January 2009 - December 2009
Left Sacramento after Christmas with the family. We Headed south to spend the winter in the southwest. Looking for warm days and blue skies. We traveled through Arizona, New Mexico, and then north through Colorado, Utah, Idaho and on to Washington. We did the Olympic Peninsula loop before heading south ending the year back in Sacramento.
Blue line on the above map shows our 2009 travels
I wrote my first Travel Story August 19, 2002. That was just after we retired and were on a trip to the Canadian Rockies. The next series of Travel Stories were in early 2003 on a trip to Arizona and Big Bend National Park. I was surprised and embarrassed to recently find that those first two Travel Stories were not on our Web site. That has now been partially remedied. The Travel stories, complete with pictures from our trip to Arizona and Big Bend National Park are now on the web site. Canadian Rockies will be coming later; I’ll let you know when it is done. To enjoy Arizona and Big Bend stories and pictures click on “past trips” and scroll down to the Arizona and Big Bend trip.
Agua Caliente Park is one of my favorite places in the world. We spent three days there on our way from San Diego to Arizona. To read about it please go to the above mentioned web page and read the second Travel Story. You also may not want to forget to look at the pictures; I have also put some new pictures on “Second 6 months Picture Page”.
I write Travel Stories for several reasons. They are meant to challenge you mentally and to touch you emotionally for the purpose of allowing you to vicariously share our wonderful experiences as RV’ers. Sometimes it is hard to find just the right words and sometimes there are others that have already used just the right words.
We made out first visit to The Slab, aka Slab City recently. It is an abandoned military base just east of the Salton Sea in California. Now it is a place for some very interesting RV’ers. To explain this place I am using someone else’s words. First I refer you to this web page with description and pictures: www.desertdutch.org/slabcity.htm. For more pictures than Arlo took we refer you once again to “Second 6 months Picture Page”.
As many of you know Arlo is a Geocacher (www.geocaching.com). There were several Geocaches at Slab City with very colorful descriptions. Some have pictures. If you are a geocacher you can go to the site and see the pictures.
“Something interesting and unique to see!
“While doing another cache in the area, we drove by this location and it was quite an eye-opener! We saw it from a distance and wondered what it might be.
”To log this cache, you must have a picture of you and your GPS (or just GPS if your by yourself), standing in front of Salvation Mountain, or in front of the sign.
"This location is accessed by taking
Hwy 111 to Niland. Turn on Main St, It's hard to spot the sign so keep your eyes
peeled. Main Street eventually turns into Beal Road just before the railroad
tracks. Take Beal Road to the mountain.
Have fun figuring out just why this is here!!
If you really want to know more, go to Salvation Mountain.com and get the whole story!!”
“Dirt road but easily accessable with 2 wheel drive.
“Cache is log only so BYOP.
“This is desert so watch out for snakes during warmer weather.
“Over the years many RVing pets have ended their travels at this location. This little cemetery is dedicated to those pets. Please be respectful, take pictures, read the headstones, but please do not disturb the gravesites. The cache is NOT on any of the graves.”
And my favorite…
“Voo Doo Tank at Camp Dunlap
“Did you see Pirates of the
Caribbean: "Dead Man's Chest" and "At World's End"?
”Do you remember the Mysterious Witch "Tia Dalma" that was played so very well by Naomie Harris?
”Well...... She (a similar witch) lives at the tank near where this cache is placed!
“In 1943 to 1945 this area was Camp Dunlap a Marine Corps Military Base. Today it is more commonly referred to as Slab City or the Slabs. After the war the base was abandoned and the buildings on the base torn down leaving only their concrete foundations. It is a popular place today for RVer's to winter, many use the old slabs to park their motorhomes on.
“Still standing structures in the area include several Bomb proof munitions bunkers and the bases water system. Part of the water system still standing is the "Voo Doo" Tank.
“The "Voo Doo Tank" is in sight of and gunshot range of Salvation Mountain.
“The tank is about 50 feet in diameter made of concrete reinforced with rebar. It has an intact concrete reinforced roof with two access holes on top, one centered and one to the side. The ceiling or roof is about 10' high. The center roof access hole is covered by a "Tire Structure" which filters the air and light entering the tank denying entrance to certain spirits.
“Sometime in the last few years persons unknown hammered and hacksawed a 2' wide by 3' high "door" into the North side of the tank at ground level to create a doorway entrance.
“You can enter the tank through this hole. The insides of the tank are illuminated by light filtering in through the two top access holes and from the "doorway".
“On 10-28-07 as we approached the tank we could see "Cave Art" pictographs painted and drawn on the outer walls. You will see some of those pictographs when you visit the photo gallery.
“As we got closer and approached the North ground level doorway we could hear faint strains of music coming from within.
“Tassie approached the door opening and yelled "Hello" may we come in? There was no denial of entry so we entered, the four of us (there is strength in numbers).
“Inside there was a solitary black female and her "camp" site.
“She was tall, in her mid 30's, about 5'10", slender and well muscled. She had jet black skin and long blond dreadlocks. There was an odor of Ganja and incense.
“When our eyes adjusted we could see that the walls were painted with satanic images, one image a Red Devil's head stood out.
“The black lady a (witch?) avoided eye contact or speaking to us. She gathered her belongings and crouched defensively over them.
“I was struck by how much she reminded me of the Mysterious Witch "Tia Dalma" so perfectly played by Naomie Harris in the last Pirates of the Caribbean movies. (I have Tia's photo in the gallery).
“Suspended from the ceiling of the tank by a course fish net was a platform (a second story if you will) the light from the ceiling access hole diffused and scattered upon it.
“Very eerie! I have learned that the netting structure is a "Bat Trap" used by the Witch to catch Vampires which she then cooks for dinner. The bones are dried and ground up to become an ingredient in powder used in spells.
“After a few minutes of inspection we departed. No verbal words were uttered by the Witch in response to our attempts at conversation. We left the tank, a few minutes later she emerged to see that we were leaving.
“I have included many photos of both inside and outside the tank in the gallery to illustrate this narrative.
“The Brave cachers in this mini adventure are Myself, Tassieworfsky, Spetictankhank and Kayes88
“If all this scares you a little bit you should remember that you can find the cache without entering the tank, but then you would miss the fun of a grand adventure.”
I can’t make this stuff up and couldn’t say it any better. Enjoy, and be sure to look at my pictures on "Second 6 months Picture Page".
The first week in February, we spent a wonderful 7 days at an RV Park in El Golfo, Mexico. It is just 95 miles south of the border at Yuma, AZ and located on the Sea of Cortez. To the west the mountains of Baja California sit on the horizon. The blue waters of the Sea of Cortez are between the park and Baja. The sunsets are magnificent. (Pictures are on our web site – www.krystonia.info.) More about El Golfo and the Park, but first I want to share a few thoughts about travel in Mexico.
There has been a lot of media attention to the violence and killings in Mexico. Best I can determine is there have been about 6,000 killings in the past year. They are all associated with the drug cartels and the war that is going on between themselves and between them and the Mexican Government. The vast majority has occurred in just a few border cities, like Tijuana, Nogales, and Juarez. There have also been kidnappings and killings in several US cities by these same groups. A few tourists have been caught in “cross fires”. Maybe they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or maybe they were just in the wrong place where tourists should not be. Bottom line is that very few of the 6,000 killings have been tourists. With a reasonable degree of caution and care, some of those may have been prevented. To get another perspective on this, 6,000 people are killed on US Highways every 3 months.
Are we going to let the scary media stories about the dangers of Mexico keep us from going there? No. We all take risks every day. Driving a large Motorhome can be frightening at times. In fact there are risks in just getting out of bed every morning. Mexico is a wonderful place to visit. The people are warm and friendly, and the culture is exciting. We love the music and the food. And there is a charm to a simpler life style, once you are far enough below the border.
OK, back to El Golfo. It is a small fishing village that has not yet experienced a large tourist influence. There is no Post Office or local police. The paved Highway ends at the center of town. The side streets are not paved. The RV Park is a mile past the center of town. It is directly on the beach. You can easily walk on the beach from your RV. It is also accessible to ATV’s and 4X4’s. You can drive miles and miles on the sand without worrying about hitting sunbathers.
Eighties something - Dave, is the Park’s “Activities Director”. He has been coming to this park since the 50’s. He knows the history. He knows the town. Each Saturday he leads a walking tour of the village that includes a lunch stop. (See pictures on the web site; www.Krystonia.info.) His charisma, energy and charm are infectious. He clearly loves this place and this town. He tells us the story about when there was an unusual heavy rainstorm and the clay mud from the hills east of town filled the village streets. Prior to that, many RVs got stuck in the last mile of sand coming into the Park. Now with this foundation of clay on the road people are less likely to get stuck. He tells us the best places to buy things and where to eat. He assures us that eating in town is safe. He stops to talk with locals; he seems to know everybody, which slows our walking tour. After a good lunch we return to the Park by walking along the beach and he explains the fishing industry. We enjoyed sunsets, walking on the beach and margaritas and just relaxing for a week. Then we had to return to the reality of life in the USA and hear all about the Health Care crises, the financial crises and the foolishness about how they should be fixed.
Krystonia Travel Stories
February 2009 (after Mexico)
After we returned to the USA we traveled to the Gypsy Journal Rally in Casa Grande, AZ. The Gypsy Journal is an RV Newspaper written by Nick Russell. (http://www.gypsyjournal.net/index.html) Nick is a full time RVer and a former Newspaper Owner and Journalist. You can read his interesting live story on his web site. He sponsors a Rally for RVers that lasts several days and includes information workshops and social gatherings. Overall it is a lot of fun, a way to learn new stuff, and to mix with folks who share a similar life style. This year is was at the Casa Grande Fair Grounds. At the closing ceremony we all voted to change the location next year.
As we arrived the wind was blowing. Driving the road down the side of the Fair Grounds the dust was so bad that I had to turn on my headlights. The wind was the front of a storm that brought heavy rain the first night. By morning we were parked in a mud hole. They even created a “hat pin” to help us remember our experience. Please look at the pictures on the web picture page.
Two of the many interesting workshops are worth mentioning. First was the presentation by Nick. In his travels he likes to explore interesting, out of the way places. He uses his reporter/journalist background to dig below the surface, sometimes coming up with information not even known by the locals. Look for some of these stories on his web site. He was an inspiration to me, and a challenge to improve my writing skills.
The next workshop was: “Write Compelling Stories”. One exercise was to spend one minute writing spontaneously, and suspend any judgment as you write. The subject was to be something you remember. Just for fun here is what I wrote: (Remember we were parked in a mud hole.)
“I remember when it was warm and dry outside the Itasca. Then I remember moving to Casa Grande and the Gypsy Journal Rally. I remember arriving in the wind that was challenging to the awning and its ability to stay mounted to the Motor Home. I remember shortly after going to bed the first night hearing the skies open and the rain belting the roof with vengeance. I remember being afraid to look out the next morning for fear of what I might see. I remember the sinking feeling to discover that we were now parked in a mud lake. As we left to go to the first presentation, I remember my wife standing like a statue, her feet glued to the mud.”
From Casa Grande we moved to the Lost Dutchman State Park, in the shadow of the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction, AZ. We met my cousin Ted and his wife Bev and had a wonderful week in this beautiful place. Please look at the pictures at: www.krystonia.info.
Travel Story – Extra
Seems like procrastination is trumping Travel Stories. I do not know why. I have 2 or 3 in my head. Just need to sit down at a keyboard and get them “on paper.” A recent event, however, demands a Travel Story… thus, this Extra edition. The others will come later and be backdated.
We are animal lovers and our pets have become family members. We talk to them, they talk to us, they are involved in family decisions, and their names appear in our signature blocks: “Ruth, Arlo & Mocha.” Both Hobbes and Mocha have written Travel Stories. You may want to read Mocha’s on our web site: www.krystonia.info. Click on the link below her picture: ”Travel Story 8.15.09”,
Before I go on, you need to know that this story has a happy ending. If it did not I probably would not be writing it. Besides we do not want you to suffer the anxiety and sleep deprivation that we went through.
We are staying in an Escapee Park. There are 110 sites for traveling Rvers like us. There are also about 450 individually owned lots, some with a place to park an RV, some with small buildings and some with nice homes. The park is in the Arizona desert, surrounded on three sides by open desert and Highway 89 on the fourth. There is much wildlife in the Park and surrounding desert. We have birds, lizards, rabbits and coyotes that meander through the park on occasion.
Last Saturday was the closing dinner for the Woodcarving Workshop at the Activity Center. When we left, apparently the door did not latch. When we returned from dinner we discovered that a wind gust had opened the door. Mocha was nowhere to be found. We grabbed flashlights and looked, and looked, and called and looked. Nothing. We left the door open in case she came home. Sunday morning, no Mocha. We continued our search in the daylight. We put up posters with her picture. Many people in the park were supportive. We heard stories of cats that had been gone 2 to four days and then returned. Did not hear stories of cats that never returned! Good thing.
Sunday night, we left the door open again but got nothing but flying things in the Motorhome. Monday was a difficult day when we started saying, “If we could just find her harness, and get some closure.” We still had hope down deep, but started doubting it. Lots of continuing support from people in the park
Monday night about 9:30 pm with a Motorhome full of moths and other flying things, she arrived home! She bounced up the steps with a meow as if to say, “Here I am.” as she often does when she appears from a different room. First she went to her food and water, and then quickly checked out the Motorhome from one end to another. Next it was back for food and water before looking for the litter box. Ruth quickly got out some canned food for her and Arlo quickly got the door closed…
She was very dusty, but otherwise looked fine. She has been more affectionate and has not gone near the door. Monday night she crawled under the blankets between us on the bed and started purring for a short time. She has never done that before.
How we wish she could talk, what a Travel Story those missing days would make.
Mocha's Travel Story
“CBS Sunday Morning” with Charles Osgood ends with a two to three minute nature video. On Easter Sunday the video was of wild bunny rabbits. I do not understand why Rabbits are a symbol for Easter, they do not lay eggs… But that is a different story.
They looked a lot like the bunny rabbits at the North Ranch RV Park. Mocha was at her food dish when it came on. It immediately got her attention. She became alert, focused and attentive only as a cat can. She approached the TV with great expectation. This was the Sunday just after her Great Adventure in the out of doors. (See Travel Stories – Extra on www.Krystonia.info)
When the video segment was over she looked at me and said:
“Those look like the bunnies I was with outside! When you left last week I felt a little sad, as I usually do when you leave me. But you always come back, so I get over it. Shortly after you left I heard the door open. I thought you were back in a hurry, or maybe you forgot something. Sometimes you do that. I went to the door, but no one was there. That seemed odd. I sat on the steps for a while, as I often do to look out. Then I realized that the screen door was also opened.
"As I sat, wondering where you were I saw some bunny rabbits come by. I have been watching them out the front window. They looked like a lot of fun. I wondered where they were going so I decided to find out. I jumped out and started running with them. Boy can they run fast. Everything was strange. The rocks and sand under my feet did not feel good. I could feel the wind blowing through my fur. I ran faster and faster to keep up with my “new friends”. Soon it was getting dark, and I did not know how far I had run, or which way. I was paying too much attention to the bunnies to notice.
“Soon I found myself at their gathering place. I wanted to be friends. They were not too sure at first. But I meowed in my most friendly voice and tried to stay calm, so as not to excite them. The accepted me, reluctantly at first. They sat around in a circle like I have seen you do with your friends. I think you call it a campfire. But of course they did not have a fire.
"The first night they told stories about coyotes. One they mentioned was Wiley. They said not to worry about him. All he catches are roadrunners, and he never does catch them. But some of the other Coyotes are smarter. They talked about tricks they use to avoid them.
“During the day they did their thing and scurried for food. They tried to teach me but I did not like the food they were eating. After dark we had another “campfire”. They told new stories this second night. One story was about a famous bunny named Peter. They said that I reminded them of Peter. He was too curious for his own good. He ventured out one day to explore a farmer’s garden and almost ended up in the soup pot. He managed to escape but learned his lesson. He is a hero among rabbits. They thought that my curiosity might get me in trouble too. I was really getting scared.
“The next day I stayed hid, best I could. I was having trouble sleeping because I was thinking so much about what my new friends had told me. That night I went to the “campfire” and told them all goodbye. They were good friends, but their life was too scary and I did not like their food. After it was good and dark I headed back to the Motor Home. I was so happy to see you both. I decided that I have a good life, good food, and good people to care for me. I think that I learned the same lesson that Peter learned.”
After she told me her story, she went to take a catnap.