Sunday, April 13, 2014

Quick Catch-up Summary

We're currently sitting in site #46 at Destin Army Recreation Area, in Destin, Florida.  We got here on Friday, and have enjoyed seeing friends Tim and Terri who live nearby. Tim used to work for Don 32 years ago at Rhein-Main.  They played football together on the base team.

Here's what's happened since we left Vado: 

Wednesday, March 26  We thought we'd have to stay in Vado another day as wind were forecast, but when we saw that there were no winds in the morning, we quickly packed up and made our escape. The winds started up east of El Paso, but for most of the day they were behind us, working FOR us instead of against us. We stopped for the night at a very nice campground called Fort Stockton RV Park, just east of Fort Stockton.

Thursday, March 27 - Friday April 4  We stayed at Rio Raft and Resort on the Guadalupe River in Sattler, near Canyon Lake. My brother Chuck and his wife decided to come in their 5th wheel, and camped about 5 miles away in the military campground on Canyon Lake. We spent lots of time with them - a cookout, dinner in New Braunfels, shopping, and another dinner in Canyon Lake. It was nice to reconnect. Don fished the Guadalupe River as much as he could; it was just about the end of fishing season there. Our last night we had pizza with Bill, who was in band with me back in 1974 in Lubbock at Coronado High School.

Saturday, April 5  A breezy (no, windy) trip across Texas ended, and we stopped for the night at a nice campground in Vinton, Louisiana. We witnessed a car pull of the interstate, catch fire and burn completely down to almost nothing - the driver got out before he could be hurt.

Monday, April 6 - Thursday, April 10 Keesler Air Force Base FamCamp in Biloxi, Mississippi.  That's a pretty nice campground for military only, and the attendant was extremely friendly and helpful. I was able to see a friend from Kaiserslautern American High School, from when I was in 9th and 10th grade. Lisa was a cheerleader with me, and she lives in Gautier, Mississippi. I stopped by to see her on Tuesday, and then Don and I had dinner at their house Wednesday night. Don got to do a lot of surf fishing, though he really didn't have much luck. We enjoyed a couple of local restaurants, trying out the fresh seafood.

Friday, April 11 - Sunday, April 13  Destin, Florida. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rockin' and Rollin' in Vado, New Mexico

On day 3 of our trip to the East Coast, we're stuck for two days in a little town south of Las Cruces/north of El Paso, called Vado. We spent last night in a campground in back of the Coachlight Inn in Las Cruces, and when we got on the interstate the winds were really strong. We made it 20 miles - Don was worried about being blown off the road. We stopped at a truck stop in Vado, and after I checked the weather report, which showed the winds not subsiding, we decided to call it a day.

Let me back up and describe the trip so far.  If you're not a friend of mine on Facebook, then you don't know that we're going to numerous places for various reasons - reunion, fishing, family, and friends.  Don went to Augsburg American High School in Germany, and they're having a 60's grads reunion April 27-30 in Savannah, Georgia. We decided to go to the reunion, and built a trip around it. We originally planned to be in Balmorhea, Texas, tonight - for 3 nights - but this wind has made us cancel that stop. (We were going to go to Fort Davis and the McDonald Observatory - now we can't.) 

We have reservations beginning Friday at a campground on the Guadalupe River in Canyon Lake, Texas, for a week. Don will be fly fishing the river and I'll do some sewing. From Canyon Lake we'll head across Texas to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida, stopping to see some friends and family. Don's father and brothers live in Orlando, so we'll visit them for a week. From there we'll go to the reunion, and then go to North Carolina to see my sisters, nieces, and a nephew. When we leave North Carolina, we'll stop to see a friend in Tennessee and an aunt in Oklahoma.

But for now we're stuck. And the weather report calls for much more wind tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Christmas in New Mexico

We stayed in New Mexico from December 22 until December 29. We camped at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, which is 8 miles south of Alamogordo. We visited Kenny and Robin on Christmas Eve, and Kenny took us out to the flight line where the base was having a community day. This is where the public and family members can come look at some of the aircraft flown by the units at Holloman. Then on Christmas Day, we were invited to spend the day with Kenny and Robin. 

Looking east across the Tularosa Basin from our campsite

Site #2.  Oliver Lee Memorial State Park. Those are the Sacramento Mountains.

One of the drones flown by Holloman AFB.

Kenny and Don looking at an F-22


Another drone - this one's the largest

Kenny's view from work - Sierra Blanca (I used to ski this mountain a lot during college)

My two favorite men

Sierra Blanca

Don got a 6-pack of exotic beer from Kenny and Robin

They gave me a beautiful bottle of German Riesling

Robin and Kenny

This is the wonderful spread Robin did for lunch - she's Italian, so this is all yummy Italian stuff:  caponata, prosciutto, black olives, artichokes, Italian bread, ham, turkey, Romano cheese. We thoroughly enjoyed it.  For dinner, she and Kenny cooked chicken Parmesan and pasta Alfredo from scratch.  It was pretty nice not to have to cook!  I'm very proud that they both cook - too many young people don't. 

Last Days in Arizona

Our second day in Willcox was rainy - so we decided to go visit the Amerind Museum (which includes a research center, library, and art gallery) in nearby Texas Canyon. One of the first things we learned was why Texas Canyon is called by that name:  it was settled by a family from Texas.

I would love to be able to show a bunch of photographs from the museum, but they're not allowed for various reasons.  So my pictures are from outside.

After paying our entrance fee of $15 (8 for me, 7 for Don) we were told to visit the art gallery first. I was ambivalent about that, but once I was looking at the artwork, I was really glad I was there. Most of the artwork had a southwestern or Native American theme, and up on the second floor was a temporary exhibit of quilts.  Quilts!  These were some of the quilts from the Arizona Centennial Quilt Project.  They were all stunning.

The art gallery

The main museum building

Looking north

Looking northeast

Museum building
We spent about 3 hours in the museum - longer than I've ever spent in a museum. In addition to looking at Native Americans in Arizona - the Navajo, Hopi, Apache and the Tonto O'odham, the museum exhibitions "tell the story of America's first peoples from Alaska to South America and from the last Ice Age to the present." There were exhibits related to archeology, history, culture, and more. We even watched a movie about Geronimo and the numerous times he and his people were betrayed by the U. S. Government. 

I strongly recommend a visit to this museum if you're ever in Willcox or Benson.  For more detailed information, visit their website :  Amerind Museum

Friday, December 20, 2013

December 19 - Willcox & Chiricahua National Monument

We moved today - about 50 miles to the northeast to the town of Willcox.  We're in a small RV park called Fort Willcox, far enough from the 10 to not hear the trucks and far enough from the tracks to not be bothered by the passing trains.

We were watching the weather forecast - our plans had been to go to Chiricahua National Monument on Friday - but with a major storm coming in, we decided to go after we set the trailer up. But first, lunch.  We'd gotten a recommendation in Bisbee to make sure we ate at the rail car.  Big Tex BBQ is built around a real railroad car, and we both had the barbecue brisket sandwich.  It was huge!  And good.

We then drove southeast to Chiricahua National Monument - a place that's always been on our bucket list. We stopped at the Visitor Center, where we saw a little film and the exhibits. We learned that the formations were created from volcanic ash.  A huge volcano had erupted, and the ash was compressed into rock over the eons. Then fissures and cracks formed, and water eroded the rocks, leaving the hoodoo-like formations.

Next, we drove the 8-mile drive up to Massai Point, where we walked a short nature trail.  We didn't stay out long - it was really windy, and I didn't have earmuffs or a hat, and my ears started aching horribly. So we took lots of pictures at the top and on the way back down. 

Sugarloaf Mountain - looks a lot like the Sugarloaf on the 38 going to Big Bear

Cochise Head - looks just like him!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

December 18 - Coronado National Memorial & Fort Huachuca

We visited two places today that were relevant to significant parts of the history of the United States, especially the Southwest.   First up was the Coronado National Memorial, south of Sierra Vista and really close to the Mexican border.

Those of you who know me well know that I attended two high schools - the first was in Germany, and then the one from which I graduated - Coronado High School in Lubbock, Texas.  Our school was named for the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, who led an expedition through the Southwest in search of the Seven Cities of Gold. He never found them, and was apparently misled by the Indians to look out on the Great Plains. He got as far as Kansas, and either on the way there or on the way back, he passed through the Llano Estacado, or the "staked plains" of western Texas and eastern New Mexico.  I remember seeing a few roadside historical markers about the expedition passing through that area.

 We're just outside the memorial here, and we'll end up at the top of that canyon in the left center.

First, we stopped at the Visitor Center, where we watched a short film about the expedition, viewed the exhibits, and had a short talk with the ranger on duty. We found out that the National Park Service creates Parks and Monuments named after people and places, and Memorials are named for events. I learned that the expedition really didn't come to this canyon, but did go north up the nearby San Pedro River corridor. I asked her, "Why here?" since I wondered how the memorial ended up in this canyon. The answer had to do with the woman responsible for the eventual creation of the memorial, and her donation of the land for it.

Next, we drove west up the canyon - one mile on a paved road, and then two steep and winding miles on an unpaved road - to the top of Montezuma Pass (6575').  From there, you can look south and southeast into Mexico, along with the clearly defined border fence built a few years ago.

View southwest into Mexico

Looking southeast towards Mexico. The straight dark line is the border fence.

View back east down Montezuma Canyon

From Montezuma Pass there are several hiking opportunities.  If we were through-hikers on the Arizona Trail, which runs from just below here on the Mexican Border all the way up to Utah - we could head north up into the Huachuca Mountains. If we had a way to get back to our truck up here, we could take Joe's Trail 3 miles across a ridge and back down to the Visitor Center. If you're interested instead in a short hike, you can do what we did - climb to the top of nearby Coronado Peak (6864').  It was just 300' of elevation gain in about half a mile - not that hard (but I did get nicely winded). 
Heading up the trail

Looking west towards southern Arizona

The cholla was blooming

Looking south from the top into Mexico

At the top

At the top

At the top

Don decided to head down the Yuma Trail a little - this is the southernmost portion of the Arizona Trail, and ends up at the Mexican border less than a mile away.

Border Patrol agent parked along the fence

After a couple drinks of water, we headed back down the canyon and drove north to Fort Huachuca. Today, Fort Huachuca is a fairly big Army base, complete with several housing areas, a commissary and PX, and all the amenities of today's military bases. But this one has a history that began in the late 1800's as the American government waged its "Indian Wars" and worked to expand westward. The westernmost portion of the base is the original post - with the original parade ground, officer's quarters, enlisted quarters, and other buildings. We started at the main building of the museum which lies adjacent to the sloping parade grounds.  We learned about the two regiments of Buffalo Soldiers who served at Ft. Huachuca, along with numerous other soldiers who achieved fame - Pershing, Patch, and La Guardia, to name a few.

Museum main building

Yes, this picture is straight. It's the parade grounds that are sloping from left to right.

Part of a display about family life at the old Fort

The original officers' quarters are still being used. This one is directly across from the museum

Statue commemorating the Apache scouts

Next door to the museum is the Annex, housed in what used to be a theater. There are more exhibits about the Fort - some are set up as life-sized soldiers, horses, and wagons.

Walking around a museum always hurts my back (from all the standing) so we left and went back to our campsite.  There we enjoyed another mild evening and gorgeous sunset.