Bob and Rigamarole at Texas Canyon Rest Area, Arizona, September 30, 2017

Bob and Rigamarole at Texas Canyon Rest Area, Arizona, September 30, 2017
Bob and Rigamarole at Texas Canyon Rest Area, Arizona, September 30, 2017

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween! - Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015

My five 10-hour-day work week is over. Time to party. Our RV park had a party tonight with a costume contest, dancing, prizes, food and drink.

Bob and I didn't have any costumes, but the RV park had a whole closet of costumes that had been donated over the years. Bob and I chose what we wanted to wear and when I got off work we changed into our costumes, prepared our snacks and drove to the Rec Hall. Now the Rec Hall isn't that far, but guess what, it was raining again! We thought the rain was over until Wednesday or Thursday. Sigh. At least we don't have the pond around our 5th wheel anymore, it drained off during the day.

So here's the photos from tonight's party.

Clowning around
Roller girl and gladiator
Bob, my husky Viking
Skol!
Margaret, Lydia, Old Man (AKA Flour Man)
Snacks to share
Rita and Chris
Chris and Bob
Black widow - front (Gloria)
Black widow - back
She crocheted her outfit!
First prize (Bob E.) and second prize (Pam E.)
Lydia reading my Tarot cards.
Lydia reading Bob's Tarot cards.
Lydia and Bob
After the party and the makeup is fading. Great fun for the first party of our busy season at the RV park.
Hat's off to a Happy Halloween!
Don't forget to set your clocks back one hour tonight if you're in a state that recognizes standard and daylight times.

Tomorrow a 10k Volksmarch in Waring, Texas, followed by a BBQ put on by the Waring Volunteer Fire Department.

Travel Bug out.

Scary thunderstorm overnight! - Sat., Oct. 31

Halloween...it's fitting we were scared out of bed at 3:30 a.m. Massive thunder and lightning storm woke us up out of a dead sleep. The lightning just didn't stop, there were so many flashes it was like daylight outside.

We heard roaring and the wind was shaking our 5th wheel. Never having lived in tornado country, we had only heard a tornado sounds like a freight train coming. Well that's what it sounded like. Bob and I were terrified. We didn't want to go outside to get to a shelter because we have water ponding around our 5th wheel. What happens if we're wading in the water and lightning strikes the ground/water??

Picture of site next to us and a park model.
Anyway, the storm raged on for a good 20 minutes or more. The power went out. We kept the blinds open for a while to watch the lightning show. Hard to go back to sleep after that!

Finally fell asleep when things quieted down until Bowie woke us up at 5:45 a.m. (our usual time to get up during the week) so he could be fed. By the time we woke up the power was restored.

Today is my 5th day of working five ten-hour days. I am exhausted. The storm the night before, woke us up at 3:00 a.m. Hard to concentrate when you're dead tired.

At least we are in a place where the river does not come over the bank. Too much water at once does cause large ponds in some spots until the earth (and drains) soaks it up again.

Our thoughts go out to those in Wimberley, Austin, and New Braunfels who bore the brunt of these storms. Many lost their homes. The damage is still being assessed.

Stay safe and have a good weekend.

Happy Halloween.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Downgraded Hurricane Patricia Did a Sideways Blow of San Antonio - Sat., Oct. 24, 2015

So much hype about Hurricane Patricia...we were going to have 8-10" of rain, it was going to rain for three days...the news broadcasters were having a field day describing the upcoming gloom and doom.

Here's what really happened in San Antonio. Thursday and Friday of last week we had off and on rain showers, not enough to even saturate the ground. Predictions from prognosticators finally narrowed down the impact to San Antonio as being 100% chance of rain and thunderstorms on Saturday.

Being the night owl that I am, I was awake when the rain started in earnest at 1:00 a.m. The wind picked up and the rains came down. The rain abated for an hour or so, then came back with a vengeance at 3:00 a.m. I finally went to bed at 3:30 a.m. Bob was up early because he had an 18-mile marathon training run he wanted to do, leaving about 6:00 a.m. It was still raining heavily so he came back to bed.

At 9:30 a.m. I woke up to cold, wet feet. A pesky leak in the vent cover over our bed was dripping away. The only time it leaks is when we have a massive downpour. We put a beach towel on the bed and a big stock pot on top of that to catch the drips. Of course with the rain and wind and cold, wet feet, I was not going back to sleep. It was time to get up. It quickly became obvious I wouldn't be leaving the 5th wheel today. We had ponded water up to our bottom step. I was perfectly happy to stay inside, out of the elements.

I made pumpkin pancakes with cinnamon applesauce on top (instead of syrup), and put fried eggs on top of the applesauce. They are so yummy! Just perfect for a stormy fall morning.

We then watched our Netflix DVD selection, "The Day After Trinity," a documentary about the makers of the nuclear and atomic bombs. Both of us had just finished reading, "Los Alamos" a historical novel by Joseph Kanon, so it was interesting for us to see the location of the secret campus where Oppenheimer and the other physicists, scientists and mathematicians lived and worked on the Manhattan Project. I slept through part of it.

Bob had some accounting work to do with the company he used to work for. He met the bookkeeper at 2 p.m. to work on quarterly reports and was home by 6:00 p.m.

We had a date planned to go out to dinner and decided on Zio's Italian Kitchen because it doesn't have a waiting line on a Saturday night. Bob loved his Chicken Amalfi which had a lemon cream sauce with dried tomatoes served over angel hair pasta. I opted for the rib eye steak, which wasn't as good as the last time i had it.

By the time we got home from Zio's, all the ponded water around our rig had subsided. We didn't need to get our feet wet going back in.

We were very lucky that downgraded Hurricane Patricia veered around us. To the north and to the east the damage was much greater.

Sunday morning, Bob ran his 18 mile training run and was home by 11:20 a.m. We went to see Bridge of Spies at 1:45 p.m. This was my second time seeing it.

Movie Review - Bridge of Spies: I thought it was excellent and very well acted by everyone. It's a tight Cold War thriller based on actual events. Tom Hanks plays an attorney (James Donovan) who is asked to represent Russian spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance). Donovan makes a plea to the judge of the case not to issue a death sentence; however the judge would not consider it. Donovan takes the case to the Supreme Court and pleads the case for keeping the spy alive in case any of our soldiers were taken into custody by Russia, the U.S. could trade the Russian spy for our soldier. The Supreme Court gave the spy a 30-year prison sentence.

Meanwhile, one of our airmen in a U-2 spy plane was shot down over Russia. The airman was able to escape the plane and parachute to the ground. However, he was captured, tried by the Russians and given a 10-year prison sentence. You may remember the incident involving Francis Gary Powers. The CIA recruits Tom Hanks as a private citizen and lawyer to enter East Berlin to negotiate for the exchange of prisoners. With Steven Spielberg directing and a script by Matt Charman and the Coen brothers, the movie has good lineage. The movie is very exciting and reading the facts at the end give you satisfaction with the way things worked out.

A quick update on my blistered feet: They are healed up and I'm ready to walk again. Yay.

Our weather today was absolutely gorgeous, but chilly this morning. We had blue skies, gusty winds, and the temperature made it to the low 70s by this afternoon.

Bob and I are getting ready for our cruise. We've booked our shore excursions, made reservations at two of the restaurants on board the ship, and filled out all our pre-boarding paperwork. Now we need to buy some new luggage and shop for some clothes. Getting very excited!

Lighthouse Trail - Palo Duro Canyon



Saturday, October 24, 2015

Migrating Monarch Monday - October 12, 2015

Oops, forgot to mention a couple of items from our drive south to San Angelo. Bob and I take turns driving. I try to drive on main highways and avoid driving in cities whenever possible.

On Sunday, when I took over driving duties from Bob, we weren't but 10-15 minutes into our drive when I saw something black flapping at the 5th wheel tire. I thought maybe the tire was coming apart. Found a good place to pull over. Bob got out and checked to see what it was. Apparently the cover for the dump tank, that screws onto the outlet, had come loose and was flapping in the breeze.

We took off again and I was singing along to one of our CDs when I looked in the rear-view mirror 45 minutes later and saw the door to our propane compartment swinging back and forth wildly. It had come unlatched. Pulled over to a safe spot again and Bob duct taped that compartment door shut.

There was quite a breeze as we headed south, so the trailer was doing some swaying. Sigh. Time for Bob to drive again. San Angelo State Park was a welcome oasis after six hours on the road!

Our main objective in staying at San Angelo State Park was to see the migrating Monarch butterflies. They're on their way south to Mexico and blogger friends mentioned the monarchs were there (on our -- and their -- way home).

First thing Monday morning, we paid for our night at the state park (and our new yearly pass). We asked the ranger where to find the Monarch butterflies. She told us they were at the north campground but couldn't be more specific than that. All-righty then, we'll find them ourselves.

We drove five miles to the north campground at San Angelo State Park. There were two entrances but one of them had a closed gate so we headed for the open entrance. As we drove into the park, Monarch butterflies were quickly evident flying around the park road. We scoped out the trees, but didn't see where they were hanging out.

Through the campground we went searching for the "butterfly tree" but not finding it. We saw a young family packing up and stopped to ask the mom where there was a tree with butterflies in it. She was very helpful and told us if we drove down to the end of the road we would see lots of butterflies, but the tree was across the river. She didn't think we could cross the river from the side of the park we were in and told us to use the gate on the other side of the river. We thanked her and slowly drove out of the park.

As we were headed out, I was watching prairie dogs on my side of the truck. All of a sudden Bob slams on the brakes and says, "I've got to show you something, you're gonna love it!" He then backed up and showed me this...

SNAKE!
This snake was about five feet long. Not a rattlesnake, no rattle on it, even though the pattern kind of looks like one. It was huge. When it got to the grass, it went around in a circle, looked back at us, then disappeared down into its burrow in the grass. Kind of a "now you see it, now you don't" disappearing act. I'll never walk on grass the same way again...I'll be thinking about what lives in a hole under the grass.

Snake circling the wagon, head toward us on the right.
It's no wonder that snake is so big if it's been feasting on the prairie dogs on the other side of the road!

A little farther down the road, we saw wild turkeys, but I could only capture one of them in the shadows.

Find the wild turkey.
Back out of this part of the campground, we turned left, headed across the river, and turned left at the closed gate entrance to the equestrian part of the campground. Bob got the gate open and we continued our search for the butterflies. I remember someone saying they were near a pavilion. We drove the road all the way to the end, saw a pavilion (and some wild turkeys), saw lots of Monarchs, and I hopped out of the car to hopefully follow them to their tree. Bob kept driving and parked the car on the other side of the grassy area where all the trees were.

More wild turkeys
I found the butterfly tree!! Happy dance! Ever since we vacationed in Pacific Grove, California for seven straight years (another place Monarch butterflies migrate through), I have wanted to see them. In Pacific Grove it was always the wrong time of year. So happy we finally saw migrating Monarchs.

Monarch butterflies in the tree.
When their wings are closed they look
like fall colors or discolored leaves.
So beautiful!
Grove of trees where we found the majority of the Monarchs
Wild turkeys
These turkeys paid us no mind and kept on eating.
The other thing I REALLY wanted to do while we were in San Angelo was the water lily Volksmarch. However, my feet were still so sore from all the hikes over the weekend that the water lily walk was not an option today. We plan to return to San Angelo for a long weekend trip and do the two Volksmarches and other exploration then.

I took one more photo of our site at San Angelo State Park before we hit the road home. I must say, San Angelo State Park (south side) is VERY close to the town of San Angelo. Easy to get to restaurants and stores. The roads into the parks are very nice.

The state park had lots of wild turkeys and quail. I was surprised to see the prairie dogs. Didn't know they lived around here. We had a most excellent weekend and look forward to more exploration in this part of Texas.

Our site at San Angelo State Park
Travel Bug out.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Amarillo Factoids - Mon., Oct. 19, 2015

Has it been a week already since we were in Amarillo? It seems like only a couple of days ago. Life flies by faster and faster!

In a previous blog, I mentioned we learned a lot about Amarillo that is very interesting and this info deserves its own blog. So here we go.

Factoids about Amarillo, Texas, and its immediate surrounds: Amarillo's history includes helium!
Abandoned Amarillo Helium Plant
(next door to Ft. Amarillo RV Resort)
Abandoned Amarillo Helium Plant

A sign of our times on the old helium plant
First and foremost, Amarillo has a lot of names!
  1. Amarillo was once the self-proclaimed "Helium Capital of the World." The United States government bought the Cliffside Gas Field with high helium content in 1927 and the Federal Bureau of Mines began operating the Amarillo Helium plant two years later. The plant was the sole producer of commercial helium in the world for a number of years. The U.S. National Helium Reserve is stored in the Bush Dome Reservoir at the Cliffside facility.
  2. Amarillo's nickname is the "Yellow Rose of Texas." Amarillo is the Spanish word for "yellow." The nickname could stem from yellow wildflowers that grow in the area, or from yellow soil along the banks of Amarillo Lake and Amarillo Creek.
  3. It has most recently been called "Rotor City USA" because of Bell Helicopter Textron's V-22 Osprey hybrid assembly plant located there.
  4. Bomb City because of Pantex Army Ordnance nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility, the only one in the country.
Other interesting stuff:

  • Amarillo operates one of the largest meat-packing areas in the United States. A major Amarillo employer is Tyson Foods (previously Iowa Beef Processors plant). About one-quarter of the United States' beef supply is processed in the area.
  • The city is headquarters for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association.
  • The Ouachita mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma, and the Arbuckles of Oklahoma have an extension of underground structures known as the Amarillo Mountains thousands of feet underground. The Amarillo mountains were discovered by pioneer oilmen. Some of the underground peaks are believed to be 10,000' high. The tallest peak is reported to be 2,500' underground beneath the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument. The amazing geology of the area just keeps on coming.
  • Amarillo is recorded as the windiest city in the U.S. per the Weather Channel.
  • Amarillo is in the Llano Estacado (Palisaded or Staked Plain) region. This region includes parts of eastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas. It is part of one of the largest mesas or tablelands on the North American Continent and lies at the southern end of the Western High Plains ecoregion of the Great Plains. It is part of what was once called the Great American Desert.
  • Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle are in the the western portion of "Tornado Alley."
  • Route 66 passes through Amarillo (but you travelers probably knew that fact).
  • Fourteen million acres of agricultural land surround the city. Crops grown are corn, wheat, cotton, sorghum, silage, hay and soybeans.
Needless to say, we found Amarillo to be quite fascinating.

Travel Bug out.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunrise, Sunset, Sunday - Oct. 11, 2015

Sunday morning, day three of our Volksmarch weekend, and we are up with the birds and coyotes. We were given the gate code to enter the state park early. We drove up, put in the code, and drove through. The car behind us made it through too. Our goal: to do as much of our hike as possible before the mountain bike racers came through and to do it in the coolest part of the day.

Driving up to the state park, we had a dramatic sunrise.

Wow!
Down in the canyon, we had to wait for the people manning the checkpoint to get in position. While we waited, we read the sign at the start of the trail stating the trial is 6 miles round-trip, carry one gallon of water per person on a hot day.

We were able to start walking at 8:15 am. The temperature was cool and we were in shade most of the way out on our out-and-back walk. The scenery was spectacular, especially with the sun coming up in the canyon.

Red, layered with white, grey, ochre and light green demonstrated the effects of eons of mostly water erosion. The oldest layers of rock in the canyon, Cloud Chief Gypsum, can't be seen in the Capitol Peak area, but can be seen in a few areas. Here at Capitol Peak, the lower Quartermaster and upper Tecovas formations are exposed. Quartermaster comprises red claystone/sandstone and white layers of gypsum. While above the Quartermaster, the Tecovas Formation is composed of yellow, gray and lavender mudstone and sandstone.

Capitol Peak and a hoodoo on the left
Capitol Peak with the hoodoo on the left

Combination of the Tecovas Formation with the Quartermaster produces triangular Spanish Skirts. See below. Fascinating geology on this walk today.

Spanish Skirts
As we walked the coyotes were yipping and yapping nearby. Meanwhile, my dogs were barking. After walking 12.4 miles yesterday, my blisters felt just like balloons and I spent most of this 6.2 miles limping. Definitely not at the top of my walking game. I was wearing the same hiking boots I wore yesterday, so all my owies were again getting rubbed the wrong way.

On the other hand, the formations drew my attention away from my feet as I gazed in wonder at what was around me. Below is the Lighthouse Formation for which this trail is named.
The Lighthouse in early morning light
Quartermaster Formation: sandstone/claystone with gypsum
Together at last.
We only had three mountain bikes pass us on the way out to the checkpoint. On the return trip, however, the mountain bike race was in full swing. They were flying down the trail. It was actually quite scary to be on the same trail with them. Many spots weren't very wide. Thankfully the bikers were going uphill in some of those areas so they couldn't go very fast. The sides of the trail had cacti with big spikes, so we couldn't step to the side very easily. On the downhills, the bikers were racing hard and flew around the corners. We did our best to stay out of their way.

From the Lighthouse Trail, we had a great view of our nemesis from yesterday, Fortress Cliff. Yes, we hiked from the canyon floor to the top of the cliff, traversed back and forth across the top, before we headed "down." Fortress Cliff showcases sandstone of the Trujillos Formation and the Ogallala Formation tops it off. The Ogallala is composed of sand, silt, clay, and limestone, which compose the hard caprock. [NOTE: The layers from top to bottom are: Cloud Chief Gypsum, Ogallala, Trujillos, Tecovas, Quartermaster, shale.] Fortress Cliff is shown in the photo below.
Fortress Cliff, yesterday's nemesis
When we returned to the truck, the outdoor thermometer read 90 degrees! As soon as we got into the truck, I took off my hiking boots and socks, then changed into clean, dry socks and comfortable walking shoes. We made our way back to Amarillo, hooked up the 5th wheel, and headed out for San Angelo, Texas.

Once again we drove through areas of cotton fields, wind farms and oil rigs. We made a quick stop for a photo of cotton. Thanks, Bob, for snapping this photo.

Cotton on the plant
After six hours of driving, we arrived at San Angelo State Park. Our water/electric pull-through site was $20. It was also time for us to renew our annual Texas State Park pass, so we paid $70 for that as well.

After we unhooked the Beast and set up Rigamarole, our day ended with this beautiful sunset.

Tomorrow...searching for Monarch butterflies at San Angelo State Park. 


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

RV Park Review: Fort Amarillo RV Resort - Monday, Oct.12, 2015

Fort Amarillo RV Resort entrance
For our long weekend in Amarillo, we perused RV park reviews and listened to what other bloggers said about camping in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. We also factored in where we would like to spend the most time while we were in the Amarillo area. Colleen of TravelingwiththeLongDogs mentioned how steep and narrow the road in and out of the canyon is. Another RV park is located in Canyon, Texas, but it's mostly a grassy field with some trees.

We opted for Fort Amarillo RV Resort west of downtown Amarillo and a block north of I-40. The reviews were good and we liked the photos. Our other choice would have been Oasis RV Resort, which I mentioned in my post two days ago, but it was too stark.

Upon arriving at the resort, check-in went smoothly and we were given a map to our site with very good directions on how to navigate through the park to find our empty space. The rigs are packed in pretty tight, but we had enough room to put out our slides and awnings. Short fences separate the sites. Each site has its own concrete pad with picnic table. What I didn't care for was our dining room window looked right into the living room window of the rig next to us.

Site #168
Site #167 and #168
Amenities include indoor swimming pool, exercise room, laundry room, a large fenced playground area, pond with ducks, walking path, off-leash dog area, large indoor hot tub (currently under repair so not open), and Lizzy Mae's, a very fun gift shop.

Horse art on the property
Rec hall with indoor pool, exercise room, shower/bathrooms,
hot tub (closed for repairs), and laundry room
Indoor swimming pool
Exercise room
A nice porch rocker
Fort Amarillo RV Resort sites
Walkway and flags along the entryway
(flags need to be replaced)
Overview of more sites
The pond
Resident ducks in the pond

Another area of the park
We liked the park even though it was close quarters. We were there to sleep as we would be out and about sightseeing or walking every day. The RV resort is very convenient to: Cadillac Ranch, Jack Sisemore's RV Museum, Wildcat Bluff Nature Center, Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, lots of restaurants, a movie theater, hospital, and about 25 minutes from Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Ambulances went by intermittently on the way to the hospital, so there were sirens.

The internet connection was good, no problems there; but the cable TV they provided had only seven channels. We weren't able to watch our shows.

Overall, we would go back to this park.