About Us

Chris and Dennis are traveling around the country seeing the sights and occasionally volunteering at select locations. We avoid the interstate as much as we can and tend to stop for squirrels and shiny objects.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Journey Back–East Wenatchee

donkey1We have been traveling in company with my sister and brother-in-law; on their first adventure in their new to them, 2007 Winnebago Journey. Way out of character for Chris and I, we actually had sat down and planned our trip back north; surfing the forums for suggested routes and things to do. We had plenty of time so the need for running on the interstate never materialized and looking back we've all come to the conclusion taking highway 95 was probably the best decision we could have ever made. Excellent roads, light traffic, and either touching or in very close proximity to all the folksy Americana you can ask for in one trip. Our last blog entry is a fine example of what I'm talking about and if memory serves (it does, I looked it up) we left our readers in Oatman with the donkeys.
IMG_20170321_115400801Picking up from our last entry, I would be doing a disservice if I didn't mention Moon River RV Resort in Fort Mojave. The park had just changed hands and there was talk of the planned improvements. At the time of our visit it was still gravel, close sites but with good room to maneuver. Having the standard amenities, Moon River makes for a good, quiet, overnight stopping place. At the time of this writing, I could not recommend it for any long-term stays.
From Fort Mojave we continued north and again had a short travel day. It just so happened our next stay was to be in Pahrump, Nevada at the Wine Ridge RV Resort. This planned two day stop allowed us to thoroughly check the rigs for anything that may have rattled loose after being parked for such an extended period and gave us time to see the area a bit better; popping into some of the nearby attractions easier. IMG_20170321_120617694_TOPThat was the plan, what actually happened was we spent a good amount of time indoors avoiding the results of a cold front that had come through. No worries, being next door to a winery did have its advantages.
IMG_20170322_154225807Before we could even try to find some of the neat places to go in Pahrump, it was time for us to leave with our longest, and what could be considered our most boring leg ahead of us to Winnemucca. Over 470 miles. Seven driving hours which makes for close to ten on-the-road hours. IMG_20170321_120942453Of course the cold front that had plagued us during our stay wasn't quite done shaking things up with and generated several storm and flood watches. All reported constantly by the Garmin along our route. These alerts, which consisted of heart stopping beeping and with minimal information, quickly became a thing to dread and ultimately to despise as each alert while along our route was well ahead of us in distance. By the time we reached an area of one of the watches, the storm had already passed; usually only leaving a damp stretch of pavement.
Arriving in Winnemucca in the early evening we could finally see the sad results of a flood warning with some side road closures and flooded fields. Get your notepad ready, if you are ever in this neat little town, stay just a bit outside at the New Frontier RV park. The park is brand spanking new with paved and gravel sites generously spaced apart. The “club house” has tons of room with an attached mini market/store, a TV room fit for any superbowl party, and from what we could see, a steam line for snacks and such during the season. Of course, being Nevada there is the obligatory casino and grill next door.
IMG_20170326_150007Still on highway 95 but soon switching over to OR-78 our next destination is one I've mentioned several times before – Crystal Crane Hot Springs. This was our original reason for taking 95 before finding out how nice a road it was as offered the shortest, most direct route to our most favorite stop. We had actually made reservations early on so we were able to park in two of the three full-hookup sites with a very short walk to the springs. While the pond is free with unlimited access if you are in an RV spot or cabin, for a small fee you can book one of the huge private hot tubs which is what Chris and I did this time round. You see, spring break was in full swing there and we really couldn't see ourselves getting caught up in one of the numerous spontaneous water fights. After all the road time, the quiet soak was just what the doctor ordered.
We got to spend two very relaxing days at Crystal Crane and our brother-in-law Randy has become a convert; swearing they'll be coming back in the very near future.
IMG_20170329_145809416While our next planned destination was Prosser Washington to revisit the tasting rooms, we had a day to kill before arriving so we opted to take to the hills and come into Pendleton Oregon via the back way. What a simply stunning drive and while sure, there were a couple of grades and lots of curvey roads just north of John Day, it was nothing we hadn't seen before nor was it overly difficult. Four hours took us from the scrub desert of Crane, through the mountain meadows of Sylvie Valley Ranch and the high timber of Battle Mountain to the high plateau grasslands of Pendleton and the tribal lands of the Umatilla. It is really hard to pass up on the all you can eat buffets and senior specials at the Wild Horse Casino - nor having a shuttle bus at our beck and call from the RV park to the casino or the cultural center.
IMG_20170331_150338875Wine Country RV in Prosser is quickly becoming another favorite of ours. Not due to the proximity of several tasting rooms but really in large part due to the friendliness and professionalism of the staff and of course the part itself. Wide, long pull thrus with 50amp full hookups, grass patios with picnic tables and ample room between even the tightest sites. We could have easily gone directly to our next hosting gig from Pendleton but this park deserves a visit; even when it took us 20 miles out of our way.
Okay, I'll admit it, the wine wasn't bad either.
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That's it, we've been sitting at Lincoln Rock State Park for the past week picking up our campground hosting duties like last year and just trying to keep warm. Seems this year we may have come north just a bit too soon.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Touristy Stuff and a Departure - Yuma

CastleDomeOur stay in “Canada's Southern Most City” wouldn’t be complete without hitting some of the tourist sights in the area. So much to see and do in a short time so buckle up, this ride makes frequent stops and detours.

As a trading and transit hub, the Yuma area is rich in history and diverse in culture. Any visit here can be quickly filled with the quirky, the oddball, the normal, and endless combinations of all three with little or no effort on the part of the visitor. So we’ve found out for ourselves this winter season along with the fact one visit is simply not enough if we wish to see it all.

 

 

 

MardiGrasStPattyWhat happens when you get a bunch of 'seniors' in one place with temperatures in the 80's? We've found the usual result is just about any excuse for a party. What has me puzzled is “Where did these people come from?” “How did they get here?” and what have they done with all the serious parents and grandparents we knew as we were growing up. Prime example: we are no where near New Orleans but someone in the park heard “Fat”, another heard “Tuesday”. They put the two together and a park-wide Mardi Gras was formed. Last week one of the residents mentioned how much he enjoyed corned beef and cabbage. You guessed it, St. Patty’s Day party followed shortly after.

PDesertbarrel_and_skullIn the “normal” category; a day trip the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, Lake Martinez and the Painted Desert Trail. Starting at the visitor center we met a fellow volunteer host who was trying out camping in the desert for the first time. A hard worker for sure, the center was clean and well kept with perhaps the exception of some pretty old and beaten up mounted animal displays. Outside, the rains of January and February had yielded an explosion of blossoms in plants, bushes, cactus and of course weeds.

tortoiseA pleasant surprise was the desert tortoise habitats around the perimeter of the visitor center building. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a tortoise and turtle on the best of days but I can definitely tell the difference from a rounded boulder and something that isn’t a rounded boulder. Especially true when the not boulder blinks. I know it was a desert tortoise because there was a placard proclaiming that very fact.

painted_landscape

flowerbushflowercactusA short distance down the road from the center is the Painted Desert Nature Trail, a 1.3 mile trail from gullies to ridgelines and back again, featuring the variegated colors and terrain of the seared land. After the hike in the overly warm temps I could swear there had been mistake in the length of the trail with someone reversing the numbers!

 

CastleDome2Later in the week brought us a a touch of oddball mixed with historical in a visit to Castle Dome, a recreated mining town featuring abandoned buildings and artifacts dating back to the late 1800's.

CastleDome3Similar to many towns of the west, this ghost town of silver mines showcases items not only of mining endeavors but the simple, everyday things used to make a living and life out in the desert. We all found it amazing people seemingly dropped everything and walked away when it no longer remained profitable.

 

CloudMuseumFor a touch of quirky blended with historical the Cloud Museum, just outside of Bard California, fills the bill. IMG_20170314_143249939Covering over 2 acres the museum , as noted by the Model T Ford Club of America, “probably the largest collection of Model Ts in the world; each and every one lovingly returned to running condition by Johnny Cloud. No idle boast as Johnny will gladly start up any of the vehicles despite the dilapidated, rusty, exterior.

Though mostly known for the vehicles, there is also an eclectic collection of period tools ranging from industrial applications to those commonly found in the home in years gone by. Mr. Cloud is usually less than a shout away and seems to have a sixth sense if you have a question regarding any of the exhibits or artifacts.IMG_20170314_144517567

IMG_20170320_150056790Oatman1For truly oddball we recalled information from our travels down here last year describing another mining town where the tools of the prospectors left to fend for themselves are now in charge. I speak of the donkeys of Oatman and while they are considered wild because no one owns them they are demonstrably quite civilized in their behavior. This calm demeanor could be their personality but I’m thinking a good portion of their considerable patience results from waiting for the next opportunity to part tourists from purchased carrots and feed pellets. The cost to the donkey? Enduring camera flashes and an occasional scratch behind an ear.

Oatman2Located on old route 66 which is also the main street of Oatman, the donkeys can be found wandering outside and in some cases inside the shops filled with local artwork, curiosities and sundry trinkets in this quaint assortment of Americana.

Our own role as tourists has come to the end for we are now slowly wending our way back north. We are hoping to drag a bit of the summer with us as we come. We’ll have to see.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Where are the little people? – Yuma


This week will mark the second month we've been down here and it just dawned on us, probably due to the grandkid's birthday; there are very few little humans about. Okay, I'll grant you school is in session so they've been locked up as they should but even on weekends we've not seen much more than a handful. Short of creepily hanging out at playgrounds and schoolyards, we probably won't see the critters much and to be honest, I sort of miss the miniature terrorists.
Of course, when I do begin to ponder on such critical things invariably along come proofs where it is not a lack of the children but rather my observation skills having fallen woefully short once again. An example was just last night when, while minding my own business hunting down the not so illusive ice cream parlor, a sound rivaling at least a hundred screeching chalk boards arose. Thinking they were filming another episode of Jurassic Park I rushed to see what was going on. Sadly, upon rounding the corner the truth was revealed as we were presented with a 3 foot tall tantrum spewing young male of the species who simply was gong to die if he did not have the bright orange shoestrings instead of the lime green ones.
Now that I write about it, more examples begin to flood back into my mind as I review the memories. Its sort of like playing a movie of a train wreck over and over to capture each and every nuance. For instance when I was observing the cereal aisle theorem of snowbird Walmarts versus local Walmarts I do now recall seeing the crumb snatching, curtain climbing, mucus factories loudly proclaiming what brightly colored box of sugary fluff they preferred and had to have RIGHT NOW!
Don't get me wrong, I like children, especially those who go home with someone else. As a keen observer of the human condition there is quite a bit of entertainment to be had when you have parents and their children out in the “wild” so to speak. The interaction and resulting chaos stemming from adults attempting to create structured environments outside of the home is something to behold and definitely defies description.
If you are just starting as an observer you will quickly find this is not true when it is grandparents out with their grandkids. First off, while they may be considered adults, grandparents are often times living through their second, third, or more childhood (or have simply forgotten they are adults). Yes, there is a possibility I'm speaking from personal experience.
I digress. Back to the subject at hand, one of the primary reasons for the grandparent/grandkid contradiction is simply put, because the children do eventually go back home with someone else. This relieves the grandparent of any obligation of creating a structured environment and/or establishing any rules of conduct. For my son when he reads this, now you know why we buy the loud, obnoxious toys instead of the soft quiet ones. We can easily imagine all the fun you are having.

Enough drivel. I wrote about kids because I find myself missing our grandkids this week as they celebrate their birthdays – yes, we did mail off some loud, obnoxious toys. To Rebecca and Ariel, happy birthday. Talk your parents into taking you to the store. Visit the cereal aisle.