Tuesday, June 27, 2017

It's foggy out there

It's easy to tell which way the wind blows

The lighthouse: the sailors savior. Yaquina Head spent nearly 100 years in service
TILAMOOK, OR - - We've spent time on the Oregon Coast in the sunshine; we've spent time in foggy conditions.  This time it's foggy most of the day.  Locals say when its hot inland then we got the coastal mist.  We'll take the cooler temps (60's) any day.
     Later today we'll be in Washington  and it will probably still be the same.  No problem.  Plenty of firewood and hot coffee can bring on sunny dispositions. 
     This is one of our "stop in McDonald's for a senior coffee and free wi-fi" mornings.  If we're looking for something to do the Tilamook company offers free tours of their cheese making facility. The very sharp version is yum yum good. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Nevada to Oregon

California's Mt. Shasta

An Oregon sense of humor

FLORENCE, OR - - Hot describes just about all of our trip time from Goldfield, NV to when we made it out of California.  Oregon (Port Orford to be more exact) where we spent last night (Saturday) has been cool... to the tune of a 50-decree difference.  It was either 108 or 110 or 111 degrees Friday night when we stopped. in Redding, CA.   This morning's (Sunday)  the temp was 58 degrees.  Way cool.
     Of course, out on Mt. Shasta in California it was cold enough to keep the mountain's eight glaciers from melting too much.
     To get to the Oregon Coast from the inland route we were on, Lydia found a way and we were on to another of "Lydia's excellent adventures".  These always involve routes to seemingly nowhere to get somewhere.  About 80 miles of desolate up and down road over a coastal mountain range with basically no straight parts later we emerged to see the Pacific and the Oregon Coast in  all its glory.  Even "The Leader" was a bit surprised noting that if she had known what type of trip was going to transpire she probably wouldn't have suggested it.  Yeah, right.
     Why no photos of the road and the terrain??  I couldn't unclench my fingers from the steering wheel death grip.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

5-alarm blaze

Selfie, with new (fire) brush truck

It's hard to tell how big this monster is.
GOLDFIELD, NV - -  We're visiting Lydia's brother in Goldfield.  It's hard to visualize back 110 years ago, this Nevada town was a bustling mining center with 20,000 residents.  Today, it's quite a bit quieter with about 400 hardy, close-knit folks. 
     The town has a brand new fire truck (to add to a regular fire truck and a brush truck. There  are three ambulances, but they are a separate department). Luckily, somebody pulled a few strings and I got a chance to get a a short ride in the new unit.  But it was the driver who hit the lights and siren. It's a guy thing to like fire trucks
     The new unit is really like what we call in Florida a 'brush' truck (able to go off road to access fires or accidents)  This one is a brush truck steroids. It's good for providing coverage for any type of accident and fighting fires.  With four-wheel drive it can gobble up the rough sand roads and rougher terrain.  It has room for four responders plus the driver and enough gear to cover almost any situation.
     Because this is a pretty lonely area with the nearest hospital nearly 150 miles away, the volunteer fire department, police and ambulance volunteers cover plenty of ground.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Back to the road

One per cent humidity just before we left Tucson

The Vermilion Cliffs

Morning at Deer Creek (Utah) campground, clouds, aspens
CEDAR CITY, UT - - We left Tucson Tuesday afternoon and headed toward Goldfield, NV.  When people in Arizona explain 'It's a dry heat and not really that hot' at 105 degrees and one per cent humidity. Still, it's pretty darn hot.
    After spending the night in Flagstaff it was time to roll on.   Around Noon, we crossed the Navajo Bridge across the Colorado River and followed the empty highway and the Vermilion Cliffs while they mostly parallel the river.
     It would be cooler at higher elevations Monday night so once into Utah we headed for one of our favorite campgrounds,  Sure enough, it was 52 degrees this morning.  But we expect a very hot day and plenty of desert scenery on our 300 mile jaunt to Goldfield.
     Right now we're drinking coffee and doing the wi-fi thing at another favorite stop:  The  Grind in  "Historic" Cedar City...the last "big" center of any kind for a long time.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Kittty treats

I want kitty treats, NOW1
TUCSON, AZ - -  The feisty feline in the above photo is Bud. He's one half of the household we're taking care of while the servants of this 'friendly creature' are on vacation.  Cooper, the dog, shares the accommodations.
      Bud is not your normal lap kitty, he's more of a lap lump if and when he decides you deserve a few moments of his 15 pounds or so bulk.  Mainly he likes to vanish and sleep away the day in some cool hiding place. One thing which does make him reappear is 'treat time' after Cooper has his daily walks. 
    

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

'Tis the season

TUCSON, AZ - - Thursday, June 15, is the beginning of Monsoon Season here. Most of Arizona and New Mexico get nearly half their average rainfall (10 inches) before the season officially ends September 30.
     The above sign is seen more frequently then "Road work ahead"  and it seems as if the public works departments are working on  just about every street and road we've traveled in Tucson.  
     This area is currently bone  dry and it seems strange to cross river bridges and other bridges where there is nothing but cement hard layers of soil and sand and scrub to be seen.  But take that situation, add what can be two-inches of rain in an hour and you have the ingredients for flash floods.  And the flooding follows the 'path of least resistance'  so  that the dips in the road; highway underpasses and just about any low area can become a lake or raging torrent.
     You would think that abundant signs and visual evidence that the water just might be deep and flowing very fast would be enough to deter folks from trying to see if their vehicle has amphibious traits.  There's always a few folks who like to try.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The ears have it

Bobcat waiting for the keeper to deliver breakfast

Mountain lion watching and waiting

I got mine.  Prairie dog munch time

TUCSON, AZ - - Strangers in the night are out there prowling, looking for food should someone leave the garbage accessible or, worse yet, go for a late night walk with their pint-sized appetizer dog.  There have been sightings of bobcats in this neighborhood.  We decided it would be easier to head to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for our encounter.
     One interesting fact about the cat is that when in danger the cat hunkers down and its ears spread  out alongside its head.  The white spots on the ears (visible in the photo) then look like another set of eyes thus making the roughly 20 pound animal appear much larger.
     While mountain lions could roam the surrounding mountain ranges, we doubt any would be hungry enough to venture too close to civilization.  This sturdy fellow found hanging out in the shade and keeping a watchful eye on all the visitors to be less energy intensive.
     Of all the interesting exhibits, the prairie dog village was our favorite.  This gang of about 20...if they all decided to show themselves at once...were zipping all over the place.  The only times they came top rest were to munch on something or have an intruder check.
     We spent 3 hours wandering around and probably could have stayed longer but it was getting hot and animal activity was quieting down.  The hummingbirds, bees, javelina clan (a relative of wild pigs), wolf, black bear were all seeking some  kind of shade when we left.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

From downtown to the desert

Tucson trolley

A portion of the Sonoran Desert seen from Sagaro National Park
TUCSON, AZ - - Driving through Old Town Tucson on our way to Saguaro National Park we were passed by a trolley.  Strange to see rail road tracks down the streets.  Tucson  also has real busses running on the same streets.
     We've been to the NP the last time we were here two years ago, but decided to go back for another look.  It's still dry desert, a lot of different cactus (the tall ones are the saguaro),  and lots of hardy bush.  The denizens of the desert had figured it was too hot and stayed hidden.
     Some parks are big, some are small.  And then there's Saguaro which has two parts...East and West.  We visited the West park.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Planes, planes, planes

These C-133 cargo aircraft date back to when I was in the Air Force

The "Super Guppy" was used by NASA to ferry space shuttle assemblies
TUCSON, AZ - - We visited the Pima (county) Air and Space Museum to check out the displays of aircraft.  While  the majority of planes in the museum are indoors, there is another area called the "boneyard," a 2,900 acre outdoor holding pen for aircraft and parts no longer in use. Imagine rows and rows of planes sitting in the sun and dry heat waiting to be torn apart for scrap or used for parts or sold to countries looking to establish an air force.  
       Davis-Montham Air Base is the secure location and the extremely low humidity and scant rainfall make this a very good place to store the planes. As is visible in the photos all the outdoor aircraft are sealed against the sun and fine grit in the air.  Should a foreign nation  wish to add their aircraft all it takes is a $20,000 fee to get each plane into storage.

I'm watching you

A curious lizard
TUCSON, AZ - - We have all sorts of visitors when we're out on the back patio.  Fill the bird bath and sprinkle some bird feed on the ground near it and you have an ongoing show.

Friday, June 02, 2017

High water

Water level?  Really?
TUCSON,AZ - - The above photo was taken in a dip beneath an under pass on a highly traveled highway in Tucson.  The very deep water level is FIVE FEET.  The area is bone dry as this is written with streams and rivers dusty and sprouting only very hardy weeds.
     The area gets only 12-inches of rain a year while in Ormond Beach our average is 51 inches.  So why the threat of floods.  Because the average rainfall comes almost all at once creating flash floods.  July through September are  "monsoon" season and  all the streams run together.  There are signs on most roads in low lying areas warning not to dive through flooded roadway areas. 
     The folks we are house sitting for say you have to be very alert and careful during the "monsoon."



Thursday, June 01, 2017

Hello Tucson

Tucson...slightly spread out
TUCSON, AZ - - This post was supposed to be up yesterday.  Technical difficulties - - like the wi-fi where we were suddenly kicking me off - - delayed me.
     Monday morning we headed south for Tucson.  We got a warm welcome...like 98-degrees and 4 percent humidity.  We knew what to expect, but it was 36-degrees when we got up before leaving Flagstaff.
     Today we took a drive up Mt Lemmon (where the photo was shot from ) and the temps were a lot cooler at 9,100'.  We'll be in Tucson until June 18 doing a house sitting gig and renewing our friendships with Bud the Cat, Cooper the Dog and the owners air conditioning.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Still hanging out in Flagstaff

Just feel the warmth
FLAGSTAFF, AZ - - So, you  may be asking yourself why we're still in  Flagstaff?  Simple: it's the CYA theory.  As in:  Cover Your Accommodations. If you're traveling then getting a campsite on the weekend is always a gamble.  Getting a site on a three day holiday weekend raises the odds.  Normally, when you travel and begin looking for a site about 3pm.  Doing that on a holiday is a crap shoot.
     On Thursday we decided that rather than hit the road, we would extend the stay in our campground until Sunday night (7 days) and hit the road on Memorial Day when most folks are traveling. home.  The CYA attitude works quite well as long as the campground isn't full of blow-out, party-hardy weekend escapees.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Toes up

FLAGSTAFF, AZ - - We're taking a breather while atop Cave Crater.  Once you get on top there are lots of small caves so watching your step is paramount.   The San Francisco Mountains are in the background while you may also spot some "ranchetts." 
     Flagstaff is pretty spread out so it's interesting when you find a hike which allows you to see a great deal of the area.  But not Flagstaff  from this location.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Historic Flagstaff


FLAGSTAFF, AZ - - Interesting flourish to the design of the church.  The plaque provides the information about it.  And, yes, I wasn't content to cut off the steeple I also crimped the plaque.

Adventures with Lydia

Ms. elk checked us out and went back to looking for food.
FLAGSTAFF, AZ - -In the military they call it a "forced march.'  With Lydia, it's more like "follow me and keep up."  These are usually instances where her keen sense of direction overcomes any obstacles which may be in the way.  Case in point:  At the Grand Canyon, we had to Park at an overflow lot away from everything.  Sensing the canyon rim was close by so there must be a trail to it, we set off with me in the position of 'keeper upper'.   There really was a trail , but it required a lot of rambling through the woods and an encounter with a female elk to find it.
     We always seem to survive even if the short way may not be on Lydia's internal GPS.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ahh, the sun feel good

Warming up the cold blood in the lava fields
FLAGSTAFF, AZ - - This fellow pictured was "guarding" the Citadel Pueblo in the Wupatki National Monument.  The area is 'attached' to the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.  Both were an easy drive from our campground of the past few days

Grand Canyon Glory

The Colorado River rolls thru the canyon

A relatively level section of Bright Angel Trail is visible.  Keep going another 3,000' to the canyon floor.
FLAGSTAFF, AZ - - The Grand Canyon never ceases to amaze.  We've seen the awe inspiring terrain from both the South and North Rims.  From the SR, the drop to the river is 5,000'.  You get an extra 1,000' of elevation on the north side so the drop is 6,000'.  Now imagine you want to do a rim-to-rim trek  26 miles of hiking and you have a "fun" escape.
     And escape is what we wanted to do after battling the very large crowds on the South Rim.  Everyone should see the Grand Canyon once you just need to be aware that it seems like everyone shows up on the same day on the south side.  So we suggest you head to the North Rim... as it takes dedication to get there and a long drive which keeps the crowds to a reasonable number.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Painting in the desert

One of the view points of the Painted Desert.
FLAGSTAFF, AZ - - We've been playing the tourist thing the past two days:  Checking out the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert plus the Grand  Canyon.  We entered our first national park of the trip supposedly at the Petrified Forest end.  We quickly found out that the forest is but a small part of the desert.  We hadn't been here before so we spent a good amount of time checking out trails and view points.
     Wi-fi spots have been scarce so the next post will be the Grand Canyon.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Wimped out

SANTA FE, NM - - It was 27-degrees this morning.  There was slush in the water jug left out last night.The campfire felt good, but we knew that within an hour or so the wind would start again making things seem even colder. Black Canyon campground is nice.  We had a good site.  But the wind during the day is frustrating as you can't enjoy yourself if you are always trying to stay warm. And we've  got clothes we would normally take to Alaska.
     So we've packed up the bus and are leaving Santa Fe two days early.  We'll continue to wander slowly west

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Liven up your cooking

Never double-click when adding a photo
Hot chili peppers are a great souvenir
SANTA FE, NM - - After  breakfast at a French bistro, we wandered around the streets of the Plaza.  The area is a tourist magnet with lots of shops and street vendors selling just about anything southwestern you could ask for.  A small bunch of these chili peppers could arm you with enough 'firepower' to spice up your cooking for years to come.

CAN YOU SAY: SNOW!!

SANTA FE, NM, - -  We're used to surprises on our travels.  So  I was up at 5:30am and noted overcast skies.  Lydia was up a half hour later and it began to snow lightly.  And then it really began coming down.  It snowed long enough to cover everything with about half an inch of wet flakes.  We decided since this was our day to play "tourist" in Santa Fe that we might as well head out to start the day in a dry, warm  place for breakfast.  Soon after we left the blue skies peeked out, but the breeze and low temperature kept things lively.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Happy 25th anniversary among the ponderosa pines

Note the carefully placed shadow of me (bottom left).
SANTA FE, NM - - May 17 has always been a special day for Lydia and me.  We've been going strong since 1992.  Over the years we've traveled to France and surrounding countries in Europe;  spanned our northern neighbor, Canada; and been to at least 48 states including Alaska.
     This was breakfast this morning:  30-degrees, a campfire and hot coffee.  Add a kindle e-reader and we're all set to hangout and watch the little creatures who are checking the area for crumbs.  The kindle doesn't work too good when you try to turn pages with gloves on.  With gloves off, your fingers freeze.  Solution:  tap the screen with your nose.  It works

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

We're cool

SANTA FE, NM - - We're cool, as in  it was 36-degrees at 6am.  We expected it and we were looking forward to it.  Nothing like a nice fire in the fire pit and a cup of French Press dark roast coffee to warm things up a bit.  Cold mornings will be the norm while we're in this campground for a few days as the sun takes its time in meandering down the mountain side before gracing us with its warmth.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Getting up in the world

Lydia sits by the campfire while "the Bus" is in breakfast mode.

This sign got my attention.
SANTA FE, NM - - The 'getting up' in the blog title refers to our current camp site in Black Canyon forest service campground in Santa Fe, NM. At 8,300' it's breath taking...literally.  At $5 a night you can't beat the price (half off for holders of the government's park pass for seniors).  We plan on spending at least 5 nights as we did two years ago.
     Anyway, on Sunday night we were in Villaneuva (NM) state park.  We weren't too high (6,000') but we were remote.  And remote is good when you're looking at the heavens.  By 10:30pm it looked as if you could reach up and touch the stars.  We were camped on an area halfway up the surrounding canyon wall and with no tall trees and no ambient light sources to dull the sky so you could scan 360-degrees.  It's not something you can see in Florida.
     Earlier on Sunday we crossed through Texas.They have an easy way to keep kids from wandering off, at the Gray County rest stop (I-40) in the Panhandle.  The adults stay on the paved walking areas too.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bargain prices in Oklahoma

We saw gas as low as $1.85 but were past the exit by the time we read the price
CLINTON, OK - - The weather forecast for today was:  sunny, breezy and with great gas prices.  Take advantage now because low prices won't last.  We've found Oklahoma to always be easy on the wallet.
     Oklahoma's barely rolling topography and very straight I-40 made for an almost easy day.  A major traffic backup in Oklahoma City at the main interchange of intersecting interstates led to hitting the alternate route...longer but quicker.  When we rejoined I-40 all was good.  The Texas panhandle looms down the I-route with New Mexico after that.  We're still trying to outmaneuver the nasty weather the TV out here keeps reminding us about.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Elvis slept here...but we didn't

Hang this on  your wall if you're an Elvis fan.  (Right, I should have straightened the pic before using it.)

We spotted the Elvis souvenir at our lunch stop, in Forrest City, TN. (Wavy image due to rain falling on windshield.)
CARLISLE, AR - - Of course we're talking about The King of Rock and Roll, none other than Elvis "the Pelvis" Presley.  And the mecca for long time RR fans...Graceland.  Unfortunately the best we could do was wave as we sloshed through Memphis in a heavy, heavy rainstorm.  Lots of rain has been the byword for today and it appears it will be with us for at least the next two days.  There's plenty of evidence of what it has been like here in Arkansas and western Tennessee as small streams and rivers (including the Mississippi) have overflown their banks. Farmers fields, visible from I-40,  are sodden with standing water.  

Thursday, May 11, 2017

On the road notes

COOKEVILLE, TN - - A long day in the van...or so it seemed.  Actually 400 miles isn't bad unless your  posterior hasn't been subjected to  that much sitting in one place in 19 months.  Lydia and I split the driving so that breaks things up.  Not much photographic material, but we sure like being in the mountains even if we barely broke a sweat rolling over 2900'.
     Today's edition of this blog is courtesy of the wi-fi at the Alpine Motel in Cookeville.  Usually if we were camping (strong thunder storms heading this way later tonight according to tv) we would have stopped at a McDonalds.  They are everywhere.  Two senior coffees and you are set for at least an hour.  However, we'll take a wifi signal anywhere we can find one.  Real Estate offices are a good source, but if you are parked "stealing" a signal the local law enforcement really frowns on it.
      Tomorrow?  More Tennessee and probably some Arkansas.
    

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

On our way

GREENSBORO, NC - - We got away from OB late Monday afternoon heading out for another five month wander around the West.  My health problems kept us home last year which seemed more like a ten year endurance test...since we've been on the road each summer since 2006.
      We stopped at South of the Border, a well known destination for anyone who has  traveled  I-95 in the Carolinas.  My first time there was in 1970 on my way to Daytona and the Cycle Week motorcycle races at Daytona International Speedway.  My second time was yesterday.  The only real change is that it has gotten bigger. 
     Why call it South of the Border??  Because you can see the North Carolina state line from SOB.
     The funky shot of Pedro and the rest of the gaudy atmosphere  gives a good idea of what you might miss if you drive by.  Now it's onward tomorrow towards Tennessee and points West.
The viewfinder lies because it showed the top of the huge sombero

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Hi, biscus

ORMOND BEACH, FL - - No birds today, as much as I like their antics.  Instead of hitting the road to look for our feathered friends, I walked to the end of our driveway. Our hibiscus.bushes  have been in constant bloom over the last few months...first red then pinkish and now yellow. 
     This full bloom appears to have a buddy getting ready for the spotlight.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

From the 2004 archives

Yoho NP, British Columbia, Canada
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - A look back at a 2004 vacation stop in Yoho National Park.  Perfect weather and good hiking.  From this location we were heading back to the trail head at Lake O'Hara in the middle of the photo.  No hikers cars were allowed at the lake.  We took a bus to the exclusive resort there and headed out.  Only a small number of hikers are permitted each day.  You have to buy a ticket at the park visitor center and hope there are seats/spots available.  We got lucky to get our tix on the day we hoped for.
     The "friendly folks" at the resort were not happy if you ventured onto their area for the guests  and we expected to see 'no sweaty hikers' allowed signs.  Oh yeah, there was a designated time the bus left for our special parking area...miss it and it was a six mile walk back to the car.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Another bad hair day

I just can't do anything with my fluff.
ST. AUGUSTINE, FL - - The latest happenings from the Alligator Farm.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunrise, Easter morning

ORMOND BEACH, FL - - Easter sunrise at a beach near our house.  If you are going to enjoy the sunrise and do some beach walking you better bring a camera along.  Or you bring a beach chair and hot coffee.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Quit yakking, I want some food

Please don't forget about me.
ST. AUGUSTINE, FLe - -  Poor kid.  The parents squabble while he/she tries to get their attention.
      (It appears I've screwed up the photo somehow...which shouldn't be a problem if I had the slightest idea how to fix it.)