Friday, September 29, 2017

New Mexico

Maverick Campground in
Cimarron Canyon State Park was our home for the night. Cimarron Canyon has three campgrounds in the park - Maverick is apparently the largest of the three.

The park is long and skinny, just a strip along the side of Highway 64 between Ute Park and Eagle Nest, New Mexico.

There are no hookups at this campground, so the rate is $10 per night as it is in all New Mexico state parks. The highway quiets down nicely at night.

The campground is sandwiched between the highway and three small lakes that were formed when gravel was removed for highway construction and then the Cimarron River was re routed through the resulting pits.

The next morning, we headed to Eagle Nest and points west and south.

Apparently, someone figured that the elevation of Palo Flechado Pass between Angel Fire and Taos should be targeted. Turns out, the elevation was 9,101 feet according to the sign.

Our targets for the day were to spend some time in Santa Fe before dropping Jeff at the Albuquerque airport.

We figured we didn't have enough time to visit both Los Alamos and Santa Fe so we decided on Santa Fe. What we didn't realize was that they would be celebrating Fiestas De Santa Fe which meant the cost of parking was a larcenous $30 for the RV. For geocachers, RV parking is across the street from the Travel Bug coffee and map shop.

We managed to find a restaurant with available seating and enjoyed the best Huevos Rancheros that I've ever had before wandering the streets around the plaza for a while.

With all the people clustered around the plaza, the side streets were relatively empty, unless you were trying to negotiate them with an RV when they suddenly became crammed with traffic.

Making our stop at the ABQ airport was also challenging. They have height restrictions, but the signs don't say what the maximum height is or how to route to avoid those restrictions. Turns out we had over a foot of clearance.

After dropping Jeff at the airport so he could go back to work, I headed south. My plans were to overnight at the Walmart in Socorro but it was too hot there so I headed west on Highway 60, looking to gain some elevation. I passed the Very Large Array. There are 27 of these large dishes interconnected to function as one massive antenna.

Home for the night was the Datil Well BLM campground. The regular price for this campground is $5. The sites tend to be quite sloped, but I found an available one that was close enough that I could get leveled up.

One of the reasons I chose this location was to position me for breakfast in Pie Town the next morning.

Unfortunately, every restaurant in Pie Town was closed when I went through. So much for world famous pie for breakfast!

Instead, I chased my shadow westward to Quemado where I found more Huevos Rancheros at the Largo Cafe. Not quite as good as the ones I enjoyed the previous morning at the Burrito Company in Santa Fe, but still very good.

The rest of the trip was all familiar roads, and I was home by noon. Over 1600 miles in less than 75 hours. The rig is officially broken in, and now it's time to start on the mod list.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


On the second day of our cross-country drive, we saw lots of grain silos - every town seemed to have a big row of silos and a rail siding.

We really did appreciate the windshield tours of the towns to break up the trip. Seemed like some of the towns had contests to see which had the biggest church.

Occasionally, we'd pass some older oil wells.

We did our fair share of bug control. It seemed to take as long to debug the windshield as it did to fill the tank.

We stopped in one little town because we spotted a sign advertising the local University - a school that shared a name with Jeff's dog. The school was rather non-descript, but I liked the mural on a downtown building. It seemed to be working!

I wanted to stop in Greensburg, Kansas because I'd seen a picture of the staircase in the World's Largest Handdug Well. There's a dearth of light houses in this part of the country, so this will have to do.

The staircase creates the inverse of the classic lighthouse stair picture. Often I play the 'cheap' card and bypass sites with entrance fees, but I'm really glad we stopped for the earth cache, the pictures, and the unanticipated 'rest of the story.'

Turns out, Greensburg was totally destroyed by an EF5 tornado just over ten years ago.

In addition to the well, the museum highlights the effects of the tornado and the rebuilding process that the town has undertaken since then. With the government buildings destroyed, the town took the opportunity to build all the replacements to LEED Platinum construction standards.

Throughout the town there are empty slabs and other reminders of the tornado that tried to wipe the town off the map, interspersed with top quality construction of new buildings.

This is all that's left of one of the town's churches.

Western Kansas had a number of wind farms. No surprise to us, given the winds we were experiencing.

We were a bit concerned about the roads, but the Kansas roads were wonderful. Oklahoma, on the other hand, will be circumnavigated the next time I'm in the neighborhood!

New Mexico welcomed us with about 15 minutes of rain just before we got to our campsite. We heartily appreciated the welcome windshield washing!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Not a Straight Line

After just under 24 hours in Forest City, it was time to hit the road. While the RV is destined for an Alaska life, the immediate object was to get it to Arizona in the most timely manner practical.

His money, his rig. It was only right that he drove the first leg.

We intentionally stuck to the two lane roads while breaking in the engine. 'Sides that it gave us a chance to see country we hadn't seen before.

It seemed like every town had at least one court house or fancy old church building. In every case except one, we just waved as we drove by.

We cut across the NW corner of Missouri, headed for Saint Joseph. Along the way we pulled into a little community park to switch drivers and find a simple geocache. (Hint: It's just about 6" below the bug - now all you have to do is find the bug.)

I hoped to find some special caches in Saint Joseph, but parking for the RV was too dicey for our preference, so this cache became my only Missouri cache.

The other thing we discovered at that stop was that there's one disadvantage to purchasing an RV only a mile from where it was built - the swarf was just now starting to sift out of the corners of the slides - a process that would have been transparent to us if the RV had 1000+ miles of commercial delivery

We made a quick stop in Atchison, Kansas to see Amelia Earhart's birthplace. A quick picture to prove I was there before continuing to Topeka.

Initially, our plan had been to boondock at Cracker Barrel but their parking lot was full and didn't have any designated RV spots, so we picked a different spot to eat and then picked up some essentials at Home Depot before pushing a bit further down the road.

We knew we'd need the gloves eventually, but the more important purchase was the fly swatter. Somewhere along the line we'd picked up a couple friendly hitchhikers that needed to meet their demise.

Usually, I'd document a bit about places we stayed, but it was dark when we pulled into Eisenhower State Park (and it was dark when we left the next morning) so this is all you get. There are other reviews of the park on Campendium.
It's a pretty cushy rig, but I'm not ready to trade in our Scamp!

Thursday, September 14, 2017


I really enjoy airports, flying, and many people watching opportunities provided. In spite of multiple announcements of how to best use the larger overhead bins ("put your bag in on edge like a book on a shelf,") it's pretty clear that some people have never visited a library!

I felt fortunate to get a window seat although the view anywhere in the northwest quadrant of the country was limited to smoke.

After dropping our bags at the hotel in Minneapolis, we went over to the still famous mall. I was amazed by the limited number of customers wandering the mall but did appreciate the positioning of the Apple and Microsoft stores right across from one another.

Someone was pretty serious about their Legos. This very, very large helicopter built from Legos was suspended at the third floor level. I suspect it might not survive a hard landing.

The next morning a shuttle picked us up and we headed south. I've seen a lot of airports with 'planes on a stick,' but this is the first time I've seen three Thunderbirds stuck on sticks.

I did manage to pick up one geocache near the hotel before leaving Minnesota, but only one.

Our priority this day was to do the factory tour at Winnebago. They didn't allow any photos during the factory tour,

but they did have a couple classics in the Visitors Center. This 1959 Winnebago trailer originally sold for $900.

They also had a very nice example of the classic Winnebago motor home. These continue to attract such interest that the factory is again building them.

New Winnebagos are only sold through dealers so after the tour we returned to the world's largest Winnebago dealer, located just a mile from the factory.

With paperwork completed, we moved in for the evening.

I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to adequately serve as navigator, given the screen saver on my computer! I loved the desk with two USB ports and a 12 volt outlet to keep the computer charged.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Windshield Time

Our son visited us a couple weeks ago, doing some research for a purchase he and his wife were considering. A few days later, I got an email with flight info for me.

Jeff knows that I learned to enjoy windshield time as a young man and I still won't pass up a chance, especially when it means seeing places I haven't seen before. While the tickets say Minneapolis, we're really headed to Forest City, Iowa.

By the time this publishes, I should have lots of pictures on my phone and material for two or three more blog posts. We'll pick up his new purchase and start working our way back towards Arizona, dropping him at a handy airport along the way so that he can go back to work. I'll continue home with his new toy and a list (hopefully not too long) of mods to do on it this winter, in preparation for its future Alaska life.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Virtual Memories

While I was in Seattle for my sister's memorial, I received an amazing letter from the folks at the Geocaching Headquarters.

I was amazed to see that Geocaching HQ considered me to be in the top %1 of geocachers, and I had as many questions as others did about how they selected the fortunate few. HQ followed up with an additional statement about the algorithm they used. It looks like my efforts to build caches that people enjoy paid unexpected dividends.

Virtual caches often highlight historic locations or memorials that aren't appropriate locations for a physical cache. I considered highlighting Falcon Field to draw attention to the role Mesa played in training British pilots in WWII. After considering some other locations, BJ and I headed to the rest area at Sunset Point to do some homework.

Even though the tree looks like it's had a rough life, the blossoms on the Desert Willow were beautiful.

This tree is right by the sidewalk but most folks at the rest stop don't notice it.

A few steps further away, and slightly below the level of most of the rest area is a large sundial made of granite mounted in concrete. Most folks don't even realize its there, and even fewer know why its there.

This sundial was created by Arizona Department of Transportation in the late 1990's to honor the memory of their employees who were killed on duty. The memorial now has the names of 33 people who have given their lives in service to the citizens and visitors in Arizona.

The text on the gnomon reads, "As the sun sets over our fallen companions, may they always be remembered."

Since this sundial is easily accessed but rarely visited, I used my opportunity to create a rare virtual cache (GC7BA2C) at this location. I hope that it will draw more people to visit and get them to slow down when passing highway workers.