Monday, June 30, 2008

Chadron State Park, Day 2

After our usual start to the day with a short walk with the dogs and our coffee, Karon, her step-son and I headed to the hills for a hike. The park map shows a loop trail that goes to an overlook, so we thought that would be the perfect thing to do. Well, we found the trail, and off we went. All of a sudden, the trail turned and we found ourselves back on the road! We checked the map and figured we must have missed a turn off. So back we went, confident we'd find the cut off to the rest of the trail. Nope. It just wasn't there.

I did find this view on the short loop we did hike:

We ended up driving the road that loops around the whole park. Oh well, we did get some hiking done!

Later, after we got back and rested up from our exertion, it was time for the next adventure - geocaching. I downloaded 3 that looked pretty easy. This time, Jim, Karon and I went, while Karon's husband and step-son went fishing. The geocaching trio was the more successful activitiy, as we were 3 for 3! The fishing duo came up empty.

Jim found the first one, and Karon signed the log:
Karon found the second.

There really is a geocache in there. Karon actually saw it first, but we forgot our pen, so no one signed this log.

This is our yard!
Later, Jim and I got together and fixed dinner for the group. Jim grilled chicken and veggies, and I made a pasta salad and a pie. We had such a great time sitting outside and visiting until the air got chilly and it was time to head inside.

Karon's dog (KD) wants to play with Mr. BJ, but he's not too interested.

What a great day!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Chadron State Park, Nebraska

Yesterday, our last day in North Platte, Nebraska, was mostly unremarkable. I did see both the male and what I think is the female little yellow birds (American Goldfinch?).

We went out to dinner with Karon and her family at Whiskey Creek, a barbeque down the street from the RV Park. That was some of the best barbeque we've had!

A quiet evening, and then it was time to get some sleep.

Today was travel day. We headed west on I-80 for a few miles before turning off on 26 west. We merged into Highway 385 and came to the northwest corner of Nebraska, to Chadron State Park. What a beautiful place! Their web site says this is one of Nebraska's best kept secrets, and now I believe them. The campground has 70 spaces, all with 30 amp electric. There are water spigots located about every 7 sites, and a dump station. Even though it's a weekend, there are a lot of empty sites. In the section we're in, the only other rig besides Karon's and ours is the park host. Although we haven't explored yet, there is a pond for fishing and a swimming pool. The park is located within the Nebraska National Forest. We're at about 4,000 feet above sea level, but some of the park is even higher. The air is crisp, and the temperature is very comfortable.

This was some interesting scenery along the way.

This is one of our views from our site:

Here's another direction:
And, from across the street, the Discovery and the Phaeton:

We gave Karon one of our 2-way radios to keep with her on the way. We were in the lead. We had a good time talking back and forth about our next stops and interesting tidbits about the scenery. I didn't realize until it happened, but we're now in Mountain Daylight Time. I checked the map and found that the corner of South Dakota we'll be spending some time in is also MDT.
Our drive took about 5 hours. We traveled 217 miles and got 7.0 mpg. Our fuel efficiency was hampered by severe wind and a lot of hills. We topped off our tank with 39 gallons of fuel at 4.649 per gallon.
We paid for 2 nights here, but we may end up staying a couple more days. The camping fee is $15 per night, but on top of that, we had to pay $4.00 per vehicle per day for Nebraska State Park fees. We could have purchased 2 annual passes for $20 each. I haven't tried to make any phone calls yet, but we do have satellite TV and internet, so I'm a happy camper.
I think tomorrow we'll spend some time exploring the area. What a beautiful place!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

North Platte - Busy Day

I slept until nearly 8 this morning, I guess I was pretty tired! Coffee was especially good this morning as we talked about our day. First up was a breakfast at a diner just up the road from our rv park. Jim went over to see if Karon wanted to join us, as her husband and step-son had gone fishing. She came right over, and off we went.

I thought I might get Mr. BoJangles groomed today, but after we got back from breakfast, Jim wanted to dump and flush the tanks, and by then it was too hot to stand around grooming the dog. So we sat around for awhile, and Karon and her step-son came over to go geocaching. I'd printed up about 4 cache listings of nearby hides. We are rusty, only got two of 4 today. But it was fun anyway!

This was our first find, I'm reading the log.

This is just before we found our second cache. The terrain here was pretty scary, very dense ground cover. The fact that the cotton from the cottonwoods is blowing all over the place didn't help matters. The cache was hidden very far back under a piece of concrete, under a tree. Yikes!

I've been watching these birds, but I was not sure what they are. My expert source (Linda Payne) tells me this is a Western Kingbird.

Yesterday, we put up a new feeder pole and hanging feeder. This pretty, little yellow bird showed up today. I'm not sure, but I think it's an American Goldfinch. If any of you know, I'd be glad to hear from you.

I had a comment from Bob (and Lynda) yesterday, mentioning that they are at Pleasant Valley RV Park in Howard, Colorado. That's one of our favorite parks! We hope you're enjoying your stay there!

Tomorrow has to be grooming day. Either that, or I need to start calling Mr. BoJangles the Shaggy Dog! Jasmine needs it too, so maybe I'll get them both done before it gets too hot.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hanging Out in North Platte, Nebraska

A day without traveling. Ah, how nice. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy traveling days too. I'm just ready for a few days of sitting still between the traveling days.

So we had a few things to catch up on. First was my prescription. My health insurance doesn't allow for me to get mail order or 90 day refills. I have to refill my one prescription every month, and it has to be within a few days of the last refill. Otherwise, either they won't fill it, or someone writes a letter to my doctor, telling her I'm a non-compliant patient. Oh, boy, talk about control! I checked to see where the nearest Walgreens is, and found out there aren't any here. Walmart, here I come!

I got Karon and we went off to the local Walmart. They were able to transfer my prescription without any problem. While we were there, I got a bird feeder pole that comes apart so we can pack it for traveling.

Back at home, Jim was busy washing the rig. He wanted to put the slides in so he could more easily get to the top over the slide areas. The two slides on the driver's side went out fine yesterday when we set up, and they went back in today for washing. However, they didn't want to go back out again. We waited a few minutes and tried again, and this time they worked. After he finished washing the rig, Jim called Tiffin and spoke to a technician about this intermittent problem. The tech said it could be a solenoid and told him where to find them, and what to do if it happens again.

Jim wanted to get a one day fishing permit, so he took off on his own to do that and find a fitting for his new pressure washer. Seems it was missing from the original packaging. He also was going to replenish our cash. We're finding that more rv parks are giving discounts for cash, or charging an extra 2 or 3 percent for using a credit card, so we've started carrying a little more cash with us than we used to. When he came back, he had a new bird feeder for our new pole and a bag of bird seed.

While he was gone, I baked a pie and then started looking at the geocaches in this area. There are a lot! So, I think tomorrow may be a geocaching day. Karon and I walked the dogs after Jim got back. I declined to cook this evening, so Jim & I went out to a local restaurant. After our meal, we took a drive and found Buffalo Bill's ranch - Scouts Rest. Here's the one picture for today, the ranch house:

It was cloudy and cool this morning, but the clouds burned off and it got pretty warm this afternoon. This evening we're going to sit outside in the shade and look for birds. I hear a lot of birds in the trees here, and I'm trying to see what varieties there are.
What a great day it's been!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Garden City, Kansas to North Platte, Nebraska

I left you yesterday, wondering if we would be able to get out of the tight rv site in Kansas. That part worked out perfectly, as the 5th wheel in front of us pulled out first, leaving a nice open space for us to pull out and make the 90 degree right turn to get out of the park.

No, that part worked fine. It was the fact that both slides on the driver's side had no power going to them, so we couldn't close them. We don't know what was wrong, but after Jim pulled the fuses and determined they were good and put them back in, thank goodness, they worked!

Then we had to wait for a couple who had hooked up their trailer, then went back in and had breakfast or whatever. Their truck was sticking out in the road with no way for us to get around them. We just had to sit and wait for them. A lesson in patience!

We got on the road, and found a convenient truck stop to fill up, at $4.719 per gallon. Just $250 later, we had a full tank and were on the way to Nebraska.

Here's a fairly typical sight along Highway 83 north, across Kansas and into Nebraska:

We had to stop for a stretch of road construction. While we waited for our turn to go, I was able to watch a plane doing crop dusting:

A new state for us. Well, we've driven into Nebraska once in a car, but this is the first visit as fulltimers:

This is what we felt like when we got stuck behind a truck that was painting the white stripe along the highway for several miles:

Finally, we arrived at the Holiday RV Park in North Platte. Karon and her husband and step son have been here a day or two already. Karon prepared White Chili and cornbread, and her husband made a delicious fruit salad that we enjoyed with Karon's brownies for dessert! Yum!

This bush is part of the park landscaping:

Now here's something I haven't seen in years. Jim got out his guitar and played for the first time in I don't know how long. Karon is looking on:

We'll be here for 4 days before traveling together with Karon and her family to Custer, South Dakota. We don't know how long we'll be there, or where we'll go from there. Now that's the part of this life that I love! I hope Karon and I will get to do some geocaching while we're here, as well as some sightseeing. The guys plan to do some fishing.

We traveled 240 miles today, and got 8.3 mpg. A fine day on the road and a safe arrival!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Amarillo to Garden City

We decided to take a slightly different route from the one Microsoft Streets and Trips had planned for us. Instead of going out 60 to Pampa, Texas and turning north on 70 to get to 83, we went North on 287 to Stafford, Texas, then 54 east to Liberal, Kansas, where we got to 83. We'll be on 83 the rest of the way across Kansas, and much of the way across Nebraska.

I read on Ed and Marilyn Dray's Journal about their dislike of Oklahoma roads. May I just add, Amen, Ed! I thought our teeth would fall out several times going across the Oklahoma panhandle today. The road just east of Guyman to the Kansas state line was horrible! If you don't have to, don't go there! Even in our Castle on wheels, which has been smooth riding most of the time, was bouncing all over the place today. So, if you think the turnpike is bad, they are like glass compared to the one we were on today.

Instead of paying for expensive welcome signs, Oklahoma might fix their roads!

It's all a matter of perspective, notice the size of the windmill next to the wind generator?

But, as soon as we crossed the state line into Kansas, it was smooth going for the rest of the way to Garden City. Not only are we in the same rv park (RJ's) but we're in the same site, #27. I'm not sure how the heck we're going to get out of here though. Last time, when we left, we had a straight shot through the site in front of us and an easy right turn a couple of rows over, but there is a 5th wheel in that site now, so we will have to make a very sharp right turn with a trees on each side of our site. Instead of having pull throughs that are angled, these are all straight in, straight out. Not easy to maneuver! We may end up having to unhook the car if we can't get out otherwise.

Ah, smooth roads again.

We were here and set up shortly after 3:00. We traveled 241 miles and got 8.7 mpg today. With a tree right in line of our satellite dome, we couldn't get a signal, but they have good cable in this park, so we at least have tv for the night. I heated up leftovers from dinner last night.
And now, back to Amarillo Signs:

Not a bad Monday!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Reflections of Amarillo

The family has scattered, and life will go back to whatever we each call normal. We had several of the family over for dinner tonight, and they've now gone home with hugs and good-byes.

It's been a good time, and now it's time to reflect and move on to the next adventures.

Before I forget, I had a couple of comments from readers about the carrot cake. Rod mentioned that he has a bag of carrots and no recipe. The recipe is in the RV Dreams Family Cookbook which can be ordered from Howard and Linda.

When I went to the Cadillac Ranch a few days ago, I saw one of the cars had "Sassy" painted on the trunk. One of our RV-Dreams family members is called Sassy, so this is for her:

Over the past 3 days, we've taken a lot of pictures of family. Instead of posting reunion pictures, I want to share a couple of reflections of Amarillo:

Friday evening, as I was driving back to the motor home, I noticed a really nice sky. No time to get a picture, so I just snapped this in the side mirror while I was stopped at a red light:

We ate dinner at the Country Barn one night, and they have these geese hanging from the ceiling in the silo part of the building:

Two buildings downtown, reflected in the windows of a third:

And that's it for Amarillo. Tomorrow is travel day. We expect to revisit Garden City, Kansas, on the way to North Platte, where we'll join Karon!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Family Reunion in Amarillo

Starting off with more Amarillo Signs:

A whirlwind couple of days, and the 2008 Jones Family Reunion is almost history.

We got moved to Overnight RV Park on the east side of Amarillo yesterday morning, after the final few items got checked off our list of things that needed fixing or adjusting on the Castle. Overnight is a familiar little park that we've stayed at 2 or 3 times before. The people are friendly and the park is clean, has big pull through sites, and has private dog yards in several sites. The downside is that it's right under the flight path for the airport. The planes come in almost on top of us, and it can be pretty noisy at times.

My part of the reunion preparations was to bake my mother-in-law's recipe for carrot cake. Once we got set up, that was my focus. Betty, who passed away last October, was known at family reunions and other get togethers for that carrot cake. I said I would carry on her tradition, so I felt like I had big shoes to fill. There was also going to be a dessert contest at the reunion, so I knew there would be several other tasty desserts.

I don't know what happened, maybe I'm still trying to get used to this convection microwave oven, but whatever, when the cake came out of the oven, the center almost immediately sank into a crater. I was going to scrap the whole thing and not even take it. I even made another dessert to replace it. But, I decided, partly on the urging of Jim and Robin, to go ahead and take it. And guess what -- it won the contest! I guess once it got the icing on it, the "crater" wasn't as noticeable. Or maybe, Betty's tradition just lives on.

There were about 40 or so folks who attended this year's reunion, held today at a local apartment complex club house. It seems each year we lose a family member or two, or sometimes more. We miss the folks who are no longer with us, but sure do enjoy getting together to get caught up with everyone's news. The generations are shifting to the younger ones. I was happy to see several young people, including a one-month old baby, at this one. Hmmm, it's hard for me to grasp the fact that I'm in that "older" generation now!

We're very glad we were able to attend this reunion, in spite of the fact that here we are in "Tornado Alley" in June. Tomorrow morning we will all meet for breakfast, and that is the official end of this year's reunion.

It's time to look ahead to moving on down the road Monday morning. We're very excited to be heading towards South Dakota. On the way, at North Platte, Nebraska, we'll meet up with our dear friends, Karon & Dan. We've spent quite a bit of time with them in the past, staying in the same places. We're really happy to be able to spend some time with them again, relaxing, visiting, fishing, exploring. We'll be traveling to South Dakota together. At this point, we don't know how long we'll stay on the same paths, but we will enjoy our time with them. Can't wait!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Driving Amarillo

We went through our list with our fix-it technician here at Dickey Stout Motor Ranch in Amarillo this morning. Then we all piled into the car and took off, leaving the Castle in the hands of the professionals.

Breakfast at Cracker Barrel was first on the list. Then we got the car inspected so it's once again Texas legal. After that, we went out to Cadillac Ranch. Jim stayed in the car with the dogs while I walked the 200 or so yards from the road out to the 10 cadillacs buried in the prairie.

From a distance, the 10 cars, half buried in a field west of Amarillo, just south of I-40:

Over the years, people have delighted in spray painting them. There's so much paint on them, I think that's what is holding them together!

Once again on the road, we drove around local streets for a long time, seeking the strange signs of Amarillo. I think by now I have enough pictures to post a few each day for quite a while. We have a friend who, hopefully, will read our blog often in the coming days and weeks, as we believe he will enjoy seeing these signs. Come to think of it, I believe we have several friends who might identify with some of the expressions on these signs. I also know that we didn't get pictures of nearly all of them!

I also wanted to get some pictures of the painted horses around downtown Amarillo. Here are my two favorites:

Then it was time to go to the park. Thompson Park is the largest (I think) park in Amarillo. I know it's a very large park. Today we found they've fenced in a very spacious area for a dog park. Oh boy, those dogs didn't know what to do when I took the leashes off. Jazz kind of looked at me and trotted off. Mr. Bo Jangles immediately started claiming trees for his very own. In the center of the dog park is a tunnel. Mr. BJ is very familiar with this piece of equipment and went right through. He spent many months in our former lives attending agility classes, and actually competed in a couple of matches. Jazz has never had classes, so she's a little hesitant around the equipment. But she eventually got all the way through the tunnel.

After romping around for awhile, they visited the special doggie drinking fountain provided just for them:

We checked back in at the RV dealership to see how our work was coming along. They still hadn't solved the tv problem and needed to talk to someone at Tiffin in Red Bay, Alabama. The people they needed to contact were out, so we went back out on the roads again. I saw more of Amarillo today than I have in all the previous visits combined!

The skies started looking pretty ugly, and we decided to get back to the rig, finished or not. As we got here, the weather radio was going off with tornado warnings. The local tornado sirens started sounding as well. Scary stuff! As it turned out, we were just a little west of the worst of the storm. Just a few miles can make a big difference. We went in the shop and watched the local weather on tv with the staff here. They're very informal, so had no problem with us being in there with the dogs. A tornado touched down just east of Amarillo, at a Flying J Truck Stop along I-40. I'm glad we were still here, as that's close to the area we are going to be staying once we leave the dealership.

The storm moved south. We relaxed a few minutes before it was time to go visit the family. The next couple of days will be filled with family reunion activities!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Elk City to Amarillo

Back in Texas! It was a short travel day, and quite uneventful. We are spending the night in Dickey Stout RV Ranch so the rig can be looked at first thing in the morning. We have a few minor items to be taken care of under warranty. While they're working on the Castle, we'll be out and about in the car.

This was our sky in Elk City, Oklahoma, last night.

Sweet Jasmine, snoozing next to me on the couch:

Texas, Yeee-Haawww!

I don't know too much about him, but Stanley Marsh is a well-known, eccentric millionaire in these parts. He's the one who buried 10 Cadillacs west of Amarillo. He also planted odd signs in random places throughout the town. We took pictures of some of them today. Over the next few days, I'm going to be posting pictures of these signs that sit, planted in yards, alleys, and on corners in Amarillo.

Jim's family will be gathering here in Amarillo for the annual family reunion this weekend. It should be a fun time!