Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Well, home away from home. Or our “second” home. Or better said…amongst family.
Along highway 99 it was nice to see all the yellow and orange flowers, in abundance, due to the “normal” rains that have finally come to the Golden State.
We left the area in November 2015. In mid-November, this is the lake level of Folsom Lake, just outside of Sacramento
Today, way above normal. Can’t wait to see it in person. Lake Oroville and Shasta Lake are all very similar to Folsom, and they hold 4 to 5 times the water Folsom holds.
Drought over? Depends upon who you talk to. Now the citizens are fighting their municipal water districts which want/need to raise rates because the lower water use has brought less revenues … yep, you can see where this is going. The better you conserved, the more your rates will go up. Once the rates are up, who is going to want to use the amount of water they use to use? So lush green lawns now in the spring, will turn brown in the late summer because there won’t be these heavy rains keeping them green. Yep, welcome to the Golden State.
So what has Arny been up to since we have been gone? With his mother out in Utah staying with his brother, Arny has been “re-painting” and fixing up the race car that his good friend shows and races at national drag races. More of this in an upcoming blog…
Monday, March 28, 2016
Got up, walked the dogs, paid our bill ($15 plus change) and we were on the road by 8:15. A fairly easy travel day from Needles to Barstow…then it got very exciting, again. I could not tell you which of our travel days had the hardest wind. I do think that today we had the hardest wind gusts, that is for sure.
Before the winds started to blow us all over the place, we were enjoying the view of the Mojave Desert…there were lots of yellow flowering plants, more green than we are use to, and the clouds made for a spectacular view.
Just east of Barstow we always stop at the Desert Oasis Westbound Rest Area. Here Skruffy and Bubba look out again, and in their minds they are wondering “Why does dad always stop at this rest area with no lawn, no greenery, nothing by sand and rocks?”
And each year they search and search for green grass…anything that is green.
Bubba, LOOK, we found some! Bubba? Bubba, is that you actually raising your leg up to pee??? (A very rare thing with Bubba, and first time on camera too)
As we get ready to get back into the motorhome, Bubba faces to the Northwest, looking and smelling for that familiar sign…Arny’s house. I figure his body is faced in the actual direction of where Uncle Arny and Aunt Sandy live. Yes, getting very close now Bubba. It was also here at the rest area that I noticed the first signs of wind. Twenty minutes later as we get close to Barstow, I can start feeling it on the steering wheel.
At Barstow we picked up highway 58, which at times is a two lane road, but mostly a four lane, divided highway. At the intersection of highway 58 and 395, there is a Pilot Gas Station which is very busy (busier than this google maps image above)…and I normally stop there since I last filled up in Arizona. California gas is so much higher than what we have been paying…a dollar more than in Kingman Arizona.
As we travel along highway 58 there is a nice stretch where there are Joshua Trees. Some stand alone, while others are in small groups.
As we get close to the town of Mojave, one can see windmills which seem to go one forever. Up over those hills, down near Bakersfield and we are done for the day.
The Orange Grove RV Park, just east of Bakersfield, is a popular stopping site for us, and for many of the snowbirds. As we drove down our “street” after visiting the California Fruit Depot (that’s a secret, enough said), we noticed many RVs from British Columbia, Washington State, Oregon, and at least one full-timer out of South Dakota. I went out again later, and another twenty RVs have arrives since us, but it should be quiet on our end…I think later arrivals will be put on the other side of the park…which has nearly 200 very large sites. Most of the pull through sites are 65 or 90 feet in length. And yes, it is in a Orange Grove, and you can pick Oranges (no ladders) and/or visit the California Fruit Depot around the corner.
Today, many of the trees still have oranges on them, and blossoms for the next crop. I sure hope they don’t have any more freezing weather this spring.
Tomorrow we have a 300 mile drive up to Sacramento and into Citrus Heights. Then we will be with family for a good month or so. I think that will make someone very, very happy.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Last year in mid-April we stayed in Needles California at Fender's River Road Resort. Today, after watching church via the Internet, we were on the road by 9 am, and by the time we got to Winslow Arizona, I knew that Needles was within reach. I called Fenders, and got what appears to be the last spot, and from this picture above from last year, we are close to the road, and barely fit without unhooking the tow vehicle. Arriving at 5:30, which is 6:30 New Mexico time, we had a nice lamb chop dinner for Easter, with rice and peas. Yum!!!
Needles is 560 miles from our destination, which a bit more than the 520 miles we traveled today…but we are only going as far as Bakersfield where we like to stay before the final 250+ miles to Citrus Heights. No early start, no late arrival…it will be an easy day if all goes well. And if get there early enough, perhaps a trip next door to the California Fruit Depot might be in order! (Now my family in Citrus Heights are going to wish they saved me some of that “David’s Favorite Salad” they bragged about over the phone today.)
Labels: Fender's River Road Resort
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Today was laundry day, and while we awaited for the clothes to dry, I saw the nice lady who checked me in when we arrived at Enchanted Trails RV Park and Trading Post. I had asked her about any laundry facility that day, and she showed me where it was at, and said that we can walk in the back door, or pull up to the front in a car if we wish. I told her that my wife has M.S., and that I was sure we pull up in front. Her response was, “I have M.S. too…”
As we were doing laundry, using the modern laundry facilities and not the vintage wringer washer and Ironright presser, I see the same lady. After a few minutes she walks over to the laundry room and I introduce her to Marcia, reminding her that Marcia has M.S. too. We had a delightful conversation and we found out that her name is Vickie, and she owns the R.V. Park.
Well, the Librarian in me decides that this encounter deserved a bit of research. I found out that she was the Past President of the New Mexico Route 66 Association, and in 2014 the Association threw her an outgoing party at the RV park, and gave her a plaque, cake, and made a real big deal of it…she was, and is highly admired by this group.
Vickie told us that she had worked at the park for 29 years now, and bought out the former owners a few years ago. Well, my research showed that the previous owner to her was her father-in-law. She told us she had been happily divorced for 20 years, happily in that it was not an ugly divorce. By the year 2000 she was the owner, and that is when she started collecting old trailers, 2 old Hudson cars, and put the “Enchanted” into the park which already bore the name, “Enchanted Trails RV Park and Trading Post”.
In 1947 the “Hilltop Trading Post” opened its doors, at the top of the hill west of Albuquerque, along Route 66. By 1955 it looked like this overhead picture below.
By 1970, with new owners, it was decided to add an RV park to the trading post. Since trading posts were dying off, the RV park would attract more visitors to the trading post. Vickie started working here in 1987, and her father-in-law was the owner by then. She quickly had an interest into the history of the facility, the history of old Route 66, and well, she made the RV Park into what it is today.
I told Vickie that I could remember when Enchanted Trails was the only thing on top of the hill. Now there is a Camping World, a Mesa RV dealership, and a Freightliner shop on the north side of the Interstate, and a few more RV parks, a Carl’s Jr., a Con-Way Freight facility, and a large mobile home park on the south side of the Interstate. We hope that Vickie and her Enchanted Trails RV Park and Trading Post will remain successful for many more years.
Note: All of the pictures in today’s blog were found on the Internet doing my research, with credit given as you hold the mouse over the pictures.
Friday, March 25, 2016
Two years ago when we were in Albuquerque for the Balloon Festival, we found that Albuquerque has a number of Greek Restaurants. Today we decided to have a late lunch / early dinner at what Yelp considered to be the best “Greek” Restaurant (not Greek/Mediterranean which includes more than Greek food). We have yet to find a restaurant that does Greek food as we find in Tarpon Springs, but Zorba’s was closer than many others that we have found.
As we are about 2 miles away from the motorhome, I realize that I forgot the camera…so this one cell phone shot of the inside is all I have. As you can see, we were nearly alone, which was fine with us. Surprisingly we found that you order at the counter, far right above…then pick a table. Why some Greek Restaurants do this is beyond us, especially here with such an extensive menu. Marcia had Lamb Shank with Orzo, while I had the combination plate they called “Alexis Platter”, which had Moussaka, Spanakopita, Gyros and Dolmathes, and I had it served with Rice Pilaf. We also had Saganaki, which is Kefalograviera Cheese panned fried and flambéed (lit on fire) at the table (well, brought to the table already on fire), which was remarkably good. We also shared a bowl of Avgolemono Soup, a Greek traditional chicken, rice, lemon and egg soup. As usual, this was far from the soup that we were use to…perhaps a bit more lemon would help it get close, but Mama Maria’s in Tarpon still reigns in our book. (And yes, we both brought food home for dinner later.)
Yesterday I said that the park was nearly half empty…but I spoke too soon. By 7 pm our entire section, and other sections near us, were nearly full. Lots of travelers seem to make it as far as Albuquerque in one days travel and stop…and many stop here probably because of the Passport America price of $17 (30 amp, I think 50 amp is $19). I also noticed an unusual number of folks walking to or from the showers. In the morning, by 10 am, the park drops down to nearly 50% full…just to fill up again. Today it seemed to fill up a bit faster because around 2 pm the winds really kicked up again, and by the time we got back to the motorhome at 4, it was blowing so hard we brought the slide in for awhile to try and keep the rocking and rolling down a bit, and to stop the sound of the slide awning flapping in the wind.
Tomorrow is going to be laundry day…and since we did some shopping before going to Zorba’s today, we will probably just have a cleaning day in anticipation of leaving on Sunday.
Labels: Zorba's Greek Restaurant
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Called Duke City Automotive at 9:30 am, the motorhome is ready to pick up. We arrived around 10:30, and by noon we were fueled up and sitting in the Enchanted Trails RV Park & Trading Post in west Albuquerque, up on top of the large hill heading out of town.
Before we left Duke City, I managed to get a picture of “shy” Carlos (can’t show his face) holding the old fuel pump, and Aaron Messer, the head guy there, getting my keys off the board.
Although expensive, these fuel pumps, especially from the factory, are not cheap. This pump ran $540, and they also put in a new fuel filter, and with labor and tax ($93), everything came to $1389.
All said, we could not be more pleased with the work done, their speedy service, and we are once again back on the road. When these RVs are put together, many “after market” items, such as levelers, don’t take into account “what happens when a mechanic has to get into a gas tank.” In our case, the back levelers had to be removed, and the mounting brackets, which is welded onto the frame of the motorhome, barely allowed for the removal of the gas tank. Aaron said that they have had to cut off the brackets and weld on new ones once the job was finished. And mechanic wages for working on motorhomes are more than a mechanic working on a car…so yes, it does get expensive. That is part of the RV lifestyle.
We will be staying at the Enchanted Trails RV Park & Trading Post for three nights. This time of the year the park is about half empty. In the above picture you can see the flag...it shows a light breeze, way down from the heavy winds we have had these past four to five days. But if you thought the “wind” has been playing havoc on your driving in the Southwest these past few days, just look at what it has done to this RV park.
There are tumbleweeds all over the place. Those are all loose tumbleweeds along the fence. They are under RVs, under tables, under trees, and many just laying around. When the lady apologized for the tumbleweeds when I checked in, I told her that with these winds I totally understand. Did not know that I would need to clear my pad of them just to pull in…but they are light and easy for me to move (Marcia's cane came in handy...turned it upside down and just scooted them out of the way), which is why the wind moves them along so easily. I also had seen something on the news last night about the high number of tumbleweeds due to the high amount of rain New Mexico has received over this past year.
One of the lures of this park is the vintage trailers and old cars that they have on display. In fact, the vintage trailers are available for nightly rentals, and if interested in the types and prices, visit this page.
After a eight days of more than 2000 miles of driving, visiting friends and relatives, and being towed for 65 miles…we are ready for a bit of a “rest” as we wait for our travel window to open again. As explained in yesterday’s posting, our tow service requires a three day wait between tows…and although we don’t expect to need the tow service again, one never knows. At least now we will arrive in Sacramento with only some dirty laundry instead of a bunch of dirty laundry…luckily the park has a nice laundry facility to we intend to use.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
You KNOW you are out in the middle of nowhere when the best place to eat breakfast is a brand new Denny’s. So we get out of the RV before 8 am, and turn it over to Unique Automotive Service Center and off to Denny’s we go. About done with breakfast and we get a call…
“Dave, we got good news and bad news...the part is in, but as we started looking at dropping the tank, well, we just don’t feel qualified to do it because it requires removing your leveling jacks, which are hooked up to hydraulics, ….” I felt like loosing my breakfast, which, was a typical Denny’s breakfast.
By the time we get back to Unique Automotive Service Center, Gene has found a place down in Albuquerque which can do it all. Since he was only 90% sure the part he had in hand was the right part, he suggested that we just have them get the part down there. And boy oh boy, there is no charge…. WOW!!!! Might just have to send a batch of donuts through overnight mail...
Our towing service is offered through Blue Sky. Something I read once long ago was telling me that once towed, they won’t tow you again for 3 days. I call, talking to three different people, and when I explain the situation I am finally told that perhaps customer service “might” have pity and make an exception…after all, the place it was towed to “should have” been able to fix it, but are now refusing due to the hydraulic situation. Finally, after ten minutes with customer service, we are given a one time waiver, and they agree to tow it another 32 miles to Albuquerque. Hallelujah!!!
Here is our “now favorite” tow truck driver from Tavenners Towing in Moriarty, NM, hooking us up to take us from Unique Automotive Service Center, to Duke City Automotive and R.V. Repair in Albuquerque . By 12:30 we are there, and before we drive off to a motel…yes, we cannot stay in the motorhome at this place due to the locked fence around the place…they have already started working on it. We forgot a few things, so I drove the nine miles back over to Duke City Automotive and R.V. Repair (Aaron of Duke City told me that getting a motel on the north side of town was highly suggested), and surprise surprise, they were already putting a new fuel pump in it! "Ford had one in stock," said Aaron, "should be done by mid-morning finishing it up and testing it out." We should be on our way tomorrow … or perhaps not.
We still have a problem with our towing service. Do we dare drive another 1,100 miles without towing service? I don’t think so, that could cost us hundreds and even a thousand dollars or more depending upon where we need a tow from. So instead we are going to get an RV park in Albuquerque through the weekend, and while here, turn the engine on and off a number of times just to be sure it is working again…and test the levelers, and the generator…then we will head directly to Sacramento where we hope to be there for my dad’s 88th birthday. I have not seen my dad on his birthday for a long, long time. We have been lucky enough to make mom’s birthday three out of the last four birthdays…but dad, born 24 days earlier, was always out of luck. This year will be the year we make it. And anytime you travel by RV, you just have to realize that plans change, breakdowns occur, live goes on.
Marcia has told me over and over the following saying....
So we have one night in a La Quinta, right near a Cracker Barrel...the same Cracker Barrel we watched the Hot Air Balloons from a couple of years ago. If all goes well, and we will know tomorrow morning, we will be back in our motor home, and sitting in a park in West Albuquerque for a few days.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
The wind can sure do its wonders on the sky… Today was like the past few days, windy, windy, windy. When we awoke in Kansas, the wind had not started up yet. We even got trough that small portion of Oklahoma with no wind, and almost the small portion of Texas we drove through too…but that is where I first noticed the wind. By the time we entered New Mexico around 10:30, it was windy, windy, windy. By the time we got on I-40, it was as bad as it was in Kansas yesterday.
Marcia got these pictures of the dogs…if one was looking up, the other wasn’t. Most of the time this is where they travel, although sometimes Skruffy gets on the bed, or on Marcia’s lap if she is real lucky.
At 12:30 the wind was let out of sail. About 6,500 feet in elevation, and 226 miles from the Arizona boarder, the motorhome stalled out at 60 mph. I got off the road easy enough, but did not make the exit which was a quarter mile down the road. But our roadside service, Blue Sky (comes with our insurance) had a tow truck out within 90 minutes, and by 4:00 pm we were at the repair shop. My initial thought was it was not getting gas…which means bad fuel pump. Called Arnie, he agreed.
The Ford Dealership in Albuquerque would not be able to even look at it until Thursday or Friday…so we picked Unique Automotive Service Center in Moriarty, NM, about 30 miles away. When I called, he said he would get a guy on it right away “if” we got it there early enough. Tow truck was dropping it in front of the bay (above), and within minutes Sean was working on it. He first checked for gas pressure, there was none. He then checked to see if the pump was getting an signal to send gas, and it was. New fuel pump should (fingers crossed, prayers said) by 10 am in the morning. So far, very happy with our repairman Sean, very knowledgeable, and very nice. As for us, we are sleeping in the motorhome like always…generator blasting away without anyone to disturb.
Anyone who has RV’ed enough knows what it feels like to follow your RV while it is being towed. It is not a good feeling, but we are grateful that it broke down here, in the middle of New Mexico, instead of somewhere in the middle of “on the way to Alaska”. It does not change our plans, although we will be late getting to Phoenix, that’s for sure.