Travel Log for February, 2003

Updated February, 2003

Log Date: +1765: 030201: 33N49.43': 116W32.65: 529': SpaResort Casino, Palm Springs, CA

In December Alice had received an offer for two free nights at the SpaResort Casino in Palm Springs. We made reservations to go there for the weekend of our wedding anniversary. However, we could not get in on Saturday, the 1st, so we spent that night at my sister's place in Palm Desert. Janet and Michael also agreed to take care of Wolf while we were staying in the hotel.

It was different traveling without a trailer, but we made the most of it. Saturday night the four of us went out to celebrate Janet and Michael's anniversary and ate at the Bella Luna in Palm Desert. It was an excellent, expensive meal, and I ate too much.

The next morning we had a lively discussion at breakfast, and Janet provided some edit remarks about my book. I left her with a copy of the latest version and she made a tentative offer to look it over. Then Alice and I headed over to Palm Springs.

It is interesting to find a four-block Indian Reservation in the middle of Palm Springs, but it is there. What had started years ago as the SpaResort Hotel had changed. They have built a casino next to the historic hot springs and are building a new casino building across the street. The tribe also has the fairly new Agua Caliente Casino over near the freeway.

Our room was excellent, especially since it was free. We just kicked back and rested, forgetting about Jojoba Hills, the Board of Directors, social clubs, and the dog. Janet and Michael declined our invitation to come over for more socializing, so we found the local Taqueria and I had a great veggie burrito for supper.

The next morning we drove around to do some shopping. There was a Sam's Club in Cathedral City we wanted to check out. We had a Costco card but remembered we sometimes could not find Costco but could use Sam's instead. We looked the store over and decided to spend the $35 to become members.

Later that day we walked around downtown Palm Springs and chanced upon an AT&T Wireless store. We had discussed the need to restore our cellphone service when we started traveling. I had done some checking of the other nation-wide cellphone companies and determined that the best plan for us was still AT&T's One-Rate plan. It is not very good for Internet link-up, but it does cover the parts of the USA where we expect to travel. We went in to the store to check up and found that we could restore our old service without any connect fee. We couldn't get the same phone number, but that is probably good. So we did it.

After visiting the casino and coming out a little ahead, we took a dip in the spa then again walked the streets of Palm Springs. We stopped in the Twisted Fish Restaurant for supper. It was quite good with reasonable prices and a good selection of wines. Afterwards we went by a small store that was going out of business and purchased some "stuff" at 30% of retail cost.

Log Date: +1768: 030203: 33N27.13': 116W52.12': 2,191': Jojoba Hills SKP Resort, Aguanga, CA

Tuesday morning we packed and prepared to head back to Jojoba Hills. As it turned out we are simply not used to living in hotels, and Alice left her jewelry box and some clothes in one of the drawers. Luckily, the hotel staff found it and called us so we could pick it up a couple of weeks later.

We drove by Janet's to pick up Wolf and headed back up the hill. It felt good to get back home.

I finished my last rewrite of Memphis 7.9, cutting it to 360 pages. I also prepared the query letters to Jodie Rhodes and Linda Allen, the two literary agents I met last fall. I included the first three chapters of the book and mailed the packages on Wednesday morning. We went on into town for lunch then returned so I could work on the final documents for the Annual Meeting, including the President's message and the award certificates.

The Annual Meeting went very well, at least that is what several of the members told me afterwards. All the primary issues passed and there was little dissension. That evening Alice and I went to supper with Barb and Ron Karlosky at the Pechanga Buffet. Barb and I swapped old-President stories and compared notes. It was a good relief.

On Friday Alice and I went to town and picked up my new glasses. I also got a set of prescriptions from Dr. Wood for use in Mexico. That evening was the Jojoba Hills Casino party. Alice was ill but I spent half the night dealing and had a great time. However, we did not win the Passport America prize, so Alice said we had to purchase it.

On Saturday we attended the Annual Dinner. I was part of the jam session group that performed for the group. It went pretty well, and then we all jammed some more after the meal.

On Sunday we pulled the little Automate up from storage to our lot so we could prepare for our trip. I had planned on doing a little work then taking it back to storage. As it turned out there was a bunch of Board related work I had to do so I got a permit to keep it on site until Saturday so I could get all the work done that needed doing.

The rest of the week was spent on updating Bylaws, changing RV Code Specifications, okaying minutes, sorting through what to take in the little trailer, transferring responsibilities, lining the platforms under the mattresses, updating files, transferring parts between trailers, placing ads for the little Alpenlite, getting fuel, reloading the website, etc. It was questionable if it would all come together, but it did.

Log Date: +1779: 030215: 33N45.88': 116W18.78': 139': Palm Springs TTN Resort, Palm Desert, CA

Well, it almost came together for an early start, but not quite. We continued packing and organizing the next morning, finally pulling out about noon. I dropped the last floppy disk off at the office as we went by and were once again on the road.

I drove up CA-371 through Anza and turned right onto CA-74. The little Automate (25-foot w/one slide) pulled easily behind our trusty old ('98) Dodge RAM with 98,000 miles on the odometer. The diesel engine purred (roared) along nicely. The air was a little hazy but the weather was great. Going down the 11 miles of 6% grade into Palm Desert I just kept the PacBrake on, the overdrive off, and let the rig run. Occasionally I touched the brakes to bring it back to the 35 mph range and sometimes pushed the accelerator to help the truck through the level spots. There was little traffic, so I didn't need to use the turnouts until I got to the lower section.

It took us 40 minutes to reach the outskirts of Palm Desert, then 30 minutes to drive through town to the Palm Springs TTN Park near the intersection of Washington with I-10. After checking in we found a nice back-in spot near the rear of the park, away from the train and freeway noise. It took a little practice to do the backing in correctly as Alice and I relearned how to communicate, but after a short time we were settled in and level.

On bit of problem came our way. The hitch latch handle tore out of the latch arm as I was unhitching the trailer. The original plastic handle had broken months before and Jack Adkinson had given me a metal handle which I had attached it to the arm with a nail in lieu of a cotter pin. The nail sheared, leaving part of the metal in the pivot hole in the arm. I used a board to complete the opening and we finished unhitching. Another project got added to the list of things to fix.

We accepted an invitation to join Janet and Michael for supper at their place. We drove over to Palm Springs and picked up Alice's jewelry and things at the SpaResort Casino on the way to supper. After a good meal and company we headed back to the TTN park for a night's rest before heading out the next morning.

Log Date: +1780: 030216: 36N7.71': 115W4.80': 1,799': Las Vegas TTN Resort, Las Vegas, NV

Sunday morning we were up for a short walk around the park. We had a quick breakfast and hooked up to travel, making it out of the park at 8:30am.

I had considered going through Joshua Tree, but even though it was shorter, it looked like it would take longer than sticking to the Interstates. So I headed west on I-10 on the way to pick up I-215.

The traffic was moderate and I made good time. It is hard to realize that there is a climb of about 2,500 feet out of Coachilla Valley to the Banning area. From there we dropped down to about 800 foot elevation in San Bernardino.

I took the Hwy 30 bypass around the big interchange of I-10 and I-215. As we headed up toward Cajun pass we noticed that there was still only a small amount of green in the fields along the freeway. It has been a dry year, even with the rains of the past couple of weeks.

The truck pulled the trailer along well as we merged into I-15. I was wearing my new glasses and was amazed at how clearly every detail of the hills could be seen. They are mostly bare from the fires of last year, and all the rock formations stand out. I held my speed above 45 all the way to the top of the pass at 4,150 feet and then we headed down the long glide towards Barstow.

I set the speed control on 57 mph and stuck to the right lane. Alice worked at getting the MP3 player working correctly and we relaxed and enjoyed the music and scenery, such as it was.

I stopped at the Outlet Centers just west of Barstow to buy fuel. After checking around I settled on the Flying J. They had good prices and have arranged the pumps for RVs quite nicely. I heard that they were running low on diesel and hoping supply trucks would be in soon.

We stopped for lunch in Baker, eating at the Mad Greek. They make a moderately good hamburger. Then it was back on the road. While on the road we got a phone call from my sister Rosemary. We were supposed to see her and Everett in Las Vegas while we were there. She suggested we come over and join them at their hotel (they were staying at the Tropicana) for supper that evening. We agreed to give them a call when we hit town.

I-15 just goes on for miles. When we finally reached Nevada, it kept going on. Finally we came over the rise and took the Henderson exit to head east on NV-146. This connected with the new freeway and we continued over to I-515, turning left to go up to the Boulder Highway/Desert Inn Road exit. Just south of Desert Inn we pulled into the TTN park. It had been a long six and a half hours of driving.

We chose a spot at the east end of the park, backed in, and set up. It went quicker this time. Then Alice found we had forgotten one of our staples: toilet paper. Luckily the trading post was still open so she was able to buy what we needed.

Rosemary called again and made suggestions about where to park. Shortly afterward we headed out for the Tropicana. It didn't take long to get there, but the parking was a real problem. We finally made it to the Tropicana just in time to go into the Misuko for our reservations. We met Jim and Diane Baxter. Jim is Everett's ex-brother-in-law. The Misuko was a pretty good restaurant, something like Beni Hana, with Japanese cuisine cooked at the table.

Monday morning Alice and I reviewed how things fit in fifth-wheel. I finally got the TV satellite set up and found the 110 LNB to be non-functional. The little table did not work well between the chairs, and we needed something next to the wall to use for storage. Maybe I could find a cotter pin to repair the hitch handle. We agreed we needed to shop, but we were also had to meet Rosemary and Diane at the Mall for lunch.

We first headed out to hunt for the RV parts store we remembered from days past. We knew it was north a mile or so on Boulder Hwy. We were about to give up when Alice spotted it: the Las Vegas RV Store. We pulled in and went shopping, finding many of the things we had been searching for in the recent past, including a six-egg plastic container. The fellow behind the desk also helped me pick out the right parts for the catalytic heater hookup.

Next we headed to lunch at the Mall, the one on Maryland and Desert Inn. We went in to find the Chinese Pizza Kitchen. There wasn't one. Finally, it became evident this was not the Mall where we were to meet Rosemary. After hurried consultation with the information desk we determined we should be at the Mall near the Treasure Island Casino on Las Vegas Boulevard. With Alice navigating and me pushing my way through the traffic we finally found our way to the other Mall and parked. We were only a little late.

The food was so-so. I had an oriental chicken salad that could have worked in Denny's. But the company was good and we had a good time. We also made plans for supper.

There was a big difference between the first mall we visited where we saw Sears and Penneys and the second where we saw Norstrands and Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales. I had a hard time getting Alice out of there after we finished eating. I did enjoy looking around the Brookstone store. There are some wild and wonderful gadgets coming out these days, including a robot vacuum cleaner. I just couldn't justify it for a 80 square foot of floor space.

Returning to the rig, we sorted through our goodies. Then Rosemary called to say they were tied up and could not do supper until the next night. That was when Alice and I decided to go to Boulder Station.

At Boulder Station we went by the Rewards Booth to sign up for player's cards. We had benefited from the cards at Pechanga and thought they might bring some benefit. When I sat down to play the slot machine I put in $1 and the first $5 of play was on the house. That $1 suddenly grew to nearly $200 and kept me busy for the next few hours. Alice also did rather well, and we finished the night as winners. We had supper at the cafe (where I got a huge order of baby-back rigs) before returning to the rig.

Tuesday morning we returned to Boulder Station and I won again. After lunch at the Guadalajara restaurant we headed out for more shopping. We drove out Lamb to the Home Depot but didn't find what I was looking for in the way of hardware. Then we headed down Boulder Highway to Henderson. At the 76 station near Wal-Mart I found diesel at a reasonable price ($.30 per gallon less than up on Desert Inn Drive). At Wal-Mart we found what we needed for the wall storage and a set of Polaroid sun-glasses I could use. All in all it was a good shopping trip.

That evening we drove to the Tropicana for supper with Rosemary and crew at the Savannah. Their price to benefit ratio was poor in my opinion. Next we went to Comedy Central and caught the program there. It was fair but depressing. Comedy nowadays is really quite negative and hurtful, and I am not into that mood right now.

Finally saying our goodbyes, we found our way back to the truck and headed home to our rig.

Log Date: +1783: 030219: 34N20.46': 111W56.38': 3,180': Verdi Valley TTN Resort, Cottonwood, AZ

Wednesday morning we packed up, dumped the tanks, and headed south. I checked with the TTN ranger and he said we could go over Hoover Dam in our RV but we would probably be searched. That was fine by me if it would save about 50 miles of driving.

We picked up I-515. There were signs all along that busses and trucks were not allowed across the dam, but I persevered. The Interstate ended and became US-93. About five miles past Boulder City we came to the security check point. I gave the officer a full tour of the trailer, including all the exterior compartments and the inside. He told me he had spent 21 years in the military and had been there for Desert Storm. I told him about David in Kuwait and thanked him for his past and present services. We got the wave and moved on down the road.

Hoover Dam is always a magnificent sight to see. There were not very many people around, but there were some. I do not know if it was the time of day or if the number of visitors is down.

We followed US-93 on to Kingman where we caught I-40 and headed east. It was 146 miles to Flagstaff where we could turn south on I-17. There was only one rest stop, and it was closed. So we pulled off at a couple of exits and parked on the side of the road to get some relief. Thank God for being in an RV. We had the facilities with us.

We stopped at a Love's Truck Stop for lunch. They had a Subway as part of the store so we had a good meal.

The elevation climbed above 7,300 feet along the way and the ups and downs slowed our average speed to below 50 mph. When I turned south on I-17 the general trend was down from 6,600 feet to the Verdi River at 3,100 feet and we made good speed but could not make up the difference. I turned back north on AZ-260 for the 7.5 miles to Thousand Trails Road.

We pulled into the Verdi Valley TTN park and checked in. We found a nice spot in H section near the river. It has a grass yard in front. Then it was time to kick back and relax. It had been a 7.5 hour drive from Las Vegas, not hard but tiring.

Thursday morning we went to the family center for coffee and Marge's renowned cinnamon rolls. Coming back to the rig I began the task of bringing this travelogue up to date. We took a short drive into Cottonwood to buy some groceries and fuel. Then it was back to camp and more on the travelogue. We had supper and watched the Kings/Celtics basketball game and I finished to this point on the travelogue. I need practice getting into the swing of keeping it up to date.

Log Date: +1786: 030222: 33N25.26: 111W45.18': 1,297': Val Vista RV Resort, Mesa, AZ

Saturday we rigged for travel and finally headed out for Mesa. We drove south on AZ-260 to I-17 and started the long climb up the grade out of the Verdi River valley to the top. It was mostly downhill from there. The hills showed a little bit of green but it mostly looked dry. The octillas around Black Canyon were not yet greening but the saguaro looked healthy. We continued on I-17 past the I-101 and I-10 intersections, coming around on the south side of Phoenix to the US-60 interchange.

US-60 construction is now done, and the road is a delight. In some places it is five lanes wide. Soon we saw the sign that the next 15 exits were Mesa. We took the Val Vista exit and headed north just past Main to the Val Vista RV Resort. The trip had been an easy 122 miles. The guard parked us and made arrangements for us to check into the office Monday morning.

We let Alice's brother Chuck and Dorothy know we were in town and would see them the next morning. Before they arrived Alice and I and Wolf walked the perimeter of the park, about a mile and a half. We then went to lunch at the Seafood Market Restuarant.

Chuck and Dorothy are in their late 70s now and spend most of the year here in Mesa at the Vista View RV Resort in their Pace Arrow motorhome. They have a home in Brigham City, UT but the weather there during the winter is too much for Dorothy. She has had a series of illnesses and has macular degeneration. She is amazingly upbeat and we both really enjoy our visits with both she and Chuck.

When we were not going to eat with Chuck and Dorothy I worked on this travelogue, filling in the details for the last half of 2001 and for all of 2002. It is finally up-to-date, though it could use some more TLC and editing and maybe even some photos if I can find some that correspond to that period. That part of the travelogue is mostly concerned with my two years on the Board of Directors, the second as the President. I am still on the Board, but now I have emeritus status, at least that is my attitude.

We drove around searching for a new hitch. The truck has a RBW Universal Fifth-Wheel Hitch. The plastic handle has broke several months ago and now I noticed the metal has cracked in the hitch plate. It was still usable but difficult. I had to use a 2x4 to move the handle and another to hold it in place. The results of the search were discouraging. I found one RV parts place who said they could order it in that day but the price had increased by 50% over what was in the catalogue. Sounded too much like, "we got you by the short hairs and you're going to pay for it." I walked out.

The drive also offered the opportunity visit pawn shops and music stores. I was in the market for a dobro type guitar, one I could play the same way as my laptop steel guitar without requiring an amplifier. All the stores said their sister stores on the other side of town had one or more dobros in stock, but there was nothing local.

The rains moved into Phoenix from a Pacific storm and we decided to stay a couple of days extra before heading down to Coronado National Monument. This gave us time to eat at Serrano's (excellent Mexican fare), Applebee's (not as good as in CA), and Ruby Tuesday (good food and double drinks for lunch). It also provided some time to check out things in the new rig, and I prepared a list of changes to make when we get back to Jojoba Hills.

Log Date: +1791: 030227: 31N20.76': 110W15.38: 5,302': Coronado National Memorial, Sierra Vista, AZ

Thursday morning we hooked up and pulled out for the border. I drove back to I-10 on US-60. We took the Warner exit a couple of miles down the road to check out another music store for a dubro. I also wanted to purchase fuel, but the place I pulled into would only take cash or a debit card (no credit card) so I pulled out. Across the street was a music store in a shopping center so we pulled over to in and went inside. Lo and behold, there was a dobro. I played it to see what the sound would be like and ended up buying it. Now I am getting used to the different feel for the strings and the sound.

We pulled back onto I-10 and continued south. The highway was in good condition but there was quite a bit of traffic near Phoenix. The skies were cloudy and the temperature about 57 degrees with a strong breeze from the south. It was a very slow climb from the Gila River channel up towards Tucson, and the truck didn't notice it.

I had planned the trip using Topo 4.0 this time so Alice was able to bring up the 3-D view and see details about the mountains that were within a few miles of the highway. She remarked on how there were no foothills, the mountains must jumped up from the desert floor. We noticed that everything around us was showing a hint of green after the rains of the last few days. There was grass under the brush in the desert around us, and the hills in the distance showed the same tint. Some of this may have been the result of the cool, cloudy day. Whatever, Arizona looked cool and inviting -- wait a few months.

A little before noon we stopped for lunch at a Cracker Barrel just west of Tucson. They had four spaces for RVs and busses and we got the last one. We both decided to have eggs and bacon rather than lunch. It seemed more fitting with the weather. I also purchased diesel at a local station for $1.75 per gallon, near the average low price I had seen along the way.

There was some construction in Tucson around the I-19 interchange but it was pretty clear sailing through town. We continued east on I-10 for another 30 miles before we turned south on AZ-90. That road was four lanes a portion of the way and everywhere was smooth and wide with no sharp grades. We passed by Fort Huachuca nestled at the base of the Houchuca Mountains as AZ-90 turned left towards Sierra Vista. It looped back around the turned left again towards Bisbee as it intersected AZ-92 heading south.

Sierra Vista is a bustling town with a new Wal-Mart, Target, Dillards, etc. We continued south 13.5 miles from the intersection to the turnoff to the Coronado National Memorial, then 5 miles to the headquarters. John Langholff had given us instructions on where to turn to get to the residential area, and we headed up the hill to where we could see his rig parked. John directed us onto a somewhat level space next to their rig and we set up. The total trip was 209 miles. We were over a mile high and the temperature was in the mid-40s. There was also a strong wind from the south.

John and Beryl help in the visitor center at the Memorial headquarters over the weekends for their camping space. They also have visited schools in the area as part of the educational program. They have a nice camping spot with hookups and a tremendous view. We visited with them and then they served us supper. I was also able to use John's Starband link to collect our email. There were only a few minor messages.

The next morning John drove us up to Montezuma Pass. The first mile was paved then it was a washboard dirt road for two miles. I took a number of pictures using Alice's camera. All the batteries for my camera were empty and I have forgotten to bring the charger. We drove down the other side for a ways and took more pictures then went back to the rigs.

After lunch we decided to go to Bisbee and take the Queen Mine tour. It was a straight drive on AZ-92 over to the vicinity of Bisbee, the we turned up into the town, driving by the big pit. John knew the way to the Queen Mine, and we pulled into the parking lot just in time to join the last tour of the day. It only cost $7 per person and was well worth the price.

They fitted each of us out with a slicker, hard hat, and lamp. We then boarded the miner's train and they pulled us into the side of the mountain. The first stop was an old stoope where they had dug out the high grade. The room was at least fifty feet high and forty feet wide. Old tunnels went out of it in various directions. We saw some of the timbering used to hold shore up such large stoopes and I took some pictures of the copper formations on the side walls. Back on the train we traveled even deeper into the mountain to an exhibit of some of the equipment used in the mine.

The temperature inside was a constant 47 degrees. We were on the third of seven levels. The mine goes down 3,500 feet, but it is now filled with water at the lower levels. The fellow leading the tour had been a miner then a maintenance man in the mine for almost 30 years before the last part closed in 1975, so he knew his business.

When we returned to the open air we found it was even colder than in the mine, so we hurried down and found the Stock Market Bar that could serve us some hot coffee. A little brandy in the coffee with some cream warmed us up even faster.

We drove back into Sierra Vista on AZ-90 and came back to the rigs. That night I cooked a chicken bok choy stirfry for the crew and we visited some more. Alice and I decided we would stay for another day, so we did not have to get ready to travel the next morning.

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