Archive for July, 2009

Home Sweet Home 7/29/09

July 30, 2009 - 1:39 pm 2 Comments

Well we stopped in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee all set to spend the night in Loretta Lynn’s campground, or “Dude Ranch” as she calls it.   We arrived around noon and were met by a couple who told us they were going to be full this week due to a MotorCross event held at the ranch each year, which so happens to be this week.   They were expecting 40,000 people with screaming motorcycles!!

We decided to tour the museum and property and head on home.   Her museum was very good, one of the best I’ve seen.   Lots and lots of her stage outfits.   There was memorabilia from the movie “Coalminer’s Daughter”, including the bus used for her touring, and the jeep that “Doo” drove her around in when they first met.   Lots of memorabilia on other country music stars too.   All in all it was a great museum.

We saw a replica of her childhood home in “Butcher Holler” Kentucky.   She really came from deep poverty.   The home that she and her husband built on the property is now used on a tour of the place.   In 1989 Loretta built another house at the back of the property to live in privately.   The property is really beautiful with horses, creeks, etc.   I understand why they loved it so much.

We started the final leg of our journey around 1:00 p.m CST and arrived home around 6:30 p.m. eastern time.

We are glad to be home and although it’s great to be home, it’s also a little sad to finish a trip.   We start it with such excitement and planning, and then when it ends there’s a little letdown.   But we can plan another trip for October when we will tour the Shenandoah Valley while the leaves are turning.

We saw many road projects provided by the “American Restoration and Recovery project”.    This put many people to work and it also helps the road system, which is in great need of help.   Our nation is a beautiful mix of desolate landscape all the way to the lush green hills and valleys of our area.  Coming across Nickajack Lake reminded us of how beautiful our side of the US is.   Seeing the “See Rock City” signs made us feel close to home.   And the kudzu and humidity of the south can’t be denied.

We drove approximately 6,500 miles on this trip.   Don’t know how much we spent on fuel because it was so much less than last year, we didn’t even bother to total it.   It was about half the cost of last year’s trip.

We’ll spend the next few days emptying the RV and cleaning everything to be ready for our next adventure.

Thanks to all of you who followed us on this trip.   Stay tuned!!

Country roads, take me home, to the place we belong….7/28/09

July 28, 2009 - 2:46 pm No Comments

Well I don’t have any photos today.   But keep reading!!!!    We had a day of drizzly rain which is aggravating.   The scenery, since we crossed into Arkansas, looks just like home.   We wondered if folks driving through here and Tennessee from somewhere out west are taking photos of the trees!

Anyway, we’ve been listening to a lot of country music on our way home.   Greg loves it.   We have Sirius radio and his favorite station is “Classic Country”.   So we’ve heard a lot of his old favorites.   There are a lot of funny lyrics as well.   Here are some of the best:

First thing I hear in the morning is “git up” and the last thing I hear at night is “shut up”

If I had any sense I’d go crazy

And my favorite:

You’re the reason our kids are ugly but I love you anyway

We drove through Henryetta, Oklahoma which is the home of Troy Aikman.    We drove through Checotah, Oklahoma which is the home of Carrie Underwood, 2005 Idol winner.    A big transfer truck passed us and on the side was a huge sign which said “Keith Urban tour”.   This big rig was probably carrying stuff associated with the tour.  He was driving so fast I couldn’t even get a photo.

We are finally seeing trees at the rest stops and they are a welcome sight.  And the interstates in Oklahoma are worse than Illinois.    It’s a disgrace what shape these roads are in.  Alaska can’t be much worse!

We are spending the night in Forrest City Arkansas.   We hope to get to Loretta Lynn’s RV Ranch tomorrow night in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.   We’ll have fun seeing her museum and her home from Butcher Holler which she had moved to Hurricane Mills.

Stay tuned!!!

Rainy Days and Mondays….7/27/09

July 27, 2009 - 1:55 pm 2 Comments

Ominous clouds in OklahomaHere comes the rainOriginal truck driven from Kansas to Amarillo in the 1930'sWelcome to OklahomaWe heard it start raining some time after midnight.   It was a gentle rain and it was very soothing.    We had a break in the rain this morning so we ran out to unhook everything just in time for another downpour.    We drove carefully out of Amarillo but as we moved toward Oklahoma the clouds got worse and worse.   We drove through rain all day.

The photo of the old truck has an interesting story.   It seems that Amarillo welcomed many folks from Kansas and Oklahoma during the terrible dust bowl of the 1930’s.   The story is told in the Grapes of Wrath.   At any rate, the story goes that these displaced folks drove around and a lot of communities did not welcome them.   But Amarillo did.   This truck is an original truck with family belongings on the back.   Seeing it makes you get a small sense of how terrible times were back then.

Before we came to Oklahoma City, we noticed in the little town of Yukon, Oklahoma a big sign saying this is the hometown of Garth Brooks.   A big four lane road was named Garth Brooks Boulevard.  We drove as far as Shawnee Oklahoma and found a Hampton Inn for the night.   There were no campgrounds around this area and the weather is so bad we decided not to continue for today.   Luckily there is a Cracker Barrel right next door so we will have dinner there tonight and get a good night’s rest before starting out again in the morning.   Hopefully the weather will have cleared.

Stay tuned!

Goodby Santa Fe, Hello Amarillo 7/26/09

July 26, 2009 - 5:36 pm No Comments

Western Texas landscapeWest Texas LandscapeLimo service to the Big Texan Steak House Amarillo TexasLimo and Limo driver, Amarillo TexasWe had a wonderful visit in the Santa Fe area.   The RV park was very enjoyable.   This park was quiet and peaceful.   The travelers were very friendly.   We enjoyed talking with them.   One man talking with Greg this morning said “can you believe we are fortunate enough to do this?”   Meaning traveling where you want, when you want.   We are indeed fortunate.   Our discussions with our new friends generally go like this “where are you going?” and “where have you been?”.    Camped next to us was a nice couple from Louisiana.   He had a tag on the RV which said “Louisiana Cajuns”.  Yes indeed.

We had an easy drive to Amarillo.   We passed into central time zone when we crossed over into Texas.   The interesting thing about our visit here was our dinner location.   Near our park there is a restaurant called the Big Texan Steak House.   It has been featured on the food network channel and in Europe as well.   The restaurant is huge.   It is decorated in the western theme and everything is BIG.   I did not take my camera to the restaurant which I’m sorry for.   I would have taken some photos of the inside.   At any rate this restaurant is famous for offering a customer a free steak if he can eat a 72 ounce steak in one sitting.   There is a photo wall which shows the folks who have done this, and believe it or not, there are more than a few.

The restaurant advertises that they will pick you up in a limo and take you there and back (from your RV site) free of charge.   The lady who checked us in at our park called and made a reservation for us to be  picked up at 5:30 p.m.   Right on time, the limo pulled up and the driver got out and opened the doors for us.   The driver took us to the restaurant where we enjoyed a very good steak with all the trimmings.  Before you get the wrong idea about the limo, it was about 30 years old and has a huge set of horns on the front grill.   Just take a close look at the photo.

After our dinner, we waited on the front porch of the restaurant a few minutes and the limo pulled  up and we got in for the short drive back to the park.   It was a lot of fun and the driver was very informative about  the area and Amarillo in general.   The restaurant started back in the 1930’s and has been continuously run by one family every since.  There are nine limos that are driving all around the area bringing patrons to the restaurant.

Tomorrow we are off in the morning, driving toward home.   We will spend tomorrow night in El  Reno, Oklahoma.

Stay tuned!

Old Town Santa Fe 7/25/09

July 25, 2009 - 2:42 pm 2 Comments

Cathedral Basilica St Francis of AssisiColorful lady at the spanish festival, Santa Fe Old TownGreg at bus stop---going to the Santa Fe "Old Town"Lunch Time Treat Old Santa FeLook at this crowd at the Spanish Festival in Old Santa Fe!Look at this guy's getup - Spanish Festival in Old Santa FeLook at the beautiful colors on these religious iconsStark white clouds against a bright blue skyThis guy's shoes are like aqua shoes, but with toesWe had a wonderful breakfast this morning–eggs, toast, juice, the works.   We waited at the bus stop right at our entrance to board the city bus to downtown Old Santa Fe.   This weekend happens to be a “Spanish Festival” on the square at Old Town.   Some folks have told us that there will be a “native american” festival in about three weeks, and it is excellent.    At any rate we had no trouble getting downtown on the bus, and by the way, the one way trip downtown was 50 cents per “senior” (that’s us) so it’s a great deal.

We took some time getting aclimated to the layout of the town, but it’s basically a square.   The buildings are all adobe and the accents on the buildings are very colorful.   The people are very colorful as well.   I mean their clothing.   The women especially wear the typical southwestern attire and it is so pretty.   Big full skirts, silver belts, big hats.   People watching is a great pasttime in Santa Fe.   You see all sorts of people, from beautifully dressed women, to street people that are dressed, well, you’ll see by one of my photos.

I read about a restaurant (on the internet) in Old Town Santa Fe called The Ore House.    I honestly forgot about it until today we were walking down the street and we noticed a line forming.   I looked up at the sign and it said “The Ore House”, so since it was about lunchtime, we decided to get in line.   Luckily, we got a table right away and it was a delightful lunch.   The restaurant is upstairs from the main street and you have a great view of the square.   We had a great lunch—I had a chicken taco which was excellent and Greg had a caesar salad topped with grilled salmon.  After lunch we walked around and looked at the booths, as well as the stores on the square.   Most of the booths (besides foods of all kinds) were of spanish religious icons which were very colorful.   Lots of crosses and all sorts of religious memorabilia.

I found another pair of earrings that I just couldn’t do without :)   After we had enough of the festivities, we took the bus back to the RV Park (another 50 cents each—don’t ya love it).   We took a short nap–don’t ya love it.   We saw an Olive Garden restaurant just a block down the street from our park, so we are going to walk there for dinner if it doesn’t rain.

Be sure to look at all these photos as the day was very interesting.

We leave tomorrow morning heading for Amarillo Texas for the night.   Stay tuned.


PS  We walked to the Olive Garden which was about 10 minutes away.   I guess we were hungry and tired.   It was the best meal we’ve ever had at the Olive Garden.   You may think it’s funny that we ate at the Olive Garden and not  another mexican restaurant.   To be honest, we don’t like the extremely hot (spicy) food and since Olive Garden was within walking distance, we thought we would enjoy it.   We started by having a nice glass of wine (YES) and we had our usual lasagna for Greg and spaghetti for me.   For dessert we had a light  lemon cake with cream filling.   It was delicious and the perfect way to end the perfect meal.    We walked back to the park feeling very mellow!!!!!

Taking the high road to Taos, New Mexico 7/24/09

July 24, 2009 - 6:01 pm No Comments

Cemetary in Taos PuebloColorful pueblo in Taos New MexicoOjo Sarco Pottery StudioSantuary of Chimayo Taos New MexicoSantuary of Chimaya Taos New MexicoTaos PuebloOutdoor ovens at Taos PuebloWe reserved a rental car from Enterprise and they picked us up around 8:30 a.m. and took us to the Enterprise office to fill out paperwork.   We enjoyed our drive out of the city toward Taos.   The “high road” is the name used for the mountainous trip from Santa Fe to Taos.   The “low road”, which we drove back to Santa Fe, is through the valley.  The drive to Taos was slow due to the terrain.   We passed through many small villages where artists have their studios.   We stopped at a pottery studio in Ojo Sarco which looked interesting.  When I say this was in the middle of nowhere, I mean it.   We drove down a desolate little road off the main highway and came upon the little studio.   Inside was the nicest couple who were the potters.   They have lived here for 30 years and mostly show their pottery at galleries around the area.    I picked out a beautiful serving platter.   We enjoyed talking with this couple so much we asked if we could take their photo, and they were glad to do it.   They both work and live on this property.   They had a little garden outside the studio.  I can’t imagine a more peaceful place to work.  It’s very isolated, but they evidently enjoy it and we enjoyed meeting them.

We stopped at the Sanctuary of Chimayo, in the little village of Chimayo.   The shrine was built in 1810 when a Chimayo friar found a crucifix in the dirt.   He took it away and 3 times the crucifix appeared back in the original location.   So a church was built on the spot.   The chapel was original and it was very interesting.    A room next to the chapel was built around the dirt where the crucifix was found.   The original crucifix is at the alter in the chapel.   A nice priest was talking to the tourists.   He said today was his 91st birthday and he would be saying mass today.   He came over here from Barcelona Spain as a young man and had been here ever since.   Many religious people come to this chapel to pray and be healed by rubbing the dirt on their bodies.   Greg and I both took a small amount of the dirt from the ground and rubbed it between our fingers.   Our prayer is that we continue to have good health as we enjoy our retirement in the years to come.

Taos is a small little town with many art galleries and studios around the square.   Today was my day for shopping for myself.   We found a nice little jewelry store which showcased local artists making turquoise jewelry.  I found a beautiful pair of earrings made of turquoise and sterling silver.   I forget the artist’s name but it is engraved on the back of the earrings.   The name of her gallery was Mesa’s Edge.

We drove out to the Taos Pueblo.  This is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in the USA.  The native legends and detailed oral history trace their existence back to the beginning of the evolution of man.   The native language, Tiwa, is unwritten, unrecorded, and not divulged.   You can walk around these original dwellings.    Many natives are selling goods, food, etc.   We bought some bread from a little old lady who baked it this morning in her outdoor adobe oven.  There is no electricity and no running water.

In the photo of the church cemetary, the ruins at the back of the cemetary are of the San Geronimo Church which was built in 1619.   The history of this place was incredible and I’m sure there is much more on the internet about the Taos Pueblo.  

We arrived back in Santa Fe around 4:00 pm and this evening we had dinner at a restaurant named Tortilla Flats.   It was pretty good, but I must say since we don’t know much about mexican food, our chimichangas at the Amigos Restaurant in Chattanooga are better!   LOL

Tomorrow we will go into “Old Santa Fe” for more local art galleries.   The weather has been wonderful.   It’s warm with low humidity.

Stay tuned!

Beautiful Santa Fe New Mexico 7/23/09

July 23, 2009 - 3:34 pm 3 Comments

Rugged New Mexico landscapeNew Mexico sceneryNew Mexico landscapeLong long straight road in New MexicoGreg enjoying the cool shade trees in Santa Fe New MexicoWe had a good night’s sleep in the USA RV Park in Gallup New Mexico.   It was actually so cool by morning we had to use a blanket.   What a nice surprise!   Driving into Gallup yesterday we noticed that there was a Cracker Barrel restaurant the next exit going east from where we were staying for the night so we decided we would have breakfast there this morning.

We packed up and enjoyed a great breakfast at Cracker Barrel.   They even had grits which surprised us both.  We had an easy day of driving as we were only 199 miles to Santa Fe.   We arrived here around 1:00 p.m. and we are very happy with this park.  It’s “55 and over” so as I said yesterday Greg thought it might be a nudist colony.   Much to his surprise, it is not.   It is a beautiful little park right in the middle of Santa Fe.   Lots and lots of trees.   We had time today to do some laundry and we sat under the huge trees outside the laundry and enjoyed the cool breeze.   The weather is awesome.   The good thing about this park is there is a city bus stop right at the gate of the park so we can take the bus to the Santa Fe “Old City”.

We’ve decided to enjoy the park today and we have rented a car for tomorrow to drive up to Taos.   The loop up to Taos is supposed to be very beautiful and have many interesting sites and some of the oldest buildings in the United States.   Artists love it in this area.   We will take the “high road” up to Taos, which is winding and slow, and the road back to Santa Fe is the “low road” which will go through a valley.   Then Saturday we will spend the day in “Old Town” Santa Fe.   We are really looking forward to our visit here.

Since the temperature is so nice today we will walk a good bit and enjoy the outdoors this evening.

Stay tuned!

Standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona….7/22/09

July 22, 2009 - 3:41 pm 3 Comments

Roll on Big MamaStanding on the corner in Winslow Arizona, such a fine sight to seeBeautiful Arizona landscapeLong desolate road across ArizonaNear the New Mexico borderRobby Craig singing at the USA RV Park Gallup New MexicoAmerican flag painted on bottom of pool - Gallup New MexicoWe awoke to milder temperatures and by that I mean 78.   But that’s a far cry from the day before and a very welcome change.   Blake Ranch RV Park was a nice little park.   It was well kept, very clean, and they even had a little fenced in area for dogs to play.   Everyone with dogs were good about cleaning up after them which everyone appreciates.

We left the park around 8:00 a.m. and really had an easy day of driving.   The landscape is flat and we didn’t have to maneuver up and down huge hills.  The temperature never got above 90 degrees so we were very comfortable, even outside the RV.   When lunchtime came, the rest area we were counting on was closed.   Not sure if this is due to budget cuts, but we’ve seen a lot of closed rest areas.   At any rate, we stopped in Winslow Arizona for lunch at Arby’s and I couldn’t resist taking Greg’s photo on the street corner.    You all will know the song “Standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona, such a fine sight to see”.   I chuckled and forced Greg to stand on the street corner so I could take his photo.  You know I had to shame him into it, but he finally did it.   I just thought it was funny.

We’ve stopped for the night in Gallup New Mexico in a nice little park called USA RV Park.  Any active military personnel can stay for free.   They are having a BBQ tonight in their cookhouse so we’ll try it out.   We’ve moved into Mountain time so we are really confused now on the time of day.  But what does it matter?   LOL

We had such a fun evening.   The guy singing tonight generally sings in Tombstone Arizona but he is here “off season”, staying in the park.   You’ll see a photo of him singing.   He had backup music and he played the guitar.  He was very very good.   In front of him are a bunch of picnic tables, and to the right was the cookhouse where we got our dinner.   We enjoyed a real barbeque dinner of chicken, ranch beans, potato salad, etc.   All the tea you could drink.   We really enjoyed the evening.

I took a photo of the unusual painting on the bottom of the pool here.   It’s the american flag—I’m sure you can make it out.   It’s really beautiful.   We’ve seen a lot of american flags on our trip in many unusual places and this is definitely one of those.

We met a couple at dinner who are from Nashville.  They had made the trip out west and are also on their way home.   They are driving the Winnebago Adventurer.   Naturally they were very interested in our View and were clearly impressed with it.   Especially the 15 miles per gallon.   By the way, diesel is now cheaper than gas!!!!!

Tomorrow we will have a short drive (less than 200 miles) over to Santa Fe New Mexico.   I’ve wanted to spend some time there and this is our opportunity to do so.  We are staying in the Trailer Ranch RV resort—for 55 years and older.   Bet we will be the young whipper snappers in this group!   Actually Greg is concerned that this may be a nudist colony, so we’ll let you know.

Stay tuned!

Heading east/homeward bound 7/21/09

July 21, 2009 - 4:46 pm 2 Comments

Our reflection in the back of an 18 wheeler with aluminum polished doorsNewell RV - $750,000 rangeMore windmills than we have seen in one location---all turning in windInteresting landscape in ArizonaThe long road through southern California into ArizonaCampsite at the Blake Ranch RV Park---Kingman ArizonaWe had a good night’s sleep at the Bakersfield RV Resort.   It was a lovely new park in the middle of Bakersfield California.   The only problem was the temperature was 111 degrees and we could not step out of the RV to take a walk!    Even at bedtime it was 100 degrees!   Not very pleasant.   At any rate we enjoyed being there.   The interesting thing about this park was all the amenities.   Besides the usual, we had access to a gym, a wonderful pool, spa, etc.   Also there was a restaurant in the main facility.   We were told they had a great breakfast so we tried it.   One of the best breakfasts we’ve ever had.   I had the usual bacon and eggs, and Greg had waffles.   Both of us enjoyed it very much.   You will see in one of my photos that we parked across the street from a Newell RV.   This is the top of the line RV; this is only the second one we’ve seen in our travels.   We think this one probably is in the $750,000 range.   You’ll notice their little red mercedes convertible is parked nearby.  What a gorgeous sight!

We turned east this morning from Bakersfield and drove through Barstow California and over to Needles, which is right on the California/Arizona state line.   We stopped for lunch at a rest stop and it was so hot we could not open the windows as we usually do for lunchtime.  So Greg turned on the generator and we had cool air during lunchtime.   This little RV has everything we need.   We are totally self contained.

Between Bakersfield and Barstow were more agricultural farms than you can believe.   We saw many migrant workers huddled under primitive shelters probably taking a rest from the sun.   They were picking tomatoes and other vegetables.   At 8:15 this morning it was already 90 degrees, and by noon it was 104.   We drove right along the southern edge of the Mojave Desert most of the afternoon.  It’s a beautiful desolate area with interesting formations.

We stopped for the evening at the Blake Ranch RV Park near Kingman Arizona.   It’s a nice little park right in the middle of nowhere, but we have all the hookups, cable TV, and good WIFI.   It’s amazing how we can get all this stuff out here.   They have a nice little grocery store which, unfortunately, has Hagan Daaz ice cream.   Bet Greg will get over there this evening.

We will head out in the morning across Arizona and will stay tomorrow evening in Gallup New Mexico.  Stay tuned.

Whale of a show!!! 7/20/09

July 20, 2009 - 7:25 pm 2 Comments

Scenery from I-5 heading south to BakersfieldFruit groves in southern CaliforniaWe think these are grape vinesBakersfield RV Resort Bakersfield CaliforniaWe got up this morning to very foggy, misty, cool weather.   It was around 52 degrees when we got up.   We had breakfast and then started preparing the RV for the day.   We noticed lots of our neighbors were looking out at the ocean so we joined them.  There in front of us was a pod of whales.   They were splashing and playing right in front of us.   We didn’t get any photos because it’s very difficult getting a good shot as you can imagine.   We could see the whales blowing water through their blow holes.   Then they would glide slowly through the water and suddenly jump.   We saw them flapping their tails on the water.  I think this is called fluting.   We’ve never seen anything like it and it was quite a show.

We left the RV park and stopped at the Safeway nearby for some groceries.   Everyone in the store was extremely nice and helpful.   A local gentleman stopped to speak with us and wish us a good trip.   The lady who checked us out said that today was her last day at work.   She was retiring after 30 years at the store.   We told her about the whales and she said she had never seen them and was hoping she could now that she was retired.   We encouraged her about retirement and she was smiling big when we left.

We are driving through extremely dry and desert conditions today.   There are palm trees around gas stations at the exits off the interstate which remind us of an oasis.   Guess that’s what they are going for.   As the day progressed so did the temperature.    We have driven all day through agricultural areas.    We have seen groves of fruit trees, almond trees, etc.   We have passed big trucks all day hauling containers of tomatoes.   Never seen so many vegetable and fruit farms in all our life.   By the time we hit mid afternoon the temperature crept up to 110, then 111 degrees.   Yes, 111 degrees.   We can’t believe the heat.

We pulled into our RV park in Bakersfield California around 4:30 pm.   Greg wanted me to tell you that this is the home of Buck Owens.  It has taken 3 or so hours to get the RV cooled down to a reasonable temperature INSIDE the RV.   This park has an on site restaurant so we may opt for a good breakfast in the morning before we hit the road.   It’s a new park, and very very nice.  Unfortunately there are no trees so we are waiting for the temperature to go below 100 degrees.   It’s already 7:3o p.m. and still over 100.  YIKES.

Tomorrow we hope to get over to Kingman Arizona.   Stay tuned!

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