Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wind and More Wind

The ferocious wind has been keeping us inside! At times, we can barely see across the valley due to dust storms. We're sure glad that we don't have to be out on the freeway in this mess. Several people have told us that this is normal for spring in New Mexico. Guess it's time to move on and revisit later in the year.

The wind calmed a little this afternoon, so we drove back to Cookes Peak to look for carnelian. Instead of climbing the hills, we stayed on the flat valley area and the weather was quite pleasant. We both picked up more stones and will have to check with the rock shop to see if we found carnelian or just more pretty rocks. Either way, we like the ones we have gathered.

We are pretty content just staying home. I've been reading like a fiend. The library at the clubhouse is terrific with several books that have been on my list. And I am ready to get back to my genealogy research too. Doug is happy to play his Wii game (The Godfather) and sort through rocks. It's rare that we feel bored or antsy.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tumbling Cookes Peak

Armed with a map of the area, we took a drive north of Deming to an area called Cookes Peak. There's lots of ranching country here and we saw our fair share of cows. We drove about 15 miles into the back country to the foothills and then parked near an earthen dam.

We started climbing the rocky outcrops on the hills and picking up rocks. Doug picked up tons of rose quartz and other good stuff. I was looking for carnelian. Unfortunately, I don't really know what it looks like so I just picked up stones that looked nice. I later found out that I was looking in the wrong place for carnelian. It isn't usually found on the hills, but down on the flat areas. Ooops.

One of the things that interested us in this area was the petroglyphs. Several people had told us that they were well worth the hike. It took a while to find them but after wandering the hills in the pounding wind, we finally did.

Some of the drawings had an authentic look to them........

And some were a little hard to believe. I guess it doesn't make any difference. We enjoyed them all and took lots of photos.

By mid afternoon, the wind was so strong we had to get off the hills. We gathered our treasures and headed back towards town.

Now that we have so many (emphasis on many) nice stones, Doug decided we needed a tumbler to make them nicer. So, off we went to Red Roof Rockshop. The manger/owners are truly nice people who have spent a lot of time identifying rocks for us and explaining rockhounding. They were happy to sell us a double rock tumbler and all of the stuff necessary for producing beautiful stones.

Doug had the best time setting it up and glancing at the instructions. Then he was off to sort stones and get ready to rummmmmmble. (I mean tumble.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Deming Do-Over

Yay, moving day again! After about a week in one place, we are more than ready to move on. We were debating whether to head north to Silver City or east into Texas. We have some friends in Donna, TX that we were hoping to see before they begin their journey winding their way home to Kansas.

And then it happened.........Doug found a rock store. They gave him directions to Cooke's Peak where the best carnelian and petroglyphs can be found. Hmmmmm. Little change in plans. We still packed up and moved. (We weren't all that thrilled with the Little Vineyard RV Park.)

About a mile east of Deming is the Dream Catcher RV Park. It's an Escapees park, which you might not recognize unless you are an rver. It is a membership club that has quite a few of it's own parks and provides discounts in many, many more independent parks. The weekly rate is so good that we are here for another week. As you can see, the park is wide open and there is tons of space.

The campground hosts are incredibly friendly and nice. We put our awning out as soon as we were settled and before we could blink, two people in the park came over to advise us that this is the windy season in New Mexico and it wasn't a good idea to use the awning. As the day wore on, the wind never abated. Fortunately, the weather has turned very warm and even the wind feels good. For the first time since we left Washington, we have turned the air conditioning on for a few hours. Maybe spring has sprung!

After spending the afternoon on a couple of errands, we settled in for the evening until a glimpse of red drew us outside.

A few clouds had rolled in, setting the scene for a spectacular sunset. It has been a while since we have had one this beautiful. We are so spoiled.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Yay Redbox

We spent another quiet day around the ole homestead. And then I made a discovery that I had to share with you. It's called Redbox.

Maybe you already know about it, if not, it's a vending machine that rents DVDs. Big say? Well, first, the rentals are only $1. Which is a really good bargain. But, anyone that knows me, knows that I like even better bargains. So, I found on the internet that on Mondays, Redbox gives a promo code that makes one DVD free! Of course, I had to try it out.

After checking for locations on the Redbox website, we made a quick trip to the local Walmart. Right inside the entrance, in the foyer, is the vending machine. Armed with my promo code, I used the touch screen to request the movie Mama Mia. I swiped my debit card and entered my email address and bingo! The dvd appeared in the slot!

When we got back to the coach, there was a confirmation email about the dvd rental (can you call it a rental when it's free?) and a reminder to return it by 9pm the following evening. Too coooooool! We have walked past these machines a thousand times and never even thought about them. They are everywhere. Now we'll be catching all of the new movies. (Monday only)

So, that was our excitement for the day. In the future, I will try and post the Redbox code on Monday mornings so you can all take advantage of a great deal too.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I've Got Plenty of Nothin' and Nothin's Plenty For Me

We just spent two whole days doing nothing. The weather was nice and there was no reason to do nothing. We just did it.

A few of the mundane tasks were accomplished like laundry and some cleaning. We did break down and buy a new coffee maker. The old one had a crack in the thermal carafe. And lately, it would quit brewing about half way through, so we would have to cycle it twice. We were beginning to get a little nervous about the safety of the machine and decided to bite the bullet. The thermal carafes are a really nice touch. Doug drinks coffee all day and it's nice to have it hot. After a lot of research, we found the Hamilton Beach on sale at Kmart and I found a $5 coupon online. A quick trip to the local Big K produced the desired result. Hot coffee!

That was the extent of our adventures. We watched the Nascar race, read books, played on the computers and Doug has his favorite game on the Wii. It's the Godfather. Lots of violence......yuck.

A nice weekend to enjoy the blue sky and warm weather right from the comforts of home.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rockhound State Park

Doug is still collecting rocks. And today, I helped him. We found one of New Mexico's neatest state parks, Rockhound State Park. It is probably the only state park that allows you to pick up treasures and take them home. They do limit it to 15 pounds but trust me, when you are carrying 15 pounds of rocks down the steep mountainside, you are glad that it's only 15 pounds.

We arrived in the early afternoon and paid our $5 day use fee. The visitor center was closed so we just drove in and parked in the day use lot. We grabbed our bags and headed out onto the Jasper Trail.

Very quickly, we wandered off the trail into gullies and up the slopes. There were interesting rocks everywhere! Since we didn't really know what we were supposed to be looking for, we just picked up anything that caught our fancy. I guess Doug's fancy was caught more than mine, because after two hours in the hot sun, he was carrying the full 15 pounds and I had a mere 5 pounds.

We decided to call it a day when the tarantula wasps (ugly looking, huge golden wasps) wanted a ride in the car. They were evicted and we drove to the other side of the park where the campground is located. Oh my gosh! What a fantastic campground. It sits on the hillside overlooking the valley and every site is huge with it's own covered patio and picnic table. They include water and electricity for just $14 a night. But, most of the sites are first come first serve, so the chances of getting in are not great.

It's so beautiful, we would love to spend a few nights there. We just haven't decided yet. We stopped at the visitor center on our way out of the park and it was open. The volunteer was delighted to tell us all about the park and what we should have been looking for. Thunder eggs, geodes, agates and several other stones are on our list for the next visit.

Doug recycled some cans on the way home to our crockpot that was full of chicken and rice. Nice dinner, nice day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Little Vineyard RV

We relaxed at home today other than a quick trip to Walmart. Although, that was exciting in it's own way. We found milk for $1.50 a gallon. It never goes that low anymore!

Anyway, I thought I would just show you some pictures of where we are staying. Deming isn't quite the city I was expecting. For some reason, I was picturing a good size city that was modern and up to date. To my surprise, it's just a dusty little town. Many of the businesses are closed and dilapidated. And the many rv parks are tired as well.

Someone at the last park recommended Little Vineyard RV and the price wasn't too bad, so we gave it a shot.

The office and the activity center are nice. And the manager seemed friendly enough.

As I mentioned yesterday, the park is just a huge gravel parking lot. No trees, bushes or anything green. Where are the vineyards???? But, we have a picnic table and the roads are wide and that makes it easy to maneuver the coach. For those of you who have complained that there are rarely pictures of me........that's my shadow!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Moving day again! We always look forward to moving on to new adventures and today, we added a new state to our map. We are in New Mexico.....Land of Enchantment.

Our day started with a gorgeous sunrise and I knew it was going to be a good day. We were on the road a few minutes after ten. Being the middle of the week, I-10 wasn't busy so we had time for lots of scenery gazing.

The scenery got real interesting when the first Nascar semi passed us in the opposite direction. The race this weekend is at Fontana in Los Angeles and all of the race cars and equipment are headed that direction. We grabbed our cameras and snapped shots as the carriers shot past us. (The pictures aren't great since they were doing 75 miles per hour and we were doing 70.)

We managed to get photos of about 20 of them, including my favorite, Kasey Kahne. It sure made for an entertaining trip! Before we knew it, we had crossed the Continental Divide and were in Lordsburg, New Mexico.

Of course, we stopped at the visitor center and collected an armload of brochures about southwest N.M. There is so much to see and Doug has a couple of places marked to look for fire agates and other stones.

We ended up in Deming a little before 2pm at the Little Vineyard RV Park. It's pretty much just a large, gravel parking lot but it will do while we are running around sightseeing. (And gathering more There is plenty to see so we will probably be here a week.

Cochise Stronghold

The storm from the coast finally made it to us. Thankfully, it had just about worn itself out. We had no rain, but heavy winds and lots of dark, threatening clouds. By noon, the skies were clearing and we got our heavy coats and drove into the canyon of the Cochise Stronghold.

The Apache Indians, led by Cochise, used these rugged mountains like a fort during the early 1800's. It was home, sanctuary and protection for the indians. In fact, Cochise was born here and after a blunder by the U.S. Army, conducted many attacks on the white men from these hills. After his capture in 1871, Cochise was transfered to a reservation where he died a few years later. His body was returned to his stronghold and is believed to be buried here somewhere.

We drove the winding, narrow, dusty dirt road up into the rocks where a campground has been provided by the Coronado National Forest. From there, we walked the Nature Trail for about half a mile.

There were lots of small signs with information about the different plants in the area and how they were used by the native indians. We were the only ones on the trail and it was easy to imagine silently walking the paths in mocassins while searching for food and shelter.

There were longer hikes available too. But neither of us felt like a six or ten mile hike this late in the afternoon. So, we simply admired the fabulous scenery and absorbed some history. Just think of how much more we would have learned as children in school if we had been able to follow the physical footsteps of our ancestors.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Geocaching Willcox

We were expecting an overcast, cloudy, gray day today. So, we decided to find some geocaches in the area. That way, if or when the rain started, we could head home without interrupting something like hikes in Chiricahua.

Our first stop was in downtown Willcox. This old railcar is across the street from the historic train stop. It's just down the street from the Rex Allen Museum. (For those of you old enough to remember Rex Allen)

It only took Doug about one minute to find the cache tucked up under the back side of the car. It was a tupperware type container with a few little goodies inside.

After that easy find, we drove to the other side of the freeway, where we found Stout's Cider Mill. Next to the store, was an empty lot with a display of a mine entrance and a couple of coal cars.

And, that's where Doug found the next cache. In fact, he tripped over it before he found it. The cache was a fake rock that blended in with the rest of the scenery perfectly. We signed the log book and tucked this back with the other rocks for the next geocacher.

Of course, we had to check out the cider mill. When we entered, a sweet, older lady poured us samples of the cider. Good stuff.....but, we aren't really cider drinkers. While wandering around the store, we discovered a bakery in the back. They bake world class apple pies using three pounds of apples per pie. When the crust goes on top, it looks like a volcano. I have never seen pies this tall! Of course they have lots of other items for sale too.

Also next door to the cache is a visitor center. We stopped in briefly and then continued on our way to the next cache.

We went from cider to wine! Unfortunately, the winery was closed today. Doug searched for the cache while the gps signal was bouncing all over the place. He was having trouble nailing down the coordinates so I walked over to the information container hanging by the front door.

Guess what I found inside! The cache! This geocache was just a log book. I signed it, returned it to the inside of the info box and we were off again without sampling any wine. Bummer.

Our next stop was the Willcox Playa Wildlife Area. The Willcox area is known for it's population of sand cranes. These beautiful birds travel from as far as northern Canada to feast on the grain fields that are so prevalent in this area. We saw several flocks flying overhead, but there were none at the viewing pond.

We did find the cache though. And inside was a gold dollar! We pocketed the cash and signed the log book. That was a fun one! We did leave a watch in place of the coin.

As you can tell from the blue sky in all of the pictures, we never got the predicted rain. So, we continued to our fifth geocache. This was in another wildlife viewing area that was provided by the Arizona Electric Power Plant. It's a nice picnic area with a raised viewing platform that includes high powered binoculars for watching the birds in the fields as well as the nearby lake. I took a picture, but the birds are so far away they look like little white spots. The cache was in an Altoid tin attached magnetically inside one of the metal hand railings of the viewing platform.

Our final cache for the day was near the small town of Cochise. Being an ex postal worker, I had to get a photo of this sign out by the highway. It's for the Cochise Post Office established in 1886.

The geocache itself was right out on the highway. In fact, attached to the highway sign! I stayed safe and sound on the side road while Doug dodged the traffic and found the tiny metallic box stuck to the back of the tall part of the sign.

After signing the log book and returning the geocache, we turned the car towards home.

We found this sign that gave us both a chuckle and thought we would share it with you. We never saw the earth fissure, but we drove carefully anyway!

One of the things we love about geocaching is finding places that never show up on brochures in the visitor centers. There are so many out of the way parks and historic sites that keep life interesting.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Willcox, Arizona

We got a semi-early start this morning. Well, ten o'clockish. First, we stopped at Gas City for our propane then headed east on I-10. The drive went fine although the weather was gray and cool.

We arrived at the Fort Willcox RV Park about 11:45 and found an older park. It doesn't have the "it" factor for us but it's convenient to some of the sightseeing that we want to do. Doug hurried to get the satellite tv dish set up so we could watch the nascar race. Since Arizona doesn't use daylight savings, all of the tv shows are an hour earlier than our clock. Throws me off every time! So, we had an hour to kill until the start of the race.

The park is nearly empty except for a few park models and some older rvs that are extended stay vehicles. The park appears to be under new ownership so maybe there will be some improvements.

The rec hall is worn and tired just like the town of Willcox itself. It was sad to see that about half of the buildings were shuttered and dead. Out near the freeway are the usual dozen fast food joints, gas stations and a Safeway.

We are parked next to the propane tank and the dumpsters. But, we have 50 amp power and excellent phone and internet service. I guess not every park can be a resort. The owners are nice and it's a Passport America park, meaning the price is 50% off for us so we're not complaining.

Besides, we have some really nice neighbors. Everywhere we look are birds and bunnies.

And maybe we will get some nice sunrises out the front window. We do have a nice view of the Chiricahua mountains. (I think)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day

Even though we aren't big supporters of this made-up, commercialized, non-official holiday, we wish all of you love, happiness and a day as sweet as chocolate.

We have pretty much spent the day visiting with neighbors, doing laundry and getting ready to move tomorrow. It will be early when we leave the park (for us) because we need to stop and get propane. That involves a little backtracking to the last exit in order to save $1.80 per gallon! Yup, that's right. I called the Travel America truck stop near Willcox and propane is $3.89 per gallon! So, I checked with the Gas City truck stop back one exit from where we are staying and it's only $2.09 a gallon. We have a 40 gallon tank that is very low and I figure we will save $50 by going back to Gas City.

The other reason we need to get an early start is the Daytona 500 starts around noon and we want to be settled into our new site with the tv satellite hooked up and ready in time for the race. Can't miss Kasey Kahne's first win. (I hope)

Happy V Day!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Chuckles and Chiricahua

We will be moving again on Sunday and thought we would take a ride to scope out a boondocking place that I had found on the internet. There's a great website called Free Campgrounds and we have had success with it in the past. We knew that we wanted to spend some time at Chiricahua National Monument and there were some places in the Coronado Forest that sounded perfect.

Driving east on I-10 and then south on 186 led us to the entrance of Chiricahua. Just before entering the park, we took a right, up a gravel and dirt road. For the first couple of miles, it wasn't too bad. There were a couple washboard areas and a few potholes.

Then we noticed that we were climbing. And soon, the road became narrow and there were patches of snow along the edge.

Just before we came to the Coronado National Forest, we found this sign.

When you look closer, you see this sign. Africanized bees were not on our list of boondocking attractions. This brought a smile to our faces.

We finally entered the forest where the places to pull off the road and park were supposed to be. By now, the road had turned to mud and snow and the trees were overhanging the road. The mud was actually slicker than the snow! And, we were chuckling at the thought of bringing the coach up here.

Then Doug turned off the road onto a smaller road back into the parking spots. The ruts were horrible, the snow and mud were worse and the trees were so close together that we would need a shoehorn. At this point, we were doubled over laughing. What if we had just brought the coach without checking it out!!

The car turned itself around and hightailed it out of there. When we got back to Chiricahua it was mid afternoon so we pulled out our National Park Pass and drove into the park for free. (saved us $10!)

It was a fantastic 8 mile drive up the mountains with scenery to die for. When we arrived at the top, where some of the trailheads start, it was so cold that all we could do was take a couple of pictures. But, we decided that we definitely want to see more. So, instead of boondocking in the muck, we will probably find a park with hookups near Willcox and spend a full day at Chiricahua.

What a fun day! First a nice visit with our pals Doug and Diane M. Then, a hysterical trip searching for a boondock spot followed by a fantastic ride through mother nature. So much to look forward to every morning!