Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It really does exist!

I set out from the RV park with the intention of visiting Palo Duro Canyon "One of the nation's most magnificent scenic attractions". A couple miles down the road I saw them out in a field. Wearing technicolor coats, layers and layers of "I was here", "Joanie loves Chachi", etc. - the Cadillac Ranch. Ten Cadillacs buried nose first at the same angle as the Cheops Pyramid. The cattle in the field munch around the hundreds of discarded spray paint cans. The smell of the paint is overwhelming. The roofs of the Caddies are caved in, the steel rusted at that point where metal meets earth. Initials are carved in the tires that remain.

As for my trip to the canyon, I rode about 10 miles in the 40 mph winds and gave up. Hopefully the winds will abate and I can make the trip tomorrow. I turned around and found a B-B-Q Barn for a pulled pork sandwich and a Dr. Pepper.

My coach is rocking pretty hard in the wind. Hope the bough doesn't break.

Oklahoma blows and KOA sucks.

The birds in Oklahoma don't migrate - they don't have a choice - the wind just blows them to their next home. Forty to fifty mile per hour wind gusts. Driving I40 is very stressful due to the wind and poor condition of the road.

I have stayed at four KOAs now, with only one good experience. I won't say never, but I should. I stopped in Calumet, OK last night at a KOA that advertised free wifi on the miles of billboards that I read along the way. I asked about it before I paid for the spot. No problem. Then I find out that the last storm blew away their antennas and there is no wifi and no television and that I was paying to park in the middle of a parking lot. Kind of like Ronnie's experience with Motel 6.

I'll be in Texas tonight and hope for a better nights stay. I'm stealing internet from a someone named Bobby right now, while sitting outside a Denny's.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

On this day in history

In the year:
Joan of Arc entered the besieged city of Orleans to lead a victory over the English.
Maryland's House of Delegates voted against seceding from the Union.
New Orleans fell to Union forces during the Civil War.
Jazz musician Duke Ellington was born in Washington D.C.
The Easter uprising in Dublin collapsed as Irish nationalists surrendered to British authorities.
Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler married his longtime mistress Eva Braun in a Berlin bunker. The couple killed themselves the next day.
American soldiers liberated the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.
Twenty-eight former Japanese leaders were indicted as war criminals.
President Richard Nixon announced he was releasing edited transcripts of secretly made White House tape recordings related to the Watergate scandal.
Truck driver Peter Sutcliffe admitted in a London court to being the "Yorkshire Ripper," the killer of 13 women in northern England over five years.

And someplace in there, my sister Mary Val was born.

Happy Birthday!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

There goes my security blanket

Paige and Dave are on their way to Maryland. Feels funny to be sitting here looking out my window and not see their circus train. Who's going to make sure that I have a reservation or that I eat too much? Who's going to fix my screw ups? Who am I going to ride with?

Forget what I said about having too many clothes. The high today is supposed to be about 55 - 15 degrees below normal. Looking at the weather in the Four Corners area shows that the lows are still in the 20's. I may delay my visit to that area until it warms up. That's the nice part about not really having a schedule.

Dave and I got in one last ride yesterday. The roads around here are wonderful riding. I almost made the ride memorable. We made a pit stop at a gas station after 80 miles. I intended to fill my tank, but was ignored in the store so I decided to show them and head on down the road to the next station. We saw a few former gas stations. I normally go about 135 miles on a tank of gas. When I reached 120 miles I started conserving fuel - coasting down hills and laying off the throttle. Every sign we saw for the next little town brought hope, then disappointment. I found a station after 169 miles (Dave says 167.5).

This just served to reinforce my belief that I should never pass up a gas station or a bathroom.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Quiet days

A couple of quiet days. Overcast and drizzly, threat of thunderstorms from the weatherman. We've ridden in the rain too much and have become fairweather riders. Actually, it feels good to do nothing now and then.

We had breakfast at 'The Smokehouse Cafe', home of the world's largest biscuits. Their motto is "Walk in, waddle out". The biscuits are huge and tasty. The sausage was good, too. I saved half for later. The cafe is covered in license plates, dollar bills, bandannas, just about anything that can be stapled to the walls or ceiling. The waitress regaled us with some of the stories associated with the donated items.

I've spent part of the morning planning my trip west. From here I'll try to get to Oklahoma City for a night, then Amarillo and on to Albuquerque. I've learned to not plan on driving more than about 300 miles per day. That's about six hours and about one tank or $100 worth of gas. I'll look for a base camp to explore the Four Corners area, maybe in Farmington or Durango. There is so much to see in the area. Tony Hillerman convinced me to visit the area. Maybe I can help Leaphorn and Chee solve a murder mystery while I'm there.
I'm still pinching myself.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Close encounter

12:15 Flash! Boom! The whole RV seems to jump in place. I guess that one was close. The rain on the roof is deafening. The storm comes in waves, the quiet periods lull me almost to sleep - then flash, wait for it, boom. Five miles away now. The wind howls and the rain attacks once more.
I like to listen to the radio when I'm laying awake in the wee hours of the night. I can't hear it.

It's raining cats and dogs and lizards and frogs

It is raining. Buckets o' rain. Gallons. I'm glad our RV park is on the top of the hill, because everything below us may get washed away.
Dave and I did go for a ride, north in to Missouri, then west almost to the Oklahoma border, then south to Springdale. Dave had hoped to pick up a part from the local Freightliner dealer for his coach. They could tell him everything about it, but they didn't have one on the shelf. We had to continue south to Mulberry (just off I-40) to get it. This added about 130 miles to our original 140 mile run. To save time we spent a few miles on 540 at 75 mph. Freeway travelling is very tiring. The dirty air from the big rigs tosses me around quite a bit. We got the part and continued east on 40 until we got to the turn off for 23. This is the real pig trail that everyone brags about riding up to Eureka Springs. It is a nice (fun) road on two wheels.
For some reason big trucks think they need to drive on this road, too. On top of that, they think they need to go fast. We happened across one driver that didn't quite make it. He obviously cut across a hairpin turn too sharply, hooked his trailer wheels on the shoulder of the inside lane (he was supposed to be on the outside) and the trailer tipped over. What a mess.
I had me a mess o' catfish and hush puppies for dinner. I guess I'll snuggle in and read tonight. The weather is supposed improve for the weekend.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Route 5 - dirty bikes

Two cyber friends from the Honda Shadow ACE Tourer forum arrived in town yesterday and settled in to the Edelweiss Inn (owned and operated by Bryan and Cindy Sumpter - also members of HSATF). Rod rides a black Tourer and Larry has a mint and cream T. We shot the breeze and decided to meet this morning at 9 for a ride. As they have to be home on Thursday, I decided to take them and a couple riding a Goldwing on one of the weekend rides - Route 5 that covers 142 miles and took us north in to Missouri. We crossed Table Top Lake a couple times and drove through Dogwood Canyon. It was aptly named. At about the half way point the skies darkened, lightening cracked the clouds and thunder rumbled across the valley. We took refuge under the awnings of a Sonic Drive-in on the outskirts of Green Forrest. After about half an hour the storm passed by and we resumed the ride - dressed in foul weather gear and minus the Wing. By the time we got back to Eureka Springs, the sky was clear and the afternoon sun warm. We said our "See ya laters" and came back to the park to wash our filthy bikes. Of course as soon as we finished, the skies opened again.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Beautiful downtown Eureka Springs

Dave and I spend our time riding around the countryside, but I should share some pictures of "Little Switzerland". It is not a town meant for walking, being built on the sides of many hills. Lots of Victorian homes with gingerbread and bright colors, stone office buildings and clapboard single family homes. Almost all have been converted to one business or another. Tourism is the lifeblood of the community.
All of the trees are in bloom. Dogwood, redbud, the oaks and maples are leafing out. It really is beautiful.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Route 4

I visited Bryan at the Edelweiss Inn and got the maps of the rides for the Eureka Springs Ride, Rally, Ride which he hosts and starts later this week. Due to projected inclement weather, he gave us the maps early. We rode Route 4 today. It took us over, around and through 150 miles of the Osage Valley.
The main industry of Eureka Springs is tourism. In the valley, the economy is Agra driven. The name 'Tyson' is prominent - as in Tyson Turkeys. I found something else produced by nature that I could do without while riding my bike - the smell of turkey farms. The valley is rich and fertile, the fields are full of fat, (and I presume) happy cows.
The roads are cut in to the rocks. The picture is of Dave and some riders from Oklahoma at a picnic spot that is in an overhang. There was some damage evident from the heavy rains they've had this spring. We navigated around one slide area that had the road down to one gravel lane.
Eureka Springs occupies a chasm and is filled with painted ladies - Victorian houses. The roads and sidewalks are steep and lined with touristy industries. Paige saw a couple yarn shops and Dave silently groaned. The town is very biker friendly, has a multitude of biker bars and shops. Paige groaned. I sat in the back seat of the Jeep and agitated the situation.

Good Morning from Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Here I am at the apex of my trip. Looking forward to unloading the bike and seeing the countryside. The woods are full of Harleys and every other kind of motorcycle. But always Harleys. Gray haired men in leather trying to capture some version of their dreams. We always smile (you can't stop smiling sometimes) and wave at each other, wishing each other "bon chance" as we go out to mix with the cages (cars) on the hiways. Most of the states I've ridden in lately have not had helmet laws. I am not so foolish as to ride without one. My kids had to wear helmets when riding their big wheels, anything with wheels. My son wishes that I would ride with a full helmet (I know I should) but I just can't do it. Part of riding is the sensory overload of sights and smells that I just don't get in a full helmet. Part of nature I could do without are the bugs that hit me right in that unprotected space between my visor and my goggles, between the eyebrows. I see the bugs coming at my windshield and arc up over the top, directly at my face. I know where it will hit before it makes contact. It does no good to move my head, the bug just adjusts to the new target.

Here is the view to which I arose this morning. Like Meg Ryan said in "French Kiss", "Beautiful, just beautiful".

Friday, April 18, 2008

Driving to Texarkana

Had a thunderstorm this morning before leaving Louisiana. First rain since I left Washington.

Pulled in to the KOA in Texarkana. I'm excited to have cable for a night after five days with two channels. This park is very near the freeway and is older and a little worn at the edges compared to the Lake Charles park. It's also costs and a bit more per night.

I'll be in Eureka Springs, AR tomorrow. That was sort of the whole point of this portion of the trip. Sadly the Honda Shadow ACE Tourer Forum turn out is going to be small this year. I have a nine day reservation at the RV park. If the weather holds I'll take advantage of the opportunity to ride in the Ozarks. From what everyone tells me, I'll be in hog heaven.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Paige and Dave are celebrating their anniversary today. Many happy returns.

Thank you for everything you've done to make my transition to RV life so painless. Plotting our course, making reservations, feeding me, repairing my "fixer-upper", introducing me to your friends and just plain making my life easier. Thank you so much.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Our next stop

We'll be in Eureka Springs, Arkansas for 9 nights starting on Saturday. You can check out the park here: Pretty isn't it?

But I get ahead of myself. Tonight is barbeque at Hollier's (ooyahs), tomorrow night crawfish at Steamboat Willie's.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Says who?

Did I miss the special United Nations resolution that proclaimed Rayne, LA the "Frog Capitol of the World"? or the Presidential proclamation that Crowley, LA is the "Rice Capitol of the World"? Inquiring (or curious) minds want to know.

Carolyn worked at Don's Seafood when she was just a kid.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Down on the bayou

Dave and I just returned to the park following a 120 mile ride on the Hiway 27 loop south of Lake Charles - part of the Creole Nature Trail. The loop took us down on the bayous, through the Cameron Prairie and Sabine National Wildlife Refuges. Dave promised me that we would see alligators, but he lied - not even road kill. I did see Louisiana Heron, Little Blue Heron and what I thought were egrets but may well have been immature Little Blues. Sandpipers, brown pelicans and dark headed gulls (Bonapartes or Franklins?). Paige said she saw a spoonbill once. There were ducks that I couldn't identify at 55 mph and three turtles at one one rest area.

The remains from Rita are still evident. As we rode along the gulf in Cameron and Holly Beach there were too many empty cement pads. Most homes are pad built down here (no foundation), so each pad represents where a home and family once were. There were cars still half buried in the marshes and the bayous were littered with rusting appliances. Abandoned businesses and gutted churches. Most of the cemeteries have new headstones. But life continues. There are some new homes and people are working. The physical wounds are healing.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ho hum, another nice day

Eighty degrees and sunny. I accompanied Dave and Paige when they went to visit their friends Sid and Violy. Sid made gumbo and I made a pig of myself. Paige just brought me some leftovers - urp! Sid and Dave served in the Navy together at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

This is a picture of my home sweet home (for the next 5 nights) in Whispering Meadows RV Park in Lake Charles, LA. It's a fairly new park, very neat and tidy with paved roads and pull-thrus. No extra charges for services, free wifi internet. I do wish I could get more than 2 television stations, but I'll address that in the future with some sort of dish system.

Dave and I will be taking a few rides in the area and Sid says he'll take me golfing. I'll be back with stories and pictures if there are any worth sharing (maybe even if there aren't).

Friday, April 11, 2008

On the road again

The heart of Texas may have stolen my heart. I was looking at real estate in the area last night. Koyote Ranch is the perfect place for an event like "Thunder in the Hills", but the sign says they are biker friendly - I think they are biker rip offs. I don't know if $39 is a lot in this area, but it's more than I've spent per night anyplace else. $3.86 for a gallon of gas at their pumps, $3.19 just 20 miles away in Kerrville. The park is beautiful, the spaces large, the help (Gloria) surly. They have cabins and lots of tent spaces. They think they have a monopoly - they don't. Shop around - there are lots of parks in the area. I'm just outside of Houston tonight, then on to Lake Charles for a week before heading to Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Been there, done that, bought the tee shirt

Riding the heart of the hills of Texas is a blast. We did about 220 miles today. Most of what we rode yesterday (in reverse) plus the Three Twisted Sisters.

The roads are in nice shape, two lane, no shoulder, often no guardrail and not much traffic. Watch for rocks and gravel. I wouldn't recommend these roads for beginners and intermediates like me need to pay attention. The curves have no banking and at times fall away from the apex of the turn.

Today I saw camels, giraffes, gnus, antelope, llamas, more goats, sheep, horses, longhorns, mules and an armadillo (but it doesn't count cuz it was flat on the side of the road).

The weather toady is sunny and 90 degrees. Quite a change from yesterday's weather ahead of the storm.

We'll be on the road headed for Louisiana tomorrow - at a leisurely pace. We'll spend another night in Texas.

I'm okay

To my family and friends in the northwest that have heard about the severe weather in Texas - I'm okay. There were some wind gusts last night and rain early this morning but no problems in this area as far as I know.
The sun is shining. Dave and I plan to ride the 3 sisters today. More later.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Events of the day

...and an eventful day it was. I'll try to not be too long winded.

First, let's start with a big Happy Birthday to my Mom. She's 87 today. I love you Mom.

Next, Dave, Paige and I continued the "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" portion of our trip with a visit to "Mac and Ernie's" in Tarpley, TX. This is a one room roadside eatery with outdoor seating. It is open on Wednesdays for lunch (special of the day only) and the weekends. Today's special was two pork tacos with an ancho chile sauce, cheese and salsa - $5. We went next door to get our cold drinks while waiting for them to be prepared. Delicious!
We continued the feeding frenzy by stopping in Medina (The Apple Capital of Texas) for some apple pie. We limited ourselves to one slice apiece - for now.
When we got back to the park the weather had cleared some and it was decided that a ride was in order. It had two purposes: 1. to get on the bikes and ride 2. to get cell phone coverage so I could call Mom (see the first item above).
We chose a loop the locals call "Lost Maples" because is passes Lost Maples State Natural Area. Leaving the park we headed north on 16 to Kerrville. This section of 16 has some wicked switchbacks and the cars like to use both lanes. We left Kerrville for Ingram on 27 then veered on to 39. Up, down, this way and that running along the Guadalupe River. The bridges are built near water level with no shoulders and no guard rails. If it floods there is less to repair. Then we turned south on 187. Two lanes, no shoulders, driveways and a 70 mph speed limit. Up on the hill tops with huge ranches on either side, we saw deer, elk, bison, longhorns, horses, mules and goats. At Vanderpool we turned east on 337 for a run through similar country but back in the valleys. Very little traffic until we neared Medina where we turned north on 16 to return to the park. I'm still smiling. 96 miles of two lane blacktop (for the most part).
Now it's time to relax, maybe have one of those cigars I picked up in Tarpley.

Morning has broken

I awoke to the sound of a rooster that knows what time it is, the skies lightening, the smell of woodsmoke wafting through my nostrils. Looking out at the hill country shrouded in mist, the cicada quiet for the day, the birds singing - borrowing from another song - It's a beautiful morning.
Stormy weather (another song) still threatens, but appears to be passing north of us. This is the latest storm from the northwest that has pursued me on my trip. Enough!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Proud Father

This is not a forum for political debate so please do not comment on specific presidential candidates. If nothing else positive can be said about Barrack Obama, I would like to thank him for getting my daughter (like many other young voters) interested in politics.

Erica became very involved. She volunteered in her precinct, knocking on doors and making phone calls to get other people in her precinct involved.

Now she is a Congressional District delegate.

I am so very proud of her.

Texas Hill Country

An easy day's drive to the Medina, TX area for a few days of riding. The drive to the campground whetted our appetite for the days ahead. The weather is threatening, but Dave and Paige are poo-pooing me and telling me not to worry. It's hard to ignore the possibility of golf ball size hail stones.

The hills around the campground remind me of Aztec ruins. The rocks peek through the trees and beg to be explored. I know Thom would already be at the top of the nearest peak.

No phone service at the campground, so if you need to get in touch with me, send an e-mail.

Paige took this picture of me yesterday. Today I hit the road while Dave was still breaking camp, so I stayed about 20 miles ahead of them.

Monday, April 7, 2008


I am currently tied up to the dock in Fort Stockton. Dave and Paige in their 40' cruiser are snuggled to starboard. They saw me along I-10 when I stopped for lunch and gave me a call. The next time they saw me I was pulling away from them on the way to tonight's moorage. 22' runabouts with big engines are fun.
The west bound traffic on I-10 included the NASCAR circus. All of the haulers filled with millions of dollars of go fast parts and the outside painted in the bright colors of the team racing silks. The most interesting to me were the driver's coaches - their homes on wheels while on the circuit. Almost every HUGE coach was towing a full size, crew cab pickup with a golf cart in the bed. Everything was color co-ordinated and some could be identified with their respective driver.
We continue along the "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" road map tomorrow when we pull in to Medina, Texas. I'll tell you all about it after we try it out. Dave and Paige saw a new segment in the program that showcased a restaurant in Glendale, AZ. I guess we'll hit it next season.
I hope to release the Tourer from the trailer during our three days at the Koyote Ranch ( It has been restrained for the last four days as I let Chris and Don chauffeur me around their home town. I can't tell you how nice they were to me. I hope I repaid them in some small way by helping rebuild the green house. Chris loves her gardening. She sent me off with fresh frozen peaches, peach jam and shelled pecans. Good eating.
I got a bonus from the sale of the house. A couple checks from the mortgage company that may allow me to get a satellite dish. My antenna is weak at best and lately has been useless. I need my mind numbing television at night.
It's happy hour in the park - time for another gin and tonic.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I'm alive

I am sitting outside the Tularosa, NM public library, having ridden my new to me bicycle from Chris and Don's house. My butt is not used to such a skinny seat and my legs are complaining.

My hosts have full RV hook-ups outside their house and have been wonderful hosts - having been full time Rvers for 14 years themselves. We spent yesterday playing in White Sands. Amazing place. Then we had lunch in Las Cruces and walked around the original part of town. Las Cruces is the fastest growing city in the state and it is spreading fast. Tularosa is a very nice village, a little higher in the hills so it gets some snow but still has the sunshine and a month of temperatures in the 100's.
I'll start for Texas Monday morning.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Oh well

A wise man named Dean told me that if you have something or someone on a pedestal, don't be surprised if they don't live up to your expectations. My idyllic version of Lordsburg will live in my mind if not in fact. I stopped and walked the streets, then got in the coach and drove to Deming for the night.

The good news is the RV park is having an ice cream social tonight - free for folks with birthdays in April!! Woo hoo, I'm living right.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Movin' on

I'm outa here tomorrow. I spent the day scrubbing the trailer and the front of the RV. My back is a little sore and red from lack of sunscreen - but I had my hat on! I'll get started for Tularosa, New Mexico about 9 in the morning - just after rush hour and before lunch break for the working stiffs of Phoenix. I should get thru Tucson before the afternoon rush (according to Dave). I'll stick to I-10 (I still can't bring myself to say "the ten") and spend Thursday night in Lordsburg. Ever since I first saw "Stage Coach" starring John Wayne (1939) , I've wanted to visit the area. I'm sure it's nothing like the movie set, but I can mark it off the list. I should be hooked up at Christine's early on Friday. She has a few things planned for me - like sliding on the sand dunes at White Sands.

I may not have access to the internet for a while - be patient.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Wrecked the bike on the road to Prescott. Got too busy looking at the scenery and missed a turn. Oh, wait, that didn't happen.
April Fools!

Ramblin' man

Paige has family in the Phoenix area. This week her brother Steve has been visiting from New Jersey. To celebrate his 50th birthday, he rented a Harley Davidson Street Bob (that's him in the red shirt) and Dave (in the flames), Bill (with the straight pipes) and I (with ear plugs) have been escorting him around the area. Actually, Dave has been doing all of the work - planning our trips and leading the way. I wish I could tell you exactly where we've been, but that's not really important anyway. We've been riding.

Yesterday we stopped for lunch in Eloy, AZ and ate at the "Bent Prop". The restaurant and food were not the main attraction at Eloy. This is the largest skydiving resort in the world. Following lunch we sat near the landing zone and watched skydiver after skydiver swoop down for one of those perfect landings that you see on television. Planes and jumpers were taking off and landing in an endless loop. I have to say that referring to this gathering of buildings in the middle of the desert as a resort is a stretch.

Sadly, the ride ended on a bad note as Bill's UltraClassicElectraGlide decided it didn't want to make the final leg of the trip home, so Bill had to get his truck and trailer and give it a ride home. Something in the electrical system pooped out and killed the battery. He will get another lesson regarding the true meaning of HD (hundred of dollars).

The birthday celebration continued at PF Changs in the evening. A good time was had by all.

Today we head for Prescott. This will make Steve happy as he has been asking for a ride in the mountains. For some reason the highway department in Arizona builds their roads around the mountains. Amazing.

Our barbecue on Sunday evening was delightful. We had huge steaks, asparagus, baked potatoes, baked beans, Caesar salad, beer and good company. We celebrated the good news that Dean and Sue bought a house in Sun City West and told each other how nice it was to be able to gather here at the RV park now referred to as PSNS South. We'll be going our separate ways soon.