|Jan 1 - Mar.18 --|
Oddly enough, 2008 will pick up where 2007 left off. Duh! We were in Mohave Valley, AZ on Dec. 31 of 2007 and we'll be staying here until Jan. 16th. The past two months have been a little colder than I would like. When we first stopped here in the beginning of October, the weather was in the nineties every day. It was glorious! But sometime in November it suddenly dropped to the seventies and it is now in the upper fifties or lower sixties. I know that everyone in the snow belt is drying their eyes about now, but when the wind blows (as it does quite often), it feels much colder and requires a warmer jacket. Plus there is the wind to contend with. Even though we brought our winter jackets just in case they were needed, our desire is to be warm. Anyway, since we travel with our house, we don't have to stay here.
And we won't ---- when January's rental expires, we move further south to Gila Bend, AZ. We have been here before, but the sites are huge, the people are friendly, and - more importantly - the weather is warmer. 200 miles makes a difference of 10+ degrees in temperature. We stayed in Gila Bend until February 16. At that time, we left and went to Apache Junction to visit an ex co-worker of George's who has retired and is traveling around in a fifth-wheel. We stayed there for two days while we visited with John and Karen and also drove to Fountain Hills where another ex co-worker has a winter residence. It was interesting to spend time talking about places and events from home. Our original plan was to head toward Deming, NM after our month here in Gila Bend, but I figured that once we left the state of Arizona, we wouldn't be back for a quite a while. There were things here that I still want to see, but it is too cold in northern Arizona to go there at this time. So, we decided to stay here another month. We toured most of this area in 2005 when we were here last, so this time we are just sitting still. I'm getting restless and I'll be anxious to leave on March 18th. We will be traveling north to I-40; stopping to visit Sedona, AZ and the ghost town of Jerome along the way. My goal is to visit the Meteor Crater and the Petrified Forest, as well as the Navajo country in the northeast corner of the state.
A side note: The time situation here is confusing to me. Arizona does not switch to daylight savings time. So, in the winter, Arizona is on mountain time, but when everyone else switches to daylight savings time in the spring, Arizona then is the same as pacific time. A small problem, but confusing to someone who is accustomed to changing the clocks twice a year.
|Mar.18 - Apr.4 --|
Our time in Gila Bend has come to an end and we are heading north about 125 miles to Cordes Junction, Arizona. Cordes Junction is mostly just a truck stop, but it is a good starting point for visiting Prescott, Jerome, and Sedona. Those three points of interest form a loop that took us most of one day to travel. It took us through the beautiful Mund Mountains to the red rocks of Sedona. Along the way, we found a Pediatric Dentists office that really caught my attention, snow in the mountains, and a Hillary Clinton supporter who found a novel way to announce that support. Jerome, Arizona is an interesting town built on the side of a mountain. The streets were narrow and curved back and forth down the mountain, and a lot of the houses that hang over the edge are being reinforced. It looks like some of them have already slid on down the hill. The town is an old mining town that has been revitalized by catering to the tourist trade, so the streets were packed. Sedona, Arizona is situated in Oak Creek Canyon and sits at the base of some huge red rock formations.
After four days in Cordes Junction, we left to go further north and east. We took I-17 north to Flagstaff and then I-40 east to Sun Valley, a good stopping point for visiting the Petrified Forest. The drive to Flagstaff was gorgeous. Mountains and lots of trees, but we also encountered a little snow and colder temperatures. Mt. Humphrey, a 10,000 ft mountain north of Flagstaff was snow covered and very pretty. We changed our minds about visiting the Meteor Crater on this trip, but we did manage to see the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. The landscape of the Petrified Forest National Park was really amazing. Sun Valley, Arizona is a small stop on I-40 about 10 miles east of Holbrook. It seems as though every other business in this area sells petrified wood. I wanted to buy some, but petrified wood is really heavy and I had mental pictures of lucille Ball and her souveniers in The Long, Long Trailer.
|Apr 5 - June 4 --|
This leg of our trip took us back to our faux-homebase of Deming, New Mexico. Since we have property here and will eventually live here, all roads seem to bring us back here at some point during the year. This time we had planned to stop only long enough for George to visit his doctor, save some gas, and take advantage of a month of really cheap rent. So we lounged around for a month, I added to my used paperback supply at this great used paperback store in town, and we got ready to leave on May 4th. On May 3rd, while examining the motorhome and packing stuff away, George noticed a crack in our windshield on the driver's side. We were nervous about replacing it because motorhome windshields are very expensive. We considered ourselves lucky when we found out that our insurance would replace the windshield and it would only cost us $125 - our deductible after 4 years of diminishing deductible coverage. Putting in a claim, however, will send our deductible back to the original $500. We heaved a sigh of relief when we discovered that without insurance, the glass would have cost us $1078!! We have since added glass replacement to our policy that carries a premanent $100 deductible without affecting the deductible on the rest of the policy. We were now forced to stay put for another month. Since we had to stay longer, we decided that it would be a good time to replace the front leveller jack and the slide-out awning. This is almost like maintaining a regular house!
On a sad note, our old dog Patty came to the bottom of a downward slide healthwise and we felt it was in her best interest to euthanize her. She was 18 years old and had been experiencing diminishing health for a couple of years. As long as she was getting around and eating, we couldn't bring ourselves to make this decision. However, near the end of May, she stopped eating and only got up when we helped her up. Her life had ceased to be enjoyable for her. The Deming Humane Society has a pet cemetary where each animal gets a plot and a name placque, so that is where she rests.
Tomorrow is June 4th and our time here is up. We will be leaving and heading north on NM Hwy 54 from Las Cruces to the northeast corner of New Mexico. From there, we will travel north through Kansas and Nebraska before turning east toward Illinois.
|June 5 - July 6 --|
We stopped in Tularosa, NM, a small town about 10 miles from White Sands National Monument. We stayed there for two days and visited White Sands during that time. It was extremely windy both days and our trip to White Sands was reminiscent of being caught in a snow storm. The road through the dunes had almost disappeared under the blowing sand and the park service had to bring out a snow plow to clear the road. We were surrounded by white, even the sky was mostly white from the blowing gypsum sand. This national park is hard to pin down. Because of the desert winds, the dunes are constantly moving and changing shape. A road near an info center inside the park has been moved to accomodate the shifting sands and now the building is in danger of being overrun. The park is beautiful, but challenging.
Our next stop was Tucumcari, NM. Tucumcari sits on Interstate 40 (Old Rte. 66) and is well-known for the murals that are scattered around town. Some are whimsical, but all create a theme recording the history of the area. We spent our time here driving around town trying to get pictures of the murals without interferring with traffic (some of the murals are on busy streets). On to Liberal, Kansas - the 'home' of Dorothy and Toto.
Liberal wasn't actually mentioned in The Wizard of OZ, but the town thought they would claim her since no one had. There is a street named "Yellow Brick Road" and the businesses in town seem to have adopted a similar theme. Liberal is just a few miles north of the Texas Panhandle and our first stop after leaving Tucumcari. From Liberal, we drove northeast to Dodge City. Dodge City is a true western town with a history that figures prominently in our western lore. Unfortunately, during the seventies the 19th century buildings that defined Front Street were demolished as a part of 'urban renewal'. Now the look of the old Dodge City can be found in a replica that reminds me of an amusement park. Since Boot Hill ended up being swallowed up by the town, it is now part of the replica of old Dodge. Sometimes I am amazed at the short-sightedness of town planners. Dodge City has taken its history to heart, though, and you can find Wyatt Earp Blvd, Wyatt Earp Liquors, and Doc Holliday Liquors. There is a wonderful statue of Wyatt Earp near the beginning of Front Street that defines Dodge City's history. Not far from Dodge City is a Historical Monument to the Santa Fe Trail, which began in Dodge City and headed west to Santa Fe, NM. It sits atop a grassy hill and sports wagon tracks that have been verified to have been made by wagon trains heading to the American West. Our stay in Dodge City was delightful. We left the state of Kansas and traveled through Nebraska, where we were treated to field after field of golden wheat. The verse "amber waves of grain" is certainly true. It's a wonderful sight.
|July 8 - Sep.15 --|
From Dodge City we traveled north to I-90 and too a short trip through Nebraska. Our first stop in Iowa was in Kellogg. While in Kellogg, we visited the new IndyCar race track and took a short trip to Knoxville to visit the Sprint Car Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame sits in front of the Knoxville Speedway, which is the site of the yearly Knoxville Nationals Sprint Car Race. If you like sprint car racing, this is the place to visit. Our racing tour through Iowa ended near Burlington. We stopped at Geode State Park in Danville, Iowa - three miles down the road from 34 Raceway in West Burlington. This would be the site of our granddaughter Destini's first sprint car race. We were all very nervous. Sprint cars are big and fast. Destini did a great job in her first night of racing. She started out tentatively, getting used to the handling, but we could see much improvement by the end of the night. We were anxious to see more, so we stayed in Danville and then Bolingbrook, Il. for almost a month, and visited the track with the race team two more times before we had to move on. Each outing Destini improved and we can't wait to see what progress is made next year. The Burlington area(both in Iowa and Illinois) suffered greatly during the flooding that occured this summer. We were shocked to see the damaged done on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. By the end of our months stay in the area, the water had receded somewhat, but farms and small towns were still flooded. I'm sure it will be many more months before the area is habitable again.
|Top||Sep.15 - Sept.30 --|
The beginning of our trip further east and south started in Galesburg, Illinois. Galesburg is the site of Carl Sandburgs boyhood home, and the home of people we had met while in White Springs, Fl in 2006. On a recent visit to the web site listed above, I discovered that the State Historical site is no longer open except for special events. They ask us to express our dissatisfaction to Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Looks like budget cuts ... We had a pleasant visit with Paul and Dorothy Stewart and hope to see them in November back in White Springs. Carl Sandburg's boyhood home is a small, white frame house set in a neighborhood of other small frame houses. A placque near the sidewalk proclaims the status of state historical site, and a second small frame house next door contains memorabelia from Sandburg's life. Remembrance Rock, a monument in the backyard marks the spot where his ashes are buried, and a collection fo stepping stones placed around the site are engraved with verses from his poems.
While in Galesburg, I satisfied my desire to take pictures of giant furniture. The visitor's center in Galesburg displays a giant Adirondack chair with a step stool for climbing up. We continued our trek south to Rantoul, IL and then east into Oaktown, IN, about 25 miles from Vincennes. Even though we had lived next door to Indiana, we had never been any further south than Indianapolis. Vincennes is the oldest city in Indiana and the site of large sections of the Buffalo Trace , the path of hundreds of Buffalo that migrated across southern Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois. This path became a major route through Indiana and was used by Abraham Lincoln on his journey to Illinois. We visited the George Rogers Clark National Park and Memorial while in Vincennes. Unfortunately, like the Bunker Hill Monument in Boston, the memorial was closed for repairs while we were there. I think I may start a page dedicated to all of the places we have visited that were closed while we were there. :)
|Top||Sep.30 - Dec.1 --|
Our next stop was Nashville, TN, then on to Birmingham, Alabama. This would be our second stop in Birmingham, but the first time we were able to stay longer than two days. This trip we stayed in Oak Mountain State Park. Oak Mountain is a beautiful park offering a riding stable, a golf course, a waterfall, a beautiful view over Birmingham, a wildlife center that offers a Treetop Nature Trail, and lakes for swimming, canoeing, and fishing. One of the highlights of our stay in Birmingham, other than visiting with Karen and Ross, was the statue of Vulcan, the world's largest cast iron statue.
After Birmingham, we traveled to Georgia and stopped in Americus. While there, we toured the Habitat for Humanity's display of homes they have built around the world. Not far from Americus, is the small town of Andersonville, the site of the Civil War POW camp. The camp was merely a stockade fench around an open field. Today, monuments and exhibits dot the large grassy field. The camp is a National Historic Site and houses the Prisoner of War Museum and cemetary, which is still being used. The year, our traveling has slowed down a little bit. We have spent more time in each location, and will be spending a month in White Springs, Fl, and then at least a month in Spring Hill, FL. This schedule will take us to January 8, 2009. We have been to Spring Hill and White Springs already, so I'm not sure how much sightseeing we will be doing. However, we wil be able to visit with people we haven't seen in a couple of years -- family and friends made on the road.
|Dec.1 - January 8, 2009 --|
A couple of the people whose lives we interrupted were my Aunt Shirley and Uncle Frank in Ocala, FL. We spent a relaxing week here in between our stays in White Springs and Spring Hill. This Christmas season was spent with Sarah and her family and our other daughter, Kaycee, who moved to Florida about a year ago. It's an active household with three adults, three children, four dogs, two birds, a hamster, a cat, and a partridge in a pear tree. We took our dog, Sandy, along to visit and they didn't even notice we were there. LOL. Just kidding. We have been keeping track of the weather across the nation and notice that it is cold everywhere but here. Our original plan was to leave here on January 8 and start heading west to Deming, NM. We have decided to take a break from traveling for a while and take care of some work that needs to be done. Repairs and remodels can't happen when we are traveling every week. While we are in Deming, I think we will be moving our address from South Dakota to New Mexico. All of these things will be accomplished during the next eight months or so. In watching the weather, we have decided that we just aren't ready for night temps to be in the 20's, so we will stay here in Spring Hill until February 8, 2009. I've made doctors appointments for both of us at the end of February, so we can't put it off longer than that. I am hoping that by the time we get to New Mexico, the temps will be a little bit warmer.
So, 2008 marks the end of four and a half years on the road for us. The have been four very enjoyable years and I hope we have a few more before we decide to stop traveling and put down roots on our property in Deming.