The Travels of Jil and Mike

This is the post excerpt.


August, 2011

Jil and I have long histories of visiting wonderful places on this God given earth. Before we met Jil traveled, mainly by air to parts of Europe, Israel and numerous ski resorts located in the U.S.A. and Canada.

She had never been camping, you see. I had never left the U.S., nor flown for that matter (except in fire department helicopters), choosing instead to travel our great country with the aid of almost every type of mobile shelter known to man.

I introduced Jil to camping by taking her on short trips in my very old but functional 1973 Revcon 25′ class A motorhome. Jil fell in love with camping, but the old rig not so much. It was soon replaced with a travel trailer.

Constantly having to step over two large dogs lying on the very limited floor space of the travel trailer lead to a costly but welcome upgrade- a new truck to tow a new, more comfortable double slide 5th wheel. We wore that combination out and purchased  our second 5th wheel, a triple slide Heartland Big Country 3250TS, then a new truck to pull it up to Alaska and back. Three slides and we still step over the dogs! Oh well.

We started RVing in a Class A motorhome and will probably end our adventures in another one. Our rolling stock consists of a four slide Tiffin Allegro Red that’s short enough to be accepted into most state parks and a Subaru Forester toad. For our preferred method of travel it is ideal. We like to travel relatively short distances and only stay a couple of days in any one place. Set up for the motorhome is much quicker and more simple than a trailer and every convenience is inside our rolling home. One of the downfalls of towing a trailer in hot weather is no A/C running while in transit. That’s not a factor in the motorhome as we can run the A/C units with our generator as we travel.

The events of 9/11/2001 have soured us on air travel. We now travel almost exclusively with Jil as the copilot/navigator and moi as the pilot of 25,000 pounds worth of rolling stock. Scenic byways and country roads are preferred over interstate highways. We were both raised in large urban communities so visiting small towns is a treat. We like to meet those small town folk and visit the places they call home.

Houston, We Have A Problem!

Sunday, February 9, 2012

Remember this photo because Jil won’t be using her pickleball paddle for a while:

Back on January 30th Jil and three gal friends decided that they were going to put in some afternoon practice for the Palm Creek Pickleball tournament to be held the first week of February. All went well until Jil decided to chase a ball that probably wasn’t returnable. The result is pictured below:

Yep, she broke the radius bone right off of the wrist. A lady was kind enough to transport her back to our RV in her golf car. I saw her sitting in the car as it approached and the light bulb didn’t come on- until I saw her supporting a very deformed looking wrist.

She told me what happened. Of course ya just don’t break your wrist on a fall like that- she hurt her hip, her side, her shoulder as well as hitting her head on that fall. We decided to go to Banner Urgent Care located less than a mile from the park. We were there maybe an hour. X-rays were taken and Jil’s wrist was placed in a splint, her arm in a sling. We were told to contact the Orthopedic docs at the Banner Hospital complex in the morning.

Pickleball Injuries are similar to all active sport injuries. Even tennis pro Raphael Nadal can take a spill now and then.

Morning comes, the call was made- the Docs had access to the images of her wrist taken the evening before. Nope, we can’t fix it says the Ortho Doc. What? Understand that this group of Ortho Docs are the only game in town. Well, who then? Call Doc Myo in Chandler. He specializes in hands, wrists, etc.

We called Doc Myo’s office on Friday. Can’t see you until Monday, dear! Is your hand in a splint? Yes…… Do you have a sling? Yes……. OK, see you Monday! Sheesh! What about pain control? Orthopedic Docs usually say “It’s gonna hurt- suck it up Buttercup”. No pain control prescribed by any of the three Docs consulted.

OK, Jil is in a lot of pain. The urgent care Doc didn’t want to give her pain pills but would prescribe high strength Motrin. She has Motrin so why purchase more? Motrin helps calm the pain but it doesn’t help enough. Aha! Call a friend! Friend has had her share of injuries, maybe she has a few extra pain pills laying around. She has a few- but there are for her German Shorthair Pointer. We’ll take ‘um! Same med as for humans……. I make the round trip in short order and Jil has pain meds enough to last until her Monday doctor’s appointment. She has taken a couple of pills now- and no, she didn’t start barking……….nice try though……..

Monday’s appointment was in Chandler, a distance of 35 miles. Half of that is on I-10, the rest on rural country roads until we come into town. Then maybe eight miles through nice neighborhoods on a nice wide road. Once in the office we fill out 9, count ‘um, nine pages of paperwork. Jil’s writing hand is in a sling- guess who gets to fill out all those forms?

The bottom line from Doc Myo- you can elect not to have surgery but the function of the wrist will never be normal and it will deformed forever OR elect to have surgery, no more deformation and regain 90-95% of the function of the wrist. What do you want to do? Duhhh- lemmi think……… Surgery is scheduled for the next afternoon at the Gilbert SurgCenter just 4 miles from Doc Myo’s office. AND, he prescribed her pain meds.

When one travels with dogs a lot of concessions are made as to where, what and when we can visit and air temperature must be considered. We tried leaving Megan, our neurotic Lab with Jim and Connie on Monday with limited results, electing to bring our rambunctious Boxer put with us. She was not a happy camper nor were the Gales. Even so Jim was kind in offering help in the future if needed but we didn’t want to put him or Megan through another stressful day.

Tuesday we head to Gilbert taking both dogs. The weather is in the 50’s, there’s a park nearby where we can get some exercise while Jil undergoes surgery. Everything worked out as planned. The dogs got some exercise, the car never got too warm and I was able split my time with them and spending time with Jil in the recovery room.

The outcome- Jil’s surgery went well. We were back home at the RV five hours after we left. Jil is comfortable because she received a nerve block that numbed her entire right arm. Numbing the arm sounds great when intense pain is involved but that too has it’s hazards. If ya can’t feel it ya don’t know where it is! Her arm flopped out of bed and scrared her to death because she didn’t know what it was!

She is now in her fifth day of recovery. Her wrist is in a splint and wrapped heavily with an elastic bandage. The only things peaking out are her finger tips. She’s taken her arm out of the sling quite a few times in order to exercise her shoulder and elbow. She’s wiggling her fingers and thumb to keep the swelling down. She’s even taken doggie walks several times each day. Relearning how to open jars, remove bottle caps and just basic things one normally does (like dye one’s hair) with two hands is coming along. The good thing is she is managing the pain with only occasional doses of Motrin/pain killers.

If you know Jil she’s always doing too much too soon when in recovery and pays the price. Right now she’s spending more healing time relaxing and sleeping. Yay! And then she puts in 10,000 steps the next. Phooey. She mentioned to me when she starts to feel the least bit sorry for herself she recalls the ad on TV that shows our soldiers with missing limbs- blown off by IED’s in Iraq, all with positive attitudes-and she experiences an instant attitude adjustment. That ad should sober anyone……

By the way her wrist, her side, shoulder and head were not the only casualty. As has happened in the past when she receives anesthesia one of her crowns came off- never to be found again. We really don’t understand the dynamics of losing a crown because she was sent to LaLa Land, do you? So Monday we have an appointment with a dentist. Sigh…………….at 0700 hours…….. it’s still dark at 0700 hours here in Arid-zona………

COWBOY WISDOM: Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.

Life in a True RV Resort

Thursday February 6, 2020

Entrance to Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort
Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort, Casa Grande, AZ

Some of you are probably wondering about Arid-Zona’s weather this time of year. When we first arrived earlier this month we had ice on the car’s windshield in the morning. High temperatures were in the 50’s. That’s pretty much changed as the temps have gone up at night to near 40 degrees and highs approaching 70 degrees. We’ve had a good rain and a couple of showers. The weather is by in large pleasant but the wind can be chilling.

I took the liberty of copying the blurb below from Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort’s web page. The amenities here are impressive. Unlike many self proclaimed RV “resorts” this park truly is. With so many far ranging amenities one can stay busy what seems like forever. Like many have said “If you are bored it’s your fault”.



Resort living means golf and so much more at Palm Creek. There is a vast array of wonderful amenities to tempt you. Centrally located in the heart of the community is Guest Services, the Activities Center, the Ballroom, the Billiards Room, Fitness Center, the Arts and Crafts Building, the main Swimming Pool with a jumbo-sized Jacuzzi, The Bistro, Pro Shop, Fireside Patio and Laundry.

A new Sports Complex complete with a beautifully manicured softball field, sports pool, Jacuzzi, pickleball courts, and Sport Grill await your use in the east end of the resort.

Our onsite Activities Manager is available daily to help you join in the fun. You’ll find shuffleboard, billiards, horseshoes, water volleyball, softball, tennis and a putting green as well as water exercise, weight room, Yoga and Pilates.

Craft classes include pottery, sewing, quilting, oil and watercolor painting, woodshop and carving, lapidary, silversmith, stained glass, computer, crafts, monthly craft fairs featuring vendors from around the state. Palm Creek sponsors all kinds of dancing from Saturday night variety dancing to line dancing and pattern dancing.
Special parties, BBQ’s, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners, New Year’s Eve party, special entertainment and the Palm Creek Chorus and Drama Club will entertain you and spice up your social life!

If you like to play games, we have bridge, pinochle, cribbage, poker, euchre, dominoes, hand and foot, and, of course, Monday night Bingo, just to name a few.

We’ve taken advantage of some of the amenities, namely joining the pickleball club and participating in round robins. One signs up online to play. Sometimes the courts are so busy the club managers ask that a person only sign up for one round robin a day which means that all 32 courts are booked all day long. The 1001 club members are grouped by skill level with 2.0 being beginners and 5.0 highly skilled. Here’s a Youtube video that explains the game:

Jil has taken advantage of the exercise room. We walk the dogs a minimum of 5 miles a day. It’s easy walking- it’s flat as a billiard table here. During those walks we will visit one or two small fenced dog parks and let the dogs romp. We attended a spaghetti dinner put on by the resort- a fund raiser for the Casa Grande Fire Department. The dinner was very good, we met new friends and was serenaded by a bagpiper- all for a good cause. Attendance= 400 folks.

Ollie finally tuckered himself out!

Speaking of dogs, Megan our Lab and Ollie our adopted Boxer are getting along swimmingly. They sleep together, walk together and play roughly together. Mr. Ollie is a terror. The longer we have him the more rough he plays. I guess it’s a young Boxer thing. We have to intercede occasionally to prevent an accidental injury.

Our neighbor flying his paraglider

We’ve met a lot of nice people. Most are from the colder climes of the midwest or northwest, some from Canada and a few are from the east or Kali-fornia. Some midwestern state’s folk have distinctive speech mannerisms. It’s a hoot when speaking with a neighbor and guessing correctly that they are from say Wisconsin or Minnesota. No matter where folks are from everyone we’ve met are very nice. Heck, who wouldn’t be especially if one were a Minnesotan spending the winter in a relatively warm climate as compared to their home that has 3 feet of snow on the ground and minus 40 degree temps?

The golf course is central to this huge park. The older section has more amenities, i.e. wood shop, car wash, dog wash, tennis courts, etc. but the RV sites are narrower- sort of cozy. Over the years manufactured homes have taken the place of RV sites and most are of the single wide smaller variety that fit the narrow lots. It makes that part of the park feel a little cramped compared to the newer side of the park.

Older section of RV Park
Newer Section of RV park

The newer side of the park where our site is located has 40′-50′ wide sites so it feels very roomy. That’s where we are located. Almost every site has a cement patio surrounded by crushed rock. The amenities over here are more sports related than the older side and the flora is not as well developed. We only have two smaller swimming pools, (only he says) with spas, a regulation sized softball field, 32 pickleball courts, a small meeting room with a laundromat incorporated in the same building- smile!!!

There are many permanent manufactured homes on our side of the park with more to come. All of them at least double the size of those in the older portion. There are a few new ones for sale and they are not cheap considering one does not own the land that they sit on. Expenses include paying a hefty association assessment and property taxes. Considering all of that they still are selling pretty well and those folks that own them are very satisfied.

We’ve had thoughts of purchasing either a home or an RV site in the sunbelt. Those thoughts quickly vanish. We don’t want to feel obligated to go anyplace that isn’t home because we have money invested. We’d rather stay loose and fancy free, travel when we want and where we want.

I’ll be updating the blog fairly soon. Lots going on here with a few surprises…….

Ridin' Along In My Automobile

Tuesday January 21, 2020

Just another ho-hum desert sunrise

With Chuck Berry’s classic song dancing around in my head, hence the title of this post, we head out of the park…… Ridin’ along in my automobile with no particular place to go!.. Jil has seen some pretty cool looking lawn art here in the park and she wants to look for some for herself. We head over towards Florence, AZ to peruse the Happy Adobe metal art shop. OK, I stand corrected- we do have a particular place to go……….

Along the way we stop at the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. We have seen photos of the ruins and didn’t expect to find them as interesting as they are. The ruins are what remains of the Hohokam Indian’s Great House (Casa Grande) and surrounding compound.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Visitors Center
Jil and Megan exploring Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

It is one of the largest prehistoric structures ever built in North America and yet its purpose remains a mystery. Archeologists have found evidence that these ancestral Sonoran Desert people also developed wide scale irrigation farming utilizing canals. Many small Hohokam communities have been discovered along the Gila and Salt Rivers. The ancient people also had extensive trade connections which lasted over a thousand years until about 1450 C.E. when Casa Grande was abandoned.

The name Hohokam is somewhat of a misnomer as it is really more of a term. No one knows what the builders of this complex community called itself. Hohokam is a Pima term meaning “those who have vanished”. Scientists feel that a probable reason for these ancient farmers to have left was an extended drought making subsistence farming next to impossible.

Above photos: The protective roof structure above Casa Grande was built in 1930 to help preserve the ruins. The man lift in the left photo was part of the equipment used by structural engineers to determine the integrity of the structure. The man at right is repairing one of the original remnants of a wall. The worker said he used a mixture of the local dirt, sand and mud- the same materials that the Hohokam used to build the walls.

We continue on to Florence (26,000 souls), the seat of Pinal County. The town is one of the oldest in the county and is regarded as a National Historic District with over 25 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is located in an area once inhabited by the Hohokam, ancestors of the O’odham people. Prior to the establishment of the town the Gila River served as part of the border between the United States and Mexico. The Gadsden Purchase of 1853 extended the American territory well south of the Gila.

A fella by the name of Levi Ruggles founded Florence on the south bank of the Gila River. Originally a U.S. Indian Agent he recognized the agricultural potential (remember the Hohokam?) of the valley, found an easily fordable location on the Gila and surveyed a townsite there. He then secured a post office the same year. Silver was discovered in 1875 in the nearby mountains which led to the creation of the famous Silver King Mine.

In 1870 Fred Adams decided to give old man Ruggles a little competition. He founded a farming community 2 miles west of Florence. The town had stores, homes, a post office, a flour mill and water tanks. It was named Adamsville for you-know-who. Adams apparently was unaware of the nature of desert rivers meaning he hadn’t a clue of flash floods. In the 1900’s the Gila overflowed its banks and most of the town was wiped out. The residents moved to……… Florence! The area is now a ghost town.

A canal was built in the 1880’s which enabled water from the Gila to be diverted for irrigation (again, remember the Hohokam?). Farming and ranching played a major roll in Florence’s economy. A current boon to it’s economy are the multiple prisons located nearby. Not many communities have state, federal, county and private prisons in their back yard. Speaking of prisons, a large prisoner of war camp for German and Italian prisoners of war was established just north of town during WWII. Japanese Americans were interned at the nearby Gila River War Relocation Center during that sad time in our history.

Of note:

This is a tough way to have a natural feature named for you: Silent film Cowboy actor Tom Mix died when his car went into a wash, now named Tom Mix Wash, in 1940 just outside of Florence. A riderless horse monument was erected nearby.

McFarland State Park is named for Ernest McFarland (Arizona State Senator, Governor of Arizona and Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court) is a small historic park in Florence that contains the first Final County courthouse. McFarland purchased the property, donated it to the state, and paid for it’s renovation. The park opened in 1979.

The Pyramid Tomb of Charles Debrille Poston (1825-1902), known as “The Father of Arizona” is located on Primrose Hill which was renamed Poston Butte. It was through his efforts that Arizona became a U.S. territory. Click on his name for a good read!

Tomb of Charles Poston First Pinal County Courthouse

That pretty much catches the blog up with our adventures. I’ll be writing about life here in the resort in the coming blogs as well as the status of our car and how well our new boy Ollie is fitting into the family.

An Eventful Two Weeks!

Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort

Sunday January 19,2019

Sunrise in Casa Grande, AZ

We have friends who live in the area and wanted to meet with them. Connie and Jim, our Washington State pals who cohost with us at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery, and Ellen and Dick who live down the street from us in Reno. Both couples own homes nearby in which to over winter. We met with both couples and had great visits with each. We’ll be seeing more of them in the near future.

Here we are at the Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort in Casa Grande, AZ more or less minding our own business and wham!- life happens………. Let me explain:

We’d been in Casa Grande for a week and needed to restock our pantry. Off we went to Walmart shortly after dawn which in Arizona comes late. No daylight savings here ya know- and on Mountain Time to boot. The sun is bright and very low on the horizon behind us. We are stopped at a red light in a left turn pocket when this fella on the cross street begins his turn towards us and into the sun. He drives very slowly and deliberately as he angles his car…….. right into the front of ours! Bang!…… Crap……. No one is hurt but both vehicles show damage, like our hood won’t close. The other driver has in his possession an expired drivers license, no vehicle registration and no proof of insurance. Luckily a Casa Grande Fire engine company witnesses the accident, stops, makes sure everyone is OK and directs traffic.

That’s not our car- our accident was not nearly that bad- just added photo for dramatic effect!

Shortly thereafter a Casa Grande Police Officer arrives, determines the other fella’s at fault, then takes the report- which takes over a week to post and for me to retrieve for insurance purposes…. jeez! Anyhow our car is in the shop being repaired and we are driving a rental. The good news is the other fella has a current driver’s license, liability insurance and current registration so all is well there-and he got a ticket for reckless driving. Our insurance company is in contact with his so all is well and our car should be repaired and out of the shop next week. By the way, that low speed impact is probably going to cost the other fella’s insurance company over 3000 smackers. It’s almost unbelievable how much it costs to repair these newer autos anymore. This accident wouldn’t even have put a scratch in the bumper of my ’62 Chevy Impala……………

The morning after the accident Jil is walking Megan when she notices a Boxer dog closely following her. It makes her nevous so she shoos it away. A couple of hours later we both see the Boxer running loose inside the park. The front desk is notified and the Boxer is put into a pet run for safe keeping. The dog is in the pet area for hours so I go down to see how he’s doing. Turns out he is doing OK and someone has left a bowl of water for him to drink. But boy, is he skinny! The fact that he is so skinny, has no ID and still has his manhood is a good indication that he doesn’t belong to anyone in the park. I spend some time with him and give him a couple of cups of kibble- which he inhales. He lays down at my feet as if to say “thanks mister”. He’s really a gentle guy……..

This where things get strange. The office staff decide to post a notice on their Facebook page of the dog’s plight but doesn’t notify animal control. Jil calls the office again to voice her concern about the dog’s welfare- the sun will set in a couple of hours, he has no shelter and the nights temperatures have been near freezing. Oh yes, Jil is assured everything is good. Animal control will be here in a half an hour. We go down an hour and a half later and he is still in the pet area. Concerned for his welfare we load him up in our car and take him to the Casa Grande Animal Shelter.

Our new rescued doggo- Oliver

OK, you’re smarter than the average bear- you saw this coming, didn’t you? Yep, we adopted him! After a 72 hour waiting period and about the same length of time for Ollie to lose his manhood, he is home. We still can’t believe no one came forward to claim him. Megan had a couple of grumpy spells at first then accepted him. Ollie never had a problem with Megan. It’s very apparent that Ollie likes his new digs. He likes to ride in the car, go for walks and to Megan’s chagrin even started playing while off leash in the pet park. And he’s the first to arrive when the dinner bell rings! He’d been with us for four days before we felt we could leave both the mutzos alone in the RV for over an hour- no problemo! Then we took the furry ones on a car ride, left them both in the car for about a half hour as we shopped and still no problemo!

The only issues Ollie has had is he is not leash trained. We are working on that and he has steadily improved. The big one is he is leash aggressive towards other dogs. Working on that one too. He should be OK after some intense learning sessions. Strange thing though, he was not aggressive and more like complacent when I took him to the Vet for a free checkup. The waiting room was standing room only with dogs and their owners and all he did was look at the other dogs, then lay down at my feet- and we waited for an hour before we were seen.

Mr. Ollie enjoying his new bed

Now I know you are saying to yourself, self those folks sure didn’t do much in their first two weeks in Casa Grande. Well we did get around to a little sightseeing. More on that in the next post………..

Sunset at the Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort

A New Adventure

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Several months ago Jil and I discussed spending some time away from home, hopefully in a warmer climate. We had spent a few days at the Palm Creek Golf and RV resort in Casa Grande, AZ last winter on our way to the Deep South- and liked it. Palm Creek is a true resort featuring a golf course tennis and pickleball courts, lawn bowling, a ball room, and places where one can woodwork, silver smith, make pottery, and knit/sew. You name it, they’ve got it. It even has a cafe.

After storing our Christmas decorations we hit the road on December 28th, hoping for decent travel weather. We hope the 6 day snow event that occurred during Thanksgiving week isn’t a precursor for what’s to come.

That white “cushion” on the bench is all snow!

We got off to a late start by design as we wanted to do a last minute clean up of the house. We are only traveling 140 miles. Our first stop is the Whiskey Flat RV Park in Hawthorne, NV (3200 souls). It’s a no frills park- we are comfortable here- and it’s location is a good jumping off point for our trip south.

Skirting Walker Lake on our way to Hawthorne, NV

We are off by 0800 the next morning. Our main concern is driving into high altitude and the possibility of snowy and icy roadways. Most of US 95 in Nevada is laid at 4000′ following long flat sagebrush covered valleys. Tonopah is a tad over 6000′. No worries though, a little snow on the ground but the road is clear. This town is the seat of Nye County, her nickname is Queen of the Silver Camps so named for the 1900 discovery of silver, the second richest silver strike in Nevada history.

Continuing south on US95 we come upon Goldfield. Goldfield (268 souls) is an interesting old town. Between 1903 and 1940 Goldfield’s gold mines produced more than $86 million at then-current prices or $1.496 billion in today’s dollars! Due to the remarkable production of gold the town rapidly grew to be the largest in Nevada at over 20,000 souls. By 1923 gold production and the population were in steep decline.

That year a moonshine still exploded destroying most of the town’s flammable buildings. Of note Wyatt and Virgil Earp resided there- Virgil taking the position of Goldfield sheriff. Virgil contracted pneumonia and died here- Wyatt moved on shortly thereafter. As tiny as the town is it is the seat of Esmeralda County.

Our next overnight stop was to be Beatty, NV (1000 souls). We had an early start which meant we arrived in Beatty just after noon and way too early to stop for the night. Beatty is a jumping off point for Death Valley National Park and the the historical mining town of Rhyolite. We found a municipal park, walked Megan, and enjoyed lunch. A command decision was made to continue on. Somewhere in a desolate section of the Amargosa Valley we hook a right onto Nevada State Road 160. We pulled into the Lakeside Casino and RV Park after traveling 277 miles.

Lakeside RV Park, Pahrump NV

Pahrump (36,000 souls) has it’s own story. Originally inhabited by the Southern Paiute, the valley was slowly inhabited by settlers in the late 1800’s. The area has numerous artesian wells; the water they provide is vital to farming. Numerous large farms were established, most over 1000 acres on which cotton and alfalfa were grown and livestock raised. Until the 1960’s there was no phone service except for one radio phone nor paved roads in or out of the valley. Real estate speculation prompted the establishment of paved roads and telephone service.

Snow level just above the highway’s elevation- glad it’s up there and not down here!

We are on our way shortly after 8am figuring all that white slippery stuff was in our rear view mirror. Wrongo Cowboy! As we approach Mountain Springs Pass (elevation 5400′) about 60 miles from Lost Wages, er, Los Vegas (650,000 souls) snow appears on the hills, then on the side of the road, then ICE on the road. Holy Smokes, who would have thunk it? To make matters more interesting the road is under construction and the construction guys had made a narrow obstacle course out of the normally straight road. The good thing was the construction crew also limited the speed to 25-35 miles an hour and had treated the roadway making the slippery roadway more safe.

Oops! Now we are up there (in the mountains) making our way up Mountain Springs Pass

Traffic is not terribly heavy going through the southern suburbs of Lost Wages (620,000 souls), at least by big city standards. Us big rig jockeys don’t appreciate it one bit. I-5 to I-215 to the new section of I-11 brings us to the Hoover Dam/Lake Meade overlook and across the Colorado River Canyon Bridge into Arid Zona, er, Arizona. This time of year brings some rain to the area so it doesn’t look so arid- the hills are actually green.

We are now traveling on US93, the road that will be replaced by I-11 when it is complete. As such, this highway is not getting a lot of attention as the road surface is pretty rough. As we pull into the Kingman (28,000 souls) area traffic is backed up for blocks. The cause- two traffic signals that don’t appear to be synchronized and trucks trying enter and exit the nearby truck stop. We again have arrived at our loosely planned destination early. We fuel up at Loves Truck Stop, have a bite of lunch, walk Megan and are off, this time on I-40 east where we once again catch US 93 south. We stop for the night at the Hidden Oasis RV Park located in Wikieup, AZ (320 souls) after a drive of 211 miles.

The Oasis RV Park and Cool Water Cafe is an eclectic place for sure. Most of the folks live here year round so there are no newer rigs in the park. The folks here are definitely country and they are all nice, respectful and willing to help one another. The co-owner and head chef at the Cool Water Cafe that fronts the RV park is also down to earth friendly. Brenda and her mom offer wholesome vittles but are mostly known for their delicious home made pies made fresh every day. She stated that most of her clientele live in the RV park with some walk-in travelers. Folks, if you are driving through Wikieup AZ be sure and stop in at the Cool Water Cafe- the food and pies are delish!

We drove another 190 miles on December 31. The wind was blowing a little and the road very rough. We almost got in a traffic accident in Wickenburg when a pick up truck pulling a trailer cut us off in a traffic circle. From Wickenburg we head south on US60 to I-17 to I-10 continuing on through Phoenix. The traffic through Phoenix (1.6 million souls) wasn’t horrible but like I said we drive a big rig.

Continuing south on I-10 our turnoff comes in Casa Grande- a 190 mile day. We arrived a day before our reservation began so we spent the night in the overflow section of the Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort, our home until March.

Our Trip Home- And Sad News Concerning Our Little, Little Boy

December 23, 2019

It’s two days before Christmas and it’s snowing- again. Thanksgiving week was a duzy as snow fell every day for an entire week. Our snow is often called “Sierra Cement” as it’s water content makes it very heavy- and hard to shovel…..ugh…….

Grandson Jackson visiting from SoCal enjoying the snow

Before you rant about how late this post is let me tell you something Mister! OK, you’re right, we’ve been home since late October but I have an excuse…… I didn’t feel like writing, OK? Had nothing to do with brain cramps nor writer’s block. For various reasons, one of which I’ll get to a little later, I’d chosen to take a little hiatus. So now I’ll punish you with an exceptionally long post- here goes (someone once said be careful what you ask for!).

The weather has not been kind during our two months volunteering at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery as Fall rains had come early. It even snowed on the 3000′ bluffs that abut the Columbia Gorge. Even so we had a great time with our volunteer buddies Connie and Jim as well as Hugh (our Boss), Dan, Alex, Patrick, Kelly, Ann, Scott, Deanne, Trent, Dave and the rest of the hatchery team. As Jim would say “It was a Hoot!” Jil and I decided to leave before the end of the month. We had completed our obligation for the week and had no reason to stick around. We hitched up, picked up, packed up, fired up, slides in, jacks up and said Adios to our friends at the Hatchery. We’ve got all that hitching and pick and packing stuff down pat so it really doesn’t take too long, maybe an hour, to get the wheels rolling.

Our path home will take us through the lower elevations of Oregon, not because of the fall weather trying to sneak into winter so much as there are many more places to rest our weary heads on the I-5 corridor than on the alternate route, The Dalles-California Highway- Oregon 97. We are in no hurry but yearn for home if you know what I mean. Its 619 miles to home and we’ll take a minimum of three days to travel the distance. The I-5 corridor in Oregon also has a whole passel of rest stops and we’ll take advantage of those to stretch and walk our mutzos. The first 150 miles we’ll travel through the Willamette Valley. The next day we’ll transition into hill country, then the Rogue Valley eventually ejecting into the Shasta Valley. After an overnight on the western shoulder of Mt. Shasta we will head for the barn.

Our first stop is the Hi-Way Haven RV Park in Sutherlin, Oregon. The park is unusual as it is built on an old drive-in theater lot. The current owner used to come to the drive-in as a kid, fell in love with drive-ins, eventually purchasing this one. He plays a movie every night on the big screen with sound being piped in through your vehicle’s radio.

We headed south the next morning. It’s cold, like 22 degrees cold, so picking up the hoses is akin to wrestling a frozen snake. We are on our way at 0830- late for us. Our concern are the passes in higher elevations. Most of the passes through the hills south of Eugene and the Willamette Valley are no higher than 2000′. We’ll be cresting the highest point on I-5 just south of Ashland, 4300′ Siskiyou Summit. We are fortunate as the weather holds- no snow……

After the summit we drop down into volcano country. It’s quite a sight coming off the summit, crossing the Kali-Fornia state line and seeing the majestic Mount Shasta in the distance as well as some smaller volcanic cinder cones that dot the golden grassland of the Shasta Valley. In comparison to that majestic peak the cinder cones remind one of gopher mounds…….

Our second night is spent at Abrams Lake Mobile Home and RV Park near the town of Mt. Shasta. The RV portion of the park is small yet offers all the amenities including internet access and cable TV. During the low season it’s first come, first served. Its quiet, well away from major thoroughfares and the nearby pine woods are enjoyed by the furry ones.

The next morning we are on the road at the usual time. It’s in the 20’s again. Brrr….. We’re back on I-5 for a short distance and then jog over on to Highway 89. Passing the quaint town of McCloud we head off through the woods. The drive is beautiful as we pass Burney Falls State Park, head towards Hat Creek and turn on to Highway 44. Highway 44 takes us to Susanville and the 395- US395 takes us to Reno and home.

The Captain- always vigilant………….

We always adopt adult mutzos so one never really knows how old the new addition is nor the history of their health, heck not even who the previous owner was. Adopting a pet is somewhat of a crapshoot, so to speak. That said, this concerns our little, little boy as Jil calls Doyle. He’s really not that little as far as dogs go. He’s just the smallest dog that we’ve ever had. Shortly before our trip Doyle had been diagnosed with diabetes. We started him on insulin injections twice a day and his blood glucose dropped from 380 to 88- normal. Yes! He and Megan had a ball on the trip and especially at the hatchery where they were allowed to run free before our visitors arrived and anytime in areas where the public is not allowed.

Shortly before we came home Doyle became blind. I think he could see well enough not to bump into objects, still running around a little with Megan and had no trouble negotiating the stairs into the RV. He was still happy. When we got home we called the Vet- his blood glucose had gone from the normal 88 to over 500 even on insulin. He had become insulin intolerant. Time is no longer on his side.

Doyle loved snow- but it didn’t love him- at all!

Just a few days after the Vet visit he was still doing well negotiating the back yard and the house as if he could see. Then it happened- he became very confused and couldn’t find his way around the house any longer. I touched his side attempting to guide him through a doorway and he yipped. Oh Lordy…..We sadly said goodbye to our loyal friend on November 6.

So this is a tribute to our Little, Little Boy. He was a little boy with a giant personality. Doyle had more than a little larceny in his soul. He was half the size of our Lab, Megan, but would harass her, ripping stuffed babies out of her mouth and proudly prancing away with his prize.

When Megan would run in the field Doyle would herd her like an Aussie is bred to do. At night he’d join Jil in bed, bury his face in MY pillow and grunt with pleasure, then roll on his back, thrash around and grunt some more- then let out a big sigh as he settled in. He didn’t mind barging in on you at all- bump, bump, push, tug. However, once he claimed his spot and given the lightest of touches- grrrrr. He was a one way type of guy…..

And yes, he was a noisy little guy. His internal clock that’s accuracy is to be admired by the finest watchmakers. He had dinner and snack time down to the second and would let you know it’s time to EAT- yap Yap! He’d bark to be let out, he’d yap when he wanted to go for a walk, he’d yap about most everything. I had wished that he could speak English for I knew he had a thousand stories he’d like to share. Yap, yap, YAP. We miss you buddy.

We have always traveled with our dogs. We’ve had seven in total. We’ll be traveling again, blogging again and when the time comes, bring home another furry friend. But for now our Lab Megan will be the queen of the household.

As I write Jil is already planning a couple of trips for next year. So until our next adventure, Via Con Dios my friends. From Jil and I a Merry Christmas to all!

The Columbia Gorge- From One End to the Other

Monday, November 18, 2019

I know, I know. I hear ya. Where ya been? Well, we’ve had an eventful month which I will share with you in the next, and last, blog that will put this trip to bed. We are home and I’ll do my darnedest to catch you up. As I write our high desert home is experiencing our first winter storm of the season complete with snowfall.

Scenes from the Historic Columbia Highway

The best way to tour the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge is to do it the old fashioned way- by auto or if you prefer astride your trusty bicycle. And the best place to start is Troutdale, OR where one can access the western portal of the Historic Columbia River Highway 30. Quote from Travel Oregon website-“The vista-inspired railroad lawyer Samuel Hill and engineer extraordinaire Samuel Lancaster to “conquer” the wild beauty of the Gorge with a grand scenic drive. It was an implausible plan — a road that would cling to sheer cliffs, traverse rushing rivers and tunnel through hammer-hard basalt — but they made it happen”. The road is narrow with a lot of tight twists and turns, poorly designed by modern standards but hey it was built beginning in 1913 during the Model T Ford era. The road today still exists in fits and spurts all the way to The Dalles. Many portions of the original roadway are now designated as the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, a hiking and biking path. When finished, the State Trail will be 73 miles long.

Vista House/ Crown Point
View from Crown Point/Vista House

The road east of Vista House takes one through beautiful deep fern infused forests offering few glimpses of the Columbia River below, the exception being the outstanding Gorge views from Crown Point’s Vista House, built in 1918. East of there is a whole passel of beautiful waterfalls, Latourell, Shepherds Dell, Bridal Veil and Wahkeena come to mind, culminating with the most spectacular fall, the 620′ Multnomah Falls.

Historic Columbia Gorge Highway Falls/ Multnomah Falls & Visitor Center

And that’s just what can be seen from the old highway. Many more falls are accessed by trail. The I-84 corridor offers many state parks and recreation areas a few of which are located on geological sites mentioned by Lewis and Clark.

The historic highway east of the village of Dodson merges with I-84. In this section of the Gorge the original road only appears as spurs going to and from the small villages and the few towns such as Cascade Locks and as part of the Historic Columbia River Highway Trail. Four miles west of Cascade Locks is the Bonneville Lock and Dam and our home for two months, the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. Both are a must see. East of Bonneville are two more hatcheries- Eagle Creek and Oxbow.

Cascade Locks- Town, Bridge of the Gods and Cascade Lock

The next place worthy of a visit is Hood River. The wind tunnel effect of the Gorge has made the town a mecca for wind surfers. Downtown has several breweries for those who wish to imbibe. It has a small boat marina and a dock where large tour boat passengers debark. Another must see while in Hood River is the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. All of their exhibits are fully functioning- the planes fly and the cars are roadworthy.

The nearby beautiful Hood River Valley is a must see. Apple and pear orchards dominate the valley where fruit stands are the norm. Alcapas and lavender are also raised in the valley. A a relative newcomer are the many vineyards that have been established. Adding to the beauty of the valley are grandiose views of 11,200′ Mt. Hood.

White House Farm Located in the Hood River Valley

The last intact segment of the old highway begins at Mosier, heads up into a fir and oak forest passing through pasture/orchard highlands where one can stop for another spectacular view of the Gorge at the Rowena Crest viewpoint. It becomes obvious from this vista that the eastern end of the Gorge is much dryer than the western portion.

Neat looking Mestablishment in Mosier
Interesting Signage in Mosier

Heading down the winding section old highway known as the Rowena Loops we find The Dalles, the eastern terminus of the Historic Columbia River Highway. The Dalles was long a Native American gathering place, another Lewis and Clark encampment and later a staging area for Oregon Trail pioneers readying for the treacherous trip down the Columbia’s rapids. A must see while in The Dalles is the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum.

Rowena Loops

The Dalles was long a Native American gathering place, another Lewis and Clark encampment and later a staging area for Oregon Trail pioneers readying for the treacherous trip down the Columbia’s rapids.

A must see while in The Dalles is the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum.

The distance between Troutdale and The Dalles is not great at less than 80 miles but there is so much to see. One could spend an entire day exploring that section of the old Historic Highway between Troutdale and Dodson. The Dam and hatchery deserves a few hours of exploration and the Hood River area maybe a half a day. Several hours can be spent at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in The Dalles. A couple of days would be well spent touring the Oregon side of the Gorge.

That concludes the tour. For you more adventurous folks there are plenty of trails in the Gorge that lead to waterfalls and drop dead Gorge-us vistas to die for.