Saturday, October 30, 2004

Texas and a Tire Blowout

We crossed the Texas state line today: and saw miles and miles and miles of ... .... nothing. It really is amazing how much empty space there is in the west in general. But Texas outdoes itself! We got almost to Fort Stockton - about 100 miles - when *BAM!*. It sounded like an axle broke - but Jim had no problem controlling the rig and bringing it to a stop - it was just a blowout. Another tire bites the pavement. That's our third in 6 months. This was the first one that really blew though. This picture was taken while the tire was still on ... it's the right, rear, outer dual. Good Sam Emergency Road Service was here within 15 minutes and we were on the road with our spare. They led us to a tire shop, where we bought a replacement and we can get on the road. They didn't have the tires we really wanted (Load rated E), so we just bought one used one and we will buy two more when we get to Austin. But it's more than tires. When those alligator sized treads whip off of the tire, they take a lot of the underside of the motorhome with them. We hope we'll be able to find a good RV service and body shop that will know what is missing and how to put it back together. So, why did this happen? I don't think it was because our rig is overweight (although it is), I don't think it was due to improper inflation because Jim is diligent about that, I don't think it was because the tires were too hot - it may be Texas, but it's October. I think it was simply a cheap tire. This was one that was put on by the seller at the time we bought the motorhome a year and a half ago. In hindsight, since we knew the rig had been in storage for more than a year when we purchased it, we should have just bit the bullet then and bought 6 new GOOD tires. Ah well, y'know what they say about hindsight.

We got our Ballots!

Come to find out ... our ballots were delivered to the Roswell General Delivery in plenty of time for us to pick them up. Then *they* (aliens perhaps?) returned the envelope to sender with a reason of 'unclaimed'. My understanding was that General Delivery held mail for 30 days ... this was held for 7. Anyway they were successfully overnighted (well, 2 nights) here to us in Carlsbad (thanx Pop Guld!). We picked them up, filled them out, and overnighted them back. We have a tracking number and it says delivery date is Monday Oct. 1. I guess our odds are as good as any Florida voter for getting counted now! We feel good now, and we're ready to hit the road. We're headed into Texas today. Yeee Haaawww!

Friday, October 29, 2004

Greetings from Carlsbad, New Mexico

Our absentee ballots have been sighted ... unfortunately they still are not in our possession. We expect to receive them - overnighted - tomorrow. Hopefully we'll receive them while the post office is still open - we'll fill them out and overnight them right back. If it's too late, we'll have to take them with us as we drive south. We'll find a Fedex office somewhere on Monday morning and 'FedexSameDay' them back to Florida. Hope springs eternal ... So, we are REALLY enjoying Carlsbad. I've never been to Carlsbad Caverns National Park before - so Jim is reveling in the fact that he has! Even though he doesn't remember much about it :-) First we took in the sights above ground. They say this area is an ancient sea. It's not too hard to imagine ... We were supposed to see thousands of bats fly out of the cave at dusk .. but, they had already flown when we got there at about 5:15. They are in the process of migrating south right now. I guess the majority of them have packed their little batmobiles and gone. There's a one-way scenic drive on a dirt road that we enjoyed. Then, there's the cave! Here's the entrance: It truly exceeded all my expectations. I think the thing that made it SO special is that they let you go thru without being in a group with a guide. We did all this walking by ourselves. And, there was hardly anybody there. At several points we had the place all to ourselves. Yet, we rented the audio tour so we still had the benefit of a tour guide telling us history and descriptions of what we were seeing. Here's what we saw: "Awesome" does not begin to describe it. Check out the official website for some more photos and information.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Lunar Eclipse

We had a great view of the moon last night here in Roswell. It started out as a beautiful full moon. Then you could see the shadow of the earth creep up on it. Then it became just a sliver. Way cool. I don't think I've mentioned the weather here. It is spectacular. I didn't realize how much the cold dry weather had been affecting me. When I'm cold, I just curl up as tight as I can in a warm place and stay there. Now that we're a couple hundred miles further south and a couple thousand feet lower (3500) - the temperature is a perfect 75 degrees. And, there's just enough humidity in the air that I don't have to have chapstick with me at all times. I feel like I'm coming out of hibernation. We heard the birds singing this morning for the first time in weeks because we had the windows open. Here's our site at Trailer Village RV Park in Roswell.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Greetings from Roswell, New Mexico

Even the streetlamps are built to look like aliens!! The road to Roswell is like a lunar landscape. Very barren, wide open spaces. We actually saw a lot of antelope, but didn't get any photos. We ARE beginning to beleive that alien forces are at work here in Roswell. Two things have happened that make us very unhappy. First ... we gave Roswell General Delivery as our mail address for our absentee ballots. We know that they were mailed on October 14. We went to the post office yesterday, October 26, and they still weren't here. We will stay till tomorrow and check again - then we have to give up. I'm normally not a paranoid personality type. But there's something about this election that makes me wonder. We will be SO disappointed if we can't cast our vote this year. Also, our satellite dish is unable to connect to the Internet here. We have Internet because there is an unknown Wi-Fi signal. Whaddaya think? Some kind of alien force field at work? The shops around here are sure trippy. I do actually believe that extra-terrestrials have visited earth, probably several times. But, the shops and exhibits around here are simply Fun. Would you believe we found an 'Alien Scuba Diver' t-shirt? Lynne and John - this one's for you! Did you know that there are several wineries in New Mexico? Guess what we found? Wine-tasting. Tonight there is a Lunar Eclipse. More on that later.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Fellow Travelers

Andy and Diane are friends from Florida. We are all members of the Kayak Scuba Diving club "Kayuba". They left Florida in their RV last January. Without any planning, we ended up meeting them in Montana and we traveled to Idaho and attended the 'Life on Wheels' seminar together in Moscow, Idaho on July. You would think that it would take a lot of planning for 2 RV travelers to meet up somewhere in this country, yet we had NO plans whatsoever. We met up not only once, but twice! Jim says, "Whaddaya mean, we planned this ... they called us yesterday and said they would be in Albuquerque tomorrow." (they knew we were in Santa Fe because they read this Blog) We said, "Ok, we'll be there!" They invited us to their house for dinner. Andy cooked. A toast to travel. Andy and Diane didn't sell their house in S. Florida like we did. They are headed generally back home at this point having taken nearly a year to enjoy motorhome traveling. They have been on the road for 10 months and have seen a lot more of this country on foot than we have. Hiking, kayaking, and bicycling, they've been seeking out the wild and natural places. Check out their Weblog and see some gorgeous photos. Here they are with their Itasca Spirit motorhome and the map of their adventure so far. As we travel, we find this country is SO huge ... and yet so small. It seems easy to meet up with our fellow travelers. And such a treat! Thanx Andy and Diane. Happy Trails!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Santa Fe Skies

Is this place aptly named or what? The Santa Fe Skies RV park is up on a hill and you can see 360 degrees all around to the town of Santa Fe and the surrounding mountains. And here's the office ... adobe style of course! We gave our Wi-Fi seminar here this afternoon. This is definitely the most high-tech presentation room we've had the opportunity to use. I've seen big business computer training centers that don't have this equipment! They have a huge automatic screen that comes down from the ceiling and a projector mounted on the ceiling with connectors for your computer or VCR. Apparently, this comes in very handy when they host rallies of 40 - 50 motorhomes. They have their meetings and presentations in here. They also have movie night once a week! Cool. Odie and I also found a great trail that goes around the perimeter of the park. Very nice ... even a little exercise.

Santa Fe

We took a few hours and went in to Santa Fe's downtown. It is so different looking from any other city. Apparently there are lots of rules and regulations about what kind of buildings can be constructed in Santa Fe - so everything has that old, adobe, southwest look and feel. Even the parking garage! Here is a church downtown. This town dates back to 1610 ... that is really old for anything in this country. Read about some Santa Fe History here. Here's more adobe And the downtown shopping area: Luckily, when you live in a motorhome, you're not tempted to buy any of the beautiful (expensive) things. First of all there's no room, and second of all, this stuff would break in a matter of days. Now this bronze sculpture I really did like though. Can't we put him on the roof honey? Or maybe as a hood ornament? And, we even got to see a little bit of fall colors here! The air is literally crystal clear and sparkling - and the blue sky sets off the red and gold tree colors.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Two Jim Gulds

If you read this Blog back in May, you know that Jim has lots of cousins. We saw many of them when we stayed in Long Beach Island this spring. But we missed one ... Jim Guld. We learned that he lives in Santa Fe, and he and his wife Stacy invited us to come to dinner last night. Their house is less than 2 miles from where we were staying. What a delight! Jim and Stacy have a furniture business together and their work is displayed in local galleries. Check out their website. But, Stacy's full-time day job is as head-chef at a local large catering company. So, we expected (and she delivered) a superb dinner. Take a look at this salad! And, it tasted every bit as good as it looks. Here's the two Jim Gulds: Then we learned about Jim's hobby of model-making. If you want to do this for a living, you make architectural models - which he did in the past. Now that it's a hobby, he picks places and times in history that interest him and makes models of that. This is his award-winning model of the Berlin Zoo on April 29, 1945. It's really difficult to take a photo that captures the essence and the detail work in this model. It looked like an amazing amount of work. Here's a side view. Jim and Stacy - it was a treat to share your home for an evening. Thanx so much for the dinner and the hospitality. And thanx for keeping up the good name of Jim Guld!!

Trailer Ranch in Santa Fe

A lot of RV Parks are small, family-owned operations, giving them very distinct, and friendly personalities. Trailer Ranch is a great example of this. You just don't get any nicer than Sandy and Truman, the owners. They love to show off Santa Fe. They even took us out to dinner at a delicious Mexican restaurant called Mucho Gusto! Yum! Do we have a great job or what? Here's Jim giving our Wi-Fi seminar to the staff. If you look real close you may see the bowl of popcorn that Truman cooked up for the ocassion. The place really fits in with the ambiance of the area. Here's the adobe buiding that serves as the office and the owners' home. And here's our site. If this looks like a crisp, fall day, you're right. There's snow in the mountains surrounding Santa Fe. It's just perfectly refreshing here. We're only scheduled to be here a couple days. We may have to come back sometime.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

300 Mile Day

We really needed to make up for some lost time, so we got an early start (8:30am) and planned a long day on the road. Highway 40 all the way from Flagstaff to Albuquerque was our plan. Then I looked at the map, "Oh Look!, we're passing right by the Meteor Crater". Well, how can we pass that up. The Meteor Crater by Winslow Arizona is where one of my favorite movies was filmed ... 'Starman' with Jeff Bridges. Here is the road to the crater. That ridge you see in the distance is not a ridge at all, but the 'lip' of the crater. And, here's the meteor crater. We got back on the road after about an hour detour here determined to drive. Then I looked at the map and saw we were passing right by The Petrified Forest National Park. Well! How can we pass that up? They look just like logs until you get up close: And the drive thru the park was pretty other-worldly and beautiful. These formations are called 'Teepees'. When we finally got back on highway 40 we drove straight thru into New Mexico. We were still 50 miles from Alburquerque and it was starting to get dark when we saw a sign for "Dancing Eagle Casino and RV Park" for $10/night. Hey! How can we pass that up? The wind finally died down, the sky is crystal clear and we had a gorgeous sunset. Life is Good! We still logged almost 300 miles, and it will be an easy drive to Santa Fe for our next stop. We will be doing our Wi-Fi support at 2 Coach Connect parks there: Trailer Ranch and Santa Fe Skies. We'll also get to visit another 'Jim Guld'. Jim's cousin lives in Santa Fe.