Apr 24, 2008

Back in Michigan

After 4+ months traveling thousands of miles over this great country of ours we are back in West Michigan once again. We feel very blessed and grateful that we had this opportunity to spend time with family in Oregon, meet up with friends, explore areas of the US we had never seen before, and take a day trip into Mexico. We did it without having any trouble while on the road and for that we are very thankful.

We are staying at the Hidden Ridge RV park just a few miles south of Grand Rapids. We will be here (mostly just for sleeping)for the next week while Jonathan, Melissa, Todd, Emma, and Ella are here in town. That way Jonathan can use our condo's downstairs level and Melissa, Todd, and the girls can use the upstairs. To be honest we really don't mind because for the last 4 months the rv has been our home and we're not sure we are ready to change that.

Stay tuned!!

Apr 22, 2008

Heading North

Saturday and Sunday we stayed at a small rural campground near Tupelo, MS. just off the Natchez Trace Parkway. An area so rural that we weren't able to connect to the internet. No emails and no blogs, but we survived. We were very close to the Tombigbee Waterway which brought back memories of our boating trips on this river.

Monday we drove to nearby Red Bay, Alabama to go on a tour of the Tiffin RV factory. We and about 30 other people observed the production line of some beautiful motorhomes. The 2009 coaches are already in production. This factory produces 11 coaches every day. Two of those 11 rv's go to the Lazy Days dealership in Florida! After the 2 hour tour we drove north a few hours and spent the night, along with 5-6 other rv's, in the Flying J truck stop parking lot in Franklin,Kentucky.

Today we left the truck stop at 7am and drove all day, arriving in Nappanee, Indiana. Nappanee is home to Amish Acres and the Newmar RV factory. We ate 'lupper' at Amish Acres this afternoon and tomorrow we plan to go on the morning tour at Newmar.

Apr 17, 2008

Roast Chicken with a side of hail

Today we had an uneventful drive from Hobbs,New Mexico to Hudson Oaks,Texas which is about 30 miles west of Fort Worth. It was a boring drive but we made up for it tonight.

We were parked at the Super WalMart where we planned to spend the night in their parking lot. We decided that a roast chicken sounded good for supper, so we went inside to ask permission to spend the night and to buy chicken and a few other things.

When we came out of the store we noticed the sky looked very dark to the West so we turned the TV on to watch the weather reports while fixing supper. We had just started eating when a tornado warning was issued for the area just to the west of us and it was headed directly our way. So we decided we needed to move the motorhome.

We quickly put things away and began driving back to the Southwest on I-20 to see if we could avoid the worst of the storm. We had gone about 2 miles when John remembered we forgot to lower the tv antennae. Judy got out of her seat and tried to get it cranked down but with the strong winds and rain it wouldn't budge. So we quickly pulled over to the side of the expressway and John got it down. As we pulled back onto the road it began hailing so we pulled over once again and sat under an overpass for a few minutes. Crazy!!!!!!

We stopped to fuel up at a truck stop and let the storm pass then headed back towards the WalMart. We were shocked to see what at first appeared to be inches of snow along the highway. We soon realized it was hail. The area around the WalMart parking lot was peppered with hail and there were a few overturned shopping carts.

The pictures don't really do it justice. We just saw a news clip showing footage of blown out windshields at a car dealership near here. Reports are that this area had hail from dime size to golf ball size. We feel very fortunate and blessed that we are safe and had no damage to our home on wheels.

Tomorrow we move on towards Alabama, hopefully with better weather.

Apr 15, 2008

Border Crossing

We arrived at Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico yesterday afternoon. What a neat place. We have really enjoyed the county and state parks on this trip. Not only are they reasonable but the rv sites seem to have more room.

This morning with eager anticipation and passports in hand we got into the jeep and drove 3 miles south of the State Park to the border crossing at Columbus, NM / Polomas, Chihuahua, Mexico.

The plan was to have lunch and do a little shopping. We parked the car in the parking lot on the US side and then went into the duty free shop. All the products in this shop are for export only. What this means is, anything in this shop that you buy has to be carried into Mexico and then brought back out.
So, we walked into Mexico carrying a few purchases with us. We knew where we wanted to have lunch, at The Pink Store. Our friends Bob and Linda were here last month and recommended we stop here. With its pink exterior, the store was easy to find.

This is part store, part restaurant that caters to Americans. In fact it appeared that the majority of the patrons were Americans. Store signs are in English and English is spoken and understood. We immediately felt at ease.
We had a wonderful, leisurely lunch of taco/ combo plate, chips and guacamole, and great margaritas while listening to some lively music being performed in Spanish.

After lunch we did some additional browsing and shopping in the store. Judy wanted to purchase some more hot sauce like Bob and Linda had given us. No one seemed to know what hot sauce was. However someone finally said "Picante Sauce" and the mystery was solved. They didn't sell it at Pinks but suggested that the small grocery next door might.

We left The Pink Store with our hands full. After finding the picante sauce at the grocery we were ready to head back to the border.

Crossing the border back into the US was uneventful. We showed the border patrol our passports and then we walked back onto US soil.

As we were walking back to our car 2 couples approached us. They wanted to know how difficult it was to cross the border and where we had lunch, etc. One couple was celebrating their 58th anniversary and the other couple was buying them lunch. The anniversary couple was from the Grand Rapids area. Imagine that!!

On Sunday when we were fueling up in Arizona a guy came over to talk. He had seen our motorhome back in California and noticed the Michigan plates. You guessed it. He went to college at Ferris just north of Grand Rapids.

While we were in the California wine country one of the people who served us at a winery had attended college at Cornerstone University, where Judy and I met. Makes us wonder if anyone is still back East.

We were talking with our daughter Julie last night. She says she tells her friends that her folks are "Reverse Hippies". I like that.

At lunch today we overheard someone making a toast. It went something like "may your wheels always be moving forward"

They must be fulltime Rving Reverse Hippies!!!!

Apr 14, 2008

Gila Bend, AZ to Columbus, NM

We left Gila Bend before 8am ,drove through the remainder of Arizona and into New Mexico (we are now on Mountain Time ) and arrived at Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus at 4pm local time. We are POOPED.
Columbus is 35 miles south of Deming and is right on the US/Mexican border.
Tomorrow we plan to walk over into Mexico, have lunch, and do a little looking around.

Apr 13, 2008

Aguanga to Gila Bend

We rolled out of Jojoba Hills SKP park at 9am this morning and headed south on
Rt 79. For the next 1 1/2 hours we encountered mostly switchbacks and hair-pin turns, while sweating the fact that we had left the SKP park with only a quarter tank of diesel fuel.

Of course, there weren't any gas stations along the way that we could fit into before getting on the Interstate. We made it to a truck stop on I-8, added enough fuel to get us through the rest of California (at $4.08/gal) and continued on down the road and into Arizona.

We have stopped for the night at Holt's Shell Rv Park in Gila Bend. The rv park is behind the Shell station and is very clean with level sites and full hookups and only $9.50 with a Passport America or Escapees membership discount. This afternoon we turned on the air conditioner for the first time this trip. Temps were in the 90's...but according to Judy it's a dry heat!!!

Apr 12, 2008

Heading East

We had a great time this past week with Chris and Teresa in the Santa Ynez Valley area. We love it here and think it ranks right up there in the top 10 most beautiful places in the Country.

Today was departure day as we begin our way back to Michigan. We left at 8:30 this morning, driving down through the mountains and along the beautiful Pacific coast, then through the not so beautiful and very busy LA area.
John says it's like flying a B-17 on a bombing mission with German fighters coming at you from all directions.

You may remember an old Johnny Carson skit where he had a chart describing the L.A. freeway system. Well our route today was something like that. Start out on the 154, then merge into the 101, then head east on the 134 which merges into the 210. Stay with me now... Then head south on the 57 get off onto the 71 which ends at the 91. We then headed east on 91 to 15 then south to 79 east to our present location.

We arrived shortly after 1pm at the Jojoba Hills Escapees Park in Aguanga,CA. This is our first visit to this park and we are very impressed with what we see. Friendly people, great views of the mountains and the rv sites are large.

Apr 8, 2008

Planes, Rv's and Automobiles

A brief review of the past two weeks:

We left Bisbee,AZ and drove east to Silver City N.M. to meet up with our friends Bob and Linda. They had just finished volunteering for 3 months at the Pacific War Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas and were on their way to the Petrified Forest National Park to begin volunteering there for 2 months.

We had a great time visiting, enjoying some great food and seeing some of the area attractions. We hiked around the "Catwalks" and the mining Ghost Town of Mogollon. On Friday we drove up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. It is only about 35 miles from Silver City but because the roads are so curvy it took us 2 hours to drive there. The cliffs and caves are amazing though and worth seeing.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with Bob and Linda and look forward to the next time our paths cross.

Saturday morning we left Silver City and drove back to Phoenix for the next leg of our adventure. We were about to fly to Florida.

Back in February, Ian and Michelle had asked us if we would like to meet up with them in April in Orlando. Ian and John would go to the Photoshop World Convention and Michelle, Judy, and the kids would go to Disney. We thought that sounded like a great idea. So we made arrangements to park the RV for a few days in Phoenix and board Mollie at a Camp Bow Wow.

So, April 1st, we flew from Phoenix to Orlando. Wednesday thru Friday John and Ian went to seminars, while Judy,Michelle,Nemo,and Mia visited the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Downtown Disney.

We had a great time together and all too soon Saturday arrived and it was time to fly back to Phoenix. We arrived back in Phoenix, picked up Mollie, shopped at Trader Joes and hit the road again Sunday Morning.

Where to now you ask? We were about to go to California.

Around the same time we made arrangements to go to Florida, we received a call from our friends Chris and Teresa. They wondered if we would like to join them near Santa Barbara in the Central Coast wine district. Sounded like a great idea.

So this past Sunday, we drove (and we were still in time zone limbo) from Phoenix to just north of Santa Barbara. We'll be here visiting local wineries and restaurants with Chris and Teresa until Friday. Then it's time to start a slow trip back to Michigan.

Stay tuned to see where we end up next.