Thursday, November 23, 2017

Some time in Tucson and Happy Holidays

We spent six days at the Agave Gulch Fam Camp at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. We really like the base and have spent part of the last six winters there. The base has a large commissary and exchange. They have two great gyms. The Fam Camp is clean and well run and right next to the base's bone yard -- the largest airplane storage lot in the world. It's interesting to be right next to all those planes lines up with military precision, waiting to have their parts reused. We're also close to a mall, lots of restaurants, brew pubs, movie theaters, two national parks, a great art museum -- there is a lot to do in Tucson.

And of course, it's warm in the winter. Which means we don't have to shovel our ski run of a driveway back in Salt Lake City.

We enjoyed the 80 degree weather in Tucson, but most of our hours this trip were spent cleaning the rig and packing, as we stored the rig on the base and drove back to Salt Lake City for the holidays.

So as I write, I am siting in the kitchen of my sticks and bricks home in Salt Lake City.  (Actually the city of Holladay, Utah, but close enough.) With the exception of five days in July, I haven't been in SLC since last May, and I want to spend time with the kids and grand kids. When it turns cold (today is sunny and in the 60s) Jim wants to get the heck out and go back to Tucson.  

While we are figuring out logistics, I'm not sure how much I'll be posting. But on any given day, just figure I'm picking up the grand kids up from school, which is one of the things I want to do for a while.

I'll be back to writing at some point.  So check back every now and then. Happy Thanksgiving and have a wonderful rest of the holiday season!
The Salt Lake City grand kids. 
A buck that greeted us on our second day home.  I took this photo through our kitchen window as he stood in our front yard. When he wasn't staring at me and the dogs, he was eating crab apples. With him were a younger buck and a couple of does. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Las Cruces, New Mexico

We spent three days in Las Cruces. Lots of relaxing in 70 degree, calm weather. 

Stayed at Sunny Acres, a 55 and over RV Park that was neat and clean but didn't have any record of our reservation when we arrived -- luckily we still got a spot. Met a lot of people and dogs at the RV park's own dog park. Visited a big public dog park nearby, again with nice dogs and nice people. 

We walked up and down Main Street where a huge farmers' market is held twice a week. This particular market included a parade that would start with a cannon blast. We had the dogs with us. I'm not sure how they would have reacted, but we didn't stay to find out. But the shopping was fun and again I got a scarf. For $3.99.

We also stopped at Ristramnn's, a store that grows and sells what appeared to be anything and everything chili pepper related.  Bev was having trouble breathing by the time she left -- not big trouble, but apparently concentrated chili particles  are not my friends. 

We had a decent dinner at Ranchway, a low key, order-at the counter, and highly rated little Mexican restaurant. We were served by a very perky employee at High Desert Brewery. We visited nearby Mesilla, a historic little village with shops and outdoor venders; we parked the car in the shade in the exact spot we parked several years ago when we drove up in the tow car from El Paso. We grabbed an IPA and a stout at Mesilla's Spotted Dog Brewery.

In other big news we did the laundry, and bought groceries at the funky but interesting Toucan Market, which advertises itself as having "15,000 square feet of exotic, healthy, affordable and 'Just for the taste of it' foods." 

Nothing exciting but a good New Mexico visit.
Street views of the Las Cruces Farmers' and Craft Market, which the local Chamber of Commerce calls "one of the top farmers' markets in the country." It's held in downtown Las Cruces on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

New Mexico: Portales and Ruidoso Downs

As I write we're in Las Cruces, New Mexico. To get here we drove diagonally through southeastern New Mexico with stops in Portales and Ruidoso Downs.

We picked Portales because we think that's where our dog, Maddie, came from. Maybe Arlo, too, as he's also from a New Mexico shelter. So we thought we'd take a look.

Portales has about 12,000 people and is the home of Eastern New Mexico University.  And, it's the nation's largest producer of organic peanut butter. I had no idea. There are lots of dairy farms nearby plus I read there is a "dairy solids plant."  I thought maybe that was a fancy name for a manure handling process other than a tractor-pulled manure spreader.  But a company called Dairy Farmers of America produces milk, dried milk, whey, and liquid milk products like condensed milk and cream. The dogs like peanut butter and they like milk. But I'm guessing Salt Lake City is more to their liking than Portales.  

Ruidoso Downs and nearby Ruidoso are resort-like, with lots of hiking, a ski resort, big pine trees, shops and restaurants.  And, just like the name sounds, Ruidoso Downs has a horse racing track -- we read that the purse of their Labor Day race is a million more dollars than the Kentucky Derby. The area is also the home of the original Smokey the Bear -- an actual bear cub found in 1950 clinging to a charred tree. He was rescued, appropriately named, and lived for 26 years. Which is better than the average bear. 
Portales, New Mexico is the Roosevelt County seat.  The above building is the county courthouse. It's an art-deco-type structure with southwestern  accents and several military memorials on the grounds.  This building is in the center of a town square.  The statue is of a man named Washington Lindsey, who was the first mayor of Portales  and later became governor of the state. He was originally from Bev's home state of Ohio.
Our camping spot at the Circle B Campground in Ruidoso Downs.  So pretty.  Since it's off season, we almost had the place to ourselves.  Much better than the place we stayed in Portales -- if I included a photo of that place it might scare you.  But the Portales RV park did have horses nearby (a fellow camper had a sign on her RV stating that she is a "mounted shooting" champion) and another neighbor had a puppy.  

The Cadillac Ranch and More in Amarillo, Texas

Next stop:  Amarillo, Texas, where we explored the tacky, the scientific, the high brow, and the natural.

First the tacky, which is often our favorite. Amarillo is on old Route 66, and stops near 66 can be funny.  So we went to the Cadillac Ranch, where ten Caddies from the 1940's through the 60's are buried headlights first in a pasture with their fins a flying. Legend has it that an eccentric rich guy buried his caddy whenever he bought a new one. The truth is that old Cadillacs were installed as an art project by what some web sites refer to as “hippies.” 

Then we did the scientific: a visit to the eight-and-a-half-ton, six-story-high stainless steel Helium Monument.  Amarillo was once known as the Helium Capital. In the 1970s Amarillo manufactured 95 percent of the worlds “tube trailers” that transport helium. In addition, large stores of natural gas with a high percentage of helium are found near Amarillo.

The monument looks like a big tripod and was erected in 1968 as a time capsule with four different compartments.  The four sections are to be opened in 25 years, 50 years, 100 years and 1000 years. The "open me in 1000 years" capsule has a bank passbook with a $10 deposit in it. Your interest may vary.

The more high brow:  We like art museums the Amarillo Museum of Art was great.  The exhibit was about Vietnam and featured sculpture, photography, painting, and ceramic and wire art. Poignant and interesting.  

And we went to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, about 25 miles southeast of town, at the suggestion of my brother, Don.  At about 120 miles long, 20 miles wide and up to 800 feet deep it’s the second largest canyon in the country after the Grand Canyon. We spent one day there and did some hiking -- obviously not enough to get the full feel for the place, but it was beautiful.  Dogs are allowed on the trails which was even better for us.
Cadillac Ranch in a pasture along old route 66. People are encouraged to spray paint the cars.  The skinny photo on the left shows the thickness of the paint. You can see spray paint cans on the ground in the other two photos. And we could smell fresh paint fumes.

From 1929 to 1943, Amarillo furnished nearly all of the world's helium from nearby underground supplies. The time capsule and monument to helium was erected in 1968, the 100th anniversary of the discovery of helium. 
Vietnam vet, combat photographer and painter Larry Collins took these photographs during his time in Vietnam.  They were so vibrant they looked like paintings.  Much later he did paintings based on his photography.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park, where we did a little hiking. The area has a connection to Cynthia Ann Parker who, in 1836 as a child in Texas, was captured by the Comanche Indians. She remained with them and later married a chief; they had three children including a son, Quanah, who also used the name Parker.  Quanah Parker became a chief of the Comanches and fought in a battle at Palo Duro Canyon. The entire history of the American Indians -- once the Europeans got to what is now the US -- is very sad, and Cynthia Ann's life is especially so. Here's a link to the Wikipedia entry about her. We also met a man at the park visitor's center who told us his great grandfather was Cynthia Ann's first cousin.
We ate a very good dinner at this restaurant near our RV Park. See the sign at the bottom for a "free 72 ounce steak?"  It's free if you eat the entire steak plus fixins in under an hour.  I overheard a waitress talking about a woman who was rewarded with the free meal -- per the waitress she weighed 118 before dinner  and 145 after. I wouldn't be eating any steak if I had to get weighed first.  Or especially after. But she must have washed her meal down with a lot of beer.