Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Signing Off

Since I have become so sporadic (lazy) about writing, it is no surprise that I am winding up the Smith's On The Road Travel Blog. Another reason for coming to a close is that we aren't traveling much any more. The last 2 years have been more about real estate than touristy destinations. As usually happens with a new house, projects take more priority and funds than trips. Our sort-of-new Class B van sees most of its action in the Phoenix shopping centers than roadside attractions. It allows us to keep Wally in air-conditioned comfort while we shop and lets us pick up more/bigger items than the Saturn.

We have bought a"Santa Fe traditional" as the listing agent described it. We are on 20 acres in the Harquahala Valley between Saddle Mountain and Eagletail Mountain about 60 miles west of Phoenix. We look forward to meeting new visitors at the Rio Valley Market to bring you in the final 5 miles of the trip. We do have a few May "bookings" already and hope to have lots more old friend drop in as the weather cools in the fall and winter. Russell even put in 30 and 50 amp plugs for our RVing friends.

We are really enjoying the house. It reminds us so much of living in Carbon several years ago. The house is similar in design, "only these folks knew what they were doing when they built it," as Russell has observed several times. We are back to having property to walk and enjoy but without the chores of  fencing, cattle, mowing, etc. In addition we have access to BLM and state lands, and a vast wilderness area. We've taken a number of hikes and Russell has been able to take off with some of the neighbors to explore areas that neither of our vehicles will manage.

Yes, we have neighbors close by. There are 3 other houses in our immediate area, and others not far away. Bonus: the ladies quilt and everyone likes dominoes. I had the pleasure of going to a quilt gathering today. I know they can teach me so much!

We will still use the Las Vegas condo and hope that others will take advantage of it when in town. Please let us know when you will be in Nevada.

We will take trips as the temps soar in the Sonoran Desert. With the van right outside the back door, packing is convenient and the Saturn will remain at home. Our focus will be more about the destination than the camping.  We've learned that we can usually pull into any campground late and find some spot where we will fit; the Monaco required far more planning.

It has been a pleasure to write a blog. I like composing my thoughts for public consumption; and it's been great to have a source of info when a question arises, like "Where were we....?" The biggest pleasure has been the comments from friends who have followed along with our travels. Thank you so much for that support and encouragement.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Notes along the Way, February 2013


Feb 6, 2013
Congress, AZ
How many shades of purple are there? After an evening walk in Congress, AZ, I really don’t believe that there is a finite answer to that question. Everywhere we looked were more varieties of pink, purple, blue. Mountains. Clouds. Sky. Plants. All were bathed in some shade of delight.
The walk was about more than “purple mountain’s majesty,” we were paying a visit to Methuselah.  Methuselah has made a previous blog appearance. She is the 3000 year old saguaro.  The old lady needs some of her many arms supported by wooden frames, but others are stout and strong, pointing skyward. She is not only a thing of beauty; Methuselah houses a village of birds. Who knows how many generations of wrens have made their home here. The oldest saguaro in Arizona is in the middle of the cactus garden of North Ranch, the Escapees RV Park in Congress. Many of the full/part time residents have worked to cultivate and label a surprising number of specimens. Paths wind through the garden and a bridge takes you over the wash that must have a vast amount of water pour through on occasion. I really hated to see the final rays of sun… until the stars began to show up!

Seems there’s always something to see.
ADDED NOTE: We saw more than scenery while in Congress. We met with a realtor and toured several houses that Russell had found online. We feel in love with one and made an offer which was accepted. So on our first stop from Vegas the 6-month trip to the east coast got a significant alteration.
Feb 8-9, 2013
El Paso
Our first task crossing into Texas was to get the van inspected. We had registered by mail to have the Texas plates, but no inspection sticker at all could get us stopped and ticketed on the interstate.  
We got settled at the Mission RV park before going to visit our nephew and his family, Michael, Stephanie, Parker and Woody. Michael has been stationed at Ft. Bliss for about 6 years. We always enjoy seeing him and the family. This time we got to meet Woody, their Jack Russell mix and they got to meet our Jack Russell mix, Wally. Mix is an important word here because the dogs look nothing alike; they are both white with spots. End of that story.  They had a blast chasing each other and Parker in and out of the house. We enjoyed homemade hamburgers, a rare treat when abiding by Weight Watchers. This trip we stayed for 2 nights to enjoy more of the fun.

Feb 12, 2013
Pilot Point
We arrived in Denton on an especially chilly damp day after a long drive from Big Spring. (We stayed in Big Spring once many years ago. I saw no improvement.)
We stopped long enough to get Wally a much-needed grooming and have lunch before heading out to visit our friends the Atnips. They have a new home in a beautiful location, pure horse country. Horse country is defined by the type of pastures, the type of fencing, and usually the size of the estate. Horse country homes are estates, cow country homes are ranches, at best, but they are usually more acreage. Anyway, leaving Denton to arrive in this rolling countryside feels like way more than the 15 miles it really is. Larry and Vicki don’t have horses, but their home fits right in with the feel of an estate. We enjoyed an evening of their hospitality.
Feb 15, 2013
Arlington
We are hanging out at the Treetops RV park, getting some business out of the way. It has been good to rest and get organized from the long trip from Vegas.
We have taken Wally on several walks in the park and nearby neighborhood. The terrain, landscape, and feel of the area is so different from the desert of Nevada. Daffodils are popping up along with other early bloomers and shrubs. There is one shrub, totally forgettable 11 months of the year, but covered in bright pink blossoms in the early spring. We had one at our house in Richardson and Plano too. I have no idea what it is called, but it is nice to see it once again. The temperatures are roughly the same as in Vegas, but it has a different feel in north Texas. Humidity is what most call it. This time of year, however, it comes without the negatives of biting chill of winter or oppressive heat of summer. It is what makes the black loam soil slightly damp and fragrant, the morning grass dewy, and gives the air just enough coolness on a bright sunny day.
It has been nice to hear perfect strangers sound just like I do. Nobody says, “What part of Texas are you from?”
Feb. 19, 2013
Dallas
Drove in yesterday, I-35E from the south, and enjoyed a beautiful skyline even if bathed in clouds and smog. I have been coming up that road, anxious to see the familiar city that has changed so very much since the 1950’s when I viewed it from the back seat with my sleepy sisters. Son Kyle lives near the neighborhood where Mom grew up at the corner of Junius and Haskell. Much about that corner is still the same, but unfortunately the adobe apartment building that her family managed is gone. Anyway, the feel of Old Dallas is still there. And members of the Lott/Green family still call Dallas home, over 140 years after the first members of the clan arrived.
We took part in a newer tradition this morning, breakfast at the Goldrush. Kyle has lived within walking distance of this landmark for several years. It’s nice to go to a place where the owner knows his order and other patrons tell us what a “fine son” we have.
I’ve been making plans to see old friends throughout the week. It is so much nicer to chat and text when I know that we are nearby and will see them soon.


Texas Trip, Spring 2013

The trip kept collapsing. Plan to stay somewhere a week; no make that 5 days. All changes were due to a need to get back to Arizona and finish buying the new house, which we have now accomplished. Texas became more rushed, and we missed seeing several friends and family members, but we did see so many wonderful folks. The time spent with everyone was truly amazing.

Some time in early February, I took time to document the trip up to that point. My journal never made it to BLOG status but remained on the computer waiting for the day. Once we got to Dallas time seemed to accelerate beyond my ability to keep up. I am summarizing the remainder of the "Texas Loop" here and will post the earlier entries in the next offering.

We spent 10 fabulous days with Kyle and Karyn. What a treat! It has been years since we have that kind of quality time with Kyle and it was great to do the everyday kind of things together. We also had time to catch up with friends from our working days in Richardson.

From there we traveled south to Waco. The party lasted for 5 days. Two families joined us in their rigs at the Midway CORPS campground. This established a base for many other friends to enjoy the beauty of the park and old friendships. We were overwhelmed by the hospitality.

Hospitality continued just down the road in Austin where we spent 2-too-short days with friends there. The Bohas home is always a treat.

Houston was our last official stop before heading back west. We got to visit with my Dad, 2 sisters and their families. It was absolutely lovely to see everyone. Most families live on the west side of Houston which meant we did not spend time driving the length and width of the city. Niece Allison and future husband Mike stopped on their way from Austin to their home in Clear Lake City. We were also able to spend an evening with my high school friend and her husband who live in the area.

The only downside of that trip was the tummy trouble Wally was having. He didn't start feeling better until after a visit to the vet and we were heading west on I-10. He had too many schedule changes and stops to be able to keep up the pace. But he was a hit all the same.

Our final Texas stop took us to Boerne where Cousin Sharon fixed an impromptu lunch. Delicious! In fact, EVERYONE fed us. From El Paso to Boerne and all points in between we were treated in high fashion. We look forward to being able to repay that gracious hospitality when people come to see us in Arizona.

And that is another story.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Between Trips

We are in the throws of getting our lives in order for THE TRIP.
  • Taken several short trips getting acquainted with the new rig.
  • Getting doctor's appointments out of the way.
  • Packing the paperwork that needs to accompany us.
  • Clothes packing- summer is around the corner.
  • Packing the stuff that we need to take to family in Texas.

Tentative leave date: February 1, 2913.

Tentative stops: Wickenburg and Tucson in Arizona, El Paso, White Bluff, Dallas, Austin, and Houston.....so far. So we'll be in Texas for at least 3 weeks. After that we are headed across the south on I-10. Next destination: numerous spots in Florida. After that we head north up the Atlantic coast. The goals are to visit family, investigate ancestors, and enjoy the sights.

We are trying to be planned and organized without creating restrictive deadlines. Our new rig allows for more flexibility and we really hope to take advantage of that feature.

This "lift off" is different from previous trips. In the Monaco many items were already packed, ready and waiting. Our storage space is different. We will take advantage of the rig, the car, and the storage box hitched to the rear of the car. Of course, there are a lot of items we have toted around the country that we just don't need for the smaller van. In addition, we need to have the condo ready to be on auto-pilot through the summer and into next fall. We are trying to plan and take care of things in advance so the day of departure will be relatively stress-free. The really great news is that with the van parked on the condo property, all of this is more easily accomplished.

I hope that some of the proposed destinations will be near you and our paths will cross. Please let us know

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Say Hello to VAN

Van, our new Class B RV, fits beautifully into our family, AND our parking spot!

We have gotten home from Yuma, our first trip with Van and Wally. Adding a puppy and a smaller rig at the same time takes a little adjustment.... OK, quite a lot of adjustment, but we did it! We drove the 5 hour trip on less than $100 in gas, a change from the Class A that we can get used to. We fit nicely in the park site and took a lot of questions from fellow campers who have also thought about going smaller. "That is so cute!" was the common remark. This from folks who know the joys and hassles of a Class A.

High points of the first trip with Van:
  • Sitting behind the rig to watch TV and the stars while Wally finds a nice spot to rest in the sand.
  • Creating a porch where Wally can relax off-leash between Van and car.
  • Traveling light.
  • Cooking light.
  • Terrie DRIVING! but not too much. We just proved it was possible for me to drive the new rig.
  • Packing/unpacking in the condo parking lot. No more traipsing back and forth across town to the RV park to get ready for a trip.
  • No more RV storage fees.

Highlights of Yuma trip:
  • Thanksgiving dinner with fellow Escapees.
  • Meeting other Escapee dog owners at the 7 acre dog park.
  • Swap meet shopping.
  • Shopping in Mexico.
  • Happening on a children's parade in Mexico.

 Every change comes with adjustments. We enjoyed discovering the surprises of Van. As Russell says, "Now we're really camping!"

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Odd Pairings

Throughout our travels we have noticed entrepreneurs with small businesses of all varieties. Most are the predicable service or product oriented stores, some based in people's homes. Several have caught our attention because of the combinations offered. Some are just unique, other down-right unappetizing!

You decide!
Taxidermy and Cherries (farm road in Washington state)
Car Wash and Grill (that's burgers and other bar food in Dickinson, TX)
Homemade Candy and Hair Salon ( sign at a home in Tennessee)
Coffee/Storage/Car & RV Wash (Kallispell, MT, I think)
Anti-Monkey Butt Powder (advertising sign at hardware store in Couer d'Alene)
Motorcycle Accessories and Dart Supply Co. (I forgot, still thinking about candy/hair shop)

We will continue to keep our eyes open for folks just trying to keep their heads above water across the USA.

Friday, September 21, 2012

At Home

Looks weird, At Home. But that is how it feels and we are glad to be here. We spent several days at the RV park before putting the rig in storage, busy days.

We are now in the pattern of most retirees, exercise, errands, assorted projects. Nothing to blog about... until Tuesday.

Introducing Wally!

Russell started shopping the shelters and rescue agencies. There was a pattern: find the right dog, leave, think about it, go back, dog is gone. Heavy sigh. At the Vegas Animal Shelter I refused to leave and think about it. We were leaving with Wally, and he is the best choice. He is a dachshund/terrier mix; long, low, squirmy, weighing in at 15 lbs and full grown at about a year old. It has been noted that his white hair matches his owners. He is quiet, mostly, and well tempered. He is house trained, mostly, and will be a perfect RV dog.