1/18 Update

7 Jan: El Campo, Van Horn, TX. Yesterday afternoon we hiked around our peaceful spot here on the Woodward Ranch. (See our last report). We added stepping stones to the clear-water creek so we could cross it and climb a little hill for a better look-see.

Trey, the 3rd generation owner of this 3,000-acre ranch, was only too happy to tell us about the property this morning. He pointed out the hill on which is found the only precious opal in TX and 'on those hills over there' is an abundance of red plume. We don't know our rocks but saw his polished stones in the store, and they are beautiful. Rock hounds are shown where to find the good stuff and then there's a nominal charge for what they want to keep.

Trey has a dozen head of cattle now as Texas is in a 12-year drought so the ranch can't stand the 125 head he's had in the past. It's the hunters who pay his bank notes-he charges $1000 a gun to black-tailed deer hunters.

We needed sun glasses for a while in the afternoon as we approached this park in Van Horn which is a routine stop of westward and eastward treks. Virginia greeted us warmly as is her style.

8 Jan: Dream Catcher RVP, Deming, NM. Today is our 2-month anniversary on the road.

It was a good day for moving our wagon west. The clouds were heavy and dark as we climbed out of Van Horn into the Mt. Time zone. Now we're two hours behind you folks on the East coast.

The Sprint cell phone was available briefly in El Paso, so we called our favorite gals at the Strafford P.O. to request that our mail be forwarded to the Apache Jct. P.O. in AZ. Shortly after making that call, we completed our 1681-mile, 32-day adventure in the Lone Star State.

As the day progressed, stopping at this Escapee park right on Rt. 10 in Deming seemed like a good idea. With our membership, the first night of dry camping is free. We arrived just in time for the 4 p.m. social hour in the rec hall.

9 Jan: Pato Blanco Lakes RVP, Benson, AZ. It was a fine day for finishing NM in sunshine and no wind. The mountains are beautiful and road surface is good..

In Willcox, AZ, we had a fun visit with Karen. Remember? Last year we mentioned stopping here to visit friends who moved out from NH with dogs, horses, and motorcycles. Karen has built a barn for the horses and now has four canines.

Benson is always a stopping place when traveling west and east; it was good to be back at Pato Blanco Lakes.

10 Jan: Still at Pato Blanco Lakes. We went scouting to look over the rest of the Passport Parks in Benson. We didn't even drive in to Benson I-10 RVP as it's right on top of the interstate and not impressive looking. Cochise Terrace at exit 302, (one exit west of Benson); however, is first class and only 70 cents more than Pato Blanco. We got a golf cart tour of the whole place and decided to move over here for a night and really check it out. The lady at the desk yesterday is from Sanford, Maine, which is just east of Rochester, NH.

Stan and Liz showed up at Pato Blanco today; so we all went to our favorite buffet restaurant in town, and they're parked across the street from us tonight.

11 Jan: Cochise Terrace RVR, Benson, AZ. After breakfast and good visiting with Stan and Liz, we replenished propane and gas in Kenzie and stopped for another Benson buffet. This time we were joined by Janet and Howie who drove up from Sierra Vista for our annual visit. They are RVers too, so drove up to Cochise Terrace to check out the park.

Mountains surround this park on top of a hill, and from our site on an outside loop, we have a super view from kitchen window. Stan and Liz are across the street from us again. After a soak in the spacious hot tub, we settled in for the night.

12 Jan: Gilbert Ray CG, a County Park in the National Forest, Tucson, AZ. This park is on the 'Top Ten' list in our book where the sites are well spaced out, mountains and desert vegetation surround us, it's great for walks, and is quiet and peaceful.

While traveling today we spotted this tip painted on the side of a moving van: "Tip #16. Resist urge to pop bubble wrap before packing fragile items."

13 Jan: Gilbert Ray again. A great place to walk, sun, and catch up on odds and ends.

14 Jan: Buena Tierra CG, Casa Grande, AZ. This is one of the better cities for shopping so we did some of that before visiting Cal's cousin, Lewis, who's been living here for a couple of years. He was interested in seeing Kenzie so came back to the park with us and accepted our invitation for dinner.

15 Jan: Santa Fe RVP, Apache Jct., AZ. This park is another repeat for us, and we were lucky to get in as they were filling up fast.

A couple of phone calls were first on the agenda, one to learn that tickets were available for the Arizona Opry dinner and show tonight and the second to confirm that friends, Jim and Sue, in Sun City West were able to join us. It's the third year we've attended this fantastic event. The delicious roast beef dinner is served efficiently to 400-or-so guests and is followed by a marvelous evening of music presented by the talented Barleen Family and others. The Barleen twins, Barbara and Brenda, sing, play drums, piano and guitar. George, Barbara's husband, plays 32 instuments and has an outstanding singing voice; the twin's brother Ben is cook and comedian. Kerry is widely known as an outstanding yodeler, has a terrific voice, plays accordian, handbells and the zither. Bill plays several guitars, banjo; and does a hilarious impersonation of Elvis. What a treat!

16 Jan: Pebble Beach CG in the Lower Salt River Area, Tonto Nat'l Forest. We learned of this beautiful spot from Minnesotan RVers back at Gilbert Ray CG. It's not in our directories, but there are five other campgrounds here on the Salt River in southern Tonto Forest. (All complete with fee and no hook-ups.) We checked them all out and think Pebble Beach has the best mountain vistas. We walked a short distance to check out the River, then around the campground - there is one other rig here so ever so quiet. Coyotes were the only ones to shatter the stillness and we like to hear them.

We took the Honda on a scouting trip this afternoon to see more of this awesome area, Saguaro Lake was a deep blue and surrounded by moutains rising sharply from the water's edges. After following along the Salt River looking at cg's, we continued on the Bush Hwy to Rt. 87 and refreshed our memories at the Fort McDowell Indian Res. where there is a superb campground. (We visited Stan and Liz there two years ago). However, they charge $5 just to look, and that didn't make any points at all!

17 Jan: Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Morristown, AZ. ($18 for water and electric but no place to dump-that's steep.)

On our way to the Lake, we drove to Fountain Hills as it seemed like the best place to stock up on groceries before we camp in the desert at Quartzsite. It proved to be an excellent choice as the variety of all items and freshness of produce was the best we've seen in many miles. Driving through Fountain Hills is an impressive experience too. It's a large, sprawling city with houses and condo's nestled along the main streets but oh! The monstrous homes built all over the hills. There's a great selection from which to choose a real nice pad with a fantastic view for a million or more.

This park is filling up fast but we found a site where we could see the lake created by the Waddell Dam. There are lots of sail boats and some power boats enjoying the 70 degree temps this afternoon. It's a great place for exercise as park is on a side hill, so we took advantage of it by walking all the roads to the top -- one of them led to the Dam overlook with a spectacular view.

18 Jan: Fairhaven RVP, Aquila, AZ We filled both gas tanks in Wickenburg and dropped in to the Country Kitchen for a salad as it was lunch time. This park is very acceptable but not fancy and was selected as it's a convenient distance from Quartzsite, our next destination. We stopped here 3 years ago.

The Park Manager is a ham and was tinkering with his radio controlled Helicopter. Cal enjoyed that operation.

When we leave here tomorrow morning, all tanks will be filled or dumped as appropiate, batteries charged, and we're off to the desert to join thousands of other RVers for an unknown number of days. The weather will be a determining factor .

Since the 9th of January the weather has been ideal - as warm as 40 or even 60 degrees the first thing in the morning, warming to low 70's with no wind. We've had more good weather thus far this trip than we had in Arizona and California during the last two years combined. How long can it last? Time will tell.

There you have it folks - we're off to the dusty desert!! Cheers, Cal and Connie.