Packing Day

Friday March 31st 2017

The temperature today never made it to 70. It was more than 20 degrees less than yesterday. The morning sun turned into afternoon clouds. Thankfully, the wind never got as bad as it was late yesterday. The 30 mph winds kept me awake until around one in the morning when they seemed to die down.

Today was a cleaning and packing day for tomorrow’s move. I vacuumed the latest accumulation of dust out of the rig and started to pack the inside things I won’t need in the morning. Outside I stowed the chairs in the basement storage and loaded the bicycle onto the back of the car. In the morning, I’ll finish the inside, disconnect the utilities and hook up the car.

I don’t have to rush my departure. I’m only going down the road about twenty miles to the Picacho Peak State Park for a few days. This is the same park I decided not to visit as a day trip a couple of weeks ago. At the time, I couldn’t see the value of paying a high day use fee for about 20 minutes of visiting. Staying at the campground is a good solution to seeing the park and staying in this area for another few days.

I also settled up my electric bill with the office this afternoon. I had to run the air conditioner and the electric heater this month so I used a few more kilowatts than I expected. It still amounts to less than two dollars a day. If I was paying a daily rate which included electricity, I’d have paid more than twenty dollars a day more than the monthly equivalent. Staying in one place for a longer amount of time often has significant cost savings.

On my evening walk around the campground I saw many people working on packing. The box trailers have come out of storage and the toys and extra cars are getting loaded. I suspect that there will be several leaving tomorrow and a steady stream of departures in the next few days.

fd01

Last sunset from Silverado RV Resort.

I’ve enjoyed my stay at Sliverado RV Resort. It worked out good for access to the Tucson area and the eastern Phoenix metro area. I would consider returning for another stay, but will probably try other areas first. It worked out OK for seeing spring training games, but it was not ideal. I had to do a lot of driving.

Tomorrow begins my summer travels. I have four stops of one to three nights in duration before I get to Las Vegas. I want to stay in Las Vegas for a couple of weeks before moving further north in Nevada. I’m still not sure where I’m going to stay in Vegas. One of the expensive places that I didn’t want to stay at anyway is listed as full on its website. So I am getting a little concerned about getting a reservation. I need to make some calls tomorrow. As I written before, this making reservations business is painful.

Windy Day

Thursday March 30th 2017

Another storm front is making its way across the country. Here in the Arizona desert that means wind. Today was sunny with a high temperature almost ninety degrees, but with every passing hour the wind increased in intensity. The evening news indicated that thirty mph sustained winds with gusts to fifty mph were in the area.

Hopefully, the wind will quiet down over night. The noise it makes as it interacts with my slide out room awnings and antennas on the roof can be very distracting. The forecast for tomorrow has the wind dying as the day progresses with a high temperature twenty degrees cooler than today.

Today’s agenda included more planning for my travels this summer. I found a couple of Web forum discussions of the road conditions on my proposed route. The consensus seems to be that it’s a picturesque and only mildly challenging. I’ll settle for that right now. My route north is now locked in jello. I’m in the process of checking distances and looking up campground reviews. I should be in the Glacier National Park area in the middle of June. The Going to the Sun road across the park is usually plowed and open by the end of June so, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

My other major agenda item for the day was another run to Walmart. In addition to the groceries that I can seem to live without, I bought a new Rand McNally Road Atlas. The one I have been using is four years old and looking a little trampled. The paper atlas is good for the big picture. The zoomed out view of google maps doesn’t provide the detail the paper atlas provides.

rd1

The wind is spoiling the symmetry of the palm trees at the RV park.

Walking around the campground this evening was difficult. The blowing wind made walking in a straight line difficult. The eight foot block walls around the RV resort keep the dust devils out of the park, but the wind still has an impact. Out in the open desert beside the highway several little dust circulations are visible. The large open areas in the campground where people have already left for the north also allows the wind to get a clear shot that it didn’t have at the beginning of the month.

Planning Day

Wednesday March 29th 2017

After two days of playing tourist I took today off. Today was a beautiful day for planning. It wasn’t too hot and more important I was in the mood to plan. Overall I have a good idea where I’ll be between now and the end of May. All the reservations aren’t made, but enough to know it’s possible.

I leave here on Saturday. I’ll spend the next ten days in western Arizona working my way to Las Vegas. This is a major change in plans from last week when I found out that I wasn’t the only one looking at central and northern Arizona. Getting reservations in the Verde Valley and areas near the Grand Canyon wasn’t possible. I’ll get to that area this fall as I come back south through Utah.

I’ll spend two weeks in Las Vegas touring casinos, going to a few shows and visiting some of the out lying areas like the Valley of Fire, Lake Mead and Red Rock Canyon. From Las Vegas I’ll take about a week to relocate to the Reno Lake Tahoe area of Nevada for another two weeks.  Along the way I may a side trip to Death Valley NP.   The Reno area will be the first brand new territory on the journey north. I’m looking forward to Lake Tahoe.

From the Reno area I’m going to head northeast to Idaho. I’ll spend a couple of weeks in southern Idaho. The Snake River, Sun Valley and Craters of the Moon National Monument are all possible tourist destinations in the area. The plan is to be in this area until the beginning of June.

Going north from southern Idaho is harder to plan. My ultimate northern destination is Glacier National Park at the Canadian border in Northwest Montana. I need to be aware of the mountain passes over the continental divide. Long hauls, hairpin turns, narrow roads and my motorhome are not necessarily compatible. The truth is I really don’t know my capabilities on such roads. If I keep to the Interstate highways this isn’t a big deal, but that’s not always possible. The internet and trucker’s directories are a great planning tool.

My current plan is to find a way north on the west side of the continental divide to the west side of Glacier National park for the second half of June. Then work my way back south to the Salt Lake City Utah area to be near the airport for the last third of July. I’ll then tour Utah into September and move south to northern Arizona for October. By November, elevation, latitude and weather become a concern again.

I’ll book a couple more reservations tomorrow and continue checking the routes. My tablet ran out of battery juice this afternoon so I had to pull out the paper maps. I’ve got the near term locked in, but I still have the Holidays to worry about.

we1

Empty row of campsites with flowering bushes separating the sites and citrus trees between the rows. The bushes and trees all get drip irrigation. 

Here at the campground the exodus continues. The row of campsites across from me is down to one trailer and they are packing. I suspect that I won’t be the only one leaving on the first of April.

One Last Spring Training Game

Tuesday March 28th 2017

Today I went to my last spring training game for this year. It was the Texas Rangers versus the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.

tud1

Rockies warm up before the game

This game started an hour earlier than previous games at 12:10 so I got an early start to arrive in plenty of time. Things were a little different today. There seemed to be fewer people working at the stadium. The number of vendors in the stands and the staff at the gate seemed to be reduced. This is the next to last game of the spring at this stadium, so maybe employees have started to move on to other jobs. The facility is not as active at other times of the year.

tud2

Dinger the Rockies mascot

The game was pretty good. It had the right amount of action and defense. Every game seems to have a theme. I’ve been to games this spring that had several injuries, games with strange defensive alignments, and today it was broken bats. There were three obvious broken bats and a couple of odd sounding hits. Luckily, no one was hit by flying pieces of bat.

tud3

Pitching change

The Rockies scored first in the fourth inning, but the Rangers found their bats in the top of the fifth to go ahead. The Rockies tried to come back in the bottom of the ninth but fell short. The final score was Rangers 4 Rockies 3.

tud4

Final Score Rangers 4 Rockies 3

I thought the trip home would be easier with the earlier start time and relatively short game. I was wrong. The traffic on the loop roads was as bad as it was every other day. The road has an HOV-2 lane that is only separated from the rest of the lanes by a solid white line. Traffic near major intersections needs to cross through the other 3 lanes to enter and exit the HOV-2 lane. It seems to slow things down more than it helps smooth the traffic out.

Once I got out the metro Phoenix traffic into the open desert the traffic went down, but the wind came up. There were high wind and Red flag warnings today. I think the area dodged the fire danger, but the wind was a challenge to drive through.

Titan Missile Museum

Monday March 27th 2017

I got back into tourist mode today with a visit to a Cold War relic. It was a sunny day around 80 degrees with a strong wind this afternoon. About mid day I headed south to the Tucson area.

mod1

Titan Missile Museum

About 30 kilometers south of Tuscon is the Titan Missile Museum. Interstate 19 from Tucson south to the Mexico border uses metric measures on signs. The only signs in non metric measures are the speed limit signs. I don’t know if this is some strange experiment or a legislative curiosity, but it is apparently the only place in the country that uses the metric system. It’s just weird. The museum is located at an old Titan II missile silo that was decommissioned in 1987.

 

The site was one of a 54 Titan II missile complexes in Arizona, Arkansas and Kansas. Today it is the only site the silo hasn’t been demolished. This one is dedicated as a museum complete with the original training ICBM in the silo. A tour takes you down to the control room and view portal to the missile in the silo.

mod2

Launch control room.

The control room is at the bottom of 55 stairs about 35 feet underground. You pass through what was several levels of security to reach the heavy blast doors. After passing through two blast doors you are in an area that is stabilized by huge springs and hydraulic equipment to withstand nearby strikes from incoming missiles. The control room and crew quarters are further isolated to withstand attack.

 

mod3

Missile visible through a Plexiglas window in an access door. 

The docent very dramatically describes life during a 24 hour shift and the actions that the crew of four would go through if they received a launch order. The two keys getting turned at the same time you see in movies is true, but there is no big red button. The ICBM was capable of delivering its 9 megaton payload 6300 miles away in 30 minutes. An air burst over the target would do up to 900 square miles of destruction.

mod4

Blast doors over the top of the silo

After the tour you can wander around the surface area of the missile site. The heavy blast doors over the silo have been modified with a Plexiglas viewing window. You can look down at the missile and the fake warhead. It’s interesting to remember that the titan II rocket was also used to launch the NASA Gemini missions.

I enjoyed the tour very much. The Titan II missile systems had there life during my life. This provides a particular context for me to appreciate the tour. Some of the younger people on the tour weren’t born until after the missile was decommissioned. One boy around twelve or thirteen was most impressed with the dial telephone on the wall.

 

Reading at the Laundry

Sunday March 26th 2017

I still haven’t gotten back into touring mode after my week attending the Escapade, but I’m making progress. I left the campground today for the first time since the Escapade. It wasn’t for anything exciting, just essential. I went grocery shopping.

It was another beautiful day with only a little wind. The temperature peaked around 80 degrees. After watching the Redsox spring training game on TV, I went shopping. The grocery stores are in Casa Grande about ten miles north west of my RV home in Eloy. To get there I needed gas in the car. The price turned out to be five cents higher than last Wednesday. In fact, gas prices have gone up around 30 cents a gallon since I arrived in Arizona. They claim it is the refineries changing from a winter formula to a summer formula. It’s still better than a few years ago.

The old adage of not going to the grocery store with an empty stomach came into play today. I was hungry and I’ve been eating out of the freezer and the cereal cabinet the last couple of days. I over bought a few things. I bought both fresh baked bread and prepackaged sandwich bread. From the meat counter a package of two steaks jumped into my cart. The cookie aisle also contributed to my cart. It didn’t get too extreme, but I was questioning my judgment when I unloaded the groceries into the cabinets and refrigerator.

To solve the hunger problem, one of the steaks got grilled. I added a microwave baked potato and a small can of corn. Desert was a couple of the cookies from one of the packages that jumped into my cart at the grocery store.

ss1

Another interesting sky at sunset. 

Today’s other major accomplishment was the laundry. I drove over to the campground laundry with the intent of getting it started and returning to the rig. The significant supply of books in the laundry book exchange changed that idea. The number of books available has increased significantly as people departed the campground for the summer. There were about twice as many books available today than last time I did laundry. A Vince Flynn paperback, Separation of Power, caught my eye. I’ve read the book before, but didn’t remember the details of the plot. Once the wash was started, I started reading. About 10 minutes or so after the wash finished I looked up from the book long enough to start the dryer. I ended up bringing the book back to the camper with me for the evening.

 

Network Frustrations

Saturday March 25th 2017

One of the reasons I write this blog is to document my day to day life on my Rambling Road Trip. Today’s entry is not going to be very long or very interesting. For the second day in a row I stayed at camp all day.

std1

Early in the day the sky was pure blue and the wind was nowhere to be found. 

It was another beautiful day weather wise. The first two thirds of the daylight hours were sunny and calm. At times the wind was not blowing at all. A very unusual occurrence in the desert. The last third of the daylight into the evening has made up for the lack of wind. It started to cloud over just before sunset and the wind has been howling.

My day has been focused on TV watching and computer based web surfing. These activities were interrupted by chores around the RV and a couple of walks around the park. On TV I managed to find and watch most of the Redsox vs. Phillies spring training game. The game ended as a nine inning three three tie. Since baseball, even in exhibition games, doesn’t recognize ties, by some quirk of the rules it is recorded as a loss.

std2

At sunset the clouds had moved in and the wind was blowing strong.

The computer use was mostly frustration. For some reason my connection to the network is very slow today. I’m using my Verizon cell phone data plan. It had been running at reasonable 4G speeds since I got here. Today my speed tests have shown speeds under one meg down and even less for uploads. If you don’t have at least three meg down some web pages won’t load. I’m concerned that the slow upload may make this blog post take a very long time to complete. Time will tell.