Thursday, March 3, 2016

3/2/2016 Mesquite to Virgin

My stay at the Virgin River Casino in Mesquite was uneventful. It was quieter than I expected, although a fair amount of people started rolling in between 5 and 6 AM, some making an inordinate amount of noise.Of course I had parked facing the wrong direction the night before, so the sun was shining on the south side of the rig. It's better for it to shine on the north side due to the orientation of the solar panels. Plus it really helps to not have it beating down on the fridge and the door. I thought about just leaving it, but decided there was no reason to waste the sunshine so pulled up the jacks and turned around the other way. It turned out to be a good thing I did. I wandered in and got some Starbucks, and considered breakfast but didn't see much that appealed to me. Especially not after gorging myself at the buffet the night before. I took my coffee back to the rig because it was not pleasant to sit at the Starbucks due to the cigarette smoke from the casino.

When I got back out to the rig, I was happy I had went through the trouble of moving it. It was getting warm, and having the entry door in the shade meant I could leave it open and enjoy the breeze. There was not a huge difference in the amperage coming into the panels from switching it from one side to the other so it's good to know that it's not required for that reason alone. Once I finished my coffee I headed down the road. 

Driving into St. George I saw a Pilot gas station and decided it might be a good idea to get gas where I knew it would be cheap. I stopped at another Starbucks, because I was trying to get some of these stars built up before the program changed. I'm not sure why. But anyway..... It turned out there were quite a few interesting stores in that area. I went to Dick's Sporting Goods, and Petsmart since I needed some more material for the composting toilet, and then spotted a Redstone olive oil store. What a place that turned out to be! I spent at least an hour in there and probably drank a half a gallon of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, as I tested just about everything in the store. Lots of fun. They had some amazing combos and best of all, they had very small bottles of everything. I don't have the room for giant bottles of balsamic and olive oil. These little bottles, while they may not be the best value, can fit in the drawer. I got coconut vinegar, Persian lime oil, maple vinegar, Kalamata oil, all kinds of stuff. It will be fun to make dressings and whatnot out of those. I did some other walking around bought a cheap sweater, a piece of chocolate with cashews, and a frying pan. Yeah, I know...random.  Then finally headed to Starbucks for coffee and Wi-Fi. By this point it was late enough that I was considering spending the night in St. George, but it didn't look like there were a lot of good options. I decided to shoot for the red Cliffs BLM campground near Leeds Utah. It looked gorgeous. 

The drive there was pretty interesting. I knew there were two low tunnels under the freeway that you had to go through. They said they were 11'6 clearance and I'm 10 feet high so I knew it would work. What I didn't expect was how narrow they were! I wasn't sure I would fit. I'm sure I had more clearance than I did, but criminy it looked close. As I was approaching the recreation area I had some jackass in a car on my tail. After coming to the entrance gate I pulled over and let him by. This turned out to be a tactical error. When I got to the campground, that car was pulling into a campsite. It turned out that that was the last open one. Lesson learned. No good deed goes unpunished.  I'll never do that again.  Next option was Quail run State Park, which looked interesting, on the shore of a little reservoir. It was gorgeous. It was also full. Sigh..... 

At that point I decided to head for some other BLM land that I had read about in the Frugal Shunpikers Guides to RV Boondocking. It was kind of getting down to the wire at that point, it was getting close to sunset. I found the turn off okay, and the dirt road wasn't too bad, but all the turnoffs to the dispersed sites had me driving into the sun and I couldn't see what I was getting into. That's not optimal. I did find one that was not too far off the road at an angle where I could see where I was going and that's where I ended up. It's a nice spot. Beautiful views around, and very little noise. I've seen quite a few cars go by, but no other RVs and I don't see anyone else camped anywhere. It got really cold really quickly when the sun went down, and I headed inside shortly thereafter.  I was a little skeptical of these guides but some of the sites, like this one, aren't in any of the other resources I use. So they're definitely valuable. (I do get a commission if you use the link above.)

Later I got an email from the flute school with a 320 page flute textbook. What a great book. I read about 100 pages and played for at least an hour. The nice thing about being in such a remote area, no one can hear me play. Otherwise, there is no way I'd be playing the flute until 11 o'clock at night. Even inside the rig, I would worry that I was disturbing someone because sound does carry. 

I'm going to head to the park tomorrow, hoping to get a site in either one of the campgrounds. I would like to see a little bit of Zion, and after I looked at the flute schedule again I won't be doing any sightseeing during the school. So tomorrow and Friday will really be it for sightseeing. If I don't get a site there, I guess I can always come back here. I think it's about 15 or 18 miles. I went a bit crazy shopping online the past few days between Amazon and Ebay.......I got two new flutes, a case, a new laptop, a tent and some other assorted stuff all coming to the school hotel. They're gonna love me. :-)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

2/17/16 Deming

I got up a bit earlier, than the day before, had soup for breakfast, packed up and headed down to the border. I had been here before and it's not much of a border town, but I had a few things to pick up. Sadly, they didn't have the tequila I was looking for and the restaurant was jammed. I looked at a few things, bought some cookies, and antibiotics for my recurring sinus infection, and headed back to the USA.

I headed north to Deming, with the idea of staying at the St. Clair Winery there. I had just rejoined Harvest Hosts and was anxious to try it out. But I had a bunch of errands to run first. I had 2 Amazon returns to do at UPS, and then Fedex my new iPad back to Apple. For $500+ it wasn't THAT much better than my old one and after only 2 weeks I was having trouble with the home button. No thanks. Well, this turned into a dog and pony show. I don't have a printer so needed them to print out the prepaid labels. I have done this before. Not in Deming. The place that was doing the Fedex told me they'd do it....for $3.50 per label. The UPS guy told me he couldn't do it and to go to the library. So I did. One hour, and 45 cents later, I had 3 labels, and got all my stuff shipped back. Of course now I was running late for the winery as they closed at 6pm. I got there 20 min before closing, checked in, and got to do a quick tasting. I fell in love with their Mimbres Pink and bought a few bottles. Including one chilled one. :-)  I went out to the rig, pulled out a chair, uncorked the wine and enjoyed the solitude. Their wines are sweet (at least the ones I tried were) but really yummy. I'm embarrassed to say I put away most of that bottle. :-)  Might have been the whole thing if I hadn't knocked it over. :-)  It was definitely a relaxing night.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

2/16/16 Pancho Villa SP

I slept in....I was tired from all the driving. I had planned to head down to the border and walk across but just couldn't muster the energy. Around 12:30 I decided to WALK there. Not sure what I was thinking. :-) I made it about 3/4 of a mi and turned back, so at least I got a little walk in.  I decided I deserved a break and a day of rest and just watched Doctor Who and read and whatnot.

For dinner I fired up the Instant Pot and made a fabulous stew. I used 1 can salsa style diced tomatoes, 1 bag of the frozen brown rice, 1.5 cans water, 2 chopped zucchini, some sliced dried garlic (love that stuff in soups), some onion soup mix, turmeric (for health benefits and it hides well in stuff like this :-), one bag of frozen mixed mushrooms (I think I got them at Walmart a while back and they were good in this soup), and chopped up one of those links of deer sausage the neighbor gave us. I added some other herbs and spices while tasting, you know how it is. Since the salsa tomatoes were a bit sour I put a little maple syrup in. Probably wouldn't have to with better tomatoes. Threw it in the pot, hit "Soup" set timer for 10 minutes, and left it alone. It was great. Would work great in a crockpot too I think.

2/15/16 Fort Stockton to Pancho Villa SP, Columbus NM.

I didn't realize it, but I had never driven through El Paso proper before. I'd always come down from the north and you miss most of it. I found out that "miss" is a mis-nomer in this case. Yet another horrible Texas city to drive through. Not as bad as San Antonio but close. Let's see.....let's take a ton of traffic, let them drive at 65-75, and let a ton of traffic get on the highway, with no room to merge. Either put in some acceleration lanes or lower the speed limit. (And enforce it.) It's not rocket science here, and just putting up signs bragging about how many people have died on your roads does not really help. Sigh....

I decided to head for Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus NM as I'd heard good things. After the misery of El Paso the wonderfully straight, flat and deserted border road highway 9 was a joy to drive. There's pretty much nothing for 60 miles. Pancho Villa is an odd little park. It has a weird layout and there's nothing really there, but it has a good feel. There are tons of doves and roadrunners. Lots of yucca and other desert plants. Annoying showers though, you have to turn the water back on every 20 seconds. Ah well. For $14/night for a site with electric, you can't beat it.

2/14/16 Baytown to Fort Stockton

It's Texas marathon day's so depressing when you cross the state line and it's mm 882, and you know you have to go aaaaallllll the way to zero. I didn't think I'd make it to Fort Stock, but the Harry Potter books made the time pass a lot easier, and the Steer-Safe steering stabilizer made the driving a lot less tiring. The miles rolled along, I stopped a few times for breakfast and lunch, and rolled into the FS Walmart right at sunset. And almost rolled right back out again when I saw that there were a bunch of yahoos who had their rigs parked in a line, blocking one of aisles, and they had a CAMPFIRE going. In a Walmart parking lot. This is the the kind of stupid shit that causes us to lose the privilege of parking there. If you need to toast marshmallows and sit around a fire drinking beer, take your ass to a campground. After almost 600 miles of driving I wasn't in the mood to find a new spot and just parked as far away as possible, hoping to not get caught in the crossfire if security or the police confronted them. I don't know if anyone did or not but thankfully no one kicked the rest of us out for their stupidity.

2/13/16 Pass Christian to Baytown, TX

Not much to say about this other than WTF is wrong with Louisiana that they cannot fix I-10? It's a washboard and has been for years. They should legalize weed and use the money to fix the infrastructure. God knows what they're doing with the casino $$ because it's certainly not going to roads and bridges.  Spent the night at Cracker Barrel and had some crappy pancakes. Bummer, I usually love them. :-(

2/12/16 Westward Ho.

I finally rolled out of Florida headed west. I had it in my head that I was going to Yuma and attempt yet again to join the Elks before I headed up to the Zion Native Flute School.  There were the usual last minute snafus.....I got a new mattress the day before the trip. I woke up in the morning with a sore back with the first waking thought being "I hate this thing."  I decided to try putting the old cushions over it. That was no good, now I needed a stool to get into bed. I said the hell with it and tossed it in the building on the way out.  I'll try it again when I get back, assuming it's not mildewed to death.  I also forgot all my beer, wine & seltzer. Ah well.

I installed a new Pioneer stereo before I left and tried the CD and radio for a bit, then settled in with the complete set of Harry Potter audiobooks.
Pioneer DEH-X4700BT Single-Din In-Dash CD Receiver with Mixtrax, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, USB, Pandora Ready & Android Music Support
This stereo comes with a remote which is SUPER handy. At some point I'm going to wire it into the house batteries so I can use it when I'm parked without fear of running the starting battery down.
And here are the HP audiobooks. Yes, they're stupidly expensive. :-(
Harry Potter 1- 7 Audio Collection

These seem to be excellent for long drives. I got into Pass Christian MS right at sunset and headed off to get my shrimp po boy fix. I spent the night at Walmart instead of the beach parking lot I've used before. Last time there was too much traffic in and out of that lot at 3-4am, and it kind of creeped me out. They've had a bit of a crime wave recently and I felt better staying somewhere well lit with security. Sad that it comes to that sometimes. But I had a quiet night at Walmart.