May 2005

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Sunday, May 1:

Today we just stayed in the park (Boggy Depot State Park, OK).  We worked for a while.  We walked around the park looking at the historical markers.  We walked through the graveyard and looked at the old headstones.  We drove back to the lake and looked at it and took a walk in the woods.

We had heard from Dale and Linda that there was a woman staying in the park who had known my grandparents.  While we were walking around we met her and her husband.  We had a nice talk with them and heard their memories of my grandparents.  It was great!

Mac and Dale then went fishing later in the afternoon.  While Mac was fishing I gathered kindling for the fire.  I also did some bird watching with the binoculars.  I saw an Indigo Bunting, which I had never seen before.  Itís a beautiful deep blue colored bird.  Tonight after dinner we had another fire.  We sat around the fire and talked the evening away.  Around 11:00 Mac and I quietly walked over to the ball field to see if we could see any owls around.  We didnít see any owls but we did see bats flying around the street light catching bugs.

Monday, May 2:

Weíve decided to move on down the road today.  We have very much enjoyed our stay here and weíll be back to visit again next year.

It started raining this morning.  We hit the road heading to Lake Texoma.  We arrive at Sheppard AFB FamCamp on Lake Texoma.  Itís on the Texas side of the lake close to Sherman Texas.  Itís raining, windy and very chilly.  We stay inside and get some work done.

Tuesday, May 3:

It finally stopped raining but itís still very chilly.  We stay inside and work today.  Later on after lunch we did the laundry at the laundry room here.  There are 2 washers and 2 dryers and theyíre only 75 cents each.  We did about 4 loads though so it took a while.  Fortunately the RV was very close and we didnít have to just stay at the laundry room.

Here's our campsite on Lake Texoma in the Sheppard AFB Recreation Annex.  I'm sure this is a beautiful site when the sun is out and it's not raining, windy, and cold :-)

Wednesday, May 4:

Itís raining again and a little chilly.  Weíve decided to leave today.  We pull out and head to McKinney Texas.  Weíre going to have lunch and visit with another TE Recruiting Network partner of Macís.

We drove out of the rain on our way to lunch.  We visited for a while and then hit the road again.  Weíre heading for Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, Texas.  We drove into more rain but at least the wind is gone.

We stop at Wal-Mart in Wichita Falls Texas for the night.  We saw one of the tear drop campers decked out with 3 solar panels and a satellite dish for TV.  Iíve always thought those tear drop campers were so cute.

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Check out all the solar power on this little teardrop!

We shopped at the Wal-Mart for dinner and breakfast supplies.  We then went back to the RV and had dinner.  I bought a quilt that looks very nice on our bed.  Iím tired of being cold at night.  An added bonus with the quilt was 2 pillow shams.  The quilt was also on clearance so it was a great bargain.  Iíve resisted getting a quilt thinking that it would finally get warmer.  2 blankets, Mac and the cat arenít enough to keep me warm lately.  So we broke down and got the quilt.  We can store it away IF we ever get into warm weather again.

We got online and did some work, then watched TV.  Itís starting to look like an RV Park here the later it gets.  We hit the sack early tonight and Iím nice and warm under our new quilt.

Thursday, May 5: 

We got up and goofed off for a while this morning drinking coffee and surfing the web.  We hit the road after deciding that we would take a short detour and go to Altus Oklahoma and stay at the FamCamp there for a few days.

We hit the road and arrived at the base before lunch.  The security guards didnít know anything about the FamCamp.  Mac called the FamCamp while we were driving onto the base and found out that the camp is closed for renovation until sometime in June or later.  So we went to the commissary and bought some groceries.

We had lunch in the RV in the commissary parking lot.  We were going to go to the BX also but saw the gas station right next door.  The gas was $1.99.  While there Mac picked up lots of oil for the RV.

We hit the road again and now we are heading for Amarillo.  The weather has greatly improved and itís warming up finally.  We drove to Palo Duro Canyon State Park and weíre going to stay here for at least 2 days.  Itís very beautiful here.  Itís the second largest canyon in the US.  For pictures and more information go to www.palodurocanyon.com.

We grilled hamburgers and took a walk around admiring the scenery after dinner.  We saw wild turkeys and some mule deer.  At least we didnít see any snakes or tarantulas!

Photos are now uploaded from our trip to Boggy Depot State Park in Oklahoma.  You'll find them in the last week of the April blog.  I plan to upload some photos from our current location in Palo Duro Canyon.  I'll post another note when they're online.

 

Friday, May 6:

Today we got up and had coffee outside.  It was really cool sitting and looking at the cliffs and seeing the colors change with sun and shade on them.  We took a walk down a short trail near our campsite.  We saw tracks for the turkeys, deer, and a bobcat.  We had heard coyotes very early this morning and thought we might see the tracks but we didnít.

We also had fun trying to gobble like a turkey at the wild turkeys here.  The tom turkey would gobble back at us and he even displayed his tail feathers at us.  He looked just like the traditional Thanksgiving turkey when he would do that.

We drove up to the observation level and looked out at all the beauty.  Afterwards we went into the gift shop and interpretative center.  It was very informative and had some good exhibits in there.  From both locations we could see the lighthouse rock formation.  The only way to see the lighthouse is from these 2 locations or hike down the lighthouse trail which is almost 6 miles round trip.  There used to be a small train that you could ride around on and the tour guide would point out various points of interest.  But itís been gone since the 90ís, so sad.  I rode that train when I was a little kid and can still remember seeing the lighthouse rock formation.

We bought a bird identification book so that we can identify these birds that weíve never seen before.  After visiting the gift shop we drove down to the horse stables and inquired about renting horses.  After getting the information on renting and riding the horses we decided to wait until we visit again to ride.  Iím concerned that my knee would not do well riding.  I havenít ridden a horse in years and I know that you use your knees and legs a lot while riding.  So weíll wait until another time.

After lunch Mac took the car and went out of the park to make some phone calls.  We can get a satellite signal here but no phone reception.  While he was gone I cooked some stew for supper and made some broccoli salad to refrigerate and get tasty.  After washing up I sat outside with the binoculars and looked at different birds and up at the cliffs.  I was hoping to see some deer or sheep up there but never did.

When Mac returned we drove around the park and looked at all the beautiful scenery.  It is really gorgeous here.  Mac took several pictures but a picture just cannot do this beauty justice.  It must be seen in person.

After dinner we had a fire in the fire pit.  The fire danger here is always at a high level because of the winds.  It is windy but we kept a close eye on the fire.  It was fun and very relaxing.  I forgot to mention that we also enjoyed looking at the stars on both nights.

I've uploaded 12 photos from Palo Duro canyon.  Click this link to view them all: 

http://our-adventure.smugmug.com/gallery/670482

 

 

Mac & Chris at Palo Duro Canyon.  Click link above to view all 12 photos, a new browser window will open.

Saturday, May 7:

After having a nice morning enjoying the scenery around the canyon we pack up everything to leave the park.  Mac had ordered a book on free or low cost campgrounds and found in the book that Canyon, TX had a municipal RV Park.  He checked it out yesterday and so weíre moving there today.

Since itís a short trip over to Canyon we decided to not hook up the car to the RV.  I drove the car out and Mac drove the RV out.  While driving up the hill I realized that this would have been a great picture to take of the RV driving around the bends and curves in the road up to the top.  When we got to the top I told Mac he should drive the RV back down and Iíd take a picture but he was a party pooper and said no.  The road is approximately 2 miles long with a 10% grade.  It has lots of curves that are tight and need to be taken at about 15-20 MPH.

We drove on to Canyon and set up in the park.  Weíve planned on working today and catch up on the work that wasnít done while we were down in the canyon.  The cost for this campground is $5.00 per day with a 4 day limit on staying.  It has electricity and water at each site.  There is a dump station at the campground.  Itís a nice campground that has several mature trees for shade.  Itís right across the street from a grocery store and several restaurants are nearby.

 

Canyon RV Park, Canyon TX, Water & Electric for $5/night.  Can't beat it!

Sunday, May 8:

Happy Mothers Day:  We decided to drive over to Amarillo this morning and take another trip down memory lane.  I used to live here when I was a kid.  We drove around and I found the schools that I went to and other places of interest from when I was a kid.  There is a great park in Amarillo named Thompson Park.  It has a swimming pool and a zoo.  Behind it is Wonderland Amusement Park that we went to when I was a kid.  I have very fond memories of the park and the zoo.

After driving around we decided to eat lunch at the Big Texan Steak Ranch, home of the free 72 oz. steak.  Their website is www.bigtexan.com.  After lunch we drove around some more and went back to the RV.

Later in the afternoon we decided to go for a ride again.  We drove over to Buffalo Lake NWR. http://library.fws.gov/Refuges/buffalo_lake.pdf#search='buffalo%20lake%20nwr%20texas'

When I was a kid we used to go camping, fishing and hiking there.  Now the lake is almost totally gone and itís a wildlife refuge.  It was fun to drive around and then get out at various points to look at the wildlife.  We saw several mule deer.  We also saw 2 hawks, we think theyíre red tail hawks.  We were watching them right after they started flying and we just happened to see their nest in a tree.  Inside the nest there were at least 2 small hawks that we could see.  They didnít have colorful feathers yet, they're all white.  It was really exciting to see them.

The park or refuge is $2.00 to drive into.  Itís an honor system that they have.  You fill out the envelope, put your money in and deposit into the drop box.  We found out that you can also camp there for $2.00 per night.  There is no electricity, sewer or water hook ups but it is very pretty place to go and see wildlife.  Mac wants to camp there for a few days after we get through staying here in Canyon.  Iím a little nervous because it is out in the boonies and weíd be so isolated.  Weíd probably be the only people in the refuge when they automatically shut the gates at 8:00 p.m.

After we got back to the RV we had dinner and then goofed off the rest of the evening.  We went to bed fairly early tonight.  All this traveling down memory lane is very tiring.

Two of the many interesting things I saw in Amarillo...

One was all the "horse art".  You may have seen the painted bulls in Chicago?  The painted pigs in Cincinnati?  Well, Amarillo has painted horses.  See photo gallery below:

 

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The other interesting thing was all the curious signs displayed by some people and businesses around the northern Amarillo neighborhoods.  If anyone knows the history of these signs please email me.  They were very entertaining to look for and read.  I'd love to know how they got started, and what their purpose is.  And what does the chicken head mean?! 

UPDATE:  A reader emailed me and told me the story of the signs.  Seems the artist behind the Cadillac Ranch, Stanley Marsh, is also responsible for the signs. 

 

Click on this link to see photos of several signs:  http://our-adventure.smugmug.com/gallery/670553

More info about the signs: http://www.legendsofamerica.com/TX-CadillacRanch2.html

Monday, May 9:

Today we went to the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Canyon.  Itís the largest history museum in Texas.  It has a lot of great stuff to see.  We were there about 3 hours.  It was only $7.00 each, a good value for all the interesting things we saw.  Hereís a link to their website.  http://www.panhandleplains.org/

 

 

I took a bunch of photos, but none of them did justice to the museum's art or exhibits.  Take a look at the web link that Chris provided above.  This place is a "must see" if you enjoy museums, or you're into western history and culture.

 

Tuesday, May 10:

We had an appointment this morning to finally get our windshield repaired (large rock chip).  After it was repaired it still is noticeable and distracting to the driver.  Mac called the insurance company and theyíve ordered a new windshield for us.  Weíll get it done in Albuquerque.

It got very warm today, high 80ís close to 90, but we were comfortable in our RV with the windows open.  There was a good breeze and the trees make nice shade.  This evening though there was a storm with small hail.  I was pretty nervous but we were fine.  This incident made us realize that our pet carrier should be inside the RV not outside.  That way if we need to evacuate we can put the cat in the carrier and run to shelter quickly.

Wednesday, May 11:

Weíre heading out today.  Weíre going to head down Highway 60 heading for New Mexico.  The last town in Texas is named Farewell.  I thought that was a cute name.  We had decided to stop in Vaughn New Mexico for the night, a good half way point on the way to Albuquerque.  But when we got to Vaughn neither cell phone could get a signal.  So we continued on down the road.  We canít get any work done if we canít use the phone. 

The landscape has changed greatly.  Itís more wide open spaces and hills to climb.  It is actually pretty to me.  I love seeing all the mountains in the distance.  I saw some prong horn antelope and they were cool to see.  We stopped at a picnic area on the side of the road for a coffee break.  While we were there another RV pulled in.  They were a very nice couple who are heading for California to workcamp in two different places there.  We stopped in Clines Corners at a gift shop and looked around.  At Clines Corners we get on I-40 heading on to Albuquerque.

We arrived in Albuquerque and drove to Kirtland AFB to stay in the RV Park there.  Weíve decided to dry camp for our stay.  Itís only $6.00 per night to dry camp.  We might as well take advantage of all our solar energy and save some money.

Our site at Kirtland AFB.  Nice view of Sandia mountains.

Thursday, May 12:

We drove around Albuquerque today sightseeing.  Old Route 66 is Central Avenue here and the downtown section is very attractive.  There is a lot to see here in Albuquerque.  Albuquerque is 300 years old so there is a lot of history here. Weíve ordered various items so weíll be here until we receive everything.  Weíll probably head out next Thursday.

Chris mentioned several items on order.  Two of these are for out electrical system.  Our Iota 55 amp charger suddenly quit working about 2 weeks ago.  I called the company yesterday and they're sending out a new one in exchange.  I'm also replacing and upgrading our inverter.  The inexpensive AIMS inverter we bought in December is malfunctioning and I don't want to take a chance on another one, so we're swapping it out for a 1500W Samlex.  I'll write more in the Tech section when I receive and install the equipment, and I'll post a link *here*.

Friday, May 13:

Weíre very tired today for some reason.  I guess itís the altitude; weíre still adjusting to it.  We just stay around the base today and rest up.  We plan on going to the flea market tomorrow.  Thereís a huge flea market every weekend here at the fairgrounds.  This evening the wind starts picking up.  It starts blowing and gusting strong enough that we stow the Datastorm and put in all the awnings.  The weather report says gust of 30-40 MPH.

Saturday, May 14:

I woke up early this morning.  Out the front window of the RV I can see the mountains in the east.  There are lots of clouds up there, it is so pretty to see.  Parts of the mountains canít be seen because of the clouds.  The wind is still blowing strong.  We wonít be going to the flea market today.  There probably wonít be too many vendors.  We decide to go to Old Town later on today.  So since weíre not going anywhere this morning I do the laundry.

We went to Old Town late in the afternoon.  There are lots of shops to look in, a plaza in the center and a church.  We walked around and looked at a lot of beautiful stuff thatís for sell.  Mac looked at several hats but finally decided not to get one.  Of course, we bought some souvenirs to send to the family.  We really enjoyed walking around Old Town.

We went back home for dinner.  On the way home we see rain in the distance.  You can see a long way off here.  It was cool seeing the rain falling off in the distance and you could smell the rain but it wasnít raining where we were.  When we got home we watched the clouds and rain.  It finally rained on us but it wasnít for very long at all.

Again the winds have picked up so weíve decided to stow the Datastorm tonight.  The winds arenít as bad as last night but itís better to be safe than sorry.

Talking about stowing the Datastorm due to winds -- it's designed to handle winds up to 60mph.  However, the weak link is the mounting to the RV roof.  Our roof is thin plywood covered with a rubber membrane, so I don't trust it to hold when gusts are expected over 35mph.

 

Sunday, May 15:

Today we went to the flea market and it was fun. I think there are probably more vendors on Saturday than Sunday but there were still quite a few there. We bought some nice turquoise pieces. The most fun though was walking around looking and admiring all the jewelry and rugs. Of course, there are lots of other items for sale but that was what we looked at. After spending 2 or 3 hours at the flea market we went back to the RV.

Monday, May 16:

Today we stayed around the RV and worked most of the day.  Later in the day Mac went to UPS and picked up our mail that we had sent to us here in Albuquerque.

Weíve been having trouble with our inverter recently.  The company is sending us a replacement here in Albuquerque. Right now we are using a tiny inverter and I canít use the vacuum cleaner until we get the new one installed.

Tuesday, May 17:

Albuquerque has the worldís longest tram that takes you up to the top of the Sandia Mountains.  We had dinner reservations at the restaurant on the top.  It was nice and warm down at the bottom so we dressed accordingly, not thinking the temperature at top could be such a drastic difference.  We didnít take any jackets with us.  The temperature at the bottom was in the 80ís and at the top when we got there it was 47.  The tram ride to the top was very fun and interesting.  In some instances youíre over a crevice thatís around 900 feet to the bottom.  The winds werenít too bad, only 30-35 MPH.  They donít run the tram if the winds are 50 MPH.

After getting to the top the wind was really blowing us and it was cold!  There were patches of snow around.  We looked around the different scenic areas; you can see around 1,000 miles of New Mexico from the top.  It was lots of fun but very cold; while up on top the temperature had dropped to 40 degrees. BRRRRRR!

We had dinner in the restaurant, which is named High Finance.  It was good, and we enjoyed it.  After dinner we rode the tram back down and it was almost dark.  The sunset in the distance was beautiful and looking down was very pretty to see.  We enjoyed it a lot.

Wednesday, May 18:

Today we had an appointment to take the RV in and have the windshield replaced.  We dropped off the RV and went to run some errands.  Albuquerque has a Cummins Onan Service Center and Mac had called them and verified they had some carburetor and combustion chamber cleaner in stock, so we went there and picked some up.

After running errands we still had over 2 hours till the RV would be done so we decided to go up to Sandia Crest.  To get there we followed the Turquoise Trail on the east side of the pass through the mountains on I40.  We drove up to the top and the road is windy with lots of hairpin turns.  It was fun driving up.  We saw lots of snow still not melted on the way up. It is a very pretty drive up there.  There are lots of picnic areas and hiking trails on the way up the mountain.  After getting to the top we looked at all the vistas.  Of course, we hadnít planned on going up so we were both dressed in shorts and sandals and it was chilly up there.

They have a gift shop, a food area, and a ranger station on the crest.  The gift shop was very interesting to go through. We had lunch in the food area and it was good too.  Mac talked with the rangers and found out that there had been 20 feet of snow this past winter in the mountains.  On Sandia Crest there is also a trail that you can walk thatís about 2 miles which takes you over to the tram area.  We enjoyed our visit to Sandia Crest very much.  Mac drove down the mountain; he said so that I could enjoy the view.  I think it was because of all the hairpin curves and going down hill with a steep grade, he didnít trust my driving.  I told him to just let the car go and donít put on any brakes and letís try to take the curves at 50 but of course he was a party pooper and drove very safely down the mountain.

There is a lot to see and do on the Turquoise Trail but we donít have time today.  We will definitely visit this area again, it is very beautiful and lots to do.  On the way back we saw a thrift store and stopped in.  While there they called and told us the RV was ready to pick up.

After picking up the RV we headed back to the base. They seem to have done a really good job installing the windshield. The rest of the day was spent working. Mac went to dinner with one of his contract employees. I could have gone but I was very tired and just wanted to rest. They ate dinner at Sadieís and Mac said it was great food. Weíll have to go there when we come through again.

Albuquerque has an altitude ranging from 4.900 to 6,500.  At the airport, which we are near the elevation is 5,352 feet above sea level.  Cooking at high altitude is different than at lower levels.  So itís been interesting learning to cook using high altitude cooking times and temperatures.

Photos from Sandia Peak and Sandia Crest.  Six photos in all, scroll right to see final one.

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Here we are atop Sandia Peak

 

Thursday, May 19:

Weíre leaving Albuquerque today. The weather forecast is for increasing temperatures so itís going to be too hot for us. We want to go to places where we wonít have to use air conditioning or heating.  We actually got a later start today than we had intended.  We had worked some this morning and then we had to fill up the RV with gas.  We had to also go to UPS and pick up our new inverter.  So by the time we left town it was close to noon and getting hot.

We head west on I40.  There are plenty of hills to climb and the engine temperature keeps rising close to the red zone. We drove to Red Rock State Park close to Gallup New Mexico.  Itís pretty at the park.  There are red rock cliffs, they are very beautiful.  The park had gone up on their prices recently and we paid $15 a night to dry camp!  Weíre staying 2 nights here.  The elevation here is from 6,600 to 7,000 feet.

After dinner we sit outside and enjoy the beauty of the cliffs.  We see lots of swallows around the cliffs and can see some of the nest using our binoculars.  We also saw a Bullockís Oriole; itís a very beautiful bird.  There were also a lot of purple finches with very red heads.

Beautiful view from front of our campsite -- no idea why they call this "Red Rock" State Park :-)

Click this link for more photos:  http://our-adventure.smugmug.com/gallery/670598

Friday, May 20:

Today Mac is working hard.  After lunch a fifth wheeler pulled in and parked near us.  I noticed they had an Escapee sticker on their rig so we struck up a conversation.  We had a very good visit with them.  Lynn and Sue have been traveling for about 9 years so they had some great stories to share.  We had a great time visiting with them.

After our visiting till dark Mac and I decided it was too hot to cook in the RV so we drove to Gallup for dinner.  We had planned on having a nice dinner in a restaurant, but when we were leaving the park there were several teenagers around. So we changed our minds and decided to just grab some fast food take out and go back to the RV.  That is the main thing I donít like about this park.  There is no security around like at most state parks.  This park is run by private contractors.  There is a lot of local traffic into the park because the park has a post office and a store.  There are teenagers coming and going and also dogs that arenít on leash that are from somewhere local.  We just donít feel as safe here as we should in a state park.

Saturday, May 21:

Weíre leaving today so we are up early to get going.  After coffee we went outside and we saw that there were several hot air balloons down by the cliffs.  We went down there and watched them getting ready.  It was so cool to watch the balloons rising as they were filled.  Then they were going up in the air and it was beautiful to watch.  What a nice surprise this was today.

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Great thing about RVing, the view keeps changing! Sometimes you get a surprise when you walk out the door.

 

Watching the balloons has put us behind schedule.  We have reservations in Flagstaff Arizona today and we also want to see the Petrified Forest on the way.  If we have time we also want to see the Meteor Crater.  We forgot that Arizona does not observe day light savings time so we have actually gained time this morning when we drive across the state line. Yea!

The Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert were so beautiful!  We really enjoyed it.  Itís amazingly beautiful; words cannot describe it and pictures donít do it justice.  It must be seen in person to appreciate the beauty.  We loved it so much.  I wish they allowed camping there but they donít.  I would have loved to just sit for hours admiring the beauty of it.

Four pictures of the Painted Desert

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Photos of the Petrified Forest

Ten more photos -- click on this link: http://our-adventure.smugmug.com/gallery/670628

Links to more information

Petrified Forest

http://www.petrified.forest.national-park.com/

http://www.nps.gov/pefo/

http://www.petrifiedforest.org/

 

Painted Desert

http://www.amwest-travel.com/awt_painted.html

 

May 21st was a day FULL of photo opportunities!  Love that little Nikon digital camera!  I always wanted a Nikon, but couldn't make myself spend the money.  Now their low-end digitals are under $150.  Check out this cool motel from the 60's:

 

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Wigwam Hotel - Route 66 Check out all the vintage cars & trucks too. The sign says "Sleep in a Wigwam"

 

On our drive to Flagstaff about 50 miles out we see Humphreys Peak of the San Francisco Peaks.  Itís about 12,633 and is the highest peak in Arizona.  We get to Flagstaff and drive over to Fort Tuthill, Luke AFB Recreation Area where we have reservations for 2 nights.  Mac has done a great job planning our trip according to the weather.  Flagstaff is about the coolest city in Arizona this week.  Other cities are in the 90ís and 100ís but Flagstaff is in the 80ís.  Itís at an elevation of 6,905.  The RV Park is very pretty with lots of pine trees.  Unfortunately, the spot we have has so many pine trees we canít get any satellite signal at all, not even a TV signal.  Our neighbor also has a Datastorm and they are in a spot that has an opening so they can get a satellite signal.  Weíre down to using the air card.  I hate to use it because itís so slow! We canít cancel our reservation without paying the full amount so weíre going to stay the 2 nights.

We went to dinner at a local restaurant that was recommended to us.  We were told it was great food and reasonably priced.  We really werenít impressed with the food.  It was supposed to be authentic Mexican food but weíve had better.

In one of the pine trees at our campsite is a blue bird house.  Thereís a pair of blue birds that are raising their babies in the bird house.  It was neat to see them flying back and forth throughout the day bringing food to the babies.

I also saw 2 squirrels that Iíd never seen before.  They had tufted ears and white fur on their tails.  I had been reading our book regarding free and low cost campgrounds and had read that the Kaibab National Forest had the unique Kaibab squirrel.  We looked it up online and these squirrels seem to be the same.  They are really interesting looking but we couldnít get a picture of them.  Here's another link to some good photos.  Very odd looking animal! http://www.lynxview.com/kaibab-squirrel-encounter.html

I like this photo a lot!  Humphries Peak in the distance, and beautiful wildflowers all along the roadside --Mac

Sunday, May 22:

Today I woke up in a cleaning mood.  I cleaned and cleaned inside the RV.  I would have cleaned the outside too but itís not allowed to wash the RV on the campsite.  One of our computers has been giving us trouble for several weeks and it completely quit last night.  So today Mac has been working on getting everything off that computer so that he can wipe the hard drive and reinstall all the programs.  I guess it was a blessing in disguise that we couldnít get a satellite signal since we wouldnít have been using it anyway.

In the afternoon we headed out to check out campgrounds that we could move to tomorrow.  We headed south on 89A into Coconino National Forest.  We didnít know that the road down to Oak Creek Canyon would have a 7% grade for 3 miles with lots of hairpin curves.  It was very pretty driving down to the bottom.  We went to the campground there but we could see that we wouldnít fit in the campground and we couldnít get any cell phone service.  So back up to the top we drove.  We stopped at the scenic overlook and admired the view.  There were Indian vendors at the scenic overlook with tables of jewelry and other crafted items.  I love to look at the jewelry, it is so beautiful.  I couldnít make up my mind to buy one item so I didnít buy anything today.

After we ate dinner I washed the dishes and discovered that our coffee carafe had cracked.  We went to Wal-Mart to see about getting a replacement carafe.  We wound up buying a Black & Decker Spacemaker that has an insulated stainless steel carafe.  Now weíll never have a broken one again.

After shopping we drove around looking for a campsite for tomorrow.  Campsites are too expensive around here.  You can tell this is a tourist area.  We found a few places that we are going to day camp at tomorrow.  We had our mail sent to us in Flagstaff and hopefully it will be here tomorrow.  If it comes tomorrow weíll leave afterwards.  Mac made us reservations at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas for 5 days starting Thursday.  So we now have someplace to stay for Memorial Day Weekend.  I guess we can find something to do in Las Vegas for 5 days :-)

Monday, May 23:

We leave the park this morning and drive over to where weíve decided to make a day camp.  Mac called to get the UPS tracking number for our ordered mail.  Mac found out that the package was delayed in Alabama for 3 days and isnít expected in Flagstaff until the 26th.  We arenít going to wait around here for it.  Weíll have it forwarded to Las Vegas.

I'm almost two weeks behind on putting photos into the blog, and having my computer down all weekend didn't help!  I have most of the programs reloaded.  I started with the ones needed for the business (including FrontPage, which I also use to do the blog).  Tonight I'll load the photo editing program and retrieve the backups of photos from Chris' machine.  I'll try to get them loaded tomorrow or the next day.

NOTE:  Photos posted now through 5/21.

After a few hours at our day camp Mac had called the regional office of the forest service regarding the size of RV rigs that could go into the parks.  The forest service told him that he should just check with each park because some had the sites enlarged to take bigger rigs.  So we decided to drive on over to Kaibib Lake Campground in the Kaibib National Forest.  Itís real close to Williams Arizona and not too far from Flagstaff. The campground there has several enlarged sites, some even being a pull-through.  The campground is all dry camping with no hook-ups at all.  We decided to stay there anyway.  We decided not to have our mail forwarded to Las Vegas since Memorial Day holiday is this coming weekend.  We will stay here and drive back to Flagstaff and pick it up when it arrives.

After setting up camp we decided to drive over to Williams and check it out. It is a really nice small town. Itís called the gateway to the Grand Canyon. You can take a train to the Grand Canyon from there. There are several shops and restaurants along the main street which is old Route 66.

Tuesday, May 24 Ė Wednesday, May 25:

We stay at Kaibab Lake and visit Williams every day. We had stopped and got a few snacks at the Circle K convenience store and we found out the hard way that the state sales tax in Arizona is 9.5%! Thatís a lot of tax! Thatís just sales tax, doesnít include all the other taxes that a resident would get hit with like income tax, etc.

Thursday, May 26:

We had made arrangements with the Flagstaff UPS that when our package arrived they would give us a call and they did this morning.  We drove over to Flagstaff and picked up our package.  It contains a refill medication that we had ordered sent to us for our cat so we are real happy to see that arrive finally.  We had run out of his medicine because of the 3 day delay.  Weíve learned now to have our packages sent faster than ground to us while we are actually on the road.  In Key West since we were staying there a small delay was O.K. (It only takes 2 days for UPS Ground to Key West from Pensacola, FL where our mail forwarder is. -- Mac)

After picking up our package of mail we had lunch at Casa Bonita Restaurant.  It was very good. It was very flavorful and tasted like real Mexican food.  After lunch we drove back to the RV and decided to hit the road and head for Las Vegas. Mac had made us reservations for today at Nellis AFB FamCamp.

We hit the road around 2:00.  We know that the temperature in Vegas is in the low 100ís, and weíll have to use the air conditioner but weíre going there anyway.

We took Interstate 40 and headed towards Kingman Arizona. After we came down from the higher elevation the temperature started to rise.  When we hit Kingman it was about 100 degrees.  But at least itís a dry heat (ha ha).

From Kingman we head north on Highway 93 heading for Hoover Dam.  The temperature gauge in the RV keeps rising from all the stress of climbing hills and from the extreme heat of the day.  When it reaches the red zone we turn on the heater to lower the temperature.

They are building a highway to go around Hoover Dam instead of over it but at this time you can still drive across it.  All vehicles are inspected before reaching the dam.  They inspected all the outside compartments and also came into the RV and looked around.  Then we got to drive over the dam.  It has that look of things that were built back in the 1930ís, stylish and impressive.  The water is beautiful too, very blue.

We drove on to Las Vegas and arrive at the Nellis AFB FamCamp late in the afternoon and get a site.  We get the air conditioner going real quick too!  Itís very warm here.  After setting up and taking showers we decide to head out for dinner and some playtime at a casino.

Friday, May 27:

We went to the office of the Las Vegas Advisor to buy a coupon book.  Weíve used it before and itís filled with some great coupons.  There are a lot of coupons for buy one get one free meals, match play coupons, coupons for discount show tickets, etc.

We've been visiting Las Vegas for many years now, and we really enjoy saving money!  Las Vegas is the coupon, discount, and freebee capital of the world.  Casinos give away a lot of free stuff so you'll come there and gamble.  Information, and knowing "the system" is the key to a great, inexpensive vacation.  In the past, when we had only 3 or 4 days to vacation planning was critical to a successful trip.  Now, even with more time to play, planning is still important.

If you're planning a Vegas vacation, the LVA, Las Vegas Advisor, is the best single place on the web to start your research.  For $37/year you can have full access to the web site, plus the coupon book that Chris is talking about above.  One of the coupons alone (there are over 150) is worth more than the $37 you pay for membership.  The web site itself will save you hundreds too, because you'll learn what's happening before you arrive and you can plan to take advantage of promotions, give-aways, etc.  Be sure you join the forums!  Hundreds of other gamblers there talking about comps, hotels, casinos, transportation, shows, dining, etc.

Whole books have been written on the subject of getting the most out of Las Vegas, so I won't try to write another one here :-).   I'll just recommend a few that, combined with the LVA will save you hundreds, and maybe thousands, on your trip.  We took one trip to Las Vegas about 6 years ago and spent less than $500 for round trip 1st class air, $0.00 for 4 nights hotel (2 at Belagio, 2 at Mirage), $0.00 for most meals, including steak dinners, buffets, breakfast, etc. $0.00 for show tickets, and 1/2 price to others.  The whole vacation cost under $1000, including a small gambling loss.

The Frugal Gambler  by Jean Scott. This is the book that started it all!  The link here is to the updated version.  Same text but with updates and technical corrections.  Jean has been called the "Queen of Comps" and featured on various national news shows and in Travel Channel specials.  More Frugal Gambling  also by Jean Scott.  New information since the earlier book, but not a replacement, read the original too!

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