Monday, November 30, 2015


Well partner, we took all 440 horses to Tombstone yesterday. Although, since we were not connected to Vilia, we did not need that many from Ford Diesel Stables. Anyhow, we saddled up and road over to this legendary town. For me, it was a great swelling of memories as Wyatt Earp, Boot Hill, The Gunfight at the OK Corral, Doc Holliday and more all loomed large in my play and imagination as a young lad. I played cowboy often with my friends and our cap guns. One of my prized toys was the Mattel Fanner Fifty.

They’re still playing cowboy in Tombstone. There are 4 or 5 gunfight reenactment shows in town. The well preserved main street is populated with numerous folks in period dress. Some are employees and some are just people who enjoy the aura of the Old Time West. We stopped at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon for a burger and listened to the cowboy on stage singing country songs. The whole thing is kind of corny, but still much fun. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Hitchhiking Cowboy and Horse Follow-up
From an entry a few weeks back when we were at Alamogordo, NM:  I noted, (and so wish we had stopped to photo), a regular looking, almost Hollywood dressed, cowboy with his horse, out hitching a ride by the roadside.
 To use a phrase from our rural US roots, the image of this cowboy and horse has been “stuck in my craw” since. It was such an unusual thing to see, A western dressed young male, with saddled horse and bridle in hand, with a homeless style sign in black marker on cardboard saying “need ride to”… So stuck in my craw that in thinking about it, I remembered that the locale of this cowboy was on the edge of a parking lot of an Alamogordo restaurant. The restaurant name???  “Cowboy Steakhouse”. Ah-ha thinks I. Even though this part of the world does not have the Las Vegas type of tourist traffic to create a sales gimmick like this, I am convinced.
So I just called the Cowboy Steakhouse. The young lady who answered said it was nothing the restaurant was part of, although she did recall the fellow being out there some time ago. And THAT makes me think…really? So, good reader, (and thanks for taking the time to read us), I’ll leave it up to you. Real slice of Americana or unusual promo that this restaurant chooses to deny? I’ve googled hitchhiking cowboy and horse and pretty much nothing comes up, save for my own posts…

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving on the Road

We are in Benson AZ until Dec 18 when we go back to Sacramento....Arrived Weds....Went to the very nice Thanksgiving potluck....110 people...Delicious food and nice  people...

Long drive into the Gila River Wilderness Gila Cliff Dwellings.....Nice area of New Mexico....cold but warmed up to 65...loved the snow and frost of early morning....

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Workamping And A Great Sandwich
We have seen this at some other of our past campgrounds. There is an organization called which posts numerous jobs available around the country for those folks out full time in their RV’s. For some, it is a desire to keep busy, for others a need so they can keep their lifestyle. Many of the jobs are 20-25 hours per week general maintenance/ jack of all trades type of positions at campgrounds. The most common “pay” for these is no charge camping at the park. At the top end is full time management of a campground. Salary plus free campsite. That is the case here in Silver City, New Mexico. What was fun, our check in gal, half of a husband-wife management team, had a distinct accent. Cathy asked her about it and she quickly said, “I don’t have an accent, everyone else does”. Then she flashed a big smile and said Maine. We then started talking about one of our favorite places in the world, my Sis and bro-in-law’s summer place at Coffee Pond in Casco, ME. They knew the area and Amato’s, one of the best places to get a Maine Italian Sandwich. We chatted a bit just hear the great Maine accent. “Ya cahn’t get they-uh from hee-uh”.  Now, all I’m thinking about is the Maine Sandwich. A great combination of ham, white american cheese,(sometimes provolone), sliced onion, tomato, green bell pepper, black olives and sour pickle on a roll slippery with an oily dressing. It can be approximated but not duplicated. The roll used, the local sour pickle and the New England style boiled ham can’t be found anywhere else. (At least not found yet…we’ve been trying for years!).

We leave today for Benson, AZ, where we will hopefully bask in warm sunshine up until we put Vilia in short term storage and fly to Sacramento for family Christmastime and a New Year gathering with dear friends back in St Helena. My first task, once we are set up at camp, will be to get to the grocery store and shop for rolls, ham, cheese, onion, bell pepper, tomato and hopefully find pickles that are not dill. You CANNOT use dill pickles for a Maine Sandwich. It is a sacrilege to do so. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Whoa. We woke up to 23 degrees two days ago in Van Horn, TX. It was a one night stop, and adding to Cathy's pics and comments below, we were/are en route to Benson, AZ. Benson will be the first of three stops in southern Arizona that will take us through the winter as we “snowbird” for the first time in our lives. But meanwhile, we’ve just experienced what we hope to avoid. 23 is cold in a moderately insulated, metal RV. We do have a propane fueled furnace which does a nice job but it is tough to sleep with as it roars a bit like a fire breathing dragon. So we layered ourselves in bed including a down comforter. We were fine through the night but it was tough getting out of bed in the morning. It made me appreciate the 106 degrees we had one day while in Las Vegas a few months back. Like most all units like this, we have a fresh water tank and a pump system to use if and when we might “dry camp”, i.e. camp without hookups. After seeing the overnight temp forecast for the cold front moving through Van Horn, I knew I did not want to stay connected to the water and leave the hose out in those temperatures. I put enough fresh water in our tank and we were self contained for the night. The pump makes a sound that made me comment that it sounded like our Vilia had serious indigestion, but worked fine, even for showering. Leaving that morning, I was glad for my decision as we passed by a rig that was dripping a steady stream for where the hose connected to the rig. That was a sign that ice had done some damage and created a repair headache…

From Van Horn we overnighted in El Paso. While it is a major Texas city, it is not a wine town and it’s the only Big T town I had never been to in my wine work travels. I’m so glad. We could not wait to leave this AM. El Paso is an oil refining, cattle feedlot and warehouse town. At least, that’s about all we saw in addition to a lot of shaky, falling apart residential areas. I imagine, given its sister city status with Juarez, Mexico, that it serves as a distribution and import/export center. Anyhow, it is not an RV destination. It too, was a one nighter. We’re now in Silver City, NM.  As the name implies, it is another of our West’s old mining towns. We are here for two nights then to Benson. The old town part of Silver City has charm, history and lots of tourist shops. We took a quick look around today but the main reason we are here is Cathy’s desire to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings, a smaller version of our tour of the same at Mesa Verde, CO.   She will do that tomorrow. It is a hard drive to get there. 43 miles but takes 2 hours due to a narrow road and multiple 5 mph switchbacks. I will take the day off from behind the wheel as we have been on somewhat of a driving frenzy since leaving Big Bend National Park. We both are looking forward to our days. Cathy will put another notch in her National Park/Monument visit pistol grip and I’ve got a few household items to attend to and I bet there is an afternoon nap in my future.
On our way to Benson AZ…two one night stops right off I10……one night,  our RV camp was across from the Welding company…..This is our view in El Paso …..RV campgrounds are often in the industrial areas….must be cheaper land….If anyone is thinking of moving to El Paso....DON"T!!!

We have really been enjoying this part of Texas…very unique…Alpine is a charming little town….has a Texas State Univ called Sul Ross….Dan Blocker …Hoss on Bonanza played football here…he was Bob’s favorite 1950s TV character….note his signature hat in photo that is at the Big Bend Museum….also loved the old fashioned diorama…..Bubbie’s BBQ was delicious…we stocked the freezer with brisket….Next pic is me in our cozy bed….Also found a fabulous observatory as it is dark out in these boonies….has the 4th largest telescope in the world….interesting factoid….in 1967 two guys from Penn State decided to make a telescope in a cheaper manner….theirs cost 20 million....but standard telescope cost 140 million……everything is relative….also went to Fort Davis….a National Historic Site….built to protect the Santa Fe-San Antonio Trail….

Last night in Terlingua ( the 18th)….that should be a Western Film from 1950s…..We went to the Starlight Theater….which is really a restaurant with a stage….It started out as a community center,,,,,deteriorated…..opened again as a movie theater…..that did not have a roof, hence the name…..It was a hoot of a place….loved the goat….it was packed…and it was a Tuesday night…..

Friday, November 20, 2015


We bought our coach because it fulfilled some must haves on our shopping lists. It is built light enough that we can comfortably tow with a ¾ ton four tire truck, not needing the dual rear tires. It has a living room seating arrangement that has two comfy chairs directly across from the TV. It is amazing to us how many RV floor plans require an uncomfortable angle on view for TV watching. It has a 26” by 44” shower enclosure that I easily can stand upright in with my 6’ 4” frame. So many designs we shopped had snug corner shower units that I would have had to step out of to turn around and get back in to rinse off my back! One of the items we did not specifically look for was lighting. That has been a pleasant part of our travels with this Montana High Country 305RL. The coach has a wonderful array of lighting options. There are 22 LED ceiling lights, two LED hanging lights and two incandescent fixtures. 11 of these are individually switched. One of our favs is the single light within the head and shoulders cubbyhole of our bed. Seen here with spouse all cozy with computer, while I watched a Duke basketball game”downstairs”. (Three stairs down).

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Moth Pee,
 50 miles is a short drive in Texas. That was our drive over to Fort Davis and the McDonald Observatory. Part of the University of Texas, McDonald is one of the largest observatories we have and home to the 4th most powerful telescope in the world. They only open the observation domes at night so to keep birds, and other daytime critters and their messes out of the chambers. But, besides stars, moths also come out at night, and, who knew?, their urine, (really...a moth goes wee wee?), ahem, the urine is very acidic and poses a threat to etching on the complex mirror systems these incredibly expensive precision contraptions use to bring our outer space closer to us. So they clean them 3 to 4 times per week. They do so by spraying a frozen formulation of CO2 that goes on like snow, absorbs all the dust, dirt and moth stuff that has accumulated, dries into a powder and then is vacuumed away. Zero abrasion on the mirrors. I want this for Vilia, our 5th wheel. She's a big lady to wash by hand.

The visit and tour were quite interesting. Our young guide was a space observation junkie and was wonderfully well informed and well spoken. This 4th largest scope is undergoing a $40 million enhancement with two goals in mind: More deeply explore the phenomena of "dark energy" that exists out there and also seek clues as to why the universe looks to be expanding. I'll let them go after dark energy but I have a question I wish I had thought of while there. I've always been under the impression that the universe is endless. (A good thing to think about when you feel a need to self induce a headache). If it is endless, how can it be expanding? It must be the moth wee wee.
Good Morning Us!
Here we are in Alpine, Texas, so named because of an early pioneer named Al who lived in the pines of our RV park…I think.

Us is not us, it is who we are traveling with in our adventures. We just pulled out next door, we have seen us at every stop, visit and hike we’ve had. A couple of nights ago, at Terlingua Ghost Town and The Starlight Theatre Restaurant, we were at about 8 other tables for dinner. It’s often a grey short-haired fellow with whiskers of some sort along with a pretty face filled with brightness about the life’s fun time they are having. Sometimes it’s the interesting bald head/ponytail combo with a comfortably dressed, hanging in the 60’s dear heart. Along with the occasional, we went to prep school and the right college pink Ralph Lauren shirt, and the, I’m wearing nylon fabric fishing pants and shirt even though I don’t fish, it is all us. Our generation in the early years of retirement mode. I'm guilty of all the above looks, save the ponytail, and you can add the golf shirt and shorts statement as well. 
Part of RV park living is the hellos said as you see neighbors. I’m thinking about just saying “Hi Bob” to any of the guys. I have a 1 in 10 chance of being right.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Big Bend National Park,,,,in Southwest the middle of nowhere.....very unique area.....various rock formations, varying desert landscapes (depending on altitude) and odd-shaped mountains....great hiking....Loved seeing the Rio Grand (boundary with Mexico....threw a stone across the river to Mexico...Mexicans call it Rio for 5 days I sang that song (it's a Dean Martin song from the movie of the same name)...Worth the long distance to get there....

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Big Bend Golf Club

Many who know me know of my joy in attempting to play golf. A short ride from our Terlingua RV site is a course, Lajitas, that has a state wide reputation as being one of the best. Today was my opportunity day but the winds were too strong to fight so I went over to the adjacent RV park course, called Big Bend Golf Club. Gosh it was grand. So glad greens fees were included in the price of camping. Here's the clubhouse.

Here's the "scorecard", there are only 4 holes open at this time.
Here's my Golf Cart

First green. Interesting ball mark repair using rabbit pellets, or is this just coincidence?
Difficult hazard given the maturing tumbleweed in the "sand" trap.
Ball washer was dry, but that's's a desert after all.

All in all, yet another enjoyable RV golf experience. I even sunk a 45 foot putt that hopped, skipped and bounced its way into the overgrown cup. I was, however, disappointed that there were no caddies working today. Hey, we're camping, can't have everything.