Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mad Onna

Hoping all who stop by this blog had a fine Christmas. We have been in Sacramento enjoying the view of this significant holiday through the eyes of our four, six and seven year old grand daughters. What a view it has been. Santa is quite the character. What he accomplishes in one night is a miracle.
Now, it is about to be 2016 years since the whole thing kicked off. Amazing.

We will be heading to St Helena to celebrate the birth of the new calendar with dear friends and then return to Arizona, dust off Vilia from where we left her in storage there, and resume the adventures.

While in Sac, we rented a house just a couple of blocks from our daughter's place. We did this through VRBO. Vacation Rentals By Owners. The young, (well, young to us...), lady whose house this is has dotted the house with some entertaining design elements. My favorite is this which is opposite the "throne" in the bathroom. Being who it is, I am not surprised she just stares. But really, wouldn't you turn your head in modesty?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cmas Card

Cmas letter

Lows and Highs of 2015
High and Low…..B&C…….Possible move to Raleigh, No Carolina in 2017…..Sanchezes may be moving there in 2016… with Jeff in New York City, we may return to the East Coast after 44 years away! Hate the thought of leaving St. Helena & California with all its majestic beauty & amazing climate….Hate even more leaving the great people of St. Helena, especially our friends of 30 years…Excited for another new adventure & being closer to family & old friends on the East

High…Cathy……Researching and planning our route for our Vilia RV Adventure….

High…B&C…Spending Jan 2015 on the Big Island in Hawaii…..& for Cathy….coming home for one day, then going on an “Oldies” cruise in the Caribbean with my disabled adult travelers group….it was a huge hoot.

Low…B&C…..Going through our household of 30 years….. Deciding what to save, sell or donate…….

Low….Bob…Packing our belongings for storage ….many episodes of sore backs and hands (Bob worked for the New Canaan moving company in high school…that skill has come in handy!)

High…..Guess Who…..Having all 3383 Dean Martin songs ripped from my CDs and put on a flash drive….we are crossing the country with Dean!

High….B&C….Writing, photographing and posting items on our blog…we love that so many of you are travelling with us vicariously!  See us at
High….B&C…..Everything about our grandchildren…..Izara, age 7 in 2nd grade, Olivia, age 6 in Kindergarten and Ceiba, almost 4, in preschool…. best quote of the year…..Ceiba was doing a project at preschool and the teacher asked her where her grandparents live…..she answered “Everywhere!”.  Amy has a USA map and they follow our route. 

High….B&C….Learning so much about a plethora of subjects as we travel…..History, Native Americans...Cliff Dwellings…The Wild West...Geology…Geography…Flora and Fauna of the West…Reading some well researched historical fiction and non-fiction books about the areas…Also read all the exhibits…ah well, many of the exhibits along with watching the films at the State & National Parks, Monuments and Historical Sites.

Low….B&C…Not seeing a Gila Monster on our many Arizona hikes

High…B&C…..Not getting bit by the aforementioned animal……

High…Cathy….Being able to use plethora and aforementioned in this letter.

Low…B&C….……Playing golf at our Meadowood Country Club for the last time

High….B&C…Being a Snowbird in AZ… here for 3 months….with a two Cmas week trip to Sac

Low….B&C…..Wondering if we would be ready to rent the house and leave in our RV by July 1st.

Low….B&C….4 garage sales, many items on Ebay & Craig’s List in preparation for house rental-.

Low…Bob….Trying to buy fresh produce and better wine in some of the areas of our travels.

High…Cathy….Laughing at Bob’s funny quips…travel provides him with great fodder for humor.

High and Low…..B&C…….Our possible last dinners on our beloved deck in St. Helena.

High….Cathy…..Adding 33 more National Parks, Monuments and Historical Sites to my list of NPS units visited….Have done over 200…about 180 left to go!

High and Low…..B&C…….An “RV Adventure” try-out trip to southern California in March…..had many hassles, learned some good lessons about Vilia and of course visited some great places.

Low…B&C…..Not being on our bocce ball team for the first time in 15 years (since 2000)

High …..B&C…….Hiking, biking, golfing, sightseeing, swimming, photographing, attending museums and “living” in so many different places on this grand adventure.

High….B&C…..Becoming North Carolina Panther Football fans.

High….B&C….Hassles with our RV dealer….but we did get all problems eventually solved. 

Low…B&C….. Wrinkles.

High…..Cathy……Watching Bob do all the preparations when hooking-up and unhooking our RV.

High……B&C…Jeff started a new job in Sept…..He had worked for a non- profit company which had a contract with the 5 boroughs of NY…He was Director of Restitution.  The Manhattan DA and staff liked his work so much that they created a new position for & hired him for just Manhattan…..Going after some big amount restitutions ….get the Bernie Madoffs  of the world.

High…B&C…Spending time with the whole Sanchez family……

Chiracahua NM

Chiracahua National Monument...another NPS gem!!...this was earlier in the month...I am catching up


I wanted to be a snowbird...not a chick in the snow....what unexpected weather rin Southern Arizona !!

Cousin Walter

Cousin Walter from Florida, who was visiting his son in Tucson, came for a visit!

Coronado NM

Silliness at Coronado National Memorials ...boy is chainmail heavy!!!  I'm catching up o n posts....

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Today I Wish This Was My View

Ah, Mauna Kea. Big Island Hawaii.
This morning, here at 3700 feet in Benson, AZ, we experienced the lowest temp in 1063 days for the area, according to Tucson TV station, KGUN. (I am guessing the call letters are a play on the Old West...shoot 'em up cowboy?). Anyway, it was 23 degrees.
I had disconnected our water hose from the coach last evening to avoid freeze damage at our connection. I should have thought to disconnect the hose and filter from the faucet as well and bring them inside. Lesson learned. The hose was frozen solid this AM. It took 2 hours of sunlight to warm it up enough to where the faucet would even turn. then a bit longer to where I could disconnect the hose. I carry a second drinking water hose and connected it so we could get water running inside. The main hose took another two hours before water would run through it. Our cold snap, while unexpected, has been enjoyable. Dry and crisp. Tonight, the hose comes inside, but it has to sleep on the floor...
Tomorrow, we move Vilia within our park to a storage lot and we head off to Tucson and the airport and fly to Sacramento for family Christmas Season time. Our grand daughters there are 3, 6 and close to 8. Perfect ages for The Best Christmas Ever!

Monday, December 14, 2015

And The Snow Went On

This storm is not doing anything that was originally forecast. Rain, albeit cold rain, was said on news this AM to come in fast and that it did. It was to also exit quick. Gone by 2 PM. It is 4 now and the high of 51 has not made it past 40 degrees and the desert snow continues. Oh, wind also. I have been watching snow flying sideways from the window for over three hours now. It is fun. In our 4 decades in St Helena, we had snow twice that stayed on the ground for any length of time. Nothing is really accumulating here but there is a periodic ferocity about the flakes when the winds gust. I had wondered what the snow experience would be in Vilia the RV. It is just fine. Vilia is moderately well insulated. There are many seams that do allow cool air in but we have yet to feel any draft, even with hard winds. Our fake fireplace, which we thought corny at first, throws out a nice enough heat to take the edge off. When it gets going outside like today, the coach has a pretty efficient propane furnace that brings the temp up quickly.
With apologies to those living in places that get hit by real snowstorms, here's a pic of our neighbor's Jeep, and an improbable one of snow on cactus.

Desert Snow Again

To follow the last post, here's the view from the RV of the blustery mess the "approaching front" brought.

The Approaching Storm

I had the The Today Show on this morning mostly as background noise and the break for local, (Tucson),  weather caught my attention. The reporter was outside and talked about this fast moving storm front that had clouded over the city in the last fifteen minutes. Moving to the southeast. Benson is 45 miles southeast of Tucson so we are in the path. At 10 AM local, this is the view from the hill where our RV park is. Here it comes! As part of my delight with Nature, weather is a particular fascination. I likely could have enjoyed a career as a meteorologist. Just after this shot, the frontal winds started kicking up announcing "the arrival".

At 10.33 here is the view from the RV. Winds are rocking out there and it is 36 degrees.

At 10:39 here we were:

Close to noon, the rain was here, preceded from our vantage by a rainbow.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Rex Allen

We recently went through Willcox, AZ enroute to the remote Chiricahua National Monument. Who knew Willcox was the birthplace of Rex Allen? Who is Rex anyway? There is a museum for him there and that provoked us to stop to find out who Rex was. Well, he was the last of the Hollywood singing cowboys, making 30 films, following the footsteps of Gene Autry and Hoppy Cassidy. His big recording hit was substantial, selling over 3 million copies, before the days of digital music.  The song was The Streets of Laredo. I remembered the song, not Rex as the artist. As a next career, he narrated 100 of Walt Disney’s Nature episodes. The homespun country tonality of his voice coupled with jocular deliveries like, “Well that polecat got a lot more than he bargained for. Put himself in a position even his perfume couldn’t help”, made him a natural for the style Walt loved for those short films about the great outdoors and its inhabitants.         
You can find Rex on youtube, of course, if you would like to revisit that voice.
Here's Rex.

Here’s the Museum. Too bad we were there before it opened.
Willcox has other enticements also, There's the Buffalo Sisters store with the something human-like climbing down from the roof in front...

They have a Senior Living complex that looks quite resort like. That's luxury unit 12 to the left.
Once known as the cattle capital of the US, Willcox still has a steak house. If you don't like your food, you can complain to the cook.
And, finally, Willcox also happens to be the center of Arizona's wine growing region. Too bad they were closed. We would have taken the leap.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Benson Arizona Snow

This is what greets us out the door this AM as the current dip of the jet stream has brought us precipitation and colder temps. !@%##&*( !!, we came south to avoid this stuff! Sure is pretty though. We're in for a week of cold temps so this may stay for a bit. The elevation of the campground is about 3700'. We are looking at the Whetstone Mountains. The highest point is Apache Peak at 7711'. I wonder where they got the idea for the name. Hmmmmmmm...we are in Cochise County, he being leader of a tribe of....ah well, I need to go wash the truck. Can't decide, should I go to the Cochise Car Wash or the Apache Car Wash...either way I need to take The Apache Highway and go right on Cochise Drive.

Friday, December 11, 2015


We went to the remote Chiricahua National Monument, south of Willcox, AZ, yesterday. Located within the vast Chiricahua National Wilderness, the Monument is yet another of our country’s volcanic wonders. A volcanic blast of incomprehensible magnitude last year created this geologic playground and sculpture garden. Geologists have mapped that the blast that created this area packed considerably more power than the 1980 Mt St Helens eruption that sent a plume of ash 80,000 feet into the atmosphere. Oh Wait, did I say last year? This eruption actually happened quite a long time ago. Sorry.  Forget canned TV sitcoms, this was a big bang! The Monument was a collection area for the ash aftermath. Such that, over the last twelve months or so, it has been compacted into rock and subsequently exposed to incredibly powerful winds, rains, snow and ice to a point where only the strongest survive. Those strongest are glorious columns and outrageous outcroppings of rock. They cluster in neighborhoods, many with “balanced rocks” on top. More balanced rocks than we’ve ever seen in one area. They defy gravity and entertain wonderfully. We took a good hike among them on a 3 mile trail recommended at the visitor center. Here are just a couple of pics, Cathy will post another show from C J Fine Shots, Inc, soon.

Chiricahua National Monument is so named after the Chiricahua Tribe of The Apache. This was the tribe of Cochise. The pronunciation is Chirrah-Cow-Uh. Cochise was the thorn in the side of the white settling of this part of the US. He never lost a battle, was captured twice but escaped quickly both times. As he grew older, always evading our US agencies, things quieted down and the Gov backed off pursuit, letting him pass away a free man and Senior Non-Citizen. His grave is located somewhere in his longtime hideout, now called Cochise Stronghold,  a couple dozen miles from the Monument. The grave has never been located. I have mentioned this in a prior post and it is a fascinating part of this man’s legend. There is no existing photograph of him.
Chirrah-Cow-Uh…makes me wonder, for those of us old enough to remember The Howdy Doody Show…The “indian chief” character on that show would come out to the live audience of kid attendees, (The Peanut Gallery), and say Cowabunga!” and they would answer. Is this where he got his Cow-Uh inspiration from?

After our hike we had hoped to stop at Fort Bowie, a nearby historic site. The fort was built to attempt to protect the oncoming flow of settlers from Cochise and his merry band of “Hey, we were here firsters!” It failed in that but presents a well done first hand experience of the clash of the two cultures that occurred here. The problem was, we never made it. The Monument was so enjoyable we leisured in our experience there. Our entrance to Bowie required a dusty 8 mile dirt road from our west access. The first half was pretty smooth but the last 4 miles were rutted and washboard and took about a half hour, at crawling speed, to navigate. By the time we arrived, we found a parking area and an unexpected mile hike to get to the visitor center. They’d be closed by the time we would make it. A disappointment and an empty handed trek back on that road. Afterward I find out that if we had stayed on the state road back to Willcox, we could have caught US 10 and went east a little to the Bowie exit, where there is a 13 mile paved road to the visitor center from that eastern side. Ah…another Vilia Adventure.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Opposite of Sunrise

Ok, Ok I know photos of  the sunrise and the sunset pale in terms of the being there experience, seeing it happen live. But it seems there is something about this desert southwest of our country that allows the photo capture of this experience with a bit more intensity then anywhere else I have been.
So, I ask your understanding of the fact that I feel a need to share another photo. This one is of yesterday's sunset, right out the door of Vilia. Yes, it was better live than this photo, but I am impressed with the pastel color impressions captured. I have about .02% of the understanding of photography that Cathy has. I just point and shoot and sometimes you get lucky. Hope you enjoy. Maybe I'll move on, maybe to photos of types of southwest asphalt, or something...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hike in the desert

Nice hike by our campground....think the blue in the rock is turquoise..

Tombstone of many old westerns...a fun time....have been working hard on some large Christmas is eating into my sightseeing time!!

RV Travels Light With Christmas Decorations

Weight is always of concern when traveling by RV. Overweight rigs risk serious issues.
So, we made a best effort in creating our original packing list. This included what to bring for holiday decorating. We went minimal for outside decorations. With that stated...

Vilia the red nosed RV, had very pretty nose
All of the other RV'ers said they never saw one of those
They never invited Vilia to play in any RV games
But Vilia has Bob & Cathy so she's happy all the same!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Trouble With Jackrabbit Gulch

The really unfortunate fact is
There is too much sharp pointed cactus
In Jackrabbit Gulch
Where the lack of soft mulch
Will put a bare footed walk out of practice!

Thank You For This Sunrise

This will be my 3rd sunrise photo in 4 days. They are going from good, better to best. I do not know who, well, I have an idea Who, is in charge of sunrises around here but I feel a need to say They are just doing a bang up job. My hearty congratulations and thanks! This Arizona has some color to it in so many ways. If anyone wants to write the Sunrise Maker to offer thanks of their own, the local address is:
Cochise Terrace RV Resort
1030 South Barrel Cactus Ridge
Benson, Arizona 85602
Although, I cannot guarantee this is the right address to be sending those kind of thanks to.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Bisbee Arizona

We went to Bisbee and bought a Frisbee, well, not really, but how many words rhyme with Bisbee? Bisbee is another of the US West's old mining towns. In this case, an amazing success story. From the 1880's to when they finally exhausted the veins of ore in the 1970's, the mines of Bisbee yielded in excess of 8 billion pounds of copper plus much silver, gold and other metals. It all had to do with the way super heated water dissolved and deposited these metals there while the earth was doing it's volcanic and plate shifting routines of so many millions of years ago. The mines also held crystal rooms where amazing specimens of Azurite, Malachite, Apatite and others were found again and again. The colors are astoundingly intense. You can take a quick view here:!mineral-gallery/ciu6
or just Google Bisbee Crystals.
The town burned to the ground a few times early on and the wealth that was accumulating in this town once called the most sophisticated town between St Louis and San Francisco got fed up with wood construction and built some very attractive and sturdy brick and stone structures. This is not a place on many tourist destination radars. It is very close to the Mexican Border and somewhat remote. A long day from Tucson. Easier from where we are in Benson.
Here are a few photos:

Also, as we've seen in other parts of Arizona, there exists a fun and quirky approach to the western style. This is from a retail store window.

This is a kitchen dish towel from that store.

And a vintage old western comic book.
 The deck of a local's house and their table.
 The gate from the front of another local home. An old car door.
 The Copper Queen Hotel where we had one of the best French Dip sandwiches of all time.
 And my favorite. The doors of a home courtyard in pounded copper with old mining pick axe heads as handles. Plus the adorable dog sticking his curious nose out the bottom.