Saturday, December 1, 2012
Up at our normal early time, and since we were parked at a Wal-Mart, we ran in for a few things. What a cultural experience! Pocko is always sending me horrifying ”people of Wal-Mart” emails and well, we experienced some of that first hand at an Arkansas Wal-Mart.
My wonderful husband took me to breakfast at a Waffle House, a mainstay here in the south, but it was my first experience. He sure knows how to show a girl a good time! And we’re off and on the road again, headed to Mena, AR to visit with friends Jerry and Cindy Sickler, Cindy is my former sponsor and very dear to me. Driving across Arkansas we’ve crossed rivers full of brown muddy water, cotton fields, and the Arkansas River that separates the cities of North Little Rock and Little Rock. On this side of the Arkansas River we begin to get back into some really pretty country. Lots of varieties of trees, some still in their fall splendor, rolling hills, old farms. Just lovely. The roads (pavement) in Arkansas are red (actually the dirt roads are red too). Fall has just struck here in south Arkansas where great pine trees tower above a carpet of red leaves that have just dropped from the maple trees that are interspersed among them.
We came to the town of Hot Springs, AR and just had to stop. This is a place with an incredible history and somewhat sorted past. Hot Springs was originally a sacred place for indigenous Indians then later was a hide out of Jesse James and other notorious outlaws. Later created by gangsters such as Al Capone as a favorite spot and referred to as the ”Vegas” before there was a “Vegas”. The entire town is reported haunted, they have haunted tours, “ghost busters” including a local sheriff who studies the paranormal activity with the latest gadgets and devices regularly. There’s a gangster wax museum, TONS of crystals (found locally in some of the 30 crystal mines nearby), quaint shops, trails and much, much more. One of the rock shops we stopped in is on the first floor of an 8 story, used to be hotel and is the only occupant (been there only 3 months) The back is built right into the rock and the owner says she won’t go in the basement or above the 4th floor because of the haunting. She says she has some nice or benine ghosts, but there are some malicious ones as well. She tells the story of 18 FBI agents being set up and killed on the 8th floor at the hand of Al Capone. The place has many huge, old abandoned buildings that just scream “haunt me”! Gave me chill bumps! www.garlandcountyhistoricalsociety.com
Hot Springs is known for its restorative spas and baths of mineral water from the hot springs. We stopped at the Arlington Hotel, the oldest still in operation for a bath experience and massage (what a treat!!!) This is a brief description of the experience… You check in, they take you to a dressing/locker room, give you a wrap and have you lock up your belongings. Then they lead you into the bath area, individual rooms with a tub. Honestly, I really had to concentrate on relaxing and NOT letting my imagination run wild. It’s very old, from the early 40′s, the hotel, plumbing, lighting, tubs. It reminded me of something out of One Flew Over The Coo Coo’s Nest – hydro shock therapy or something as there’s a big electrical pump looking thing in the tub (air jets) the big copper pipes running out of the tub and into the high ceiling covered in a green patina. Once I got past that though it was great, a 20 minute or so soak, then they scrub your back arms and legs, then out and off to the sauna (if you can stand it as you’re pretty hot by now). Then they lay you out on a bed similar to a massage table, there’s a big row of these. They let you cool down for a couple of minutes, give you ice water, then wrap you in HOT towels, cover you and let you steep for a while. During this time your bath attendant comes along and covers your face with an ice-cold towel. Divine experience. Then they whisk you away for a massage. I left there feeling like jello! Unfortunately Dave didn’t have quite as nice of a massage experience. The 90-year-old blind gentleman wasn’t very effective any longer. But overall it was delightful.
We drove several more hours and arrived at Gerry and Cindy Sickler’s place just outside Mena, AR. We had a lovely visit, got to meet Cindy’s Mom, Phyllis who has been living with them the past two years. The area is lovely, hills, trees, and they call the hill they live on crystal mountain, as you can hardly dig in the ground and not find a piece of quartz crystal. Cindy gave me a little crystal that she found while we were backing the bus out. Gerry is now a published author. I had no idea! His book is called “The Invisible Bridge” and is a spiritual book. He signed a copy for us and I can’t wait to read it! He’s working on his 2nd book now.
On our way down the hill (another place we probably shouldn’t have taken the bus) on a narrow, curvy dirt road the back tires came too close to the edge of the road and collapsed a plastic culvert drain pipe high centering us in this ditch. UGH!!! Well, thankfully my husband and I are a great team and through his ingenuity, lots of prayers and Divine help, we, in about an hour of jacking up the bus, gathering and putting rocks under the tires and moving just a little bit at a time were out of the hole and continued carefully on down the last two miles of red dirt road to the pavement. We spent the night in Mena. Oh, the adventures we have!!!
Sunday, December 2, 2012
We awoke to rain this morning (hot and muggy) and left Mena, grey skies, and Arkansas behind us. We’re headed for the Great state of Texas, south on the 71 towards Texarkana, we crossed the Red River then headed west on the 30 to Dallas (where it’s reportedly going to be 80!) I LOVE Texas, after last year traveling around here, we’re ready to become winter Texans! YeeHaw Cowgirl!
We arrived in Dallas before dusk and got settled into a lovely RV park on a lake in Grapevine, TX, about 10 minutes from DWF Airport. Here’s a link if you want to check it out www.vineyardscampground.com Dave is flying out to Portland early tomorrow morning to close on a helicopter. He’ll be driving out to Evergreen’s base in McMinnville to meet with Dell Smith and company, then he’ll fly back here to Dallas Tuesday night. Kinley and I get to stay here in Dallas enjoying the warm weather. This morning is a work day for me, payroll, email, business catch up, then this afternoon, my Sponsor Jeannette is picking us up and we’re running with her for two days! Yea! Off to bed early as we have to be up at 3:30 am!
Monday, December 3, 2012
Up before dawn, packed Dave and sent him to the airport in a Taxi, he’s on the plane now for Portland as I write this. I’m off to the shower and then hitting the office work before venturing off with Jeanette today. Got all the cleaning done, there’s something to be said about living in a place that takes 15 minutes to clean stem to stern.
Jeannette picked me up about 2 pm, Kinley and I got several walks in and she got multiple swims in before I left her on the bus with the AC on. It turns out that our RV park here in Grapevine is the most central, best little spot for us to be. We had lunch at a little taco place called Fuzzy’s before stopping at the huge outlet mall here that has a Chicos! Yea! Found a nice little frock to be comfortable in the awesome heat down here!!! After there we headed for Justin Texas where Jeanette was going to surprise me by taking me to the Justin boot store, but they were closed! (even thought we were there 10 minutes before they we supposed to close) Oh well, next time. We then went to Vannoy Shaw’s home there in Justin for a meeting and a visit and had a marvelous time! I’ve known Vannoy for many years and have long been her Alaska favorite (along with many other’s I’m sure, but I claimed the title none the less.) Back to the bus about 10 pm, Kinley was SO glad to see me!
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Got to sleep in til 7 am! Yippie! Jeannette is on her way to pick me up and we’re off to Sam Moon and some other shopping before picking up Lindsey (another woman Jeannette sponsors from El Paso) who’s just had surgery and is here to convalesce with Jeannette and her family. We got to hang out at the house and visit, meet her family, run kids around. Then we were off to meet Dave for dinner (he got back to Dallas this evening) at the Hard 8, an out of this world BBQ place. After dinner Jeannette and I were off to the meeting while Dave headed back to the bus and Kinley.
The Manning’s home, Jason & Jeannette, Manning children, and Jeannette and I.
Wedensday, Decmeber 5, 2012
We have an appointment this morning with an RV service outfit to get oil changes on both the engine and generator, along with some miscellaneous other items. But our bus batteries (chassis not house) have been giving us fits for a while now, so this morning was off to get a battery charger, jumper cables, etc to try to get going. We stopped by for breakfast at a place call the Old West Café, with both great food and atmosphere along with this sign that they sat me under… I HAD to have a photo of this! When the attempts at charging failed, we headed off again to the battery store to purchase new batteries. That worked like a charm, and we were off to the service place down in Irving, TX about 30 miles away. Dave had rented a car when he got in last night so were able to do all this running around easily. Kinley was NOT going to be left in the bus one more day so found a way to not be left behind (as if we would have)
After dropping off the bus we drove to Meacham Field in Fort Worth, TX. This is a place we would LOVE to have as our “Winter Texan” base. We brought along our laptops to do some work while we sat here, but I forgot our little portable MiFi internet device so are “winging it”.
We drove over to the Stock Yards, still a working stock yard since the early 1800′s, some great old history here, they’ve turned most of the holding pens into shops and restaurants but they still do a real live cattle drive everyday at 4p, Kinley loved watching it! We love Texas, they’re super dog friendly, so she’s welcome most every where we go. This is a place we would love to make a home away from home base.
Well, we found out that the bus isn’t going to be done tonight, so we headed back over to Irving where bus is being worked on (in rush hour traffic on the 183 Ft. Worth to Dallas, which isn’t so bad in itself, but it’s been undergoing construction for at last the past three years!). When we got to the service center the bus was inside, however the garage door was broken off the hinges and shattered glass was laying all around! We found out that the door breaking didn’t have anything to do with our bus, it was just old and popped off the hinge when the guy tried to open it to get our bus out so we could sleep in it last night. Needless to say, the bus didn’t leave the building, so we gathered some necessities for overnight and headed back to Grapevine to see the Christmas lights.
We arrived in Grapevine for a walk down “Merry Main Street”. They go all out, Grapevine is an actual destination for Christmas, they have the “Polar Express” train ride from here, where you wear your pajamas and have hot chocolate… just like the book! I want to do this with the kids within the next few years! Indoor water and theme parks at the Great Wolf and the Gaylord Texan, along with ice shows and other fantastic Christmas programs.
There appears to be a large Masonic influence in Grapevine, we found this mural painted on a wall as we walked down main street. As we were walking back to the car, we came across a cobbler shop (shoe repair) that was closed, but Kinley noticed some movement inside so we stopped to see what she was looking at. There was a large cat on the floor inside, just sitting looking, however when it noticed Kinley on the other side of the glass door, it began to slooowly walk towards her and the door. They had quite a face off/stare down for a number of minutes and finally the cat charged at Kinley and Kinley charged the kitty…. thankfully there was a thick piece of glass between them!!! This happened a couple more times to the awe of Dave and I and several other onlookers. The cat was not upset at all, and I am quite certain would have kicked our sweet little miss Kinley’s behind! That truly was an attack/guard cat!
There were several places that had Christmas music playing with the lights changing to the music. I recorded a couple of samples to see if I could insert them here..please click below
We found only a few shops open, the one we did pop in had GORGEOUS western styles, at great prices! (I love the orange dress in the back!) We did a little pre “Cowboy Christmas” shopping and got a wonderful recommendation for dinner from the local gal who owned the store.
She told us to go up the road to Mi’ Dia’ From Scratch and recommended we order the “table guacamole”. We weren’t too sure what that was, but order we did. It was a fantastic meal! By the time we were done it was late so we decided to forgo a movie and headed to the hotel in Irving. FYI… La Quinta hotels include a complimentary breakfast with a nights stay AND allow pets! A requirement for any hotel we stay in.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Up early and off to find a laundry mat and health food store. We were looking for Wintergreen oil, which Nikki’s brother Mike had recommended to keep Kinley from licking the sore spot on her ankle. We found a lovely little Hispanic laundry mat, got that chore done, groceries and back to the service department, all in Irving, TX.
Several hours later the bus is done and we’re back on the road. As we’re driving towards Fort Worth from Irving, we hear this loud wham out the drivers side. An old belly dump is passing us and had just hit us with something! There’s no place to pull over as the road is undergoing massive construction, with concrete jersey barriers on both sides of the road, leaving no shoulder on either side of the two lanes. He was hugging the middle too closely and hit us with what we think is his rear view mirror. Dave can’t determine yet as we’re driving if there’s any damage, finally a shoulder opens up in his lane and he pulls over, still no shoulder on our side. When our exit comes, just up the road, we take it and pull over as soon as we can (not many places on the freeway!) Our driver’s side rear view mirror has taken a nick on the top where his mirror clipped us. We never did see him again and we were alright so we kept going. I did manage to snap this photo though in case we needed to track him down later, although there was no license plate on the back to capture.
We headed north and west through the Texas panhandle on the 287 W all the way to Amarillo, crossing the Red River again, this time closer to the Red River Valley the songs are written about. We arrived in Amarillo about 9 pm and stopped in a Barnes and Nobel to pick up some audio books. Aunt Carole had recommended it, and since we have a lousy stereo system in the RV, but it does have a CD player, we decided to try it. We got several books, and started out with one we’ve been very curious about, a book that Pauli has been a fan of for a long time, Ann Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”. Coming into town we passed a place called “The Big Texan” that serves a 72 oz steak, which is free if you can eat the entire thing in an hour by yourself!!! (reminded us of movie “The Great Outdoors”! a favorite of the whole family!) We over nighted in a parking lot here in Amarillo. Jay was flying here for two weeks a month or so ago.
Friday, December 7, 2012
The I40 intersects and overlaps parts of the famous old Route 66,
it also runs along a section of what once was the Santa Fe Trail…so much history here! As we drove out of Amarillo, we passed the famous “Cadillac Ranch”, with it’s “planted” cars.
Several hours later we crossed the border into New Mexico! This is my first time here, and it’s beautiful! I love the scenery, and I’m amazed at the amount of pine trees. We called Uncle Jim once we were in NM and got directions to his house in Albuquerque where we had a great reunion! He’s doing great, fit and healthy, he leads hikes for the local senior center several times a week, goes dancing and just in general having fun and enjoying retirement! He and Dave had a wonderful visit about airplanes and flying in Alaska, and I got to catch him up on all the family in AK (and OR), he loves and misses all of us. He took us to lunch and we got to see his great little adobe house (with a guest room ready for everyone) his back yard with the huge Mulberry tree. It was SO good to see him and was already late afternoon when we had to say goodbye.
On down the road we crossed the Continental Divide again and the turn off to the Carlsbad Caverns (a future destination!) We parked in Gallup, New Mexico, a town known as the “capital” for surrounding Indian tribes, Zuni, Hopi, and Navajo. Again we missed seeing the movie “Skyfall”, but we did get the bus washed. We found a Cracker Barrel to eat at and crashed for the night.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Up early and on the road. Here are some of the photos of places we passed in New Mexico.
This is a place I’d like to come back to, we drove by the Petrified National Forest, Geronimo, the worlds largest petrified tree, a place Pauli would love in Sun Valley called “Knife City” They had EVERY kind of blade there imaginable.
We crossed into Arizona in the late morning and drove past the cut off to the south rim of the Grand Canyon in Williams, AZ former home of one of our pilots, John. We stopped for lunch in the town and got fuel. And then… we came into a town called Seligman, Arizona. We believe this is the town that the movie “Cars” was made after… Here are some of the photos and a video! We LOVED it hope you do too! Next time we’re through we’ll have to stop into “Peach Springs” I want to find the real place they designed the “wagon wheel” in Cars from.
On we drove towards Nevada. Late in the afternoon we drove over the new bypass bridge high above the Hoover Dam. We’d seen it several years before in the making, and it was SCARY to stand on the dam and look up at it, I can’t believe we drove over it!!! Here are some photos I took going over and some I borrowed from the web to give a clearer view.
After arriving in Las Vegas, we went straight to the KOA campground at Circus Circus, where we’ve stayed before. It’s a nice central location, full hook ups, etc. Dave ventured off to find us a rental car, while Kinley and I stayed at the bus to unpack, etc. Dave’s venture turned into an adventure when he found the car rental company we’d used before had moved locations, now he’s been walking for awhile, it’s suggested to him to get the bus to the airport, so has to walk to a stop, then wait for the bus, finally get s a car, but it’s not one good for Kinley, so has to keep looking, several hours later he returned with the car. Poor guy! We cleaned up and headed to Gilley’s for some BBQ and dancing. We were delighted to find that a relatively well known band “Austin Law” was playing. Fun dancing and home to Kinley.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
After a leisurely morning we stopped in for breakfast at a Marie Calendar’s. Very good food! I was surprised, expected something along the lines of Ihop,
but it was better! After breakfast we headed to the Las Vegas convention center for “Cowboy Christmas”. This is the biggest of the four venues, fun, fun, fun! We walked by a Harley Davidson dealership booth that has the 110th anniversary bikes. They look like the King Ranch version, two toned leather, and studded leather saddle bags, just gorgeous. This isn’t the one we want, but it has the same colors.
We left as they were shutting down, then we looked around and found an IMAX theater that was playing Skyfall! We’ve been trying to see it even before we left on this trip!!! The theater was in the Palms so we went there and found a $6.99 prime rib dinner (which was WONDERFUL!) at the first restaurant walking into the casino. Yea! After the movie we stopped by the Gold Coast to meet up with friends from Alaska and enjoy live music and dancing. George Straight’s band members were playing… Not George, just his band But still tons of fun.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Dave left early this morning out to Boulder City and the aircraft, while Kinley and I had a work morning at the bus, business, laundry, etc. Then about 12:30 pm after several walks with the baby, I left her in the bus and walked about a half a mile to catch the city bus to go down the strip to the Mandalay Bay convention center which as one of the Cowboy Christmas’s. Dave met up with me shortly thereafter and we had a great time shopping and looking around. They close promptly at 5p (so no one is late for the Rodeo) we headed back to the bus to check email, and do a few things, ended up laying down to take a nap and didn’t get up til Tuesday!!! Vegas can wear you out! :)
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
We awoke early this morning, before the alarm even to a gorgeous sunrise. The sky was BRIGHT orange on the horizon and faded to turquoise then lighter blue greens as you looked up into the sky… not even the lights of Las Vegas can touch that!!!! Way to go Mother Nature! Today we spent the day out at the airport in Boulder City where the aircraft is being worked and back to the city about 4 pm. At 5:30 pm, Cameron (Dave’s former step son) and his wife Yohana met us at our bus and we went out to dinner. The restaraunt we wanted to visit had a two and a half hour wait! On a Tuesday!!! Crazy! So we enjoyed dinner at a Claim Jumpers, another favorite of ours that we believe would go over fantastically in Alaska! After dinner we drove north out to the NASCAR track where they have a Christmas light display. Tunnels of lights, every size and shape light figure from cranes to dinosaurs and of course everything Christmas! You drive through with your headlights out and take photos from the car. It was perfect for Kinley, as she got to run out ahead. We had a wonderful visit with them and got to catch up. I need to get a photo of them! Here’s a little video.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
We got up a bit late, Vegas can make you tired!!! Did I say that already? After breakfast at the Peppermill, which Dave thinks Hannah and Haley will love because it’s the “pink and purple” restaurant , we headed off to the Sands convention center for the third location of “Cowboy Christmas”. We love coming down for this, as it has EVERYTHING western! Hardly a thing here that isn’t our style. We tend to stock up a little here since there are no western stores in Alaska any more. We left at 5 pm when they closed, stopped by the bus to drop Miss Kinleykins off, then headed to the Rodeo!!! We love attending NFR (National Finals Rodeo) it’s the best of the best and rodeo fans are some of the most patriotic Americans left. VERY refreshing!!! Everybody sings the National Anthem, the military is honored there, just grand. After the rodeo we stopped into Stoney’s, in the past it’s been a favorite country dancing place while in Vegas, but a few months ago, they moved to a new location, smaller dance floor, and really catering to the line dancers…just a different atmosphere. The band Austin Law was playing there, which we had just heard, so after a few songs we headed back to Gilley’s. Had a great time there, the live band was fun, but danced more to the music played during the breaks. Gilley’s is at TI (Treasure Island) on our way out we grabbed a photo of this GREAT pirate ship made of gingerbread in the center of the revolving door. We headed home about midnight to a puppy who was very glad to see us!
Thursday, December 13, 2012
This morning we’re off to Boulder City again after breakfast at Marie Calendars. Spent the morning in meetings with Dave (one of the owners) then about an hour researching RV storage and parks here in Boulder City. We’ve decided to keep the RV at the airport with the helicopter for the time being and just stay at the campground we’re in and commute out here one more day. This afternoon one of our pilots Steve Meekin meet us at the FBO for a visit and to meet Bob and Dave (owners of the facility doing the work on the aircraft). This afternoon while still in Boulder City, it started raining! (again with the rain in the desert! What is it about us? Some of you may remember the story of it raining the night we spent in Death Valley several years ago. ) So lots of rain, and some wind starting up now.
We made reservations for dinner with Steve and his wife Beth, dear friends, at Texas de Brazil at 6:15 pm, and amazing place to eat! What a fun time we had visiting at dinner! It was wonderful to catch up, we were there until 10 pm! This is a place with fascinating food. You walk around a HUGE salad/appetizer/soup bar then go to your seat and when you are ready for meat, turn your little chit you’re given from red to green. That notifies the traditionally clad Brazilian meat carvers that you’re ready and they come around one at a time with sirloin, lamb, bacon wrapped chicken, and many other varieties of meats on a skewer that when you say yes, they carve or slide off the skewer onto your plate… and they just keep coming around as long as your “green”. It is absolutely amazing!!! Well visited and well fed, we headed for home and a relatively early night. Still raining.
Friday, December 14, 2012
We were up mildly early. Dave is off to Boulder City again working on the details on the aircraft and Kinley and I spent the day with laundry, business, and other little chores online and around the bus. The rain had stopped by morning, but it’s cloudy, cold and windy so we’re happy to be staying in where it’s warm.
Dave got home about 5 pm, scooped Kinley and I up and whisked us off to the Red Rock Harley Davidson dealership. You may remember several days ago we stopped by a Harley booth at Cowboy Christmas and we had fallen in love with the 2013, 110th Anniversary edition of the bikes. They’re the ones with the two tone, King Ranch looking leather, black and copper, etc… well…
Does this look like us, or what?
Went to dinner at PF Changs, nice but not impressive. Our little waitress was very conservative and very opinionated, so was busy more engaging in conversation with customers than actually serving them. A college journalism student, at least she had a side to stand on.
We had gotten tickets to the Jamey Johnson concert, he wrote and sings the country song “In Color”. A good concert, he played alot of old Hank and other artists, and some blues, we were surprised that he didn’t play the one song he’s best known for. Kinley had been in the car along time by then, so it was back to the bus. (plus it was after midnight!)
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Cowboy Christmas, saw Randy Brown, a musician from Texas that we met and have seen a few times in the last year. Sam’s Town for dinner at Billy Bob’s Steak House, which had amazing food, and we got to watch the last night of the Rodeo on the Screen. Went and saw Randy Brown at the Mandalay Bay and had fun dancing and visiting with the band. He has a lot of fun playing, so it’s really fun for the audience.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
We’ve both had a little bit of a cold, so we slept in just a bit. But after we woke up we drove south to check out the Oasis RV park. It’s a lovely place and they have very inexpensive storage! Yea! We really weren’t too sure what we were going to do about storing the bus, so it turned out perfectly! The park has cafe, pools, all the amenities and since our storage slot is just that, a basic slot, we can move the bus to a nicer spot to hook up if we stay there when we next go down to work on the aircraft, which is about to go into paint. She’s (N178ch) going to be Mercedes Black with Clear Coat when finished! Shiney!
After getting things all settled at the Oasis for bringing the bus tomorrow, we headed back to Cowboy Christmas, one last time… We love our Bus and are SO grateful for it, however, the decor needed just a little personalizing, which is easy to do for us at Cowboy Christmas! We found conchos and cabochons that are normally used to decorate leather belts, harnesses, saddles, chaps, etc, and used them for details on the wooden crown moulding and curtain shades in the bus… Simply gorgeous!!! We got everything hung and put up (except the bedroom windows) which have more insulation so need longer screws. I will take photos next time were down. After decorating we did some initial packing and arranging, but then got gussied up to go out to the Venetian for our last night in town. It’s hard to believe that the canals they have are actually on the third floor! The Leonardo De Vinchi museum is there, we’d like to go see it when we have more time. We at at a little Italian place in the courtyard (indoors, with the ceiling painted to look like its out doors) Were serenaded by a trio (piano, acustic guitar and flute) while we dined. It was marvelous. After dinner we walked strolled through the Winter Wonderland, it was beautiful! After a little gelato, we headed back to the bus to do some more packing. Lovely evening.
Monday, December 17, 2012
We were up early so we wouldn’t have to rush, actually had time do some laundry, finish packing, stoing, have breakfast, load the car, all before heading off to the Oasis to park the bus. After