Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Passed by McDonalds in Wickenburg, Made it to Lake Pleasant


We have camped at three different Maricopa County Parks...McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Cave Creek Regional Park, and Lake Pleasant Regional Park.  I doubt we will try any of the other parks, we LOVE Lake Pleasant.  Oh, we liked the other two, but the water is a nice attraction in an area in which there is so much brown, and that which is green is typically a cactus.

But the first thing we needed to do was to get to Lake Pleasant...a 225 mile drive.  We continue east on I-40.  We got up at 6 am, were on the road by 6:30, and into Arizona by 8 am (we lost an hour due to time zone.)  At Kingman we stop to get gas at the Flying J ($3.46 per gal), the same place where we foiled a scam.  Back in December of 2017, while filling up the gas tank, some guy in a AAA car stops behind us, starts saying something about oil dripping from under our rear end, gets on the ground, followed quickly by me, and tries to squirt oil up on the rear carriage claiming there is a leak.  I quickly tell him to get out from under MY MOTORHOME, and told him that I will have it checked out when we get to Phoenix.  (Read original blog here.  That blog had a comment from someone who did fall for the scam...same story.)  I reported to AAA and a followup email confirmed that they had an investigator looking into it.  So bottom line, I felt uncomfortable getting gas at this Flying J today, but no scammer...although a pickup truck blocked one of the RV gas lanes for the entire time forcing me to get gas over at the normal pumps...the guy just sat there in his pickup truck, never did see him get gas or anything.  I just get a creepy feeling there...

Good-bye California, Hello Arizona

About 20 miles east of Kingman is Highway 93.  Another 100 miles is Wickenburg, where we catch highway 60.   Ten miles later we turn on Arizona Highway 74 and 18 miles later we are pulling into the road leading to Lake Pleasant.  Highway 93 is a mixture of 2 lane and 4 lane.  Some of the road is good, some of it is a bit bumpy.  Indy does not like the bumpy part at all.  We stop, she does her business, and off we go and all is well.  Guess it scares the [BLANK] right out the poor little girl!  Unfortunately you don't always have an exit to pull over at, and I don't want to stop along an Interstate unless there is a mechanical breakdown.

Highway 93 is also home to the Joshua Tree Forest Parkway, an Arizona Scenic Route.  For about 10 miles you literally drive through a forest of trees...Joshua Trees.  There is a picnic stop in which we got the above and below image...the the second image below was taken while driving.

There are three roundabouts as you get close to Wickenburg.

At the third roundabout...you come out of it and you are on Highway 60.

This is the McDonald's made famous by Al of the Bayfield Bunch!  He and his lovely wife Kelly use to have a USA home in Congress, about 15 miles away...and Al liked driving over to Wickenburg to get his morning cup of coffee, and occasionally a treat for Pheebs, his loyal four legged friend. (The Bayfield Bunch) Their primary, and now only, home is in Bayfield, Ontario, Canada.  Al writes a very popular blog filled with travel, and interesting bits of this and that, and lots of wonderful pictures.

We did not have reservations, but we got in for two nights at the Roadrunner Campground at Lake Pleasant...there are lots of spaces available...but they will be full come Friday for another busy weekend.  Best to make reservations, and make them early if you want to spend a weekend. Tomorrow I will share some pictures, again, of Lake Pleasant.

Monday, November 29, 2021

From Joshua Trees through the Mojave Desert to Needles, Ca


It did not take long to get over Tehachapi Pass, a mountain pass crossing the Tehachapi Mountains, a principal connector between the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert, also known as Highway 58 through the mountains. We left at 7 am, filled up at the Flying J in Tehachapi at $4.39 per gallon ($150 for 34+ gallons of gas) and soon we were in the western Mojave and coming into patches of Joshua Trees.

As I am passing by tree after tree I think about the many old Western movies and/or TV shows where they show Joshua Trees in places like Kansas, Montana, Colorado, even the Dakotas.  Fact of the mater is that the Joshua Tree is found primarily in California, and small parts of Utah, Nevada and Arizona....along with parts of north-west Mexico.  A similar occurrence happens with Saguario Cactus.  It is native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, the Mexican state of Sonora, and the Whipple Mountains and Imperial County areas of California...yet can be seen in episodes of Wagon Train crossing through Kansas or Colorado, various movies not set in Arizona, etc.  It's kinda like watching a movie of Custer's Last Stand with the background of Sedona or Monument Valley as the backdrop to the movie.  Back when those movies and TV shows were shot, they did not expect people to have the Internet or that so many would have the ability to visit these sites in person.

Here in the Mojave Desert the tree brings a bit of life to the dreary desert.  Let's face it, except for a few areas, the Mojave Desert is a bit of a boring drive.

We drive through the newly upgraded Highway 58 through Boron (all four lane, two each way now) and through Barstow, and hit the Rest Area just 20 miles east of Barstow...one we seem to stop at each time.

Seems we stop at the Desert Oasis Rest Area area going either east or west on I-40.

Above you can see the west rest area on the other side of the freeway.  Tears came to my eyes as I told Marcia that just 9 1/2 years ago the view was from the other side of the freeway...

Here they are, Skruffy and Bubba...looking at the east rest area right at where we are parked 9 1/2 years later, right where I put this red arrow into the picture.  Perhaps they knew something...or perhaps they were thinking just what I posted about this picture way back then.  "Who stole the #*%*@&* grass?"

Over the next 120 miles there are only a few distant mountains in which to enjoy, along with a few cactus species.  At 59 miles per hour, which is 4 miles over the speed limit but slow enough not to attract the attention of the three highway patrol officers monitoring the patch of highway, it is a long long drive...  

We finally make it to an RV Park we have stayed at many times before...Fender's River Road Resort in Needles, right on historic Highway 66, with part of the park right along the Colorado River.  It is a Passport America park and cost just under $20 for the night's stay.

As we drove the 'back way' to Fenders RV Park from the Interstate, we came across a number of rock displays, all with flags.  I told Marcia that I would need to unhook the car and come back to check it out...it is about a mile away from the park.

All of the displays seems to correspond to a Veteran's Day celebration.  There was a display for the Army, Navy (above), Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, along with a VFA display and this Vietnam POW/MIA display.  All together there was around a dozen displays.

The sun made it hard to get good pictures on the southwest side of the road, and threw shadows on the other side of the road.  It was a real special, inexpensive display of Patriotism that I really appreciated.

Tomorrow we will enter Arizona where the time changes by an hour, and gas prices drop by 25%.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Head em' up, Move 'em out! (after a family day on Saturday)


I guess we were not the only ones heading out on Sunday.  This view above is on I-5, headed south around Los Banos, about due west of Fresno.  The cars heading the other way are coming out of the LA area...it was never ending.

We had our own traffic jam...this was taken near Santa Nella, home of Anderson's Split Pea Soup Restaurant.  Highway 33 and then highway 152 each flood the Interstate with people coming from the Sierras or from the Monterey/Santa Cruz area.  Add a couple of fender benders, and we crawled along for 20-25 minutes traveling just 5 or 6 miles.  Other than that, our south-bound lanes went along smooth, yet a bit crowded at times.  Always nice to see some guy try and fit between a truck and another car, just to reach out and pound on the car yelling at them to let him in, all the while we have backed off to where he could EASILY pull in right behind the car and go along his merry way.  (ps: his wife did not look too happy about it all)

We got off from Sandy and Arny's right at 8:00 am, and we headed down I-5 because they have a Beacon Truck Wash near west Lodi, to clean nearly 4 months of tree cra#...I mean 'stuff' off the motorhome.  Getting there around 9 am we did not have to wait except for the truck in the bay getting cleaned.  Had I pulled over to the middle or right bay we would have been done even faster...but once committed I was where I was because you just can't backup pulling a car with all four wheels down on the ground.  $49, which included a wash and Rain-X, and we were on our way to the Flying J next door to spend a mint and a half on 20 gallons of gas.  Well, one more fill up tomorrow and we will be in Arizona where the price will drop $1.20 per gallon or more.

Had we not got the RV washed, we might have missed much of the traffic...at least our side was not as busy as the northbound side.

It took Indy a good couple of hours to calm down and get back into the groove of travel.  She sure snapped out of it when I stopped at the truck wash, gas station and the two rest areas that I took her out for a walk and sniff.  Above she is at the RV Park trying to figure out where other dogs are barking from, and trying to catch sight of all dog walkers...mostly very large dogs.  If you look behind her you can see oranges on the tree/bush.  We are just a bit early to pick oranges to take with us, but I found a couple that were ripe and Marcia enjoyed one of them immensely. 

And at 4:35 I snapped this picture of the sun going down...wow, it sure gets dark early now days.

Family Day

Saturday turned out to be a family day, besides a packing up day getting ready to "Head em' up, Move 'em out".

Back Row L-R: Roger, Charlene, Bob, Mom, Me, Indy with Patti and Sandy down front

My brothers Bob and Roger both dropped by around the same time for quick (too quick) visit.  Arny took this picture, Marcia was still in the motorhome.  Bob brought along his 'friend' Charlene, which gave us all a chance to meet her, except mom who met her a few months ago.  Roger's wife was driving up from the LA area and did not make it.  My older brother Jim and his wife Carol were in Texas where they live.

Sure was a good day for mom based on that smile!

Friday, November 19, 2021

Three Months Pass, Now Getting Ready to Head Home

It has been just over three months since we arrived here in Citrus Heights, California.  In 10 days we will leave for our long drive back to Florida.  Of course, with our travels comes more of my blogs ... but this three months of not blogging is the longest spell since we started our blog back in 2012.  I thought about posting something a few times, but it just never materialized.  Well, time to catch up...


When we arrived at Sandy and Arny's house, Indy was very protective the first few days, then she opened up to Sandy...and about a month later she opened up to Arny.  Protective mode means that if she saw one of them walk out of their sliding door onto the patio, she would bark and bark and bark.  Above you can see that she is looking in the window hoping to see Sandy walk out with her afternoon treat of pork.  I have cooked up so much pork over these past three months, and she ate nearly all of it...I think we had pork for dinner once while here.

Here is Indy sitting on a table in Arny's garage.  It took about six or seven weeks, but she finally started to jump up on Arny's lap...only took a week or so for Sandy's lap.  Of course, Sandy was very instrumental in us getting Indy, and drove me over to meet and pick her up the day we got her, July 4th of last year....Independence Day, hence, the name Indy.

Indy LOVES to run around the back yard, chase the stray cats from the neighbors (the cats trying to catch squirrels...bad cats!), and she pretty much will leave the squirrels alone.  One neighbor, Ed, has a dog named Jack, and she LOVES it when Jack comes over for a visit.  But she really loves it when her cousin Parker comes over...they love playing together, especially "Humpty Dumpty".


During this COVID time period, we had less and less family meals together.  Above was just a few weeks ago.  On the left is Patti and Sandy, on the right is Mom and Tim.  Tim is Patti's brother-in-law.  Patti was married to Tim's brother Terry for a number of years until Cystic Fibrosis took him away from us.  Back in 2018 Marcia and I were in Colorado and visited a small lake where some of Terry's ashes were spread.  You can read about that here: My Brother-in-Law’s Resting Place…in the Rockies.  Tim's twin brother Tom flew out a week later, and is still here, heading back home on Saturday.  We did not have a family dinner with Tom because Arny had some major dental work done and is still on liquids and squishy foods.  It is so neat how Patti and Terry's three surviving brothers still remain so close.

I also was able to get mom down to Elk Grove to visit her sister, my Aunt Mary (Mary and Mom pictured above), and also Aunt Florence, who married my dad's brother.  We actually visited each of them twice!   I was hoping for a third visit before we left, but it does not seem like that is going to work out.

We have tried a few times to get together with my oldest son Michael and his wife Anna, but that still has not worked out.  First time Mom was not feeling up to it (Migraine), then Michael came down with a head-cold, got tested for COVID just in case but that, thank goodness, that came back negative.  We are going to try one more time early next week for a dinner with Michael and Anna.  (Michael did drive up to see his G-Ma about a month ago...they had a real nice visit.)

Motorhome & Car Maintenance 

In preparation for our trip home I had the oil changed in the car, then replaced the air filter and the cabin air circulation filter.  In the motorhome I changed the oil, checked the batteries, fixed a hatch that fell off while opening it, and built a cabinet over the stove where the microwave use to sit.

Inside the cabinet is a new toaster oven (which I bring down and use on the counter top),  some paper towels and, at times, things we want to store there temporarily while cooking so they are out of the way on the counter.  We lost the microwave while driving through Atlanta back in June, and we have not missed it...except for the time which was clearly visible when the motorhome was hooked to electricity.  When we are back home I will stain it...did not want to smell the stain while living in it, and did not want to take it apart once I got it together.  I have knobs that still need to be put on, along with double roller catches to keep it closed while driving.

All that is left is bringing up the tires to proper air level, some minor caulking, and putting a new window regulator into the driver's door (all should be done Saturday if the weather holds.)


The hardest part of being here is the COVID restrictions, which vary from County to County.  In Sacramento County, where Sandy and Arny live, masks are required at stores, restaurants, etc. etc.  In Placer County, where mom and Patti live, masks are not required but they are suggested.  People are confused as to which county they are in at the moment since only a small sign separates the counties and the cities of Citrus Heights (Sacramento County) and Roseville (Placer County).  Of course, Assisted Living facilities have their own set of rules.  They had to see my Vaccination Card, I have to get my temperature taken for each visit, and I have to wear a mask until I get down to mom's apartment.  Mom only needs to have her temperature taken.  Then there are the few times in which mom is exposed to a sick person, has to be tested and quarantined until test comes back even if it is determined the sick person just had a cold.  Frustrating yes, but it does keep her and others safe.

I too felt at times that I should be tested, and so I bought four self test kits from Walgreens...all four times it was negative...but at least I knew I was ok.  (Above, one pink line is negative, two pink lines would mean you have COVID.)  I have never felt any symptoms, I have not tested positive, and I have been vaccinated (too early for the booster though).  Yet there are many cases reported where people who have been vaccinated have still gotten COVID.  So the vaccination does not stop one from getting sick...but if you get sick, the chances of ending up in the hospital, or the morgue, are reduced greatly.  There are also reports of the vaccination getting people sick...even people dying.  Some people like to live under all the restrictions, others do not.  All we can say is, can't wait to get back to Florida where things are more normal.  (Note: Marcia had a cousin whose adult daughter was in the hospital with COVID for over a month back home in Florida...it really can be a very nasty illness.)

Here is the gas line to get gas at Sam's last week...$4.19 per gallon and a 30-40 minute wait on top of it.  I finally gave up, and ended up at a Union 76 station near my sister's house where it was $4.69 per gallon, and I put in 5 gallons.  Another 'last' trip to Sam's tomorrow where the HHR will get its last California tank full.  My feeling is that our gas crisis, our supply chain crisis, our inflation all goes back to COVID and an administration that does not know how to fix it...much like Jimmy Carter in the 70's.  Sure hope this crisis does not turn into Stagflation like we had in the 70's...that was some wicked stuff, and it took over 20% interest rates to squash it.

Miscellaneous Stuff

Sandy and Arny went down to Bakersfield for the Hot Rod Reunion at the Famoso Raceway in late October. Back in 2016, Arny did a masterful touch-up paint job on the Bradford Dragster that he originally painted many years earlier.  See Part One and Part Two of the blog I wrote back then on his paint job.  Well, Randy Bradford was racing at the Hot Rod Reunion and ...

...Randy won the Fuel Altered Division!  Unfortunately he blew his engine as he neared the finish line...but still crossed over first.  (Above is a picture of the final race...clearly that paint job is still holding up.)

Another race car driver that Arny loves is Kyle Larson.  Kyle is an Elk Grove kid, 29 years old, and started racing at the age of 7.  In 2012 he raced his first stock car race...and won...and won again the following week.  He was having a stellar career...until he used the
N-word" while reverting back to his youthful ways as he communicated with a member of his team.  In South Sacramento, which boarders Elk Grove, the kids use/used the "N-Word" in their daily speech, not as a term for racism, but just another word in their vocabulary. Problem is, Kyle was not a kid anymore.  His punishment, NASCAR suspended him indefinitely and ordered him to complete sensitivity training before he is allowed to race again.  He came back on a new team this year, and took it all.  

Kyle's father is of European ancestry, his mother is Japanese American...her parents were in a Japanese internment camp during WW2.  He really is a good young man.  He races clean.  He is liked by most, if not all of the other drivers. When he used the word, he was not using it as a racist.  He does not have a racist drop of blood in him.  Yes, he should not have used it.  I doubt he uses it anymore.  Now he is a champion...and my bet is, he will win many more.  This year he led in each and every stat.  Led more laps.  Won more races.  Fastest out of the pits.  The list goes on and on.

Well, that is our three months wrapped up in a few paragraphs.  At least you don't need to wait another 3 months for my next blog...on the road again in ten days...