Thursday, March 31, 2016


Over the years that I have been following Duke Basketball it surprises me how popular it is to so intensely dislike the coach, team, school. On a business trip in the mid 1980’s I was taken for a drive around the Duke campus as part of a general sightseeing tour. The tour was something a wholesale sales rep would do with a supplier rep, (me), when they did not bother to make good appointments for the day, and needed to kill time.   Nonetheless, I was enthralled with the beauty of the place. North Carolina owns a bounty of Nature’s gifts of enjoying the outdoors.  Duke took advantage of this in how they created the flow of the campus and placed the architecture within the wooded and landscaped environment they occupy.  So, the place is special. With it, they created an educational complex to bring a stream of some of the elite minds of the world to a higher level of understanding and contribution. Tell me that’s not why folks dislike Duke. We need these people in the world for our own progress and well being. Is it then, because Duke often wins at basketball? We live in a world where excellence can be cheered by some and jeered by others.
As play wore down in a recent “sweet sixteen” NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament game between Oregon and Duke, it was obvious Duke had no prayer to win. Seconds were winding down against an insurmountable lead by Oregon, who had really played sensationally. So the floor relaxed, players standing with arms at their side, in an act of sportsmanship. Then an Oregon player at the final seconds tosses in a totally uncontested three point goal. Only reason to do that was to create the hot dog moment and message of we beat you we beat you bad. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski had words with the player in the post game lineup, telling him he was too good a player to lower himself with that type of needless play.

This has nothing to do with our RV experience of course but the press jumped all over Coach K citing how inappropriate it was to chastise the play of another team’s player. Well, Coach K’s words were about integrity. The integrity of the college basketball game. I think that is why I have come to enjoy it so much. My young soccer playing granddaughters line up opposite the other team at the end of games and slap hands and say “good game”. College basketball teams do the same thing. You win you get to say good play to the opposing players, you lose you have to say the same thing. Hot dogging does not work in College B-ball play. It is a hard lesson for some, but it is a good lesson. I was glad to see it was held up. 

More Las Vegas...

More dinners and shows in Las Vegas...The Beatles tribute was a hoot...felt transported back in time.....Dinner at Le Cirque at of the most beautiful restaurants I have ever been to....but the food was marginal....except for the dessert of Chocolate souffle....they have a special souffle oven....does anyone own one of those???? Get me out of this town before I gain 25 pounds!

My Solo Journey


I had quite the solo adventure. We were in Las Vegas for 12 days....I really wanted to see Great Basin National Park ...260 miles away....Bob wasn't interested so I rented a car and drove up on Easter Sunday.....Went to the Park on Monday...lovely mountains and bristlepine trees...was at hotel on Monday afternoon when it started to snow more 7:00 it was obviously not stopping so rathe than drive back on Tuesday I stayed in Ely Nv (not much to do there).....l spent most of day working on computer items...Drove the 260 miles back on Weds..which was a gloriously sunny, but cold, day. Bob thinks I am nuts!! But that is how important the National Park. Historic Sites and Monuments are to me!!

Desert Storm

Southwest style...
Sustained winds in the 40 mph range really whipped up the dust this week. It was stay inside time. Then, a slight rain shower passed and grabbed the dust from the air and splattered everything with it. Here's the hood of our truck! It did wash off easily.
While this was going on in Vegas, Cathy took a side trip in a rental car to Great Basin Nat'l Park and got snowed in by this large weather system! Chain law in effect and she had none. I know she'll add pics and notes coming up here.
We depart tomorrow for what will likely be a last time visit to our house in St Helena and Sacramento. In just a few month's time, our daughter's family will be heading to North Carolina, where we will ultimately join them after we get a few more thousand miles in roaming around the US. By the time we settle there, we'll have a new President. I wonder if it will be a Dummocrat or a Rubuplican.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Lake Mead

Lake Mead is just outside Las Vegas....large man-made lake from the 1930s when Hoover Dam was built....Nice but no where near as spectacular as Lake Powell....Some nice hiking....Had some gorgeous weather....

Las Vegas

We are back in Las Vegas.....such a great place for restaurants.....Chinese at The Palms, Bellagio's Farm to Table restaurant, Harvest,,,Mon Ami Gabi, stellar French restaurant at Paris.....And apps at Mirage before a show....Saw "KA"....which I really loved. ALso Terry Fator...impressionist/comedian/ventriloquist extraordinaire...and the Letterman....Old but still great....They really got into the audience as you can see in the pics....And I have not gambled at all......I watch the Bellagio fountains while Bob gambles....I bring my kindle to read in betwwen songs....

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Back In Vegas

It is time for another flight to Sacramento and a visit to our daughter and her family. Grandkid time. The closest airport for convenient flights was 130 miles from Lake Havasu to Las Vegas. We were here last summer en route to Zion and the other fabulous Utah national parks. It was 109 degrees and more then. Today will be in the 60’s. A touch more comfortable… We are staying for 12 days, and then will put Vilia into temporary storage at the campground here and it is off to the airport. Las Vegas is still Las Vegas, a most unusual city compared to the rest of the US.  One of the “features” here are the girlfriend getaways. Vegas is a destination for birthdays, engagement celebrations, etc. for packs of girl groups, mostly, I would guess, from Southern CA. We saw it last night at The Palms Casino, which has an Asian Cuisine restaurant we really like. In this day of seeing folks out and about in sweats, pajamas and yoga pants, (gratefully, men don’t wear yoga pants to the grocery store), these girl parties are something to see roaming the casino floors. Do they dress up! It is like prom night. All glamour dresses, makeup, hair and jewelry. It is nice to see and much better than what I hope I never see, men in yoga pants.

When we return, we will be headed for The Grand Canyon then back towards Colorado with stops along the way as we wind our way to where we will spend a good amount of this summer, The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Love the Beach

 I am definitely BEACH person......just love it....Must have been all those days on the Jersey Shore (Sea Bright and Seaside Heights)....and especially Ship Ahoy Beach Club.....In Hawaii and other places I have been known to go to the beach at 7:00 am and return home at 6:00 pm....When we planned this RV adventure we were going to go to the East Coast first and do much of the Southeast coast especially Florida....with the addition of moving to North Carolina we decided to do the West first.....still will do SE and Florida but not until later this year....But now I am ready with my new beach cart!!! Had always wanted one of those!!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Out on Lake Havasu

Out On The Lake
We splurged and rented a boat yesterday to get out on the water, since we are here. It was a great day. Low 70’s at our 9 AM departure warming to the 80’s by afternoon. Lake Havasu, as mentioned before, is crazy popular with loud and fast boaters, especially in the main body, central part of the lake. We encountered some of that but headed to the quieter, slower speed northern section and had a nice and easy day out. We are attempting a no bread, low carb month for March but treated ourselves to sandwiches and potato chips. We had a beer with lunch and a bottle of inexpensive sparkling wine in the afternoon while the engine was cut and we drifted lazily. Some of the sights we saw were the great rock walls as we approached the Topock area, a few of the lighthouses and party central for the college Spring Break crowd. Cathy was inspired. Regarding lighthouses, Havasu has a large collection of small scaled replicas of many famous lighthouses. They are fun to see, standing at points of land that jut out into the water. The wine is one we have had before and I would suggest it to any interested. It is Jaume Serra Cristalino, a Spanish Cava. Cava is Spain’s term for sparkling wines that ferment in the bottle, the so called Methode Champenois. The Champagne method. It is often found under ten dollars and delivers quality twice that and more. The college crowd? The music is different than ours was. The male bathing suits are bigger and baggier and the girls suits are definitely skimpier. Other than that, it looked much like the time I went to Fort Lauderdale when it was still in its heyday as Spring Break central. A great pal and I hitch hiked from the U of Conn down to Florida for the week. Talk about something I still can’t believe I did…we had about $24 between us, no place to stay and had no idea how we would eat, sleep and also party. We had about six rides to get us there. One was with a guy we were convinced was evading the law and may have been driving a stolen car. From Georgia into northern Florida, we rode with a good ole’ boy in a giant 60’s Cadillac. Before he needed to turn off our road and leave us, he pulled over, opened his large trunk to dozens of gallons of home brewed moonshine, and we had a farewell drink together. I so well remember standing beneath the Spanish Moss of those Florida trees and taking a sip. It was the worst alcoholic beverage I have ever tasted. I imagined kerosene would have been better. We forced down the shot and he was gone. We arrived to Ft Lauderdale and the first night slept on concrete under a bridge. The next day, within the huge mass of Spring Breakers, my friend had a chance encounter with someone from his platoon from his time in Vietnam. With that, we had a motel room to stay in, (cushions on the floor), and were treated to beer for the week. I even squeezed into the crowd at the famous Elbow Room bar where someone pushed a beer into my hand saying I looked thirsty. And today’s kids think they invented Spring Break! Ha!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Cigarette Boats

This type of monster boat is very popular here at Lake Havasu. They are dual engine and of mighty horse power. As in, two 500 HP, each engines. They are not equipped with much in the way of noise suppression. The long, v-shaped hull design has been around awhile. Wikipedia says boats of this type were once used to out run the feds to transfer liquor during Prohibition from off shore cargo ships to shore. Today's boats offer modern tech improvements, as you might expect. The instrument panel is replete with gauges and monitors of all sorts. They can go 80 MPH. They are heavy, I would suppose, to help them stay connected to the water at speed and not go flying into the air. I looked up one that weighed 11,000 pounds. It had a 280 gallon fuel tank, which is a good thing as it was rated at .87 gallons of fuel per mile traveled. The boat cost $400,000. This is not a hobby for those of moderate resources, or those worried about developing hearing problems.
Here's a google pic of one:

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Lake Havasu Morning

When they said dam it they were talking about the Colorado, one of the most damned rivers anywhere. Parker Dam is one of them and it formed Lake Havasu. The name means blue lake in the Navajo language, which is funny because the lake water is a lovely sea green color. They must have named it before they filled it. As Cathy mentioned, Havasu is popular with poorly muffled speed boats. It is also full. A neighbor said it is always kept full as part of a water management agreement between Arizona and Colorado in concert with the Fed. Even in this drought period. Lake Mead and Lake Powell water levels are way down but Havasu is special. That does make it attractive, especially caught at the right light.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Lake Havasu AZ

Now in Lake Havasu......Beautiful lake with surrounding mountains....Not Hawaii or Coffee Pond but nice....I even swam 3/4 of a mile in the lake ...very cold! (65 degrees)!! Clientele of the area are a bit coarser than other places we have been....lots of tatooes and loud boats.....but we have found some quiet spots....Bob still looking for a wet tee shirt competition with the spring break chicks....

Phoenix Senior Olympics

Did the Phoenix Senior Olympics.....a bit more competitive as it is a qualifying meet for Nationals.....Two third places and one second place...and I improved my times......Fun

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

funny sign

Ah...the pleasures of road travel...a funny town sign....

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, The Snorin’ Desert

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, The Snorin’ Desert

We had driven down towards, way towards, the Mexican border to the town of Ajo, Arizona to visit this greater wilderness area. We did not know what to expect. Our mind’s eye said it would be flat, indiscriminate desert with stands of the Organ Pipe Cactus, a unique, large, multi-columned cacti found only here in the US, then its range extending into Mexico. To our delight, we found mountains and some of the most dense desert vegetation we have yet experienced. Lots of green. Cholla, Ocotillo, many, many Saguaro, Ironwood, Palo Verde, Mesquite, Creosote Bush and more. One day we took a 3 mile hike through a part of it and the next we took a park ranger led 21 mile drive.  It was terrific. This desert is rich in vegetation due to its unique two rainy seasons. In winter, there are the gentle rains that come in from the nearby Sea of Cortez/Baja Peninsula. In late summer, it becomes monsoon season as large swells of clouds form and dump heavy rains and accompanying flash floods to the area. Other than that, it is dry, dry. The plant life has adapted. The big cacti can store water when it comes and the other plant life can just live without. It really is a wonderful landscape and hard to put into words, so I will ask Cathy to add photos to this text before we publish it.  Oh…this is the Sonoran Desert, and it sleeps quietly.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Brenda Atvees

En route to Lake Havasu AZ, we have done a one-nighter at Brenda, AZ. The ATV's are everywhere. easily 60% of the crowd here at Desert Gold RV Resort has them. It gives a flavor to the place...The word resort is seriously overused and overdone in the world of RV camping parks. For one thing, resorts that I have been to and enjoyed did not use gravel for landscaping. But the All Terrain Vehicles roam like rumbling bumble bees. It is 8 AM, the noise curfew is done and the first two of the day just putted by. I can only guess there is some kind of desert driving course nearby for these things to go romp around in as they are out on the highway also. Arizona licenses them. I can only guess because I can't find anybody who is not moving to talk to. We arrived yesterday around 3 PM and the place was alive with the vehicles. Old couples with the wife sitting behind Pop, singles guys with little dogs riding with them, single gals with little dogs riding with them. Even a couple of families with his and hers wheels and the kids with them, (without helmets, shame...). All of them in motion.
We have done a few of these one night stays while in passage. It is a different style of stay. There are not any wonders of Nature to visit in the vicinity which is why we only stop one night.  The parks tend to be simple, (to barren), and they tend to have a trailer park element of a separate section of folks in permanent docile.We only have chosen a park with a site you can pull into rather than back in so we do not need to unhitch Vilia from our truck. I drop the leveling/stabilizing jacks on the 5th Wheel, plug in electric, hook up fresh water, extend the slides and we're home. In the AM it is much easier and quicker to tuck the girl in and be off and to an area that has nicer surroundings. Speaking of which, we have only heard good things about what's been created by Havasu as a destination spot. We are looking forward to discovering the area. Although, it is the largest West Coast Spring Break destination. That's what time it is. The college crowd will be there. By the thousands, we hear.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Ajo, Arizona

Pronounced Ah-Ho, this way, way southwest Arizona town got it's kickoff to fame from mining. That has been a recurrent story in our travels here in this part of the US, mining the mineral riches of the Arizona earth. For Ajo, it was copper, with a little silver and gold in the mix. Right after the turn of the century,  folks were seeking minerals to mine and some one, or group of some ones from the Freeport Sulfur Mining Company, hiked up a moderate sized mountain south of the town of Ajo.
They found promising ore samples on the surface of the terrain at the top of the mountain. That was in 1916. It was a rich copper ore, ( Jimmy Cagney would have called it "dirty copper"...), and they started mining it. Turns out the whole darn mountain was good ore and they they ground it down and beyond into a pit, ceasing operations, finally, in 1984. From the starting point at the former mountain top to the pit you see in the picture is a one mile distance. The distance across the top of the pit, as it is, is 1.5 miles.

Freeport Sulfer started in 1912 in Texas, ultimately becoming Freeport-McMoran. They are the perpetrators of this scar. It hurts to see this done to our earth, but I guess it is something needed. We can't plug in the toaster without copper wire...better in Ajo's back yard than ours, huh?
 Freeport was a good enough local citizen and created a charming plaza for the town in the 1930's
The town itself, has its own charm. There is a local leaning towards graphic art on buildings 
A few houses are colorful, too.
And at the corner of You're Street...
I tried the general store, but it was closed.
I thought about playing golf, but then, why not spend the afternoon roping a calf?
OK...roping arena? but, them ropers do go to church. A nice one it is.
The hillsides around town display nice clumps of the Organ Pipe Cactus that brought us here for the OPC National Monument, which will be a separate post.
And, finally, a look at living in the desert. Once you spend time in it, it grows on you. You start to think, "I could do this."