Friday, March 30, 2012

About That Post Good Sam Rally ( March 25 - 31)

Dear Family and Friends,

On Sunday we had another full day of seminars at the Good Sam Rally. Monday brought the end of the rally and we were ready to get on with our journey. It was amazing to watch 3300 RV's leave the Phoenix International Raceway, but it  worked out surprisingly well.

 On our way out of the park, we had our coach weighed. Each wheel is weighed independently, using small scales and the results determine the amount of pressure needed in the tires. Our coach weighed almost 38,000 pounds. The weight must then be distributed in accordance with the guidelines for tires; and tire pressure adjusted based on the highest wheel weight on each of our three axles.

We caught I-17 out of Phoenix to Camp Verde, Arizona, where we are staying at the Distant Drums RV park. This was a quick trip of 90 miles. Camp Verde is located in the Coconino Forest with mountains surrounding it. It is home to Fort Verde and Montezuma's Castle. The RV resort is located on Yavapai/ Apache land with a casino nearby.

 Tuesday was spent getting the Tour washed and cleaning up the inside. Since we had been without hookups (with the exception of 30 amp electricity) for a week, we had been limited on water usage, so doing laundry was a priority. Our neighbors at Distant Drums had been at the Good Sam Rally, so it was fun having Happy Hour with Jim and Faun on Monday and Tuesday nights. We look forward to seeing them in Bakersfield.

Wednesday morning was a trip to nearby Sedona, where we took advantage of the gorgeous weather to hike the beautiful red rocks in Boynton Canyon. Those of you that have been to the Sedona area will remember the magical red rocks set in the center of the Coconino National  Forest. There is so much to see and do in the area. The following pictures show our home until Saturday morning and our hike.

Our home at Distant Drums.
The Boynton Canyon hike in Sedona.

Bear has turned into a great hiking partner.
Notice the red path.

Thursday was a bike ride to Montezuma's Castle which is run by the National Park System and a visit to Fort Verde where we saw the remains of the old western fort. The many hills proved to be a great workout on the bikes, but we had to go back on Friday to see the cliff dwelling which is Montezuma's Castle. It was named after the leader of the Aztecs' but Montezuma never "slept there." Apparently it was built by the Sinagua Indians 1,000 years AD.  Below are the pictures from our Friday trip. 

Thank you for checking in with us. We leave Saturday morning for a night in Kanab, Utah, then it is on to Zion National Park for two weeks. My brother, Warren, will be joining us for part of that time. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

About That Good Sam Rally ( March 18 - 24 )

Dear Family and Friends,

We left Tucson, early on Saturday morning, to avoid the high winds and rain scheduled for that afternoon and Sunday morning. We arrived in Tolleson, (outside of Phoenix) for our annual Freightliner chassis checkup. We stayed in the Freightliner motorhome parking lot for three nights and left early Tuesday morning for what will be our home until Monday morning, the Good Sam Rally.

RVing groups sponsor rallies. These are opportunities to learn more about life on the road, the care of your RV (both inside and out) and the chance to meet many fellow RVers. The rallies last several days. This is our first one and we were quite excited about it. There are over 3300 RVs, campers, trailers or Fifth Wheels packed next to each other at the Phoenix International Raceway. We were truly amazed when we pulled into the grounds early Tuesday morning. The rally was not scheduled to start until Thursday, but you can check in earlier and that is what we decided to do since we are first time rally attendees.

The check in went really well with lots of nice people helping us along the way. Even though we are two days early, the following pictures will give you an idea of how busy this place is and is going to be during the next week.

New friends, Jerry and Jean, show us the beautiful cat veranda that Jerry built for his cat.  Their cat accesses his veranda by going though an open window from the interior of their coach.

The Raceway is completely surrounded by over 3300 RVs .
The classes and displays are located inside of the raceway track.

Motor homes are lined up and getting ready to park for the event.
Imagine trying to park 3300 of them.

Roger and Bear are ready to attend the Good Sam Rally. They are standing in front of our Tour.

Since all of the classes are located in tents inside the racetrack, attendees either walk or ride trams to get through the tunnel that leads to the interior of the racetrack. There are so many classes to attend that Roger and I have split up for most of those classes. He concentrates on the chassis, generator and engine, while I go to classes on the interior. Our first class though, was one that we both attended for driving. It lasted all day and we truly picked up some excellent tips. 

In addition, there are many vendors willing to sell all sorts of things related to RVing. They are mostly located in one huge tent. Motor home dealers have displayed over 600 coaches, trailers and fifth wheels for customers to see at this rally. They range from small trailers to a 45 foot Newmar Kingaire RV.

Thursday was filled with classes. In the evening we got to hear Bowser from Sha Na Na fame. He along with his band performed the oldies, which Roger and I love.

 Getting ready for the night's performance.
 The raceway setting is against the mountains.
 Bower's band performs the warmup.
 Bowser makes his entrance in a classic convertible. This picture does not do his entrance justice.
 Early Friday morning.
 RVers are quite a patriotic group. Notice the flags.

Friday was a day filled with more classes. Bill Cosby entertained us on Friday night. Saturday had more classes with Martina McBride entertaining us in the evening.

Sunday will be our last day of classes and we leave on Monday morning. Our next stop is Camp Verde, where we will be staying at the Distant Drums RV Resort for five days.

Thank you for checking in with us. We really appreciate your interest in our adventures. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

About That Big Bend, Texas (March 3 - 11)

Dear Family and Friends,

We left Del Rio early Saturday morning for the drive to Alpine, Texas. We were in Alpine for three nights while we toured Big Bend National Park, Ft. Davis and Alpine.

On Saturday afternoon we drove into Alpine, so named because the early settlers thought Texas needed some kind of Alp area. There are mountains in the area and lots of pine trees, thus the connection with the Swiss Alps. We stayed at the Lost Alaskan RV Park.

 Sul Ross State University is located in Alpine. On the campus sits the Big Bend Museum which houses an excellent education in the history of the area as well as insights into the park. You may remember Dan Blocker, who played Hoss on Bonanza. Dan played football for Sul Ross and the museum has a ten gallon hat and boots from the series.

Our home for three nights in Alpine, Texas
Roger is getting ready to tour the Big Bend Museum located on Sul Ross University's campus.

Sunday was our day to drive to Big Bend National Park. Alpine is about 100 miles away but because our Tour is 43 feet long, we have to stay in parks that can handle large rigs. In addition, we like to have 50 amp electricity. National and State parks are not usually able to handle our motor home.  The trip to Big Bend took us near Terlingua, Texas, the home of the famous chili cook off. We had to have the following sign.

Big Bend National Park has over 800,000 acres to explore. Big Bend houses the Rio Grande River, the Chisnos mountains and the Chihuahuan desert.  The roads end at the Rio Grande River with Mexico on the other side. Many of the park's vistas mix scenes belonging to both countries. Our focus today was on the most famous, Santa Elena Canyon. The following pictures show the towering walls of the canyon as Roger and I hiked into it.
Bear and I are posing at the entrance of the park.

Bluebonnets, the Texas State flower.

The start of the Santa Elena Canyon hike.

Roger is beginning our hike into Santa Elena canyon, by walking in the Rio Grande River bed.

Mexico on the left and the US on the right. The Rio Grande is in the center.

The cliff faces are very high.

Tuesday was our day to go North into the Davis Mountains, where we visited Ft. Davis. However, our first stop was at the Prude Ranch, where I had gone to camp after completing second grade. This was a two week camp where we learned a lot about riding horses. I learned how to barrel race at the age of 8.

 The entrance to the Prude Ranch. It is still a boys and girls camp, but has also become a dude ranch.

Wild turkeys roam the Prude Ranch property.

The U.S. Army built a fort at the mouth of a box canyon near Limpia Creek to protect travelers heading westward over the San Antonio - El Paso Road/ Overland Trail. The historic ruins are preserved by the National Park Service. Today it is regarded as the most outstanding example of a southwestern frontier military post. From 1845 to 1891, this fort played a significant role in the settlement and development of the western frontier. Buffalo Soldiers were stationed here beginning in 1866.

Ft. Davis was named for Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis while he held that office for the federal government. 

Roger and Bear getting ready for the tour.

Looking across the parade ground to the officer housing.

The enlisted soldier housing.

The Post Commander's Home
The interior has been beautifully restored.

Wednesday was a travel day to Las Cruces, New Mexico. We took the road to Ft. Davis, caught Texas 17 to Balmorhea (a truly beautiful drive) and caught I 10 to Las Cruces. Driving through El Paso is always a sporting event and we were thrilled when we were through it. We met our friends, Virginia and Ray, for dinner. The next morning, we toured Mesilla, an earlier settlement than Las Cruces and headed back to the RV to secure it because a huge wind with blinding dust arrived and stayed the rest of the afternoon. It was so bad that we pulled in all of our slides and had to stow the satellite receiver. We left that evening for dinner at Virginia and Ray's home and by the time we returned to the RV, the wind had calmed down.

Ray and Virginia were friends of ours from our days at RAF Bentwaters in England. We were guests in their beautiful home in Las Cruces, New Mexico. 

Early Thursday morning we left Las Cruces for the five hour trip to Tucson. We arrived at Davis Monthan Air Force Base. Avid blog readers know from posts in July and October, that this base is very important to us. We were thrilled to be back on the base though we are here for a short time. 

Thank you for checking in with us as we continue our adventures. We appreciate the opportunity to share them with you. I am taking a break from blogging for this coming week. I will post again in two weeks when we will begin our trip west and then north for the Spring and Summer. See you then!