January 3, 2019
We left home early on the 28th of December. Initially the plan was for the 26th but with the cold temperatures we decided to wait and have an extra day of prep and load.
It was 7C when we left @ 7:05AM heading for Windsor and the border crossing. It took 2 hours to get through the border. We were directed down through the truck lanes and got there just as it seemed all the agents were rotaing off shift. After sittin in a lane for a bit the red light went on and the agent left so we switched lanes. Then we were directed to another lane where we got an agent with an agenda. He took issue with us changing lanes, then he had an issue with us being retired it seems (yeah, I wouldn’t want to be his age and sitting in a box for hours either LOL). So, off we went for a drive around the buildings and inside where they wanted to count how much cash we were bringing in. They just kept telling us we should be using a debit card and not paying cash when travelling. The first agent we spoke to had no idea what was what and called another, then we spoke to another. The last agent was the most reasonable and sent us on our way after verifying the cash amount we had declared out at the truck lane.
We made it to Franklin, OH where we did our end of day fillup and parked for the night at the Pilot. Ony made 514mi with the border delay but this was the same stop as last year. We had strong headwinds through Ontario which became crosswinds that pushed us around and resulted in 9.1mpg for the day.
On the road at 5:30AM we headed south towards Nashville for the turn west. Traffic was fine with no slowdowns and we ended up in Texarkana, AR at the same FlyingJ we had used last year. Weather was fine with temperatures as high as 10C. We did 787mi @ 10.8mpg this day.
We were up and on the road just after 6AM and planning to cover Texas. We drove for 12 hours and arrived at the FlyingJ in Sparks (just before El Paso) after 812mi (9.8mpg).
Driving through the Permian Basin area by Odessa you could see that there was a lot of business activity. New hotels were under construction, “Now Hiring” signs everywhere and lots of active drill rigs. It was also the highest diesel prices we had seen so far in the trip with prices as high as 3.35$/g right across the road from a refinery.
We were again on the road at 6AM and headed toward Benson, AZ with the plan of staying at the SKP Saguaro again for New Years. During the trip we hadn’t bothered to roam either of our phones as we didn’t need to use them. After getting onto I10 in NM (we did the El Paso bypass again) we called the park to see about availability. When they weren’t open we realized that the truck clock was on manual and hadn’t been getting the time changes from the Nav GPS. All the time we had been driving on EST and not switched to CST and then MST. Pretty much explained why the sun came up so late and traffic around El Paso was so light (it was 4AM). After a good laugh we just kept on going and arrive in Benson at 9:30 where we booked in for a week. That allows us time to get some shopping done, clean the truck and trailer and rest a bit after the driving.
We did get some decidely unwanted weather after the start of the year.
April 19, 2018
We left Nashville and the Seven Points Campground after 6 days on 3 sites. There were no more available sites so we moved about an hour north to Dad’s Bluegrass Campground. It’s a fairly basic park, all pull thru’s and with Passport America works out to a reasonable price. This was our last stop on the way home. We just had to wait long enough for the winter to go away in Ontario.
Franklin isn’t a huge town but it does have a nice historic area. There were trees in the town square wrapped with crocheted items which seemed a bit odd. We found out from a visit to an art gallery that it’s for an upcoming festival. We stopped into a small hobby store that was jammed with die cast cars and plastic model kits. Jane asked if they had a 1965 Ford Galaxie and they produced two different ones. She picked the red one that matched the one sitting in the garage at home. Janes’ grandfather purchased the car new and it’s been passed though her father and now to her.
On March 1, 1968 Johnny Cash and June Carter were married at the church on the back side of the town square. Didn’t get a picture of the church as I didn’t know this fact until after we left. We did walk past it though.
We drove up to Bowling Green on the Wednesday (18th) to visit the National Corvette Museum. If you have any interest in Corvette’s then it’s the place to go. The museum covers the full history of the car from the 1953, first model year. In Febuary 2014 the center of the main display area collapsed into a sink hole and eight cars were damaged or destroyed as they dropped into the hole. Not all the cars will be restored. The last of the 3 is the ’62 which was completed in February. The rest are either too damaged or would require so many new parts that they would no longer be of historic value.
I stitched 4 pictures together to create the panorama of all 7 generations of Corvette. The brand new ZR1 is awaiting customer pickup at the museum which is an option for new Corvettes at pruchase time.
After the museum we headed to the historic area of downtown Bowling Green. Unfortunately it was quite a dissapointment. Half of the retail units in the old buildings were empty. For those that had businesses in them, most seemed to be lawyers or investment companies. The town square had a nice restored cast iron fountain in the middle but it had a big fence around it.
On Thursday (19th) afternoon we drove down the highway a couple of miles to Kentucky Downs racetrack where they have a slots casino. We signed up for the players club and each got 15$ in play credits. Jane ended up losing all of hers in just over an hour. I had mine up to 39$ when we stopped for a couple of beers at the bar. Jane had a Gumball Head wheat beer fomr 3 Floyds Brewing in Indiana. I had an IPA from West Sixth Brewing in Lexignton KY. Both were good beers and we went back to the slots after. Well, I did, Jane had no money left. After another bit of playing I was down to 19$ so we closed out and left the casino up 8$ (19$ – 11$ for beers). Not bad for an afternoon of entertainment.
April 16, 2018
We left Texarkana on April 10th and stopped overnight at the Walmart in Dickson, TN. It was a quiet location with no highway noise and we were along the curb so we put out the DS slide to give us some space as we were there late afternoon. On the way we passed the Pyramid in Memphis which now houses a Bass Pro Shop.
The next day we were off early and headed to the east side of Nashville where we had two days reserved at another CoE campground. We were still watching the weather back in Ontario and it looked like the Saturday might work for the final travel day which would mean staying only one night in Nashville. As it turned out the weather people continued to get it wrong and we stayed longer. We could only get 2 nights per site as the campground was heavily booked and had to move twice within the park. The sites are large and mostly well spaced. Some of the waterfront ones have a lower patio area closer to the water. The lake must be good for fishing as there were a number of bass boats sitting in campsites.
We went into Nashville on what turned out to be the nicest day of our stay. It was 85F on the Friday and Jane and I stopped for lunch and craft beers at Tennessee Brew Works. The brewery is located in an area that is being redeveloped and both houses and commercial buildings are getting renovated and rebuilt.
We parked in the garage attached to the library and walked towards Broadway where all of the action is. We passed the Ryman Auditorium which is the original home of the Grand Ole Opry.
We walked from the arena down to the river, along a couple of sides streets and back to Broadway all while stopping into various stores, bars and listening to the music being played in each venue.
We stopped in at Rippy’s where they had an excellent group playing. Jane and I split a 1/2 rack of ribs which were very good. We both like the dry ribs better than the wet ones. A couple of local beers washed the ribs down.
After some more walking after lunch we stopped into Tootsie’s for another beer and to listen to the group playing there. Tootsie’s has launched the careers of many C&W artists and the walls are covered with pictures and memorabilia.
There were many interesting signs outside of the bars and stores.
April 9, 2018
After leaving the SKP Ranch in Lakewood NM We spent a night Wally-docking at the Walmart in Abilene TX. We’d tried to book into a county park outside of Dallas but it was race weekend and all of the camping within an hour of Texas Motor Speedway was booked. The next day we headed east to Texarkana. I’d called an Army Core of Engineers campground and they said they had lots of space. After entering the campground into the truck nav system we headed off. All went well until we got off the interstate and onto the small roads. Seems the GPS figured it would be no problem routing us over a railway crossing that had a steep approach angle to the tracks with a big drop the other side. The trailer frame cleared the tracks by almost two inches. When we arrived at the campground the ranger said they had no space available which seemed odd based on what we’d been told. While discussing this with the ranger I noticed the campground map was for Clear Springs which is a different CoE area on the same lake. Looks like the GPS thinks they are all at the same address. After being given the alternate route out of there (turn before going back over the tracks) we finally made it to Rocky Point Campground. Not easy to find the entrance road off the highway as it’s not marked. Only took two passes to get it.
The campground was quite nice. The sites are large and well spaced. We got one backing onto the water. Some of the sites are in the treed areas. The lake is level controlled and was quite high so a number of sites were underwater and it looked like there was a fair bit of winter damage to repair. Temperatures weren’t that high so we were dressed for warmth and burning a fire. The wood was free to collect as there was lots of that they wanted cleaned up.
The dam is just up the road so one day we went for a driver to check it out. The actual dam is a large earthen berm with a control gate. The pcitures show the emergency overflow spillway.
One night we drove to a nearby restaurant for some local food and beers. Scottie’s Grill also does live concerts at the back and the waitress says they get 1-2000 people for those events. Seems the county is dry so we had to show ID and join Scottie’s club that allows you to buy alcohol. The food was great. We had deep fried crawfish and split a burger as it was huge (1/2lb beef, pulled pork, onion rings and more).
Great sunsets from out on the point looking across the lake.
April 4, 2018
We really had no plans on where to go from Las Cruces. Bill and Sue were leaving to go and see the Carlsbad Caverns and we were just heading east-ish. Jane and I decided to go to the SKP Ranch in Lakewood and take advantage of the 50$ first timers deal. Bill and Sue figured it was a good deal and would be a short drive to the caverns and so they came with us.
The drive east passed by lots of flat plains with no cell service. Just before reaching the Guadalupe Mountains we passed what looked like a dry lake bed area which looked like salt. The Mountains themselves were quite impressive rising from the flat plains area. I also try to get prictures of old abandoned structures when we’re travelling. Usually we don’t get to stop to check them out so they are just drive by shootings.
The SKP Ranch is a small park, no real amenities but a very friendly bunch of people there. They ring the big bell and give hugs when new people show up. 🙂
We drove into Artesia on Mar 31st to see the annual car show. Unfortunately it had been cancelled for this year. That would explain why it was so hard to find any information about it online. Not even that the “annual” car show was cancelled. We did walk the two blocks that comprise downtown Artesia, browsed the boot stores and had beer and wings at The Wellhead Brew Pub.
The four of us made a trip up to Roswell on April 3rd. Seems there were aliens up there that had crash landed years ago. Most of the older downtown area is all about aliens. We did the museum tour where there was plenty of evidence presented. Personally I wasn’t swayed, I’ll stay on the “nope, didn’t happen” side of the line.
After learning all about aliens we stopped at Pecos Flavors Winery + Bistro for beers and deli sandwiches. Good food there. Our next destination was the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art. On the way we took a drive through the grounds of the New Mexico Military Institute. It was a large complex of buildings with parapets along the walls and towers on the buildings. The museum was an interesting place and provided the “cultural” component of our day trip. I found a new use for old golf bags too.
Here’s a few other pictures from downtown including a large grain storage bin. Many of the buildings in the old downtown area look to be from the 40’s based on design.
As we’d driven into Roswell I had seen a scrap yard on the side of the road so I had to stop on the way back to get some pictures. On the side of a building it said Diamond Auto Parts. Lots of interesting vehicles packed into the yard.
Further south of Roswell is the airport. It was originally Roswell Army International Airfield during WWII. It is now used by a number of aircraft related businesses including parting out of airliners. There are a large number of older airliners parked on the fields and taxiways surrounding the runways. We did see an old DC10 taking off and flying a few circuits of the airport.
March 28, 2018
The four of us decided to hike the Fillmore Canyon Trail to Fillmore Spring within the Organ Mountains NM. The shorter route leaves from the picnic area below the visitor center and that’s the route we took. It’s a bit over 2 miles return and a fairly easy hike.
The trail goes past the site of an old mine processing plant. According to the info board all of the steel was removed during World War 2 to meet military needs. The spring at the top of the trail was used to feed water to the plant and the remnants of steel piping are still in the bottom of the river bed.
The next day Jane and I hiked the 4×4 road that headed up towards the mountains from our camp location. There are also single track trails in the area we hiked. Only one of them is a “legal” trail created by the park and actually goes all the way to El Paso and is used by hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers. The rangers drive through the camping area a few times a day and on one occasion they told use they were marking the illegal trails to indicate that they cannot be used for mountain biking (penalty of fine if caught). Our hike was about 4 miles round trip and we used the illegal bike trails for part of the trip back and they we great to hike on, much easier than the gravel/stones on the 4×4 road. The one picture shows what looks like cement that underlies the surface and is exposed where water has been running. No idea what it is though but it encapsulates the other smaller rocks.
That night I happened to wake up shortly after midnight so I decided to go outside and see what I could get for star images. The moon was high in the night sky so many dimmer stars were washed out but the ground was illuminated.
The last images were taken at various times during our stay here. The sunset is over Las Cruces and the mountains were to the east of our location.
This horned lizard was sitting outside the trailer one afternoon. It didn’t mind having its picture taken and sat still for quite a while.
And finally… here’s a picture of the stone “arrangement” I left in the Rockhouse area outside Borrego Springs. It’s on the south side of the area so I’ll have to see if it is still there next year. 🙂
March 26, 2018
We left Mesa AZ on March 23rd with the intention of stopping at a boondocking location east of Safford AZ. We travelled Highway 60 which took us through the south end of the Superstition Mountains.
When we arrived at the turnoff area the highway was under construction and we couldn’t access the entry road. We were travelling with Bill and Sue and after a brief conversation we decided to move further on to find a location for the night and then figure out where to go from there while parked rather than on the side of the road. We stopped for the night at a Veterans Park, county park in Lordsburg. Nothing fancy but a mostly level area with picnic tables and shelters.
We all agreed on a boondocking location outside of Las Cruces at the base of the Organ Mountains. This would give us a base for hiking the mountains, visiting White Sands NM and checking out a bit of Las Cruces. The Sierra Vista trailhead has about 4 sites along the road and 2-3 at the trailhead itself. We setup our trailers at the trailhead. The road in is quite rough with rocks sticking up in the roadway.
The next day we all piled into Bill’s truck and headed to White Sands NM. We bought the saucers for sliding down the dunes and headed to the back of the dune area. It was quite the work out with climbing the dune faces. Watching each other trying to slide down the sand was hilarious and we ended up with sand in pockets, hair, shoes and more.
The gypsum dunes are a brilliant white. The sun reflecting off them is as harsh as the sun off of snow. Without the cold temperatures though!
There was even a couple that had unloaded a camel from a trailer for visitors to look at. Maybe it was there so it could get back to its roots.
The Bataan Memorial Death March was the same day and we passed it on our way to and from White Sands. There were more than 8000 marchers loaded down with packs and hiking 26.2 miles in the desert on the west side of White Sands.
The next day we did one of the hikes within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks NM. It was a steady uphill climb of about 3 miles by the time you get back to the visitor center. There are some wooden structures partway up the trail and at the end of the trail is what remains of the sanitorium and mountain camp. There is also the “dripping spring” which is a small trickle down the rocks. The temperature was on the cool side and we had the occasional rain sprinkle as we hiked.
In the afternoon we headed into Las Cruces to visit the town of Mesilla. This is an old town from the mid-1800’s that is contained within the city of Las Cruces. Two battles were fought at or in the town during the Civil Wat. Mesilla served as the capital of the Confederate Territory of Arizona in 1861-1862. We had dinner at Andele’s Dog House Mexican restaurant on the advice of the park ranger we’d spoken to at our camp site.