Thursday, August 23, 2018

Safari RV Rally - 30th Anniversary

We've attended many Safari rallies because our first RV was a Safari. We presented our seminars at their 20th anniversary in Amana Colonies in 2008. Now it was their 30th Anniversary and the rally was in Shawnee Oklahoma at a location called the Heart of Oklahoma conference center. What a fitting way to kick off the rally - a blood drive!

Safari RVs are known for their wonderful murals custom-painted on the back of the RVs.

We presented a few seminars and scheduled private smartphone helpdesk sessions. It was a good rally.

We did have an odd experience with our Verizon signal that I want to remember - When we first got there, we tested the speed on our phones and were quite happy with the 10-20Mbps speed. Once we were parked and settled, we were using our phones as hotspots and the Internet came to a crawl. We considered moving to another section, we took our phones up there and tested and it was nice and fast. That was really weird. I tested it again back at our site, but outside rather than inside the rig. Very weird indeed. The speed outside was 10-20, inside was less than 1. So we rigged up a way to put the phone outside and plugged into power, then put it into a cooler with some ice in a ziplock (because it was hot outside) We could then use our computers inside, connecting to the phone's hotspot outside and all worked fine. We still have no idea what the interference was. That's a first!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

On American Soil, by an American Veteran

We've driven thru the Oklahoma City area in the past but didn't stop, even though friends have told us that the memorial to the 1995 bombing there was a must-see. Well we couldn't drive past it again - this time we stopped. They were right - it was very well done - and gut-wrenching.

The memorial leads you thru the event - you start in a meeting room listening to a recording of a meeting that took place on the morning of the bombing. A normal meeting, the time is recorded and the names of the people talking. Then, BAM - you hear the explosion. Next you are led to another room, where you witness the chaos that ensued.

On 19 April 1995, a disaffected veteran named Timothy McVeigh drove a Ryder truck stuffed with explosives into downtown Oklahoma City and destroyed a federal office building, killing 168 people, including 19 children, and maiming hundreds of others. That much we know. Learn more at the memorial's website.

It was a very moving experience

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Harvest Hosts - Stafford Air and Space Museum

Travel planning is a real art. Where do you want to go? What do you want to see? What resources to use to discover places to see and places to stay.
We've been using a lot this summer because it is so good at revealing cool things to see. After leaving Texas, we looked along our route using RoadTrippers and noticed an Air and Space museum called Stafford. Jim is a huge fan of the space program and we've stopped at several other space museums across the country. One of them, in Indiana, was Grissom Air Museum a location - meaning we stayed there overnight. So, I thought - I wonder if Stafford museum is a Harvest Host location?
It was a really nice museum, but my favorite part was the photo opps with our camper and the space stuff.

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Monday, August 20, 2018

The Mother Road

Over our years of RVing, we've driven on or near route 66 many times. I think my favorite stop was Bagdad Cafe in 2004. Last year, 2017, we broke down and had to stay several days in Seligman, AZ - the inspiration for Cars, an animated movie about Radiator Springs abandoned when route 66 died. But, this year as it happens we seem to be doing nearly half the route. We picked it up in Texas, followed it thru Oklahoma, Missouri and much of Illinois.
By Fredddie - USA map(GIS data), roads (GIS data), maps to help locate the route in GIS data, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Route 66 from Santa Monica, CA to Chicago, IL
And, here's my favorite rendition of Get your Kicks on Route 66. Amarillo, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Joplin Missouri, all places we visited this time around.

We noticed a Route 66 museum right on our way - had to stop.

We even stayed a night in Joplin, Missouri - a town I only know by hearing its name in the song!

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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Texas! The Outdoor Musical in Palo Duro Canyon

We've passed thru Amarillo many times and friends have told us we must go to Palo Duro Canyon but we never made it. So when it popped up on our Roadtrippers program this time, we noticed. On closer inspection, it told us about Texas! the outdoor musical, and it just so happened that tonight was the last performance of the season.
Well, OK - let's go.
I made a phone call and purchased tickets for about $40 each. I didn't bother with finding a campsite. That is what is SO nice about this little camper van! No worries. We can park anywhere, and we can keep on driving too. If there was a campsite available when we got there, fine. If not, we'll figure something out.
At the gate, all they did is ask if we were here to see the show. When we said yes, they waived us thru. I did notice a sign that said campgrounds full.

What a COOL stage! Even the cliffs in the background were part of the set. During the show there were horses on top of that ridge, and on paths at the bottom. Horses, goats, trains, and of course lots of dancing and singing people were on that stage. Even the stars were part of the set of Texas!

Satellite view of the stage from Google Maps

The literature says that the show goes on rain or shine. We had beautiful weather until the end. It was almost as if even the thunder, lightning and rain were part of the production since the major theme of the play was drought. The leading man was sick in bed, perhaps dying, when the drought ended and he revived. Just about then, you heard the thunder - I did think it was part of the musical until the wind also started to blow. Nope - this was a rainstorm for real.

You weren't allowed to take photos until the finale - that's when it started to rain in earnest! Much of the audience left, but the cast was still singing and dancing in the rain!

I didn't relish the thought of driving out of there, up the steep switchbacks leading out of the canyon, in the dark and the rain, with hundreds of other cars.
So we didn't. We just stayed in the parking lot and slept there.

The next morning, we took a drive through the canyon. We had it all to ourselves. Even the campgrounds did not look very full to me. Maybe they put up those signs the previous day just so they wouldn't be bothered with campers?! Anyway, we slept fine.

Make sure to check out our August photo album for even more photos and a few videos.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Trinidad, Colorado - Boomtown

We were headed for Capulin Volcano - it was the right distance away, we've been there before and knew the nice little RV park right across from the Volcano. BUT, we also noticed that there was a Colorado State Park right beside the little town of Trinidad. We like State parks but they usually don't have good Internet. When we reached the area we looked at our Verizon signal and it was good, so we went to the park. Nice!

There was a good trail for walking and taking in the views. We always need the exercise, so we took advantage of good weather and walked a couple miles. Did we take any pictures? Does a bear ...? Is the pope ...?  :-)

We also went thru the town of Trinidad. What a sweet little town! It looked like it was newly refurbished, even prosperous. I wonder why?

Aha - we found the answer.

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Sand Dunes and Trains

The Great Sand Dunes National Park is only a half hour away from the campground where we were staying. Back when we were in a big RV and towed a little car, we would have made a morning or afternoon visit using the car. That is the only drawback about traveling in this little RV, we don't tow a car. If we want to drive somewhere we have to break camp and drive the RV. Admittedly, there's not much to it, no jacks or slides to bring in. We just turn the front seats around back into driving configuration, wash dishes and put them away, unplug from electric, and go. That may only take 5 minutes, BUT, it's the thought that counts. The thought that we're pulling up stakes and moving on. It just feels silly, once we're on the road it feels like we should keep going, not return to the RV park. It's a very different mind-set from having a towed car to take on excursions. We find that we stay at locations for shorter times, and just move on when we want to see something else. I think 5 days is the longest we've stayed anywhere in the Roadtrek - other than when we're working at RV rallies.

Anyway, when we left, we made the Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park our first stop. Weird to have what looks like Death Valley, or the Sahara, up in the Colorado mountains. But that's what it is. It's actually the mountains, acting as a barrier, that makes the sand build up into these giant dunes.

Kids, of all ages, were having fun on sand sleds sliding down these mountains of sand. We didn't do it. Sliding down would be fun, but first you had to climb up! And, it was hot. We were there in the afternoon and the sand was over 100 degrees.


Just another half hour down the road is the town of Alamosa, Colorado. We made a reservation for a train ride there. When we decided not to go to Durango - that also meant we wouldn't be doing the train ride that has long been on our list from Durango to Silverton. When we consulted Roadtrippers for things to do in this area - the Rio Grande Scenic Railway became a Must Do.

It was an all day trip, complete with a meal and bar. Our tickets showed seat assignments of 19A and 19B. When we found our seats, we saw that they were being used as the bar. Hey! They got our number, right? I guess we missed the announcement that said it was open seating.

We were free to move around throughout the train. One was completely open air - great for photos.

One of the train cars was called Mardi Gras. Notice the words, Illinois Central, at the top?
This is the train car where the song, City of New Orleans, was written. How cool!
Riding on the city of New Orleans
Illinois Central, Monday morning rail

Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders
Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail ... more

We went to that car to have lunch. Very nice.

There was a major forest fire along the route just a few weeks ago. Wow.

When we got back to Alamosa, we looked for a place to park by the Post Office. We had our absentee ballots, and other mail, forwarded to General Delivery here.

The post office was on a quiet street and the library was right on the corner with a nice parking lot. We slept there, picked up our mail in the morning, and left.

Where to? This was one of those delightful dilemmas! We really didn't know where we wanted to go. In 2 weeks, we had to be in Shawnee, Oklahoma, but there were a few different paths we could take. Straight south on back roads into New Mexico, where there were some hot springs, or on better roads in Colorado over to I-25 and to Capulin Volcano where we've been before. We almost left it up to the Van to decide :-) ... when we got to the intersection, which way would it turn?
The deciding factor ended up being the information that those hot springs were only 97 degrees. That's not a hot springs! Let's stick to better roads, and hopefully better Internet then.

Colorado it is - for at least another day or two.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Colorado, One More Time Friends, and new hot springs discoveries

Our next stop after Denver was to visit our friends Larry and Melissa who were staying in the Colorado Springs area. They are a very talented musical duo who put together an impressive, amd emtertaining show. We met them when they performed their One More Time musical show for a Gypsy Journal rally back in 2012, and we've stayed in touch and met up in a variety of locations all over the country! That's how it is with RVers. You make friends all over the place and those friends keep moving to even more places. Pretty soon you can't go anywhere that you don't have friends!
Since both of us are working on the road, we don't usually have any more than one dinner together before moving on, but this time we arranged a whole 2 days!

We were able to park right next to them and then we took off on a walk - you never know the kind of forest creatures you'll run into.

The next day we took off for Garden of the Gods - it's a free city park in Colorado Springs that is impressive enough to be a National Park!

What a great time, with good friends.

Larry and Melissa had just come from the direction where we were heading and they gave us tips of places to stay. "Hooper" said Larry. Hooper? Yeah. OK

First we found a hot springs that was highlighted in our Roadtrippers app. Called Desert Reef - it was a bit in the boonies. We probably would not have ventured down this road in our Big Boy RV, but Little Boy had no problem. 

I can't show you photos of the actual hot springs because you'd see naked people. We like it that way - it's always seemed nonsensical to have any kind of clothes on when you get into water - especially hot water. There wasn't any camping here though, so after a relaxing soak, we mosied on.

We needed some groceries anyway, and our Allstays app showed that there was a Walmart in Canon City where we could park for the night. I actually really like Walmart nights. I know that we're allowed to park there so I rest comfortably, there's lights and security, and if there's anything I need the store is right there and probably open all night ... just in case! This one was particularly nice.

Another RV that was parked there was very old and had lots of writing on the back of it. Jim took a photo, I found the quote on a website - Live your dream and wear your passion. I think Jim and I do that so well, I just had to grab it for ourselves! ... and add a couple of photos of course.

We woke up after a peaceful night's sleep at Walmart and started to get on the road. Where are we going to go today? I look at Roadtrippers and realize that Royal Gorge is right up ahead. Ok, sounds good. An hour later we were there.

What an amazing place! This is the kind of destination that people have on their lifelong bucket lists, and we just happened to be passing by!

We had originally thought we'd go a further west and visit friends in Durango, CO, but we called and they were out RVing! So, we decided not to go that far west. At the last hot springs, another person mentioned that her favorite hot springs in the area was Valley View - in the direction we were going. This one is on Public Trust land and you have to call and reserve. I called and they didn't have any spots available :-(
Ok, what was that place that Larry told us about? ... Hooper ... Ok, let's go there.

Well - it's near Hooper. Actually the campground is called Sand Dunes Swimming Pool and RV Park. What a find! RV park, hot springs, restaurant, bar ... AND good Verizon Internet! We stayed there 5 whole nights!

This is the area called the GreenHouse - because, well, it was a greenhouse. They converted it to hot springs pools a few years back. There were 5 pools as I recall, this big long one was warm at 97-98 degrees, then there was a 102 and a 106. There was even one pool at 110 degrees! I've never been in that hot a water - but I liked it! For about 5 minutes.

Yes, we did have to be clothed here. Well, can't have everything. They had beer! Really good beer too - something called Claymore Scotch Ale. 
We may just have found our new favorite RV park! Colorado again!

The big pool outside was very crowded with families in the area - how fun! Even 2 dive boards. Very comfortable at about 97 degrees.

We have certainly seen even better speeds for Verizon, but this it really good,
and for being in the middle of nowhere, it's AMAZING
There are only 10 electric hookup sites here though. We arrived on a Thursday and there were several available. But all were full for the weekend, so we had to move to the dry camping area. Still, we felt confident enough to do our Sunday "What Does This Button Do?" show.
But first, we had the Perseid Meteor Shower. So, it was great that we were parked out in the desert! No lights, no people.

All we had to do to watch the meteors was to open the back doors. That's right where our heads are when we sleep. So, if we just opened our eyes, we could look up at the cloudless sky and see stars shooting across the heavens. We are just the luckiest people on earth!

Here's the YouTube Live Streaming show we did from this location:

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