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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

And They Call the Wind ---- WINDY!

Well, we knew it was coming, and saw it on the weather reports.  But the morning was calm with some nice breezes but nothing too bad.

Steve had been talking to the park superintendent here, and found out they use a mechanic about a mile away to do all their repair work. And as a matter of fact, that guy recently rebuilt a lady's Tracker who was stranded here in the park with just about the same problem!

So Steve took off across the desert to walk over to the guy's place and see what he could do.  After chatting up a bit, the guy sent two of his workers over to the park to check out our Tracker.  Steve and the host were able to hook it up behind the host's truck, and tow it over to get it worked on.  The guy gave a ball park quote of "worst case scenario" of around $600... but really won't know till he rips it apart.  So our budget is holding it's hands together in prayer and we will see how much will slip through our hands to pay the bill??? LOL

As the afternoon unfolded, 
so did the winds.  
Oh MY!!!!!!!!!

We were getting 
sustained winds 
in the 35-40 range, 
and gusts up to 50+ mph!!!!!  

We were rocking back and forth, with dust blasting us from all directions.  We learned a good trick a while back in our last sand storm to run both of our air conditioners on "fan mode" full blast... it creates a positive air pressure inside the rig.  Doing so doesn't allow the dust and sands to seep in through all the cracks and crevices of the motorhome.

We took the poor doggers out a few times and had to hold tight to their leashes so they didn't blow away!  Would have been a good time to brush them, as all their excess fur would fly on over to Texas!  But it was hard to even stand out there, the wind takes the breath away and makes you dive for cover back inside the motorhome.

Outside, it was almost like a brown fog was everywhere... and one could not even see the mountains to the west. If you look in this pic, very faintly you can see the mountains above that horizon of the desert floor. Everything was an eerie yellowish brown hue.

The winds were so bad, we were not expecting our friend, Seann to arrive as planned. He was coming from the west, but had a pretty good tail wind behind him, I should say!

He blew on into the campground as planned, and pulled into the campsite we were saving for him.  (our lawn chairs kept blowing away, so Steve had weighted them down with big rocks!)

 This pic is crooked because I was blowing away!!!!

Seann got situated on his campsite and came over to share dinner with us.  Of course, being the dog lover that he is, he also brought yummy treats for Finney and Binney!   Last time we camped with him, he had treats for Ducky and Duke.  Ducky fell in love with Seann and followed him everywhere, even inside of his camper! LOL....  Too bad Seann is allergic to dogs, or else I think he would have a whole pack of them travelling with him!

We talked into the night, rocking and rolling inside of our motorhome.  The winds sounded even worse as the night went on.  The weathermen said the wind advisory would last till 7pm, but the howling and whistling winds continued on into the night. 

By 4 a.m. we could hear the unmistakable sounds of RAIN on the roof!  The winds had died down to nothing, and now it was a nice soft drizzling rain. Ahhhhhhh we will take the rain any time over the winds! 

Seeing this out of our window this morning was a pretty sight! 

I leaned out the open window to snap this pic, it's blurry, 
but yes, Seann is camped behind us.

Perked up a pot of coffee this morning, and baked a pan of cinnamon swirl coffee cake...  waiting for Seann to come a knocking and probably come over with his pockets stuffed full of treats for Finney and Binney. 

Yup, he just did! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Sky Is On FIRE!!!

Yesterday was just a normal day, walking around the campground, talking to a few folks, walking to the store and getting some groceries.  Nothing much but being relaxed and kinda lazy.  Afternoon siesta, all that good stuff.

Later today (Monday) we are expecting a visitor!  Our Canuckie Friend Seann is due to roll on in here to spend some time with us!  So we are hoping the folks right behind us move on today so we can set a lawn chair in that spot to save it for his RV.  The park probably only has about a dozen RV's in it today, but most are down on our end away from the highway and town noises.

The dogs are enjoying their mobile life and seem to have forgotten their apprehensions of going to do their duty on gravel, sand or whatever is out there.  They get down to business a lot faster this week than last, and are happy to get leashed up each time we head out the door.  Even little Binney is learning the "fun" of getting to "sniff" new stuff each time and each new place! 

But then after a nice chicken taco dinner, we were enjoying a glass of wine out on the patio at our campsite.  We could hear the hooting of the big owl in the pine tree by our rig.  They are courting and mating and soon to fill the nest with some eggs we are told.  

I managed to snap a few shots with my small camera, not daring to get too close.  These are zoooooom telephoto setting and the best I can do. We hear them hooting early in the morning and late at night.  Kinda eerie sounding and the dogs stop and stare each time.  Call of the Wild! 

Now here is where it gets GOOD!

As we were sitting in our lawn chairs... the sun started to set.  I started snapping pics and each time I stopped, it got better and better!  I could not believe how the sky was just getting golden.. then purplish and then fiery RED!

I know the camera could not even catch the brilliance or the colors of what we were seeing.. nor could it go from horizon to horizon to illustrate the width and depth of the sky we were in front of.

If I was setting this to music,
 I think the whole piece would have to be one big crescendo!

I think I snapped 2,000 pictures... but I will only post the best one above and this one below as it was slowly sinking away before our very eyes.

Softly ... quietly....  now the song is done....

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Rig Washing, Card Making and Snappy Dandy Sunset

Our poor motorhome still has a layer of Wisconsin Road Salt on it!  The snow at Elephant Butte last week wasn't enough to rinse it off.  There hasn't been much of any rain either.  

Steve asked the host if he could discretely wash the motorhome, one section at a time, without calling a lot of attention to the fact that he is doing it.  She said sure, just don't appear to be "wasting" water.

My "Clandestine Undercover Rig Washer" got out his handy-dandy scrubbing brush with a long telescoping handle.  He only uses a bit of car washing soap in a bucket of water and that is it.  The brush is very soft and doesn't scratch the finish on our rig.  There isn't any wax on our motorhome, just a very thick clear coat and Mercedes paint.  No waxing needed.  So he did a good scrub a dub dub and quick rinse with the hose on each section before moving on to the next section.

Soon our Safari was gleaming with cleanliness, 
and reflecting the desert landscape in the shiny sides of his hard work.  
What a guy! 

While he was busy doing this thing, I was inside doing a few loads of laundry to catch up.  Our onboard washer/dryer unit spins better when crammed full to the hilt than if we only do small loads. With small loads it goes off balance too easily.  So I wait until we have enough to get a bunch done at once.  I can cram in 15-20 t-shirts and it makes one load.

The desert air dries things so quickly that it isn't worth it running the dryer (except for our unmentionables) ...  We hang a lot of our t-shirts on hangers in our closet anyhow, because we are limited on drawer space. This way of doing laundry by hanging them up on hangers when wet, by the time they are dry, we just have to take them down and put them in the closet.  I use clothespins to keep the hangers separated on the lines to make spaces in between and keep them from sliding all to the center.  There.. Pfundtner Laundry Service is complete!

We made a late breakfast after our tasks were done... sometimes it's nice to only have two meals a day, a late breakfast and then an early dinner.  It feels better and we can enjoy the day without having to stop and make lunch! 

After a walk around the campground, I headed over at 1 p.m. to the main park exhibit building.  A craft project was being offered by Josephine, a volunteer with the park system. She was showing us how to make these neat southwestern note cards!   Here are her samples to show us what we will accomplish and give us some ideas. 

She first showed us how to rip apart pieces of paper into chunks and add some water in a blender!  You make up a "slurry" of fibery mush and push it down against a screen that is held in place by an embroidery hoop.  Pushing down with a sponge works well to get a lot of the moisture out.  This circular piece of rough paper was to be the sun (or moon) on our cards. 

Josephine had some extra circular pieces already made up for us, so we didn't have to wait for our slurry to dry.  Although, in this arid land of New Mexico, it probably wouldn't have taken too long to dry.

Next, we were to rip pieces of colored papers and tissues to make our layers of the mountains for the foreground.  We had a lot of colors to choose from and by ripping with our fingers, we could make interesting terrain to each layer.  Fellow RVer Gloria from Colorado is proudly posing with her card. She even added tiny birds to her scenery!!   We used glue sticks to fasten down each layer.

 And voila!  HERE is my finished card!!!! 
Josephine found an envelope for me, 
but now I am thinking that 
it's too pretty to mail!  

Maybe I should frame it and keep it in our motorhome? 

I came back to the motorhome to find that all my laundry was dry and put away for me. Awwwww, what a guy!  I found him out standing on this mound of gravel, with binoculars in hand, scanning the desert terrain.  I think he was helping out our poor stressed Homeland Security Agents with some border patrols duties.  They have had it rough the last few days, not knowing if they are even getting a paycheck or not.  So nice of Steve to help them out, eh? 

I decided that it was time for our afternoon siesta.  There is something so peaceful to snooze in the afternoon with your sweetie, and of course with two furball dogs in between us on the king sized bed.  

When we woke up, the winds were starting to kick up. We were warned they would be starting this afternoon and lasting a few days.  Steve cooked some brats on the grill on the leeward side of the motorhome while I finished the rest of the dinner inside. 

We thought we would be trapped inside for the evening with a dust storm or whatever. But as the sun was setting, the winds died down and we had a nice relaxing evening out on our patio....  

Check out these Sunset Doggies!!!!

 I love the golden glow of the sunlight as it is setting.  
It makes things look so vivid and surreal at times.

Today we had some new RVers pull into the campsite next to us. They are from Northern Wisconsin, up near Bayfield.  They know the U.P. of Michigan quite well and knew a lot of the same places we knew.  We didn't start a campfire, because we were unsure of the winds kicking up again. Randy and Linda shared stories with us, and we shared a bottle of wine, as the sun set....

 I don't think we can ever get too many sunset photos, do you? 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Crossed the Border into Mexico for Dental Work

Traveling without a toad vehicle will be a little inconvenient, like Kevin and Ruth remarked on our last blog post.... they do it all the time.   Travelwithkevinandruth Blog    We have only towed a vehicle behind our motorhome for the last 5 or so years. Before that we had a Honda Helix scooter up on a rack for a few years too. Before that, we used to make due, and did sightseeing and get needed things while en-route and stay put at our destinations at the end of the day.

But today is different, we want to go down into Mexico for some dental work, and we are not up to either option of

1.driving our motorhome INTO Mexico for the day.


2. driving our motorhome up to the border and leaving it (along with our dogs inside) in a public parking lot while we walked across into Palomas.

Soooo our third and final option is to leave the motorhome in the nice secure spot in the state park next door to the camp host lady.... and leave our dogs inside with either heat or air conditioning as they need.

We gathered the local public transportation bus info from the host lady, Wendy.  The bus runs down from Deming, through Columbus, and then down to the border three times a day during the week, and only once on the weekends.  For a whole $1 each, we can ride to the border, walk across, come back and wait for the bus at a designated place to take it back to the campground.

And that is just what we did!  We had to get up at 6:30 a.m. to get the dogs out and about for their doggie duties, and then perk a pot of coffee and get ready to walk to the corner of the park by 7:50.a.m.  We were there 10 minutes early, just in case!  The bus service provides transport to people from the United States who go down to the border who need to work by 8 a.m. in Palomas!  Imagine that, Americans going down to work in the shops, stores, dental and optical offices in Mexico.

We had three different recommendations to go to the Fierro Dental Clinic, 2 blocks down on the left. http://www.fierrodentalclinic.com/  We found it right away, and we were the second people to come there, a single man was ahead of us. The place was neat and clean like any dental clinic in the US and smelled freshly mopped and had a pleasant disinfectant smell.  Steve filled out some paperwork and was escorted to a chair right away.   NO waiting.  There are 11 dentists who work in the clinic and many support staff ready to answer any questions in either Spanish or English.

There are eight procedure areas, and a nice big waiting area with a movie playing on a tv, stacks of old magazines, and a pleasant receptionist who spoke perfect English.  A cleaning lady was still finishing up some doors and glass around the entrance and chatted with me a bit while I waited for Steve.

Steve had one tooth that has been bothering him for almost 2 months now.  At first he thought perhaps it was just sinuses causing the trouble.  But now the sinuses have cleared up out in the southwestern climate, and the tooth is still troubling him.  He also has a few soft spots that were turning to decay all on the top molar teeth in the back.  They did find the troublesome tooth was decaying underneath a previous filling.  The filling was drilled out and along with the other four, they completed five natural colored fillings in one hour!  You can't even tell there are fillings in the teeth!

A smiling Steveio came out of the procedure area with a still numb face, no pain, and we were very pleased with the bill.  Fillings in molars at our Wisconsin dentist are in the $300 range....depending on size.  Our dental insurance doesn't cover fillings or extractions.  Soooo $1,500.00 worth of dental work was done in just over one hour.  And our bill you ask?  $250.00  yup....    roughly 85%  less than getting it done in the United States.  We had the option to pay cash or credit card.  We did cash so our credit card was not needed.

After we were done, we stopped by an optical shop to see about an extra pair of eyeglasses for Steve ... he has progressive bifocals and was quoted $140 a pair with exam, lens, frames etc. all one package.  We will think about it and go back if he wants another pair.  His last pair was in the $400 range....  so we might go back.

Once we were done there, we HAD to go wander through a famous place The Pink Store .

Yes, it's pink. and it's a store full of wonderful items for sale at reasonable prices. They hand select their wares from certain artists and each artist is depicted on the signs of the creative objects.  They also have nice silver jewelry and bottles of liquor to bring back to the U.S.

I didn't take any interior photos to be polite, but they do have a photo gallery on their web page.  http://www.thepinkstoremexico.com/PhotoGallery.html

We chose some touristy items as gifts and might go back for a certain pottery piece that I admired.  We also were offered a free margarita, but it was only 10 a.m. and a bit early for us. LOL   We were going to eat there, but they were just setting up tables and getting things in order for the tourist trade of lunches and dinners for the day.  They did offer a breakfast burrito, but we declined and decided to walk about town a bit more.  

We did buy some clear vanilla
and some lovely painted clay tiles 
to make into coasters for out on our front porch.
 (I will glue blue felt to the bottoms when we get home) 

We wandered through the small dusty border town.  The side streets looked a little rough, so we avoided them and stuck to the main roads in town. There weren't many people around at 10 a.m.

We had a choice of two bus return times, one at 11:15 and the other at 3:30.  We didn't want to leave the dogs that long, so we opted to skip lunch at The Pink Store and head back to our campground in the United States on the 11:15 bus.

We headed to customs... and THIS time I was very very careful to NOT take ANY Pictures!!!!  Read about my last experience in Mexico when I accidentally took a video scan of a federale border guard and almost got thrown in jail! blog post of Mexican visit in 2011 

At this border crossing, we were the ONLY ones in the line to go back into the US.  A quick glance at our passports and they asked us what we were bringing back.  They didn't even look in our bags, and through the gate we went.

We waited at the little bus stop and "people watched" folks coming and going.  We were guessing at their lives and what they were up to. Being silly, of course.  We have such wild imaginations, we could write a book, I tell ya! We sure do look like TOURISTAS, don't we?

The winds were kicking up and it was chilly here, not getting above 55.  The weatherman says tonight will be down to below 30 again around here, oh my!  But Saturday and Sunday will be up in the mid to high 70's, so we will take that!

The same bus driver picked us up who had dropped us off earlier that morning.  He asked us what we did and what we bought and how our dental work went etc. Nice chatty guy, and only three other people were on the bus for the trip going back.

He dropped us off at the south end of the campground to save us the half mile walk back from the corner at the highway.  The only problem, the campground is fenced in!!! We had to walk along the edges of the fences until we found a spot we could carefully get over the sharp rows of barbed wire fencing at a corner brace.  I think next time we will just walk in from the gate like everyone else.  LOL

We came on back to the motorhome to find all was fine and dandy.  I think the dogs slept all the while we were gone. We close all the windows and blinds, and turn the tv on loud to drown out any outside noises that might make them bark.

Steve's mouth is now unfrozen and we ate a little lunch and we both hit the bed for a nice afternoon siesta!

Side note-  our campground has lovely cactus gardens, and some sweet blooms here and there too.  Our campground host, Wendy has been clearing dead cacti from the manicured areas and showing us the different types around the park.

And here is some history about the park we are staying in:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Heading for the Border

We said our goodbyes and thankyou's to Harold at Emergency Truck Services again for doing such a great job, plus letting us stay in his parking-lot for two nights while our replacement brake lines were being fabricated.  What a guy!

Steve looked a bit closer at the Tracker and he started it up and drove it up behind the motorhome to hook it back up. It's a clunking which means probably the bearing and push rod.  He MIGHT be able to drop the oil pan, change out the bearing and push rod, and it might be good to go!   But this is something he can not attempt to do in a campsite, so we will tow it home and he will do it there. Unless he finds someone local that can do it around here in a short time span.  We don't want someone to tear it all apart and wait three weeks for parts etc. So fixing it at home makes sense.

Some folks suggested leaving it somewhere and picking it up on our way back.. good idea, but are not coming back the same way. We are just about at the end of our westward trek and will probably be swinging north and then east.

In the meantime, we can get by without a toad vehicle to run around. We have done it before. It just takes more careful planning in between stops to get what we need while we are going on to the next place.  It's kinda hard to take a 40 ft motorhome to run into town to get a few groceries,  LOL ....

We may have a friend from Canada joining us after the weekend and if we really need something, he could be persuaded to take us, he said: "for the right friends".  I guess we qualify?

We drove 70 miles on down towards Deming, NM and as we got into town, we stopped at Griffith's Propane for a fill up.  We did 29.3 gallons at 2.69 a gallon for $79.11 plus tax.  Not too bad considering the little private RV park near Caballo Lake wanted 3.99 a gallon!  ouch.

We slid right through Deming and found our way 30 more miles down on Hwy 11 to the small border town of Columbus, NM.  We are in Pancho Villa State Park, which was about 1/3 full. It was about time to dump our tanks, so we did that right upon entering the park.  NICE dumpstation with a big wide double basin area accessible from either side.  High Cliff needs one like that, Linda!

We have a nice corner site down on the far end, with water and 30 amp electric for $14 a night.  We paid for one night, but we are going to pay up through the rest of the weekend as we like this place.

We walked around the little museum and visitor center to learn more about this area.  Columbus was the site of the ONLY time a foreign country ever invaded the United States on our own soil... Pancho Villa came across the border and attacked the Fort here in Columbus... 8 of our soldiers and 10 civilians died, and many of the soldiers were hurt.  Then General Pershing led a retaliatory mission down into Mexico to go after Pancho Villa.  Although we tried, nobody ever caught Pancho Villa. 

These cacti were growing around the customs buildings.  I think it's time to either cut a hole in the roof, or let the saguaro have it's way????  Although they are slow growing, I can not imagine the building outlasting the cactus?   

We walked around the sleepy little town of Columbus, and got some information about the bus schedule going down into Palomas Mexico tomorrow.  Since we don't have the Tracker running, we really didn't care to walk the 3 miles down to the border to walk across, especially if we are hauling back some shopping stuff.  We are told the bus runs three times a day from here down to there and we can flag it down at the corner of the State Park and the highway to get a ride!  

We are going to cross over the border and have recommendations for a good dentist for Steve to have a tooth checked out at.  We had previously done a lot of extensive dental work at a dentist over in Los Algadones, near Yuma.  We would go back to him in a second if we were closer to his location.  But we got three people recommending the dental office of Fierro Dental Clinic.  We are going to have them look at Steve's tooth and see what we should do.  It's been bugging him for a few weeks now and he was hoping it was just sinuses.  But now with the dry desert air, the sinuses are clear (NO snoring!)  and the tooth is still tender and hurts when he bites hard. It might be cracked. Time to go in....

I want to do a little shopping and we will stop for lunch at the Pink Store of course, which is world famous for it's food, art and pottery items.  We will see what we will see I suppose.....  and yes, we have our passports and we have done this before.  The nice host lady next to us will be keeping an eye on our dogs and our rig while we are gone.

We went into a cute little museum in town sponsored by the Columbus Historical Society.  I finally found some postcards to fill out for the grandtots.  So far, in all of our travels, I have not found any stores that sell post cards!   Can you imagine that?  I suppose in our days of emails and texts and tweets, the good old fashioned post card is getting out of vogue?

Steveio hanging out by the luggage and steamer trunks,
waiting for a train on the tracks at the depot?

We walked back to the campground and wandered among the cactus gardens and shrubbery.  This is a very clean and well-maintained park.  Oh , and birds... LOTS of birds all over!  Nesting right near us in a tall pine is a Great Horned Owl!  The hosts said our site is the "Keeper of the Owl" and we are in charge.  LOL 

A guy came by to set up a camera on a tripod to snap pics of the owls, and asked if he could encroach on our site a bit to snap some shots.  Of course! We watched for a while with our binoculars, and we will take some pics tomorrow when we have time. 

Steve poured us a few beverages and we needed some lawn chair setting time. It's been a hectic few days, and I think sitting and relaxing in this park for a while is just the ticket. 

The doggers agree....

We are about as far south as we can get, with seeing all of those horrible storms to the north.  It's going to go below freezing tonight, even here, just 3 miles from the Mexican border!  The area we were in last night 100 miles to the north is all rain and winds and snow and freezing sleet tonight!  Glad we were able to move south when we did today.  Whew.... on the local news it sure doesn't look too pretty up there.  Or, for the rest of the country either! 

I am glad we were able to escape, even if it is for only 5-6 weeks this winter.  Yes, we have had our repairs and troubles, but with a 19 year old motorhome, what can we expect?  We just have to roll with the punches and try to cope as best we can.  After all, we DO get to enjoy this setting instead of the ice and snow and cold of Wisconsin? 

The sun was setting right out across from our campsite... 
I could not decide which of two pics to post.....

So I posted them both! 

Adios, Amigos!