April, 2003

Log Date: +1824: 030401: 34N26.66': 118W12.72: 2,546': Soledad TTN Park, Acton, CA

Tuesday morning we prepared for exiting Palm Springs TTN Park. Alice and I both checked and rechecked since this was our first camp change with the little trailer. It is important to establish a routine so you do not forget something. Even then, it is a good idea to have a list. I found that the sewer cover was leaking, and upon further investigation found that the gray water valve was open. It must have slid open during travel because it had been closed when we left; else I forgot to close it. So I dumped the tanks.

We pulled out at 9:06 am and made good time west on I-10. L'Au pulled nicely and the truck did not labor. Alice got the MP3 player going and we listened to the selection of favorites I had recorded before we left Jojoba.

There were only a few crazies on the road and most of them moved on ahead. However, coming down the grade from Banning, doing 55mph I had one scary incident when a Bounder stopped on the shoulder of the freeway started rolling and pulled into my lane when I was about 100 yards away. I had a car and an eighteen wheeler on my left, leaving no where to go. I laid on the horn and edged left, hoping everyone would make room. As I whipped by, the guy in the Bounder suddenly realized I was there and veered back. It was close. I watched in the rear-view mirror as he came onto the road. He seemed to have a hard time tracking the road. Finally, ten or so miles down the road he speeded up and went around me. I was happy to see him hurry on into the distance.

We took the Hwy-30 bypass around San Bernardino and connected with I-215, then up the slope to I-15. At the Hwy-138 exit I turned left and we followed that road towards Palmdale. People keep talking about that road being "Blood Alley" but I find it to be much less stressful than staying on I-15 over Cajun Pass. The key is patience, especially for those other drivers on the road.

Once over the pass I kept up with the flow of traffic as we went through Pear Blossom and Little Rock. I turned left at Pear Blossom Highway and headed for the intersection with I-14. But instead of getting on the Interstate for a couple of miles like in the past I continued straight on the Angeles Forest Road to the point it intersected Soledad Canyon Road. It was faster and smoother. From there it was a matter of almost coasting to where we turned left on Crown Valley Road and then to the Soledad Canyon TTN Park. The 142 mile trip had taken three hours.

[Just a note: I have decided to start putting in links to the last time we visited a particular place. The link above references November, 2002, the month we last came through Soledad Canyon. I am not sure if I will go back and link prior months, but going forward I will try to provide the information.]

After settling in B section we had lunch and rested. I did some reading and practiced on the dobro. That evening we went to the Family Lodge for the announced jam session. It turned out to be a piano player and a clarinet/sax player who wanted to do George Shearing type jazz. I played along as best I could but didn't really learn much -- so many chord changes I got lost trying to read the music from four feet.

Wednesday morning was cool and breezy. There had been a sprinkle during the night as a front moved through. We went for a walk into K section and had a good talk with Rick. We expect to see him at Escapade. After the walk I started the serious preparation of the "final" verions of Memphis 7.9, putting it into five or six chapter segments of manuscript form and creating a .pdf file for each segment. Along the way I am fixing a few final typos and cleaning up some poor writing. This way it will be ready for printing if the Literary Group wants to see the entire manuscript. All in all it still looks good.

Mid-afternoon Chuck and Bev Dillow arrived and parked next to us, and in the evening we went to supper at Sutter's Mill Restaurant in Acton. The food was fair and not terribly expensive with the Thousand Trails discount.

cat at Endangered Feline Breeding Center; 3251706-38Thursday morning I updated the travelogue and returned to the cleanup of Memphis 7.9. Midday Chuck came over and suggested we all go to the Endangered Feline Breeding Center (?) which is north of Lancaster at the Rosemonde exit. We drove up and took the $3 tour. They are concerned with saving the endangered wild cats of the world, and they have a collection of some of the rarest. They are doing a great service, but the animals are closely caged. So it was a somewhat sad place.

Returning home I got serious about finishing the cleanup of Memphis 7.9 and completed it. I now have six .PDF files with the entire book and currently written. It is 369 pages long. Now I wait to see if someone wants to read it. That evening I went to a jam session at the Family Lodge. There were two other players, a pianist and a saxophonist. They played George Shearing jazz and it was hard for a laptop steel guitar to fit in.

On Friday morning with Memphis out of the way I started working on Broken River. It is a matter of deciding what parts I took out of Memphis I could put into this book, while making it all fit together. Alice washed clothes and I collected email (nothing exciting).

Log Date: +1827: 030404: 34N42.54': 118W7.65': 2,350': Lancaster Fairgrounds, Lancaster, CA

Saturday morning it was a matter of getting things together to take the short trip over to Lancaster Fairgrounds for the Escapade. I did remember to fill the water tank and dump the holding tanks.

Chuck and I were coming in early to go to the Co-op meeting with National. It took a while for the parkers to find us on the parking list, but we were finally placed in a good spot in the limited electric area. We went to a good meeting and had the chance to meet several of the Board members from the other Co-ops. The Dillows and Pennys went to a local Mexican place for supper.

Sunday morning we finally found the Lavielles and located where they were parked. That evening I went to the jam session and the group agreed to try out for the Ham-O-Rama.

I helped Alice in her volunteering as seminar host for Dick Reed Monday morning. Afterwards we sat around Hospitality meeting old friends. We found the Lavielles and other Diablo Caravaners. After talking with Gene and Carol about cellphones and satellite TV systems, I ordered a DISH 508 PVR system for them from our friends in LaPine, OR. It would arrive on Saturday.

Tuesday afternoon I joined the group for the auditions for the Ham-O-Rama and we made it in. That evening Alice and I went to the Boomers pizza party and then to another jam session and practice.

Wednesday I talked with Bob Peay about the website. I need to get some of the documents up on the website as .pdf files so he will have something to work with. The Ham-O-Rama went pretty well except I was not ready when the group started. At least it got a good response from the audience.

Thursday was closing ceremonies, the Penwheels meeting, and the Jojoba Hills social. We then went out for a Chinese dinner with the Smalleys.

All in all it was another great Escapade, but I must admit I spent most of my time socializing. Alice did some volunteer work and except for a couple of seminars we skipped the lessons.

Log Date: +1834: 030411: 34N26.66': 118W12.72: 2,546': Soledad TTN Park, Acton, CA

Friday morning we prepared for travel then headed over to Hospitality for the Hitchup Breakfast. We said goodbye to many of our friends, returned to the rig and at 9am pulled out for the short trip back to Soledad. The Lavielles and Burkes came in behind us and we all camped together in B section.

UPS delivered the DISH equipment shortly after one o'clock and Gene and I started setting it up. The installation went very well, and I called LaPine to initiate the service. By four o'clock the Lavielles were on the air. We went out to the LaHabana Mexican Restaurant on Soledad Canyon Rd to celebrate.

Saturday morning we all went to breakfast at the Family Lodge then Alice went to the TTN Manager's meeting and Gene went to a lecture on braking systems. He bought a Brake Buddy for his truck. Alice and I went shopping for fuel, finally purchasing it at the Crown Valley exit above Acton. That remains the best place to get deisel in the whole area. The group went back to the lodge for a TTN supper then played games at the Adult Lodge that evening.

Sunday Alice and I washed clothes. The weather had gotten considerably worse and it was beginning to spit a little rain. I tried to make reservations at Las Vegas TTN and found they were fully booked. I had forgotten that the next weekend was Easter. So Alice and I started reconsidering our trip plans. Gene and I fought with our wireless networks, and after reinstalling some of the software I finally got mine to work. Shortly afterward, Gene's system was also working.

The rain started in earnest Sunday night. By the time Monday morning came around we were content to sit in the rig and listen to the drops pounding the roof. However, it was necessary to go refill one of the propane bottles, so we got a little wet. During the afternoon I took the opportunity to organize our software CD collection. After watching the weather channel I concluded that the next couple of days were windows of opportunity to make it to Verdi Valley in the clear, so we announced our plans to pull out the next morning.

Log Date: +1838: 030415: 35N0.84': 114W35.08': 800': Avi Resort Casino, Avi, NV

The weather cleared nicely during the night, and it was crisp the next morning. When we got out and looked around the surrounding mountains were covered with snow down to about the 3,200 foot level. It was beautiful with the sun shining brightly.

I headed out Pearblossom Highway and Hwy-138, then caught Hwy-18 on east over to Victorville. The trip over Hwy-18 was a lot of dodging standing water from the rains the night before. The dips in the highway took on new meaning. Turning east on I-15 it was a smooth ride into Barstow where we transitioned to I-40. Just before reaching Needles I turned off onto National Trails Road to catch River Road heading north.

I was headed for the Avi Casino at the tip of Nevada, and when Alice saw a sign for Avi farms she told me to turn. I passed the "Not a Through Road" sign just down the way so had to find a place to do a U-turn. The nice thing about a fifth-wheel with a long-bed truck is that you can turn it as tight as the truck permits without having a problem. However, it is best to do it on gravel so you don't rip the tread off your trailer tires.

Back on River Road we continued north to the exit for Avi Resort and Casino. We pulled into the RV park after 245 miles and checked in for one night. The rate was $17.10 using the Good Sam discount.

We walked over to the casino and made a contribution. I also signed up for the BlackJack tournament for $10. After a free beer and early supper (we had not eaten lunch), I went to do the tournament. I won the first round! The next round was at eight o'clock.

We went back to the rig and talked with our neighbors. After 25 years in Alaska around Valdez they were building a house in Montana. They had lived in their trailer for 20 months waiting for the house to be built and hoped to make progress again this summer. It sounded to me like they might have another year in the rig with their two dogs, three cats, and a bird. The iguana had died.

I was not so lucky on the next round of the tournament, but Alice hit a nice jackpot on a nickle machine and we ended up only $4.50 down for the evening.

Log Date: +1841: 030416: 34N40.4': 111W56.4': 3,???': Verdi Valley TTN Park, Cottonwood, AZ

Our next stop after another 245 miles was at Verdi Valley TTN Park. I headed over the river across a bridge Streets did not believe existed and then up AZ-95 into Bullhead City. My target was a Terrible's Service Station for fuel. A year ago they had been the best deal around. Fiunding the station I pulled in and found the price to be $1.799. That was what I had been seeing at other services stations down the road so I was not upset. However, when I finally reached Kingman and saw the prices as low as $1.459 for deisel I was miffed.

Turning right onto AZ-68 we started the long climb to the pass just above the Colorado River, then further up to US-93. There were lots of big trucks on the road because of the deteor for them. They are not allowed to cross Hoover Dam at this time so must come around through Laughlin.

I turned east onto I-40. Alice had gotten the jukebox from Deb going and we started listening to Tarzan of the Apes. It was quite engrossing except that the data may be mixed up because from time to time the monologue slipped back a couple of chapters and Alice had to restart.

I followed I-40 over to US-89. There was one ten minute delay for road construction but for the most part everything went smoothly. There were no roadside rests along this section of interstate so I had to stop at an abandoned weigh station for a break.

US-89 is a smooth two-lane road and I headed south at our normal 56mph. Some of the people got impatient and passed me when they shouldn't, and others couldn't get up the guts even when the coast was clear for a couple of miles ahead. The problem the those who wouldn't pass is that they tailgated the trailer, requiring the eager ones to pass a very long train.

The view was mostly short, dry scrub on rolling hills. As we got closer to Prescott the population increased, and most of the valleys were dotted with double-wides and a few trailers.

The rock formations around Prescott are impressive, mostly smaller weathered granite knobs and boulders. The businesses are built along the road with plenty of space between them.

We turned left on AZ-69 and headed towards I-17. Topping the pass just east of the junction we came into Prescott Valley, a much more recent community. The highway was widely divided with businesses scatted along its length. That area seems to be pretty upscale with a lot of new stores scatted along the route. The elevation drops about 700 feet over several miles of development.

We turned due east at AZ-169 to complete the trip over to I-17. Alice had gotten her wish to see Prescott. I didn't see much reason to go back unless I needed to shop for something.

Turning north on I-17 I climbed to the pass and then down the long grade to the Camp Verdi exit. We went north on AZ-261 to Thousand Trails Road and turned in. At the gate was another Sam who did the best he could, but since I had not bothered to get reservations for camping over Easter weekend, the best he could do was a spot until Monday. We can check on availability on the weekend, but we may leave on Monday.

We found a nice semi-level spot in H section and set up. In the process of looking for a site, Alice spotted Chuck and Dorothy's rig. After getting set up we walked over and announced our arrival. Then it was a matter of unraveling after a long hard day's drive.

Thursday morning was the famous Marge's Cinnamon Roll time. Chuck joined Alice and me as we all went over for our sugar fix for the week. Then it was back to the rig to start planning ahead. Shortly before noon we went back to the Family Lodge to collect email and upload the latest updates to the website. Following that we went to lunch at Murphy's Grille in Cottonwood with Chuck and Dorothy and then traveled on towards Clarkdale for a visit to the Tuzigoot National Monument.

Tuzigoot mesa; 4171534-9Tuzigoot is a small mesa where the Native Americans lived from about 700 to 1425 A.D. They built a rock and mud pueblo above the flood plain of the Verdi River. It is not clear why they left it so suddenly, but the dating of their departure has been clearly established. There were many other disappearances around the same time in Arizona, Colorado, and Utah.

flowers on Tuzigoot trail; 4171534-37The pueblo fell into a pile of rubble until it was restored starting in 1933. It is now a very pleasant and interesting walk. We also walked the 0.3 mile trail to the northeast to view the marsh along the old riverbed. It was quiet and peaceful, but a cold wind blew in from the west and rain storms dotted the mountains around us. I finally got back into the habit of photography and took a number of photos of the area.

sludge fields at Tuzigoot; 4171534-10Among the sad sights were the fields to the west of the mesa where Phelps Dodge and dumped the slurry from its mill in Clarkdale, leaving an accumulation of yellow and orange colored debris. Nothing will grow in that dirt.

On the way back to the rig we stopped at the Safeway. I knew we needed apples but Alice couldn't think we need much. We had a full basket of stuff before we exited the store. Alice started a lamb and orzo soup pot after we returned, then we found we had no spinach to finish it off, so I concocted a stirfry shrimp dish with rice. The freezer is slowly emptying.

On Friday I prepared a query about my query for the literary agents who had not responded. We collected email, sent those missives, and found we had to upgrade our security level to access our American Express account. Returning to the rig I spent the afternoon working on the first two chapters of Broken River. I am finally beginning to get back into the feel of writing. It is amazing at times how long it takes to back down from the pressure of hard schedules.

Saturday was another day to do the tourist thing. We collected cameras, CDs, and the dog to head out to see Oak Creek Canyon, Walnut Canyon, and Montezuma's Castle. I first topped off the fuel tank at Suzy Q's just west of the intersection of Highways 261 and 89A in Cottonwood. With the rebate it cost $1.619 per gallon.

Back on Hwy-89A we headed north towards Sedonna. The weather was cool with small cumulus clouds dotting the sky. We visited Sedonna last year and it had not changed much. Maybe there were more tourists now than then. Part of my problem was they all looked like tourists. They seemed to be scurrying around in small herds. I am not opposed to tourists, just to being around crowds intent on the commercial side of sight-seeing.

I continued on 89A up Oak Creek Canyon. The canyon is now mostly in private hands and full of vacation homes. There were a few pull-offs, and you could see the cliff walls lining the canyon, and I even saw the creek running at one point, just after a bridge to a home on the other side. But it is now basically an urban area. I thought of stopping but there was no place I could find that was not already occupied by a set of cars or a No-Tresspassing sign. The walls were pretty spectacular.

Once we reached Pumphouse Creek the road started into a series of twisting switch-backs and 15mph curves as we climbed 800 feet out of the canyon and came to the View Point directly above the creek. The temperature dropped had more than 20 degrees from Sedonna and the clouds began to look more gray and threatening. I pulled into the parking lot so Alice could use the facilities.

We noticed a large number of people gathered near the viewing area, and when we got closer we realized they were congregating around the cardtables where the local tribal members were showing products of their efforts and some imported from China or Mexico.

Back on the highway we headed towards Flagstaff. To our surprise it started snowing. It wasn't heavy and didn't last very long, but it was enough to stick to the fields and forests alongside the road. By the time we reached I-17 we had driven out from under the percipitating cloud and had intermittent sunshine as we headed the 10 miles east on I-40 to the Walnut Canyon National Monument turnoff.

We took our coats and cameras, leaving Wolf in the truck, and went to the Visitor Center. After Alice postmarked her passport and we reviewed the brochure, I convinced her we should take the 0.9 mile walk around the "island" that held the most of the ruins. The signs pointed out that it was a strenuous hike because of the 240 stairs involved. We agreed we would take it easy and go slow.

Walnut Canyon creek; 4191235-5We started from an elevation of 6,690 feet and followed the well-paved trail to as low as 6,500 feet.The views were most interesting, looking down into the creekbed 100 feet below. As I learned along the walk the creek was dry because it has been dammed upstream.

caves at Walnut Canyon; 4191235-21The path brought us down to the elevation of a soft layer of limestone from nine to twelve feet thick with a solid layer of harder limestone capping it. This created a series of natural, shallow caves which the natives had expanded and walled with rock and mud walls. They farmed along the slopes, on the mesas, and in the creek bottom, and hunted game throughout the area. Evidence shows they arrived about 700 A.D. and departed for other areas along the Verdi River about 1200 A.D.

Walnut Canyon ruins; 4191235-38The cliff dwellings had been a favorite exploring area during the early twentieth century, and people had even dynamited the walls searching for souvenirs. In 1913 the area was declared a National Monument to protect it from further destruction. A few of the ruins were left in good condition.

tree along Walnut Canyon path; 4191235-64The walk around the mesa was mostly level and easy. The plants along the way were plentiful and photogenic. Some of the trees appeared old enough to have been there 800 years ago. We had started with our windbreakers on, but by the time we had made half the loop it was warm enough to remove them.

Walnut Canyon flower; 4191235-55Then we returned to the path with its stairs and slopes back up to the Visitor Center. We took our time but were still quite winded when we reached the top. It had been a great hike and I had taken over 70 photos along the way, including one of a beautiful little flower.

It was still early, so we decided to drive on to the Meteor Crater rather than try to fit it into our trip on Monday. The added trip was about 25 miles. By that time I had decided we needed to hurry so I drove the speed limit of 75 mph on I-40. I thought it would be interesting to compare the gas mileage from driving at a slower pace when I filled the tanks next time.

The Meteor Crater National Landmark is about six miles south of I-40. There is an RV park at the exit, but I am not sure how good it is. The road to the crater is smooth and through open range. We saw a few cattle and lots of red sandstone caprock.

It cost us $11 each to enter the complex as seniors. The buildings at the crater had been renovated recently and the exhibits are interesting and up-to-date. The focus is on the research that started with this crater to study impacts on the surface of the earth.

I followed the available paths outside to view the crater. It is huge hole in the ground, all caused by an asteroid only 150 feet in diameter. There is not much else to say about it. I took a series of picture to do a panorama. Alice commented that she did not remember it being so big.

Meteor Crater panorama; 4191235-79

We did not stay for the movie since we had to be back for the Easter dinner at 5pm. It was a fast drive back, but we made the 105 miles in quick time and got ready for dinner. It was turkey and ham with dressing, potatoes, green beans, and desert. After the meal we were treated to over an hour of comedy by the Dump Station Review, a couple who sing and tell jokes about RVing and RVers. It was a good show.

Sunday morning we did some of the necessary things for traveling. We cut hair and washed clothes. I dumped the holding tanks and then we went to a late lunch at Murphy's Grille with Chuck and Dorothy. After shopping for groceries we returned home and I finished work on this webpage in preparation for uploading tomorrow morning.

Below is our itinerary for the next few days. It will probably change.

Log Date: +1844: 030421: 34N54.3: 110W11.7': 5,089': Holbrook, AZ

About 155 miles down the road (going back to I-40 and heading east) is Holbrook. We will spend the night there.

Log Date: +1845: 030422: 35N5.2': 107W52.5': 6,500': Grants, NM

Leaving Holbrook we plan to drive down Hwy-180 then head up through the Petrified Forest National Park back to I-40. We then head on east past Gallup and over the continental divide to Grants, New Mexico for the night. It should be a total trip of 179 miles.

Log Date: +1846: 030423: 34N56.7': 104W40.3': 4,670': Santa Rosa, NM

Our next leg is 193 miles along I-40 to Santa Rosa. I am not sure if we will stop in Albuquerque for lunch at old town or not.

Log Date: +1847: 030424: 33N59.4': 101W53.6': 3,500': Palo Duro RV Park, Canyon, TX

On Thursday I plan to drive to Canyon, Texas just south of Amarillo, a distance of 179 miles. We will spend a couple of nights and on Friday do a tour of Palo Duro Canyon State Park. We were there before but did not go see the canyon.

Log Date: +1849: 030426: 35N1.5': 97W56.0'; 1,140': Chickasha, OK

Saturday is a 267 mile drive to Chickasha, Oklahoma, my old stomping area. We will see my Aunt Lottie.

Log Date: +1850: 030427: 35N22.9': 97W15.9': 1,200': Oklahoma City, OK

Sunday midday we will move up to the Oklahoma City area to visit my cousin, Rosanne Suddarth. We plan to stay at the KOA east of town on I-40, a place we have stayed before.

Log Date: +1851: 030428: 35N20.7': 93W19.5': 397': Piney, AR

Our next leg is 234 miles along I-40 to the vicinity of Piney, Arkansas. We will stay one night.

Log Date: +1852: 030429: 35N0.9': 90W1.7': 327': Graceland KOA, Memphis, TN

On Tuesday we drive 224 miles into Memphis, Tennessee. We expect to stay at the KOA near Graceland for four nights. There are a few things I would like to accomplish in Memphis in support of research for my next book. We will see.

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