Summer Travel Map

Friday, April 29, 2011

Oklahoma City Memorial

April 29, 2011
Oklahoma City, OK

Today, the winds finally weakened and we were able to deploy all the slides. I caught up on some bills in the morning and went to the memorial for the Oklahoma City Bombing in the afternoon. It's extremely well done, with emphasis on the victims, the implications of the blast, the outpouring of support and assistance, and the justice process. I spent a couple of hours exploring the Memorial Museum, then another hour outside on the grounds.

Click here for a photo album from the afternoon

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The best laid plans...

April 28, 2011
Amarillo, TX - Oklahoma City, OK

...often turn to crap. Or, in our case, the toilet failed. So, I spent the better part of the Wednesday researching and troubleshooting instead of going to Palo Duro Canyon. For those familiar with household toilets, the RV versions are a bit more complicated, with everything controlled by a circuit board (water flow, trap opening/closing. It's not rocket science but it's probably more complex than it needs to be. I ran through the diagnostics in the manual and called their support line, and I got the name of an expert at the factory. The support person thinks it's a control board ($694) and the factory guy thinks it's the motor ($200). With a new toilet retailing for $499, I've got some deciding to do.

All this was probably just as well since we continued to have very strong winds all day and a sightseeing trip might have been less than desirable. We had dinner at "The Big Texan" because, well, it's something you have to do once. I had a T-bone (reasonably OK) and Geri had a "Texas Filet" which turned out to be a piece of top sirloin masquerading as a filet mignon (not OK). Check; done; no need to do that again.

We did make a quick stop at Cadillac Ranch on the way out of town, which was easy since it's right next to the RV Park.

Click here for some pictures from Cadillac Ranch.

Once fueled up and on the road, it was a breeze to drive over to Oklahoma City. Get it? A "breeze" with all the strong winds. Fortunately, they were still mostly tailwinds, which helps with the fuel economy. We had a couple of choices on an RV park, and probably chose the least desirable option but it was right on the route and worked out OK for a two-nighter. We were parked and relaxing by cocktail hour, and had good Net and TV access. I was able to make a Home Depot run to get a plastic hose and valve to temporarily jury-rig the toilet for emergency use. Now, if the winds would just calm...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


April 26, 2011
Amarillo, TX

I haven't figured out our fuel mileage heading east yet, but I'm guessing it'll be way above our historical average. We've had strong tailwinds ever since we left the coast. Our route took us back down US-101 and CA-126 to I-5. After a short segment south, we picked up CA-14 heading to Lancaster/Palmdale, and took the Pear Blossom Highway cut-off to CA-118 and CA-18 over to Victorville. From there we took I-15 north to I-40 in Barstow. We'll follow I-40 all the way east to Memphis.

The winds have been almost non-stop, night and day. I'd planned to stop overnight at the last Rest Area in California, just before Needles, but it was closed. Apparently, I need to get near-real-time updates on Rest Areas as we travel these days. Anyway, we motored on another 50 miles to the next Rest Area, on the Arizona side. No worries.

Monday, we continued our journey east on I-40, through Kingman and climbing to Flagstaff (at over 7,000 feet), then descending across the high desert. We made a fuel stop in Winslow and continued on to Albuquerque. It was interesting to finally catch up with the rest of the country by switching from Mountain Standard Time to Mountain Daylight Time as we crossed into New Mexico. We stopped for the night at the Route 66 Casino just west of the city. There were plenty of other RVs already there so we just took our spot in the designated part of the lot.

Today, we were back on I-40, for a shorter driving day. We were off the road around 2:00 PM, even accounting for the loss of another hour as we entered Texas and the Central Time Zone. We're staying at the Oasis RV Park just west of Amarillo, and I planned for a two-night stay so we can do some things in the area tomorrow (Cadillac Ranch, Palo Duro Canyon, The Big Texan to see if someone eats the 72 ounce steak). After showering off the "road grime" from the last couple of days, Geri's well on her way to knocking out the accumulated laundry. The winds are so strong, we pulled in the slides on the windward side for now. The park had a small cafe so we'll dine there tonight (Brisket and Ribs, I suspect).

So, I should have posted a video.  Then you could have seen the rocking in the 60 MPH winds...

Don't mind the tumbleweeds!
Tomorrow, we'll visit Cadillac Ranch.  This is the RV Park's version...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A great (but too short) visit

April 23, 2011
Buellton, CA

We've had a very nice couple of days in the Lompoc-Buellton-Santa Ynez Valley. We arrived At Flying Flags in Buellton late in the afternoon on Wednesday, after an uneventful drive. We used our normal route of I-10 to I-210 around the north side of the LA area, then a short hop up I-5 to CA-126 in Santa Clarita. That takes us to US-101 in Ventura, and it's direct to Buellton from there. We didn't have any traffic to speak of (time of day plus fuel price issues?) and the only slowing down was for some of the worst road surfaces we've been on in years.

Thursday was a needed catch-up day. Laundry and grocery shopping; nothing else to report, other than the macerator pump used to empty the holding tanks crapped out (get it?). Fortunately (strange as that sounds), it's not the first time this has happened and I know how to remove it without making a complete mess. Plus, we always have the Big Blue Stinky Slinky as a back-up. But enough of that.

In the evening, we headed to the Hitching Post for dinner, putting away two nice steaks and a bottle of their very own Pinot Noir to boot. They still have the "As Seen In Sideways" stuff on display. Somewhere along the line, I heard that there's a Sideways II planned, which should be interesting.

Friday, we headed into Lompoc. We had a great visit with Geri's sister. As we came in the door at the facility where she lives, she saw us immediately and got really excited. I'm not sure she knew exactly who we were, but she knew we were visiting from far away and was very happy to see us. We spent a couple of hours with her until she got tired and went to look for her "boyfriend" to keep her company.

We then made a stop at the Fiddlehead Winery tasting room to pick up a couple of wine club "shipments" (it seems strange to call them that when they never get shipped). On the way out of the Lompoc "Wine Ghetto", we noticed a tasting room for Loring Wines, another of our favorite Pinot Noir producers, so we had to stop for a taste. Later, we made our usual stop at the Foley tasting room, conveniently located halfway between Lompoc and our base in Buellton. Fabulous day!

Our last day in Wine Country was spent, right, collecting wine. Of course, we had to have a few tastes. Quality control and all that. We first went to Tres Hermanas, north of Buellton on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. They have a small RV Park out back, but we've never ventured out there because of the winding roads. We took a different route and found that we'll be just fine with the coach for next time. Combined with a stop at the Lompoc Elks (closer to Kathy), we've already got a plan for our fall visit.

We made our last stops of the day at Lincourt Winery (pick-up only) and the D'Alfonso-Curran tasting room in Solvang (always a fun place to spend an afternoon. Suitably loaded up with wine, we're ready to start our trek to the east, leaving tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Back in the saddle

April 19, 2011
Indio, CA

Wow; it was great to get back on the road, even if we fought the winds all the way across I-10! Our first stop was with our friends, Wayne and Eva, at their place in Indio, near Palm Springs. We had a great time with them, and they certainly took care of us. Taco Night at their Elks Lodge on Monday, then Eva put out two fantastic meals for us today for brunch and dinner. We thought about staying another day, but we need to get to Lompoc to visit with Geri's sister, so we'll push on tomorrow.

It's been interesting to see the price of fuel increase as we go, with diesel in the $4.45-4.55 range and gas just under $4.00. Things should be lower most everywhere else (California's generally one of the highest-cost states).

Tomorrow morning I'll run a few errands before we go: a trip to Cardenas Market for some Chorizo and a stop at the local Verizon Wireless store to check out their latest Mi-Fi device with 3G/4G capabilities (this should be a good back-up access point if we can't get a Wi-Fi signal and/or the Hughes system is acting up.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Good to go

April 17, 2011
Peoria, AZ

Well, departure day has arrived. The coach is washed and loaded, and we're ready to hit the road. Geri's ankles have been much better since she's been wearing the braces and orthotics recommended by the orthopedic specialist. She'll wear the braces for much of the summer, gradually pulling back when there isn't a lot of walking to do on a given day.

It's been a different kind of winter, more focused on getting to the bottom of the medical issues than on enjoying the desert. While there's been a degree of frustration (and the weather didn't even cooperate for much of January-February!), we're looking forward to another summer visiting with friends and family.