Trip to Hardin – Day 12

Turnaround decision revisited…

I didn’t get to update the blog yesterday due to lack of Internet.  We had to stay at a KOA in Grants due to there being no room anywhere near Albuquerque because of the balloon festival.  This KOA had very poor WiFi and I can understand why.  We also had poor data reception on our cell phones.  Verizon was showing only a couple of bars of LTE, no 3G or 4G.  So… it was slow, even on our phones.

Before talking about the Grants area, let me catch you up on our travel day.  Here is why we were unable to continue.  The line of thunderstorms stretched from El Paso, TX all the way up to Minnesota.  It was a slow moving line as well.    This is what we would either have to drive through or delay for.  We didn’t have time to delay our trip and be able to make it back to work in time.  So, we turned around and headed to…screenshot_20191001-070951

Grants, New Mexico

As it turns out, Grants was a wonderful place to stop for two reasons, the Western New Mexico Aviation Heritage Museum and El Malpais National Monument.

Western New Mexico Aviation Heritage Museum

This museum is a restoration of two forms of aviation infrastructure, now both largely gone.  The first and foremost reason I wanted to visit this museum is it’s exhibit on vintage airway beacons.  In many places throughout the country people have stumbled on mysterious concrete arrows and wondered what they were for.  At this museum they have completely restored the concrete arrow and the lighted beacon tower it supported.  As well as the generator sheds that accompanied these towers to power them.  These beacons lighted the way for early airmail aviators so they could continue to fly the mail at night.  There were literally hundreds of these arrows and towers across the country.   The museum is only open on Saturdays so we took the outside walking tour.  There are free pamphlets you can grab that talk about the outdoor exhibits and the history.  This was one of the stops I was most looking forward to.

 

Grants, New Mexico

If you’ve ever seen the movie Cars, think “Radiator Springs” and you pretty much have Grants.  Still it was fun to drive down the main drag and look for remnants of her Route 66 glory days.  We stopped at AutoZone to buy a new tire pressure gauge.  Then we stopped at a touristy little spot to take a picture.

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El Malpais National Monument

After visiting the museum we decided to check out El Malpais (literally, The Badlands in Spanish).   El Malpais is a hugh lava field created by volcanic erruptions.  Spanish explorers named it El Malpais due the fact that it was impassible for their horses.  The terrain is literally littered with razor sharp chunks of black lava.  They had to find a way around.  Other than some Indians that lived in the area the place was largely abandoned for thousands of years.

We drove out into the park and stopped at an area with some sandstone bluffs.  This turned out to be the hidden gem in all of Grants.  Here is a taste of the sandstone bluffs:

 

We drove a little farther down the road and stopped at La Ventana, a large natural arch.  It’s a nice easy hike, only about 10 minutes from the parking lot.

Afterwards we drove back and had dinner back at our trailer.  And enjoyed a beautiful New Mexico sunset thanks to the storms passing by to the east.

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All in all our decision to turn around was a good one.  We saw some things we may not have had time for otherwise.

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Trip To Hardin – Day 11

Getthereitis

There is a term in aviation known as “getthereitis”.  It means that you are in such a hurry to get some place that you tend to ignore warning signs or go against your better judgement.  In most cases it is when a pilot is trying to get home.  It my case it would be trying to get to Hardin, Missouri.  IF I had getthereitis.  And I don’t.

Therefore we are cancelling the remainder of our trip to Hardin and slowly making our way home.  The simple reason is that weather is not cooperating.  A line of thunderstorms is making it’s way through Kansas.  It runs from El Paso, Texas to Minneapolis, Minnesota.   Here is what the National Weather Service has to say:

This hazardous weather outlook is for portions of central...south
central...southwest and west central Kansas.

.DAY ONE...Today and tonight.

Day 1 Discussion
----------------

Periods of rain throughout the day could cause flash flooding
especially in river basins and low lying areas as 1 to 2 inches of
rain with locally higher amounts possible. A few storms this
afternoon could turn severe especially around the I-70 corridor
with gusty winds the main threat.

Flash floods and gusty winds.  Nope.  Already dealt with that on this trip.  It will only last a day or two but it’s a day or two I don’t have time for.  We would not be able to make it to Hardin and back in the time allotted for this trip.

We turned back west and stopped off in Albuquerque for some shopping at Trader Joe’s and some lunch.   We continued on to a KOA in Grants, New Mexico.  This is fine as it will let me visit the Airways museum that I didn’t get to see on our trip out.  We have a full day in Grants tomorrow.  I’ll let you know what fun there is to be had in Grants.

Trip To Hardin – Day 10

Day of rest

Yesterday, we had Plan A, B, and C for today:

Plan A: Go to Valles Caldera and visit Longmire’s Cabin.  7 hours round trip plus whatever time we spent there.

Plan B: Go to Santa Fe and see the sights.  3 hours round trip plus whatever time we spent there.

Plan C: None of the above.  Stay home and do laundry.  Relax.  Listen to the whispering pines.

We went with Plan C.  After sleeping in we had breakfast and then went and

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did laundry.  We walked around the park for a bit.  Drove to the ranch up the road and admired the scenery.  Then we folded the laundry and had lunch.  Afterwards I took a nap.  Then I checked the tire pressures in the truck, but no before running over my favorite tire pressure gauge.  HULK SMASH!

Cristy started making some Chile Verde and has asked me to watch it while she takes a nap.  Which is what I’m doing now.  God commanded that we take a day of rest for a reason and I’m so glad I followed His command today.  We really needed the downtime.  I also used the time to prepare for our drive up into Kansas tomorrow.  The forecast calls for thunderstorms so this ought to be interesting.  We’ll spend two days getting across Kansas to our ultimate destination, Hardin, Missouri.

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Trip to Hardin – Day 9

Longmire Tour

Well after a crazy travel day we decided to rest a little on this Sunday.  Our only plan was to drive back into Las Vegas to buy some groceries, get some gas, and check out some of the Longmire filming locations there in town.

We found Plaza Park which is where the “Absaroka County Sheriff” from Longmire was.  They still have the name on the door.  Note that we are in Las Vegas, New Mexico, not Durant, Wyoming.

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The building is fronted with shops and city offices upstairs.

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Other interesting facts about Las Vegas, NM, it was a major stop on the Santa Fe Trail.  In fact, one of the last stops.  Santa Fe is just over the mountains from Las Vegas.

Afterwards we drove to a nearby WalMart Supercenter to do some grocery shopping.  Beforehand we listened to our church, Big Valley Grace, online on my phone.  My daughter prays piano in the praise band so it was nice to see her as well.

After we went shopping we stopped at K-Bob’s Steakhouse for lunch.  There isn’t a lot else in Las Vegas aside from Mexican restaurants or steakhouses.  As it was the food was pretty good.  Cristy got grilled salmon over rice and I got a bacon cheddar burger.  Let’s just say I didn’t need to eat dinner that night.  Then we headed back.

That was pretty much the extent of our day other than some star gazing that night.  Couldn’t get a picture of the stars but trust me, on a moonless night you can see just about every star in the sky from here.  Pendaries RV Resort is a great place to come get away from it all.  If you’re ever near Las Vegas, NM I highly recommend it.

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Trip to Hardin – Day 7

Travel Day

Today we travelled from Williams, AZ to Gallup, NM by way of Flagstaff to pick up some groceries at Sprouts.  We also stopped at the Meteor Crater because I demanded to pay $36 for the two of us to look at a hole in the ground! 🙂

Anyway this update will be short because the WiFi is down at USA RV Resort so I’m working over my phone.  I’ll catch up with pictures tomorrow.

Trip to Hardin – Day 5

Travel Day

Today was just a travel day and a short one at that.  Cristy slept in a little while I read my book outside under the awning.  It was 75 degrees at 7:00am.  Perfect reading weather.   A hummingbird flew up to me several times, probably wondering where our feeder was.  Sorry bud.

After Cristy woke up and had her breakfast I began the ritual of dumping the tanks.  Black, then turn on the tank flush, then drain, then flush, then drain, then pump a few gallons in for good measure.  Then I empty the gray tank.  Clean and stow the hose and accessories.  Then pull my disposable gloves off, one inside the other.  Then hand sanitize and call it done.

That’s when I noticed our first damage.  I shouldn’t really call it damage.  A cotter pin came out of our hitch when we were driving the truck yesterday and we almost lost a very crucial part of the weight distribution hitch.  Luckily it didn’t fall out.  I was able to push it back in and safety wire it in place.   It looked much nicer when we started this morning.  This is what it looked like once we arrived in Williams, AZ at the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park.

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The trip over only took about 3 hours.  And it can be summed up in one word: UP.  It was all uphill.  We stopped for gas in Seligman.  The scenery is beautiful but the highway and the wind kept my attention mostly on the road so I didn’t have time to grab any pictures.  I’ll have to see if Cristy did.

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Tomorrow we take the train to the Grand Canyon!

Trip to Hardin – Day 3

Travel Day

We began our travel day late, around 10am.  Cristy made her shake for breakfast, I usually skip breakfast but had a pea protein shake to make sure I had a clear head for the day’s drive (and little did I know I would need it).  We took a walk around the small RV park, and then made preparations to leave.  I dumped our tanks, filled the fresh tank just a little to make sure we had enough water to run the toilet and wash our hands while traveling that day.

I was in our space a little crooked and it’s not a good idea to hook up our Andersen Weight Distribution Hitch when crooked.  Ideally the trailer and tow vehicle should be completely lined up.  So I hitched up to the trailer but didn’t attach the weight distribution chains.  We pulled out to the front of the RV park and made sure the truck and trailer were straight.  I took this opportunity to show Cristy how the chains were connected.  These aren’t the safety chains you see with all trailer hitches.  The weight distribution chains pull on the bottom of the hitch while the trailer tongue pushes on the top of the hitch thus transferring some of the hitch weight from the rear wheels of the truck to the front.

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We got the chains connected and properly tensioned and then hit the road.  It was a nice easy travel day.  In the distance I notice some towering cumulus clouds.  I remarked to Cristy, “Hey look, weather!”  But didn’t think any more about it.  We stopped at a rest stop about half way through our 4 hour travel day.  I made a PB&J sandwich while Cristy made her protein style lettuce-wrapped turkey sandwich.

We hit the highway again and enjoyed a very nice drive.  There was no wind and a lot of the trip was level or downhill so my gas mileage was great!  As we started getting closer to our destination I noticed the clouds had not moved and were getting bigger.  Finally as we were coming down the last grade into Needles, CA, I could see that Mohave Valley, our intended destination was right on the edge of a DARK column of rain.  Hmmm…..

I told Cristy we might be setting up in the rain but we continued on.  We followed the GPS to the road that would take us over the river and to the RV park.  As I was getting reading to turn on the road a fire engine pulled in and blocked the road.  Just beyond I could see a torrent of water washing over the road.  Okay.  Can’t go that way.  I pulled into a gas station and tanked up and checked my GPS.  There was another route so we tried to take that.

It was a small two-lane twisty road where I had to drive across a small muddy stream of water.  Hmmm…  We kept going.  I finally turned onto the road that would take us to the RV park.  A small black Hyundai passed us and then just over the hill had come to a complete stop.  Luckily I was going slow.  He had stopped in front of another stream of water washing over the road.  His wife had gotten out and taken her shoes off and was walking across the stream to see how deep it was.  It got just past her ankles but she said the mud on the road beneath her feet was really slippery.  Two other cars had stopped, one on this side and another on the far side.

Well great.  In my mind this was strike two.  I didn’t want to go for strike three.  YER OUT!  With lightning striking in the distance followed by thunder after a count of three, I had Cristy walk back up the hill and watch for cars.  I backed the trailer up the hill about 70 yards or so and then onto a hard sandy shoulder.  I got the trailer as close as I could to the bushes on the right side and pulled a tight U-turn.  The right wheels came off the road surface onto the shoulder slightly but I was able to make the turn.  Cristy jumped into the truck and we headed back down the way we came.  Sorry I don’t have any pictures of this but we were a little busy.

I pulled into a gravel lot and checked my phone for nearby RV parks.   We saw one not to far off the freeway called Desert View RV Park and headed for it.  It was just starting to sprinkle as we pulled into the park.  I paid and we were directed to our spot.  I was so grateful to be anywhere.  Our 4 hour travel day had turned into a 6 hour travel day but we were “home” safe.  And the park was a much better one than I had reserved.  Praise God for His traveling mercies and His providence!

Trip To Hardin – Day 2

On our second day we had two missions: go hiking, and buy food.  In that order.  To satisfy the “go hiking part of it we drove about 15 miles north to Red Rock Canyon State Park.  This is originally where I was going to camp but since I wasn’t sure about availability on a weekend I decided to cancel and stay at Sierra Trails RV Park which you already know.

Red Rock Canyon was a filming location for many of the old movie and TV westerns were filmed.  More than a couple of Sci-Fi movies as well due to the “otherworldly terrain.”

We hiked up a short hill along a “nature trail”, meaning, “easy trail for beginners.”  But it’s all we really wanted to do that morning.  I hadn’t ate yet and Cristy was still getting used to the overly dry, high desert air.

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Afterwards we drove to their visitor’s center and browsed the small museum and exhibits.  A video was looping of Hewel Hauser interviewing a park ranger about Red Rock Canyon.  They had a few bones and pelts on display, had a few books for sale, hats and T shirts for the overseas tourists.  Interesting nonetheless.

Then we drove up into Rosamond to buy some groceries for dinner and stopped and got a burger in Mohave on the way back to the RV park.  The rest of the day we just napped, watched Bosch, and just basically relaxed.  We also prepped for our second travel day that would take us to Mohave Valley, Arizona.

What we didn’t know at the time was, we would never make it to Mohave Valley…

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Trip To Hardin – Day 1

Hardin?  Where’s Hardin?  It’s in Missouri just east of Kansas City.  I can’t tell you much about it other than that is where my mother is buried.  I’ve never been to her grave.  This is my trip to visit her.

The trip down Highway 99 was mostly uneventful aside from the detour our GPS took us on to avoid a major slowdown in Madera.  We stopped for gas at Murray Farm in Bakersfield and then made the long, not-so-slow slog up the Tehachapi grade into the high desert.  My truck did much better than I thought it would.

Murray Family Farm

Our first day’s travel brought us from our home in Modesto, CA to Mohave, CA just east of Tehachapi in the high desert.  We’re staying at Sierra Trails RV Park.  It’s a tiny, kind of cramped park but the folks that run it are super nice.  They helped me back in to the tight spot they assigned me.  I’m looking at some of the bigger rigs and just scratching my head trying to figure out how they shoehorned into their spots.   I guess the ol’ guy that helped me back in helped them back in as well.  Just has he’s helping my neighbor back in now.

After getting set up we took a nap, watched Bosch on Amazon Prime, ate dinner, and took a walk.  Tomorrow is a rest day.  We’ll watch our church service in the morning, see what there is to do in Mohave, and basically just chill.

See you tomorrow.

Saturday Drive to Silver Lake

After my awesome Friday, flying in the morning, camping in the evening, we had to make Saturday every bit as good.  But without the flying, Mrs. Flying Dutchman doesn’t like flying so much.  Since it was forecast to be hot again we decided to drive higher up into the mountains.  Our destination was only an hour away; Silver Lake.  When we arrived we found a lovely 75 degree day rather than the 98 degrees it was forecast to be back at the trailer.  We hiked along one of the roads along the shoreline and then moved to different section of the lake and did some rock hopping and took in the beautiful sights.

After spending several hours at the lake it was time to head back but not before swearing to come back after tourist season is over.  Even the drive back down the mountain was beautiful.

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Sunday Morning

On our last day we just hung around in bed for a while, had a leisurely breakfast, and then watched church on our phone.  Afterwards we packed everything up, got the trailer ready to travel, and then drove back down the mountain to Modesto.  It was a wonderful, relaxing weekend.