Updated on June 14, 1998.
Early May we left Palm Desert and went to Las Vegas for the Interop show, then on to Verde Valley TTN in AZ. Sam went back to SBE for a short visit, then we headed to Carlsbad Caverns, spending a night in the Benson AZ SKP Coop Park and a night in the Deming NM SKP Rainbow Park on the way. After Carlsbad we headed into Texas to visit with Mike Strang. Just after we arrived there we heard that Sam's mother, Wilma Penny, had passed away, so we hurriedly flew back to California for the services, finally returning to our travels on June 3.
Getting back on I-10 we retraced our path to I-215 in San Bernadino then to I-15 on our way to Las Vegas. The climb out of the valley went smoothly and the truck and trailer pulled smoothly. Sailing through Victorville we waved at the old Fairgrounds where already they were preparing for some new event.
The drive to Las Vegas was uneventful and done mostly at 55mph. We reached the Las Vegas TTN mid-afternoon and found a tight site to back into. I impressed everyone around when I succeeded the first time.
There was an Internet connection at the Adult Lodge, but it was limited to local calls. I was able to reach the local Netcom POP, but I could not call the SBE 800 number!! I started looking around for some other place to make the call. I called Kinko's and they said yes, but when I went there they said they only had digital services, no analog modem connections. I finally found a place in West Las Vegas where I was able to use a business's fax line to call into SBE and get my email. It was amazing that Las Vegas would prove to be such a problem.
I went to the Interop show while in Las Vegas. It was interesting, and it is apparant that the pace of connectivity has not slackened. I made a couple of good contacts that I have passed on to SBE.
We took the City Lights tour one evening. We went to the new Rio Casino complex and then downtown to the lights display on Fremont Street. It was quite spectacular.
I purchased a macerator at the Henderson Camping
World, and then I worked on finding supplies for hooking the macerator
up while in Las Vegas. It turns out that 3/4 or 1 inch garden
hose is very hard to find. I did find a 1 inch to 3/4 inch connector
for the outlet, but I still do not have the required hoses.
Leaving the Las Vegas TTN Preserve, we headed down I-515 toward Hoover Dam on our way to Verde Valley TTN near Cottonwood, AZ. Alice did not want to take the trailer down the roads to the dam and then over the dam, but I convinced her that that was better than going down the west side of the river to Laughlin.
We made it over the dam just fine -- I was glad the speed limit was 15mph, so I had a good excuse to keep it slow. The key is to remember to swing wide on the turns; I saw several places where someone did not do that.
We continued at a comfortable pace on US93 to Kingman AZ where we caught I-40. I was able to pick up the speed a little on the drive over to Flagstaff where we turned south on I-17. The drive down to the Camp Verde exit was pleasant, and the downgrades did not present a problem.
Turning back west on AZ260, we drove to Thousand Trails Road and entered the park. After registering we found a place very near the river and settled in.
While Alice stayed at Verde Valley, I again flew back to SBE to interview another VP candidate and check up on things. It was a good trip and the candidate, Paul Garbacseski, has accepted the position. Upon return I was tired of traveling so we extended our stay from 5 to 9 days.
The big event of the spring at Verde Valley happened while we were there: the annual trek of sheep and herders to their summer grazing area. The river crossing is in the middle of the TTN camp. It was quite a picture with the rangers trying to herd the tourists and the sheep herders directing the sheep.
Internet access was available up at the administrative offices during business hours. A couple of times I went into Cottonwood to the Mailboxes Etc establishment to use their phone. They were very nice and would accept no payment for the use of the phone. Alice did buy some envelopes and mailers.
We made it over to Clarksburg to have supper
at Su Casa. They have a senior dinner for $4.95 that is great
and 99cent margaritas. Yum, Yum. You do have to request the senior
Leaving Verde Valley, we picked up I-17 and headed south towards Benson, AZ for an overnight stay at the Saguaro SKP Coop Park. The pull out of the Verde River valley was at a steady 45mph. then we were on the high desert road with a couple of downgrades heading for Phoenix. I was glad I had driven to Phoenix to fly to SBE the week before -- it gave me a chance to know the road.
The trip was uneventful. Alice was able to get some pictures of Saguaro cacti along I-17 near New River. The commute traffic had died down in Phoenix, so it was relatively easy to take I-17 around to I-10 and continue on towards Tucson and Benson.
I tried out cruise control pulling the trailer, and it handled the level freeways quite well. I did not realize we were climbing almost 2000 feet out of Tucson until I saw the temperature rising a little.
We left I-10 at Benson and turned down US80 for a couple of miles. When we arrived at the SKP Coop, the lady explained we would be staying at the site of a Coop member who was traveling. It was a big lot, measuring 55 by 75 feet and fully graveled. A lot of other members have built small structures on their lots, some of them quite unique. Others had really put a lot of effort into landscaping, including examples of the local fauna.
One of the Coop members, I think it was Bob Conway, came by and visited with us while extolling the great features of the Coop and the area around Benson. He offered to let me come up and get on the Internet, but we were enjoying the relaxation too much to make it by. Thanks, Bob, for the offer.
There is a waiting list of over 150 waiting
to get into the Benson SKP Coop. It looks like a nice place, and
we will think about it as a possible location. Members who let
their plots to be rented by overnighters (like us) receive part
of the rental fee as a reduction in their annual maintenance fees.
We headed out of Benson about 8am for the short drive (175mi) on I-10 to the Dream Catcher Rainbow Park in Deming, NM. Just out of Benson we went through Texas Canyon, an area used for many western movies in days past. It is a large area of decomposed granite boulders with a lot of character.
The trip was uneventful, though it became increasingly hazy (mostly smoke from fires in Mexico) as we went east. It also got hotter, so Alice convinced me we could drive and run the air-conditioner at the same time, at least on level roads like we found on I-10.
Dream Catcher is a nice Escapees park that accepts regular customers as well. Rates for SKPs is about half of regular rates. However, there is no internet access here. Ralph, the manager, says that Escapees has still not come up with a policy for implementing it. He mentioned the Deming Truck Stop, so we went there for lunch and to check it out.
In the trucker's section at the truck stop, the phones on the wall could be removed exposing the RJ-11 jack. We ordered lunch and I plugged in and placed my calls to SBE and Netcom. It worked out really well.
For supper we went to Si Senor on Motel Drive. We had some NM-Mex food. They offered wine by the caraffe, so we ordered one. It took them a while to find a caraffe, and when it came it had a couple of chips in the top, but the wine was acceptable, especially the price.
After supper we drove east on NM549 and then
south to the Rockhound State Park. We plan to go there for a few
days next year. It is an area you can search for jasper, agate,
geodes, etc. They have a good boondocking camp with some sites
having water and electricity. The view is lovely.
We drove from Deming to Carlsbad, NM by way of El Paso. The haze thickened as we approached El Paso along I-10, until visibility was under a mile just north of the city. Smog from the area contributed a great deal to the mess.
We turned and went up US62 from El Paso. There is a long steep grade (30mph) at the Guadalupe Mountains with a tremendous view of Guadalupe Mountain as you start up the grade. You can see the haze around the mountain which by the way is the tallest peak in Texas.
We stayed at the Carlsbad RV park just south of the town; it was fairly nice and fthey did offer the use of their telephone line to connect to the Internet. The birds were extremely noisy -- mostly the grackles. These birds look like a cross between a crow and a roadrunner: black with a long tail. They are among the loudest birds I have heard.
This morning we drove down to the Carlsbad Caverns National Park and walked the Big Room. We rented the sound system which was nice to have during the tour.
On the way we stopped to look at some of the flora in the canyon leading up to the cavern entrance. Alice inspected the cholla fruit hidden behind the bayonet grass.
We opted to take the elevator down rather than
walking through the natural entrance. Both Alice and I figured
our feet and legs would not survive the 1.5 mile walk downhill.
There is plenty to see at the bottom.
We drove down US285 from Carlsbad to I-10 and then east through Ozona, TX. We stayed at the Circle Bar RV Park 8 miles east of Ozona. The sky was still overcast with smoke haze and the temperature was in the high 80s but with low humidity.
The drive from Carlsbad was uneventful under mostly cloudy skies. Across West Texas the land is mostly level and most of the drive was with cruise control at 60mph.
I was able to get on the Internet at the RV
office; not much happening on Saturdays. We soaked in the spa
while doing laundry. For the most part it was a matter of resting
for the drive tomorrow.
We camped in the Medina Lake TTN Preserve near San Antonio after the drive from Ozona. The weather was overcast and hazy from the smoke from Mexico. The afternoon temperature was about 84F with humidity around 70%; there was a slight breeze.
As we drove in from Ozona the haze got worse until now the visibility is around 2 miles. The eyes smarted a little bit from the smoke. The drive was mostly uneventful running at 60mph most of the time. As we got into the hillier country I shifted out of overdrive for about 1/3 of the hills. The last 35 miles from Boerne down to the campground was somewhat windy and hilly.
Medina Lake campground was nearly full but we found a good campsite with clear access for the DSS. We were surrounded by trees and brush cutting off the breeze, so we ran the air conditioner much of the time. The cooing morning doves really filled the evening air with song. There was a herd of about 20 deer on the meadow, but boys on bikes kept chasing them off.
We spent one afternoon driving around San Antonio and checking on Internet connections. There is no connection at Medina Lake TTN (bummer), so we drove 30 miles to San Antonio and found a very nice Kinkos near the intersection of I-410 and US16. It cost nothing to use their analog line for a modem connection.
While there I met Rick Anderson, a "sales manager" for AlphaCom. He says they are putting together a facility for Internet access on the road -- it appears to be both a technical solution and a marketing solution. I will check into this and report further when I get the chance.
It kept threatening rain, until the last night
when it dumped on us. There was a lot of lightening, but for the
most part it was off to the northwest and we did not hear much
Wednesday morning we packed it all up and headed for Georgetown. We arrived at Mike Strang's ranch near Georgetown after a leisurely drive from Medina Lake. We went by way of Burnett to avoid the traffic around San Antonio. This took us through the area where LBJ was raised and had his ranch. The roads are very nice in that area for some reason.
At one of the road side rests, Misty became quite interested in this very large, brown "goat" that pranced up to the fence. So was the "goat" (aka llama) interested in Misty. It turns out that goat farmers in that area keep llamas with the goats as protection against the coyotes. The llama appeared to think Misty might be some form of coyote.
When we arrived at Mike's place off Highway 195, he guided us onto a spot next to his barn of almost bare limestone and fire ant hills to camp. After he killed off the local wasp community so we could access power, we hooked up and settled back.
Mike's wife Diane had been in an auto accident the evening before and was still shaken from the event. We made plans to go out to dinner with Mike while letting Diane rest.
Unfortunately, later that afternoon we received a phone call from California that Mom had passed away, so we began planning for the trek back. Mike kindly agreed to keep our dog Misty for the week we would be away and allowed us to leave the rig on his property. Thanks much, Mike.
We still went to dinner, and Mike took us to
Joe's Crab House in Round Rock. The food was excellent, and the
ambiance was fun. At one point the whole staff took a break and
did the Macerena.
Mike took us to the Austin Airport Thursday morning, and Alice and I flew to Oakland. We rented a car and took care of some business at SBE in San Ramon and then headed down to Hanford in convoy with our daughter, Deb.
At the services on Friday, everyone paid tribute to Mom. She had spent 40 of her 87 years in Hanford as a teacher, librarian, and friend to many. Family, teachers, and neighbors came to pay their tributes. Everyone talked about the sparkle in her eyes and her smile and kind word for all. It was good seeing everyone again, though it was a sad occasion. At least she is no longer in pain.
Saturday and Sunday the family recovered from the ordeal and started to review what to do next. We sorted through some of the memorabilia in Mom's house and chose some of those things to take home for our memories. Deb took one of Dad's handmade tables, Alice wanted some of Mom's wraps, and I found some of Dad's mahogany walking sticks for me and Mike. Mostly we took memories of two people who had had a profound effect on generations that followed.
Monday was a time for visiting the lawyer and starting the process of closing the estate. Dad and Mom had done an excellent job of preparing their estate, something all of us need to do as well.
While in Handford I finally found a 3/4 inch hose I could use with the macerator. Since purchasing the macerator in Las Vegas, I had found no one with a big enough hose to use with it. So I bought a 75 foot section which I cut into four shorter pieces and attached connectors. Rosemary gave me an old suitcase so we could take it back with us as luggage on the plane.
On Tuesday we drove back to the Bay Area and
spent the evening with Mike and Gail (son and daughter-in-law),
and on Wednesday we flew back to Austin to resume our trip, complete
with suitcase full of rubber hose.