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Monday, April 23, 2018

Oklahoma!

7:41 am - Monday - April 23rd - Oklahoma City, OK - 50º F, 90% humidity, wind 7 mph out of the north by northwest......cloudy with a forecast high for today of 74º F.

Shortly after awakening Sunday I was checking the weather on my phone and noticed that the winds would be coming out of the north all along our route with the worst of the wind around Elk City, OK at over 20 mph around mid morning.  Elk City was about 130 miles east of us so it was imperative we get back on the Interstate and cover as many miles as possible before the wind got bad.

We were rolling out of the Cracker Barrel parking lot by 8:10 am and up to highway speed on the Interstate within minutes.  Initially there was no wind at all, and it was very overcast......for a while I thought what we saw in the distance was rain.......


.....but it was not......just very low clouds.  As we continued eastward we saw this old, abandoned water tower that was leaning over so much I was surprised it did not fall.  I guess it has been that way for years......


......it soon began to clear, and eventually the winds from the north began to appear.  Most of the day we were going due east on I-40 so the winds were coming from the drivers side of the Newell forcing me to crank the steering wheel hard to the left almost 1/3 turn.....this is the kind of wind I hate, but at least it was steady and not gusting.

 Heading due east on I-40

Ultimately we entered Oklahoma, but there were no signs welcoming us like we saw in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.....just this sign indicating an Oklahoma Information Center and Rest Area 4 miles distant.....


....we finally got our official Oklahoma sign at the rest area.....it was well worth the wait.....it almost seems like the sign is shouting 'OKLAHOMA!'.  As we travel we stop every 60-90 miles depending on what is available, and at least once a day, sometimes more, we get dressed and go for at least 1/2 mile, but mostly for a mile, or more.  This day we walked 1.2 miles....a couple of times around the Rest Area.


The rest of the day's drive saw me fighting the ever stiffening winds continuously.  We took two more rest stops before finally reaching Oklahoma City.  We were here about 9 years ago and stayed at an RV park on the northeast side of town called Twin Fountains RV Resort.  It is right near the junction of I-44 (yes, we have left I-40 after 6 days) and I-35.  It fits our requirements for being 'easy off and easy on', and having very large, long pull through sites.  We hadn't plugged in for a few days, and TLE needed to do a load of wash so we got off the Interstate around 2:30 pm and snagged a site (P-4) which puts us right at the exit for the RV park.....perfect!  Just as 9 years ago we had no reservation at this very popular park, but got a site easily (it is quite full).


Once TLE got the wash going we walked across the street to a local 'health and wellness' school and walked for about 2 miles on their series of walking trails.....



....we walked a combination of their three trails to get our 2 miles of walking.

Around 6 pm we put on our bathing suits and walked over to the Jacuzzi for a good hot soak, and what a hot soak it was!  It was the perfect temperature.  You know how sometimes you in get in the Jacuzzi, or even the bath tub and it feels hot initially, but within a couple of minutes you are wishing it was hotter?  Well, this was was perfect in that I never wished it was hotter.  We soaked for about 30 minutes, which really helped relieve any residual tenseness remaining from our windy drive earlier.

We've now covered almost 1,300 miles on our journey to Maine, leaving roughly 2,000 miles to go.  We're going to slow down a little over the next week, and are planning on spending at least 3 days in St. Louis visiting TLE's brother, Creig (pronounced Craig), and his lovely wife Kay.  

Thanks for stopping by!

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

The color is Yellow......

7:18 am - Sunday - April 22nd - Amarillo, TX - 41º F, 91% humidity, wind 7 mph out of the northwest....forecast high for Amarillo today is 64º F.......mostly clear skies after a little rain yesterday.....we only experienced some sprinkles west of here for a few minutes.  Will be on the road in less than an hour.

It was quite cold (34º F) Sunday morning in Edgewood, NM, and it took about an hour using the block heater to warm the big 6V92 up enough to start her.  We were back on eastbound I-40 by 8:30 am heading for, we hoped, Amarillo, TX.......another state and another time zone change......more clock changing ahead.

The skies started out partly cloudy, and by the time we arrived in Amarillo (means yellow in Spanish) around 3 pm Central Time it was totally overcast, however, I get ahead of myself.  The road surface was as smooth as a baby's butt most of the day, and mostly flat.  The engine temps ran in the low 180's most of the day climbing into the 190's on short climbs......perfect!  It was really just a matter of me hanging onto the steering wheel and enjoying the giant views...... 


......by  11 am we were coming into Tucumcari, NM which is about the last large (I use that word advisedly) New Mexico city on I-40 before the Texas border.  We stopped overnight in Tucumcari about 9 years ago, and while it was kind of a sleepy little town on a Sunday afternoon, it seemed there were a lot of active businesses.  We took a walk that day down Route 66 about 6 blocks to visit the local supermarket.  Below you see the local supermarket all boarded up in the background on Saturday, April 21, 2018.  It seemed that about 50% of the local businesses were closed for good.....


.....it was a little sad to see the stark decline in just 9 years.  We took our second break of the day in Tucumcari at the abandoned supermarket and then continued our quest to cross another state line.  Within an hour we were saying goodbye to New Mexico and being welcomed into Texas.......



.....the terrain did not immediately change, but within 20 miles we came to the flat Texas landscape with which we are well acquainted.........


........with 100's of windmills covering the landscape in every direction......we were passed by a couple of  'Tiny Homes' along the way.......


.....at last we were on the outskirts of Amarillo and our destination for Saturday......the Cracker Barrel just off the Interstate on the north side.  We exited the Interstate and made our way over to the RV parking area in the Cracker Barrel parking lot.....


.....found a spot that suited us and parked.  This is only the second time the RV parking has been long enough for our 62'.  The only other time we have found long RV spots was at the Cracker Barrel in Missoula, MT a few years ago.  The time was about 3 pm Central Time, and the skies looked quite threatening, although we did not get any rain.

We went into the Cracker Barrel about 5:45 pm to have breakfast for dinner.....I had their Oltimer Breakfast (2 eggs, bacon, grits, biscuits and gravy).  Service is always quite fast, and true to form within about 8, or 9 minutes we had our food and were sipping coffee.  We talked about how idyllic the day had been, and our Jello plans for Sunday.....hopefully we will enter another state (Oklahoma), but no new time zones.

After returning to the coach I decided to spend the evening setting up our ROKU TV channels.  Many of the channels we watch are already included in the 'Home' menu, but we had to add about 6, or 7 more which takes a while.  By the end of the evening we were set, and as I write this latest missive I am watching British Premier Soccer on ROKU TV......no turning on the DirecTV DVR, or cranking up the satellite dish.....just turn on my Samsung hotspot, and turn on the TV and we are in business.....perfect for traveling.....quick and easy!

We watched Masterchef Junior before retiring the for evening at 10 pm, which is really 8 pm Pacific Time......my body is still adjusting.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

2nd to None.......

7:02 am - Saturday - April 21st - Edgewood, NM - 34º F, 76% humidity, wind 8 mph out of the west.....clear blue skies with a forecast high for today of 63º F, but we will not experience that as we will be far down the road by then.

Our Jello plan had been to remain in Grants, NM until Saturday morning, but as things would have it the wind was almost nonexistent when we got up Friday morning.  We debated about whether to move on eastward, or not.  When the winds came back they were much more moderate than the day before, and they were coming directly from the west, which meant we would have a following wind.  In addition to that my coolant temperatures had been running about 5-10 degrees higher than normal and I was convinced that my rear facing radiator needed cleaning.  I got on the phone and checked for some truck places in Albuquerque that offered radiator cleaning services and found one called '2nd to None Fleet Services'.  Yelp gives them 4 stars on 5 reviews, and we would have to agree. I made an appointment and within a few minutes we were back on the road being pushed eastward by the light winds.  

It was only 77 miles to Albuquerque and we were there a little after 11 am, and in their wash bay a few minutes later......


......while I supervised the cleaning of the radiator TLE spent time on her phone looking for a place to spend the night, and found a Walmart about 26 miles further down the road in a little town called Edgewood at about 6,700' elevation (the reason for the cold temps this morning).  John finished cleaning the radiator around 12:45, and we were back on the road to Edgewood shortly thereafter.


When you  are traveling east on I-40 out of Albuquerque you must climb from 5,400' elevation to over 7,100' before you slip down the grade into Edgewood.  This would be a good test to see how clean the radiator got, and she passed with flying colors.  Before the radiator cleaning the temps on climbs were hitting 208-210º.  After the cleaning they settled in at 198º, which is where they have traditionally been.

We arrived at the Walmart around 1:30 pm having covered just 108 miles for the day, found a spot to park out on the edge of the parking lot, and then went inside.  As we walked across the parking lot we would feel the winds picking up again, and were quite glad we were finished driving for the day.  We were both hungry and decided to get some food from their Deli.  We bought a pound of Orange Chicken for $5.50.  TLE noted they had a nail salon, and told me she wanted to get her toenails done so after escorting me back to the Newell where we ate lunch she headed back inside for a pedicure.  The Orange Chicken was delicious.....only $5.50 and it fed two easily.....great deal!

Once we get into the dry camping mode as we travel day after day I really almost prefer it to staying in RV parks.  When we stop in an RV park I have to go outside to plug in, and almost always connect the water.  That is just more stuff to put away in the morning, and folding up a cold water hose is no fun.   We like overnighting at Walmarts primarily because when we travel every day we tend to shop daily buying more fresh food to eat that day.

Time get get ready to roll our wheels once again ever eastward.  Today, Saturday, we should pass 1,000 miles traveled on our trip to Maine, and we should be in Texas by this afternoon.....thanks for stopping by!

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Friday, April 20, 2018

The southern winds......

8:05 am - Friday - April 20th - Grants, NM - 41º F, 29% humidity, wind 16 mph out of the southwest.....clear, blue, sunny skies with a forecast high of 54º F, which we will not experience as we are moving down the road in about an hour.

Because high winds were forecast for the section of the I-40 corridor we are traveling on Thursday around 11 am we decided to get an earlier than normal start to see if we could at least get to Grants, NM (186 miles away) before the winds got too bad.  The forecast winds would be coming out of the southwest, which would mean a cross wind, which makes most large RV's hard to handle.  I don't mind a head wind, or even a tail wind, but any kind of a side wind in the 25-35 mph  range can be exhausting, to say the least.

We exited the Walmart parking lot around 7:30 am and were on I-40 once again heading east.  As I mentioned yesterday Winslow sits at about 4,300' elevation.  Grants, NM, our destination for the day sits at 6,400' elevation, so I thought might have a gentle climb over 186 miles, however, we both forgot about the Continental Divide which was between us and our goal.....


.....which sits at 7,275' elevation, so it was to be like the day before when we had to climb up to Flagstaff in order to slide down to Winslow.  At first we cruised along with no wind, then for a while a tail wind, but then the Interstate turned southeast for quite a while just as the wind picked up, which meant we were taking the wind from the side, and that was the way it stayed for the last 70 miles of our trip Thursday.

We passed by the 'Welcome to New Mexico sign about 10 am, and then suddenly it was 11 am......Daylight Savings Time has struck again! 


We almost got off the Interstate in Gallup, but it was only another 64 miles to Grants so I put on my 'big boy pants' and continued eastward.  By the time we hit the outskirts of Grants, NM the wind was up into the 40 mph range, and it was definitely time to call it a day.  One thing first, though.  We needed to take on a bunch of diesel.  Our fuel gauge was reading under 1/4 tank.  We found a Petro Fuel Station just off the Interstate and pulled in to take on diesel.  I figured we would need around 135 gallons, and I was close.....we took on 137+ gallons at $2.89/gallon (ouch!) for a grand total of $400.  

While I was fueling the Newell the wind was buffeting me around like a rag doll.....yeah, really time to get off the road for the day.  We found a nice little RV park two miles down the road right off I-40 for $19/night, and they had a spot which fit us perfectly!


The winds continued unabated well into the night.  I woke up around 3 am to find they had finally abated so it looks like we can continue our journey eastward on Friday.  What wind there will be Friday will be coming from the west, or behind us.....perfect!
 

We were treated to a beautiful sunset around 8:20 pm......wow, the sun goes down pretty late here and it's only the middle of April!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Standin' on a corner in Winslow Arizona...."

6:16 am - Thursday - April 19th - Winslow, AZ - 34º F, 19% humidity, wind 8 mph out of the east by southeast......looks and feels CALM.  Forecast high today in Winslow is 76º F, which, once again, we will not experience as we will be far down the road by that time.  Heading into New Mexico today!

It would have been nice to cross Arizona in parts of two days, but we just didn't want to drive any further than 200 miles so we set out sights on Winslow, AZ.  We were here briefly about 9 years ago, but had never spent the night, or walked around town to any extent.  I turned on the big Kohler genset around 9 am in order to turn on the 'block heater' so we could turn the big Detroit Diesel over.  When it gets below 50 degrees it will not start without being warmed up a tad.....kind of like myself.  Within 30 minutes I tried the ignition and she fired right up.  We were merging back on to I-40 within 10 minutes heading eastbound and down.

Winslow sits at about 3,300' elevation, and Flagstaff sits at over 7,000' elevation so we knew we would be gaining almost 4,000' in elevation in our first couple of hours of driving.  By the time we reached Williams we were at 6,800' and had been driving for over an hour so we got off the Interstate and found a place to park for about 30 minutes while we took a walk around the downtown area.....




It is a little over 1/2 mile from one end of the Williams downtown to the other, and it is quite the colorful place.....totally touristy in every regard.  Thankfully it is still early in the season, and it was not too crowded.  The temperature was in the mid 50's, and it was quite refreshing.  By the time we returned to the Newell we had covered 1.3 miles.  Time to move along!

We finally topped out on the long grade up to Flagstaff about 12:15....altitude 7,325'.....now we had about a 60 mile downhill run to Winslow which sits at roughly 4,800' elevation.  It was nice to just set the cruise control and hang on to the steering wheel.  The landscape quickly changed from heavily forested to high desert in just a few miles.

Like California most of the Rest Areas between Kingman and Winslow were closed.  The only one open was less than 20 miles outside of Winslow, so why stop, right?  The drive to Winslow was totally uneventful....just like we like it!  On this day we opted to park at the local Walmart Supercenter just north of the Interstate arriving there just after 1:30 pm.  There is an Elks Lodge in Winslow, which offers electrical hookups for $10/night (two 30 amp plugs, one 50 amp plug, and one 20 amp plug), but it is about 1.5 blocks from the busy railroad tracks......


.....the local BPOE # 536 Lodge is about one mile south of the Walmart, and a we passed it as we walked the 1.5 miles to the "Standin' on a corner" park in downtown Winslow.  It took us exactly 30 minutes to cover the 1.5 miles.....the skies were clear, and the sun kept us warm in spite of the mid 60's temperatures at the time.  There are quite a few wall murals all over town.....





.....at last we arrived at the corner made famous by the 'Eagles' many years ago.  Winslow has, obviously, made the most of this musical notoriety by turning this corner into a tourist attraction which is visited by literally 100's of thousands each year.  The corner was busy for the entire hour we were in the area.






From there we decided to walk over to the famous La Posada Hotel.....one of the famous Harvey Hotels, which are all located along the railroad lines.  This was the last of the great Harvey Hotels completed in 1930, and designed by, of course, Mary Coulter.....it is reputed to be "fanciest of the Harvey Hotels along Route 66".








We spent time walking through the hotel taking in the ambiance and wondering what it would have been like to stay there back in the 30's.  We almost stopped off in the bar to grab a beer, but we still had almost a two mile walk home and it was going on 4 pm, so with TLE's encouragement we turned away and began our walk back to the Newell.  I spied this very cool Studebaker Golden Hawk in the parking lot as we exited the hotel......these cars were produced between 1956 and 1958.



We were back at the Newell by 4:45 pm at which time I decided it was time to get up on the roof and clean the solar panels for the first time since late October when we were boondocking at Lone Rock.  Since we'll be dry camping most of the time as we head eastward they should be clean to provide maximum charge.

And that was pretty much our Wednesday.  Being able to explore places we overnight at is one of the things I love about moving across this country.  If you just get out and walk it is amazing what you will see!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Eastward Ho!

7:13 am - Wednesday - April 18th - Kingman, AZ - 48º F, 16% humidity, wind 5 mph out of the north by northeast.....clear blue, sunny skies with a forecast high for today of 73º F, which we will not see as we will be rolling our wheels ever eastward within two hours.

The new Garmin Trucker GPS ready to guide us on our 3,200 mile adventure to Maine

At last the day has arrived when we begin our long anticipated road trip to Maine.  We have given ourselves almost one month to reach Maine by May 15th so we won't have to pound out 300 miles a day, which is not our style.  No, we like to travel 150-200 miles, as a rule, per day at the most.  So, you might wonder what our modest goal was for Wednesday......280 miles to Kingman, AZ.....about 80 miles too far for one day, but we really, really wanted to spend our first night on the road in a different state.

We began finalizing our departure around 8:30 am, and by 9:50 am we were rolling our wheels north on Cedar Ave to CA-210, the first freeway of the day.  I looked over at TLE and said, as I oft do, 'nice to be moving again' to which she replied, as she often does, 'Yeah...good to be moving'.

We drove east on CA-210 for about 5 miles where we transitioned to I-215 north for about 10 miles, then merged on to I-15, which would take us to Barstow, CA where we would eventually pick up I-40 eastbound.  Barstow is the western terminus of I-40, which roughly parallels the old mother road......Route 66.

As we crested Cajon pass at roughly 4,100' elevation the air was clear, and the skies were sunny.  A perfect cruising day.......


.......regrettably, California has seen fit to close about 50% of their Rest Areas, so the opportunities to exit and enter the Interstate quickly are few and far in between.  We didn't take our first rest stop until we had covered some 105 miles.....usually we stop every 70 miles to take a break, stretch our legs and use the bathroom.  There was supposed to be another Rest Area about 65 miles further, but as we approached that one we saw the big yellow sign saying it was CLOSED.

We grumbled something derogatory about California, and continued on another 35 miles to Needles, CA (just before the Arizona border) where we exited to take a quick break.  There is a Carl's Jr. just across from the exit where we have taken breaks on prior trips, and it is almost as handy as a Rest Area.  I went to the bathroom, and then outside to check the temperature of all 10 tires to be sure there were no unseen problems developing, but all was well in tire land.

So, at this point we had covered just over 200 miles, and I was ready to stop for the day, but we really, really wanted to be shut of California on our first day on the road so we continued on to our original goal of Kingman, AZ where we planned to dry camp in the parking lot of the local Cracker Barrel restaurant, where we have done so previously

From the Colorado River it is a steady 70 mile uphill slog to Kingman.  The elevation at the Colorado was about 1,200', and Kingman sits at 3,333', so 2,100' elevation gain over 70 miles is not bad, but it essentially meant we were in 4th gear most of the time grinding along at about 55 miles an hour......



.....just past Needles, CA we crossed the Colorado River and entered the great State of Arizona where there is no Daylight Savings Time, so there was no time change.....we won't have to adjust our clocks until we hit New Mexico!

We reached the Cracker Barrel in Kingman just about 3:30 pm, found a spot to park behind the restaurant at which time I shut down the big Detroit Diesel 6V92, leveled the coach, and then sagged into my recliner to take a much deserved nap!  When ever we stay at a Cracker Barrel overnight we always eat one meal in the restaurant.  Usually it is breakfast, but we decided to have breakfast for dinner on this day.  Around 5 pm we walked into the restaurant, which was still not too busy, and were quickly seated at a window table.  We love to eat a Cracker Barrels because they are RV friendly, and the food is very consistent.

After a lovely dinner we took a walk over to the local Walmart to pick up some bandaids......my recent bicycle crash has depleted our supply of large bandaids which we have been utilizing to cover my injured elbow while it heals.  In all I think we walked about 1/2 mile before the early evening chill chased us back inside the Newell for the night.

Time to get ready to rolls our wheels......thanks for stopping by!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

'Pack it up!"

7:18 am - Tuesday - April 17th - SoCal - 45º F, 68% humidity, wind 1 mph out of the east.....clear blue skies with a forecast high of 73º F.  A great day for liftoff! 

Monday was 'pack it up day' here at the Fontana/Rialto Elks Lodge #2013.  It is time to pull anchor and begin our meandering journey to Maine for the summer.  There is always a sense of excitement and anticipation permeating everything on 'pack it up' day.  There is a little extra bounce in our steps......random giggles interspersed throughout our conversations.  Changing our view is what we do well....after all....we are nomads at heart.

I began my day by checking the air pressure of all 10 tires on the Newell and trailer, then airing up the Newell air system prior to turning over the big Detroit Diesel 6V92 later in the day.  We also stowed the patio awning as the wind was freshening, plus it needed to be done anyway.  Final thing on the morning list was to dump our black tank for the final time here at the Elks Lodge using our handy, dandy Shurflo macerator pump.  

Once that final morning chore was complete we both got dressed to go take a hike up our favorite local mountain by the name of Rubidoux.  When we were living in Riverside at Rancho Jurupa Regional Park we walked and biked to the top of Mt. Rubidoux many times, and return to hike it at least once every time we are back in the area......

 About 1.25 miles into the climb.....starting to see downtown Riverside in the distance as we gain elevation


......of course we picked a perfect day for the hike as the skies were crystal clear for a change.  We reached the summit two miles later and began the downhill run back to our VW....

 At the top!  You can see the large iconic cross in the backgroun

 That is Rancho Jurupa Regional Park in the center of the picture where we lived from February 1, 2011 to February 1, 2012 prior to launching our nomadic journey

.....of course no trip to Riverside is complete without our annual visit to the Salted Pig for a couple of brews and lunch......


.....we arrived at the Salted Pig shortly after 1 pm to find the lunch crowd had largely dissipated, finding a quiet table in the corner.  This little gastropub has great rotating draft beer selections and wonderful pub food to match.  We have never been disappointed.  This day we ordered two Stone Strawberry Chocolate Imperial Stouts in 10 oz glasses (pretty high ABV).  We ordered their Flat Griddle Burger to share which comes with either a salad, or fries.....TLE got the salad with her half of the burger, and I got the fries with my half.  Just the perfect amount of food for our lunch.

Before we headed for home we had two more stops to make.  The first was the local USPS to mail our tax returns (a day early I might add), and then the Goodwill to make some final donations before we weigh anchor Tuesday.

We were home by 4 pm at which time we both quickly changed to finish our departure chores.  First I fired up the 6V92 so we could back the Newell up and drop the trailer on its hitch.  That accomplished I busied myself in the trailer stowing everything away in preparation for Beetle insertion Tuesday morning.  That took me right up to 5 pm......I was tired, and my ribs hurt a little, but overall I felt just fine!  TLE poured me a Margarita for my happy hour cocktail and I settled into my recliner to rest for about an hour.

So, 'pack it up' day is now complete, and all that remains is to drag our turf into the trailer, insert the VW, then begin our one month journey to Maine!

Thanks for stopping by!


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