2022 Spring Western Trip (Epilogue)

We have removed most things from the trailer that we normally remove after a trip, like some clothes, some pantry food, etc. I have our F-350 diesel scheduled for service (oil/filter, the Works) at our local dealer. I have booked getting the entire exterior of the trailer washed. I opened all the slides and awnings and let them dry thoroughly since they came home wet from the rain. All the towels, sheets, etc., that came home dirty have been washed and are waiting to go back in the trailer. I have ordered a complete brake assembly to repair the left rear brake issue and the operator assembly for the bathroom vent to operate from eTrailer.com, but I will not receive them until late May! I will do the repairs myself.

A couple of days after getting home the free Valterra side twist-on valve for the sewer line output arrived to replace the defective one that kept falling off. This one fits nice and tight, but I did put a couple of tie wraps on it as a safety device in case it works loose. Thanks to Valterra Customer Service for taking care of this out of warranty issue for free!

When I removed my ebike from the trailer basement I discovered it had a flat rear tire, so I have a new tube ordered for it. One too many goatsheads at the convention I guess. I will fix it myself.

All in all, we covered right at 7,400 miles on what was an epic trip. Here are three pictures of the trip end Garmin RV890 GPS stat screens.

As you may figure out our total travel time was a bit over 228 hours. That is 9.5 24 hour days spent in the truck covering those 7,400 miles! As you can also figure out when traveling we spend around 36% of the time stopped at Rest Area, fueling, etc. While this percentage is probably higher than I might like it is a good thing health-wise that at our age we are stopping frequently and stretching our legs. That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it. All told, interesting stats.

I have a few other minor maintenance items to take care of on the Montana, but all in all it did great on the trip and is holding up well after 35,000 miles or so of being towed over some very rough roads.

I am hoping to do a trip up North this Summer to escape the Florida heat and humidity. I want to stop for a couple of days or so in Illinois to visit my sister, check on our farm and see other relatives. At this point I’m thinking of either heading up to Michigan and doing the UP and down through Wisconsin or maybe heading to North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Not sure which way yet. I also have some cancer screening tests coming up, but expect good outcomes. I am not sure if Jeri is going to come on this trip or not, so it could just be me and Sugar Belle.

2022 Spring Western Trip (Part 7)

Day 34-38, 04/02-06/2022 Saturday-Wednesday: After a delicious chili Mac dinner the night before we got on the road Saturday with beautiful weather. We stopped for an early lunch at the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, TX. This is the exact midpoint of the Mother Road, old Route 66. The cafe was the model for Flo’s Diner in the animated movie, Cars. They serve a great burger!

Chili Mac time

We stopped for the night at the Rocking A RV park off Highway 287 in Vernon, TX. Good place. We went to Walmart for a bit of shopping.

Sunday found us traveling on down 287 toward Dallas, but to avoid traveling through Dallas I had mapped our route to take highway 380 east and around to highway 69 south to pick up I-20 well east of Dallas. I picked a bad route! Very very congested heavy traffic for miles! Then to top it off we decided to stop for lunch in an area not conducive to towing a big fifth wheel trailer in. While Jeri went in to get us something to eat at a Burger King (the Popeyes was not serving inside) I had to slowly navigate our rig around in tight quarters because there was simply nowhere to park it. We finally made it out of the heavy traffic and enjoyed a fairly pleasant drive through the country down to I-20 East.

Jeri found us a overnight campsite at the TA Travel Center RV park in Greenwood, LA. It was okay, but nothing great.

Monday found us getting on I-49 south toward Lafayette, LA where we headed east on I-10. Our trailer brake problem had reoccurred, so we stopped at a rest area on I-49 and I cut the leads going to the driver side rear axle wheel and we got at least partial braking back and came home that way (no problem). We made it well over 400 miles to Biloxi, MS. Jet tried repeatedly to get us a reservation at the Boomtown Casino RV Park where we have stayed several times, but their phone system was messed up, so we made the decision to just pull into the casino so she could go inside and book us. Big mistake!

I inadvertently pulled the wrong way into a dead end one way part of the parking lot. There was only one way to extricate ourselves from this situation, back back out into a fairly busy street. A security guard noticed us and came over in his golf cart and exclaimed, “in 25 years here I’ve never seen this.” He was laughing, but helped us get backed out and over to the RV park. I tried to tip him a twenty, but he said he was not allowed to take tips. He got us a couple of other phone numbers and we got a campsite. Jeri, who normally gets a bit flustered when we get into the mostly rare difficult situations with the trailer handled this one very well. Me, I don’t get anxious or flustered because if you tow a big rig often and all over the Country, well, it’s just going to happen once in a while, so you just figure out what needs to be done and calmly do it and let the onlookers get a laugh. LOL

After unhooking the trailer I ran Jeri back over to the casino where she had a good run and won a few hundred dollars! I was so happy for her. She treated us to dinner again.

I observed the people overnighting next to us in a travel trailer hooking up and the woman told me bad weather was expected so they were getting a jump on pulling out the next morning. I checked the weather and yep, storms were predicted for that night and the next morning, so after dinner I hooked the trailer back up and disconnected shore power and water and stowed the stuff. We dry camped for the night. Fortunately it was not hot, so we didn’t suffer much. And of course no storm came! Only a light rain and it was not raining in the morning when we left.

Tuesday morning we continued toward home on I-10. We stopped at a Popeyes for lunch and almost got into another tight spot, but it ended up not being difficult. We had just got into Florida when Jeri checked the weather radar and said we are about to get hit with red (bad storm). Luckily we were very close to a rest area, so we ducked into it next to a row of small trees and napped through it, but it wasn’t all that severe. She got us the last available campsite at Falling Waters SP near Chipley, FL and we arrived and set up in the rain. I only connected to power.

Wednesday morning I dumped the tanks before leaving the park and we had a fairly easy run of a bit over 300 miles, arriving home around 4:00 PM or so. We pulled the trailer up in front of the house and parked in the street while we unloaded the fridge and some necessary things, then I took the trailer to storage. I will make several trips there over the next few days to get stuff and open everything out to dry completely.

Epilogue later.

2022 Spring Western Trip (Part 6)

Day 29-33, 03/28-04/01/2022 Monday-Friday: I have been kind of lax updating this blog the past few days, so will try to catch up now.

We enjoyed our short few days with Jimmy and Rachel in the desert 15 miles north of Moab, UT in spite of some strong winds and dust, then rain and mud. LOL We, Jeri and I, mostly hung out in and around the trailer during the day after sharing breakfast and a couple of dinner duties with Jimmy and Rachel. On Tuesday evening, our last night, we all went into Moab and had dinner at the Moab Brewery. Good. After we got back to camp and in spite of a couple of short, light rain showers Jimmy made a very nice big campfire, Rachel made a S’more and Jimmy roasted some marshmallows for his Mother and himself.

Jimmy and Rachel at the Moab Brewery
Jeri at the Brewery
Dad, Jimmy and Mom

On Wednesday morning we kind of took our time breaking camp to give the road and some of our stuff time to dry a bit. Jimmy made delicious bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches. We said our good-byes after too short a visit. Jimmy and Rachel went off for a ebike trail ride while Jeri and I finished breaking camp and hooking up the trailer. J&R called and texted us to advise we might want to wait another hour or so for the worst (muddiest) section of road to dry a bit more, so we waited about another 30-40 minutes and headed out. We did not have any trouble.

J&R would head back home in Denver after their ride. (Note: we texted with them later that evening and they were just getting home.)

We left the campsite around 11:30 Wednesday morning with only a little over 200 miles to the Bluff View RV Park in Farmington, NM. Jeri had reserved us two nights there a day or two ago. We arrived late afternoon and set up the trailer. I dumped the two gray tanks and we both took showers. Felt good to be clean. We also changed the sheets on the bed. LOL

Why Farmington? Because it is fairly close to the Chaco Canyon National Historical Park and it was my last planned major place to see on this trip. So Thursday morning I drove the approximately 50 miles or so to the park. It was overcast and Jeri decided to stay at the trailer and relax with the dogs. The first 40-some miles were good roads, but while I had read how bad the last several miles were, they were even worse!! The pavement ends and the last eight miles to get to the park were washboard gravel and I do mean severe and constant washboard about two to four inches or so deep and virtually for the entire eight miles! In about sixty years of driving this has to be the absolute worse road I have been on. And the funny thing is the road is nice and wide and looks great until I hit it at about 40 mph and about lost all my fillings! The truck was literally trying to dance sideways. My average speed over that eight miles was less than 8 mph and at times I was doing 4-6 mph. I tried various speeds, but could not find anything that did not feel like it might shake the truck apart. The only things on this entire stretch of road were some cattle and a few abandoned hovels. After what seemed like hours I reached the entrance to the park.

All the roads in the park were thankfully nicely paved! I checked in at the visitor center. They normally charge $25 per vehicle to enter, but we have a Senior America The Beautiful National Park Pass, so it was free. Personally I thought it was kind of nervy to charge anything after enduring the drive in! LOL But I cheerfully said to the woman checking me in, “Okay, I have endured the normal road in, so what is the secret way out?” She laughed and said that’s the only way and isn’t that road terrible? She pointed out the circular one-way road around the park and reminded the park closed at 5:00 PM. It was just after 1:00.

Visitor Center at Chaco Canyon

Jeri had made me lunch and I had planned to leisurely enjoy it once I found a good spot, but since now I knew what a long, slow drive out it would be I just ate my sandwiches while I toured the place.

The ruins are incredible, to say the least. I was just looking through all the pictures and videos I took and will put a couple below, since I cannot include them all here. But I encourage you to look up videos on YouTube and read about this place because pictures do not really explain how the various huge buildings, built over centuries align with each other and the sun. I only took the time to totally tour through one of the four to five big ruins.

This is the one I toured

Very incredible place, but I would never go there again unless they fix the damn road.

This morning we left and after a bit over 400 miles we stopped for the night at the KOA in Tucumcari, NM just off I-40. We did some laundry, at least enough to get us home in a few more days. Yes, we are in our way home. 😩

2022 Spring Western Trip (Part 5)

Day 28, 03/27/2022 Sunday: We were on the road this morning around 9:00 again headed up highway 163 to 191 to meet up with Jimmy and Rachel at the Klondike dispersed camping area about 15 miles north of Moab. They had arrived after midnight from Denver and spent the night in a temporary location before moving over to their favorite spot. They kept us informed via text message.

Before sunup view of Monument Valley from our campsite at Goulding’s

We did a fairly leisurely trip north and were somewhat surprised at how unbusy downtown Moab was. Hardly anyone out and about on the streets when usually it is very busy with people everywhere.

We filled up with diesel for $5.09 a gallon on the north side of Moab. Driving past the entrance to Arches National Park we were again amazed that there was no line waiting to get in. Last year when we were here at about the same time the park was parked, with a long line of vehicles lined up even out on the highway waiting their turn to enter. We turned right on BLM 142 and began the long slow tow back to the campsite Jimmy and Rachel were already in. This road is very rough gravel and rock with up and downs, twists and turns. Hauling the Montana back the several miles is a very slow process. Fast speed was about 8 mph!

We saw their campsite and honked our horn. They were out and waving at us. We pulled in and all shared warm, loving hugs. We had not seen them since last year at this time. We decided on the position of our trailer and I put it in position and we set up camp. It was extremely windy and the fine sand and dirt was blowing everywhere!

After a short visit Jimmy and Rachel left to do a trail ride on their ebikes while Jeri and I continued to set up camp.

Our rigs out in the desert dirt

Jeri made “Hoppin’ Johns” for dinner for all of us. I set up my flag. Jeri and I were just starting to eat without them when they got back to camp not long before dark. I have Jimmy the new Esee Izula knife I had hand wrapped with paracord. He loved it. The Izula is a 2 1/2” small knife, but very handy. He loved it! Yeay!!!

2022 Spring Western Trip (Part 4)

Day 27, 03/26/2022 Saturday: We left the campground a little before 9:00 this morning, heading north on I-10 to Phoenix, then I-17 north to Flagstaff, where we fueled up with diesel, then highway 89 up to 160. We stopped briefly at the Cameron Trading Post and fueled up again in Kayenta, AZ, where we took highway 163 to Monument Valley. Enroute Jeri booked us a campsite at the Goulding RV Park. The Gouldings started the original trading post back in the 1920s or 30s. Jeri actually met one of the Goulding descendants at the campground. We quickly set up the trailer just before sunset after covering 444 miles today and headed to the lodge dining room for dinner. The place was packed and we had to wait about 35 minutes for a table. We both got the chili con carne Indian tacos and they were very good and very filling. By the time we got back to the trailer and walked the dogs it was time for bed.

Our campsite at Gouldings RV Park

2022 Spring Western Trip (Part 3)

For faster editing, loading and reading I have decided to make each day’s entry a separate new post.

Day 26, 03/25/2022 Friday: We decided last evening to leave the convention today, two days early, instead of tomorrow. I booked us one night at Casino Del Sol RV park again so we can dump our tanks and fill our freshwater tank. I will also fill a six gallon water container so we will have additional water when boondocking out in the desert in Moab. That will give us 67 gallons in the freshwater tank, 12 gallons in the hot water tank and 6 in the container for a total of 85 gallons.

I returned my collapsing flag poll and got it replaced with another one. I had a nice conversation with the store owner about the area. Very nice guy.

Later we walked back over to the vendor exhibits because we still had three $5 Bonus Bucks coupons. Next thing I know Jeri used all three and bought a wig!! I didn’t see that coming… Next to the wig vendor was a lubricant display. The guy working it told me I might as well have a seat in his area while waited on Jeri trying on wigs. We had a nice visit and he gave me a full-sized spray can of the lubricant, a brochure and a promo pen. There were lots of promo pens and playing card decks and coozies all over. I think we got just a couple of pens and three decks of cards, so we didn’t just go down the line grabbing all the free stuff. LOL We also went back and looked at the small Super Bs we looked at yesterday. The guy explained that as he understood it if the part that hangs over the cab does not have a bed it’s a Super B and if it has a bed it is a small Class C. Confused? I am. Rich, can you explain? It was not a Unity, they were both Entegra Quests built with the Mercedes diesel and frame. One had been sold. Most of the RVs on display were larger Class A and Class C rigs. There was a sprinkling of fifth wheels, but none by Keystone that I saw.

It started getting pretty warm. My weather app was showing 92° for Tucson and my truck was showing 95°. We went back and packed up and left the convention and towed the ~25 miles to the Casino Del Sol RV park, arriving around 2:00-2:30 this afternoon. After setting the rig up I dumped all the waste tanks (2 gray and 1 black). The black (toilet stuff) tank did not have a whole lot in it, but then it was only five days worth and it’s a 49 gallon tank. The bathroom gray water didn’t have a whole lot either. The galley tank was maybe half full, if that, so we were doing great. We also still had over a third of our freshwater. Just for reference the two gray tanks are 44 gallons each and the freshwater is 67 gallons.

After the tanks were empty Jeri took a nice shower and when she was ready I dropped her off at the casino, then went back to our Montana and took a nice long shower. No Navy showers this time! I will dump both gray water tanks again in the morning before we leave.

Not long after I was dressed Jeri called for me to pick her up. No big (or small) wins this time. But she had fun. That’s what counts.

She made delicious chicken enchiladas for dinner. There was one left, so we will share it for breakfast.

Enchiladas ready to go into the oven
Baked, dressed and ready to eat

Tomorrow morning we will leave Tucson and head north up to Flagstaff, Monument Valley and Moab for our planned meet up with our son Jimmy and DIL Rachel Sunday for a few days of boondocking in the desert

BTW, the brake repair worked and the brakes are full strength again. Yeay!!!

2022 Spring Western Trip (Part 2)

Day 25, 03/24/2022 Thursday: It’s been an interesting few days here at the FMCA 104th RV Convention & RV Show “Sunsets & Saguaros”. I have been really impressed with the organization, coordination and how well this thing is run. Everyone we have met has been super friendly and helpful, no matter how big (or small) their RV is. Our Montana fifth wheel, while a fairly expensive high end trailer is literally surrounded on three sides by huge motorhomes; very expensive Tiffins and similar, yet no snobbishness.

Tuesday was sort of a repeat of Monday, with literally a solid stream of RVs coming in and being lead to their parking spot by the volunteer parking folks. BTW, yesterday an activity tram (golf cart in this case) was transporting Jeri and I to the evening entertainment and we talked to the couple driving it. They had been doing this all day long. I asked if they got any reduction in their convention fee at least and they said, “No, we pay the same as you.” Wow! And these volunteers work their butts off!

Yesterday the many, many exhibitors and vendors opened to us at 1:00 PM, but an outside vendor selling RV flag poles, flags of all kinds, mounts, etc., was open a bit earlier, so we stopped to look around and Jeri talked me into buying a flag pole setup and a couple of flags and a solar light that sits on top and lights up the flag at night. I had been wanting to get a flag setup for some time for those rare times that we spend more than a night or two at the same place and what’s better than Old Glory? So, I bought everything and even added a Air Force “Eagle” mascot flag since the 20’ pole can handle two flags. I borrowed a ladder from one of the big rigs and had the whole thing set up in about 30 minutes.

20’ pole mounted on the rear ladder about 5’ up, so the US Flag is about 25’ in the air
Bill doing the final touches of the flag mount
Night picture (flag on right is on another rig)

After getting the flag thing done Jeri and I went to the Cantina for a beverage and snack. A couple we had never met sat down beside us and we got to talking and discovered we had been to many of the same places and in fact, after the convention they are going to the Zane Grey RB Village where we had just spent three nights. We told them about the little Mexican restaurant we found and they said they would try it for sure. It was also interesting that they had just been to the border at Organ Pipe Cactus National Park and should us pictures of the new big beautiful border wall. I should the a picture of the step-over border fence from when we were there a few years ago. Anyway, it was pretty cool talking with them.

After leaving the Cantina we went to the big motorhome display area and toured through several, including a Tiffin Allegro Bus or two and a Tiffin Phaeton or two. We discovered these were all used, so the sales prices ranged from $150,000 to $700,000. Although used they were absolutely immaculate, looking virtually new except for some somewhat dated interior color schemes, etc. Jeri really did not care for them (thank goodness!!). What she did like were a couple of Mercedes Benz based small class Cs or Super Bs, so I think she has some idea of what she wants if/when we decide to downsize from our much bigger (and much roomier) Montana fifth wheel. Me, while I thought they were kind of cozy, I felt a bit claustrophobic. LOL And the tank sizes are wayyyy smaller than we have now, so that would mean a lot more dumping of the waste tanks (in other words more work for me).

We then went to the Old Pueblo convention center where over a hundred vendors of all types were on display. I was talking to the folks at the MicroAire booth about how much we like the two AC soft start units and the two smart thermostats we have from them and when I turned around Jeri was nowhere to be found. Shortly after there was a PA announcement that it was 5:00 PM and the displays were shut down for the evening, so I went outside and waited for Jeri. And waited. And waited. Finally, about the time I thought she was going to be locked in she came out. Turns out she was getting a massage from one of the vendor’s products. LOL

We went back to the trailer for a quick bite of supper (hotdogs) because the opening ceremonies and evening entertainment was starting at 7:00 PM. We bundled up a bit because the temperature was starting to drop and went to the opening ceremony and entertainment, which was the Southwest Surfers, sort of a Beach Boys tribute band, although they did other music, too. They were pretty good and the Oldies had folks dancing in the aisles. It was fun. We caught a ride from one of the activity tram golf carts back to the trailer and upon getting to the trailer discovered our new 20’ telescoping flag pole had partially Un-telescoped.

Jeri and I waiting for the show to start. Note the red ribbon on the bottom of Jeri’s name tag. It identifies us as first timer convention goers and everyone is extra nice to us.

Today I telescoped the flag pole back up and it stayed up all day until about an hour ago when we were sitting in the trailer and heard/felt this loud thump and discovered the flag pole had un-telescoped again. I had asked them at the flag place today if there is some trick to prevent this and was told that when extending the sections pull hard and twist, so maybe I didn’t do this with enough robustness because it seems that when the temperature goes down the fiberglass must contract just enough to cause the problem. She offered to replace it and told me I could also use electrical tape on the joints.

But on to another project today. Jeri suggested we should get this screening that attaches to one of the awnings to provide additional shade and a bit of wind protection and privacy, so we went to the Shade Pro booth and bought one for our big front awning. Jeri also bought a couple of electric massage devices. We left them at the vendors while we toured all the vendor displays, then picked them up and luckily caught an activity golf cart that took us out to near the trailer. I borrowed the neighbor’s ladder again and attached the upper piece of screening to the awning. It hangs down far enough that the lower section can then be zipped on and off.

Jeri made a bunch of good chili, so we ate a bite and went to the evening entertainment again. This was a trio called CS&M that played all types of music. They were pretty good, but although a lot warmer temperature tonight we did not stay for the whole show.

The new shade screen. This was just trying it out, so we did not stake it down.

2022 Spring Western Trip (Part 1)

By the way, if anyone is following along and reading this blog, please let me know with a comment here or a text to 3865690666 or email to bfisher003@gmail.com. Let me know also if there is further information you would like me to put in the blog posts. Thank you! Bill

Day 22, 03/21/2021 Monday: We were woke up in the wee hours this morning by a pouring rain, but it did not last very long. We got up not long after daylight and started getting ready to head to the convention. I dumped all out waste tanks (FHU site), we buttoned up and left around 10:00 for the half hour drive to the Pima County Fairgrounds. We had received our documents and instructions several weeks ago. Since FMCA has done lots and lots of these conventions they have it down to a science. Very impressive to witness their organization and set up. They have many, many volunteers that help run everything, including getting a couple thousand or so RVs in and parked in this massive place. We had three large placards we had to place inside our windshield; the top one identified us as first time convention goers (our name tags also have a red “First Timer” ribbon attached). The second placard was our entry day and the bottom was our parking lot and whether we had power or not and what power drop. We are in the Red lot, 17th street, with 50 amp power (actually 100 amp, since there are two 50 amp hot legs). They guide everyone to their parking spot and assist with directions. It was super easy. We are parked on the very front row in our lot, nestled in and surrounded by some really large, super expensive motorhomes. The sites are actually a bit wider than I thought they would be.

Our campsite

The lady in the motorhome on our driver side told me she was very happy to see some nice fifth wheel trailers here. Everyone has been super helpful and friendly. I was amazed at the long line of RVs coming by! It went on like that until 5:00 PM and they tell me it will be like that all day tomorrow! I made several passes around the place on my ebike and Jeri and I walked and rode in a tram around the place to see where things are and stopped at the Cantina for a adult beverage. Steak and salad for dinner.

Days 20-21, 03/19-20/2022 Saturday and Sunday: Nothing much to report for these two days since we were at the Casino Del Sol RV Park on the “Res” waiting for Monday to check into the FMCA 104th convention, “Sunsets & Saguaros”.

On Saturday we visited the San Xavier del Bac Mission, a centuries old Mission. We visited it a couple of years or so ago, but it is so beautiful it is worth seeing again and again. And besides outside Native Americans fry up fresh Indian Fry Bread and Fry Bread Tacos. YUMMIE!! After eating we went into the mission, Jeri lit a candle for her Mother and we took some pictures.

Front of the mission. Some restoration work is being done.
The alter area. Beautiful! And yes, they do hold Mass here.
Jeri coming out of the Mission

On Sunday we drove out to the west part of the Saguaro National Park. There are two parts to the park, one east of Tucson and one west. The west one is smaller, but more Saguaro cactuses than can be counted; millions!

West visitor center
I felt sorry for this little guy LOL

Jeri went to the casino and won some more money, so she treated us to good burgers and fries in one of the casino restaurants. It rained a little this evening.

Day 19, 03/18/2022 Friday: Well, this campground is so booked up (with good reason) that we could not extend another day, so we sadly had to say goodbye. I had our driver side 30 lb propane tank refilled as we left at around 10:30.

We have three nights booked at the Casino Del Sol RV park in Tucson, so we headed down that way with a leisurely 221 mile drive. If you recall we stayed here one night on our way from Pancho Villa State Park to the “Extraterrestrial Highway.”

Not much of interest, except for a backup on our I-17 southbound side for what was left of what looked to have been a very bad traffic accident. There were still several police, fire and ambulance vehicles there. We arrived and set up here for the three nights before we head over to the FMCA convention Monday. The convention actually starts Wednesday, the 23rd, but since we are first time attendees they bring us in and get us parked early so we can attend a first timer orientation on Tuesday; however, Jeri will probably have to attend this for us because I have a mobile RV tech coming to check on our brakes and I think there will be a time overlap.

After very spotty trailer brake operation for a few days and getting “Trailer Wiring Fault” messages on our truck’s trailer brake controller, the messages went away and the brakes are working, but I think they are only working on one axle, not both. So, we will see what the tech finds.

I took Jeri to the casino and dropped her off so she could hit the slots and I came back to the trailer. A while later she called to tell me she would treat me to dinner because she had won almost $100. We enjoyed the buffet!!

Day 18, 03/17/2022 Thursday: Happy St. Patrick’s Day. After doing the usual morning things we drove to the Montezuma Castle National Monument about 8-9 miles away, stopping at an Indian Fry Bread stand. It was pretty busy as the lone Native American guy cooked the fry bread one at a time, hot and fresh. He offered four types: Salt (he said this was the traditional one), cinnamon, powdered sugar and honey. The fry breads were about 8-9” in diameter. We got a honey one and a powdered sugar one. I thought, wow, how are we going to eat both of these, but we did. LOL

Busy Indian Fry Bread stand
Jeri in line for fry bread

After polishing off our fry breads we went to the monument. We have a lifetime senior national park pass, so we normally get into any federal park, monument, etc., free and we did here, too, saving $20. Because of the pandemic they were limiting how many people could get into the store at 20, so a queue was forming for that, but we bypassed it for the time being and went to see the “castle”.

The castle and storage caves

I heard a park volunteer explaining that the lighter colored parts of the castle were original and the darker parts were reconstructed, but done by Hopi Indians in the traditional building method.

You clearly see the original and reconstructed parts in this picture.

This national monument is fairly small overall, but very well laid out and maintained. The ranger said that up to sometime in the 1950s the monument had ladders for those brave enough to climb to actually go inside the castle, but I guess our overly litigious society must have put a stop to that and the ladders were removed. We did see pictures of them.

Creosote Bush
The Creosote Bush is very interesting. Read about them.
Overall picture of the castle. It was pretty high up.

This evening Jeri found us this little hole in the wall Mexican Restaurant in Camp Verde. It was small, but hopping! Very popular place and with good reason; the food, service, prices and ambiance was great. Some of the best Mexican food I have had. The name of the place is La Casita, so if you are ever in Camp Verde, AZ we highly recommend it.

Good BIG Margaritas!
Bill enjoying life and a LARGE Margarita.

Day 17, 03/16/2022 Wednesday: Another nice day, but partly cloudy and dark rain clouds passing by to the north of us. We took the dogs for a nice walk this morning and when Jeri took Faith and headed back Sugar Belle and I continued on. Sugar was having a great time; pretty much her old self, sniffing everything in sight and being pretty playful. It made me a bit melancholy thinking of her age and heart problems and wondering how much longer we would get to enjoy her companionship.

Sugar Belle having fun

We hiked down to West Clear Creek and saw the small falls and rapids. This campground has several trails through the woods.

Some of the small falls and rapids. The tree is a Arizona Sycamore.

We drove 35 miles to Sedona, famous for its red rock formations and they were pretty awesome. The traffic was crazy. Every view point was so packed with cars and vehicles that all we could do was drive through and continue on. The number one attraction in Sedona is the chapel on the mountain.

Chapel on the mountain in Sedona

There is one narrow road that goes up to the chapel and it was packed with cars and people. Parking was scarce and packed. We inched our way up and finally made it to the chapel and I let Jeri out. I discovered the only thing vehicles could do was pull up, back up to turn around and head back down, one at a time, so that is what I had to do. I made my way back down with the truck and sort of meandered around in the general vicinity until Jeri called to tell me she was heading down. She had to walk all the way down to where I could pick her up. She lit a candle in the chapel for her Mother who died on the same date in 2014.

Devotional candles

Next we got into a three mile long queue of vehicles on highway 179 through town, headed for a Native American shopping and art center. We finally made it there and again I let Jeri out while I maneuvered around the parking lot (not made for maneuvering a one ton truck around in). Jeri wasn’t very long and by this time I think we had both had enough of wall-to-wall people and traffic, so we headed out of town on highway 89A, stopping at a pizza place (also extremely crowded) for a slice of pizza (pretty good) and finally breaking out of the crowd we headed back to the campground. Sedona is a truly beautiful place, but was not and is not designed to handle the huge number of visitors it gets.

Jeri and Faith by the campground entrance

Day 16, 03/15/2022 Tuesday: We did our laundry yesterday afternoon at a laundromat close by our campground; it was starting to pile up after two weeks on the road. We broke camp and left the park around 9:30 this morning headed east on I-10. Shortly after passing by Quartzite (we camped there a few years ago) we got off I-10 on highway 60 still added east northeast. The idea was to get to I-17 bypassing the Phoenix area. We headed north up to Camp Verde. Our thought was to get a bit north and higher in altitude to avoid some warm weather and to get fairly close to Sedona. Jeri called several campgrounds and RV parks and they were all full. We stopped in Cottonwood and I was trying to find a dispersed camping area when the Zane Grey RV Village called Jeri to say they had a cancellation and we could get three nights there. This place turned out to be awesome!

View behind our trailer

I will post more pictures tomorrow.

Day 15, 03/14/2022 Monday: Whew, it’s been a busy and mostly no cellular signal areas to update this blog. From Pancho Via State Park we traveled to Tucson and spent the night in the Casino Del Sol RV Park.

Casino Del Sol RV Park

From there we traveled up through Las Vegas, NV and spent the night in the middle of nowhere in a turnout beside the “Extraterrestrial Highway” (highway 375). This goes by the famous Area 51, well, it was about 40 miles away behind a mountain range. Talk about a quiet and very windy night. We woke up to 28° and spitting snow.

Turnout on the Extraterrestrial Highway. Area 51 is on the other side of the mountains in the background.

We completed the “Highway” the next morning driving into strong headwinds, passed through Tonapah, NV and headed back southwest, this time with a good tailwind. We stopped in Beatty, NV for BBQ sandwiches at Smokin’ J’s BBQ. He really piles the meat on!! We continued on to Death Valley. Wow! Went to Furnace Creek first, then to Stovepipe Wells and back to Furnace Creek where we dry camped for a couple of nights in the Sunset campground.

This guy walked right up to our truck looking for a handout.
Camping in Sunset campground in Furnace Creek

Very strong winds the day we got there, but the next day was beautiful. Warm day and chilly nights. I went sightseeing.

Me at Badwater Basin, 282’ below sea level
The Devil’s Golf Course (actually huge chunks of crystallized salt
One view from Zabriskie Point
Video from Zabriskie Point
Me at Zabriskie Point

Jeri did not go sightseeing with me, thus no photos of her. There are only two filling stations in Death Valley, Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek and only Furnace Creek has diesel fuel (our F-350 is a diesel). Fuel was extremely expensive, especially diesel. Here is the pump display after I filled my tank.

Yep, $10.00 a gallon!!!

Jeri and I went to lunch, but way overpriced for a buffet, but okay.

This is where we went to lunch

After lunch we bought an hour of WiFi for $5, then visited the outdoor Borax museum. Here’s a couple of photos.

An old borax wagon and water tank that was pulled by 20 mules

The following day we left and headed south to Joshua Tree National Park. We spent the night in Yucca Valley and added two more state stickers to our RV map.

Our campsite at Little Pioneer RV Park
Jeri adding Nevada and California to our RV map
Our current RV map

The next day we drove through Joshua Tree National Park and down to I-10. I will add photos later, but we saw lots of Joshua Trees. It was a rugged place. We have spent the past two nights at the River Breeze RV park in Ehrenberg, AZ, just across the Colorado River from California.

Colorado River

Day 8, 03/07/2022 Monday: Bagels with cream cheese, coffee and juice for breakfast this morning. I was up before sunup and made a pot of coffee. It was cold out. The visitor center at the park recorded 24°, but of course we were warm and snug in our Montana. Before we left I hiked up to the top of Coote’s Hill, a small hill in what used to be a fort back in the 19teens the soldiers used for an observation post. Great 360° view.

360° view from the top of Coote’s Hill at Pancho Villa State Park

We buttoned up and pulled out of the campsite a bit after 9:00 this morning and the stopped at the visitor center to see their museum dealing with the Pancho Villa bandit raid on Columbus, NM in 1916. Very nice little museum. Ten town people (civilians) were killed in the raid along with eight US soldiers, but Villa lost over 100 men. This place was also the location of the very first Army Aviation base. They have a plane in the museum, as well as some old cars, firearms and lots of other interesting stuff. There is one car, the Smith car, that a couple and their baby escaped the attack in although the husband was shot up (he survived). The car is riddled with bullet holes, but they made it to Deming, 30 miles away on what was then a very rough dirt road. Unfortunately I failed to take a picture of it. Duh… This car sat outside in the weather for over 70 years, yet had no rust.

One of the very first armored vehicles
Coote’s Hill
Some cactus. There were lots and lots of cactus!!

We finally pulled out of the park at 10:00 and headed up to Deming and took I-10 west. We stopped at a couple of rest areas, then a TA for diesel and a Walmart in Benson, AZ for a few items. Jeri had bought a somewhat cheap set of stainless steel dinnerware and it was turning black in places. Not sure why unless it was the rattling around going down the road. So she bought a new set. We are staying the night at the Casino Del Sol RV park. Jeri is in the casino now losing a few bucks no doubt. This is a pretty nice RV park. FHU, fully paved for $50 a night.

Site 39 at Casino Del Sol

Yep, she lost a few bucks, but hey, it’s her thing, so no worries. She bought us supper and it was pretty good. A Barbacoa Bowl and a fully loaded Southwest style hot dog. 😁🤪

Total miles today was 257. Tomorrow we head toward Las Vegas, the Extraterrestrial Highway (Area 51) and Death Valley and who knows what else, so stay tuned.

Day 7, 03/06/2022 Sunday: The wind died down a little late last night, but was blowing strong (20-30 mph) again by the time I got up. I made coffee and after Jeri got up at 7:25 (early for her) I made frambled eggs and toast for a light breakfast. Jeri is in a lot of pain with her right hip area, but not sure what happened to cause it. I called a mobile RV service company in Tucson, but they were closed on Sunday, so I sent an email to them to see about getting the brake issue resolved tomorrow evening or Tuesday morning. I booked a reservation at Casino Del Sol RV Park in Tucson for tomorrow night ($50 FHU).

Around 11:15 we drove down and parked the truck in a lot next to the border and walked across into Mexico. It was a bit confusing because unlike in the US where the border signs are in English and Spanish (down here anyway) the signs in Mexico were all in Spanish. Jeri started to take a picture of the border wall from the Mexican side, but a Mexican soldier/border guard told her not to. (Silly woman!!). We asked a Mexican border guard/soldier (armed with a loaded automatic rifle, all of them were thus armed I might add) where to go and he motioned to a window where an agent was. We waited there a bit until the guy noticed us and asked where we were going. We told him the Pink Store and he said to just go on. Jeri did have to have her purse run through a scanner, but that was all. Relatively easy. We shopped in the massive collection of Mexican trinkets and goods to see what we would buy after lunch then had a great lunch. Oh, when we got there we were asked if we wanted a complementary Margarita (is the Pope Catholic??!). So we sipped and shopped, then lunch. Great service, good food (my Enchiladas were delicious) low prices, good music and an all around fun place. After lunch we bought our stuff and walked back to the border. Everyone was very friendly at the store and everyone was having a great time. If you are down this way bring your passport and go visit.

It was a bit easier and more intuitive about where to go coming back into the USA (not that Mexico was difficult). The agent checked our US passports and in we went and walked back to the truck. We drove around Columbus a bit, but there isn’t much to see, especially on a Sunday. The Catholic Church bells were ringing. I paid $4.79 a gallon to fill up the truck with diesel. Paid $20 for two packs of cigarettes! I gotta quit! We took short naps. I fixed a loose fender skirt on the trailer—a screw had fallen out. Since it is supposed to get down to 27° here tonight I put some more water into our freshwater tank and disconnected and stored our water hoses, filter and pressure gauge so I don’t have to maybe deal with frozen ones in the morning when we are trying to leave. As I type this at 6:00 PM it seems the wind is starting to die down.

Walking toward the Mexican border. Note that big, beautiful wall!
Jeri shopping and sipping
Outside the Pink Store Jeri found St. Francis. He was quiet.
The Pink Store restaurant FUN!

Day 6, 03/05/2022 Saturday: We dumped tanks and left the RV park at 10:00 this morning, headed west on I-10. Mostly uneventful drive. I filled up with diesel yesterday evening after we had dinner out at a local Chevron that Gas Buddy said had diesel for $4.29 a gallon, but it turned out to be $4.69, the highest so far. Yes, I updated Gas Buddy. We had our easiest drive through El Paso ever. Good road and much lighter traffic than our previous trips through there. We stopped in Las Cruces, NM at a TA truck stop for diesel ($4.41 a gallon with our TSD/EFS discount) and Jeri bought us lunch in the Burger King there that we ate while parked at the truck stop. Now some of you may think we’re a bit nuts for spending this kind of money on diesel fuel and traveling, but two things: 1) as I have pointed out previously, we are doing more dry camping (without any hookups) for free or very low cost to offset the higher cost of fuel (our stay here at Pancho Villa SP with electric and water is only $14 a night); and 2) who knows at our age how much longer we will be able to do this for health reasons (my recent cancer bout definitely contributes to my thoughts here) and when we are no longer able to RV I don’t want to be sitting there waiting to die thinking that I let a few dollars stand in the way of our travels. Anyway we gained another hour when we passed into the Mountain Time Zone. At Deming we got off I-10 and headed south to Columbus, NM and Pancho Villa SP on highway 11, arriving at the park around 3:45. WINDY!! Fuel mileage was less than 9 mpg driving pretty much into strong head winds. This park is pretty nice and seems very laid back for a state park. Normally when checking in you get a receipt or tag or something to put in your window, but not here. In fact the guy told Jeri we didn’t even need to check in since we had a reservation. We found our site NL-23 and situated the trailer and hooked up to only 30 amp power and water. Did I mention it was WINDY??!! 20+ mph with gusts to 30. We mostly just hung out in the trailer and Jeri made a good dinner. We watched a bit of TV. We are about four miles from Mexico, which is right on down highway 11, and we could see the lights of the border patrol station and the town of Puerto Palomas, Mexico. Our trailer brake issue seems to be getting worse.

Site NL-23 at Pancho Villa SP
Our Montana in site NL-23

Day 5, 03/04/2022 Friday: Good night. Nice and quiet. Batteries were still around 80% full when I got up just before daylight and the fridge was on all night. We left the park around 9:30 and headed west on US90 to Langtry, stopping at the somewhat famous Pecos River bridge picnic area/viewing area. Wow! What an awesome view! I believe I read this bridge is the highest above water in Texas.

Pecos River bridge
Jeri took a short video while crossing the Pecos River
A little bit further the Pecos runs into the Rio Grande

Next stop, about 20 miles further west, was Langtry, home of the “Law west of the Pecos” Judge Roy Bean. There is a very nice visitor center and the Jersey Lilly Saloon and Court and the Opera House. Very interesting.

Bill in front of the saloon
The bar inside

After Langtry we continued west on US90 though Marathon (we spent a night there a few years ago in our way to Big Bend National Park), Alpine, Marfa ( we stay there a couple of years ago and saw the famous Marfa lights) and up to Van Horn. While passing through Alpine Jeri picked up her Yeti tumbler with coffee, not realizing the top was open and dumped a lot of coffee in her lap, necessitating a quick pull over so she could change pants. LOL. We thought about spending the night in Marfa and seeing the “lights” again, but the campground we stayed at before was full. We arrived in Van Horn and got a campsite at the Van Horn RV Park (we realized we stayed here before after pulling in). We set up the trailer then went to a local Mexican Restaurant for some very good food. Our site is a FHU, so in the morning I will dump our three waste tanks for the first time this trip. Then it will be off for Pancho Villa SP in New Mexico for two nights. I will add that this part of Texas is in drought conditions and everything is dusty, brown and dry. We have virtually no green grass or trees. We did a bit over 300 miles today and the great part of it is the traffic is few and far between.

Day 4, 03/03/2022 Thursday: Slept well last night because it was totally quiet. There was one thing about the campsite that ticked me off.

Note the sewer drop immediately below the water faucet.

145 miles today. We left Garner SP around 10:00 this morning, headed toward Langtry, TX. Driving on US90 it is somewhat difficult to find diesel fuel, at least where we can maneuver a 35’ fiver that’s 13’5” high. We found a Texaco on the outskirts of Del Rio, TX that we could get in and I got 20 gallons in the tank at $4.29 a gallon, the most we’ve paid on this trip so far and the first non-TA (where using our TSD EFS card we get around $.50 a gallon off. North of Del Rio, near Comstock Jeri found Seminole Canyon SP, so we pulled in to at least check it out and ended up with a beautiful dry camping site for $10.00. We have views of Old Mexico out our Montana’s windows.

Site 43 at Seminole Canyon SP

We took a hike along the canyon rim trail.

Day 3, 03/02/2022 Wednesday: Last night after Jeri researched and suggested it we booked a FHU campsite (153) at Garner State Park in Texas, so that was our goal for today. Approximately 330 miles. When I got up this morning just after daylight the battery monitor showed we still had 85%, so I turned the fridge inverter on and set the thermostat up to 68° to warm the trailer up. Made a cup of coffee, turned on the water heater. Beautiful, cold, clear morning here in east Texas. The rest area is between Beaumont and Houston, so today we have to drive through the huge Houston/Katy area (never fun towing through there) and San Antonio. We got on the road at 8:30. Very nice day. I think the highest temperature I saw on the truck’s outside temp reading was 75 or so. We made it through the Houston area without any problems, but twice now I noticed the extra Valterra knife valve had worked loose from the sewer outlet on the trailer and was dangling from a couple of plastic tie wraps. I cut the tie wraps and stowed the valve so it didn’t fall off and cause damage to us or someone else on the highway. Lots of road construction and work on I-10 and pretty rough in places today. We stopped at a Buc-ees for their awesome bbq brisket sandwiches. In San Antonio we took US90 west to Sabinal, then 127 up to Concan and US83 to Garner State Park. Jeri made Salmon, potato salad and asparagus for dinner. I got my ebike out and did a bit of riding. Saw some wild turkeys and a nice view of the Rio Frio river below. This seems to be a popular area; I guess for summertime river floats, etc. The park is clean and well kept, the staff is friendly and helpful, but Jeri wasn’t real happy with our FHU site. The FHU sites are all in a row and very close together. My major complaint is the hookups. Believe it or not the sewer drop is about a foot and a half directly below the water faucet!!! Wow, just wow! Our next door neighbor said the water is well water and not very good, so I will skip adding any water to our tank. The water pressure was reading over 60 psi, so I had to crank the adjustment down. Another strange thing is the power box. I always use a non-contact voltage tester to check the metal enclosure and normally it doesn’t beep or light up, but it did on our site’s box, although it must be a very low voltage leak because it didn’t shock me when I touched it with the back of my hand and the power (50 amp) is good per our EMS. Anyway, it should be a quiet, peaceful night. Supposed to be in the 40s.

Wild Turkey
Rio Frio

Day 2, 03/01/2022 Tuesday: The night at Cracker Barrel (Day 1) was quiet, but perplexing. Temperature was in the low 40s. My wife woke me up at 4:30 AM saying, “what’s that beeping?” Since I didn’t have my hearing aids in I couldn’t hear any beeping, then she said it stopped. She described it as a slow beeping, then faster beeping, then nothing. Of course I got up to check and found we had no 12 vdc. With the residential fridge and the furnace running and an overcast day that wasn’t putting much solar into the batteries the batteries ran down to the point the BMS shut off power. I heated some water on the stove and made a cup of coffee. After pondering the situation a bit I realized that we would not be able to close the slides and raise the jacks unless I got some power into the batteries, so I started the truck and the Trimetric battery monitor showed right at nine amps going into the batteries and the lights would now work. At daylight I started the Champion 3400 watt generator and plugged my installed 70 amp charger in and started pumping amps into the batteries. There were a few other RVs that had come in during the night, but they were on the other side of the parking area and with all the road noise from I-10 I could just barely hear my inverter generator 20 feet away, so I am pretty sure it didn’t bother anybody. Around 8:00 we closed the slides and raised the jacks without problem, so I shut down the generator and we went into Cracker Barrel for breakfast before getting on the road around 9:15 AM.

We covered 390 miles and spent the night at one of the nice Texas Rest Areas (Chambers). With all the semis around running their engines all night it was somewhat noisy. The temperature got down to 42° during the night. We stopped at Billy’s Boudin Balls & Cracklins in Scott, LA and bought eight Boudin Balls, two each for lunch. YUMMIE!! With all the bright sun our batteries showed 100% charge, so hopefully no repeat of running out of power during the night. We went to bed at 9:00 again tonight and just to make sure we didn’t deplete the batteries that were down to about 86% by this time I turned off the fridge inverter and set the thermostat to 50°.

Jeri at the Texas Rest Area
Our next door neighbor’s passenger had definitely been riding too long!

Day 1, 02/28/2022 Monday: We got on the road at 8:15 AM this morning after I brought the Montana home from storage and we loaded the fridge stuff and last minute items. We had several miles of very light rain on I-10 west and had an uneventful drive with three fuel stops at TAs (Jacksonville, Marianna and Grand Bay). We are dry camping tonight at the Cracker Barrel at Moss Point, MS after 520 miles, arriving just after sundown (fortunately we gained an hour entering the Central Time Zone) and with permission from Cracker Barrel. The evening sun was brutal driving into it.

Dry camping at Cracker Barrel, Moss Point

02/26/2022 Saturday: The trailer is prepped and loaded with everything except for the refrigerator stuff and our last minute items like toiletries,etc. We will head west Monday (02/28/22). My plan is to go to the trailer and hook up at daylight and bring the trailer home for the last minute stuff. I just park it on the street for the few minutes it takes to put the last minute stuff in, load our two small dogs and button things up. My wife’s cousin will be staying in our house for part of the time we are gone, so we don’t have to do much in that regard. A US Mail hold starts Monday for 30 days. I wish one could do a hold for a longer period, but 30 days is the maximum the USPS allows, although I will queue up another hold to start a day later. 🙂 I hope to be on the road by 7:30-8:00 AM. I will have our new SPOT device in the truck and in tracking mode to update an online map approximately every ten minutes. The link to track our trip is: https://maps.findmespot.com/s/W459

We are so looking forward to getting back on the road again and our Spring trip will be a big one because we are going all the way from home in Florida to Death Valley in California.

Our plan is to leave home early the morning of Feb. 28, 2022 and head west on I-10 all the way to San Antonio, TX where we will head toward Del Rio and up to Langtry, TX for a night or two (I want to see the Judge Roy Bean saloon/court and the museum). Then it’s off to Poncho Via State Park in Columbus, NM (where Poncho Via invaded the USA in 1916) for a couple of nights. Then to Death Valley via a slight detour northeast from Las Vegas to drive (and probably camp one night) the Extraterrestrial Highway (goes by or near Area 51) then back down to Death Valley on or around Mar. 14th. Then after a few days there we will head back to Tucson, AZ to attend the FMCA Tucson RV convention from 3/21 to 3/27 (although me may leave a day early). From there up to Moab, UT to camp in the desert with our son Jimmy and his wife for a few days. From there we plan to go to Chaco Canyon in NW New Mexico and from there we will probably start working our way back toward Florida. Big trip!

I will be doing daily or at least near daily updates (depending on cellular coverage) to this blog post to include pictures and some videos.

Our approximate itinerary through Moab

Our approximate calendar through Moab

Here is a video of our first campfire of the year from our short trip up to Crooked River State Park in southeast Georgia last week.

Latest update posts will be on top.

Upcoming 2021 Summer/Fall Trip

We are planning another epic trip that will begin August 11, 2021 and end sometime in September.

This trip was completely canceled after I was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in my right ureter and the required subsequent tests and surgeries.

8/12/2021 Update: It now looks like this trip is completely off, at least for the foreseeable future. My surgery did not go as planned this morning. The ureter from my right kidney to the bladder was too small for the doctor to get the scope up through it to the kidney, so he put in a temporary stent to gently open it up. In two weeks we do the entire process again. He made it pretty clear today he believes the soft tissue mass is probably cancerous, but a very non-aggressive form. He will get a biopsy in a couple of weeks and we will go from there. Obviously this is not the outcome we wanted, but it is what it is and we will deal with it the best we can.

8/11/2021 Update: Another trip postponement. We were planning to leave this coming Saturday (8/14/21), but I am now scheduled to have surgery to open up my blocked right kidney, biopsy the soft tissue growth blocking it from draining and a stent put in tomorrow (8/12/21). Assuming this all goes well, as expected, I am scheduled for a follow up doctor visit a week later. So, at the least we have to cancel our camping reservation at Niagara Falls. We now hope to go to Niagara Falls after we go to Maine. I will update here as we get our schedule revised.

7/30/2021 Update: The celebration of life for our SIL’s Father has been canceled I guess because of COVID resurgence fears. Because of some doctor appointments for me and our dog Sugar Belle we have made some changes to our travel plans. I have stage 3 CKD and it has gotten somewhat worse, so my Internist has me scheduled at a Urologist and probably more tests will result. Sugar Belle has some heart issues that resulted in a visit to a cardiologist and more medications for her. As a result the reservations at Falling Waters SP in Florida on 8/11/2021 and the four nights at Lake Lowndes SP near Columbus, MS starting 8/12/2021 have been canceled. Our plan now is to leave home on 8/14 or 8/15/2021 and take 4-5 days to get to our reservation at the KOA Niagara Falls/Grand Island for two nights starting 8/18/2021. From there we go to Oswego, NY and Bar Harbor, ME. Stay tuned.

First we will head to the Columbus, MS area for four nights (reservations made at Lake Lowndes SP) to attend a celebration of life for our son-in-law’s Father on 8/14. After that we are heading to Niagara Falls for a couple of nights. Jeri has never been there. Then to Oswego, NY for a total of five nights; two in her cousin’s driveway and three in the Sunset RV Park right beside Lake Ontario where we have reservations). Departing there we will travel through New Hampshire and Vermont to the Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, Maine area for some length of time before heading back toward home.

We hope to add the following states to our RV camping map. Ohio, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and West Virginia. This will increase the total states we have camped in our RV to, I believe 36, plus 3 Canadian provinces: Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.

So, set your calendar to follow along.

2021 Spring Western Trip

Latest posts on top. Scroll down for earlier posts. Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button and the new post notifications button below to follow along.

Epilogue: Vicki and Jeri went out fridge shopping the next day and it comes Tuesday. Very expensive, but had WiFi so we can monitor it when away. Came home from the eye doctor this morning and this guy was sitting out front and asked if he could take the old fridge. I said it really stinks and he said he didn’t care; he wanted to get the scrap metal to sell. I told him to take it and he and his wife/girlfriend or whatever loaded it onto a small trailer and hauled it away.

Our total trip covered just over 5,100 miles. Great time! Our two youngest grandsons spent the night with us last night, so this morning I put them to work carrying stuff from the trailer into the house. Good workers. A couple more things to do in the morning then I hope to tow the Montana back to storage for a well earned rest.

Oh, I managed to fix our microwave today. Did a little web and YouTube research, then found the main 20 amp fuse in the microwave had blown. I guess this is a fairly common problem with microwaves. I replaced the fuse and it works fine again!!

One other thing we learned on this trip: our 17” Blackstone griddle disappointed us greatly when we tried to use it on a chilly, windy day. It simply would not get hot enough to work well. We pretty much ruined a pricy piece of steak trying. So, we are pretty sure the Blackstone will be replaced by our previous Weber Q1200 grill on future trips.

5/8/2021 Day 32: We have around 400 miles to home to cover today, so after dumping all the tanks for the last time we were on the road just after 9:00 AM and arrived home about 5:30 PM to a horrible mess!!

After getting the trailer situated in our driveway, no easy task, Jeri went in the house and came right back out to advise me that at some point while we were away our kitchen refrigerator had died! The smell from the freezer was awful! Rotting meat, maggots and flies!! She stayed out of the house while I had the very unpleasant task of emptying the fridge and freezer into multiple garbage bags. She managed to find a friend of ours to come help me get the 300+ pound fridge out of the house. Damn this thing smelled really bad! Welcome home

5/7/2021 Day 31: We left again this morning around 10:00 and did another 300+ miles to Blackwater River SP east of Pensacola, FL, so we are back in Florida, at least. I had managed to book their last available site (an ADA site) last night. The ranger called me this morning and told me the normal road from I-10 to the park was underwater and he was emailing me directions to come in a different way. The directions were pretty confusing, so when we got to Milton, FL we called him and he stayed in the phone with us for quite awhile until we were all satisfied we were going the right way. Because of all the rain recently the river had flooded out the road. Jeri made us a small campfire while I set up the rig for the night and we both slept pretty soundly.

5/6/2021 Day 30: We dumped our gray tanks and left the KOA around 9:00 AM. We got in line with the truckers at a Blue Beacon truck wash because the trailer is a filthy mess outside and the front is covered with mashed Love Bugs. We’ve never used Blue Beacon before, but I have read many good reviews about them from other RV’ers, so thought we would give it a try. But after waiting about a half hour and the line had not progressed they came around to tell all of us in line they had equipment failure, so had everyone just drive through and leave. We headed down I-49 toward Lafayette, LA where we would take I-10 east. We stopped at a different Billy’s Boudin Ball and got some balls for lunch. Love these things! Then we headed east to Hammond, LA and pulled into a long line of trucks at another Blue Beacon. We were there around an hour and a half and I had both the truck and trailer washed for $52 ( and I tipped them an additional $20), but they did a good job and everything is clean and pretty again! YEAY!! Jeri managed to get us a last minute reservation at the Reunion Lake RV Resort. Very nice with lots of amenities, but pricy at $78 a night. They assigned us to site 98. The first thing I usually do before setting up for the night is use a contactless voltage tester to test the power pedestal wiring and wouldn’t you know it the pedestal was messed up. I called and they sent some young guy to check it out. I showed him the problem and took him over to the next unoccupied site and did the tests again to show him what it should be. He agreed and went over and took the cover off the bad pedestal and twinkled around with the wiring a bit and said everything looked fine. I tested it again and while whatever he did pulling on wires or whatever it appeared to be okay, but flaky, so they agreed we could move to site 97.

Reunion Lake

Jeri really likes this place and wants to come back for a few days. We had a restful night after over 300 miles.

5/5/2021 Day 29: Busy driving day today. It was not real fun towing through the Dallas/Fort Worth area, but we made it unscathed and headed on to Shreveport, LA, where we spent the night at the KOA on the west side of Shreveport. Nothing much special about it or the evening to write about. We are pretty much into getting back home mode now. Our microwave/convection oven went totally dead this evening when Jeri was using it!! Darn!!

5/4/2021 Day 28: We did get some rain late last night (after midnight), but not a lot and no thunderstorm. The light rain on the roof kind of lulled me to sleep. It was mostly dried up by the time we got up. I made coffee, turned up the heat to warm the place up a bit and woke Jeri up around 8:30 AM. We dumped the tanks and finally rolled out of the park at 10:30 AM. There were bison there to see us off. 🙂

We only traveled 260 miles today to Possum Kingdom SP near Caddo, TX (west of Fort Worth). Boy, talk about out in the middle of nowhere!! We managed to book a site here late last night. Got here around 4:00 PM. Pretty lake and nice campground. We are backed up to the lake.

We had BLTs for dinner. We have decided on a pretty direct route from here to home; down to I-20, then east on I-20 through Dallas to Shreveport, LA, then down I-49 to Lafayette, LA and I-10, then east on I-10 to JAX and I-95 to Palm Coast. I booked a campsite at a KOA Journey on the west side of Shreveport for tomorrow night (~320 miles). The slog home begins…😩

5/3/2021 Day 27: Full day today at Caprock. What a difference a day makes! Today’s high was in the mid-60s! Sure felt great after yesterday. We went into the very small town of Quitaque, TX. Filled up with diesel and Jeri bought a few grocery items in the one little grocery store. We drove down into the canyons to sightsee. Lots of bison all over the place, but this trip none meandered through our campsite. Rain and thunderstorms predicted here tonight. We saw a tragic thing today while watching a small herd of bison late this morning. A very young cafe was attempting to eat a empty bottle of water!! It just kept going further into its mouth. We reported it to the lady at the visitor center who took notes of where we witnessed it. She said she would have a ranger check it out, but I have no idea what they could do. There were several small calves and there was no way to ID a particular one. If the calf did manage to swallow the bottle I am sure it will suffer a slow painful death. So sad!! Please ditch the damn throwaway water bottles or be extremely careful with their disposal. Around dusk we went for another bison watching drive and while going by the small lake we saw many bison coming down the hill and they broke into a run when they saw the water. It was really neat watching them water! I will post video of this on my YouTube channel (see below for the link).

Jeri and I shared a small ribeye steak, baked potato and spinach for dinner.

Our campsite (Honey Flats 007)
Every campsite has a small shelter
Bison watering
A calf like this one ate a water bottle!!
Large herd of bison behind me

5/2/2021 Day 26: We both got up a bit earlier this morning and rolled out of the NRA Whittington Center around 9:30 AM this morning headed to our next two-nighter at Caprock Canyons SP at Quitaque, Texas, 320 miles away. The two Pronghorn greeters were near the entrance to say goodbye to us.

It seemed like it took us a very long time to get to Caprock. Not sure why because we had very light traffic all day and no major cities to pass through. We did lose an hour when we crossed into Texas and entered the Central Time Zone. We also took about an hour detour to visit the Capulin Volcano National Monument. It blew 60,000 years ago and there are huge chunks of lava rock scattered for miles. Visitors can drive all the way to the top of the rim, but to do so we would have had to drop the trailer in the parking lot. The nice lady Ranger suggested it, but we passed this time.

Capulin Volcano in north New Mexico

We arrived at Caprock around 5:30 PM and the check in office was closed, but since we already have a reserved site we went there and set up. HOT!!!!!! 99° when we got here and we were only able to reserve a 30 amp campsite, so we can only run one of our two air conditioners.

We saw a couple of these beside the road on our way to our campsite

In case you missed it from our visit here in 2019, one of the unique things about Caprock other than the canyons is the Bison—they have free run of the entire park, including the campground! We had them all around our trailer in 2019 and I walked out of the trailer just after daylight with my coffee and one was bedded down under a tree less than 20’ away! We just never know where they may be, so have to be careful, especially going outside after dark.

Jeri spotted this big boy not far from our trailer

We ate a light dinner this evening because of the heat. Jeri had some warmed up leftover chili and I had chili and a cheeseburger. It cooled off quite a bit after the sun went down, thank goodness!

5/1/2021 Day 25: Special Note: In case anyone is having problems viewing the videos below I have also posted them up to my YouTube channel. Here is the link: https://youtube.com/channel/UClalNYcMO1qQXzQ1elSPGGw

5/1/2021 Day 25: Beautiful day again today; warm during the day and cool at night. We went into Raton for dinner at Mulligans. Jeri was a bit disappointed because the dinner she wanted was not available on their greatly reduced “Covid” menu. I had a huge chicken fried steak and it was very good. The fried okra side dish was some of the best I e ever eaten. After dinner we bought a few more groceries and took them back to the trailer, then drove around some of the center’s roads. Saw lots of Pronghorns and mule deer. They love this place, too. After dark we drove out to the main entrance and shot video of all the flags lit up. Very pretty! Bad signal where we are right now, but will post more pictures and video when we get better signal.

Our campsite 96 in the west campground

On one of our returns from town a couple of Pronghorn were there to greet us as we turned into the Whittington Center.

Whittington Center greeters

I truly love this place. Everyone is very friendly. The views are gorgeous and the wildlife is everywhere!

4/30/2021 Day 24: Beautiful day today. Warm in the sunshine, cool in the shade, light breeze. Jeri is not feeling real great today—has some lower abdominal pain.

We stopped at Whittington’s visitor center and spent some time in their fantastic firearm history museum. They have some famous guns there. One was the Colt Peacemaker owned and carried by the famous outlaw Black Jack Ketchum! He was hung. Shopped a bit and Jeri bought a fridge magnet. Got back to the Montana and found the identical magnet already on the fridge. LOL

We drove into Raton, did some grocery shopping and sort of toured the town. It is not very large. I also filled up my diesel tank.

We managed to score two nights at Caprock Canyons SP in Texas, but since they are for May 2nd and 3rd (Sunday and Monday) and it is only a bit over three hundred miles from here to there I booked another night here.

The videos below are fairly long and take a little bit to load, so please be patient.

The drive into the beautiful Whittington Center
These Pronghorns greeted us at the entrance
This where the famous Santa Fe trail crossed through what is now the Whittington Center. The “scout” was modeled by Charlton Heston
Visitor Center & Museum
The drive into the West Campground and our campsite. This is about as crowded (not) as we have ever seen it

Jeri made some delicious chili for dinner tonight. We saw several more deer around our campsite, but the dogs went kind of nuts.

4/29/2021 Day 23: Billy and Jimmy came to our campsite and hung out for dinner and the campfire. Billy brought three bundles of wood and we burned all three. It was chilly. Jeri made two different pasta dishes and they were delicious.

From left: Jimmy, Bill & Billy

We left Chatfield SP about 10:30 AM and drove the 220 miles to the NRA Whittington Center just south of Raton, NM, arriving about 4:00 PM. The drive down was uneventful and crossing Raton Pass was fun. We checked into the West Campground, site #96 for two nights. Pretty windy and cooled off in the evening. We saw lots of Pronghorn and Mule Deer. The deer wander all through the campground.

4/28/2021 Day 22: 11:20 AM: We came over to Parker this morning to pick up Granddaughter Sofie for some shopping and lunch. This is our last day in Colorado 😩 After lunch we will take Sofie back home then go back to the trailer. I need to get the almost empty passenger side 30 lb Propane tank refilled this afternoon because it is almost empty.

It rained lightly all night and was still raining this morning, but is starting to clear up now (it is supposed to). Temperature was 39° this morning and is only up to 40° now. Supposed to get into the 50s this afternoon.

Tomorrow we will travel 220 miles south for two nights at the NRA Whittington Center campground. We’ve enjoyed our previous two stays there, but have never gone into Raton, so plan to this time. From there I am not sure where we are going. We were thinking of a five star resort RV campground down in the Big Bend area of Texas, but it appears temperatures are hitting around 💯° down there, so will probably swing back down to the Texas Hill Country and begin making our way back home.

Last Campfire in Colorado

4/27/2021 Day 21: This morning Billy took Jeri to Parker to get her hair done. I hung around camp and did some minor maintenance on the trailer, walked the dogs, did some dishes, etc., until she called to say she was ready. I drove to Parker and picked her up and we came back to the trailer for a bite of lunch. It rained a little over Parker way, so my nice clean truck is not quite so clean. Weather report for tonight is rain and possibly some snow. It briefly rained hard about 5:00 PM. We went to Hacienda Colorado to meet Jim and Rachel at 6:00 PM for dinner. The place was really crowded and busy for a Tuesday evening, but the food and Margaritas were good. Rained lightly all the way there and back. Rain is always welcome in normally dry Colorado. Temperature was 42° per the truck’s display when we got to the trailer. Jimmy came and hung out awhile.

4/26/2021 Day 20: This morning I booked one more night here at Chatfield in the same campsite, so we will now depart Thursday morning, the 29th instead of Wednesday morning. I also booked us for two nights, Thursday and Friday nights (29th and 30th) at the NRA Whittington Center just south of Raton, NM. While I am a Patron level NRA Life Member in the NRA campers do not have to be NRA members to use the campground and shooting facilities. They do not even ask if you are a NRA member. This is a very nice campground and in the two previous times we have camped there the campgrounds (two) were not crowded at all. As I said, there are two separate campgrounds, East and West. We have stayed in both. Most sites are full hook up, level, roomy and quiet. Yes, you can occasionally hear gunshots on the shooting ranges, but the ranges are far enough away that it is not loud and shooting normally stops at sundown. If any of you are on I-25 and traveling through this area we highly recommend this facility. If you want to check out the facility online go to www.nrawc.org.

Campsite D175
Campsite D175
Campsite D175

Jeri made a delicious Italian pasta dinner after we went to the grocery store for a few items. Billy, Jimmy and Rachel came for dinner and we had a nice campfire. Went to bed around 11:00 PM. Billy spent the night.

Jeri, Rachel, Billy, Jimmy
Big full “Pink Moon”
Jeri and her boys

I apologize for the lack of updates over the past ten days, but part of the time at least we did not have much of a signal. Below I have provided ten days of updates to catch up. You may want to scroll down to 4/14/2021 Day 8 and start catching up. .

4/25/2021 Day 19: Today was not real eventful. Billy and Sofie spent the night with us and we all slept in this morning. We fired up our small Blackstone griddle and made bacon, eggs and pancakes on it for brunch. Jeri, Billy and Sofie went to a movie this afternoon while I relaxed at camp with the dogs. Beautiful day here at Chatfield SP, but the wind came up with some pretty good gusts for a few hours. After the movie they went to PHO99 (Vietnamese restaurant) for some Pho and Jeri called me to come pick her up so Billy did not have to drive back to camp. This being Sunday a lot of rigs left this morning and we thought for a bit that we would pretty much have to place to ourselves, but new campers started coming in this afternoon and the place is pretty full again. Jeri and I went for a nice walk this evening and saw several Mule deer. We watched a little TV and went to bed a bit after 10:00 PM.

4/24/2021 Day 18: Pretty busy day today. One of the camp hosts stopped by and chatted for quite a while and I got some good intel on where to get propane and a car wash that could handle our one ton truck. While Jeri stayed at camp and did some trailer cleaning I took one of our 30 lb. propane tanks to Murdock’s Ranch and Farm Supply and while it was being filled I did some shopping for a mop, squeegee or something to clean the windows, at least, on the trailer and a few other items. Then I filled up the truck with diesel fuel and ran it through a car wash to get some of the muck off it from yesterday’s drive. When I got back and started filling a bucket to wash the trailer windows one of our neighbors stopped by (a single older man) and he talked a long time. While he talked all about his recent hospital visit and procedure for kidney stones Jeri got most of the windows on the trailer somewhat clean. I did some further rinsing after the neighbor left and while they are streaked at least we can see out of them. I attempted to find a mobile RV wash, but wow! These people want $250 and up just to wash a fifth wheel trailer! I’m hoping we can find a Blue Beacon truck wash at a truck stop; they will wash the trailer for less than $50. We had a nice campfire tonight, burning three bundles of firewood that we got at the grocery store. Billy and a Sofie came for dinner and will spend the night. Dinner was Billy’s Boudin Balls and Cracklins boudin stuffed pork chops and potatoes. Wow, Sofie has really grown up! She is thirteen. So wonderful to see everyone again!

4/23/2021 Day 17: We went to the grocery store this afternoon and Jeri was hungry before we went in and got a Mexican dinner at a tamale shop that we shared. Pretty good.

4/22/2021 Day 16: What a day!! After a pleasant overnight at the very nice KOA campground in Silt, CO we got on the road to Chatfield SP south of Denver around 9:00 AM.

Jeri overlooking the Colorado River
Jeri & Bill

We wanted to fill up with diesel this morning at the fuel station next to the KOA, but it turns out they are completely out of diesel and waiting for a tanker to refill their tank/s. Several RVs and trucks were waiting. While I had enough diesel fuel in the tank to make it we were somewhat fearful of getting into delays caused by some possible severe weather in the mountains (Colorado Rockies) like Jim and Rachel did yesterday evening, so we filled up with fuel in Eagle, CO. We ran into light snow as we got higher in altitude, but nothing bad at all. Until. We. Started. Up. Vail Pass!! (10,666’) Wow! We were following behind a semi-truck and about a third of the way up to the pass the snow was falling heavily and the highway (I-70) conditions were incredibly bad, with 6” or more of snow and very slick. Keep in mind we are towing over seven tons of trailer. It got so bad that I felt our rear truck tires start to spin a bit, so I very quickly shifted into four-wheel drive (thankful that we have it) and had no further traction issues. Traffic was moving at another 5-10 mph. We saw a SUV on its side on the side of the road and a motorcycle (I am pretty sure it was a Honda ST1300 like I used to have) on its side a few feet away. I have no earthly idea why a rider would have been in that mess other than for the same reason we were—conditions went from fine to terrible very quickly.

Road conditions going east up to Vail Pass. This was just before it got really bad.

Once we reached the summit of Vail Pass the conditions improved and going down the other side was no problem at all. In fact it was sunny and we could see a few people skiing at Copper Mountain as we drove by.

Copper Mountain ski resort

We were kind of concerned about what the weather might be like going up the Ike (the road from Silverthorne up to the Eisenhower Tunnel), so we stopped in a parking lot in Silverthorne to sort of regroup. It was snowing while a bit here, but stopped. Jeri walked over to a nearby Chipotle for a burrito while I checked road conditions and traffic cams. It all looked doable without a lot of problems, so we headed up the Ike. Traffic was moving just fine and the rest of the trip to Denver and Chatfield SP was uneventful. Our trailer brakes continue to work fine after yesterday’s repair. We arrived at Chatfield around 2:00-2:30 PM and checked in. We were all set up in campsite D175 by 3:00 PM. Jimmy came by and hung out awhile with us and Jeri made Pasta Fazul for dinner.

4/21/2021 Day 15: Jeri and I broke camp and rolled out around 9:30-10:00 AM. Jim and Rachel will head home sometime this afternoon. We dumped our waste tanks at the free dump at the Colorado Welcome Center Rest Area in Fruita, CO. Busy place. Jeri called the KOA in Silt, CO and made a reservation for tonight and inquired about a recommendation for a mobile RV tech. They provided us with a name (Lawrence) and phone number. I called and left a message. About the time we were going through Grand Junction he called back, said he could get to us within a couple of hours and recommended an exit and place to park (Murdock’s) to wait for him. We did as he suggested. Jeri went in to shop at Murdock’s and went to Popeye’s for chicken sandwiches (the spicy chicken sandwich is very good and very spicy!). Lawrence showed up about 20 minutes after we got there and found some flaky looking wiring connections and fixed them. I tried the brakes and we still had a problem (no trailer brakes and a “trailer wiring fault” message displayed on the F-350’s display screen. His next step was to pull the driver side rear axle wheel and hub and there was the problem—one of the wires going to the brake magnet had a large bare spot where it had been rubbing on the hub. He fixed that and our problem was resolved. Cost: $185 Very nice to have working trailer brakes again, especially when in the Colorado Rockies!

We had a short, pleasant run to the KOA in Silt, CO and set up camp mod-afternoon. Not much to setting up camp for a one-nighter. Beautiful campground right beside the Colorado River. We did a short hike to the river. Jeri saw a couple of deer. These KOA campground owners and staff obviously take a lot of pride in their very clean and well-kept facility. They were very friendly. We highly recommend this campground.

Blue dot is our campsite at the KOA
Very nice KOA in Silt

Jim and Rachel finally made it home late tonight. They ran into slippery, snowy roads and a wreck that caused them a long delay just east of Idaho Springs because a semi had jack-knifed in the snow on I-70 and the road was closed and traffic was being diverted. We wonder what we may run into tomorrow!

4/20/2021 Day 14: Extremely windy last night!! It must have been blowing gusts of 50 mph or more. At 2:00 AM I got up and closed all three slides on the trailer. Much less noise with them closed up and feeling more secure we went back to sleep. This evening we had dinner at Rachel’s favorite place in Moab, Pasta Jay’s. It was pretty good. I had the Tortellini Alfredo with chicken and could only eat about half of it before getting full. This being our last night in the desert we had a big campfire and Rachel’s brother and all came out to enjoy their last night in Moab. Jeri and I went to bed a little after 10:00 PM and Jim ended up going through four bundles of wood before they all called it a night. Tomorrow we head to Denver and Chatfield SP. Jim and Rachel will drive it in one day while Jeri and I will take two days so we arrive at Chatfield on the 22nd, the first day of our reservation.

Jeri at Pasta Jay’s
Jim & Rachel at Pasta Jay’s

4/19/2021 Day 13: Another day in the desert. Probably went into town. Moab is such a popular place and is very crowded. Traffic on the main thoroughfare is very slow and they are doing road improvements on the north side, restricting traffic to one lane in and out and traffic really backs up.

4/18/2021 Day 12: Jeri and I went into Moab today. Had lunch at the Moab Brewery. Jeri got her favorite chili rellano (sic). She says this is her favorite place for them. We noticed their menu was much smaller than normal (probably due to Covid). I was disappointed they no longer had Poutine on the menu. 😩 But I did have a huge delicious cheeseburger. This, being Sunday, meant almost all of the other campers we could see were heading home, so we pretty much have the entire place to ourselves. Yeay!!

4/17/2021 Day 11: Beautiful day, but windy. Jim and Rachel went mountain biking with her brother and his two sons and girlfriend who are vacationing in Moab. Jeri and I mostly hung around camp. Several campers around. Watched a three young boys build a bike jump and use it. They were having a lot of fun. Encountered a small problem with our freshwater system. The pump runs abnormally long and it seems we are already about out of water. Not sure how this could be because I filled the 67 gallon tank the morning we left Monticello. Jim took the six gallon jug we carry and will fill it with spring water. (I figured out a few days later the problem was operator (me) caused—when I filled the tank in Monticello I had left the valve in fill mode instead of normal mode.)

Rachel, a veterinarian, checked out Sugar’s paw and could not find anything stuck in it, but there is still some inflammation between the pads, so she applied some steroid ointment and left it with us to apply over the next few days. Thanks, Rachel!

Our two trailers in the desert
Evening campfire in the desert

4/16/2021 Day 10: Today we traveled a fairly short distance of about 200 miles up to Moab, UT. Moab was very busy! People everywhere. We rolled on through and another thirteen mile north up to BLM 142 (Klondike road) then spent about 45 minutes negotiating 2.9 miles of very rough backcountry road to find the campsite Jim had wanted us to stay at was already packed with campers. We turned around and drove about a half mile back to another nice large campsite we had passed. Plenty of room for our trailer and Jim’s. I sent him the coordinates, but it was difficult because the cell signal is almost non-existent here. It was a chilly evening. Jimmy and Rachel left Denver around 6:00 PM and will arrive late. They arrived at 12:30 AM. I got up and looked out to see Jim setting up their trailer in the chilly wind and went back to our warm bed. We’ll see them in the morning.

4/15/2021 Day 9: We left Bluewater SP at 8:30 this morning. Uneventful night, but cold and very windy all night. We stayed warm and cozy in the Montana though.

Drove the 50 or so miles to Gallup, NM and filled up with diesel, then we headed north on 491 up through the Navajo Nation (all the way to Colorado). Traffic wasn’t too bad this morning, but the wind was really bad all day. We stopped at the Colorado welcome sign and had sandwiches Jeri made.

In Ute country we stopped at a casino so Jeri could play for a bit.

250 miles today. We arrived at the Mountain View RV Park around 3:00 this afternoon and it was cold and very windy. We hooked up the electricity just in time—it started snowing! Temperature was 36°. The snow stopped pretty quickly and the sun came out, but a very dark cloud was rolling over the mountains headed our way.

The view from our window

A few minutes later it started snowing like crazy, blowing sideways. We could not even see the mountains.

Hard to see the snow blowing sideways.

Jeri made goulash for dinner and it really hit the spot. The temperature is now 31° at 9:00 PM, but it’s predicted to get down in the 20s tonight. We are both wishing we had brought our down jackets! Its pretty cold for us Floridians.

We started having erratic trailer brakes late yesterday and it was worse today. I think the problem is a loose wire inside the electric box on the king pin where the pigtail from the truck plugs in, so I will do some troubleshooting tomorrow and hopefully fix the problem.

4/14/2021 Day 8: Fairly chilly night last night, around 50°. Had the heat pump set to 66, but I don’t think it ever came on. We left the park around 10:00 AM after Jeri took a shower.

Our Sugar Belle started limping on her left front paw yesterday and was really licking it. I couldn’t find anything in it, but the skin between her pads was licked pretty raw. This morning, while Jeri held her I used a flashlight to look really well for anything stuck in there, but didn’t see anything. I worked some Triple Antibiotic Ointment into the areas between her pads and kept her from licking it off and later she seems to be walking better.

After leaving the park we headed into Roswell (nope, did not see any aliens) and I filled up with diesel at an Alsups station. Jeri went inside and came back with stuffed fried burritos for breakfast. We took US285 north up to Cline’s Corner at the junction of US285 and I-40, where we stopped so Jeri could shop a bit while I walked and watered the dogs. We’ve been through here several times in every direction, so we are very familiar with Cline’s Corner and always stop for a bit.

From here we took I-40 west. Getting low on diesel we stopped at a TA truck stop in Albuquerque and filled up with both diesel and DEF fluid.

West of Albuquerque we stopped at a place we discovered by accident on our 2019 Spring Trip, the Indian Arts Center in Pueblo Laguna. We didn’t stop for the art. We stopped for the stuffed tacos fry bread. The tacos have have a sublime flavor and we were really looking forward to eating them again.

Yeah, baby!!! Stuffed fry bread tacos!!

While good, they were not as sublime as we remembered. Maybe we had built them up in our minds or maybe because two years ago a man was making them, but now he works in Albuquerque and his Mother is making them. Oh well, as Jeri said, a trip bucket list item checked off. Worth the stop.

We rolled into Bluewater SP, about 50 miles east of Gallup, NM a little before 5:00 PM. I-40 had very heavy traffic and backups for road work. We found our campsite, but it is one of those that sits parallel with the road and it was on our wrong side (driver side), so we turned around and went the wrong way on a one way road a couple of hundred yards and pulled in. Very unleveled site! We are booked here for two nights, but Jeri immediately said she did not want to spend two nights here, so we left the trailer hooked to the truck and I leveled the trailer the best I could. It’s very windy! No hookups at all here. Supposed to get down into the mid-30s tonight. Other than the level issue I think this is a very pretty campsite. Great view of the canyon. Lots of spruce and evergreen trees.

View of the canyon
Our campsite (#25 Canyonside loop)

Jeri got on the phone and booked the next two nights at a FHU RV park in Monticello, UT, 243 miles from here, so fairly short drive tomorrow. On the plus side, it will allow us to get to Moab fairly early Saturday with empty waste tanks and full freshwater and find the boondocking spot Jimmy wants us to stay in, although they won’t arrive with their trailer until late Saturday night.

It’s a little after 9:00 PM as I write this update. After a dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup Jeri is watching her current favorite Netflix show (Good Girls) on her iPhone.

Oops, I put a little more Triple Antibiotic Ointment on Sugar’s paw about 45 minutes ago and she must have licked it because she just threw up! Yuck, but it was just liquid, so not that much of a mess. Poor baby!

Still very windy; outside temp down to 61°.

4/13/2021 Day 7: Rolled out of San Angelo SP around 9:30 AM after dumping all the waste tanks. Good drive to Bottomless Lake SP a few miles east of Roswell, NM. 330 miles. Arrived just before 4:00 PM. Very nice state park.

Our Montana is the upper most trailer in the center
Jeri made a delicious Southwest style chicken dinner

After the great dinner we watched some TV until pretty late before going to bed. We typically use a Roku device on our TV to stream programs using primarily a AT&T hotspot device or if no good AT&T signal we use our Verizon Mi-Fi device as the WiFi source via cellular.

4/12/2021 Day 6: This is our last day at San Angelo SP. We have really gotten to like San Angelo. This morning we toured Fort Concho, a fort that was active during the Indian wars and one of many forts located in Texas before and after the Civil War. The city of San Angelo owns the fort (approximately 40 acres) and have done a marvelous job of restoration. Several of the buildings can be toured and have interesting displays of life at the fort in the 1870s and 1880s.

One of the barracks for enlisted men
Officers Quarters
Inside a enlisted men barracks
Very interesting display of telephone history located in one of the officers quarters buildings
Five Medal Of Honor winners during the Indian wars

After visiting the (free today for some reason) fort we went to Eggemeyer’s General Store, kind of a throwback to the old time general stores. Interesting place. We made a few purchases.

Another shop Jeri went in with a soda fountain

Then we went to lunch at Miss Hattie’s Cafe and Saloon across the street. Pretty good.

Bill & Jeri at Miss Hattie’s

After lunch we stopped at a jewelry store so Jeri could see and maybe shop for a Concho pearl, a very rate freshwater pearl that naturally come in some different colors. Yes, she bought a very beautiful Concho pearl set in diamonds ring.

We found out last night that son Billy has been sick for a couple of weeks and was diagnosed (tested positive) with Covid, but the doctor told him he thought he was past the timeline for getting seriously ill.

After getting back to the trailer we planned our route up to Moab, UT and managed to score a couple of state parks in New Mexico. Tomorrow night we will be in Bottomless Lake SP just east of Roswell, NM and the next two nights we are booked at Bluewater SP just east of Gallup, NM. This could get chilly because the SP is at 7,600 feet elevation and Gallup is predicted to get temps in the 20s those two nights. Good thing our fiver is four season rated!

Found out a few minutes ago son Donnie is having hernia surgery Friday.

Okay, I need to get some things done so we can get a fairly early start in the morning.

4/11/2021 Day 5: I slept in until a bit after 7:00 this morning. It got down to 50° overnight. Prior to going to bed I set the front heat pump to come on if the bedroom got down to 65° and the heat pump did start cycling in the early wee hours, so good sleeping! We lounged around most of the morning watching a lot of other campers packing up and heading out. We now pretty much have this whole area to ourselves. Yea!!

Around 11:30 we headed into San Angelo; first stop was the beautiful visitor center where a gentleman working there told us quite a bit about how great San Angelo is and things to do and see here. I also found out the lake (O C Fisher, same name as my Granddad!) is only 6% full!!

Since this is Sunday in Texas many things are closed today. We did go see the International Lili Pad Display, the largest number of species on display in one place in the world.

Jeri overlooking the lily pad ponds
Many different species of water lillies
I felt sorry for this little guy all alone, so took its picture

At this point since it was so hot (93°) and since some of the places we want to visit are closed today we decided to go for lunch at one of the top rated Mexican restaurants in San Angelo, Armenta’s. Small and nothing fancy about this place, but the food and service, even though the place was very busy, were both excellent!

After lunch we picked up a few groceries and things and headed back to the trailer in the almost deserted campground. Boy is it WINDY!! Time for a short nap. More later.

4/10/2021 Day 4: Short travel day today from Llano, TX to San Angelo SP; around 130 miles. Got very low on diesel fuel, down to 30 miles left according to the truck’s computer, so finally found diesel fuel in Brady, TX. Took on 26 gallons (tank holds 34 gallons), so 8 gallons or roughly around 70-80 miles actually left. This Shell station had the slowest diesel pumps I have ever seen; took forever to pump that 26 gallons. And it especially seemed even slower after being used to the big nozzle, fast diesel pumps at the truck stops.

Beautiful drive, up and down the hills through the countryside. Arrived at San Angelo SP around 2:15 PM and dumped our two gray water waste tanks at the dump on the way in. We are in campsite 32, 7 sites down from where we were during our Spring 2019 Western trip. Wide open camping with few trees, but several hundred feet between campsites.

Campsite 32 at San Angelo SP
Our flags

We cooked a couple of cheeseburgers Jeri got at Billy’s Boudin Balls & Cracklins (I didn’t care for the Cracklins) on the Blackstone griddle for an early dinner. Spicy burgers, but very good!

Several deer across the road from our campsite

A couple of hours before sundown we explored all the roads in the park in the truck. We ran across a small group of Javelinas (or Peccaries) and later a sow and one tiny piglet ran across the road in front of us, too quick for a picture. Here’s a video of the Javelina.

Small group of Javelina

We got back to camp about dark. Beautiful clear sky and lots of stars. Tomorrow we will explore San Angelo. Jeri has found some places she wants to see and I want to visit old Fort Concho and we’ll probably have a Mexican dinner somewhere.

Is anybody reading this blog? If so, please leave a comment.

Bonus photo: Bill enjoying a Boudin Ball. Yummmm!

4/9/2021 Day 3: Left the previous campground around 10:00 AM and stopped for the night just outside Llano, TX at the the Riverway RV Park (nothing special, but since the temperature is in the upper 90s we needed electricity for the two A/Cs). Before leaving this morning I managed to book a campsite at the San Angelo State Park just outside San Angelo, TX (duh) for three nights starting Saturday night, so stopping here at Riverway leaves us about only 140 miles to San Angelo SP tomorrow. It will be nice to just relax for a few days. We traveled about 327 miles today because highway TX71 was closed at some point and we got routed around on a more circuitous route. Oh well, those things happen. Driving through the Texas Hill Country is always nice and the Blue Bells are blooming. Getting through Houston and Austin was a bear!! The traffic was terrible and you always have a few assholes that drive too fast and cut in and out of slow moving traffic. They have no clue how hard it is to stop 12 tons of truck and trailer quickly! Speaking of traffic!! Traffic has been horrendous on just about every road we’ve been on, especially I-10!

4/8/2021 Day 2: 9:15 PM: Another busy day driving, 338 miles. We left Boomtown around 9:30 AM this morning and stopped here for the night at the Gulf Coast RV park just south of Beaumont, TX just before 6:00 PM (so around eight and a half hours of traveling. The high point was the lunch of Boudin Balls as mentioned below.

This is a pretty nice RV park that Jeri found us. We may stay through the weekend because it gets much more difficult to find openings on the weekend. Jeri made a great dinner tonight.

Chicken dinner
Campsite 9 at Gulf Coast RV Park

I’m tired. Think I will hit the rack. More tomorrow.

1:45 PM: Filled up with diesel fuel at the TA in Lafayette, LA a few minutes ago. Now we are at Billy’s Boudin Balls and Cracklins’ in Scott, LA; Jeri is inside getting some Boudin balls for lunch and some for the freezer. Beautiful day; not a cloud in the sky, but in the low 80s, so warm. Billy’s is very busy again this time.

I-12 and I-10 through Baton Rouge are still really rough and a lot of road construction coming into Lafayette. Other than those I-10 and I-12 were very smooth from Biloxi to Lafayette.

8:00 AM: A powerful thunderstorm rolled through this morning around 4:30 AM CDT. Lots of rain, thunder and lightning.

We had both A/Cs on and Jeri heard the furnace come on. At first I thought it was the neighbor’s furnace in the big class A, but when I got up to use the bathroom I realized it was ours. We had a battle of heating and cooling systems going on. 🤪

The new digital thermostats I installed have automatic switching between cooling and heating and somehow the living room system had been switched from just cooling to auto.

Interesting thing about our neighbor: I talked to him briefly yesterday evening. He is from Decatur, IL and camps at Wolf Creek State Park. He said they grocery shop in Windsor at Pedro’s. Small world.

4/7/2021: Day 1: Left home at 8:00 AM (EDT) this morning and stopped for the night at 6:00 PM (CDT), so 11 hours on the road today, 533 miles. We are camped tonight at the Boomtown Casino RV park in Biloxi, MS. Jeri is at the casino now. $37 for the night, FHU (Full Hook Ups), but we are only using power. No need to hook up to water and sewer for one night. This will more than likely be our longest day traveling on this trip. As usual I did not unhook the trailer from the truck for a one-nighter. $170 for diesel fuel today (3 stops)

Campsite 23 at Boomtown in Biloxi

4/5/2021: I got my second Moderna Covid vaccine shot this morning and my cataract surgeries are healing nicely. It sure is nice to only have to uses glasses for reading and to get to wear regular sunglasses again! Yea!!

The truck has been serviced and new tires put on, so it’s ready. I brought the fifth wheel home yesterday and sanitized the freshwater system and today we are packing the food, some additional clothes, etc. I am running it 100% from the lithium batteries and solar as a test and it’s doing great (good sunshine).

It fills one whole side length of our driveway.

We plan to leave Wednesday morning (4/7/2021). We will head up I-95 to Jacksonville, FL, then the plan (always subject to change) is to take I-10 west all the way to San Antonio, TX. From there we will continue west on US90 to near the Mexican border at Del Rio, TX (hoping to avoid all the border jumpers), then north on US377 and US277 to San Angelo, TX, then various roads up to Quitaque, TX where we hope to get a campsite at Caprock Canyons State park. We were there a few years ago and bison have the complete run of the park, including the campground!

This big old bull slept under the tree about 20′ from our trailer.

Not exactly sure where we’re going from there, but we may head to Moab and hook up with son Jimmy and his wife Rachel for a couple of days. There is a Navajo Indian Arts Center west of Albuquerque, NM on I-40 that makes the best Fry Bread Tacos that Jeri wants to stop at again, so if we go to Moab we will stop there. 🤪😁 We will probably try to stop a night or two along the way at a casino so Jeri can scratch her gambling itch. 😁😁

Our six day reservation at Chatfield State Park in Colorado starts 4/22/2021, so we plan to be there on time.

More updates, hopefully about everyday will be coming.

3/5/2021: Well phooey! I somewhat inadvertently ended up getting my first Covid vaccine shot (Moderna vaccine) on 3/3 and they scheduled my second (final) dose for 4/5. This, plus I am still dealing with issues with my left eye after getting cataract surgery on it on 1/26. While my right eye is now clear as can be and 20/20 the left eye is still a bit blurry and the surgeon has me scheduled to see his partner who is a corneal specialist on 3/16. The result of all the preceding is that we will not be leaving for our western trip the middle of March. Depending on the eye issue recommendations the earliest we can leave is around 4/6 or 7.

This means we will have to pretty much head straight to Colorado for our 4/22 reservation at Chatfield SP, after which we will bum around the Southwest for a couple of weeks or so before heading home. It will be getting too hot in Death Valley so going there is out for this trip. We have been talking about going to DV sometime next Winter.

2/28/2021: I did some additional research on Death Valley camping this morning and it appears the national park is now open for camping and there are some other places that we can boondock (free) even if the NP is closed for camping, so the plan at this time is to go to Death Valley. YEA!!

2/26/2021: It is going to be great to be back on the road with our fifth wheel trailer after many months of sitting at home. Jeri is in the middle of getting her covid vaccines and I just recently had cataract surgeries on both eyes and am still in the recovery stage.

I had to replace some of the weather cracked vinyl trim screw covers on the trailer and I had the wheel bearings serviced, along with new brake liners, shoes, etc. I also had the outside of the trailer washed and wax several weeks ago.

I do need to do a couple of things before we leave: 1) check all the roof seams and reseal with Dicor self-leveling sealant if necessary and 2) sanitize the fresh water system (I do this once a year).

In case you do not remember or did not know we use a 2018 Ford Lariat F-350 4×4 Crew Cab SRW SB Powerstroke diesel truck to tow a 2019 Keystone Montana 3121RL fifth wheel trailer. Here are a couple of pictures.

We currently have reservations for six nights at Chatfield State Park just south of Littleton, Colorado starting April 22, 2021 and plan to leave home sometime around the middle of March, depending on how my cataract surgeries are doing.

We originally were planning to work our way to Death Valley National Park, then work our easy through Nevada and spend some time in Utah, but if California still has everything shut down, including campgrounds, we will spend quite a bit of time down in the Big Bend area of south Texas before working our way up to Colorado. New Mexico State parks are still closed for camping, so probably will avoid it as much as possible this trip.

The plan is to bring the trailer home from our storage facility three or four days before we leave to do final system checks, maintenance (to include fresh water tank sanitizing) cleaning and load the groceries, etc.

From the left: Sugar Belle and Faith