New Mexico Trip with the Ramblin' Recs - Fall 2002

Hi all,

Betty and I are starting out on another trip with the Ramblin' Recs, the RV camping group from our Escondido 1st United Methodist Church.  This trip will last almost a month and cover parts of Arizona and New Mexico, with the primary destination being Santa Fe, NM.  The first stop is 3 nights right here in Prescott!  (No, we did not do the planning for this trip!)

As always, if you should desire NOT to receive any more of these reports, please just drop me an email, and I'll stop sending them to you.

I assume that by now, you all know about our move to Arizona.  We sold our Escondido house almost a month ago and are living in our motorhome in Prescott, AZ.  We have a lot here, and the house, garage, motorhome garage, and shop have been ordered.  We should be able to move in early next year.

Our current address and phone number are:
Betty and Dick Mason
P.O. Box 11144
Prescott, AZ  86304
(cell phone) 928-925-8045

Thursday, Sept 26

We pulled out of our rent-by-the-month spot in the Pine Lawn Ranch Mobile Home Park and drove the grueling 6 mile drive to Point of Rocks Campground.  We were settled shortly after noon and had to rest after the 10 to 15 minute commute we had just endured!  The other 4 rigs that are participating in this outing pulled in between 3 and 5 PM.  These consisted of Ruth and Floyd Lamb, Jean and Norm Johnson, Ben Long, and Merle and Alden Avery.  There are 9 of us.

We all met in our rig after dinner to discuss our plans.  Yes, we actually were able to seat all 9 with the help of a couple of folding chairs.  Tomorrow we will tour the Sharlet Hall Museum. 

Friday, Sept 27

We had made plans to go to the museum at 10:00, so I had a little time to help Floyd on his motorhome before that.  First we looked for a cable for his TV system to connect to any park cable TV that might be offered (This park does not have cable.).  Our conclusion is that there is not a provision for this (yet).  Then I got my SWR meter and we checked his CB antenna.  It was tuned way off!  Channel 40 was not bad, but anything lower (all the other channels) got progressively worse.  After several tries, Floyd had lengthened the antenna almost 3/4 of an inch.  It now was almost perfect at mid-band, and not bad at each end.  That should help his performance some!

We headed to the Sharlet Hall museum.  Sharlet Hall was an independent thinking woman who bought the territorial Governor's Mansion in the '20s to save it from further deterioration.  She made a deal with the state to have them pay for the upkeep in exchange for her displaying several historical artifacts.  In 1928, she opened the property as a museum and started many years of almost obsessive collecting and displaying.  It is now a 3 1/2 acre site with a dozen buildings.  A number of these are original and restored 1800's houses, including the Governor's Mansion, which is the oldest wooden Arizona building still standing on its original site.  The museum also contains an archives and research center where there is an extensive collection of archival papers, photographs, books, and artifacts.  These are available by appointment to researchers.

In the course of our very interesting tours through the facilities, I learned a lot about the early government of Arizona.  For instance, John Gurley was appointed as the first territorial governor of Arizona, but died before taking office.  A man named Goodwin was appointed to take his place and was in fact the first governor.  He was succeeded by McCormick as the second governor.  McCormick owned the Governor's Mansion, which was really a duplex initially.  He lived in one half, while Goodwin lived in the other.

When I drive home from the public library, I take Goodwin Street to McCormick Street, and turn right to Gurley Street, then left to home!  The streets have a little more meaning now!

After our museum tour, we walked about a block to the Gurley St. Grill and had a delicious lunch.

By popular demand, we led an entourage of 3 cars over to our lot and showed the group where we will be living after the house, garage, motorhome garage, and machine shop are completed.  While we were standing on the lot and I was pointing out where the various rooms of the house would be, a rain shower with a stiff wind froze us back to the cars.

Nearing evening, there was a knock on our door, and it was Mary Alice Boyce!  Gordon and Mary Alice were not able to go on this trip due to a conflicting trip.  However, they planned their trip so they could come through Prescott, staying the night at a motel nearby, then continue on in the morning.  Most of us decided to go out to dinner to have more time with them.  Not being at all hungry, this was strictly a social event for me!  I ordered a small pizza, and took most of it home.  

After dinner, we walked several blocks of downtown Prescott, including historic Whiskey Row, which originated as a block-long row of saloons.  Today it is comprised of numerous artists shops, restaurants, and of course, saloons. 

After getting back to the park, we all met in our motorhome again to help finish the cake and cookies we bought for last night's meeting.  This time we had 11 people!  With 4 on the couch and the addition of Betty's shower stool, we were all able to sit.  I think we have about hit our limit!

Tomorrow, Betty and I are going to a picnic and "boat float" put on by the Casa de Aero, the RC model airplane club our good friends here in Prescott, Gene and Betty Wilkison belong to.  (Actually I imagine that Gene is really the member.)  Hopefully, the weather here will have settled down.  Today we had periods of beautiful blue sky and clouds, then brief rain showers with blustery winds, then beautiful again.  This continued pretty much all day.

Saturday, Sept 28

Early this morning I finally succeeded in configuring my computer and cell phone to be able to connect to the Internet over my cell phone.  With my unlimited minutes evenings and weekends, this becomes affordable, even at the low speeds I can get.  My job of finding a suitable connection to send and receive my email, including this report, just got easier!
This morning, as we were getting ready to head over to Goldwater Lake for the Boat Float, the others left for Sharlot Hall again.  Today is the day of the "Duck Derby".  This is an event sponsored by the Rotary to help local charities.  They have been selling plastic ducks to area residents and businesses and were set to "race" them today.  They lined about a block of the street, along the gutter with plastic, making a river bed.  They would dump a number of the ducks along with a large quantity of water at the top, and the first duck down wins.  The races continued throughout the day.  They had some very nice prizes for the winners, including a week in London for two, a large Craftsman tool set, and a $1000 gift certificate at a jeweler.  The reports were that none of our group won!

The Boat Float is an annual event of the local RC model flying club, Casa de Aero.  Gene Wilkison is an avid member and an active flyer.  Gene and his wife Betty have been good friends of ours for over 40 years.  Besides working together for many years, we were partners in a Cessna 172 and in a Link Trainer that we both used to give instrument flying instruction.

There were about 40 people at the Boat Float and Picnic, with about a dozen radio controlled model boats.  These included sailboats, small plastic model runabouts, a beautiful 2 foot shrimp boat, and several "swamp type" air boats.  Gene brought two boats, a small steam powered launch, and an airboat.  The wind was too high so he did not even try to run his steamboat.  The alcohol heated boiler blows out in a wind, and the cruising speed is such that any wind drift would be hard to overcome.  He would not make any headway into the wind!

Gene built his airboat several years ago and was by far the fastest boat around.  He says he built it to harass the sailboats.  This year there were four airboats, all of a very similar design.  They are a flat thin hull with a support at the rear holding the electric motor driving a pusher propeller.  A large rudder in the airstream of the prop provides the steering.  The boats really scooted around the lake, occasionally making a "zing" sound as a spray of water hit the spinning prop.  Unfortunately, Gene hit a swell and a wind gust just right to flip the boat upside down.  The prop stopped very quickly and blew the motor fuse.  In order to get back into the activities he needed to replace the fuse, but it was soldered into the circuit.  Resourceful Gene, found a twist tie on the ground, peeled the paper off and wrapped the fuse with the wire.  This was good for a couple more high speed runs before the connection was lost again.  It was a lot of fun!

We also ate very well!  The club provided hot dogs, hamburgers, and tacos.  The rest of the meal was pot luck with many selections and many, many desserts!

Tomorrow we are heading to a state park in Cottonwood.  This is close to Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona.

Sunday, Sept 29

We broke camp and pulled out a little before 11 this morning.  We took the long way to Cottonwood, heading out through Dewey instead of going through Jerome.  The Jerome route is very steep and windy with narrow, congested roads through Jerome.  Going the way we did allowed us to stop at Young's Farm in Dewey.  This is an interesting collection of shops including a vegetable "farmer's market" area, a store of canned items, candy, pies, and many miscellaneous types of food, and a trinket shop including a year round Christmas section.  There were also a number of confection stands and a restaurant.  After browsing through the stores, we decided to eat lunch there (in our rigs, in the parking lot).

It took us another hour or less to reach the Dead Horse Ranch State Park where we will be for the next two nights.  This makes two beautiful campgrounds out of 2, so far.

After getting all settled in, we decided to go to Jerome.  This was an old copper mining town, and would be a ghost town today, except it is still fully occupied.  The local stores are very busy catering to the tourists, selling their various sculptures, baskets, jewelry, food, booze, etc.  The hills in town are very steep and the buildings are very old.  It is a most interesting place!

We had our first pot luck dinner of the trip tonight, and as usual left stuffed!

Tomorrow we plan to visit Tuzigoot, and Montezuma's Castle.

Monday, Sept. 30

We all left for Tuzigoot this morning.  It is a site that preserves the ruins of a pueblo that was occupied by the Sinagua Indians from around 1000 to 1425, when it was abandoned.  Archeologists have recovered stone and bone tools, pottery, shell beads, textiles, and bracelets, many of which are on display in the museum.  A trail takes you around many of the dug-out ruins, and some restored areas where you can enter.  One takes you through a recreated room (except the ceiling was MUCH higher than the typical 5' 6" of the originals).  We could climb to the second floor, and then to the roof.  The view from the roof was spectacular.  They used to spend time on the roof to be able to keep tabs on the goings and comings of friends and enemies, as well as doing many of the routine tasks like grinding corn and weaving.  It was quite an experience pushing Betty up and down the path.  I don't think I would have done it without our friends to lend a hand on the very steep sections.

After Tuzigoot, we all drove to Fort Verde.  It was originally set up as Fort Lincoln in 1866 to protect the pioneers from Apache raids.  A few years later it was renamed Fort Verde by the army.  It consists of one of the original buildings as a museum with numerous rooms.  It was built of adobe with a mud plaster over the surface.  The wooden floors were very interesting.  Every step taken caused a loud squeak.  You could really follow the progress of people walking around.  Across the street were several of the officers quarters, which were fully furnished.

Part of the group then went to Montezuma's Castle, but we decided to do that when we were a little fresher (now that it is a local attraction).

We decided to have another pot luck tonight, and even though there was no pre-planning, the fare was excellent!

We head to Red Rock State Park in New Mexico tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 1

Wow, October already!
We were ready to roll by 8:00 this morning and hit the road toward New Mexico.  We had very heavy winds most of the way, but managed without trouble.  Around 2:00 we reached Red Rock State Park, just east of Gallup, and selected 5 campsites.  After getting all settled, we watched a dark grey cell work its way toward us.  The wind started to really whip things around and the sky opened.  It started with hail, then heavy rain.  As it started I realized the door was open, with just the screen door closed.  Our screen door has a center section of tempered glass, one piece fixed, and another that slides to allow access to the door handle.  In my effort to close the door quickly in the rain, I must have not quite fully opened the glass before pulling the handle out.  As I closed the door, the sliding panel exploded and dropped to the steps in thousands of crystallized pieces.

After I cleaned up the mess, we headed out to explore Gallup.  It is a very long and narrow town.  As we were heading down US Route 66, the main street of town, it started to rain again.  It got very heavy.  We finally found a parking lot on our side of the street and pulled in.  About 5 minutes later it was all over and the sun was out.  We found a main street extending at right angles to Rt 66 and found it was the newer section of town.

We found both a Cracker Barrel restaurant and a Super Walmart within a block of each other.  Walmart was swarming with people, so we decided to eat first.  Of course Cracker Barrel was very handy, so that is where we ate.  After dinner we went back to Walmart and picked up some needed supplies.  These included a piece of poster-board I will try and use for a temporary screen door panel. 

Wednesday, Oct. 2

We had a relaxing morning, getting caught up on some bill paying, making several doctor's appointments for Betty for our next trip to Escondido, several housekeeping items (including a new foam-core poster-board panel for our screen door), and some general kicking back.  In the afternoon we headed back into Gallup to see the things we could not see through the very heavy rain last night.  We found the city was much larger than we had first observed.  We followed a cross street running several miles to each side of Route 66, and I-40.  There was city all the way.

We got back to camp and found the group was going to the Cracker Barrel for dinner!  Well, we had just done the preliminary surveillance for the group.

Dinner the second night in a row at Cracker Barrel was excellent!

Thursday, Oct. 3

Ben, Merle and Alden had decided to tour Canyon de Chelly today, and got an early start.

The Johnsons, Lambs and we decided to go to El Morrow National Monument.  This is a beautiful rock mesa which is known primarily for the inscriptions left by the early travelers, as well as some ancient petroglyphs.  Over the centuries, it has been a haven for the travelers in the area, due to the pool of water formed by rain runoff and snow melt.  The walls are a record of the history of the area as many of the early people carved their names and messages in the sandstone walls.  Much has been learned by the experts studying these inscriptions.  We took the loop trail past the pool and most of the inscriptions.  The petroglyphs dated as far back as several centuries ago, while the other carvings range from the mid 1800's to 1906.  They were very interesting.  The rest of the group took the hike to the top of the formation and past two sets of pueblo ruins.

While they were hiking the long trail, we left and visited El Malpais (mal-pie-iss) Visitor's Center a few miles down the road, and found that this national monument contains many unique areas.  Included are lava flows, sandstone formations, New Mexico's largest natural arch, lava craters, and many hiking trails.  We drove through a sampling of the different areas on our way to Grants, NM.  The ranger in the Visitor's Center suggested taking highway 117 south from Grants.  There were magnificent sandstone bluffs, breathtaking views from an overlook, and finally the natural arch.

In all, we drove about 230 miles today and spent about 8 1/2 hours doing it.  A most enjoyable day!

Tomorrow we break camp here and head to Santa Fe.

Friday, October 4

It is a gorgeous day!  The sky is blue, the visibility is forever, the wind is calm, and it is freezing! (literally).  It got down to 28 degrees last night and was 30 when I got up.  I started looking for my windshield scraper to attack the layer of ice on the Saturn windshield when Alden offered the contents of his just disconnected water hose.  That cleared the windshield enough to drive around behind the motorhome to connect.

It was an easy 180 mile drive to Santa Fe.  The only error we made was deciding to stop at the Flying J gas station on the outskirts of Albuquerque.  It was a zoo!  There were cars and RV's lined up everywhere!  All the lines of traffic coming and going were interlaced with numerous semis.  As we did not need fuel, we drove over to the truck side and found a temporary parking space to wait for the rest.

Our campground is a very nice, fairly new one.  There are numerous trees, but they are quite young and range from 6 to 10 feet.  There is a wide assortment of rigs here, ranging from small trailers (a few) to huge million dollar rigs (quite a few).  During the course of this trip, we have seen two other Foretravels on the road;  there are 3 others in this campground.

After getting all set up in the camp, my cell phone rang.  It was Fred Pfafman.  Fred is a long time friend with whom I used to work, who was in an airplane partnership with us, and who used to go to our church.  He and his wife Judy now live in Higden, Arkansas right on Greer's Ferry Lake.  They are out to the Albuquerque area in their motorhome for the Balloon Festival.  Fred and Judy were going to be in the Santa Fe area this afternoon, so we arranged for them to come over here.

We just got word that tonight's meal is to be a potluck, so we need to do some quick shopping!

My cell phone rang again and it was our developer in Prescott.  They are getting ready to do the final grading in preparation for our house and garages and wanted to confirm several of my specifications.  We will be back in Prescott a week from today to confirm that it was done correctly.

Fred and Judy arrived within minutes of our returning from Sam's Club, where we did our pot luck shopping.  We had a good visit and invited them to our dinner.  Some of the group already knew Fred from when he attended our church over 20 years ago.  We had a good time and a good dinner.  We will be getting together with Fred and Judy again probably on both Saturday (tomorrow) and Sunday.

We have finalized (mostly) our plans for the balance of this trip.  With the construction going on in Prescott, we felt we could not be away for a month continuously.  We well stay with the group through our time here in Santa Fe, then leave for Prescott.  After spending a few days in Prescott, we will rejoin the group in Ft. Huachuca. AZ after about a week's absence and finish the trip with the group.  We will have missed the stops in Silver City, NM and in Willcox, AZ.  Following our stay in Casa Grande, the last of the scheduled trip, we will head to Escondido to see Debbie and for Betty to have her several doctors' appointments we just made.  Depending on circumstances, we may then continue on up to Atascadero to see David and family, or may head back to Prescott.

Saturday, Oct. 5

Today is another beautiful day!  The campground flag is just barely wafting in the almost absent breeze.  It should be perfect for the opening of the Balloon Festival in Albuquerque.  It only got down to 39 degrees last night - almost balmy! 

We did not see any balloons, but the opening day saw over 650 balloons take off during the mass ascension around 7 AM.  The famous Albuquerque "box" was in effect.  This is a situation where the low level winds are in one direction while at a higher altitude they are 180 degrees from the lower ones.  This allows the balloons to fly south for a ways, increase their altitude and then fly north.  Some of the balloons made the box for a number of cycles and then proceeded to land almost exactly where they took off. 

Fred and Judy arrived around 10:00 this morning.  We all got into the Saturn and headed into Santa Fe.  After driving around a little it was obvious the only way to see anything was to park the car (not very likely on those streets!).  We found a municipal parking lot and pulled in behind a car entering.  As he cleared the semaphore gate, the attendant brought out a "Lot Full" sign.  My heart dropped, but she waved us in, and placed the sign behind us.  There were several places open that we could see, and we selected a handicap spot.   We wandered past several stores and galleries, then spotted a gallery with some beautiful sculptures.  In front was a large bronze eagle holding a fish in one of his talons, with water dropping from the fish.  It was a fountain.  I looked at the price and gasped.  It was $4000!  We looked around inside the gallery and saw a number of other fantastic sculptures.  One, a life size Indian girl in a full skirt was $40,000 and another of a male Indian was $43,000.  It was a very interesting place, and it contained some beautiful works of art, but we didn't buy anything.

We went into a nearby store full of much more reasonably priced (but not nearly as spectacular) items, and actually bought a couple of things.

Next we went around the corner to the Loretto Chapel.  This was originally built for the Sisters of Loretto and contains the world famous "miraculous staircase".  This is a spiral staircase, which makes two complete spirals up a height of about 20 feet, which was built with no nails or visible means of support, but which still is intact and in frequent current use.  This is in spite of some very heavy loads of "corn fed" girls as the curator showed us in a photograph at the entrance.  There must have been at least 20 not-too-dainty girls posing around the full length of the stairs.  There are several theories about where the staircase gets its strength, but no one is sure of the structural secrets it holds.  

The balance of the chapel is also beautiful!  There are ornate carvings, beautiful stained glass windows, and beautiful woodwork, including the stairway.  The chapel is privately owned, as the Catholic diocese declined to buy it when the Sisters gave it up.  A private family bought it and now gives "tours" (admission) for $2.50, and holds weddings there.  They often use the staircase as part of the wedding ceremonies.

Of course, there were a couple of gift shops associated with the chapel.  Outside there were vendors selling tee-shirts and jewelry on the front lawn.

We continued to walk past and into a number of other shops.  We decided to eat lunch at a Subway Sandwich shop Judy had spotted.  It was on the second floor, but we found a ramp down into the first level, then finally located an elevator to the second floor.  There were several Indian jewelry shops upstairs which we reviewed after lunch.

We returned to camp for a planning session, and decided to head down to Albuquerque to find the Sandia Peak Tramway which Fred is interested in taking up to a restaurant for lunch tomorrow.  It is fully wheelchair accessible, but we must wait in line for tickets, then for a tram.  We will try it mid-morning to try hitting a low activity time.

We then drove down to a lower level of the parking lot where the vantage point looked good to see the balloons in the evening balloon race.  They were supposed to take off at 6:00.  We spotted the balloons in the distance all lined up on the ground.  One of the men nearby loaned us his binoculars (ours were in the motorhome, of course) and I could see about 10 balloons in all.  These were mostly white, not the brightly colored hot-air balloons so prevalent in most of the activities.  They were helium filled for fuel-independent long distance travel, and were obviously built more for performance than appearance.

Six o'clock came and went.  The sun gradually got lower in the sky, and finally to our relief, went behind some distant clouds.  We were looking just a few degrees to the right of the sun to see the balloons.  We watched a most gorgeous sunset, and as it got darker it was harder to spot the balloons.  Finally, at about 7:00 we called it an evening.  Maybe tonight's news will say what happened to the planned launch.  I guess it's possible that they launched after most of the light was gone, and we never saw them, although I would expect that they had to have at least a strobe light on each balloon.

Back at the motorhome we watched the evening news.  The cross country balloons had taken off "not very long ago" (This was at 10 PM).  They are expected to be airborne for most of the week and end up somewhere near the east coast.  Nothing was said about the delay in take off.

Tomorrow, we are meeting the Pfafmans at the tramway parking lot.  Maybe we will go just a little early to see the balloons over Albuquerque.
Sunday, Oct. 6

This morning's news coverage said 16 balloons took off last night between 7 and 8 PM on the cross country race.  Three have already landed as they found themselves too close to severe weather.  The remaining ones are clustered within about a 50 mile area.  The expectation is that the winners will land at least 1000 miles away this year.  Often they land in the New England states.

As I am writing this I am watching a local station that is covering the balloon festival.  There is no "box" in effect today, so the balloons are all flying to the south, and will obviously have shorter flight times.  So far I have see hundreds of balloons take off.  The wind is higher than yesterday, and is approaching the limits for safe flying.  There are some pilots who have decided not to fly, but most of them seem to feel they are within limits. 

The evening news stated that over 600 balloons flew today.  Several of the more complex and difficult to control balloons did not fly.  These included "Aero-Bell" a very large cow, and the Wells Fargo Stagecoach.

We met Fred and Judy at the tram today a little before 10 AM, as we had planned.  On our way into the area, I could see about a dozen balloons still in the air.  We passed very close to one that was just landing.  I am not sure how he got where he was, as it was north of the field.  The winds were taking all the balloons to the south.  Our plan to get there early worked!  There was no wait for tickets and the wait for the tram was barely long enough for me to get Betty up from the car where I had left her while I checked things out.  Last night the line for tickets was estimated at 45 minutes, with about the same to board the tram.

The Sandia Peak Tramway is the longest passenger tramway in the world at 2.7 miles long.  The top span of cable is 1 1/2 miles long from the last tower to the top terminal.  The tram takes you up 3819 feet from a little over 6500 feet to over 10,000 feet at a speed of 12 mph.  It can carry 10,000 pounds with a maximum of 55 passengers per car.  You have to get very friendly when they pack that many people into the car!  There is always one car going up and another going down in synchronization.  The whole tram is run by a 600 horsepower DC electric motor with a Ford 250 HP gasoline engine as backup power.  Each car is equipped  with a winch with 1000 feet of cable for emergency evacuation.  Each operator is required to be lowered to the ground from the highest point of the tram before being hired.   

As our tram arrived in the station, we were lined up on one side of the car as they opened the door on the other side.  As soon as enough people had left through the far door, we started entering.  The whole process of emptying and reloading the car took less than two minutes.  Almost immediately, the tram started climbing up the cables disappearing up the side of the mountain.  As we approached each of the two towers, the tram slowed down, we passed over the tower, the car rocked somewhat and swung a bit, then we sped back up.  Exactly at the halfway point we passed the car coming down from the mountain.

There are two exactly identical sets of cables and cars on the tramway.  Each side has two 1 1/2 inch diameter cables anchored at each end, and supported by the two towers in between.  There is one car on each set of cables hung from a trolley assembly which has about a dozen wheels which ride on the main cables.  There is a 1 1/4 inch haul cable which is what actually drives the cars.  It is a large loop from 1 car, around a huge set of pulleys in the bottom terminal, up to the second car.  It then continues up to the top terminal, around another huge set of pulleys and down to the first car.  As one car heads up, the other always stays exactly the same distance down.  The downward heading car provides much of the power needed to drive the two cars.  

It took 5000 helicopter flights during the construction of one of the towers and for the stringing of the cables.

The ride was very smooth and quiet, except for the people talking inside.  We had an excellent view from the rear (down side) window.  We could look over much of Albuquerque including the Balloon Fiesta Field.  There was no activity there during the day. 

We arrived at the top and unloaded.  The view from the platform was spectacular!  We could see hundreds of square miles - maybe thousands.  The back of the platform looked down the other side of the peak where a chair lift was operating.  We watched the different skill levels of the riders as the mounted and dismounted the chairs.  Sometimes the operators stopped the lift for slower people to sit down or stand up.  As a couple of chairs with an adult and a child approached the operator would tell the child to raise his (or her) arms.  As the chair approached, the operator snatched the child from the chair while the parent stepped aside the other way.

The restaurant at the top was called "High Finance" which should indicate something about the menu prices.  Dinner prices were in the $18 - 25 range with some ups.  Lunch was much more reasonable.  We got out for less than $10 each.

After a couple of hours we caught a tram car down and had an equally enjoyable ride back to the main terminal.  A stint in the gift shop completed our day there.

We followed the Pfafmans back to the Balloon Park where all the launchings take place.  There was  nothing of interest to us happening, but we were happy to see the site.  We then continued to the RV park where they were staying about 10 miles east of Albuquerque.  This was the only time we had seen their Holiday Rambler Vacationer motorhome since I saw it parked on the dealer's lot in North Little Rock with a "Pfafman" sticker on it .

We said goodbye to Fred and Judy for this trip and went back to camp.  Everyone else in our group drove to Taos today.  We got reports from several of them, as we want to make that trip before we leave here.

I am really enjoying having a means of connecting to the Internet using my cell phone!  Anywhere I am able to get a digital cell phone signal (every campground so far) I can connect (at a very slow rate) and send and receive my email.  Every trip report (prior to this one) I have sent this trip has been sent via cell phone.  On my current cell phone plan with its unlimited minutes nights (after 8) and weekends, this is actually affordable.

Monday, Oct. 7

Today was a "low activity" day which let us do some catching up.  We slept late, and putzed around the campground till almost noon, then Betty and I drove back into old downtown Santa Fe to see some things we missed the first time.  We started by locating the San Miguel Church, stated to be the oldest continually used church in the USA.

It was built in the early 1600's by the Tlaxcalan Indians from Mexico.  The original adobe walls are displayed through a viewing window, but are now covered with stucco.  The church was damaged during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and was repaired in 1887.  Later the current stone buttresses and tower were added.  In 1955, an archaeological dig showed that the church was built over ancient Indian ruins of a pueblo which had been occupied until the 1300's by the ancestors of one of the modern Pueblo Indian tribes.

The church did not look that old from the inside, with its stucco walls.  Huge beams held up the roof and an especially beautiful carved beam held up the choir loft in the rear of the church.  There was magnificent artwork in the front and on the side walls.  A continuously running
recorded description helped us identify the various items and their history.

In the gift shop hung a huge bell, the oldest in the USA.  This was originally cast in San Jose, Spain in 1356, and contains about 600 pounds of copper, brass, and iron, about 155 pounds of silver, and about 20 pounds of gold.  It was obtained from Mexico by a Senorita Ortiz in 1812, who displayed it in her Santa Fe courtyard.  In 1848, a relative of the Ortiz's, Senor Delgado obtained the bell and the San Miguel Chapel.  He built the top tower of the church and hung the bell there.  In 1872, a violent storm caused the bell to shift and ultimately fall to the cemetery in front of the church.  It remained there until 1885.

Across the street was the oldest house in the USA.  Around 1200, the pueblo of Analco was built.  This house is the last remaining remnant.  The lower walls are the original "puddled" adobe brick.  The entrance used to be through the ceiling, but it now has conventional doorways in place.  The later remodeling construction on the house took place in the 1600's, about the time the church across the street was built.  This is one of the original haunted houses, as many people have told tales of visitations by some of the former residents.

It was an interesting tour of "oldests".

From downtown Santa Fe, we traveled up to Hyde State Park and a little ways beyond.  There were some Aspens which had turned a vivid yellow and a few other hardwoods with very nice colors.

We returned to camp after picking up a cake to help Ruth and Floyd Lamb celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary (which was yesterday).  We had a "bring your own meat" barbecue and potluck this evening.  The Lamb's cake was delicious!

Tuesday, Oct. 8

We all headed to Bandelier National Monument.this morning.  This is an area of Indian pueblo ruins which was first mapped and reported by a 40 year old anthropologist, Adolph Bandelier in 1880.  After watching the video and going through the displays in the Visitor's Center, we went out to the trails.  There are more than 2400 sites that have been discovered in the area, although not all these were occupied at the same time.  As we headed out, we could see large cave openings on the sandstone wall to our right.  A little later we came upon the largest kiva we have ever seen in a pueblo area.  A kiva is an excavated area in the ground, or a cave where religious ceremonies were held.  They often had such features as special openings to the underground below, as this is where their special spirits live.  There were places for ceremonial fires with air inlets and chimneys for the smoke.

This kiva was a near a very large circular pueblo which contained hundreds of rooms.  These had all been dug out and had walls still standing that were 2 to 4 feet tall.  I left Betty at this pueblo and the rest of us continued hiking up the trail to the canyon wall.  There were natural and hand carved caves almost continuously along the wall.  Around and over these were many ancient carvings on the wall depicting such things as men, turkeys, a dog (or similar animal), zig-zag lines depicting lightning, and many shapes that were not immediately obvious as to their meaning.

We climbed many steps to a higher area of the "neighborhood" and there were some cliff dwellings which had ladders in place for us to climb.  This allowed us to climb up and actually enter several of the rooms.  One place, the room we climbed into was connected to 3 other rooms along the face of the cliff.  Many of the rooms had smoke covered ceilings and walls, often with pictures or symbols having been drawn in the black coating.

We eventually came to an area called the "Long House" which is a series of cliff dwellings 800 feet long.  It is all a continuous series of individual caves, which were the back rooms of adobe houses that used to be attached in front.  You could see all the holes in the rock that had been made to support the roof beams of the structures in front.  In many places there had been three story buildings attached to the cliffs.

On our way back, we walked through the picnic area and found an empty site.  Some of our group stayed there while the rest of us went back to the parking lot and got our picnic lunches.  I was certainly ready to sit down and eat!

We left Bandelier N.M. and headed for Los Alamos a few miles away.  We found the local area museum first and went through it.  It included, but did not really emphasize the nuclear research and the development of the atomic bomb.  It really concentrated on the long term history of the area.  The area had been a boy's ranch school, mostly emphasizing strengthening the body and character of rich men's sons.  When the government needed an area for the atomic research, this area was chosen and the government commandeered the Boy's Ranch and surrounding Indian occupied areas, and built the laboratories and housing for the workers and their families.

Next we visited the Bradbury Science Museum a couple of blocks away.  This was a very modern museum depicting the history of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and had many hands-on exhibits.  One whole section was devoted to the history of the effort during WWII when the Manhattan Project developed the atomic bomb.  There were many old papers and documents, including a copy of the letter from Albert Einstein to President Roosevelt saying the development of the atomic bomb was possible, and urging a concerted effort to develop it before Germany could.

There were videos showing the security measures taken at the time.  Residents were not even allowed to mention the name "Los Alamos".  All reference to Los Alamos was by way of a P.O. Box in Santa Fe.  Even birth certificates listed that PO box as the birth address.  All the scientists were given false names to use when they traveled.  Vehicle registrations for the scientists were a number, instead of their own name.  They did not want the fact that a number of nuclear scientists were gathered together to become known to anyone outside the project!

There was an area which displayed arguments for whether the atomic bombs really shortened the war and ultimately saved both American and Japanese lives, or not.  There were statements that the Japanese were already defeated and that they would have surrendered shortly.  There was also documentation that the Japanese commanders refused to surrender even after the bombs were dropped, and only after a direct order from the emperor did they do so.

The hostess who introduced the video shortly after we arrived stated that during the war, the only task of the labs was to develop and build a weapon which would end the war.  Now they have many tasks involving almost every facet of our current life, and to make scientific developments to improve it.  Other sections of the museum concentrated on some of these areas and depicted the science and technology to help solve national problems related to energy, the environment, infrastructure, and health.

It was a tiring, but most interesting day!

Wednesday, Oct 9

Today was our day to visit Taos.  The rest of the group went there last weekend while we were spending time with Fred and Judy.  We drove the "high road" there.  This is a series of small back road highways that are very scenic.  We saw beautiful trees all along the way.  The most colorful were the Cottonwoods which were pretty much at their peak color, a vivid yellow.  Some had red coloring at the top.  We also saw some Aspens which were also bright yellow.  Many trees were not yet at full color, many were right at peak, and several were past peak.  This was an excellent viewing day.

Our first stop was at a small chapel in Chimayo, and old Mexican settlement.  It is a small chapel with a large name: El Santuario de Nuestro Senor de Esquipulas.  In 1810 a local farmer was praying and claimed to see light emanating from the ground.  He investigated and found a small cross, which is now in the chapel.  Legend states that the earth around where the cross was has healing powers.  Many people come here to this day to rub themselves with dirt from an opening in the floor where the cross was originally found, in hopes to receive healing.

Others in the group had suggested we eat at a Mexican restaurant just around the corner from the chapel.  We passed on this opportunity as it was only 10 AM when we were there.

We continued on to Taos still through breathtaking scenery.  In Taos, among other things we located Kit Carson's house and museum.  We probably did less walking around through areas like this than we would have as I could hardly walk!  After all the hiking I did yesterday, my knees made a statement to me trying to tell me "Don't do that!"  (My knees were better by evening.)

We decided to find a nearby bridge across the Rio Grand and headed out the highway to find it.  After going through probably the most beautiful stretch of road yet, we decided we had gone well past where the bridge should have been.  Betty checked the map again and decided we had gone the wrong way.  That was good, as we would never have seen that wonderful area.  We turned around and after going through some rather bland areas the other side of town, found the bridge.  This is one of the highest bridges in the nation at about 650 feet above the river.  It is over a beautiful gorge running as far as you can see in each direction, with the Rio Grande at the bottom.

We had a wonderful dinner tonight prepared by Ruth and Jean.  Norm and I showed the balance of our photos from the trip, and after a period of chatting we all retired.  The group is heading to Silver City, NM in the morning.  Ben is leaving at this point and heading home.  We are also leaving in the morning for about a week to check on progress on our lot in Prescott.

Thursday, Oct 10

We had decided to try and leave at 7 AM.  I looked at my bedside alarm clock and woke Betty telling her it was almost 6:30.  We got up, got and dressed, and started the last minute getting ready when I looked at the front clock.  It said 5:30.  I went back and the bedside clock truly said 6:30.  I reset the clock and we crawled back into bed, fully clothed, and got a little more rest.  The error was not the result of the forgetting to allow for  the time change entering NM, or it would have said 4:30.

We did actually leave the park by 7:05.  We had planned to spend the night in Winslow and head on to Prescott tomorrow, but with the early start and the hour time change as we re-entered Arizona, it was only about 1 PM.  We continued on and reached Prescott by 3:15.  We drove about 480 miles today!  Fortunately, my knees were much better today.

We plan to re-join the Ramblin' Recs at Fort Huachuca in about a week.  From there we will continue on to the end of the planned trip.

We had arranged for "land line" telephone service to be started at our park site in Prescott today.  When I plugged in, I got a dial tone!  This number should now be our "permanent" number in Prescott.  It is 928-778-7992.  We will still use our cell phone, and obviously only that number will reach us while traveling.  It's number is 928-925-4085.

Using the land line, I can connect to the Internet at 53K.  This report will go out much faster using that than the others have on the cell phone (but you will never notice the difference).

I'll start the reports again in about a week when we re-join the group.

Until then,

Hi all,
Well, we are back on track with the Ramblin' Recs at Fort Huachuca!  We missed the good times at Silver City, NM and at Willcox, AZ.

It was a very worthwhile trip back to Prescott!  I found that the grading of the bank along the rear of our lot would not provide the area I need behind the house and motorhome garage.  They had, at the Engineer's direction, started the cut for the bank 3 feet inside our property line, and then sloped it down at a much shallower angle than the adjoining lot, which we were assured it would be similar to.

We discussed the situation and decided to cut the bottom of the bank and build a concrete block wall, four feet high the full width of the lot.  The developer agreed to split the cost of the wall.  I think it was a good solution, and should improve the looks and usability of the rear area having the wall in place.  He is going to try and finish the wall before the house is delivered on Nov. 4 (per current schedule).

Tuesday, Oct. 15

We got away from our camp in Prescott about 7:15 this morning for the roughly 280 mile drive to Ft. Huachuca.  The rest of the group had only about 60 miles to drive from Willcox.  As we were driving through Casa Grande, the cell phone rang;  it was Floyd wondering where we were and what our schedule would be.  We told them and found they had not left Willcox yet, as they were waiting for a store to open.  We said we would call them when we were near our destination.  As we turned onto highway 90, with about 25 miles left, we called the Lambs.  Ruth answered and when I told her where we were, she said they were just passing Kartchner Caverns, only 5 or 6 miles ahead of us.  They slowed down and we sped up.  As they were pulling up to the main gate at the Army Base, we pulled in right behind them!  After Floyd, the only retired military member in the group, checked in with the sentries, they just waved us through.  We then had to park and sign in at the front desk.

I am SO GLAD that we met as we did, as Floyd has to be our "sponsor" for us to get passes to the base (actually they call this a post).  Coming in with the group made the sign-in process easier, plus we got to follow the expert around the base to the campground.  Finding it on our own would have been a real challenge!  We got a map showing the roads on the base only after reaching the campground.

The camping sites are beautiful here.  They are level concrete pull-through sites, long enough for the car to be either behind the motorhome or in front, and still be off the road.  They have 20A, 30A, and 50A hookups along with cable TV, water, and sewer.

Floyd and Ruth hosted us for a tour of the PX this afternoon.  I had never been in a PX before.  It reminded me a lot of Walmart or Target.

In camp we watched a spectacular sunset.  The sky was filled with small "fractured" clouds, and they turned to brilliant crimson hues before fading to gray, and then into dark.

After finally finding the on-post barbecue place this evening, we found it is closed on Tuesdays.  Dinner at Burger King was very good and 
quite economical. 

This is the first campsite this trip where my cell phone modem does not work.  We are on "digital roaming" here, which means I have a digital signal, but it is on someone else's network, like Sprint.  It works great for cell phone calls, and still is part of my plan as far as charges go.  It just doesn't work when I try to connect to the Internet.

Wednesday, Oct. 16

Today was the day for Kartchner Caverns.  We had at first said we would pass, as we saw them a little over a year ago, but decided to see them again with the group.

We had agreed to leave camp at 7:00 this morning, as the gate, about 20 miles to the north, opens at 7:30, and spaces on the tours are quite limited.  We arrived and were given numbers at the gate.  Upon turning in our numbers at the visitor's center, we were told that they only leave 4 places open per tour for walk-ins.  As there were 7 of us (Jean doesn't do caves) we would be split up on two separate tours, and the earliest one available was at noon.  The 3 who had not seen the caves decided to do them on a future trip after having made prior reservations.  As the Avery's and we had seen the caves already, we all headed back to camp.  We stopped at an RV place we had passed on our way, and a couple of us picked up items we needed from their parts department.

Jean made a pot of split pea soup and offered it to us all for lunch; it was delicious!  When she mentioned she had been thinking of baking a pie for us if we had been gone longer, we all offered to leave again.  We stayed - no pie.

Merle, Alden, Betty, and I went to the post museums a little after lunch.  They have a two-building main museum and a separate one featuring the MI intelligence and counter-intelligence efforts from the earliest days to near-modern times.

We did the intelligence museum first.  They had examples of early communications equipment, including the earliest telegraph systems, a system of mirrors which allowed them to communicate in Morse code over distances up to 100 miles, and a selection of early radio transmitters and receivers, including the early walkie-talkies which were almost the size of a loaf of bread..  There were some very early code cipher machines.  The earliest ones were a very small box with a sliding piece with a slot exposing a single row of characters from a sheet below it.  By moving the slider, the users could select from a large number of combinations (50 or 60).

In newer items they had a small pen which had a scraper and a magnet inside.  The user could surreptitiously scrape a small sample of paint or metal and the pen would capture the sample for later analysis.  They had a small plastic tree which contained a video surveillance camera.  They would set this near an enemies' camp to keep an eye on their activities.  There were radio controlled drone aircraft used for aerial photography.  On display was "Old Faithful".  Most drones had a relatively short lifetime due to the type of service and the crash parachute landings, but Old Faithful completed 50 missions, and except for some "hangar rash" still was an intact aircraft.

The main museum concentrated on the history of the post.  It was created in the mid 1800's as a Cavalry post to protect the area from hostile Indians.  Over the years it had different missions, including several periods where it was inactive.  During WWII it served as a training base for building remote airports.  At other times it provided military training in a variety of mountain and desert surroundings.  

Displays included uniforms, firearms, furniture, and photographs of the military locations, men, and equipment as well as some of their opponents such as Geronimo, Cochise, and Pancho Villa.  

There were photographs of the post in its earlier years.  There was a photograph of one of the existing barracks taken in 1888!

There were also life size examples of early life in the "kitchen and one room" typical of lower ranking men's housing.  There was a kitchen with stove, table, and a manually operated washing machine.  The recorded dialog recounted part of the housewife's day, including a statement that with the new modern washer, she only needed to pump the handle about 45 minutes to wash a load of clothes.

In the bedroom was a lady with a broom raised over her head ready to strike.  On the rug in front of her was a scorpion about 1 1/2 inches long.

The third building, the museum annex contained a large life size recreation of a Cavalry encampment of several men.  Around the edges of this building were examples of early uniforms, firearms, and utensils, along with other related items. 

It was a most interesting afternoon!

For dinner tonight, we decided to take a picnic dinner up to a picnic area built where early sentries used to be posted on lookout duty.  There is an incredible view over more than 180 degrees.  Tonight we could see about 100 miles, including highway 90, which we could follow to about Benson.  We could see much of the post and most of the city of Sierra Vista.  We could pick out lights on the distant mountains and were making guesses about what they were.  We stayed until well after dark after watching a pretty sunset behind us. 

Thursday, Oct 17

We had all decided to explore Tombstone and the surrounding areas today.  We left at 9 and headed out the base.  As we were following the Johnsons' Jeep, we were not able to second guess exactly where they were going.  They decided to head to Bisbee first, then do Tombstone.  We parked across from the museum in town and did a walking tour of the city.  It is full of antique, craft, and jewelry shops.  Built on the side of a hill across from the copper mine, everything was up or down hill, or at least sideways.  

We went into one interesting antique shop.  It contained a lot of old "stuff" I could relate to.  There were old radios and TV's.  A 10" TV was not that different from the first TV I ever owned.  There were old Coke machines and flats of old Coke bottles.  There were also a number of rusty steel toy trucks.  I a lot of ways it reminded me of one of my favorite shopping locations when I was about 14 - Veteran's Salvage.  I went to the yard, not the store.  That was where all the great bargains were located.  Much of my early stash of junk came from Veteran's Salvage.

The similarity of this store to Veteran's Salvage ended with the contents and general appearance of the store.  The prices were a little higher!  They had a Mobil gas pump for $2000, and the rusty toy trucks ran from $150 to $700!  Oh well, nostalgia isn't what it used to be!

We managed to make most of the length of the main street, then around to one street back and into the Copper Queen Hotel.  After I took Betty into the restaurant via the back kitchen door, we had a good lunch.

We did a little more driving around town, and especially the mine.  This is a large open pit copper mine, which for all practical purposes is no longer in operation.  They are apparently doing just enough there to keep from having to perform massive restoration tasks.
We hit the highway again and headed for Tombstone.  We found a parking spot right alongside the OK Corral and started walking around.  We entered a theatre associated with the OK Corral and right next door to it.  We paid and went in to see about a 20 minute show, narrated by Vincent Price about the history of Tombstone.  The show was very interesting, telling the story with a large 3d model of the town on the stage.  This large model had several different sides which were rotated toward the audience as needed.  There was an electrically operated screen which would lower in front of the model when needed to show some slides or movie footage.  The story took us through the early prospecting in the area, the discovery of silver and copper, and the near-instantaneous creation of the city.  Twice, the city was burned to the ground and very quickly rebuilt.

They described the steps leading up to the bad feelings between two factions in town and the ultimate shoot-out at OK Corral.  In this shoot-out the 3 Earp brothers and Doc Holliday were the surviving participants.

We wandered up and down the street, looking into the various shops which were obviously targeting the tourists.  There were costumed characters wandering the streets, with some of them inviting us to head down to a certain street for a shoot-out at 3:00, others were advising us to go into their stores and shops.  There were three horse drawn vehicles giving rides.  The first two were fine, being a buckboard type wagon and a flat wagon.  Then there was a stagecoach.  This was built of plywood with flat painted sides that just did not come across as a stagecoach!  The crowning jewel was the "US Mail" painted on the door with the current eagle trademark which was designed about 100 years after the period being depicted.  It was a fun visit.

We headed back to camp and had a little time to relax.  About 5 we were told we were having a pot luck dinner tonight.  We had practically nothing!  We managed to round up a container of assorted cookies.  As with all pot lucks, the food was good and plentiful.  

After dinner I read several emails I had received from members of the church to the rest of the group.  Notable among these was an excellent description by Paul Comstock of a three week trip he recently took to Austria to participate in a major music festival, and an excellent description by Mary Alice Boyce as Gordon and she drove across the country tracking down locations where their great grandfathers and other family members had lived.  You may remember that Gordon and Mary Alice made their first stop of this trip in Prescott while we were there and spent an enjoyable evening with us there before proceeding.

Tomorrow we head to the final stop of our trip - Casa Grande, AZ.

This should be the final report for this trip.  We are now in our final destination for 3 nights, then it's back to Escondido. (Yes, even we Prescottonians are heading to Escondido from here.)

Friday, Oct 18

We had a leisurely departure from Ft. Huachuca this morning, leaving about 9:00.  With only about 145 miles to go to our park in Casa Grande, AZ, there was no rush.  The drive was smooth and uneventful (the best kind!) although we did pass through some light sprinkles.  Of course these were not nearly strong enough to do any serious car or motorhome washing, but did leave enough dirty road spray to mess them both up!

We reached the Palm Creek Resort just before noon.  This is a humongous installation!  It currently has about 1500 spaces and a list of rules to match!  The park has a number of "park model" manufactured homes that are privately owned, as well as many sites for RV;s.  Not just any RV of course:  They only allow rigs over 21 feet, no tents, tent trailers, or pop-up vans.  No rig over 10 years old is allowed.  You must bring your registration certificate to the office so they can verify the age!

We had made reservations for 6 rigs, and over the last several months, called twice more to confirm them.  Each time we were told our reservations were good.  We got to the desk and had no reservations.  When we explained what we wanted the lady said "Of course, we do not make reservations for anything less than a month!", but not to worry they could accommodate us.  She then asked if we had any pets.  Like a fool, I replied that we had a cat, but she never leaves the motorhome.  "Oh, that doesn't matter, you still must be in the pet area.  There is not room for you all in the pet area, so you must be there and the others well be here"  She pointed to two areas at extreme opposite ends of the massive park.

I was furious!  I made the decision at that moment that if we could not be together, there was no way we would stay here.  We would leave the group 3 days early, drive down to Ajo to visit the friends who had already arranged to come up here tomorrow to see us, then get on with our lives.  She called someone on the radio and asked him to see if there was electricity yet at several specific sites.  After about 15 or 20 minutes he responded that the power was truly on.  All four of us went to the very back of the park where they have just added the last 500 spaces or so, and are there with only a couple of nearby neighbors.  This is really much better than being fit in the "close, but not contiguous" spots we would have gotten if I had "forgotten" to mention Muff.

Other than the excessive rules and the check-in bumbling, this is really a nice park - and the price is right!  They have a promo deal right now at $10 a night.  This is obviously a park aimed at "snowbirds".  They have more activities than I have ever seen in a park.  These include lapidary, silversmithing, quilting, sewing, woodworking, and ceramics, to name a few.  There are fully equipped rooms (labs) for each of these.  Their Internet connection is a wall jack alongside a small round table with 2 chairs in the hallway.  I believe this hall is open 24 hours.  They have "instant" phone line connections to the parking sites, but it is obviously aimed at long term stays, as there is a $16 "connection fee".  plus a monthly and a usage fee.

We relaxed some this afternoon, I went over to their wash rack and washed the Saturn (badly needed), then we all went to the Cracker Barrel for dinner.  After dinner, everyone met in our motorhome for ice cream and cake to celebrate Merle's (past) and Jean's (coming up) birthdays.

Saturday, Oct. 19

The rest of the group left this morning for the Casa Grande Ruins, while we stayed around and did some routine tasks around the motorhome.  We had made arrangements for our good friend Dick Vetter and his fiance (they will be married in less than two weeks) to visit us this afternoon, coming from their homes in Ajo, about 100 miles to the south.  A little after noon, Dick and Sylvia arrived and we had a marvelous visit.  We went out to lunch at JB's, then went to Walmart.  After another period of chatting and getting caught up, our two good friends left for home.

We continued our relaxing ways through the evening, watching most of the 1st World Series game.  The wrong team won!

Sunday, Oct. 20

We took our time getting up this morning, as we had decided to attend the 11:00 service of the Casa Grande United Methodist Church.  We found it to be a very friendly church.  The pastor, Larry Baker, used to preach in Hemet, so knew our area very well.  We chatted with him for quite a while after the service.

After a brief stop back at camp to change shoes and whatever else, we hit the road to Mesa, AZ to see the Mesa Southwest Museum.  This is one of the most comprehensive museums I have seen.  It has a large section on dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.  There is a magnificent display in the main part of the museum, extending the full 3 story height of the building, showing several near life size dinosaurs on a hill near a stream and several ponds.  The animals are animated, and very lifelike.  Periodically, there is a storm, with thunder and lightning.  After a while the stream starts to flow very rapidly from the flash floods.  Gradually after the storm subsides, the stream settles back to its normal rate of flow.

Other displays depicted the Indian culture of the area and included large displays of pottery and baskets, along with full size models of their hogans and pueblos.  There was a large exhibit of show business clothing, especially concentrating on western performers' boots and outfits.

There was a "simulation" of the Lost Dutchman Mine, a series of side rooms in a  tunnel which wound around in a section of the building, exiting into the jail cells which were originally built as a territorial jail building, and later were bought by the city of Mesa for use as the city jail.  There was never an escape from these cells.  The federal government used these cells to house their prisoners during transit.

There were displays of a wide variety of minerals in their many varied colors and forms.  There were movie posters and memorabilia of movies about Arizona or in an Arizona setting. .There was a temporary display of electric trains.  These ranged from antique to modern, and included track widths from less than 1/2 inch to several inches.  There was a live steam locomotive about 18 inches long on display.  Of course there was a gift shop.

The displays were arranged in chronological order.  By following from number 1 through number 27 in their folder, you can see an overview of Arizona's development from 3 billion years ago to the present.

After finishing the museum, we all went to a nearby Mexican restaurant and had a good meal.

After getting back to camp, we all said our goodbyes and proceeded to get ready for tomorrow morning's departure back to Escondido.  Several of us have indicated that we will be leaving very early.  We'll see just how early!  All of us but the Lambs are planning to do the 370 miles in one leg.  The Lambs are staying in Yuma to visit with some friends, then will head home on Tuesday.

Monday, Oct. 21

We had been planning to leave camp by 7:00 this morning.  We were awake by about 5.  About 5:30 I heard a vehicle driving past and looked out;  It was the Avery's leaving.  I wondered when the Johnsons would be leaving, so looked out to their side;  they were already gone!  We got up, broke camp (mostly done last night), and were away by 6:10.

After fueling up in Casa Grande, we followed a big rig onto I-8 westbound.  After we passed him, we did not see another westbound vehicle until 47 minutes into our day's trip!  Finally a couple of cars from the distant rear overtook us and passed us.  Then we were in heavy traffic, with another car passing us every several minutes.

We had a very smooth and uneventful trip to Escondido, but the traffic did increase on I-8 as the day developed and we got further to the west.  In contrast to I-10 and I-40, there was very little truck traffic on I-8, a welcome relief

We pulled up in front of the Boyces' by 1:30, after having driven about 370 miles today.  It really makes a difference getting an early start!  We will be "camped" alongside the Boyces' house until Friday morning, when we will head home to Prescott.

This has been a fun trip with some wonderful people!

We were gone a total of 26 days, counting the 3 days in another campground in Prescott, and our 5+ day visit back to Prescott during the trip.

We originally had 19 people in 10 rigs interested in taking this trip, but by the time the trip came around, only 9 (5 rigs) could still make it.  We started with these 5 rigs and after Santa Fe, Ben Long, and we left the group.  For Silver City and Willcox, the group was 6 people and 3 rigs.  After we rejoined the group in Ft. Huachuca, we were back to 8 people and 4 rigs for the remainder of the trip.

We drove a total of 1790 miles, including our detour back to Prescott.  That added about 300 miles to what we would have driven had we stayed with the group the whole time.

I had email access through my cell phone or in the campground office at every stop on the trip.  This is a first!  I received about 100 emails about evenly split between personal messages, and mail list distributions.  I sent out 6 reports on the trip including this one, along with a number of personal messages, and did not post any pictures this time - sorry!

We camped in two states, Arizona and New Mexico, and drove through three including California.

Compared with some of our previous trips, the specs may not look that impressive, but the trip was truly wonderful.  We enjoyed every day of the trip, the beautiful places it took us, and the good fellowship with our wonderful friends!

Thank you for joining us on this trip.  It means a lot to us to know you are along with us, even if only in thought and spirit.  We feel your presence continuously!

Till next time with love,

Dick and Betty