White Tank Mountain

Konnie, my adventure buddy, asked what I’d like to see while I was in the area. I told her that I was always up for petroglyphs. She came up with a hike to see petroglyphs and a waterfall at White Tank Mountain Regional Park in Waddell, Arizona.

We parked at the trailhead and followed the signs. It wasn’t too long before we came to the petroglyphs.

There is something so magical about seeing these works made by ancient hands.

There are interesting patterns hiding on the surfaces.

I wonder what they thought about while they were working?

I don’t know about you, but I tend to think of petroglyphs as precious and rare.

Yes, they are precious records of people who have gone before, but they are not all that rare.

When they found an area that was good for petroglyphs and close enough to where they were, the human spirit of creativity and, perhaps, spirituality, took over.

If you look closely, you can pick out shapes that seem whimsical. Did the creator intend to make a cute little bird or was it something else?

Really, petroglyphs are there in abundance.

I love looking for petroglyphs. It almost feels like hunting for Easter eggs – except that I never found any eggs when they would hold the annual Easter egg hunt at Crosby Field in Kenmore, NY when I was a kid.

We came to a fork in the trail – so we took it! (Apologies to Yogi Berra.)

We headed toward the falls.

However, the petroglyphs continued.

And continued.

And continued.

We walked past a water tank that was riddled with bullet holes.

More petroglyphs.

This little petroglyph reminds me of a polliwog – or maybe a sperm.

Really, this place is just a treasure trove!

Looking up the hillside, I’ll bet that there are more treasures to be found, but the waterfall was calling us on.

Just as we got close to the waterfall, I there was a boulder with modern “petroglyphs”. This makes me so angry.

Up the stairs to the waterfall.

I appreciated the stairs but getting close to the falls and the upper pools required some careful footwork.

Some people don’t have much sense, though. Do you see that guy up on the rocks? He was way past the limits of where people were allowed. At this point, he was coming back down after the marshall called him on it.

It was a busy day at the park. This bunch scrambled up on a boulder for a group photo.

The water is falling – even if you can’t really see it in this photo –

and it collects in this pool at the base of the falls.

After we got to the falls, it was time to retrace our steps. We strolled a bit down another path, but given the lengthening shadows, it was time to head back.

Another adventure in the books!



Phinally Phoenix

A trip of about 1000 miles – and it began with a full tank of gas.

Followed by at least another three tanks, a new battery, two nights in rest stops, a trip to Mexico while camped nearby and a night “dry camping”.

But I finally arrived at Desert Shadows RV Resort.  I booked a site there for while I worked on administering tests for National Assessment of Educational Progress.  This is a program that operates every other year and tests students across the country. The like to call themselves “The Nation’s Report Card.”

I worked on the project in 2013, when I still lived in Michigan. When they called to see if I was available for 2015, I was already on the road. I told them that I was interested, but that I needed to be in a warm locale. That year, I worked in Tucson. When they called me for 2017, I requested Phoenix, so I could spend time with Konnie, my adventure buddy.

I look forward to sharing our adventures.

I got settled in at Desert Shadows RV Resort. It was heavy on the amenities but tight on the space. I guess I’m just not the “amenities” sort of person. Shuffleboard, bocci ball and such things don’t do it for me. They do have card parties, but who plays cards at 9:00 in the morning?

I mean, that is one tight spot! Some mornings I would have to fold in my side mirror to make sure that I didn’t bump into the fifth wheel next to me.

This was the view out my door. Not inspiring.

I paid for a month, so I stayed for a month. Luckily, I found a fantastic regional park when Konnie took me around on our adventures. I stayed there for the rest of my time.

Now this is more like it!

The only catch to camping at Lake Pleasant Regional Park is you can only stay in a site for two weeks. This is not really a problem, though, because they will let you move from campsite to campsite. If I had only known about this gem, I could have made reservations in advance. As it was, I had to move to four different sites while I was there.

This view was from the second site I was in. Sunrise over Lake Pleasant.

My third site didn’t have the views, but it was right next to the bathhouse and they had really nice showers.

The whole place was so well maintained. They rake the campsites before we move in! I felt like my fire pit was part of a zen garden.

What a beautiful place! Of course, they didn’t have shuffleboard or bocci ball or early morning card games, but I didn’t mind in the least. My neighbors weren’t crammed right next to me, either.

And the sunsets were pretty special, too!


Pancho Villa State Park and Then On to Phoenix!

My next stop was a return to Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico. After a long day of driving, I decided to make it a shorter jaunt. Just a few hours down the road and I was there.

Now, normally, I prefer the interstates, but I-10 requires some serious hill-climbing and is actually longer than taking the back roads to this spot. I felt so clever finding a more level route.

I visited the state park last year and was quite impressed with the location and its historical significance. I also liked the campground, with its nice tables, shelters and walls as well as the bath houses.

There are all sorts of interesting plantings in the park, too.

I got Flo situated at the site and headed over to Mexico for lunch. It was time for a visit to The Pink Store in Paloma, Chihuahua. (Click on the link if you want to read the more extended post I wrote about my visit last year.)

I parked on the American side and headed for the port of entry. The border wall is reflected in a large puddle in front of it.

I got to the end of the road and then I walked across.

The Pink Store was my destination, and it was a short stroll from the border.

Any guesses as to why they named it The Pink Store?

I settled myself at a table and enjoyed the chips and salsa while I listened to the strolling mariachi groups.

There were two groups this time. One group was the standard group playing the Guadalajara music. They had the fancy suits and all the instruments. The other group was a more “country” group. They took turns playing and collecting tips. Luckily, there were people there who came to spend money. Me – I came for lunch.

Speaking of spending money, The Pink Store wants to make it easy to buy their merchandise. Do you see that stand by the table? The waiter brought it over and hung their bags on it.

After I finished lunch, I stopped in the restroom. Those are some decorative sinks! And, if you like them, they are for sale in the store.

After I got back through immigration, I stopped in at Family Dollar. I saw this car with this bumper stickers on it. They made me feel good, so I snapped a photo of them.

While I was in the store, I struck up a conversation with a woman who was buying things that turned out to be for a school garden in Paloma. She is volunteering there and told me about the students’ garden and the cooking she was doing with the produce We walked out together, and it turned out that this was her car.

I got a good night’s sleep and got ready to hit the road in the morning. The weather was much prettier!

Phoenix was calling my name and so I continued heading west. One more night and I would be there. I spent the night in the dry camping area of the Saguaro Co-op in Benson.

After I finished my laundry, I got to meet up with a friend from my stint 2013 at Amazon . Jan and her husband, Al, were also pulling out in the morning, so it was great that she took time out from their travel preparations to have a glass of wine. Poor Al just kept plugging away at getting ready to leave.

I was great to catch up. I got to bed at a decent hour and rose bright and early.

Now for the final push to Phoenix!


If It’s Not One Thing…

I had an uneventful trip to the Kerrville rest stop. I got Flo and Bart settled in with the big trucks. There’s the moon rising.

And the sun setting.

I had a great night’s sleep. I got up bright an early, made myself a cup of coffee and had a bowl of cereal and then went to start my push west.

Bart wouldn’t start.

The AAA to the rescue again! The helpful young man was there quickly and he determined that it was the battery. He asked me how old it was. Well, it was the battery that came with the truck when I got it in 2013. He seemed impressed that it lasted that long.

He gave Bart a jump and lead me into Kerrville to an auto parts store. I bought a battery and he installed it for me and I was on the road in less than an hour.

I spent one more night at a rest stop in Texas and then headed to Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico.

Man, Texas is ONE BIG STATE!


Austin – Miscellany

I love it when I hit a big city and I get to visit favorite stores.

I just have a good time looking at all of their displays. Sometimes I even buy things – but mostly I just look.

I saw this floor plan that I think would be more than enough space for me for when I stop rolling.

This could work, with a little less clutter. I’ve really gotten into this minimal lifestyle.

Here’s something I think would be great. Keep your shoes organized and out of the way. That is definitely something on the “someday” list.

And, who knew that the Poang chairs came in three different sizes? I had fun putting one together when I visited my friend Leigh in Florida.

After all that window shopping, I was getting hungry. Time to head to the cafeteria!

I love the carts they have to carry trays. This way, families can fill up all the trays they need.

It looks so tasty! And the coffee was free, because I joined their loyalty club. I do love me some free stuff!

One day, I treated myself to a movie. They do things big here in Texas! That sculptural torch is a tad over the top.

The movie I chose was “Hidden Figures” and it was totally worth the price of admission!

After the movie, I stopped for dinner at Serranos. It was tasty. When I asked if I could take the rest of the chips home with me, they gave me a bagful. I have already mentioned that I like free things.

On Sunday, I went to church at the Cathedral of Saint Mary. The origins of the church date back to the 1850s, when Austin had a population of around 600. The current church was begun in the 1870s, after Austin was made permanent capital  of the state. It was part of the diocese of Galveston until the new diocese of Austin was formed in 1948, when it was remodeled.

Since this is a cathedral, it has the Bishop’s chair, which is known as the cathedra.

I thought the diocese’s shield deserved a close up.

I was visiting at the beginning of January, and the manger scene was still set up. It was the Sunday after Epiphany, so the Three Kings are there paying homage.

I strolled over to take a quick look at the Capitol. Since I toured it during my last visit, I decided just to take a look and head out.

Austin is a city of expressways! Near my hotel was this impressive collection of ramps and connectors that they called “flyovers”. They drive so fast here! My hotel was on one of the frontage roads, and they drive 55+ on the frontage roads! Pulling out of the hotel driveway was a treat.

What would a trip to Texas be without a stop at Whataburger?

They finally got Flo fixed. Oh, did I tell you what they told me the problem was? They told me that the people who repaired her in May had installed the windows incorrectly. They removed the three big windows that open and the two windows they call “vista windows”. They had to remove the rivets and caulking and clean the whole mess and reinstall them.

While I was waiting at the shop for them to finish up the work on my last day in Austin, I got to look at the newest Airstream.

It’s a compact camper for people who aren’t into the full Airstream experience, but still want that “riveted” look.

It looks rather futuristic, doesn’t it?

There is a door in the back where you can load things like bikes and kayaks.

There is a great view while you cook. It only has two burners, but I don’t think I’ve ever used all three of my burners at the same time.

The round lid that is raised covers the sink.

The toilet doubles as a shower. I like the fact that the toilet paper has a cover. I hope it is watertight.

For some reason, I didn’t take a shot of the rest of the trailer, but it has bench seats that turn into beds.

I did remember to take a photo of the price tag, just in case you were wondering.

They finally got the work finished and I paid for the work. It was time to say goodbye to Camper Clinic 2 and head down the I-35 to I-10 and then head west.

Next stop: the rest area near Kerrville, Texas. I love how they allow overnight parking at the Texas reststops.

Austin – the Meeting

One of the good things about the extended time I needed to get the trailer repaired is that I got to meet up with yet another Facebook friend!

I met Michelle through a group of like-minded women. Looking at the picture, you might think we had a dress code, but I assure you that this was just a coincidence.

Our first stop on our day together was Mount Bonnell. At 780 feet above sea level, it affords a great view of Austin, which is about 200 feet lower in elevation.

It overlooks the Lake Austin portion of the Colorado River.

I love these old-timey markers with their cool lettering. However, this one is from 1938, which doesn’t seem so long ago. I must be getting old.

Next stop was County Line Barbecue for lunch. It’s been an Austin landmark since 1975, and now they have seven locations in Texas, as well as one in Albuquerque, NM. They also ship ribs all over, just in case you are interested.

Those portions were truly Texas-sized! We were sufficiently provisioned for our next destination: the LBJ Presidential Library.

On the way in, Michelle pointed out the University of Texas at Austin clock tower.  Just in case you are not of an age to remember its significance, it was the site of the first mass shooting that I remember. It took place in August 1966. If you would like to learn more about this sad day, this link will take you to an article.

We approached the library and we were greeted by LBJ himself.

He was a larger-than-life figure!

He was responsible for a lot of legislation and many of the features of our country that we have taken for granted for decades.

I found this display of pens used in signing legislation into law to be inspiring.

There were displays on the main floor, and they were interesting. As we rounded the corner, the floors containing his presidential papers loomed above us. It was an impressive sight.

I enjoyed taking part in this little recreation of “The Johnson Treatment”. He would use his physicality to advantage to persuade people to go along with him. The original photo is in the upper righthand corner of the shot.

Johnson was the first president I remember much about. I was seven when he took office after Kennedy’s assassination.

He was born in 1908 and died in 1973 at age 64. I found that amazing. He seemed so old and now I am only a few years younger than that.

One of the interesting displays were the important events that took place during his life. I posed with the year I was born.

Along with LBJ, this is another of the things I remember from the era. It sure made an impression.

I have a strong memory of watching the conventions with my folks. I couldn’t understand why they kept interrupting Kennedy by applauding during his speech. I thought that was rude – they should just let him speak!

Fun fact: Did you know that there was no vice president when LBJ finished out Kennedy’s term? Hubert Humphrey was his veep when he was elected in 1964.

On the mezzanine there were several pillars with LBJ quotes.

These ideas are refreshing: how a country’s wealth should be used for the benefit of its people.

I especially like this quote. These are the important qualities to have in an elected official.

On the top floor of the library, there is a recreation of LBJ’s Oval Office.

He was always working the phones. He had this slick phone in a drawer that he could slide away.

Speaking of communication, he had three televisions in the office. What a simple life! Three channels – three televisions.

Then, there is the desk and another phone. That man sure believed in reaching out and touching someone!

I also liked this rocker – well, I really liked the stool. What a good idea for a rocker stool!

Lady Bird was also represented in the library. She is important historically because she created the modern structure of the First Lady’s office.  She was the first in this role to have a press secretary and chief of staff of her own, and an outside liaison with Congress.

She was known for her love of flowers. She said, “Where flowers boom, so does hope.”

She worked extensively to protect wildflowers and promoted planting them alone highways. She became the first president’s wife to actively advocate of legislation when she promoted the Highway Beautification Act in 1965, which was nicknamed “Lady Bird’s Bill.”

The White House china reflects her love of flowers. I’ll bet the food would have been even tastier on these plates!

At that point, it was time to head out.

Naturally, we had to exit through the gift shop. I liked what they had for sale.

Before ending our day together, we stopped for a cup of coffee at Thunderbird Coffee.

We helped keep Austin weird – in our own little way. We had the barrista snap our photo.

And then our day together was over.



Austin – the Arrival

After I crossed the Mississippi, my next destination was Buda, Texas, which was a mere 525 miles away. I had an appointment for Flo at Camper Clinic 2 to have her checked for leaks.

Buda is a small town about 10 miles south of Austin, and, incidentally, Buda is pronounced “BEAU-da.” (I knew you wanted to know.)

I crossed into Texas and stopped into the welcome center.

And I was back in Texas!

I stopped for the night at a rest stop near Corsicana. I like the fact that Texas welcomes travelers to stay over at their rest stops. It makes covering ground in that huge state much more convenient.

After a good night’s sleep at the rest stop, I hit the road towards Austin. I started seeing signs for Buc-ee’s.

Buc-ee’s! Now I know I’m in Texas!

There are billboards announcing how far you are from the next Buc-ee’s. When you get close, you finally see the Buc-ee’s sign glowing in the distance.

You might want to know, “What is Buc-ee’s?” Well, it is a Texas-sized gas station. Actually to call it a gas station is kind of like calling the Grand Canyon erosion damage.

The clerk in the convenience store – which is roughly the size of a Wal-Mart – told me that there are 96 gas pumps in front of the store, and that there are times when all the pumps are full and there is a line!

At the entrance to the store is a bronze statue of Buc-ee himself!

The store has just about everything you could want – food, clothes, outdoor equipment and REST ROOMS! (Guess where I was heading?)

After my visit to the porcelain convenience, I decided to grab a little sustenance. I saw that they had kolaches, which I hadn’t managed to sample on my previous travels in Texas.

According to my ultimate resource (Wikipedia), a kolach (plural: kolaches) is a pastry that comes from Eastern Europe. It is a type of pastry that holds a dollop of fruit rimmed by a puffy pillow of supple dough. Now I can say I’ve had kolaches.

On my way to the cash register to pay for my snack, I passed a large display of Buc-ee swag. While they had cute stuff, I didn’t really need anything. I was able to pass the display and get back on the road.

I arrived at Camper Clinic 2 and dropped off Flo. Cora and I headed for the hotel.

The plan was that they would apply the Sealtech machine on Flo and then seal up where the water was getting in. I do love a plan! One of these days, the plans will work.

After I got settled in to the hotel, I got a call from them that told me that the repair job I had done the year before – when I put a hole in the side – had been done incorrectly. They told me that they had to remove, reseat and re-caulk the five windows on the affected side of the trailer. I took a deep breath and agreed to the repairs.

So, rather than the two days I had originally planned, I ended up spending about a week in Austin.

Oh, well. I did feel that I hadn’t allotted enough time for my visit to Austin the year before.

Thus endeth “Austin – the Arrival”.




USS Cairo Gunboart and Museum

So, I left the Navy Memorial and continued along the road through the park.

I spied what looked like a circus tent, which piqued my curiosity. It turns out that it was the remains of the U.S.S. Cairo, the ironclad gunboat that was sunk by the Confederates in December of 1862.

The Cairo had the dubious distinction of being the first ship in history to be sunk by an electronically detonated torpedo. Within twelve minutes, the ironclad sank into 36 feet of water, but all the crew members survived.

The damage where the torpedoes struck was still apparent when they managed to raise the wreck in 1965. They had hoped to raise it intact, but they ended up having to cut it into three segments. Its remains were loaded on barges and taken to Ingalls Shipyard on the Gulf Coast in Pascagula, Mississippi where it was preserved.

In Pascagula, the armor was removed, cleaned and stored.

I can’t imagine that this wood is original, but I suppose parts of it are.

This iron piece that goes up and over is called a hog chain, and it served to stabilize the structure. The hog chain is part of the original ship.

The boilers cleaned up pretty well, I think.

There were walkways around the Cairo, and you could really examine what was left.

I was surprised at how well the metal stood up to a century in the water.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers was also impressed with the design.

The fact that they were able to find, raise and restore as much of the ship as they did is pretty remarkable. Another thing that was remarkable was, that since the ship sank so quickly, all the artifacts were still there when they raised it.

All the bits and pieces of life about the Cairo were there. Tools, locks, keys and fasteners.

They found the bosun’s whistle.

The enlisted men’s mess was stored in a box and taken out for meals. The officers had nicer gear.

The signal bell to communicate with the engine was found.

They found the ship’s bell, too.

They found the pump and

handcuffs and shackles, just in case they were needed.

Really, it was an amazing museum. If you get to Vicksburg, I’d really recommend it. My time was growing short, so I snapped a few photos and left.

The Vicksburg National Cemetery was right outside the Cairo Museum. I took a drive through and appreciated the calm of the 116 rolling acres. 17,000 Union soldiers are buried here, and 75% of those interred are unknown. The cemetery has been closed to burials since May 1961, except for people who made arrangements before that date.

I picked my way through Vicksburg. I wanted to get down to the river, that played such a big part in its history.

I got down to an odd spot where they recorded the levels of flooding. It kind of reminded me of pencil marks on a door jam that recorded children’s growth – except a little different.

I am all about safety.

I found a sign that indicated that there was a scenic route. I don’t know if I got off the route at some point. This was interesting, although it wasn’t exactly scenic.

I passed a “riverboat” casino. I am pretty sure it was just a building designed to look like a riverboat.

And with the sun setting in the west, it was time to head back to the campground.  In the morning, I would be on the road again.

Next stop, Texas!