Friday, May 31, 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013


John and Susan dropped by Benson SKP park while I was parked on my leased real estate. Just hearing them plan their full timing life is when I realized there was change in my enthusiasm for road travel.

I met John and Susan when I was traveling down the California coast in 2010. John sent me an email asking me to stop at Napa so they could tour -- and check build quality of -- my New Horizons trailer. I stayed at the Napa Elks Lodge and toured nearby wine country. When John and Susan weren't working, they were gracious hosts. John -- a wine maker -- gave me the wine maker's tour of the winery where he worked.

After doing John's usual due diligence looking at several trailers, they bought a New Horizons trailer and have been full timers for over a year. After a swing down the East Coast and through Florida, they were headed to California when they stopped to visit me at Benson.

I was awed by the enthusiasm they exhibited about living life on the road. They asked many questions. All I could do was give opinions, my experiences and tell stories. Much of that conversation occurred on the three hikes we took. That along with a couple of social hours, I may have managed to answer some of their questions.

Originally, they are from the East and after working in the wine industry in California, this was their first introduction to the Sonoran Desert. They took me for some kind of Sonoran Desert expert as they questioned me about geography, flora and fauna of the Arizona area we hiked. They may have stumped me now and then, but I don't recall what the question may have been.

My full time RVing plan is written in my About Me page. Those were the dreams 12 years ago. The enthusiasm was there. Stated in the About Me page that I was going to "indulge my passion for hiking, travel and learning".

So what's the problem. Or is it a problem. After the six month stay in Tucson, I managed to find much to keep me busy. Enthusiasm for exploring the local scene had not waned. There was frequent hiking the mountains around Tucson. There were museums, botanic gardens, farmers' markets, walks downtown, UofA campus, Fourth Avenue, etc.

Wondering if the lack of enthusiasm is the road travel. Many interesting places are spaced many miles apart requiring lots of miles behind the steering wheel pulling Wandrin Wagon.

Looking back, this lack of enthusiasm was first recognized in the 2010 post I Get Bored. Why. What happened. Was it just too much road travel? Too many miles between the areas I wanted to explore? Too much alone time? Need for a neighborhood?

In the course of 12 years of nomadic travel, I have seen some of nature's wonders in North America. I have had the opportunity to tour and hike interesting places, take lots of photos and hear the stories of many people. The stories, the photos and my experiences have managed to give me material for the meandering words of columns and blogs for 12 years.

What a great experience. I am so fortunate.

However, driving down yet another -- or worse the same -- road is no longer fun. Fortunately, my enthusiasm for hiking and learning remain.

John and Susan post infrequently at RVino.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Remembering An Ancestor

Wilhemine Pantzlaff was born on May 27, 1863 -- 150 years ago -- in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. She is my great-grandmother on my father's side. At the age of 17, on June 22, 1880 she married my great-grandfather -- Herman Treichel. Eleven years older than his bride, Herman was born in Prussia and in 1852 immigrated as a one year old to the United States.

Probably called Minnie or Mina by family, there may be photos of her. However, I've not been made aware of any. If such a photo had existed, no doubt my cousin Shirley would have had it in the photos from her grandmother Alvina.

Wilhelmine died in 1902 -- three months after Edwin was born. Wilhelmine and Herman had nine children. This is a photo of the nine with their father Herman. My Grandpa Willie stands second from the right.

Those nine children were a prolific group. This is a photo of Herman and his grandchildren. The photo was taken a year before Herman's death in 1932. My dad (Earl) stands in the rear row -- fifth male from the left wearing a bow tie.

That group makes for lots of cousins. They grew up, married and had children. Many of those in that photo lived as farmers near the Morrison (Wisconsin) community where I grew up. There were many second cousins in the parochial grade school I attended. But that is another story.

Although she died long before my birth, on this Memorial day I remember Wilhelmine once lived. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Denver Arrival

Wasn't the first to leave the Colorado Springs Elks this morning. Someone was warming their diesel pusher at six this morning. Jeesh. What's the rush. After ten minutes of that, I was awake. Tried to get a few more minutes of sleep. Gave up. Maybe I would feel like a nap later in the day. Spoiler alert: never did take a nap.

Since I couldn't sleep, I got out of bed. Had my usual shake breakfast, did a crossword puzzle and readied Wandrin Wagon for travel. Soon it was time to do the formal hitch up and move along. It was shortly before nine when I was heading north on the final leg to Denver -- the Westminster Elks Lodge.

For a Saturday morning, there was more traffic than I had expected. Fortunately, it was moving. It isn't three lanes of freeway from the Springs to Denver, but every year more of the two lane sections are expanded to three lanes. All speeding along at 70 plus miles an hour. Not me. My speed is 55-60.

Less than a week ago, I was traveling at higher elevations (over 6000 feet) in New Mexico and now Colorado. As I drove along, I noted many trees still had that "winter stick" look. Some were just beginning to open buds and create a green cast to the tree. With Denver's lower elevation, most of the trees had leafed out. However, there were some that were still in the process of turning buds to leaves.

Arriving on a holiday weekend at the Westminster Elks, I had expected that I would have to dry camp until a space opened up. Sometimes I have a lucky day. A single RV space opened this morning. So that will become my space until mid June when I will head to Loveland for a two week stay before returning here.

Since I've been here several times before, I know the neighborhoods, the backroads, the grocery store -- and the Starbucks (for tea). That does make it tough to get lost and explore new territory. Interesting thought. Perhaps I should take a wrong turn one day just to do some new exploring.

Whatever happens, it will be a great Denver stay. Actually. Every day will be great.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cold Here

Okay. Cold is relative to a balmy day in the northern Canada close to the Arctic Circle. However, at the end of May in Colorado Springs my expectation was temperatures at least in the 60s.

Got me there. Actually, it was temps in the 70s I was expecting.

Waking this morning to very light rain and a very gray sky, I put on long pants. Hard to keep this skinny body warm.

Took most of the day for the sun to burn off low hanging clouds. At four (p.m.) the temps were in the high fifties.

Time to put on shorts in celebration.

Just to make sure I was feeling good about the decision to leave Tucson, I checked today's temps there: 95 degrees.

Maybe it's cold here, but a predicted 80+/- degrees tomorrow in Colorado Springs will be quite comfortable.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

On The Road To Denver -- Continued

Albuquerque is a nice place to visit. However, I'm not so keen on Albuquerque zoning. Parked on the north side at the Sandia Casino, I found the nearby shopping places are concentrated in a way to cause traffic nightmares. Parked in streets waiting for lights to turn does not make for a pleasant experience. No doubt the locals are used to it and plan life accordingly.

Managing the traffic delays while shopping at Trader Joes, Costco and large grocery store. Once again the pantry, refrigerator and freezer are stocked.

The next stop was the Santa Fe Elks. With Santa Fe at about 7000 feet, it was uphill for 50 miles from Albuquerque. There were few times when Silver Slug was in overdrive. That elevation change also meant cooler temps. Just a few days ago I was trying to escape mid 90s at Elephant Butte. At Santa Fe, day time temps didn't get into the 70s.

When I arrived at the Elks, the lodge was having a car show. Walked around taking photos of mostly classic restorations. Partial to the Ford line, this was my favorite:

Walking Santa Fe, there is lots of stuff for sale: indoor/outdoor sculptures; art for walls; room furnishings; jewelry; or just "collectibles".

Browsing the sidewalk vendors was a seller of hats. Dang. Been looking for a Panama hat. There it was. And it fit. Rats!

With more walking, there would have been more photo ops. This one was found along Canyon Road. (Some Photoshop and Topaz plugin enhancement.)

From Santa Fe to Denver most times the journey went through Taos and north into Colorado to hit US Hwy 160 to I-25. I had done that route many times and stopped, camped and explored many places along the way. It was time for a change. Also had done I-25 from Santa Fe and done some exploring along that route. Needed some new exploring. After considering several possibilities, I decided to do a long 200 mile run to Trinidad, Colorado and the state park. Never explored that area before.

Arrived at the Trinidad Lake State Park visitor center to check in. After being just a day or two behind Barb and Ron for about a week, I finally caught up. Or perhaps they traveled slow enough for me to catch up. They had just registered for their one night stay. I registered for a two night stay. They elected a lower priced camping option on the opposite side of the lake. From my campsite on the ridge above the lake, their white coach could be seen.

Later that afternoon, Barb and Ron stopped at my campsite. We chatted and caught up on living and life. We will probably cross paths again before too long. They will be in the Denver area for several weeks before heading north to the SKP Escapade in Gillett, Wyoming.

Trinidad Lake is at its lowest since 1992. No change is expected in that level this summer. It will essentially be a pond. The outflow equals the inflow from the Purgertoire (pronounced "purgatory" by the locals) River. That much smaller lake of water might make it pretty tough on the remaining fish.

Downtown Trinidad was a once thriving town that struggles to stay relevant. Without maintenance or tenants, there are several empty buildings and store fronts. It is a struggle experienced by many small towns.

Stopped at the Arthur Roy Mitchell museum to view his collection of art. Appears he didn't part with his art. The walls are covered with his art.

The on site "ticket taker" said that there were many more in the basement. The museum contains a reconstruction of Mitchell's painting studio.

Amazing to me was the museum was in the one time Jamieson Department Store -- built about 1890. The store ceilings and floors had not been upgraded. The tin ceiling survives intact with the wooden floors and stair cases. No doubt it was the place to shop until closing its doors in the early 1980s.

The First National Bank is a treasure that has survived intact from its initial construction in 1892. Three floors of quarried stone provide a very attractive building. (Today, commercial buildings appear to be built by cost accountants. Build a shell and attach a sign with the company logo. When time to sell, take the sign off.)

Inside the bars still exist for teller stations.

Something new to explore is a good thing. It was a good day and on to the next stop at the Colorado Springs Elks Lodge.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

On The Road To Denver

When parked at the Saguaro SKP park, there were a couple of days of sky filled clouds.

Those clouds brought rain one night. Those few raindrops created a pattern in the dirt on the windshield of Silver Slug. (Lower right hand corner of windshield).

Arizona is warming up. Time for me to move on. New Mexico wasn't much better, but that was the direction of travel to get to Denver.

First stop after leaving the Saguaro SKP park in Benson was Deming, NM. Next day it was a hike at Rock Hound State Park -- just a few miles away. Since rock is ballast, there would be little rock collecting. If an agate, thunder egg or another rock specimen were found I might have collected. However, all I saw was leaverite.

My only souvenir was a photo of this rock. Probably jasper.

Since Spring Canyon State Park was just a few miles away, that was the second stop that day. Good place for a snack. No camping. Only picnic tables. The place was mine except for the hiker I noticed coming down the road in the park. Selected a picnic table and snacked as the hiker neared. As he passed me, I hoped he had a good hike.

That is where the conversation started. Soon we talked of his retirement hobby of finding stone, carving, polishing and offering for sale. He goes to several rock and mineral shows -- including the big one in Tucson in February. After a long chat, I hoped to see him again in Tucson next winter.

Turned out to be a good day not to travel. It was a windy day and the skies were brown with suspended dirt.

Next travel stop was Elephant Butte Lake SP. It was a one night stop to break up the drive north. Reading Barb of Me and My Dog a day earlier, I noted she was at the park. Since she was boon docking on the ridge above the lake, I noted her rig when I drove in to get a space with electricity for the mid 90 degree temps. Later we got together for chatting. We covered lots of subjects in the hours of conversation. (Note: Her dog Katie really does have one ear that flops forward.)

Next travel stop north was dry camping at the Sandia Casino in north Albuquerque. This was the first big city stop since leaving Tucson on the 2nd of May. Trader Joe's and Costco were stops to restock the pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Lots of big city traffic. It was stressful.

Doing a cross word puzzle yesterday, I looked out the window now and then. That was when I noted something bouncing down next to a curb in the parking lot.

Didn't take long to realize it was a golf ball from the fairway on the other side of the parking lot. Probably a slice from a right handed golfer. Sat there a few minutes waiting for someone to retrieve the ball. Noted a few carts traveling along the fairway. One cart stopped momentarily and then moved on. After about five minutes, I went out to claim another golf ball for my collection: a Nike MOJO.

This morning as I was having my breakfast shake at Sandia, I looked out to see a road runner behind a bush. As I was watching, the road runner leaped at to catch a much smaller bird. Missed it. From the distance, it appeared to be a flycatcher of some sort. Perhaps a kingbird. Sure scared the bird. Grabbed the camera and caught a photo of the road runner before he went in pursuit of breakfast.

The road to Denver continues. It's good to be back on the road and exploring.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Any Regrets

One regret was becoming an RV nomad late in life.

The following email was received a short time ago.
"We are still working full time but looking at retirement options and found your blog.  Thank you for sharing your life, experiences and photos.  I enjoyed reading it and plan to keep checking it out.  Any regrets with this lifestyle?"
The following is a longer version of my response to the email.

When my daughter graduated from University in 1992, I recall thinking I no longer had a need to support anyone other than myself. I could quit the "rat race". I knew how to live inexpensively. However, the earnings and investments were doing very well. It was greed that kept me wearing the suit and tie. I did not know at that time about living full time in an RV. That came later.

In 2000, work was no longer fun. It was burnout. Planning to retire at the end of 2000, I took vacations at every opportunity. In June, it was a three week Alaskan camping vacation. (Great trip. Would explore Alaska the same way again.) Tents, schedule, food was all planned for me. I brought my sleeping bag and personal stuff. On a camping trip, naturally you end up in campgrounds. When walking around one campground, I saw a guy cleaning the bugs off the windshield of his Class A coach which had Florida license plates. I stopped for a minute as he was moving his ladder. I commented that he was a long way from home. He turned and pointed to the Coach saying that was home. Boing! With that I knew what I was going to do in my retirement.

If that same experience had happened much earlier, I would have been a full time RVer many years before 2001.

There are no regrets about these past 12 years of nomadic wandering around the US -- with a concentration of exploring in the West and Southwest. It has been fun. Hoping to continue the exploring one day at a time.

On the matter of regrets...

The 25 Biggest Regrets In Life is a Forbes article.

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying was written by Australian nurse Bronnie Ware. See the author's web site Inspiration and Chai for those five regrets.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My Home

My home and bed are always with me on my nomadic exploring. That is great. The thing that changes is the world outside. That world can be very quiet or noisy. Most times, quiet can be had in boon-docking. It depends on the location. Quiet can also be found in full hook up campgrounds. Once again, depending on the location of the campground. The Benson Saguaro SKP park is very quiet compared to the recent stay in Tucson where the city sounds were always heard -- day and night.

Nomadic travels mean the new camping locations will have different sounds and different lighting.

The difference in sounds and light was noted when I awoke my first morning at the Saguaro SKP park. Woke up and wondered why it was so bright. Certainly was not a problem with oversleeping. I rarely have any place to go. The digital clock displayed 5:45. Too early to get up. In a few microseconds (brain is pretty fast), I know where I am. I understand which direction is north. With that identification, I realize that the sun is streaming in the back window which faces east.

Even if the outside world changes, the inside of my home has not changed. The bed is always the same. My entire home is within 20 feet of my bed. It's a great home.

When exploring and far from home, it is a good thing to remember where I parked my home. ;-)

Wonder if there is an iPhone app to help find home. :-))

An icon on the Garmin road navigator can be used to set the location of home. Unfortunately, I rarely set it. So it becomes a useless feature for me.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

All Clear For Landing

Caught this black-chinned hummingbird coming in for a landing at the feeder. Defending this feeder from any other hummingbirds, it took a while to get this photo.

The San Pedro House (near Sierra Vista) was the stop for photo ops.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Travel Check List

After six months in Tucson and the last three at Far Horizons RV, it was time to begin travel north for the summer months ahead. Most of Tucson snowbirds had already left over a month ago. No rush for me since I wanted to see saguaro in bloom. Accomplished that goal.

There is a real check list for preparing Wandrin Wagon for the planned travel. However, I use my trusted memory check list of the things to be done for road travel. Started days before by cleaning the grill and outdoor table. Then stowing them and the camp chairs for travel. The morning of travel more stowing and securing items continued indoors.

The next item on the memory list was outside as I disconnected the electrical connection and the water hose. As I was removing the tire covers, I noted checking and cracks on the walls of the tires. Not a good thing.

Hitching up without a problem, I opted to replace the tires in Tucson before going heading out on the first leg of my journey. The tires were five years old. It was time. Picked up the iPhone and with the Yelp app assistance, I found the nearest Jim Farrier tire location. Later that morning, there were four new tires.

After six months of standing still, it was time to ease into the travel mode. Don't want to rush this. Bucking a wind, 50 miles later I arrived at the Saguaro SKP park and parked on my leased lot -- #130. Headed to the social hour that afternoon to catch up on the latest in other park resident's lives.

Tentative plans are to stay at Saguaro until the middle of May plus or minus a couple of days. After a leisurely journey, Denver and the Westminster Elks is the destination before the end of May.

The frequent cycle of snow and cold that Colorado has recently experienced should be over by the time I arrive on Colorado's Front Range. Sure hope so.

My memory's travel check list still works. That was a good thing.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

From The Gallery

That will be the title of posts when I've rendered and extended photos.

This is a senita cactus in bloom. It was found in the RV park when wandering around one evening.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Saguaros in Bloom

My goal was to stay in Tucson until the saguaros were in bloom. They still are not at their peak. However, there are enough blooming for me to get photos of the saguaro flowers. Start off with a couple of photos of the "support" for these blooms.

Two cameras were used to record the close ups of the blooms.The Canon SX40 was used when touring the roads of Saguaro West NP. The Canon SX230 was used when out hiking in Saguaro East NP.

A long dead saguaro provides artistic texture to the desert landscape. 

This post brings an end to my stay in Tucson. Headed out tomorrow to my lot at the Saguaro SKP Park at Benson.

The goal to see the saguaro in bloom was accomplished before leaving Tucson.