Scooter racing

Scooter racing
After parking for the night, we'll still have time for a little racing

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Unfashionably early....but a Hula-va good time!

We left Las Cruces and travelled to Benson, which is most famous for Tombstone and the fight at the OK Corral.  We're staying at the beautiful Cochise Terrace Park at an elevation of 4100 feet.  After arriving we hurried to take our showers, have dinner and get into make-up and our "Hula Mama" costumes.  We made it to the hall and arrived to….nothing.  Not a soul around, but it was decorated.  So we sat there and noticed that the time was an hour earlier than what RRR's watch said.  It turns out that Arizona isn't quite in the same time zone as New Mexico and we were an hour early for everything.   Finally people started arriving, the excellent one-man band started playing, and people started line-dancing and having a great time.  Most of the costumes were of the witch variety, but one woman came dressed as a bag lady - hilarious.  RRR impressed the crowd with her dancing accompanied by her walker.  She got a lot of applause every time she got up.  Nui was invited to do a hula, to music which was a mix of country, rap and Hawaiian.   We then lined up for the costume contest but didn't win anything.  However, it turns out the judges wanted to give the top prize to Nui and RRR but couldn't because it was for a free breakfast and we were supposed to leave in the morning.  People were incredibly friendly and wanted us to stick around for the winter.  We met a great couple from Switzerland and spent the evening trying to understand each other's French.  One fellow offered us a guided tour of Tombstone, so we're staying an extra day and going to the OK Corral.


Windblown in Las Cruces

We arrived in Las Cruces after an uneventful trip out of El Paso.  We stayed 2 days and did a short sightseeing tour of La Mesilla, a quaint little village known for chili peppers.  It was incredibly windy, so we were glad to stay put for a couple of days.  We called Benson, Arizona, our next destination, and were told that there was a Hallowe'en party scheduled for Thursday.  Nui has nothing but hula costumes and she even had an extra blue muumuu for RRR.  It was several sizes too large but it had some drawstrings.  So, on our last night in Las Cruces, RRR spent nearly 2 hours bent over the dress on her bed, hemming it with light mauve thread. 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

El Paso on $500.00 a Day!

There we were, on our way out of Van Horn, Texas, on a beautiful Sunday morning.  The road was excellent, the sky was clear, there was little traffic and we were feeling quite mellow.  The two of us were reminiscing about how great things have been going - no bad weather, no foul ups, excellent sightseeing, great (with one exception) campsites, and the Beast was behaving beautifully.  At that exact moment, the Beast gave a great big cough and started to rattle deep in its bones.  We pulled off the road, in the middle of nowhere, 50 miles from Van Horn and 81 miles from El Paso.  There's a whole lot of nothing in this part of Texas, except for heat, flies and semi trucks.  We thought we had a flat but everything that was supposed to be round was still round.  A call to CoachNet resulted in a tow truck arriving about 3 hours later.  We piled our stuff into Zippy (the car) and headed out to El Paso to wait for the Beast to arrive.

 The good news was that we managed to break down in the only place that was literally crawling with truck and RV repair service centres.  They were all over the place!
The other good news was that the damage wasn't fatal.  A spark plug broke loose and damaged a coil.  They figured we would be out of there first thing in the morning.  Ha!!!  Things are never that easy with the Beast.  It turns out that whoever put the plugs in, stripped the threads and the whole thing had to be replaced.  Naturally, parts were hard to get.

 The end result was a bill for $830 plus 2 nights in a motel and meals. 
A big thanks to Steve, the tow truck driver and mechanic, and to Gilbert Duran, one of the owners of Duran and Son's Service Centre, who went out of their way to ensure that we got our repairs done very well and as quickly as possible.

With all that, we never did get to go sightseeing in El Paso, although we managed to buy LOTS of food at Walmart.

There is a new house rule:  no one is to mention how good anything is going until AFTER we have parked for the night.  Even then, there's a chance we might irritate the gods of the open road, so we're going to keep such comments to a minimum.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

We apologize for setting fire to San Antonio

Life is full of surprises.  So imagine our surprise when we drove over some debris on our way out of town.  This was soon followed by a strong smell of burning rubber.  This was followed soon after by a lot of honking and pointing from a passing truck driver.  At about this point, we noticed that the very dry grass on either side of the road behind us was on fire.  This led to a certain amount of anxiety.  We pulled over and did a quick check of the Beast and Zippy.  All 10 tires were still round and there was no sign of trouble.   A very friendly San Antonio State Trooper stopped and also had a look and then very kindly stopped traffic on the Interstate to allow us to pull out and be on our merry way.

 Did I mention how friendly and polite the Texas people have been?  They allow us to cut into traffic, they make room for us on tight turns and now even the police are stopping miles of traffic to accommodate us.

We surmise that some of the debris we ran over got caught under the Beast and ignited.  There doesn't seem to be much wrong, but we haven't lowered the jacks yet.  We're hoping it wasn't a burn through the hydraulic lines.

 So, after an exhausting day, we arrived at what we were told was a very nice RV park in Ozona, TX.  We're staying here because the name was cool and, since we're 2500 hundred feet up, we figure we're close to the ozone layer.  However, we'll have to look up the definition of "nice" in Texas.  It is a pure gravel lot, no trees, no landscaping.  The lots point in the wrong direction, and all of the roads end in a fence, so there is no way to loop around them.  The only alternative was to unhook the car and back out.  By this time, Nui was exhausted so we decided to semi-boondock and paid the handsome price of $15.00 to park in the driveway with no lights, water or sewer.  To be fair, a horde of nice people came out to help direct Nui in backing up the Beast.  Did I mention how nice the people are here in Texas.

So, we're spending the night and we're off to Van Horn, TX tomorrow.  Keep your fingers crossed that the jacks are not burned.


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Holy Mole..... San Antonio is fun!

What a great week this has been!  For the past 3 days we have enjoyed an outstanding visit with our relatives in San Antonio, Patricia and David.  On the first day, we ventured out on a 40 minute river cruise which took us through the San Antonio river and adjoining canals and showed off the stupendous architecture and the vibrant lifestyle on the river.  That afternoon also saw us take the wrong trolley bus, which toured us around in circles and finally let us off at the Alamo, which was going to be on our "to do" list for the next day.  It turns out that the Alamo doesn't have guided tours and the big attraction is simply to look at the fort.  So we did.  And took pictures.  Then it was off to Patty and Dave's for a 4 course meal which was delicious!

We were too exhausted to do much on day 2, so Patty and Dave came out for the evening for a pizza dinner.  Patty brought along her unbelievable lemon pie topped with marshmallow fluff.  Calories cling to you just by inhaling in the same vicinity.

Today we toured some of the gorgeous old mansions in the downtown core, then went for a late lunch at Mi Tierra which was somewhat decorated for Christmas already.  RRR tried authentic Mexican food for the first time.  She was a bit leery of the guacamole but, in true pioneer spirit, she ate it and then ordered a plate of enchiladas with pollo (chicken) and mole (spicy cocoa based sauce).   We then spent the afternoon at El Mercado, a funky Mexican market place where RRR showed remarkable restraint in her purchases.

The day was capped by a gift of fresh, home-baked pecan square made by the indomitable Patty.  Nui is a bit concerned that she is not going to fit behind the wheel when we leave tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Texas..... it may be big, but you can find things

We have been in Texas for 3 days now and must say that we're impressed.  With the exception of the Texarkana KOA, all the parks are where they say they are, the roads are fantastic, drivers are polite, the GPS has no trouble finding routes and, all in all, it has been a relaxing drive.  From Texarkana, we went to Tyler, but we were too lazy to unhook the car so we missed seeing their Rose festival.  From Tyler, it was on to Montgomery, just outside Houston.  A beautiful park!  Today, we have arrived in New Braunfels, just outside San Antonio.  Tomorrow, we'll be visiting with relatives and seeing the sights of the city.  There is a bit of confusion about our location.... it is billed as a "small, German town".  If they consider this small, Vancouver must be considered a village.  I know everything is big in Texas but 8-lane highway through the centre of town!!

This is our furthest point South and from here on we start to head west. 

One oddity... the further south we go, the colder it has been getting.  We were starting to wonder if the GPS was sending us to Whitehorse, and, if so, why they all talked with a funny accent and wore overalls and cowboy hats.  Even RRR has been wearing a sweater and, for those who know her, you know that this is a phenomenon that doesn't happen until the brass monkeys need to be brought in.  We are assured that things will warm up, although no one is saying when. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Digging for Diamonds, Princess Style

So off we went to the Crater of Diamonds, which is about an hour and a half away from Hot Springs in Murfreesboro (which is very hard to say - try it).  The highlight of the drive was the deer that jumped directly in front of the car on the way into the park. 

The staff at the park couldn't have been more surly or unhelpful if they had tried.  No one can be that miserable unless they've taken lessons.  We weren't impressed.  The Kafe which they advertise is only open on weekends - you'd think their website would mention that.  One look at the crater made us decide to make other plans.  Picture a field of mud, with a few people knee deep in the furrows, digging through dirt with a trowel.  Most were wearing waders, rubber boots or weird bright yellow rubber clown socks over their shoes.  No one was smiling.  Based on this, we decided to go the easy route and buy bags of dirt to take with us. 

On our way back from the crater, we stopped at Buddy's Hawg House for lunch.  The server at the restaurant sure made up for the people at the crater.  She was friendly, gregarious and took really good care of us.  She was astounded that we'd never seen a hush puppy and had the cook make some up for us.  Ever the adventurer, Nui tried her very first hush puppy and a Po'Boy sandwich made with catfish.  Both were delicious!  Sure made up for the turnip greens the other night (another adventure gone horribly wrong).

Thanks also to the guys at the garage next door who came out and reattached Nui's dash board section, which got pulled out when she had to fight to get the brake buddy loose.  Sigh....

Yesterday, we set up at a nice, cozy picnic table in the sun in Texarkana and started digging for diamonds in a more civilized fashion.  We think we've found a couple - one of which is a fairly good size.  For now we'll call it a diamond....until someone with authority tells us it's quartz.

Message for Patty.... San Antonio bound

Patty - Can't find your email address.  We'll be in San Antonio on Sunday or Monday.  Are you around?

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


We awoke today to pouring rain so we had to find an indoor adventure.  What better to stay out of the rain than to go get soaking wet at a mineral bath.  Off we went to the Buckstaff Spa, where we enjoyed 1.5 hours of mineral soaks, hot towel compresses, steam closets, needle showers and a full body Swedish massage.  What a way to spend an afternoon!!!

Tomorrow we're off to the Diamond Crater where we hope to be able to find the mother of all diamonds.  Of course, we're taking the easy way out and we'll probably just tour the gift shop and buy bags of dirt to sift at our own pace.  This is much easier than slogging through 37 acres of mud on our hands and knees looking for diamonds or anything that remotely looks like a diamond.  Our way is more expensive but it's a lot cleaner.  On the other hand, if we were really dirty, we might have to go back to the Spa……hmmmmmmmmm.

Rockin' It in Hot Springs, AR

The point of this trip was to get out on the road and see the sights.  Imagine our surprise, therefore, when it turns out that the only sights we see consistently are churches.  There are Baptist churches, Pentecostal, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Evangelical,  the ever popular Church of the Highway and, of course, Harvey's Church.  In some areas, there are more churches than there are people.

 Poor RRR…… she's developing sore arms from blessing herself every time we pass one.  We had to stop her from kneeling because she was getting blisters on her knees.

 We arrived at the KOA in Hot Springs, Arkansas on Sunday.  Imagine our surprise when we spotted our old friends, Syd and Lynda, sitting on a campsite just up the hill from us.  Their trip to South Dakota was cancelled on account of 50 inches of snow, which would discourage most RV'ers .  We spent Canadian Thanksgiving with them at Cracker Barrel Restaurant - loads of fun and, for once, all we bought was food.  All the Xmas stuff is out and it's been pretty tempting.  Lynda and Syd are heading for Yuma tomorrow. 

Yesterday we went rock hounding - or at least rock shopping.  The area is known for its crystal rock formations and we spent several hours browsing through piles of coloured rocks on Mount Ida.  It is amazing what comes out of the earth!  Nui had to be forcibly stopped from buying massive amethyst and aquamarine rocks - the poor Beast couldn’t carry that much more weight.  We bought bags of dirt which contain emeralds, topaz, rubies, garnet, tourmaline and a variety of unpronounceable semi-precious stones.   Unfortunately, today it's pouring rain so we can't do our mining thing so we may just end up going to one of the mineral baths for a spa day.  The idea of sitting in a hot mineral bath and then being wrapped in hot towels sounds pretty appealing.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Boondocking in Arkansas

We stayed an extra day in Springfield to rest up and load up on supplies.  This included a grand total of 22 pairs of undies for RRR, since we're both too lazy (I mean busy) to do laundry.
Today we hit the road again and here we are in beautiful Jonesboro, Arkansas, sitting in a Home Depot parking lot because neither the GPS nor several of the locals had ever heard of Perkins Rv Park.  We should have known there would be a problem when we called ahead and asked to make a reservation and the person who answered the phone said "a whut?".   They assured us they'd have room, which goes without saying since no one can find the place.  The park website says it's on Parker Road but the address takes you to a very narrow side road and what looks like an abandoned restaurant.  The GPS says that Perkins RV is smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood and it was quite a bit of fun getting the Beast out of those narrow streets.  We drove around for an hour, called the park several times with no response and finally gave up.  We pulled into a Home Depot parking lot and the very nice customer service person told us to go ahead and set up for the night.  We were even luckier to arrive just as an antique car club was gearing up for an event and spent a few great hours listening to music from the 60s and early 70s.  We then grabbed chairs and sat outside, wearing t-shirts and shorts.  The mosquitoes, however, drove us back inside.  Mosquitoes….. in October!!!!

Thursday, 10 October 2013


Come on Springfield Missouri.  We've been here for 4 days and have had a great time.  The weather has been outstanding, the people are extremely helpful and friendly, the food is great and the entertainment…..what a time we've had!  On day 1, we stayed in Springfield and did a trolley tour through the Fantastic Caverns.  The caves are well-named:  they were fantastic.  The tour guide explained the history of the caves, which were originally explored by 12 local women.  She even told us how to make gunpowder out of dried, boiled bat guano.  You don't get that information from just anywhere!  And who knows, it might come in handy.  We also found a way to make a neat flashlight out of a coffee can and a candle - can't wait to try it at Grundy.

The next day saw us in Carthage, where we visited the Precious Moments museum and chapel.  It was a very inspirational tour - they certainly take their bible studies seriously out here.   There were a lot of references to people from the old testament so Nui was a bit lost although RRR said she'd at least heard of some of them.   Unfortunately for us, there was a huge gift shop attached to the museum.  Needless to say, the Beast is now home to several Precious Moments figurines and  one really huge peridot colored crystal ring.  Seriously, though, it was an amazing tour and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Today, we were off to Branson.  After driving the strip and admiring some of the local architecture, we had a bit of time on our hands….. so we went to a psychic for palm reading and tarot cards.  The results were a bit dubious, but you get what you pay for.  Then it was off to the Welk Resort where we participated in a live version of the Price is Right.  This was a lot of fun and we got to Ooooo and Ahhhh along with the crowd at all the prizes.  We registered to be contestants but, sadly, our luck was not with us.  Maybe we should have bought a charm or two from the psychic to improve our chances.  We met some interesting people in the lobby and had our photo taken with the handsome Johnny, who came dressed for the occasion.

 Tomorrow is a rest day, then we're off to Arkansas and digging for diamonds.  RRR will have to take off her ring for that little chore.




Tuesday, 8 October 2013

See the World in Just one Day

We left Cloverdale, IN on a rainy Saturday and drove less than 20 miles before re-discovering sunshine.  The new GPS was intent on sending us down small, narrow country roads to get to I-70 but Nui ignored her and eventually she settled down and sent us on our way to our new destination.  There was only one short moment of confusion when the GPS got the exit wrong and we missed the turn onto I-55 and had to detour through downtown St. Louis.  No big deal - it turned out that the detour saved us a lot of time since we avoided a huge traffic jam at the I-55 turn-off.

A pleasant 4-hour drive down excellent roads led us to our next destination, the Ladybug RV Resort in Cuba!  This is a great little park and the owners are very friendly and accommodating.  We stayed overnight and left the next day for Springfield, MO.  Imagine our delight, therefore, when we discovered that from Cuba, we were going to Paris and then Lebanon! All that international travel from the comfort of the Beast and in only 3 hours.  We are now at the Springfield, MO KOA (not the Springfield, IL KOA as previously booked!) and we're going cave-touring this afternoon.  We're heading out tomorrow for the Precious Moments Chapel (I know - Nui will probably burst into flame) and then on Thursday we're heading for Branson and a Live version of the Price is Right.  Should be a fun couple of days!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Clueless in Cloverdale

We arrived in Cloverdale on Friday after some very tense hours on the road.  The GPS decided to pack it in and, of course, we don't have a map.  The GPS would not charge and we had to rely on the remaining battery power.  RRR spent hours pressing the "stay on" button, trying desperately to keep the unit going until we got past Indianapolis.  We made it to the Cloverdale RV park just in time.  Nui was able to charge it just enough to allow her to find a Walmart and buy a new Garmin.  The new unit sucks - it has a horrible, whiny female voice instead of the deep baritone we're used to and half the usual applications are missing.  Still, it stays on which is a real treat.

This morning, we awoke to torrential rain and thunderstorms.  Nui took this photo of RRR coming home after (and also during) a shower.

We therefore decided to stay put for one more day, since we did not have a chance to see the wonders of Cloverdale, which is renowned for its covered bridges.  These may or may not be amazing attractions because we had to look for an hour and a half before finding just one of them.  Cloverdale's budget doesn't appear to allow for signage.  You would think that if covered bridges were your big claim to fame, you would at least stick a sign up somewhere.  Even the locals couldn't tell us much about where to find them.

To cap off the day, we bent one of the retaining pins on the tow assembly.  Even though the sales person had told Nui this was not possible to do, she still managed.  Fortunately, she had the foresight to buy extras and we will be able to leave tomorrow for Cuba, MO as scheduled.  EXCEPT..... Nui slammed the car door on the adaptor for the "Brake Buddy", which smashed to bits and the fuse broke.  Ever resourceful, we found a new fuse and glued/taped the adaptor together.  The way our luck is running, we expect the car to burst into flames sometime tomorrow morning.

RRR says trouble comes in 3's (notice the 3 R's in her name).  So:  GPS, bent pin, broken brake system...... we're done!  Now we're safe.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Shipshewana Shopping

Day 4 of the BBA (Big Beastly Adventure) saw RRR and Nui heading off (by car) to the flea market which, contrary to the brochure, is not even remotely within walking distance.  The flea market is huge - over 110 acres, with a lot of variety (especially in sparkly t-shirts, as RRR soon found).    Thank heavens we brought our little scooters because walking up and down those aisles for 4 hours would have been next to impossible.  You could tell we're new at this snowbirding thing because we took off under a blazing hot sun with no hats, sunglasses or water.  It was 82F in the shade and that was at 4 p.m.   Even Nui was hot!  We'd better take a crash course in hot weather survival because we're going to be living in the desert in about 3 weeks.

RRR had originally said that she wasn't all that interested in going to a flea market because - and I quote - "we're not going to buy anything".  Boy was she wrong!!!  A lot of vendors had big smiles on their faces when we left.

Today, we left under drizzly skies and went to visit the RV Museum and Hall of Fame.  It was fantastic!  Well worth seeing if you've ever camped.  The oldest RV was made in 1913 and it was amazing.  There were some oddities too - for instance, one guy used a kitchen chair to sit on while he was driving.  Another one used a living room chair - I guess he wanted to be more comfortable.  Presumably they didn't make any sudden stops.  We even saw the motorhome that Mae West used to go from her home to the movie sets.  That one had a porch where she would sit in a rocking chair to relax. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Detours and Dimwits

Day 2 started out pretty well.  We breezed through the US border in about 20 minutes, without being pulled over.  Then we started to drive, and drive and drive and drive.  At first, the trees were lovely, sparkling red, orange and yellow in the autumn sun.  After about 2 hours of all this sparkling, we realized that we hadn't seen a gas station or a rest area since leaving Canada.  One tank was getting very dry.....our personal tanks were starting to get pretty full and it was time to stop.  We finally found what is apparently Michigan's only gas station near Saginaw and promptly filled up the Beast.  We were pretty tired and were looking forward to taking the exit to our campground near Frankenmuth but, sure enough, we got detoured and had to drive the Beast through even more sparkling scenery before we finally got to the campground which was, of course, closed.  By this time, we were ready to hire ourselves out as farmhands to pick corn, since that would have been a welcome relief from all those sparkling trees.

We set up camp and set out for Frankenmuth where we had a lovely, if unpronounceable, Bavarian dinner.  The atmosphere was great.  We loved looking at the knees of all those cute guys in leiderhosen.  From there, we went to Bonner's, the world's largest Christmas store which is jaw-droppingly amazing.  Unfortunately we had less than half an hour to visit but it is definitely on the bucket list for next year.  We are planning a three-day mini-tour next spring.

Day 3 began with a propane refill.  Apparently the term "fill it up" is rather a foreign concept in Michigan since we have not been able to get a full tank of gas nor a full tank of propane.  But off we headed for Shipshewana, IN.  Upon crossing into Indiana, we found dozens of gas stations.... perhaps they should lend some to Michigan.

Shipshewana is a smallish town which boasts the largest flea market in the Midwest.  The campground we had booked was, according to their brochure, "within walking distance" of the flea market.  We're not sure how much walking the Amish do, since they seem to be pretty tied to their horse-drawn buggies.  That might explain why no one seemed to know where the campground was or, for that matter, what was or was not within walking distance of the flea market.  Nui asked a dozen people for help with directions and was told to go north, west, or east and was also told that there was no campground.  We drove up and down the main street for an hour and a half, looking for a blue flashing sign showing the campground entrance.  Even the campground people weren't sure where they were located, since they told us they were north of the flea market when, in fact, they are a half mile south.  And the blue flashing sign they boasted about as the "only flashing sign on that street" is not blue, but is blue, yellow and red. They also told us that we could not see the campground from the road but would find a sign saying "RV Wash".  In fact, the campground is visible, it is the RV Wash sign that is impossible to see.

We think it must be the fumes from all the horse manure that is killing off their brain cells.

However, the town is really cute and we're looking forward to hitting the flea market tomorrow.