Visiting Kevin’s Old Stomping Grounds

Church Where Kevin’s Dad Used To Pastor, Missouri.

My Memories of Hamilton

Before Hamilton, Missouri was a destination for quilters, it was my home town.  I grew up on a farm south of town, and I went to school there. 

Kevin’s Grade School Is Now A Quilt Museum. Hamilton, MO

My grade school is now a quilt museum.  We toured through it mainly for my memories as a kid. 

School Hand Rail Where He Would Swing Himself Around. Hamilton, MO

I remembered the stairs and hand rails. 

Kevin Reenacting Eating Cold Lunch At Grade School. Hamilton, MO

I sat down where I used to eat cold lunch on the bleachers in the gym.  Cold lunch?  Well, sometime in kindergarten, they had us try school hot lunch.  There was something I didn’t like about it, so I made the first big decision that I remember in life.  I was going to eat cold lunch from now on!

I think I remembered where all my classrooms were.  My favorite grade was second.  My teacher, Mrs. Sacarro <sp> was fantastic.  

The high school was at the north end of town, and now there is little there that I recognize.  They are tearing it down and building a new one.  My favorite teachers there were Mr. Blakely and Mr. Davies.  I still keep up with Mr. Blakely some, as he goes to the country church that my Mom and Dad used to attend.  

Part Of Downtown Hamilton, MO Today.

Hamilton lies on the crossroads of highway 36 and 13.  Highway 13 runs north and south through town.  Somewhere in there it becomes Davis street.  There was not much to do in town besides “dragging main” or Davis.  They would turn around at Hales 66 gas station on the south end, and the high school on the north.  I was always busy with other things, and didn’t do it once!  (well, maybe once or twice, don’t tell Dad.)

Hamilton is the birthplace of JC Penney.  I understand he came back and was a local citizen later in life.  I went to Penney High School, so I am guessing he donated quite a bit for the school.  I remember going to Penney’s in town to get school clothes and things.  

Speaking of businesses, there are several still going like they were when I was a kid.  Hales Hy-Klas is still there and still a grocery store.  Bernie Hales is not cashiering anymore.  She was a nice lady that had the patience of Job with me when I paid for a toy with pennies.  The MFA feed store is still there and seems just as popular now as it was.  

There are several businesses that are not there anymore.  Winslow’s feed is an example.  

There have been a lot of changes.  Missouri Star Quilt Company has revitalized the downtown area.  I am sure it would have been cheaper to build new buildings, but they revitalized the old two story buildings that run along Davis street.  In my opinion, it has breathed new life into a sleepy rural town.  

Kevin’s Junior High School. Kidder, MO
Old Grade School Playground Area. Hamilton, MO

“See this scar on my eyebrow? It happened right back there!” Swinging around swing set pole.

County Seat Where Kevin Got His Driver’s License. Kingston, MO
Water Pump In The Middle Of The Intersection. “Always Been There.” Kingston, MO
Just Never Know Where The Road Will End. Kingston, MO

Little Duck in a Big Pond

Farm Tractor & Equipment Ready For Tomorrow, Kansas Sunset 10/22

We headed east on Hwy 50 out of Dodge City, KS. At Wright, KS, we both saw a train in front of us. There was another train on the siding and I wondered how long we would wait for both trains to get across on the one track. Kevin started slowing down to be prepared to stop. Then as we got close, we saw the road turned a sharp left and didn’t go over the tracks at all. We started laughing and realized we BOTH thought the road crossed the tracks. We were belly-laughing.

From A-Ways Back, It Looked Like This Road Crossed The Track. HA Wright, KS 10/22

Then Kevin felt so bad for the guy behind us, as we had been slowing down to 35 mph on a road with a speed limit of 65 mph. Oops, sorry guy.

Nice Place To Stop, St John, KS 10/22

I started to read our library book out loud but put it down as there was so much to see along the way! We both really like taking the side roads because you get to see America and how people live, as opposed to the freeways. Lots of farms and little communities. At one point, we pulled off at a Kansas rest area. So nice to just open up HOWE (our name for our Home On WhEels, 5th wheel) door and use our own bathroom. Then on the road again. We drove to the fairgrounds at Hutchinson, Kansas and got there a few minutes after 11:00 am. When Kevin called them for reservations, he was told it is first come first serve, they have 200 full hookup sites, and only fill up during state fair week, in August.

What A Find! Great Place To Camp At Kansas State Fairground, Hutchinson, KS 10/22

As we pulled into the campground, Kevin said, “We are in the middle of a HDT Rally!” HDT is Heavy Duty Truck. That means these are semi trucks pulling very long 5th wheels. He was like a kid at Christmas to see all of the big rigs but said he was “embarrassed” to be seen in, you know, our 3500 diesel 4 door long bed 3/4 ton truck (a big, powerful truck as far as pickups go.)  🙂 A Rally is where people with something in common get together for a few days. We dropped off HOWE and headed out. To pay for the camping site, it is self-pay station, $30 a night. Right near there was a guy outside with his HDT and very long 5th wheel. He and Kevin started talking. Kevin told him 30 years ago, he was driving these. The guy said, “Do you know what we call your truck over there?” No, what? “LGT…Little Girly Truck!” Made us crack up! Later in the day, Kevin would start chuckling and he said he was remembering what the guy called our truck. HAHA

Years ago, Kevin drove a box truck from Kansas City to Hutchinson with stops along the way. We drove around the mall where he used to deliver to Learner, Lane Bryant, Limited, Victoria’s Secret, etc. The mall now is almost completely dead. No stores inside to speak of and a Harbor Freight at one end. A movie theater there. 30 years later and nothing is the same or familiar but it was fun to drive around. That is why we picked this town to stop for the day.

Painters Hanging From The Water Tower, Hutchinson, KS 10/22

You might have read where I write about the land being flat. 😉 See, Kevin and I have been living in a valley surrounded by tall, steep, rugged mountains for years. So things like flat lands, rolling hills and water towers are fun to see again. 🙂 This picture is a water tower with people painting it.

Train Used In Moving Salt From Salt Mines, Hutchinson, KS 10/22

We continued around the town. We went to the salt mine, Strataca and just looked at some displays outside. We didn’t want to go on the tour that goes 400 ft in the ground. The buckets used to pull out the salt carries the weight of 2 elephants!

It was around 1:00 pm by this time so what to do. I researched and found Reno County Museum close to downtown. We very much enjoyed it. Some things we learned:
*Ben Blanchard discovered salt in Reno County in 1887.
*We saw a brick with words “Don’t spit on sidewalk.” This refers to Dr Samuel Crumbine’s campaign to prevent tuberculosis in the early 1900s.
*We learned that different men would run their new rail lines around each other to try to one-up the other guys.
*Wherever the railroad went, that is where the towns stayed alive, at least when the trains were the main transportation.
*Kansas was able to decide for themselves if they were going to be a slave state or a free state. There were 7000 votes cast…but only 3000 registered voters!!
*Clinton Hutchinson started the town. It was on the edge of the county and at that time, the county seat would be around the center of the county. He got his political friends to re-draw the county border lines so Hutchinson would be in the center, and thus, the county seat. He was quite the swindler!
* Ben Blanchard bought 280 acres around Hutchinson and tried drilling for oil. Didn’t find any. But then he discovery salt in the ground. In the 1880s, in the Midwest, salt was more valuable than oil!

Evening Walk-About, Hutchinson, KS 10/22

Back at campground, we walked around looking at the semis and their 5th wheels. We even saw an Alliance Paradigm. 🙂 That is the same company that made our 5th Wheel, Alliance. There was maybe 20 semis there. We sat outside and enjoyed the evening. Look at all the Smart Cars. They are so tiny next to the big trucks. People put them on sideways behind the cab of the truck and then use them to scoot around town. 🙂

Lots of Big Rigs And Travel Trailers, Hutchinson, KS 10/22

Saturday we left Hutchinson, Kansas and headed north. We like to drive on the country roads. Even if it takes longer, we don’t care because you see so much more of life. We drove clear up to about 15 miles south of Nebraska boarder, then turned east on Hwy 36. 

Empty, But Oh What Memories This Place Must Hold! Concordia, KS 10/22

I am 100% deaf. I lost my hearing 2 years ago. I often use apps, example AVA and Live Transcribe, where it will put the words it “hears” in writing. They work ok, not great, and only if one person is talking and no noise in the background. I had noticed with the latest upgrade for Apple iPhone, they now have Live Captions and a microphone setting. I turned it on and we tried the microphone. It works great! A million percent better than the apps. I am pretty ecstatic about it.
As we drive along, we see historical markers on the sides of the roads. We like to stop and read them but it is impossible with our total length for our truck and 5th Wheel of 54 ft! Then I remembered an app put out in part by Kevin Costner. It is called Autio. I downloaded the app and tested the live captions part and it worked! The app notifies you when there is something interesting. Then you click on it and hear a voice. The iPhone Live Caption picked up the voice and typed out the words and grammar perfectly. What a thrill!!!!!! What did we hear? We learned Hiawatha, KS has the longest continually running Halloween parade in the country. Why? Because back when, people would do cruel and bad tricks. Started in 1914. Fun things to learn! Just so you know, we aren’t affiliated with Autio and we aren’t sponsored by them. (No one sponsors us, HAHA!) But we highly recommend this app to EVERYONE that does any traveling and likes to learn fun and interesting tidbits.

HUGE Combine With The Header Being Towed A Few Trucks Behind, Baileyville, KS 10/22

Where did we stop next? Hamilton, Missouri. Kevin is going to write and tell you all about his home town area next time.

We Highly Recommend Dodge City, Kansas!

Our Home On WhEels (HOWE) at Dodge City, KS

We were sooo ready to get on the road, we could hardly get to sleep. We set the alarm for 6:30 AM but we were both awake at 6:00. We got up, pulled the slides in, unhooked the water, took down Starlink and we were on our way. We headed east on I-40. I put the leftover pizza in the truck and we snacked on that throughout the day. Also had homemade Oatmeal-Butterscotch cookies. I made them a few weeks ago, sealed them in Food Saver, and frozen them. I thawed them last night. We saved a ton of money by not buying pop and treats every time we stopped for diesel. The new cooler worked great with drinks in it. HOWE (our name for our 2022 Alliance Avenue 5th wheel, Home On WhEels) followed along with no problems and Kevin drove great, as usual. I read aloud a library book about Doc Holliday, the Earp brothers, and Dodge City. Perfect since we are heading that way. We both got a little giddy when we got to the place that the road was new to us, we hadn’t been on it before. 🙂 We were so engrossed in the book that we totally missed the sign telling us we were in New Mexico! HAHA Continued on over Sandia Mountains which are just east of Albuquerque, New Mexico. On the side of the road was a semi and trailer that had caught on fire. Kevin said it looked like the sleeper started first. Hopefully everyone got out ok. On top of the mountains, it started to rain just a little. It didn’t really slow us down but had to use the wipers for probably about 15 minutes.

Santa Rosa Campground & RV Park, Santa Rosa, NM 10/22

The landscape changed to low, rolling hills. Lots of tall dry grass with juniper-pinion looking trees spread around. We got to Santa Rosa, NM around 3:00 PM. The campground was easy to get to and the guy checking us in was a hoot! He told us they have a BBQ Restaurant and showed us the menu. He said the special tonight isn’t on there. It is Himalayan Squirrel. He said it is fresh, because they found him-a-layin on the road that day! Oh that was funny.

Getting Set Up At Santa Rosa Campground & RV Park, Santa Rosa, NM 10/22

Got to our site and set up. We got out our camp chairs and sat on the grass. It was so dry and had goat head thorns. But the space was good for one night stop. We caught up on our phones (texts, emails, etc.) and then called and ordered BBQ dinner. The campground restaurant is carry out only right now and they deliver your meal to your campsite on a golf cart. The lady asked what time we wanted it delivered, which was nice. He said we are flexible but 5:30 sounds fine. Sure enough, the lady was there.

Delicious BBQ Dinner From Campground Restaurant, Santa Rosa, NM 10/22

The food was good and I would get it again if we stay here another time. We both had brisket, and I had baked beans and baked potato. Kevin had cole slaw and fries. We shared peach cobbler and a side of ice cream. Kevin said the peach cobbler was the best he has ever tasted. It was delicious!

Flat As A Pancake! Kismet, KS 10/22

We set the alarm for 6:00 AM but at that time it was still very dark out. Boy, what a difference with Flagstaff being same time as California right now – early sun up, early sun down.  We changed the alarm for 6:30. It was barely light out and by the time we were ready to go, the sun was just coming up at around 7:00 AM. Another great day driving. Perfect sunny weather. So thankful. We snacked on homemade cookies (I told about yesterday) and cheese and crackers. At one point I said, “How can these cookies taste better than right out of the oven?!?!” Kevin said he was thinking the exact same thing. Wow, that Food Saver is great.

Corn Is Very Tall! Dalhart, TX 10/22

At Tucumcari, we turned onto Hwy 56 and went through Texas, Oklahoma, and to Kansas. In Texas, we saw miles of feed lots, full of cattle. In Oklahoma, we saw miles of corn. In Kansas, we saw miles of milo and some corn. Now the bridges are the highest point around! Flat, flat, flat. See for many miles. There are also a lot of granaries, silos, or Kevin calls them elevators. 

Gunsmoke RV Park, Dodge City, KS 10/22

We got to Dodge City at 2:00 PM. Got checked in quickly at Gunsmoke RV. The nice man gave us some brochures about the area. Kevin asked him his favorite restaurant and he circled several on a brochure. As you enter this campground, on the west side of Dodge City, there are sites close together. But we are in the back, on the very end and it is nice. We have a front yard and back yard, both with wooden picnic tables. There is grass, although it is dried up. The sites are wide apart. We got set up for the week and headed into town. Drove around town for a little bit. A lot of streets close to historic downtown are brick. At one point we passed a water tower and Kevin said, well, this is the highest point in town. 🙂  We see the trains on the tracks and are “glad” the campground is on the north side because in our book, all the “bad” places were south of the tracks. HAHA (Not the case these days.) OH, we read in the book about Arkansas River and how they had a bridge over it and made it a toll bridge. But today, that river is completely dried up. I mean, you can tell there hasn’t been water there for a long time. Where did the water go? (We asked a tour guy at the train station later in the week. He said Kansas and Colorado have fought over water for years and years. Some dams were built along the river in Colorado.)

“AH, Doc Holliday, Put Your Gun Away!” HAHA Dodge City, KS 10/22

Monday: Kevin enjoyed the view from his desk today. It faces west and we see a rise in the ground, up to a fence. On three sides of the campground are fields. We saw a red pickup truck today with two workers in the field. One guy would stand in the bed or on the ground and hold a tall pole. It looked like a flag pole. Kevin noticed they were doing some surveying. The went all along the west, north, and east of this campground. Fun to watch. I mostly worked on travel journal and pictures today. When Kevin was finished with work we headed off to Boot Hill Museum. We knew the place would be closing soon. The young guy taking our fee said he would give us a receipt to get in to the museum tomorrow, too, since with work and early closing, we won’t be able to come earlier. That was very thoughtful and very much appreciated. We learned so much in the short time we were at the museum. A few highlights are:


*In 1872, Fort Dodge Commander Lt. Col. Richard Dodge closed the sutler’s bar to enlisted men and forbade alcohol on the military reservation. The result was a tent saloon five miles from the fort, and the start of Dodge City.


*Railroads & Daily Life – Imagine having to reset your watch 300 times as you travel across the country. That was once the reality, because each town set its own time based on the sun’s position. Railroads operating over long distances needed a better system. On November 18, 1883, they set up four time zones across the US and Canada. Dodge City, on the 100th meridian, sat in both the Central and Mountain time zones, so the depot had a clock with each time.

*AT&SF’s first conductor, John Bender (1844-1907). Once when John Bender asked a drunken passenger for his ticket, the man hiccuped, “I wanna g-go to hell!” Benders reply? “Get off at Dodge.”

*A Town Transformed – Longhorns carried but were immune to a tick-borne disease that killed Kansas herds. Ranchers demanded a quarantine on Texas cattle, and as ranching moved west so did the quarantine line. IN the mid-1870s, Dodge City was the easternmost railhead for longhorns. By 1885, the line reached Colorado, and the Kansas legislature banned all cattle from Texas. 
(* taken from signs and displays at Boot Hill Museum, Dodge City, KS)

Fascinating Information! Dodge City, KS 10/22

We decided to drive to the stockyard overlook. It is a large pull-off with a circular road. We got out and saw humungous fields of cattle. Even say a lot of buildings and a ton of semi trucks and trailers.

Cattle As Far As The Eye Can See, Dodge City, KS 10/22

We drove on smaller roads and even dirt roads and went around all four sides. Then we turned south and happened upon Fort Dodge. The fort is now a home for soldiers. We wanted to look around but there was a sign that all visitors must check in at some hall. It was getting late so we didn’t go further. We might another day.

Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery at Fort Dodge, KS 10/22

At the end of the Fort and across the street we found Kansas Veteran’s Cemetery. We got out and walked around. The oldest birth year we found was 1834! I looked up and read that civilians are also buried here. Left at sundown, drove a little more around town and then headed home.

Boot Hill Museum, Back Buildings, Dodge City, KS 10/22

Tuesday: After work, we drove back to Boot Hill Museum. We walked to where we had ended yesterday. Then out the museum, across the yard to old-time looking buildings. First we went into the General Outfitting Store. They had candies, trinkets, and clothes for sale. Next door was Long Branch Saloon. It looked real and the guy behind the counter was serving real alcohol. Two guys were sitting at a table drinking. From there, you walk through the rest of the buildings from inside. G.M. Hoover Cigars had a good display and information about cigars. Dry Goods, guns, photos, drug store, etc. all down the line. Kevin and I thought the displays were set in a way that really drew a person in to learn. Of course, from reading the library book, we are drawn to the names we “know”: Holliday, Earp brothers, Hoover, Wright, Mathewson brothers, etc. We feel like we really know them. 🙂 It is a crazy feeling. Shows what a great writer she is! We didn’t read every sign and display as we only had a short before closing but feel we got a good part of it.

Best Tasting Steak! Dodge City, KS 10/22

Then Kevin decided we should try out the steak place the campground host recommended. Casey’s Cowtown Steak House. Let me tell you, after the first bit of my chicken fried steak and Kevin’s steak and shrimp, he said to me, “What are you going to order from here tomorrow?!” It is THAT delicious! The steak was so tender, but thoroughly cooked, that I cut the pieces with the edge of my fork. The mashed potatoes were creamy with a few skins on – definitely homemade. I am craving it just typing this. Kevin rates his steak and shrimp: “Several times a week”…which isn’t even an option on our rating scale! HAHAHA My chicken fried steak rating: “Every day.” The place is divided in different rooms or areas with plastic plates and all sorts of memorabilia on the walls. It was great. In the parking lot…mostly Ram trucks! I even started walking to the wrong one. HAHA Kevin, seeing all those trucks, giggled with happiness.

Walking Tour, Dodge City, KS 10/22

Wednesday: As soon as Kevin was done with work, we headed out to do the walking tour of Dodge City. Whoever put it together did a great job! There is a booklet that has a map, description, and good details about all 70 places. It says it is approximately 3 miles. It was fun to see the exact spot where certain buildings were. If it wasn’t the spot, they had great iron hangings from light poles that are in great detail and depict something from the area. There were also “stars” from the TV series Gunsmoke in the sidewalks. We didn’t care much about that but someone who watched the shows would probably like it. At one point, we crossed over to the train depot. Inside, a very nice worker named Carl said they would be closing in 20 minutes. I looked around and saw we could never get through the whole thing in that amount of time. So we decided to come back here tomorrow when we would have more time.

Remember how we rated the food at Casey’s Cowtown Steak House? Yeah, Kevin said we are going back for dinner. Rated every day. HAHA Tonight I had the House Sirloin and it was melt in your mouth. Kevin had a Dodge Strip (as opposed to New York Strip, the menu says). We both rated it: “Every Day”. Kevin said his baked potato was light and fluffy inside.

Train Depot, Dodge City, KS 10/22

Thursday: Walking through Dodge City Train Depot is like walking back in time. A lot of it is original from the beginning. At one end they have made a dinner theater there. Oh, I wish it was running tonight but Carl said they are in between plays right now. Carl, the city guide, was a wealth of information.

One Of Two Sun Dials, One For Each Time Zone, Dodge City, KS 10/22
Funny! Dodge City, KS 10/22

Kevin says, “This is how you use a sun dial…stand near it…and look at your Apple Watch! 🙂

Friday: I made some cookies. After work, we drove west to see famous wagon wheel ruts of the Santa Fe Trail. We didn’t see any but read the sign. Not disappointed as the drive for the 11 miles was nice. We decided to try the other steak house that was recommend by the campground host. Prime On The Nine is at the local golf course. The grass was beautiful green and the restaurant very nice and a bit fancier than other places here. We both had the chicken fried steak and it came on top of mashed potatoes and a jalapeño gravy. We were a little weary of that because we are wimps and can’t handle spicy. But it turned out that the jalapeños just added the tiniest of kicks. Very good. We rate it: Every Few Months. (I just added that new rating because it is somewhere between once a month and once a year! HAHA) The best part was our server. She saw us signing and got really excited and animated, asking, “How do you sign….” It was cute. A real joy to see someone excited to learn and communicate. As we left, Kevin wrote the Lifeprint.com on a card and we told her about it. It is a great way to learn American Sign Language. As we walked out, she was adamantly showing it to a coworker. Back to HOWE we got things ready for a travel day tomorrow.

NASA, DART, Pluto, & History Made!

Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ

Monday 09/26/22

DART – NASA crashes into an astroid! On purpose! When growing up, if I could pick a topic for a report, I most always did the report on space. I have always loved learning about planets and the universe. (Not sci-fi, though!) Being newly deaf, I have faced many frustrating and disappointing times when I want to learn so much but without captions or interpreter, I am left in the dark. So, I emailed Lowell Observatory, here in Flagstaff, AZ and wrote: “I am deaf and love astronomy. The event on Sept 26 where the earth ‘strikes back’, is this something I can watch with my eyes and not need to hear anything? Would I be able to be close enough to see what is going on since I wouldn’t be able to hear what people are saying?”  The next day I got a reply from Madison, content marketing specialist: “Hi Charla. Thanks for reaching out! We will be more than happy to make accommodations for you at the event. If you’d like, we can reserve a space for you in our Astrolab to ensure that you can view the DART impact with closed captioning. Please let me know if there’s anything else we can do to help you enjoy this landmark event!” I responded and then bought our tickets. This was definitely a reason for us to stay longer in Flagstaff.

Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ

Today we drove to Lowell Observatory at 2:30. As we pulled in, there were a lot of vehicles in the parking lot but a few spaces left. I wasn’t sure how many people would come to this event. We walked in to the visitor center and checked in at the front desk. Kevin told the man that we had heard from Madison that we had reserved seats. He chuckled with a sly grin and said, “She is my girlfriend.” Sweet. Then he said something to a lady named Sarah and she signed to me in American Sign Language! She said she took ASL in high school and Kevin remarked to her how she must have kept up with it because she was very good.

The Roof Rolls Back And Then You Can Look Through These Telescopes To The Sky.

She walked us up the hill to Giovale Open Deck Observatory, past some big telescopes and into a room. There were 2 rows of chairs and she had saved us the front middle seats. So thankful!

Front Row Seats @ Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ

As we sat down in front of the big screen TV, it was on NASA TV and the countdown was 54 minutes. I was fully able to see and read all the captions and NASA did a great job with the captions. Full immersion into what was happening was provided for me and I couldn’t have been more thrilled at this event. Lowell Observatory was showing the event in all corners of the complex plus the auditorium. It was nice to make it so a lot of people could watch. Soon we had people standing at the back of the room and at the large, open doors the side. My heart was pounding so hard with excitement! It was thrilling to watch the “target locked”, “NAV has full control”, and all systems good. We all clapped when the astroid was hit. I loved watching the interviews with people before and after and just reading about all the time, planning, work, and what is next. Incredible.

A Thrill Of A Lifetime @ Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ

We watched for some minutes more afterwards and then went outside to get dinner.

Food Trucks For The DART Event @ Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ

They had a few food trucks there and we had Frito pie. It was a bit spicy, made my nose run, but very good. The weather was perfect and we ate outside at a table.

Nick Moskovitz Explains The Telescope @ Lowell Observatory On NASA TV

While in line, Kevin heard the couple behind us talking about Nick Moskovitz, and how he was going to give a talk at 6:30. Right before impact, Nick was ON NASA TV showing and talking about Lowell Observatory telescope and how it was used to find and map and help plan the entire DART program.

Presentation After DART Impact @ Lowell Observatory.

As we walked to the auditorium, Sarah came up and signed to me that she had our seats saved for us at the front. So sweet and accommodating! We didn’t expect that. Kevin did the interpreting and did a great job. Oh, we so enjoyed listening to Nick!

*2003, twenty years ago, when first started working on DART

*Lowell Observatory telescope, at 8000 ft, took more than 1/2 of the pictures for the entire project

*If the astroid was 40 BBL beer-making tank, DART was size of a pint

*At the last second, he got permission to show us on screen a picture from a telescope of DART hitting the astroid and the debris coming off it! (Even the next day, it isn’t online!) What an amazing privilege.

Next was Theodore someone who talked is post-doctorate. He talked so fast that Kevin could hardly interpret anything he said. He just talked about big holes and impacts. He did say that he and Nick are flying to Chile to the telescope and starting Wednesday will be collecting data and watching. They really are two of the few people able to do this. I feel such a privilege to be there and listen/see them. One of my most favorite lifetime events. The talks went until about 8:00 and then we were invited outside. We saw a sign that said No White Light. This is dark sky area and only red lights around and available to use from the front desk. We decided to go back to the telescopes we saw earlier. It was so dark!

Look Close To See The Blue Reflective Stars Painted Along The Curved Sidewalk.

Along one sidewalk we saw they had painted glow in the dark stars along it. That made me giggle out loud and tell Kevin that I am going to add that to our home base. Not kidding! HAHA At the top of the hill, back at the telescopes, we were able to see Saturn and then in another one a star cluster. Wow! As we walked back down we stopped at a museum.

PLUTO, where was it discovered….?
We learned that an important part of the success of Lowell Observatory has been the ability to build and fix telescopes, cameras, and other instruments. Percival Lowell used his knowledge of mathematics and celestial mechanics to “deduce that Uranus was perturbed not by Neptune along, but also by an as-yet discovered ninth planet.” Math and photographic efforts were needed to search for this planet. Mathematics figured out where the possible location was and the area was photographed. Unfortunately, telescopes then just weren’t strong enough to capture what was needed. As Lowell was working on this project, he was very secretive about it. Just a few people were involved and they were on need-to-know. He wanted to announce “a discovery, not a search.” After Lowell died, the search was put on hold for a decade. In April 1927 a new thirteen-inch photographic instrument, knows as an astrograph was built. Clyde Tombaugh was hired at Flagstaff in 1929 to start a systematic search using the area in the sky were Lowell had said the planet would be. PLUTO was discovered on February 18,1930 from photographic plates. The announcement to the world of the new planet was made on March 13, 1930 – that would have been Prevail Lowell’s 75th birthday.

Now, if you follow me around, you will know that I don’t like darkness. It is hard for me to see – plus, I am deaf! I have to be vigilant and make sure no one is following me, all that, for safety. I completely understand Dark Sky Cities and light pollution and all that but I get concerned about safety, both of walking and what a bad person might do. Every time we go somewhere at night, I always, I call it conversation but Kevin informed me yesterday it is complaining, as he laughed! I get on my soapbox about how it isn’t safe to have no lights in a parking lot or at intersections, etc. Well, at the Star Store, I saw a shirt I just had to have! It says, “First International Dark Sky City, Flagstaff, Arizona, Lowell Observatory.” Kevin and I just laughed and laughed and I said it need it because it goes against my “conversations”. HAHAHA He bought it for me and said I have wear it whenever we are out at night. 🙂 This event and being here AT the Lowell Observatory has been a true highlight for me and one of my most favorite events ever. Glad we stuck around Flagstaff for this. 🙂

NOTE: Frito Pie is just Frito chips in the bottom of a bowl and topped with chili and the fixings you like. 🙂

Which Direction Is Correct?!

Navajo Nation.

Day trip to Fort Verde State Historic Park (Camp Verde). The US Army had troops there in 1870 and the Fort was built in 1871-1873. It was an active primary military base during the Central Arizona Indian Wars.

Kevin Points To His Birth-year On The Timeline. 🙂

In 1891 it was abandoned and pieces of land was auctioned off. Out of 169 military forts only 18 had walls around them. Fort Verde didn’t have a wall and was never attached. This and other facts are on a poster called “Hollywood Myths” and we found them interesting. The museum is in the old administration building. I could feel the floor boards move and Kevin said they made quite a bit of creaking. There was a couple there that stood so close to me, at one point his back was touching my elbow. And it wasn’t crowded. I thought for sure they were trying to rob people. I signed in American Sign Language about it to Kevin and he kept a great watch on us. Very strange. Outside, we crossed the road and were able to walk through a few remaining buildings. They are the officer’s quarters, doctor’s house/office, and soldier’s quarters. There were 22 buildings originally at Fort Verde and they surround the parade grounds.

Camp Verde Parade Ground Flagpole.

In the middle of the parade grounds is a tall mast looking pole with an American flag flying on top. We walked over there, read the information sign, and I saw that the compass rose was off. Well, turns out, it wasn’t off, I was! I usually always “feel” which direction is where but this place I was totally off. So much so that I didn’t believe the sign. HAHA

Well, At Least The Elevation Matches! 🙂

We got out our phones and looked at the compass…kid you not! One phone showed 172° South and the other one showed 276° West. We were laughing so hard we almost had to sit down! Finally Kevin did the “walk in circles” circus act to try to get them to recalibrate. Who knows if they finally were right, although they did finally show the same. 🙂 This was a good and informative place. Arizona, we feel, does a very good job with their state parks, at least the ones we have seen so far.

We drove around town and drove to Montezuma Castle National Monument, right outside Camp Verde. I had looked at it online and they warn that you can’t walk/see the cliff dwellings because of some dangerous bees! Yikes. We drove to the front of the visitor center just to see. We will come back when the bees are gone. Then started north on I-17 towards Flagstaff. As soon as we got on the freeway, we said, “Oh, we should drive through Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. Let’s get off the next exit and turn around.” The exit wasn’t too far and we got off and turned around. As soon as we were on the entrance ramp to south I-17, I saw on the map that we could have taken the road we were just on over to Sedona. Too late. Then Kevin said we should go back to the exit of Camp Verde, where we had just been, turn around and go back to the road we were just on so we can drive on a new-to-us road. Then, haha, I saw that part of that road is closed due to fire. Okay, good to know. So we got off the Camp Verde exit where we had gotten off to got to the fort this morning. Oops, an exit too soon! Kevin thinks he can take this road and it should meet up with the next exit. Looking at the map I told him no, there isn’t a road that crosses the bridge. I was helped by the sign, “No Outlet.” Let’s try, he said. It was a nice little drive but of course, there was no road over the river. HAHA Turned around.

Bridge Over Little Colorado River.

We got up early to go drive three hours to Window Rock, AZ. This is Navajo Nation Capital and we want to visit Navajo Nation Museum. We drove Indian 15 road through Leupp, on to Ganado. Here we saw a sign for Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. We decided to stop and I am so glad we did!

Hubbell Trading Post, Navajo Nation.

John Hubbell purchased the trading post in 1878. This was 10 years after the Navajos were allowed to return. During the Navajo’s terrible time at Bosque Redondo, NM, they were introduced to many new things. Once they were home, they were able to get supplies from traders. From the National Park website: “Hubbell had an enduring influence on Navajo rugweaving and silversmithing, for he consistently demanded and promoted excellence in craftsmanship. He built a trading empire that included stage and freight lines as well as several trading posts. At various times, he and his two sons, together or separately, owned 24 trading posts, a wholesale house in Winslow, and other business and ranch properties. Beyond question, he was the foremost Navajo trader of his time.” The trading post was ran by family members until 1967 when it was sold to National Park Service. The neat thing is, the trading post is still active!!!

Information Sign In Visitor Center At Hubbell Trading Post.

As we walked to the visitor center, there was a Navajo National Park Ranger giving a tour. He welcomed us to join them. We got to go inside the Hubbell’s home. Interesting, he said that Native American’s never had the rugs they made on the floor. Rugs would be hung and/or used for blankets, jackets, saddle bags, etc. He said like a quilt. The park is free to visit.

I Like The Look Of This Language On The Stop Sign At Window Rock, Navajo Nation.

Next we drove onto Navajo Nation Museum and it was closed. We have tried several times to go call them to see if they’re open because the website says they’re open on Saturdays but when you call them the message says they’re closed on Saturdays. Today is Juneteenth we weren’t  even sure what today would bring but they were closed. There were a lot of cars in the parking lot but they must have been for the “zoo” next door. A guy walked up and said, “Yeah, they like their holidays!” HAHA

Petrified Forest National Park.

We decided to go to Petrified Forest National Park. So glad we did. A real enjoyable day. Kevin was able to get two stamps in his National Park Passport. 🙂 I hadn’t been to Petrified Forest, here, only the one in Utah. Kevin was here when he was a little boy. He said he was stunned that there wasn’t a forest with trees standing and petrified. I thought that was simply precious and could see how shocking that revelation would be!

Beautiful Colors!

Painted Desert colors were unreal! From Burgundy to red-orange, from grey to blue. Gorgeous. It is mind-blowing to see the pieces of wood that has turned to rock. The process is according to the visitor center: 1. A living tree on the edge of a stream 2. The tree dies and loses its leaves, branches, and bark. 3. The river undercuts the dead tree. 4. The tree topples into the water and is transported (5) a short distance downstream. 6. The log snags on a bank and is buried (7) under sand and mud in the stream channel. 8. Deep burial seals the tree away from bacteria and oxygen prevents decay. Eventually silica in the ground water infiltrates the tree replacing the organic material with quartz crystals. The log is “petrified”. 9. Erosion of the surrounding rock layers re-exposes the petrified log. 10. Further erosion undercuts the log causing it to crack, break into segments, and eventually roll down the hill.

I would like to share with you one of our most favorite recipes. It comes from my mom but I have adjusted a little bit. 🙂 It is very easy to make and is true home-comfort food to us. Enjoy!

Hamburger Stroganoff
1 lb hamburger
2 cans cream of mushroom soup, don’t add water
16 oz sour cream
16 oz bag egg noodles (I also like the “homemade” Country Pasta from Costco.)
Brown hamburger. Drain off grease..
Mix is soup and sour cream.
Cook noodles according to package.
Serve hamburger mixture over noodles.

NOTE: I can’t find the Country Pasta homemade egg noodles in the Costcos where we have been traveling. Anyone want to send me a bag? HAHA Just kidding! 🙂

Being Deaf & Almost Getting Hit In A Mall Parking Lot In Las Vegas.

Watching Bryce Play Baseball In Henderson, NV. 06/22

It was very nice to be at a big city and pick up some needed things that aren’t available in smaller towns. We came to Las Vegas to watch our friend play baseball and to visit with my aunt and uncle. First stop was to Williams-Sonoma where I got a vegetable peeler. (My Pampered Chef one is in storage.) The cheap one I had from Walmart broke the other day. Then to Lens Crafters for glass cleaning cloths. It is at an outdoor mall. Really nice! We couldn’t find the store. Kevin called them and they are inside Macy’s, the first store we walked through. HA We got what we needed. In the parking lot, a younger lady in a truck was stopped in the middle of the road. I thought she was waiting for someone to pull out so she could get their spot but Kevin said she was dropping someone off. We walked past her staying close to the parked cars when suddenly Kevin grabbed my arm hard and pulled me far left to the other side of him. It turns out that lady wasn’t watching when she started driving and almost hit me!!! Scary. I am deaf and couldn’t hear the motor. I am so thankful Kevin is hearing and upon hearing the motor saved me! My hero. 🙂

This Lady Was Heading To Walmart And No One Was To Get In Her Way. 🙂

I don’t know this lady but her “drive” (pun intended) to get to where she was going was strong. Good for her!

By the time we were hungry. We found L&L Hawaiian, which I knew Kevin liked where we used to live. The food was fine, rated it “Once A Year.” Then to Costco. Oh how I miss Costco!!!! There isn’t one within 2 1/2 hours of Flagstaff. It was crowded but we weren’t in a hurry and just took our time. I got 2 packages of hamburger & some pork roasts, both of which I used my Food Saver with after we got home. Food Saver is a vacuum system that takes out all the air from the package. It makes food last a long time. Got some other things as well, but not toilet paper…not enough room in HOWE. 🙂 On the way home, we stopped at a new Maverick gas station – it even has RV lanes! Very nice. Maverick is Kevin’s favorite convenience store. We didn’t need the RV lanes but needed drinks. HAHA

Adding To The Door. Las Vegas. 06/22

The window in this door was clear glass. It made it hot when the sun would shine through. We bought this window film and Kevin installed it. We like it as it makes it so someone on the steps can’t see in but we can see the silhouette. Also, not so hot.

I have been doing a lot of reading. I am reading “The President’s Man” by President Nixon’s Aide. Very interesting and I like it. I made Tater Tot Casserole in my smallest Pampered Chef baking dish. It was perfect size. By then the sun had set and we went to the pool and hot tub. We were very surprised that we were the only ones in the pool and only 1 guy sitting in the recliners. The pool was colder than the other day. Again, surprised, since the day had been 97 degrees. We quickly ended up in the hot tub. Another couple came in. We had a nice visit with them. They are full time, too, and here helping their son convert a van for camping. 

Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort – A True Resort. One Of Our Favorite Campgrounds. 06/22

We met my aunt and uncle outside their place here in Las Vegas and then rode with them to Bahama Breeze. We all shared an appetizer and then each couple shared the coconut dinner. Everything was perfection. Even the broccoli was perfectly cooked with a nice buttery flavor. The yellow rice was scrumptious. I also liked the tall ceilings and decor of the building. I liked it so much that I put the address in my phone book so we can go there again. Back to aunt and uncle’s place to place to play the card game “Golf” with them. It was a lot of fun. We love visiting with them.

Bryce Hits The Ball. Henderson, NV 06/22

Up early to be at the ballgame across town in Henderson by 8:00 am. The weather was perfect and always a thrill to watch our friend, Bryce. He is a senior in high school now. The first game, the other team didn’t have enough players because the coach said they thought they played at 9:00. They are from Vegas so there wasn’t even the time zone excuse. The coach was very angry at the game-recorder and said the F-bomb. Not good! He finally told the umpire they would forfeit. The teams decided to play a scrimmage game, which I thought was nice, for the boys to be able to play. Later the coach changed it to not be a forfeit game. What? Anyway, we won. The second game started right afterward and we lost. Later we met Bryce and his parents, Brian and Heather, at Sunset Casino for visiting and dinner. We ate at the kind of fancy Italian place at the casino. It was good and we were all full afterward.

Sunday, got up even earlier to get going and to get HOWE (the name of our 5th wheel Alliance Avenue, Home On WhEels) all packed up for travel day. Got to the baseball park right as the game started. The game was a good one and very close. This was the last game for us to see Bryce play while in high school. He is a young man who has always been a joy to watch. Not only is he a great baseball player but he has the attitude you want to see. He is very encouraging to his teammates and the players on the other team. For example, one time when the play was extremely close, he got thrown out at first base. He got up, looked at the first baseman and said, “good play.” We have known him since he was two years old. Our dear friends walked us over and had a look inside HOWE. They were very impressed. Then we closed it up and headed to J&H RV Park in Flagstaff.

Tater Tot Casserole
1 lb hamburger
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz sour cream (or you can substitute 1 cup of milk)
1 pkg (16 oz) tater tots
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Brown onion and hamburger. Drain.
Line bottom of 9×13-inch pan with hamburger and onion.
Mix soup and sour cream (or milk) together. Mix well and pour over meat mixture. Top with partially thawed tater tots.
Bake at 450° for 35 minutes.
Remove and add grated cheese. Bake again for 3 minutes more or until cheese is melted.
Who is hungry now? 🙂

An “Experience” That Made Us Want To Leave. ;)

Setting Up Before Slides Out On Our 5th Wheel at Fort Tuthill, AZ. Look At All The Trees.

Funny story…When we were camping in Needles, California, I started looking for places to camp over Memorial Day weekend. I didn’t know this area (Flagstaff), having only driven here and back to Phoenix with Kevin in January 2021. I wasn’t sure about “boondocking” around here so didn’t even look into that. Plus, at that time, Kevin thought he would need cell service to stay in touch for work. (We didn’t have Starlink yet.) I looked up and down I-17 and no place had openings. Finally, finally, found Fort Tuthill Campground. Wahoo!  Booked it. Then the other day we were driving around exploring the area and we see “Fort Tuthill” exit…it is literally 15 minutes away from the campground we are at in Flagstaff!  HAHAHAHA Such a “big” travel trip. 🙂

Kevin In Line To Check In At Fort Tuthill Campground, AZ.

Today we went the “long” drive to the Fort Tuthill. This campground is a mess! There are trees everywhere not just around a campsite. All the ground is red dirt. You can’t tell where the “roads” are vs the campsites. They meander around. Online and the printed map they gave us, the roads with well defined but they aren’t in real life and they don’t match.  There was a line waiting to check in with the host but that is understandable, this being Memorial Day weekend. Kevin asked them if a 36 ft 5th wheel would fit getting to the site. The hosts just pointed and gave him a map. A guy in line behind Kevin chuckled and said, “Good luck!” Kevin was smart and actually walked the roads/paths to see which way was the best to take HOWE. We are glad he did because looking at the map was totally different than what really would work. We went around and then backed into the “pull through” spot, E-13, because there was a huge log blocking the end of the site. I helped guide him back using the walkie-talkie, like we normally do. It was quite funny, the two host guys got in a golf cart, drove to our site, and actually sat and watched us back in. They were surprised we got in! We made it.

Vintage Volkswagens Set Up Throughout The Campground.

As we drove onto Fort Tuthill grounds, we saw a sign that said “Grateful Festival this weekend.” Wow, I said. That is neat to be having a festival of thankfulness for the men and women who died serving their country, this being Memorial Weekend. In the campground, we saw a lot of Hippies in tie-die clothes and blankets around their tents and canopies. Even saw some vintage Volkswagen Buses. There were also a lot of family groups camping together. We looked up online and saw the “Grateful Festival”is cover bands of Grateful Dead Band all day Saturday and Sunday. Not what I thought when I saw the sign! 🙂

First Recorded Use Of Metal Plates In A Surgical Procedure In The United States.

On Saturday we went to Fort Tuthill Museum. Fort Tuthill is named for General Alexander Tuthill. He is considered the father of the Arizona National Guard. Construction of the National Guard training ground was started in 1929 and was considered one of the finest training facilities in the United States. It covered 10 acres and had access to 8000 more acres in the national forest to use for training. The Fort was turned over to Coconino County in 1955. All the buildings are still in use today with picnic areas, horseback trails, hiking trails, large campground, archery range, rifle range, amphitheater, as well as horse track for races.

Saw This Warning On Our Hike Around Fort Tuthill.

At midnight, Kevin woke up to hearing a beating of a drum, like a drum circle. He heard loud singing and even an upright bass guitar. He was surprised the campground hosts didn’t call the police. At 3:00 am, I woke up to flashing police lights. I woke up Kevin. There was a police car but only at the edge of the campground and didn’t go in to tell them to be quiet. Grrr! At 4:00 am, we woke up again with them talking so loud. Kevin said they were even swearing. We felt so bad for all the families with children in tents around them. Good grief! Sometimes it is nice to be deaf! 🙂

Look At The Windy Road Down The Side Of The Mountain. Oak Creek Canyon.

We slept in because of the crazy night we had. Oh, the loud noise, chanting, singing and music? Right across from our campsite! After biscuits and homemade sausage gravy, we drove to Sedona on Hwy 89A. This road is two lane and goes through Oak Creek Canyon. It is beautiful! The road has several switchbacks and then goes deep into the canyon with tall walls on the sides. There were some stops at construction stop lights but we didn’t mind because it was just more time to look around at the beauty. The drive took under an hour. We were surprised that every pull off was full, every “entrance fee” place had a sign out it was full, and people everywhere. We wonder if that is normal for a Sunday or is it this is a holiday weekend.

Slide Rock State Park, AZ

We want to come back and visit the sites, especially one that I read about in the 10 Women of Arizona booklet I got in Winslow. It is Slide Rock State Park. When we got to Sedona even the roundabouts had lines. We weren’t planning on stopping in Sedona, as we have been here several times before. So we went a little ways and then just turned around and headed back. We really enjoyed this drive and can’t wait to explore it more. Back at campground, we walked over and chatted with the campground hosts (2 guys and 1 gal there). They said they knew about the loud noises at night and said they even had to help some of them find their campsites because they were so out of it and were just wandering around trying to remember where to go. Yikes! The paper of rules says quiet time hours and says you may be removed. I can’t imagine how bad it has to get for them to do that! Thankfully, Kevin heard no noise tonight. (Some of the group across the campsite from us left in the evening.)

Memorial Day. We were definitely ready to leave this campground. We got up at 7:30 and got ready to go. I had everything put away the night before. Just grabbed some snacks for the road trip. We didn’t have hook ups so getting ready didn’t take too long. We both sighed relief as we pulled out. We drove to Las Vegas and had a great drive. We got to the Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort (a true resort!) at 1:00 pm. Got checked in fine; asked for a sunny site and so she changed it for us. We need the open sky for Starlink. Later we went to the adult pool and hot tub. Both were nice temperatures. Got hungry for supper so came back and fixed Thanksgiving Casserole. We ate outside on the picnic table. Had an enjoyable evening sitting outside, reading, and watching planes overhead.

Thanksgiving Casserole
(recipe from Barbara Kester)
4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
2 cans of cream of chicken soup, don’t add water
1 cup sour cream
2 cups wide egg noodles, cooked
1 regular Stove Top Chicken Stuffing Mix
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup butter
Mix chicken, soup, sour cream, and noodles. Put in 9×13 casserole dish.
Sprinkle dry stuffing on top.
Melt butter together with broth. Pour over top of stuffing.
Bake, uncovered, 350° for 30 minutes.

NOW I am hungry for this!!!! HA

How Big Is This? Also,The Sign That Makes Us Laugh When We Think About It.

Meteor Crater National Landmark, AZ 05/22

So glad we made the decision to not drive HOWE (this is the name we gave our 36 ft 5th wheel: Home On WhEels) east yesterday. The wind finally calmed down a little but still is blowing all day. The campground owner says this is normal for Flagstaff through mid-June. Yikes! We slept in and then drove our car to Maverik gas station for gas and donuts.

This Is Huge!

We went to Meteor Crater National Landmark. Kevin thought it would be just a tourist trap but I was very excited. Growing up I had always thought the crater was the size of a car. In researching it, I found out it is huge. We got there and it wasn’t crowded. $24.00 a person, includes everything, even a guided tour that takes 1.5 hours. We watched the film first. It was done very professionally, I thought, and had captions! This is great because I am completely deaf. Every screen in the museum had captions! I was so happy. We walked out and looked at the crater.  It can hold 20 football fields and 2 million people in the stands! Now that is big! I was impressed with all the information…it would say, “We think it was (50,000 years ago),” for example. They would tell of different theories and such that people had over time. That impressed me. The estimated speed the meteor was traveling is 26,000 miles an hour. It is a mile across and 550 ft. deep.

Photo By Charles Lindbergh In July 1929.

“From 1963 through 1970, astronauts scheduled for Apollo missions to the moon were trained at Meteor Crater because of the similarity to the craters on the lunar surface.” One person got his suit caught on a rock and NASA learned they needed to make some changes with a thicker material to resist tears. I was very impressed with the place. Nice facilities and the bathrooms were clean and lots of stalls. It turned out to be much better than what Kevin had envisioned.

We STILL Laugh About This Sign Whenever We Think About It!

On our way to Homolovi Ruins State Park, I saw a place with signs “Authentic Indian Crafts”. What caught my attention was this: PP by the TP. I laughed soooo hard! In other words, the pee-pee is by the tipi.

Homolovi Ruins State Park, AZ 05/22

Homolovi Ruins State Park serves as a research center for the late migration period of the Hopi from the 1200s to the late 1300s. While archaeologists study the sites and confer with the Hopi to unravel the history of Homolovi, Arizona State Parks provides the opportunity for visitors to visit the sites.

Pieces Of Broken Pottery All Over The Ground.

This is built on top of a bluff where you can see below for miles. It was fascinating place. Well done with paved roads and cement sidewalks. Along the way, we saw cows and burros. For dinner, I made hash out of the meat and baked potato leftover from Texas Roadhouse. Yum.

The dirt here in Flagstaff, AZ is crazy! The strong winds are always blowing it everywhere; you can see it in the air. I am constantly having to wipe down all surfaces. We haven’t seen wind and dirt blowing like this before. We are told this is normal until Monsoon Rain Season starts in mid-June.

What Pet Is He Walking? J&H RV Park, Flagstaff, AZ 05/22

At one point, I looked outside and literally, I kid you not, saw a guy walking his turtle here in the campground. Laughed out loud! For dinner we had crockpot Roast with a side of mashed potatoes and crescent rolls. Yum.

I Have This Precious Moments Figurine. It Is Us, Without The White Hair…Yet. 🙂

The best words a person can hear…when your spouse/love of your life says to you “Every minute with you as like a date.” Swooonnn! Oh my heart. I went to Bashas grocery store and the post office and he missed me when I was gone. I missed him too and kept wanting to show him what I was seeing. True Love.

Recipe: Three Packet Slow Cooker Roast
by Allrecipes.com
1 cup water
1 (.7 oz) packet dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1 (.75 oz) packet ranch dressing mix
1 (.75 oz) packet dry brown gravy mix
1 (3 pound) boneless beef chuck roast
1. Whisk together everything but the roast until smooth. Place beef chuck roast in the slow cooker. Pour the mixture over the top.
2. Cook on Low until the roast is easily pierced with a fork, about 6-8 hours.
Note: I make a gravy out of the juices when done cooking and pour over mashed potatoes.

NOW I am hungry! 🙂

How Do You Describe The Beauty Of Some Desert Mountains?

All Set Up For Boondocking In The Beautiful Mountains!

Friday 05/13/22 – Tuesday 07/17/22 Flagstaff, AZ @ Coconino National Forest, boondocking 

Off we go boondocking in Coconino National Forest, off service road 171 pull off 812. Boondocking is a term meaning “camping out in the boonies”. It also is called dispersement camping. It refers to a place where there are no hookups: no water, sewer, or electricity. What? Read below to see Kevin’s explanation on how you make this work. 🙂 I got some groceries this morning, making sure to plan meals around boondocking. This is the first time for new HOWE (our Home On WhEels). We aren’t sure how it will do with no hookups but we will see.

Top Of The Mountain, Every Direction Is Beauty!

We drove out of Flagstaff, AZ on Hwy 180. Kevin pulled off to wait for me as I took the car on the Forest Service dirt roads to see if the spots we wanted were available. There isn’t turn around spots so it will be horrible to have 36 ft HOWE (we measured!) plus  the truck for a combined total of 54 ft and not be able to turn around! The dirt road #245 had been graded since last weekend and it is horrible. Not kidding. A wash board. At times I was going 7 mph and was bouncing all over. Before the washboard, I could go 25 mph safely. I went to our first choice and no one was there. Wahoo! I texted Kevin and he started this way. I just knew that HOWE would be a total mess with everything fallen down from the washboard road. But surprise! Nothing was amiss, except for all my canned goods fell again. Sigh/laugh. Kevin and I were thrilled that nothing else was broken.

HOWE All Setting In.

We got HOWE backed in along some Ponderosa Pines but out enough from the trees so Dishy for Starlink will work 100%. And boy, it sure does. There is great AT&T service here as well and I was able to FaceTime Kevin to warn him about the washboard road. After supper of macaroni salad and chicken, we sat outside on our chairs. Enjoyed the evening. We are at 7640 ft elevation. Dark at 9:00 pm and we went to bed.

Gorgeous Pine Trees.

Coconino National Forest I love the blueness of the desert sky. It is deep blue and a color that a person would think it is photo-shopped. The Ponderosa Pines around us are anywhere from right next to each other to about 15 ft apart. Some of the trunks are  about 6 inches in diameter while others are bigger than we can get our arms around. There is shade from the needles and trunks that we chase around as the day goes along. Native grasses are starting to come alive, a big difference even from last weekend when we drove up here to take a look. There are lava rocks. To the west of where we are parked, it is the Kalib National Forest. Right there it a wide open field with just wild grass. It looks like the forest service has planted trees around.

Another View From Where We Are Camping.

There is a very steep hill where off road vehicles have climbed. Now it is closed with rocks blocking the start of the trail and a sign that says they are trying to rebuild from the damage. We walked up the hill to about 1/2 way one day. From there, as you look East, you see Humphreys Peak, the tallest mountain in Arizona, elevation 12, 635 ft. There are a few vehicles that go past us on the dirt road. Campfires are not allowed right now, due to the dryness around.

We Filled 2 Trash Bags From Things People Left Here Before Us.

Behind HOWE, there is a large campfire pit made out of lava rock. The pit is full of beer cans and bottles. We bought extra sturdy trash bags and cleaned it up. We also picked up bottle caps, cigarette butts and bullets. Why don’t people clean up after themselves, I will never understand! We took walks in every direction around HOWE. We are just in awe of this place.

The only injury we had was my big toe. You might think I stubbed it on one of our hikes or a big lava boulder rolled over it. No, not even close. I reached into the pantry to get some hamburger buns out. It was sitting on top of the cans (previously mentioned that had fallen during transit). As I pulled the buns, a large soup can came crashing down right on my toe. I said “ouch” and maybe, perhaps, another word and put it back on the shelf. I looked and saw a tiny bit of blood along the toe nail. Pretty soon it was dripping blood. I hollered for Kevin, who was sitting outside. Turns out HOWE must be built will solid walls because he couldn’t hear me holler. So I said to my watch, “Hey Siri, text Kevin, I cut my toe, please come help.” He immediately came in. I had him turn off the stove because I had just start heating up some Bush’s baked beans and I knew they would start boiling over too fast. I got the toe cleaned up as Kevin got the Emergency Kit and handed me a bandaid. There is so much red dirt around here and we are covered in it. Hope it doesn’t mess the toe up. HAHA The toe is fine.

Reading The Instruction Manuals For This New 5th Wheel 2022 Alliance Avenue. 🙂

In one day, I read Sue Thomas’ book, “Silent Night.” Kevin had bought it for me and came the day we left. So interesting and very much a story of perseverance while being deaf. Another day, well, it took just a few hours, I read through the manuals we were given for this Alliance Avenue.

Everything is working great! The solar panel charges up the battery and with Starlink and Kevin working with his computers, the battery charge never went below 3/4 and charged up to full every morning. We still have full water, even with each taking several showers. I am being careful with the water in the kitchen but turns out I don’t need to be. Black and grey tanks are nearly empty, too. So, 5 days of boondocking and everything is holding out great. The temperatures have been perfect. At night, the outside temps are in the low 50s/ high 40s and we don’t even need to turn on the heater. Our comforter keeps us nice and toasty. The daytime temps have been in the low 70s. And best of all…. No wind! A slight, barely feel breeze every once in awhile.

When we got HOWE back to J & H Campground in Flagstaff, we were so thankful and relieved that nothing broke on the travel! Wahoo. I rearranged the canned goods in the pantry and they didn’t fall. I think we got this now! ROFL

Kevin: Boondocking

Boondocking is camping without a campground or hookups. Out west in United States especially, there are many public lands where this is allowed.  This is great, because in campgrounds you are very near your neighbor.  The last time we went boondocking, our nearest neighbor was at least a mile away.  

What does “no hookups” mean?  It means you have to be completely self sufficient.  The big three for RVing are power, water, and sewer.  

There are books written on how to be power independent.  It boils down to needing some way to store electricity, and some way to replenish that storage.  On our HOWE, I have four lead-acid batteries (my buddy Larry gave me two. Thanks Larry!) and a solar panel to help keep those batteries charged.  We boondocked over a week with this setup.  As a backup, I have a generator that I can plug in to get the batteries charged again.

Water is much simpler.  Almost all RV’s have a water storage tank.  There is an electric pump that keeps the pipes pressurized and running.  We just need to remember to fill the tank if we are going to be boondocking.  People that boondock for long periods will need to haul water to their RV.  

Sewer is pretty simple as well.  There are usually at least two tanks for sewer. Our 5th wheel has 3.  There is a black tank for everything that goes in the toilet.  Next there is a grey tank for sink and shower water.  As with water, if you boondock for a long period of time, you will need to haul the waste away and dispose of it at a dump station. Ask Charla about the poop trolly!

Also, for most RV’s boondocking is more of a challenge in more extreme weather.  Our HOWE has two air conditioners and that requires electric hookups.  So if it is hot out, boondocking would quickly become miserable.  The same goes for cold weather.  Most RVs have a propane furnace.  This brings down two resources – propane and electricity for the fan to push the warm air into the RV.  So, for most people, boondocking is best done in mild weather.

Boondocking is a blast!  You get to see remote areas without the crowded feeling of campgrounds.  It requires a bit more planning and monitoring of power water and sewer, but the tradeoff is awesome in my opinion.

Good Night From High A Top An Arizona Mountain.

Recipes, National Forest, Flat Tires, Winslow, And A Quilt.

“Wrap Ukraine With Quilts”

I almost cried! When I shop for fabric for quilts 99% of the time I don’t have a quilt in mind. I just pick the fabric because I like it. 🙂 When I had the blocks all made and sewn together for this quilt top, I didn’t know what I would do with the quilt, give it away or keep it. As soon as I finished the quilt top, literally the minute I finished, my sewing group said they were going to make quilts for Ukraine. Hellocottons.com in Lehi, UT, has a great story about knowing people in that country. People in Ukraine and those fleeing desperately need quilts. They need warmth and to be able to wrap something around them that feels like a big hug. I got teary eyed when I realized most of the fabrics I had used are the colors of the Ukraine flag!

Sunflowers, The National Flower Of Ukraine.

When I took it to the longarmer (a person who operates a large machine that puts the designs on quilts) we were looking for a design. We saw the sunflower design and she said she thought the sunflower had something to do with Ukraine. Kevin looked it up on his phone and it is Ukraine’s flower! So yes, that had to be the design.

Beautiful Ponderosa Pines at 8,000 Ft Elevation.

Friday 05/06/22 As soon as Kevin was done with work, we drove the car to “National Forest Road #171”. The funny thing about this is, on Campendium, the website about camping places and dump stations, as this place listed as the highest rated in the Flagstaff area. I thought we should check it out for Boondocking. Anyway, we drove west on Route 66, then I-40 and got off at the exit close to the road. We got on dirt road #171. There is a huge bump right there where they are adding a culvert right next to the road so the round about it is a mess. After that, the road is really nice! Dirt and some gravel but 100% better than a lot of I-40. We saw probably about 10-15 trailers/tents along the way. We found a place we think we can get HOWE (our 2022 Alliance Avenue, 36 ft, we named for Home On WhEels) into, just off the Forest Service road 171 C.

Kevin Checking Starlink App On HIs iPhone.

But, the app says Dishy (Starlink) wanted more clearance. Kevin said we had better reception there than at the campground in Flagstaff. We found Lava Caves and got out and read the signs. The sun was going down so we will come back another time. We are pretty excited to come back here and camp. We decided I will take the car up ahead and text Kevin if the place is available for us or if someone is there. There is 1 to 2 bars LTE on the phones. We tested them and they work good even for FaceTiming. We decided to eat out and looked for a diner. I found The Crown Railroad Diner but the address took us to the end of the train depot that is a visitor’s center. We kept driving. Found another diner but it was closing in 15 minutes. Went back a few blocks to a restaurant we passed that had some of the lights out in the sign. As we walked in, we saw that this is the place we had first looked for! It is part of an old hotel. There is a working model train going around the room. Kevin had the best Patty Melt – lots of cheese, onions, rye bread and it was toasted. He was thrilled! Rated “eat everyday”. I had chicken fried steak that was fine. I rate it as “once a month”. What a fun discovery. As we ate, the model train went above our heads at the same time we looked across the road and saw a long 5-engine train pass by.

Near Winslow, AZ.

Saturday 05/07/22 Flagstaff, AZ Today was drive and explore day. Kevin wanted to go to Winslow, AZ. It is famous for some song by the Eagles. Sounds fun, let’s go. Of course we wanted to stay off the freeways. We went on Hwy 15 to Leupp, AZ, which is on Navajo Nation reservation. There wasn’t a lot there and we didn’t stop. Took Hwy 99 south to just west of Winslow. We were in awe of the change in landscape! On Hwy 15, there is a lot of cedar trees and some big hills. After awhile, it is what you typically think of AZ desert, dry, more dirt than growth, with a few red rocks. We saw a few homes scattered along the way.

“Standing On The Corner In Winslow, AZ.” This Is From An Old Song.

We stopped in Winslow and I took Kevin’s picture at the corner where a statue is. He was pretty excited about it. 🙂 There were a lot of people there and you had to wait in line to stand next to the statue. I looked up and saw a museum. We walked over there. It is free, small, and had great information. Our favorite thing we learned was that there was a Harvey House in town, because the train runs past. One of the ladies there later rustled cattle! She even used Henna to paint a bull to look a different color. She put her own brand on it. The owner went past that bull for a year without knowing it was his and she had stolen it. HAHA I bought a book that has about 8 stories of AZ women because her story is it in it.  From there we drove south on Hwy 87. Awhile later we were back in the mountains and Ponderosa Pines. We turned north on Hwy 3. We passed a few campgrounds that look like we should check out. We now have to be carefully…we can’t have shade or trees because Dishy with Starlink needs a wide open space above us! Weird thinking! HAHAHA

Mormon Lake, AZ Not A Drop Of Lake Here.

We came upon Mormon Lake and I had seen online the campground there. We were in complete shock…there wasn’t a drop of lake left. Not kidding! It used to be huge, according to the map in the car. Crazy drought! The campground was full of people with ATVs and was very cramped sites. We won’t be camping there. What a gorgeous drive! We left home around 10:00 and got home around 4:30.

Sunday 05/08/22 The wind here in Flagstaff has been horrible! Steady speeds in 30s mph with gusts in 50s mph. It is awful and we are surprised! We both said we want to go back to Needles, CA! We hope the wind doesn’t last. We haven’t even been able to sit outside or eat outside. The dirt is everywhere, even inside HOWE.

Did We Go 4-Wheeling In The Car? Nope, Just National Forest Road. 🙂

Today we drove back to the National Forest to check if there was a different way to get to road 171. We went up Hwy 180, which is an excellent road, and turned off on National Forest road 245. We found nice spot a little ways down. Dishy would work “ok”there. We kept driving and found a really great spot. Dishy would be very happy there! This will be our first spot to try to get. We drove all around 171 and saw the beauty. Right as we got back on 180, the tire light came on. The tires looked fine. Went to the car wash and washed the car. It looked like we had been 4-wheeling! After we got home, the tire started going flat. Kevin said it was time for new tires anyway and ordered some through Discount Tires.  

Monday 05/09/22 Today we just were in the mood for snacking. It was funny. For supper I asked Kevin if he wanted homemade Cobb Salad or mini tacos from the freezer. Mini tacos with leftover homemade salsa was a great meal. 🙂  We went to OReiley and then AutoZone for parts to go with the battery box. Kevin found what he needed and installed it. (I, obviously, have no idea what that meant but it was something to do with the extra batteries our friend gave us to use for our solar…I think. HA)

Wednesday 05/11/22 All day today I read the entire 300 page book by Sue Thomas called, “Silent Night.” Sue is deaf and worked for a little while helping the FBI by reading lips. There was a TV series years ago based on her. What a great book. Kevin had secretly ordered it for me and it was fun to get a package in the mail today.

Readers: some of you asked me for the recipe from last week’s post. Here it is. I am also going to include the best Ranch Dressing recipe that I have found. We had it on top of the Cobb Salad this week.

The recipes:
ITALIAN CREAM SAUCE CHICKEN
4 chicken breast, boneless, skinless
1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
1/3 cup water
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 can cream of chicken
Rice or noodles
Lay chicken in bottom of slow cooker / crockpot.
Mix together the Italian salad dressing mix and water.
Pour this mixture over the chicken.
Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.
Beat cream of chicken soup, NO water added, with the cream cheese.
Pour over the chicken.
Cook 1 hour more.
Serve over noodles or rice.

Ranch Salad Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tsp vinegar, white
2 tsp dried dill weed
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried chives
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Mix everything together! 🙂 Chill in fridge until you are ready to eat. Store
leftovers in fridge; will last about 5 days.

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