Tuesday, December 30, 2008


No pictures or much to say other than the sale of our home closed today 12/30/08. What a relief. A great way to start off the new year.

We did hike a trail on the Organ Mountains today which was beautiful. It started from the Dripping Springs Natural Area just east of Las Cruces. Elevation started around 5,200 feet and went up on the 1.5 mile trail we took.

Las Cruces sits in a valley between the Organ Mountains on the east and to the west is the Rio Grande. Granted Las Cruces still sits at an elevation of 3,900 feet. Quite something to this flatlander.


Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Land of Enchantment, Leasburg Dam SP, Las Cruces, NM



Yes, we arrived in New Mexico today at Leasburg Dam State Park just north of Las Cruces. From what we saw of Las Cruces from I-25 it looked pretty good, certainly more appealing than El Paso.

The park is smaller than most we have seen. It is located along the Rio Grande but the campground does not have a view of the river. We bought the out of state annual pass for $225. We thought that the pass got you a site for half price and free for boon docking. No, it cuts the rate for water and electric from $14 a night to $4 a night and free for boon docking. That is one amazing bargain and we are on a fixed income, you know.

They have a Uno pizza place here and next to Randy and Sunaree’s cooking we love pizza best so headed there first. Then went to Mesilla, NM, which is actually a suburb of Las Cruces. It has a historic downtown and they had put out luminaries and had caroling in the square. If only we could have had a postcard it all it would have been perfect.


It has been cold and very windy the last couple of days so we used that time for laundry, reading and not much else. Today it only got into the 40’s and is supposed to be in the low 20’s tonight. It is supposed to warm up in the next day or two.

We went to White Sands Missile Range, toured the museum took some photos of the missiles and the most interesting stuff was the testing of the atomic bomb in the 40’s.


On the way we stopped off at Aguirre Springs Campground which is a national campground, no hookups but beautiful. We had snow flurries last night which didn’t stick here but there was still some snow at this higher elevation.

Later this afternoon we took a National Park Service guided tour to Lake Lucero.

PC270159 This is part of the White Sands National Monument which we have not yet seen. However, the only way you can get to it is by a 17 mile drive through the missile range. They only allow this once a month. You drive your own car and follow the ranger to the trailhead and then it is a 3/4 mile walk. Interesting spot and the crystalline formations of the gypsum are interesting to see. Click the Lake Lucero link above for more info.

As usual, I posted more photos of the area at the more photos link in upper left. Also, you can click on any of the pictures on this picture to see a larger version.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hueco Tanks State Historical Site, TX


Arrived here three days ago. Hueco Tanks is an unusual rock formation that seems to appear out of nowhere and does not resemble the landscape in this area near El Paso, TX.

It is famous for two things, ancient pictographs and bouldering, a form of rock climbing. This will be the second time that we have taken a tour of pictographs and I believe I have seen enough. To me the rock formations are far more interesting and scenic. Our three hour tour of the pictographs turned into a four hour tour.


Since this is a historical site you can’t just hike the trails. Oh no, we had to be at the ranger station at 8am to try and get two of the remaining 10 passes to hike the rocks. They issue 70 per day, reserve 60 and leave 10 first come, first serve. Even though we camped amongst the rocks we could not hike the adjacent trails. It is understandable when you see the graffiti that previous idiots left on and around the pictographs. You know what I mean, “Tina loves Waldo” and that kind of crap.

It is a beautiful place and well worth a visit. They allegedly limit you to a three night stay. Initially, we had two nights but have stayed over today because of a high wind advisory. We were to have winds gusting to 65 mph today with dust storms and I can confirm we had high winds and dust. The winds are out of the west and southwest. The campground is on the east side of the rocks so we opted to stay rather than go on to New Mexico.

Went into east El Paso today to do some shopping. I don’t know what it is but the longer we are camping and near small towns the less I like cities. Of course, what we saw of El Paso was not attractive. We overheard a woman at another campground comment earlier that El Paso was ugly. In the news, Mexicans are coming over here to shop at our malls due to the violence in adjacent Ciudad Juarez.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Life after Big Bend



We left Big Bend on 12/12 or 13, I forget which, and headed west out of the park. There was much more that I want to see and expect to come back here.

We stopped overnight at Terlingua, TX. Not much there. We did visit the “ghost town” and the old cemetary.  There was an old building converted to a sort of local gift shop. What caught my eye as we drove up was a guy sitting on the porch on a cell phone. He had a red tipped white cane which suggested he was blind but he had a flashlight strapped to the cane. Primary activity here seems to be associated with going to Big Bend or taking off road tours.

From there we moved on to a park south of Alpine, TX. We camped at an elevation of 5,200 feet with a lovely view of the hills. The road down to Alpine offers a lovely view of the little town. Alpine, population 5,700 seemed nice enough. Home to Sul Ross State University. You can see the influence as they have two, count them, two small health food stores.

Spent most of 12/15 at the doctor’s office and lab at the local hospital. The background is that the week before we left Pensacola I did something to my left ankle that caused a burning pain and then swelling. It has persisted in giving me pain. To try and solve this I tried taping the ankle for support and left the tape on about 24 hours while in Big Bend. The day after I took the tape off the front of the ankle became painful and developed a hard knot which looked like a tendon but moved when touched too easily.

Turns out it was a superficial blood clot in a vein and it was caused by the taping. Yes, Gayle is trying to kill me. If anything should happen please have her investigated.

Bad news for Gayle, is that this type of clot is not likely to move and cause more serious problems but may take some time to dissolve.

While in BIBE we found that our realtor was trying to reach us and we now have a contract on the house and they are trying to close before the end of the year. We are currently in the small town of Fort Davis, TX at a state park, Davis Mountain SP. It has been interesting trying to find notaries to get everything signed and shipped back to Pensacola.

At Davis Mountain, Gayle finally got her wish to see wildlife. The local mule deer stand outside and look in at us. The cats don’t seem too interested in them. Guess they don’t move fast enough to interest them.


She also got to see her first Javelina. They are cute little fellows. They tend to be near the campground at dusk and at night and don’t seem too interested in us. The one group we see moving around have a baby in the group.

Yesterday we drove up to the McDonald Observatory and took a tour of the two largest telescopes and attended the solar viewing. Both of which were interesting and worth doing. Last night we attended a star party. It was a little cloudy but clear enough that we got to see some good stuff. This photo is the 107” telescope.


Tomorrow we are probably going to head to Hueco Tanks State Park about 30 miles east of El Paso, TX.

It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Big Bend National Park, TX

We got to Big Bend on 12/7. We have wanted to visit this park for most of our married lives but just never had the time. It exceeded our expectations.


The photo above is of Chisos Basin. In the very center of the photo is the campground. We could not camp there because they limit the size of the rig. I believe the elevation is at or in excess of 6,000 feet. It is surrounded by mountains.

We spent a week in Big Bend and would have liked to spend more time but were running out of food and the park did not stock cardboard.

We camped at Rio Grand Village in an area without power or water. Our first real experience dry camping. I learned a few new things about our solar power. One is that in order for it to work properly it is best to not camp in the shade or even partial shade.

The Rio Grande flooded in September due to a tropical storm that passed through. It got a good bit of the campground we stayed in and a lot of it had not re-opened.

We didn’t scratch the surface on hiking the trails and now I wish we could have towed something with four wheel drive since there are all kinds of unimproved roads you can travel in the park.

I should report one narrowly averted tragedy. While in the car one afternoon Gayle started yelling as if in pain. I looked over to find that she had rolled the power window up on one of her fingers. It only took her a minute or so to figure out how to remedy the situation at which time the yelling subsided.

We hiked the Boquillas Canyon trail. Two guys had started ahead of us and were a few hundred yards ahead. We had stopped at an overlook when I heard a man singing. I thought it was one of them at first but finally saw a man standing on a boulder at the edge of the Rio Grande on the Mexico side singing.

We continued along the same path and he began singing as we approached. He is my new friend, “Victor the singing Mexican”. We talked and I learned that he had operated the ferry there for 34 years until 9/11 and then the U.S. shut that down. He has done this ever since. He sells trinkets by leaving them on our side of the river with a price list and a jar for the money. Of course, you should be aware that there is a sign posted at the trailhead which says it is illegal for us to buy the stuff. This is the same stuff they sell at the store.

I did end up getting him a propane tank for his lantern and dropped it off the next day.


Here is a photo of my new friend. By the way, he has a pretty good voice as well.

At some point when I have a fast internet connection I intend to upload more photos at my Picasa page and will put the link here on this page.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Seminole Canyon State Park, Texas

We haven’t done a very good job of keeping up on this blog. So, I suspect everyone has quit coming. But, it’s for us so here goes.

We were at Seminole Canyon State Park on 12/5 and left on 12/7. As we drove out of the Texas hill country to Seminole the land was flatter and more desert like. I used to think that the desert was ugly compared to places like the Smokies and such but no more. It has a beauty all its own.


The picture above is one of the canyon. The one below is pictographs found in this area.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Yesterday we drove over to Lost Maples State Natural Area. It has a small camping area, only thirty sites but has a number of trails. The Sabinal River runs through the park. That river like the Rio Frio is crystal clear and cold. The leaves on the maples were past their peak but it is still a lovely area. In general the Texas hill country around here is gorgeous

The rocks in the area appear to be mostly limestone which is fairly soft as rocks go. But you can see that in the way rain has worn them down. Picking one up leaves dust on your hand.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Last day San Antonio, TX

Yesterday being Thanksgiving we drove into town and visited the Alamo. You are required by Texas law to see the Alamo when traveling anywhere in their state. Obviously, that can present a burden to those that aren't near San Antonio. It was an interesting place and the interior grounds are beautifully landscaped.

This park, Travelers World is very nice and well maintained. It is situated next to a golf course but the rest of the area is obviously poorer and not much to look at.

Today was devoted to exercise, cycling and working out.

Gayle has complained about my hygiene. I am attaching a photo to let you be the judge.

This note will likely be the last for a week or more. We are heading to Garner State Park, then Seminole State Park and finally Big Bend National Park. It looks as though we will not have cell or data card connections for that time which might be a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


That was the sound associated with the loss of $10. We were having dinner tonight at the Iron Cactus on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. The food was great as was the beer.

A wandering mariachi band stopped by our table and kept pressing us for a type of music to play for us. I wanted that about as much as I like to have the waiters and waitresses sing happy birthday so I kept saying nothing. Gayle then requested that song. The guy looked at me and told me what it would cost I looked at Gayle and she just smiled so it was so long to the money. Later she told me she did not hear what he said. I assumed the smile was a go ahead.

We made it here today and are staying at a private park, Traveler's World. It is a nice park but not so nice neighborhood. But it is a good spot to see San Antonio.

We took the bus as there was a stop right in front of the park. That worked well, although we did have a young tattooed guy ask if he could borrow a cell phone so he could complete a drug transaction. No, seriously, he says he lost some keys and needed to call someone. I being the nice guy that I am told him we didn't have a phone, thank goodness it didn't ring about then.

About that time a family came on board and they all had phones. Well, you will be surprised to know that he moved back further in the bus but didn't seem to need a phone anymore.

One nice thing about our location is that the park is adjacent to the San Antonio River along which they have an eight mile bike trail. We rode that this afternoon and it was a nice ride.

Final thought, if any of you need to communicate with me in secret code be sure to use roman numerals. The bathhouse is locked and uses a four digit code. When she got to the lock the numbers were, you got it, roman numerals. I was surprised when she came back to the camper and took me back to figure this out.

All for now, Gayle is yelling at me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This will be the first post of our blog. Gayle and I retired from our jobs on 9/26/08, sold the contents of our home and moved into a 30' Lazy Daze motorhome to live fulltime and travel.

We left Pensacola, FL around the first of October, 2008 and have traveled to the northeast to visit friends and family. Returned to Pensacola at the end of October since the sale of our house fell through. Set the house up with a realtor and now are heading west.

We are currently in McKinney Falls State Park just south of Austin, TX. Weather and temperature are very pleasant. We have been here a couple of days and tomorrow will be heading to a private park in San Antonio to spend three days during thanksgiving.

Got to see a little of Austin in between hiking in the park and it is an interesting and fun town. Not a lot of high rise buildings and the home of the University of Texas. The older I get the more young college students make for an interesting contrast to my own life.

We visited Lance Armstrong's bike shop, Mellow Johnny's. Had some interesting bikes and stuff but it is expensive.

We also visited the LBJ Presidential Library which was interesting as well. We really did not spend much time there.

Found a terrific vegetarian place for lunch, Veggie Heaven. So far we have really enjoyed Texas. It has been much more than we expected. The roads have been really good, the parks nice and the scenery interesting.

Austin seems like a very nice place. The only drawback was the traffic on I-35. Even on Sunday it was busy.

Enough for now. Off to San Antonio.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Summary: The Early Days

I've been keeping a journal of where we've been since we left Pensacola (thanks, Joann). Since Jim started this blog I decided to go back and record all of my entries of places we've stayed and dates, just for our own info.

Day 1, Oct 6, 2008: Our first day as full timers! Stayed in White Hall, AL at Prairie Creek Corps of Engineers campground. $18/night. Got a site right on the water. Spent the next day reorganizing the junk we loaded in the car and actually threw out a bunch of stuff.

Oct 8: Raining in the morning so we left at noon after it stopped. About 4:30 had a warning from tire pressure monitor that we had a low tire. Unfortunately it was the valve stem so we called the emergency road service. The guy ended up changing the tire and we didn't get back on the road until 7:30. Since it was dark and we didn't want to drive on to  the the campground in Huntsville, we stayed at a nearby Wal-Mart. Wasn't too bad and we needed a few things, anyway. Still a better day than being at work!

Oct 9: Our 26th wedding anniversary! Got the tire fixed in Oneonta, then had a beautiful. scenic drive through north AL, TN, and KY, especially along Lake Guntersville. The tree colors were gorgeous. Spent the night at Lake Cumberland State Resort Park in KY. $22/night. Fixed a nice dinner and enjoyed a bottle of Molly Dooker (thanks Randy and Sunarree). Good anniversary!

Oct 10: Had a near disaster trying to get into the dump station on the way out of Lake Cumberland. Finally able to unhook the car and get out. Learned a valuable lesson. From here out we wait until after we dump the tanks before hooking up the car. Decided to call and be sure we could get a campsite in southern Ohio since it was Friday.After calling several and being told they were full, finally found a site at Blue Licks Battlefield State Park in Blue Licks Springs.KY. $22/night. Nice man on phone held the only site left for us. Just as we were pulling in, got another low tire pressure alarm. Jim managed to fill the tire and take off the pressure monitor and it held air. He decided to order some super valve stems for $80 and have them shipped to a friend in Erie, PA. Hopefully we can make it there without anymore problems.

Oct 11: Spent 2 nights in Galena, OH in our friend Dave and Kim's driveway. Very nice camp hosts and great shower! Took us on a 30 mile bike ride on a rail trail in Mt. Vernon. It was a great weekend and of course we ate pizza both nights as we always seem to do when we visit them.

Oct 13: Lovely drive through Ohio farm country. Spent the night at West Branch State Park in Ravenna, OH. Very nice bath house but pricey. $24/night for electric (no water at sites) and $30 for full hookups. We did get a beautiful site on the lake and met an interesting couple who travel in an Airstream for 5 months of the year in the US, then spend 7 months at their home in Jerusalem, Israel.

Oct 14: Finally made it to Erie, PA, my home town. Our weather up to this point has been in the 70's and 80's. Just as I expected, it was in the 60's or less and dreary much of the time we were there. Spent 7 nights at Sara Coyne Campground at the entrance to Presque Isle State Park. $165/week with full hookups. Bath house nice but pay showers so we used ours the whole week. What a luxury. Had Boston's pizza with Joann and Joe on Jim's birthday (the 16th). Had a nice lunch with my brother and his family and both grandkids. Jim even enjoyed the kids!  Rode our bikes one day but walked at Presque Isle the rest of the week since it got colder as the week went on. Enjoyed visiting with friends and family. Got the new tire valves installed on our way out of town. Hoping those problems are behind us.

Oct 21: Back to West Branch State Park in Ravenna, OH since we got off to a late start after getting the tires fixed. Got into the 30's at night but they were predicting snow in Erie so we got out just in time.

Oct 22: Spent 2 nights at Hocking Hills State Park in Logan, OH. $26/night. Had intended to stay at Lake Alma but a bridge was out and we had to detour. Came across this park by accident on our way to the other and what a nice surprise. We stayed an extra night to take advantage of the hiking. It was in the low 60's but sunny and we hiked the Old Man's Cave trail. It was one of the prettiest trails we've ever been on. We were also surprised at how very steep and winding the roads are in this part of Ohio.

Oct  24: Friday again so decided to call the park I picked for our destination and they were all booked. It was cold and raining so we were surprised. Tried another park and got the same answer. Finally found a site at Cumberland Falls State Park in Corbin, OH. $22/night but not a very nice campground. We couldn't fit into any of the sites they had left but they let us take up 2 spots where tent campers stay. It had water and electric so we were happy. Stayed 2 nights so we could see the falls and take a nice hike.

Oct 26: Went on to Harrison Bay State Park 12 miles or so north of Chattanooga. $20/night but we were in Section A. Had a view of the lake. Found out later that section B  was only $16/night and there were several lakefront sites there, also. Went into Chattanooga to eat at Mellow Mushroom Pizza and take a walk across the river on the pedestrian bridge. Such a nice town. Turned cold and very windy the next couple days but bundled up and did a couple nice hikes.

Oct 29: Stopped in Carrollton, GA at John Tanner State Park. $22 plus $3 park pass. Pretty little campground with a paved walking trail around a lake.

Oct 30: Met the Southeast Lazy Daze owners group in Eufala, AL. Stayed at White Oak Creek, an Army Corps campground on Lake George. $20/night. We had a great site right on the lake. Enjoyed visiting with people we met in Jacksonville at the spring get-together and met several new folks. Got lots of good advice about places to camp and sightsee in our travels.The group left on Sunday but we stayed an extra night since it was so pretty and warm. Finally got in the 70's. We missed being warm for a few weeks. Feels like we are on vacation and heading back home. Guess it will take awhile for it to register that we don't have to go back to work.

Nov 3: Back to Pensacola and a free campsite in our driveway. Since the deal on the house fell through while we were in Erie, we had to do a little yard work and get the house listed with a realtor. Also washed and waxed the rig and car with some help from Travis-thanks! Did laundry, had a few dinners with friends, Jim went to the dentist twice for a toothache, I got my hair cut short. Was spending too much time and water washing and drying it. Not sure I like it yet but it is easier. Left after a few days. We just wanted to get back on the road. Being back at the house was too much like our old life and we were anxious to head west.

Nov 7: Only drove a few hours to Fountainebleau State Park on Lake Ponchartrain north of New Orleans. $17/night. They lost thousands of trees from Hurricane Katrina but we wanted to see how it looked and do some biking on the Tammany Trace rail trail.Mandeville seemed to be booming. New construction everywhere.  Saw the most beautiful sunset on a late afternoon walk through the park but of course the camera was back in the RV. The bike trail was repaired. Rode to Slidell over a new drawbridge on the trail. Went to Abita Springs for a brewery tour. Got to taste many of their beers but we weren't that impressed with them. The guide told us that every Friday afternoon each employee gets to take home 2 cases of beer. Nice perk!
Jim's tooth is finally better. Thought Oreo was having bladder stone problems again and that we might have to make a trip to a vet but he seems fine now. Still feel like we're just on vacation because this is all too familiar.

Nov 10: Haven't been to Bayou country so decided to check out Lake Fausse Point State Park near St. Martinville, LA.$18/night on river side, $16 on other side of road. Pretty park in the middle of nowhere. Don't follow your GPS directions. Tried to get us on a dirt road to get to the park. For some reason the paved road to get there wasn't in the software so we went miles out of our way. There were some nice hiking trails there and we saw several alligators on logs and in the river. Also armadillos everywhere. Unfortunately there were quite a few mosquitoes, too. No Verizon cell service or internet but we got the phone to work 1 mile out of the park. If not for the house being for sale it really wouldn't matter.

Nov 13: Stopped near Lake Charles at Sam Houston Jones State Park. $16/night. Pretty park but the campsites are small and close together. The trails were nice. Saw lots of deer and armadillos. Something knocked our garbage can over but didn't have the nerve to see what it was. Jim's tooth is hurting again. Went into town to grocery shop and ate lunch at Olive Garden (thanks, Dennis for the gift card.) Too much traffic. We sure like the woods better!

Nov 16: Spent a night at the Escapee’s Headquarters, Rainbow’s End, in Livingston,TX. It was nicer than we expected. We really liked the wooded section that had small houses with covered RV parking. The long term care area wasn’t bad, either. The rest of the park was full of RV’s but the sites were fairly big. Glad we stopped.

Nov 17: Moved a few miles to Lake Livingston State Park. $17/night. Much nicer to be in the woods, and there are not many people here so it is very quiet. There are some beautiful lakefront sites for $25 but since it’s too cool to sit outside we opted for the other area. Worked on getting reservations for the rest of our time in Texas, a very lengthy process. Too many people are out camping on the weekends and over Thanksgiving. Also washed the car and RV since no one is here. Looks much better.

Nov 19: Spent 3 nights at Lake Sommerville State Park in Sommerville, TX. We thought we had a beautiful site on the lake on Thursday since there was nobody else near us. Unfortunately the crowds arrived for the weekend. A group with 2 big tents and lots of Christmas lights parked next to us. It is a really nice park with large and secluded sites in the middle of nowhere. We rode our bikes around the park and did a lot of walking. It was a nice relaxing weekend.

Went to Austin next, where Jim started the blog. Only took me a year to get all this typed up!