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.
My grade school is now a quilt museum. We toured through it mainly for my memories as a kid.
I remembered the stairs and hand rails.
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.
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.
“See this scar on my eyebrow? It happened right back there!” Swinging around swing set pole.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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. 🙂
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.
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.
Where did we stop next? Hamilton, Missouri. Kevin is going to write and tell you all about his home town area next time.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
We watched for some minutes more afterwards and then went outside to get dinner.
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.
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.
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!
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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!!!
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.
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
We decided to go to Petrified ForestNational 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!
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! 🙂
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. 🙂
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
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.
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.
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? 🙂
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. 🙂
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.
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! 🙂
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.
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! 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Insurance!! Don’t get me started! In about 2 months, I will need a refill for a prescription. It is to help with the ear nerve pain that I have. I was scheduled for an appointment with my neurologist from the University of Utah Health but of course we have moved and have new insurance. Kevin contacted our new insurance through the chat on their website to see if we needed a referral to see a neurologist. The guy told Kevin he would emailed a list of neurologist in the Flagstaff area that is covered in our plan. Thank you, that is helpful. However, when Kevin called the doctors most on the list weren’t in practice anymore! Finally we tried Neurology Group, or something like that name, and yes, they could get me in next week but wouldn’t make an appointment until they had a referral. I contacted my previous neurologist through My Chart app and asked them to fax the referral and notes. They did. Kevin called for an appointment and they said they would call after 48 hours of getting the referral. Friday Kevin called and left a message as we were heading to the forest. Monday Kevin called and got an appointment for next week. He got the address and found out they are in Phoenix! The paper we printed from the insurance “expert helper” said they were in Flagstaff. Nope. Oh my gosh, I about lost it. Kevin said we would just have to drive the 2 1/2 hours each way to get there. Kevin told the person at the office that I am deaf and will need and ASL interpreter. The person said she would “check the insurance policy” and he said, it is the law that you “provide reasonable accommodation.” Then I got to thinking, we should just find a regular primary doctor because I know they can prescribe the pain medication (a lot of people tell me they are on it for nerve pain). Kevin calls several on the list on the insurance website and they either weren’t practicing anymore, had moved, or couldn’t take appointments until August. I cried, I was so frustrated. I can’t even find a primary doctor! We went through this for Kevin in Bullhead City! I feel so bad that Kevin has to always make our phone calls. Another call and a lady named Kate said the doctor we were calling about wasn’t there anymore. With desperation, “Is there ANYONE there who is taking new patients?” She said the names of some. She was so extremely nice and helpful. We have an appointment for me for next Monday. And when Kevin asked if they had dealt with deaf before Kate said yes and they knew how to get an interpreter. Wahoo! Kevin canceled the appointment in Phoenix.
I spent most of the day trying to find a Memorial Day service or ceremony around Flagstaff. I am not finding much, which surprises me. I worked on menu planning, too. My Pampered Chef order was suppose to come today by FedEx. But at 3:49, they said on the tracking that the office was closed. What? They close at 5:00. Better come tomorrow!
An older couple who were camping next to us in a van had talked to Kevin when we got back here from boondocking. They were interested in where we went. I wrote out the directions and Kevin gave it to them. This afternoon there was a knock at our door and it was them. She said someone told them boondocking is illegal in Coconino National Forest. Not true. We even had the Forest Service guy wave at us, where we were set up camping! Kevin said he was hungry for Mexican for dinner and so we went to LaFonda. We got right in, even though there were a lot of vehicles around. Kevin had the steak fajitas and I had enchilada and taco. Sooo good. Kevin brought about 3/4 of his home for lunch tomorrow.
We went to the campground office for several things this morning. Angie asked where we had camped last week and we told her. She said they used to camp there all the time when she was growing up. I asked when the office closes and she said around 5:00. I told her FedEx said they tried to drop my Pampered Chef off yesterday at 3:49 but the office was closed. She rolled her eyes and said it must be someone new or a sub. The regular people knows she lives here and will drop off packages to her upstairs. Harvey was in and telling us his fun stories and jokes.
Today I made cookies. I made Pampered Chef Cake Mix Cookies and picked fudge. I wasn’t sure if I needed to adjust the ingredients for high elevation, since here in Flagstaff we are at 7000 ft. I decided not to change anything. The only thing that I had to adjust was the time of cooking. Normal time is 8-10 minutes but here they needed almost 20 minutes. But not burned at all! I love this oven. Of course, I had to include that I don’t like chocolate so Kevin knew I was feeling extra love for him. 🙂
In the afternoon, I saw on the email that my Pampered Chef package was here. Wahooo! I got the 3 set stoneware baking set, whisk (which I was thrilled to see it has rubber around it!), free spatula, and a cookie scoop (could have used that this morning.HA) So exciting. For dinner I used the whisk. I made Creamy Parmesan Garlic Mushroom Chicken. So delicious! NOTE: I have all of these items in storage waiting for our home base to be built. I didn’t think I would use them in our first HOWE (24 ft 2020 Shadow Cruiser). But now with this nice new HOWE (36 ft 2022 Alliance Avenue) and with a great oven/stove, yes, I need them. 🙂
The wind last night was the worst we have had. The weather app said wind gusty up to 50 mph! It kind of made me feel dizzy when we were laying in bed. Kevin wasn’t worried about HOWE flipping over but about a tree or something blowing into HOWE and doing damage. Thankfully nothing like that happened.
After work, we went to Target. It is by the FedEx store and we laughed because we had been there this morning to drop off work packages. I was able to find a nice garlic press, measuring cup (the one from Walmart started leaking out the bottom), socks, and some drying mats to use between the Pampered Chef stoneware baking dishes to protect them from breaking on travel days. Kevin saw them as we were looking for ideas to cushion them. It turned out great! Then Kevin decided we would eat at Texas Roadhouse. The parking lot is shared by Sportsman’s Warehouse. I kid you not, we drove around for more than 10 minutes and not one open spot in all of the lot, not even behind and to the side of Sportsman’s! Finally, we found one at the end and farthest away. It was crazy. We didn’t have to wait too long to get in. The rolls were delicious and the rest of the food was good. OH, we are suppose to go camp at Meteor Crater RV Campground Friday through Sunday. But the winds were so bad today. Lots of warnings on our phones. Winds around 30 mph + and gusts around 50 mph. We made the smart decision to not take HOWE out. Kevin called that campground to cancel. He said his name and he needed to cancel and the guy said ok and hung up. I think they were getting a lot of cancelations. We will just drive our car there for the day on Saturday.
Thank you for reading my travel journal. It is a delight for us to share it with you.
NOTE to reader: Why all the fence pictures? Well, I didn’t have any “in the week” pictures. HAHA I encourage you to look up the blog chambersontheroad.com. I have been reading about their adventures. Betty posted a picture of a fence the other day. Then we had a conversation about how we both, for some reason, like to take photos of fences. So I thought this would be a good week to post some of mine. I hope you enjoy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.