Sunday, March 31, 2013

City of Rocks, New Mexico

I wrote this post during Saturday night's Ohio State - Wichita State NCAA basketball game because I needed the distraction.  It was a good run guys.  Go Buckeyes!  Now we'll concentrate on Beavers baseball.

Earlier this week we hiked at City of Rocks State Park, about 25 miles north east of Rockhound State Park, where we are staying in our RV. 

City of Rocks is filled with tall pillars, columns and other pinkish-gray formations.  The rocks were created 35 million years ago when a volcano erupted with a force a thousand times greater than when Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980.  Then erosion sculpted the pillars. 

The rocks rise up in an otherwise barren area.
A park brochure said the rock formations only exist in six other places in the world.  We've been to one, also called City of Rocks, in Idaho.

I asked Jim what he would say about the park.  His response: "The trail map was hard to follow."  Translation:  We wanted to take a short walk and ended up doing three miles plus.
Bev among the pillars.  The rocks that form City of Rocks are called the “Kneeling Nun Tuff,” named after a legend about a nun condemned to die for falling in love with a wounded soldier.  A tuff is rock created from consolidated volcanic ash.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dusty devils

We see dust devils all over the Deming, NM area.  Big ones. They are common in the southwest desert where it’s hot, flat and barren and the sky is clear -- and that’s Deming.  And where there is one dust devil, there are often two or three. They can last for minutes.

A dust devil about 20 miles north of Deming, NM 
just off of  Highway 180.  The main cause of a dust devil 
is the difference in the near-surface temperature (hot) 
and the air higher up (cool).

Friday, March 29, 2013

You may have reservations

Deming, NM is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  If you drive ten miles east and a little south, you are really in the middle of nowhere.  You’re also at the Adobe Deli Steakhouse.

The Lazy Daze folks we met at Pancho Villa State Park recommended it to us.  They warned us the restaurant didn't look like much.  I also read an on line review where the writer said he had reservations -- not for a meal, but about going inside. It was an experience in dining and we give it a two thumbs up.
The open chain link door takes you toward the restaurant. When we arrived we saw Border Control cars and thought maybe we'd missed the restaurant and were at an old Border Patrol warehouse ... but the officers were inside eating.

Bev at the front door.  

These taxidermied guys are the second thing you see when you go through the door. The first is a sign that said "Soup of the day:  Whiskey."  There is also a display of police and fire department decals, an oxygen and dessert bar, a library, old highway signs and ... well, a lot of stuff. 
 I took this photo with a camera setting called "clear night portrait." It lit the place up.  And while a a restaurant ad called Adobe Deli's lighting "delicate," we'd change that to "almost completely dark."  The same ad called the ambiance "sophisticated with a western twist."  It must have been referring to an 8-foot alligator displayed in a glass box.
Close up of the animals behind Jim in the previous photo.
Jim and his "freaking huge" turkey club sandwich.  I had a very big, very good burger.  We both got the cole slaw and I ate both of them.  Obviously, I liked it. The big white wall behind Jim is a projection screen.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hello Columbus

We explored Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, NM, today.  Columbus is about 30 miles south of Deming, NM (where we’re staying in our motor home) and three miles north of the US/Mexico border.

Here's the historical scoop on Columbus:

In the early morning of March 9, 1916, troops of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa crossed the border and attacked. Maybe they did it to steal horses and small arms from the US cavalry.  Another account said Villa attacked in retribution for US support of revolutionary (and later Mexican president) Venustiano Carranza. Or, the attack could have been revenge for a Columbus general store owner allegedly selling Villa poor quality ammunition. No one knows for sure, but 18 US citizens -- 8 military and 10 civilians -- were killed.  So were 90 "Villistas," as Villa's troops were called.

The visitor centers' film about the raid included interviews with people who remembered the raid, saw people shot, saw a hotel and other buildings burn, and who were hidden by their parents until the marauders left.  I had it in my head that only a few dozen settlers lived in Columbus at the time but about 400 people were there, including a Calvary regiment. 

After the attack, General John J. Pershing lead a “Punitive Expedition” that chased Pancho Villa in Mexico for nearly a year.  Villa was never caught.  But although the troops didn't know it at the time the expedition prepared them -- and Pershing -- for World War I, which broke out soon after.

In much more recent Columbus news, I read that the now-former mayor of Columbus, a former police chief and others were pleaded guilty in 2011 to smuggling guns into Mexico.  Wow.

Bev doing an inadvertent Jane Fonda in an early-day tank used in General Pershing's "Punitive Expedition." Behind me is he Pancho Villa State Park Visitors' Center.
Pershing's expedition into Mexico was the first time the US used vehicles in war and not just horses.  Jim and Cooper stand in front of the first grease rack ever installed by the US Army to support field operations. (I'm guessing this may be the only monument to a grease rack.)
Columbus, NM was the home of the first US Army airbase, established to support Pershing's expedition.  Here Jim looks at a display about the biplanes used.
After visiting the museum and park, Jim and I had lunch at Columbus's Patio CafeRight after I took this photo, two RV full-timers from Canada sat at the table next to us.  We enjoyed meeting you, Sheila and Blair!  We also met two very nice full timers from Texas by way of Massachusetts in the Pancho Villa Park. We didn't get their names but they own a brand new Lazy Daze; we had fun talking with them about their travels and their rig.
A side door at the Patio Cafe in Columbus, NM...
...and a sign at the cafe. But the restaurant was charming and the food and service great.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Rockhound State Park near Deming, NM

We left Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson, AZ about 10 a.m. today and got to Rockhound State Park near Deming, NM about 4 p.m. That six hours included a stop at a rest area, gas for the rig ($117 for 33.6 gallons) and the loss of an hour because Arizona ignores Daylight Savings time.  

 We'd briefly visited Rockhound in December 2011and wanted to come back and explore some more.  We'll also plan our trip home to SLC for grandson Marshall’s first birthday on April 24. We'd like to drive north through New Mexico's mountains; we'll watch the weather to see if we can go that way or if we should make the trek via Arizona.

Meanwhile, yesterday at Kartchner we hiked part of the Guindani Trail that starts at the park but quickly goes into the Coronado National Forest.
Jim on the Guindani Trail near Kartchner State Park south of Benson, Arizona.  Ahead of him to his left is an agave, which dies after shooting out a huge flowered stalk.
Bev and a still-living agave.
Since two people warned us to look out for rattlers on this trail,  Jim carried a stick and tapped it on the ground as he walked.  That's supposed to create a vibration to make snakes scatter.  We didn't see any rattlers, so maybe it worked. But I think their reptile brains just move them in and out of the sun as needed and sometimes people get in the way.
Our spot at Rockhound State Park near Deming, NM.  The sites are huge; I stepped ours off and it's about 66 feet by 66 feet.  There's also at least that much space between camp sites.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Kartchner Caverns State Park: Foothills Loop Trail

This morning we did a 3-mile hike called Foothills Loop.  It went through a dry wash, climbed a hill near the Kartchner Cave and up a short, steeper spur that took us to a mountain lookout.  Now we’re back in the rig and it’s windy again.  Plus we have new neighbors camping in six tents. They got in after dark last night and were amazing quiet for a big group.
Jim walking by the dry wash.
Another view.
Cooper poses at the Foothills Trail loop summit.
Cooper holds his pose.  It almost looks like I was just photo shopped in.
A view of the tram that takes people from the visitors' center to the cave entrance.  
A mortar in bedrock we saw along the trail.  It was probably used to grind mesquite beans or other foods by native people.  Evidence shows native groups may have lived in the area as long ago as 4800 BC, but there's no evidence any of them used the caves.
Our neighbors' homes.  I've only done tent camping a few times, all of which were easy for me because Jim packed and unpacked everything.  But I am so glad I'm not doing that any more. I like traveling with a comfortable bed and my own bathroom. And a microwave, a fridge, a heater, an air conditioner and five pairs of shoes.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson, AZ

We left Tucson's Davis Monthan Air Force Base this morning.

We didn’t go far, however:  just 50 miles southeast to Kartchner Caverns State Park, nine miles south of the small town of Benson, Arizona.  Even though it was a short trip, we left early because high winds were predicted for the afternoon, and wind + high profile vehicle = a slow, scary drive.  There was barely any wind on the road, but shortly after we arrived the wind kicked up and slammed our rig door on my arm.  Ouch.  As I write the wind is gusting at about 40 miles an hour and Jim is in charge of opening and closing the door.

Anyway.  The park features a cave that was discovered in 1974 by two cavers.  The cavers told the property owners; they all kept it a secret from the public for 14 years, when the landowners sold the property to the state.  The area is now an Arizona state park with cave tours, hiking, camping and a good visitors' center.

Unfortunately for us, we won't get to tour one of the few pristine caves in the country as the tours are sold out for the next few days.  But the park has a couple of good hikes, so we'll try them out.
Our spot at Kartchner Caverns State Park is on the edge of the campground, which we like as it gives us an open view. 
I briefly parked our car in a nearby empty camping spot while we were hooking up our rig.  I'm glad we didn't get this spot, because our rig door would have opened up to this big prickly pear cactus.
This group of kids was singing at the visitors' center. It looked like they had toured the cave and sang as a "thank you."   

Bev on a trail between the campground and the visitors' center.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Beavers 4, Wildcats 3

Both the Oregon Beavers and Tucson’s home team -- the Arizona Wildcats -- are in the PAC 12 and last weekend the two college teams played a three-game baseball series.  We attended the second game, where 3500 people watched the Beavs beat last year’s national college baseball champions.  The Beavs have a good baseball tradition, too, and were the national champs in both 2006 and 2007.  The Beavers-Wildcats matchup was first conference games for both teams this season, and the Beavs swept the series.  
We got to the game a "little" early and had good seats that looked down the first base line.
The Beavers warming up before the game.  You could see both palm trees and mountains from the ball field, which used to be the home of a Tucson minor league team - the Tucson Toros - and was the former spring training site of the Cleveland Indians before the Indians moved to Goodyear, AZ near Phoenix. 
Jim with a few more attendees in the photo.  The guy sitting next to Jim was very knowledgeable about the game and was explaining it to his young son and his son's friend.  Next to me was a woman who turned out to be a Michigan Wolverines' fan, which is bad for an Ohio State Buckeye like me.  But she was great.
The field under the lights.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Giant Voice

There is a military audio alert system called The Giant Voice.  It includes loudspeakers that broadcast various sirens and warning messages, including a message read in a deep voice that begins “This is the giant voice...”  I am not making this up.

At Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, this same system broadcasts reveille every weekday at 7 a.m. and The Star Spangled Banner every weekday at 5 p.m.  And during certain military simulations the message contains the phrase “Exercise, exercise, exercise!”  

Those words woke me up at 1 a.m. last week.  Ar first I thought I was supposed to be doing jumping jacks.  Fortunately, the speakers are turned down in residential areas during  night-time tests, so you can still hear the messages but it’s not like the Mr. Giant Voice is sitting on the picnic table next to our rig. 

To quote the Davis Monthan Facebook page, “In order to simulate real world situations that could happen at any time, as well as ensure our Airmen are fully prepared to go downrange, we have to practice during the day and during night.”  To that Jim and Bev say:  You do what you gotta do. And thank you for your service.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hiking among the rattlers

We had our first Arizona rattlesnake encounter last week.

We were on a trail in Saguaro National Forest East.  I was ahead of Jim when I heard that distinctive papery rattling sound; my first thought was that Jim was playing a joke.  A nano second later my brain and my eyes told me a rattler was crossing the hiking path about a yard in front of me.

My daughter and I saw a coiled rattler once on a Mt. Olympus trail near our Salt Lake City home, but Jim says he’s never seen a rattler that wasn’t moving away from him -- just like this one was.  That’s a good thing about rattlers -- they don't want to stick around and get to know you.  

It was a diamondback rattler between 2 and 3 feet long and his rattle was about an inch long. No photos of the snake because he quickly slid under a bush, but some other hiking pics are below. 

Jim on the Douglas Spring trail at Saguaro National Forest just east of Tucson. This is the trail where we saw the rattle snake.
Another shot at Saguaro National Forest.
Bev near an ocotillo plant.  Ocotillo can look like dead sticks, but after a rain the plants grow small green leaves that last weeks or months. Tucson's had rain and snow lately, and you can see the leaves coming out on this plant.  Bright red flowers will bloom at the tips of the sticks. 
The Douglas Springs trail included a very thin waterfall, which you may be able to see here if you double click on this photo.  The stream is to the left of us as you look at the photo.  I soaked my white hiking shirt in the water before we started back down the trail, which really helped me deal with the 90 degree plus heat.
This photo was taken at Catalina State Park about 15 miles north of Tucson.  We've hiked there several times because a very nice trail allows dogs.
A cardinal at Catalina State Park.

The trail we take at Catalina State Park crosses a stream about five times, which is one of the reasons we like it.  Here Cooper takes advantage.
Jim at Catalina State Park.

Monday, March 18, 2013


I wanted to post a few new photos of Davis Monthan Air Force Base where we’re staying in our motor home.  We’d been told picture taking was OK anywhere except the base entrance -- which seems odd, since you can clearly see the entrance from off the base.   But we've followed that rule.

We'd noticed some big cargo planes that I thought would make a great picture.  So Jim dropped me off and drove around the block while I took photos.  I got only a few shots when three guys in uniform approached and asked why I was taking photos.  I told them I did a travel blog and wanted to post them on it.  They said the planes were being used for an exercise and that I couldn't take photos for security reasons.
As I was deleting the photos, I saw Jim driving up and I told the airmen the guy in the approaching Honda was my husband.  Realizing there might be a problem with my picture taking, Jim pulled up next to us, rolled down the window -- and said "I've never seen that women in my life".  Ha Ha.  After the airmen explained why I couldn't take photos, Jim asked if I could get a shot of them instead  -- and they said yes.  A photo of the three very professional and very nice servicemen is below.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Back at the Base

Jim and I have been back together in Tucson for about a week and a half.  Even Cooper the dog, seemed happy to see me when I returned from a visit to Ohio -- he leaned against me and sat on my feet, which in his world is high affection. Didn't last long, but it was nice for the moment.

For a few days after I returned, it was cloudy, a little rainy and more than a little cool.  So we went on a Downton Abbey marathon and watched the last third of season two and all of season three.  Since we’d rented DVDs, we also had the “special features” -- so we watched how the weddings were filmed and heard Julian Fellowes discuss being a villain for the way he ended season threeWe’re all caught up with the Crawleys, the Granthams, that big old castle, and the main characters who are dropping like flies.
We’ve also been going to the Davis Monthan Air Force Base gym. We haven’t missed a day at the gym unless we're hiking.  If it weren’t for beer and cookies (Jim) and everything-else-that-isn’t-nailed-down (Bev), we might be very thin.
Along that last thought:  I heard about a product that extends the life of an open bottle of wine.  It’s a spray can containing a type of gas; you spray the gas into the partially used bottle, put in a stopper, and the wine supposedly taste just as good a few days later.  I told Jim that when we open a bottle of wine I tend to drink too much because I don’t want to waste it, and maybe getting the wine preservative would be a good idea.  Jim responded with something along the lines of “Maybe you ought to look for something that does the same with an open bag of chips.”  I laughed. He's lucky I was in a good mood.
One of my must-dos when in Wellington, Ohio with my Mom is to go to the Wellington Diner to get Lake Erie perch.  Here is Mom and our meals.  Side note:  the Wellington Diner no longer goes by that name.  But then again, I still call the Wellington High School the “new school” and it’s been there for 40 years.
Flying over a partially frozen Lake Erie on my way to Tucson, via Cleveland and Chicago.
The Air Force Base fitness facility we've been going to.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

From Russia with(out) love

Our blog is set up on a common blog publishing-service called “Blogger” owned by Google.  When I log in to my account, I can look at a section called “statistics” which tells me how many hits my blog gets each day, week, month, year and in total.  I don’t know who looks at our blog, but I can tell what web addresses viewers use to get to it -- for example, our blog address of jimandbev.blogspot. com or maybe a link to our blog I have on Facebook.  
The statistics section also tells me what countries hits come from.  After a couple of months of blogging, I started seeing views from Russia and Germany.  Since there is a “Next Blog” tab at the top of Blogger that anyone can click to see the next random website, I thought maybe people stumbled on my blog that way.   But once it got to over a hundred hits from Russia ... plus views from Malaysia, Pakistan, Latvia, and a dozen other countries ... well, probably not.  As of today, my statistics page says I’ve had 854 hits from Russia. Who knew former Soviets love the RV lifestyle?

I found out those hits are “referrer spam.”  Referrer spammers put information on statistics pages to make it look like someone has a link to your blog and you are getting visits from that link -- but it’s bogus.  They do this in hopes the blog author will get curious and click on the link.  If the blogger clicks, he/she usually gets an ad (if lucky), porn or a virus. 

Referrer spam messes up my statistics, is kind of irritating, and for reasons unknown, we're seeing a lot of it right now -- even though I do not click on the links, which supposedly encourages it.   The good news is referrer spam does not impact anyone reading our blog. 

In the meantime, here's our message to spammers: Получить от моего газона. That's the universal old guy "leave me alone" phrase which,  loosely translated from Russian to English, means: "Get off my lawn."

Friday, March 1, 2013

Meanwhile, back at the rig: A celebrity sighting

While I’m in northeastern Ohio with my Mom, Jim is with the rig at the Davis Monthan Air Force Base Fam Camp.  Jim’s been hiking, reading, working out at the base’s rec center and enjoying some guy time with his dog, Cooper.  Photos of a couple of places they’ve hiked are below.

Plus: Today I got a text from from Jim saying he’d spotted the rig of someone who, in our RV world, is a celebrity.  The motor home Jim saw belongs to Andy B., a Lazy Daze RV owner whose web site we poured over before buying our Lazy Daze.  After owning our rig for three years, we still search a Lazy Daze Yahoo group Andy moderates when our rig leave us thinking “What the?” 

While Andy wasn’t home, Jim knew whose rig it was because 1) It’s a Lazy Daze and you don’t see many beyond California where they are made.  Heck, you don't see that many of them even in California, so when we run across another Lazy Daze we notice.  And 2) Andy’s rig is emblazoned with its name: Skylark. 

Out of respect for Andy’s privacy, I won’t say where Jim spotted Andy’s Lazy Daze.  But I think it’s OK to pass along a link to Andy's web page.  It’s a wealth of well-written, entertaining information about living full time in a motor home.

Photo taken by Jim while hiking south of Tucson: Mt. Wrightson from Dutch John Spring trail, Madera Canyon Recreation Area, Sahuarita AZ.
Another hiking spot, this time north: Snow on the Catalina Mts., Bug Springs trail, Tucson AZ.

And, the celebrity rig Jim saw today.