Sunday, March 30, 2014

City of Rocks

We made the move to New Mexico today. The trip from Benson, Arizona to City of Rocks State Park was only 160 miles and was an easy drive with most of the trip on a two lane road.  There is not much traffic driving through the mountains going from one desert to the next.

We stopped in Silver City which is a mining town.  Most of the well preserved town was from the late 1800's.  Despite Walmart the downtown is doing well and still active.  It is an artsy kind of place with about 30 galleries.  We did a quick walk through the 5 or 6 blocks but not a lot was open because it was Sunday.  We'll come back tomorrow to look around.

Our campsite is very unique.  We are parked in a secluded site between huge boulders.  As we look out our living room window we can see a dozen rocks, the biggest being about 25 feet tall.  Out our front windshield we can see desert sage brush going for 10-15 miles until it hits the mountain range.  The mountain range completely fills our full width of vision.  Just the front window view must cover 30 miles of mountains.

From our campsite we can not see a single person or any form of civilization.  A hawk or a golden eagle just flew by looking for dinner, so I guess we are not totally alone.  We'll keep an eye on Eva, so she doesn't become eagle dinner.

The only slight problem with this perfect spot is the wind.  From our perch on top of the hill the wind gusts are about 38MPH.  That kind of a wind will really shake the motorhome, even with the stabilizers down.  We are hoping things will settle down this evening.

Now you may ask, where are the pictures?  Here comes the daily dog story.  Eva rides on the floor between us as we drive.  When we arrived in Silver City I looked down to see half a cell phone cable.  Yep, wonderdog had eaten the end of my cable.  Thus no photos today.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Our Dog may Make us Rich

Sunrise in Benson, Arizona.
Sunset in Benson, Arizona.
Now a good question is why is a retired guy up before sunrise?  I could say I love communing with nature but the truth is the dog is awake and ready to go at 5:45 every morning. 

We have been going out on day trips each day.  The best outing was going to Kartchner Caverns.  Unfortunately they do not allow any photography in the caves.  After being down there I can understand why.  Flashing cameras would be distracting to everyone.  It  was best to just take it all in as we walked.

Terri getting ready to spelunk.
We wandered through the countryside on both dirt and paved roads.  Many towns were small enough to have the "Welcome" and "Come Again" signs on the same post.

Tombstone City Hall circa 1881.
Tombstone is still alive and well.  No Bat Masterson or Doc Holiday walking the streets but tourists waiting for a gun fight on Main Street is the norm now.

The stagecoach still runs down Main Street.
If it wasn't for telephone poles and SUV's that picture could be a century ago.

One of the prices to be paid for traveling back roads is rock chips in our windshields.  The Honda had one and the RV had two.  What is the price you might ask?  The Honda was $25.00 and the Monaco was $40.00.  I though the price was great and it included him coming to the RV to do the repair the morning after he fixed the car.  No need to involve the insurance company when it is that cheap.

While we were sitting in the RV one morning a neighbor was having their carpets cleaned.  I walked over and made arrangements for him to do our motorhome.  $60.00 and I didn't have to go get a Rug Doctor or do the work myself.  I'm getting lazy.  Cool.

Eva the wonderdog digging in the dirt.
On one of the many walks, Eva began digging in the dirt in the desert.  Dirt was flying everywhere.  Pretty soon she had her treasure in her mouth.  Terri called her over to see what she had found.  It turns out that Eva was not digging, she was mining.  She had a beautiful crystal in her mouth.  I'll show you a photo of her find in the next blog. 

Our dog may make us rich.

A final sunset over Arizona before leaving.
We will be moving along to New Mexico tomorrow.  We will be spending a few days at City of Rock State Park near Deming, New Mexico.  Take a look at where we will be:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dream Car

I like red cars.  This one will suit me just fine.  Sorry, not for sale.
Terri's brother Shan and I went to a car show this morning.  A few hundred very nice cars.  The red 1931- 5 window coupe above looks just right for me.  Since it was not for sale I moved on to a truck I also liked.

If I can't have red maybe this would do.
I don't think flames are my thing.
It's back to a pickup hard to decide.
I don't really need 725 HP, do I?
Maybe a baby blue Chevy Bel Air close to my own age?
Ya gotta love fender skirts and wide white sidewalls.
Only $26,000.00
Well all this is only dreaming because I don't have Terri's permission.  I'll just keep dreaming.

I'll just dream in black and chrome.
We went to our final ball game this afternoon.  Spring training baseball is not real baseball as proven by the fact that they stopped after 9 innings with a 3 to 3 tie.  What?  Only in the Cactus League.

The 5 of us out in front of the stadium before game 2 - Padres versus Mariners.
Before yesterdays ball game we visited the state capitol building. It was right in the heart of downtown Phoenix.

I sat in the governors' chair and called the legislature to order.
Grandma wanted the Grandkids to see the Arizona flag made from Legos.
The first governor and I are twins?  111 years apart.
The third and final game was Padres versus Chicago White Sox.  We had a great time with Terri's family.  They fly out tomorrow morning and we move on to Benson Arizona, about 160 miles down the road.

The Crites clan.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

A nice evening at the ball park.
We went to our first of three Spring Training MLB games last night.  We had great seats right behind home plate.  It was so nice for the whole game that Terri never put her jacket on.  The San Francisco Giants were playing the San Diego Padres.  Right from the first inning the Giants ran away with the game.  It was a batters night for sure.

The Crites clan.
Shan, Beth and Shari had flown in for the long weekend of baseball.  You should see the five of us all getting into the Honda Fit.  Tight fit.  We are enjoying talking and eating to much already. 

The Giants using the Mariners dugout last night.
The Peoria Sports Complex is shared by the Mariners and Padres for Spring training.  There are 14 baseball fields with one of those being the stadium for the daily games.  The other 13 fields are used for practice during the days.

Terri's family were all raised in San Diego so they are Padre fans.  I was raised in Tacoma so I was a Tacoma Giants fan as a kid.  With Tacoma being the AAA farm team for San Francisco I was a Giants fan for years.  I remember Gaylord Perry, Dusty Roads, Juan Marshell and the Allue brothers when they played for Tacoma before going up to the majors.

Last nights game was great for me as the Giants tromped the Padres.  I did enjoy razing the Crites clan most of the evening.

One of the interesting features of the Peoria ball field is the outfield seating.  They have a beautiful grass hill for picnic seating.  Just bring your blanket and pick a spot on the lawn.

The view from my seat.
I was able to help the ump call balls and strikes.
I only had to correct him a few times
We finished the evening with ice cream at Dairy Queen.  That's sort of like Spring training for retirees.  I'm getting in great shape for the season.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

We are Marching to Peoria

I know it should be Pretoria, but now I have the song firmly stuck in your brain for the rest of the day.

Yesterday was a travel day.  150 miles of road through the dessert is not thrilling travel.  Cacti at 60MPH all look the same.  We were in no hurry to leave Tucson so I did a little washing on the exterior of the RV.  I had done the windows the day before, the remains of several thousand bugs are no longer in evidence on my windshield.  R.I.P.

A few hundred dollars of fuel at Costco and a hotdog and we were ready for the drive.  We arrived in Peoria just Northwest of Phoenix at 3:00.  Aside from a little wind along the way, it was a nice drive.

We are staying at Valley of the Sun RV Park which is behind the Ramada Inn that the relatives will be staying in.  I would not recommend this as a great/beautiful place to stay if it weren't for baseball.  I guess we can't be backed up to a pretty lake all the time.

Today Terri's sister, brother and sister-in-law fly in for several days of Spring Training Baseball.  We have tickets for both Seattle and San Diego games.  The temperatures will be in the 80's so it will be very warm baseball.

Due to a lack of picture taking yesterday you get another dog picture.

Eva laying in the Sun patch.... her normal position.
It doesn't matter how warm it is, she will always lay in the Sun.
Mexican dog.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Best Flan Ever

I think I'll write todays blog backwards.  I don't mean standing on my head, rather chronologically.

Life is short.... eat dessert first!!!
We just had our final meal at Los Nopales.  The advantage to having lunch there is they still have flan available at noon.  In the evening it may already be gone.  We leave for Phoenix tomorrow so it was our last chance to have the best flan in the world.  Sometimes I exaggerate, this is NOT one of those times.  The VERY BEST FLAN.  E.V.E.R.

If you don't believe me just hop in your car and drive 1,600 mile to the edge of the Saguaro Desert.  When you arrive order a Flan.  You will agree that it was worth the drive.

For our last meal, Red Chili Beef.
All their food is good.
The Red Chili Beef is "to die for".
We had our favorite, Red Chili Beef, for the fourth or fifth time since finding Los Nopales. As always amazing.  Than came dessert.

We had one last maintenance item to check on this morning.  The Honda Fit brakes needed a quick check.  All was well so we headed home to the RV.  As we were driving a strange thing happened.  We were headed down Kinney Road towards the Saguaro Desert when the car failed to make the turn onto Bopp Road.  We were both surprised when we ended up at Los Nopales Restaurant.  What a pleasant surprise.  So long as we were there we might as well have lunch.

Slide topper replacement time.
Yesterday it was time to replace the two slide covers on the RV.  Before leaving last Summer we replaced the main awning and we knew that at some point it would be time for the slide cover/awnings.  If you remember last October we were greeted to Arizona by a major wind storm.  Those twisters tore the living room slide awning to bits and pieces.

We knew that when we returned to Tucson that would be the first order of business.  We ordered online a 127" and a 158" replacement vinyl for each slide.  It turned out that the company is in Washington state (weren't we just there).  They shipped them to us in Tucson.

I planned on finding someone to help me because it is a two person job.  When the time came Terri was that person.  We worked great as a team and had it all finished in a few hours.  I remembered the husband rule:  Do NOT raise your voice / Do NOT yell.  I followed those simple rules and every thing went great.

The bedroom slide with new awning material.
Our Carefree slide covers also extend to become awnings over the windows.
It makes a big difference in heat from the Sun.
I can highly recommend "Tough Top Awnings" to all RV'ers when that day comes to replace their toppers.  Just for reference, the cost of 2 new covers was $337.00 total with shipping for both slides.  That is much less than the manufactures replacements.  From all I've read on the forums their 15 ounce material will be tougher and last longer than the replacements from the original manufactures.  Call Ray at 480-773-2978.

I really don't want to test that theory with another twister.

The new living room slide without the awning extended.
Sunday evening we drove to Green Valley to square dance to Jerry Junck.  He is a great caller and all 7 squares had to be thinking quickly to keep up with him.  We met many nice people and enjoyed a very good dance.

We had fun dancing in Tucson.

Life is good.... good dancing, good wife, good weather, great flan.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Grass is Greener......

Poor Eva has been a month without any warm green grass to lay in.  We didn't know that this was a problem.  She never said a word.  Tucson is really short on grass and all the grass in the Pacific Northwest was cold and wet.

So today for the first time in a month she saw "Paradise".  A patch of beautiful green grass.  She made a quick dash and was laying down with a smile on her face.

She's in heaven. 
If I had gotten a side shot you would be able to see her smile.
Once she was in the grass it was time to roll.  She had no intention of ever leaving, it was warm, it was soft and it tasted great.  I didn't mention that she loves to eat blades of grass.

Sorry, I'm never leaving this spot.
Just go along without me.
I'll be fine.  Just go.
I said just leave.
We square danced Wednesday, Friday and will dance tonight in Green Valley.  The reason I mention this is that we were back at Rincon West, the place we danced on Wednesday night when Eva discovered her grass patch.  We had dropped by to see the place in the daylight.

Rincon West is one of those massive gated communities that is full of snowbirds.  We visited our first "Park Model" in a senior community.  I've been curious where and why all those snowbirders go South every Winter.

I have to say we were impressed.  A tight knit community living in small houses sharing beautiful common areas.  Golf cart zipping about and people out walking and biking everywhere.

I am beginning to see the attraction.  They also had an area for RVers with about 200 RV's sharing the same lifestyle.  Here is a link to see for yourself what is going on with all those snowbirds:  Life is not so bad out in the middle of the desert.

We did eventually drag the poor dog out of the grass.  I am pretty sure she would be just fine staying there with the snowbirds.  Terri said "NO".

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Fabulous Fotos and Phood

Another beautiful evening sunset here in Tucson.  On the way back from Nopales Restaurant I made Terri pull over several times so we could look at the sunset.  Stunning.

So if we can see the sunsets to the West what happens when we turn around and face East?  Let's take a look.

Mountains to the East.  Just after sunset so they are a little pink.
The full moon arisen' tonight.
And if one mountain won't do, we'll have two please.  The last of the sunset glow lights the center of this photo.
Saguaro cactus by the hundreds or thousands.
There is a whole ridge of these peaks that go to the horizon. There are many dozen but I haven't tried to count them all.  I'm not sure they name them there are so many.

Well back to the true highlight of the day.  Food.  We headed for our favorite Mexican food at Nopales Restaurant.  We each had a different plate of Enchiladas this evening.  Both were good but I think I made the better choice.  We were lucky we arrived early, the place was almost full.  By the time we left, people were standing outside waiting there turn.

Green-White and Red Enchiladas. 
The center Enchilada was my favorite, Red Chili Beef with Sour Cream.
A lot more than I could eat..... here comes breakfast.
Terri is happy because she has a Pacifico with Lime.
Life is good..... and the food is even better.

A little different exposure that on the first photo.  All my photos are shot on my Razor cell phone.

Not so Cool

Not so cool.....the refrigerator would not work correctly when we returned to the RV last week.  Being a man of many skills I thought I would have a look to see what was wrong.  Now I will be the first to admit that I am not an electrical genius, but that was not going to stop a Ranger.  We are fearless.

My first big clue came when I removed a panel on the exterior of the RV.  Looking at the backside of the fridge I could see a bright red light glowing on the heat sensor unit.  This little relay had a bright yellow tag explaining what the part was and that it had been done as a recall on the fridge.

I had read about these recalls that Norcold had done on their fridges.  It really is a simple unplug and replace module that even I could handle.  Simple, I will just call the 1-800-number on the yellow tag.

Thus began a frustrating adventure.  I called Norcold and was speaking to a very knowledgeable person.  I gave them my serial number and they immediately knew my unit and gave me the date that the recall had been done three years ago.  So far going great.

I asked if I could purchase the part. " NO.  Why?  It can only be installed by an authorized service agent.  What about all the other parts on my fridge?  No problem.  So what you are telling me is that the only way to solve this simple problem is to have a service company drive out to my RV and unclip 4 wires and install the new part?"

Not quite so simple.  "They will come out and remove the part.  We'll send them a new one.  And than come back out and take the 2 minutes to install it."  So I will have to pay for two trips?  "Yes, and possibly the recall part also."

Well today the service tech came out.  He looked at the recall part and determined that it was the problem.  $140.00 please.  He said he'll try to have Norcold replace the recall part for free.  I won't hold my breath.  I will have the pleasure of paying another $140.00 when he returns.

My cheap fridge.
So I am alright with all of this because the problem was an easy fix.  Also I had gone online to Camping World and seen that our 4 door fridge would be $3,900.00 plus installation.  That makes a few hundred for repairs seem cheap.

Earlier this morning we took the Honda into the shop for an oil change, tire rotation and a front end alignment.  The front end alignment was no big surprise knowing the types of dirt and gravel roads it has traveled in the last 8 months.

Terri and Eva enjoying strawberries together.  Eva loves fruit.
We've spent so much money today why not just go to Nopales for dinner tonight.  At least it will be a great end to the day.  We did go square dancing last night and had a good time dancing to a very talented caller who was 86 years old.  60+ years of practice makes you very capable.

Life is good......and the fridge is cold.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


We are back to our regular life once again so it was time to resume one of my old habits.  I am a compulsive LW (list writer).  I don't apologize for my compulsion, I embrace it. 

19 items on the To Do List...... 9 done so far today.
Thank you Charity for my custom made journal to LW in.
Youngest daughter Charity is a crafter.
Her latest venture is making custom journals.
I was the lucky recipient of this one last week when we visited in Seattle.
In my opinion there are two types of people in this world: people who write lists and people who should write lists.  How can a person get anything done without a list to follow?  How can life be complete without the satisfaction of crossing an item off the list when done?  I live for that moment.  Write new list.   Now what could feel better than that.

But you might ask why I needed to resume my LW'ing.  How did I manage to get by for 4 months in Mazatl├ín without a list.  Simple.  I didn't do a darn thing.  Yep, if something needed to be done I let someone else do it.  Remember that great Mexican saying, "I have a friend that can do that for you."

I supported the Mexican economy, I paid a Mexican to do all my work.  Cool huh?

But now it's back to real life.  Things need to get done.  I've looked around and there is no one to do it for me.  It's time to write a list and cross 'em off.

Terri and Eva resting after a morning of hard work.
I am such a thoughtful husband that I will even include Terri in completing my list.  Very nice of me, don't you think?

We look just like the "Klampets".  We have some of our laundry hanging out in the sun drying this afternoon.  I'm sure our neighbors love our classy look.  If we Washingtonians had to wait for 10 months for the sun to dry our laundry we would be a pretty smelly bunch.  I think I'll just say that it is politically correct to use solar power.  After all, I have become a cactus hugger now.

We hope to square dance tomorrow.  We'll report on that in the next blog.

Monday, March 10, 2014

An Eye Full of Cacti

Everywhere we look or walk there are cacti.  Some are in bloom and all are dangerously pointy.  We are on the edge of a 200 acre park that is cacti as far as we can see.

Barrel cactus with yellow blooms.
All cacti are not good looking.  This one looks like a mistake.  Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder.  I behold this one to be ugly.

Another blooming cactus.
This one looks like dinner.  We had a vegan stir fry for dinner tonight but I didn't have any Nopales to put into the pot.  Guess I could have walked a 100 feet and got some.  We buy it in the grocery stores in Mazatl├ín and we have acquired a taste for it.  It's like a Bell Pepper with an attitude.

Take ALL the thorns off before eating.  Unless you're a really tough guy.
I've not seen this blue and pink version in the grocery store.
I won't eat it until I know for sure that it is OK.
It may still be winter in most of the country but here in the desert there are lots of flowers.  Today was calm with temperatures in the high 70"s.  Just how a Winters day should be. In the next week it will creep up to just over 80.
It's 7:30 in the evening and we still have the front door open. 
Anytime there is sun coming through a window or the door Eva will be laying in the sun patch.  A true Mexican dog through and through.
Last October when we were here for a couple weeks we faced the RV West.  We learned that it would be better to face East for shade and heat during the day.  The bonus is the sunsets out the living room window each evening.
Nice sunset Arizona, keep up the good work.