Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Catalina State Park

Catalina State Park

We are back at Catalina for the next two weeks.
We'll spend Christmas thru New Years here enjoying all that the area has to offer.

One of the things that the area has to offer is an endless array of beautiful
and varied sunsets.

Each day is different.   The sun bouncing off of the clouds onto the mountains,
or bouncing off of the clouds onto the mountains.

Its always a treat.

The clouds seem to be on fire.

Last night it was the mountains on fire and waxing moon.

Tonight my friend the Saguaro watches over the campground

The sun peeks thru the clouds and lights the lower elevations.

5 minutes the role is reversed and the mountains are illuminated.

10 minutes after that the scene has changed again.
Now the clouds reflect the color off of the mountains.

It's all part of the fun.   Waiting to see what the nights sunset will bring each day.

RV Faucet Replacement

Speaking of fun....

I had to replace the kitchen faucet in the RV

It was going to need some parts replacement, so rather than do a simple repair I decided
to replace it with the same model line, but with improved features.

I ordered the faucet online and had it delivered to the nearby Home Depot.
It was waiting for me when we got back here from Kartchner Caverns.

The Original had Soap, Faucet, Spout, Sprayer.

First on the list was empty out the cabinet and disconnect the old water lines
and remove the faucet and spout.

Then a trip to Home Depot for some misc plumbing parts.

I was happy that it only took one trip for parts.  
Sometimes more time is spend going for parts on plumbing jobs
than is actually spent doing the work.

I kept the soap dispenser and sprayer.  I need a plug for the sprayer hole.

The new spout has a pull down sprayer.
We now have two soap dispensers, one for dish soap  and one for hand soap.

The old sprayer is disconnected and merely hiding the hole for now till I find a suitable plug.

Works great and the pull down sprayer is more convenient.
We both think it looks better too.

The bus is getting more decked out in anticipation of Santas Visit,
which is now only 2 short days away.

Will he still come even though we don't have a chimney?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

It's not Frankfurt but....

In the border town of Sierra Vista, Arizona,  not more than 15 miles from
the US/Mexico border - in a nondescript little strip mall -
lies a small out of the way German Resturant.

In an area better known for its Tamales and Tacos who would expect not only to find
Wienerschnitzel und Kartoffelpuffer...  but to actually find the real thing?

Last year at this time we were celebrating Kates Birthday at one of the
oldest restuarants in Frankfurt - Zum Storch am Dom.
Zum Storch am Dom first served a meal in the 1300's

It's pretty hard to outdo that ....  but if we cant be going there,  then
the German Cafe was a good consolation prize considering where we are.

But let me not get ahead of myself.

We are here in Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson, Arizona
thru this Monday.   We have come here for several years now so that we could
celebrate Kates Birthday at the German Cafe in Sierra Vista, Az.

There is also a doctor in Sierra Vista who does DOT physicals and my
physical - required to keep my CDL Class A  drivers license active - is due at this time so
it is very convenient on several fronts.

It was a short 45 mile drive From Tucson to Kartchner.

Sierra Vista is only 30 min south of the State Park.

Our site - #49 - has 30amp electric and water.

The campground  is almost empty.   
There is only has a few people here so it has been very quiet.

The past few days have been marked by clear mild days followed by cold nights.

The park is mostly Mesquite trees with Prickly Pear and Barrel Cactus.
Its main draw are the caverns which are pristine and well protected.  
We have toured them previously so we decided
to forgo a tour this time.

With my Wilson Antenna outside I have again been picking up an excellent
4g Verizon signal here so its been another great place to work from.

This morning our friends Marcel & Michaela (and the girls) skyped Kate for
a surprise birthday hello.   It was a nice way to start the day.

Then tonight we made our Pilgrimage to the German Cafe for Kates B-Day Dinner.

The 30 mile drive down AZ 90 is thru scenic and wide open country.
On the northbound side is a Border Control Checkpoint as this highway
is a potential smuggling route from the south.

The German Cafe is a small restaurant.  Perhaps 6 booths and another 6 tables.
A small but good selection of German Beer and the same for the food menu.

Here you will find the more basic American favorites such as Schnitzel and Sauerbrauten, but not
the heavier fare like Schweinshaxe (crisp pork knuckles).

What they do cook - they cook very well.  Made authentic and made fresh.

Tonight Kate & I both opted for the Jagerschnitzel mit Kartoffelpupper (potato pancakes).
I went dietetic  and had a garden salad...  Kate had Spaetzle 
It was delicious!

Rather than leaving room for desert - we took the path of least resistance....
We took our desert to go!

German Chocolate Cake for Kate
and a slice of Rum Cake for me.

On Monday we will make the 1hr drive back to Catalina State Park where we will
spend 2 weeks thru New Years.   While there I have some maintenance projects to
complete on the bus along with celebrating the holidays.
 It will be a busy 2 weeks!

As for today...

Alles zum geburtstag Kate!
(Happy Birthday Kate!)

It time to go eat my desert now

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Back in Arizona

Ok its time to play a little catch up.
I've received a bunch of emails asking what we are up to and where is the blog
so its nice to know that so many are enjoying it.

We left you in New Mexico at the sugar fine sands of White Sands National Monument.
Since then we've traveled west to the Tucson, Az area.

Along the way at an Arizona Rest Area on I-10.

Our first stop was Catalina State Park in Oro Valley about 15 mi north of Tucson.
One of the reasons that we love Catalina and keep coming back is the
beautiful sunsets with the Santa Catalina Mountains on fire.

Our home for 11 days was site B8.   50a electric and water.

Kate has the bus decorated for Christmas.
Note the tree and lights in the window.

Another reason I like Catalina is the convenience.  Inside the park we are in our own world,
but just outside the gate is civilization and all the amenities.
Plus a super strong 4G signal makes it easier for work.
Since this time of year is my busiest time at work, the extra strong connectivity
makes life all the easier.

On Sunday however I take a break from some Denver Broncos Football on the outside TV

After 11 days it was time to move on for a bit.
We will be back at Catalina shortly for 2 weeks over Christmas/New Years.

We stopped at the Tucson Lazy Days KOA for the full hookups so we
could get some Laundry done.   We do not have full hookups planned after this for
quite some time...  over a month.

Lazy Days is kind of neat in that it has Citrus Trees.
The fruit here however is no wheres near as good as it is at 
The Orange Grove  RV Park in Bakerfield, Ca.

A new thing here at Lazy Days is the installation of two complete rows of Solar Panels
that cover the pull thru sites.   Several acres of panels are providing over 1 mw of power
In the summer time I imagine being under the panels and shaded would be a benefit.
The panels are somewhat unsightly but I understand the purpose.

Looking down a row, you would park under the panels.

Another view.
Installations such as this are popping up all over the southwest.
Here in Tucson, the University of Arizona and Frys Grocery stores have put
panels like this over parking lots.   It provides welcome shade for parking
and the added benefit of clean energy.

We are now at Kartchner Caverns State Park about 45 miles SE of Tucson.
We will be here for 5 days before returning to Catalina State Park for the holidays.

The park here is virtually empty.   There are about 4 other rigs so it
is quite quiet.   I will have some photos in our next post.

While here we will celebrate Kate's birthday in our usual fashion...
Eating German Food!
It will not be quite like last years B-day dinner in Frankfurt with
Marcel & Michaela, but the restaurant that we go to in Sierra Vista - only 15 miles
from the Mexican Border - serves good authentic German Food so
we will have our Schnitzel & Cactus Winter Special.

Bon Apitit.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

White Sands National Monument

A visit to White Sands has been on my radar for quite a while and
today we managed to check it off the list.
Not to say that we won't be back - we sure would like to come back for early \
morning or late afternoon photography.

After taking the Doods for a walk, Kate and I hit the road around noontime
for the 1 hr drive to the White Sands Visitor Center.

The White Sands Dune Field is the largest Gypsum Dune Field in the world.
Gypsum is the material used in Sheetrock and plaster for its light white color.

The gypsum is leached out of the surrounding mountains by rainfall, it flows down
into the valley which is surrounded by mountains and shaped like a bowl.

It is here that the water evaporates, and the crystalized gypsum flakes (called selenite) are picked up
by the prevailing winds and deposited on the west side of the dune field.

As the wind continues to move the dunes - as much as 30' per year,
the gypsum is ground down to an almost talc like consistency.

After watching a film about the park, its flora, and fauna, we then headed up
the Dune Road towards the interior of the park.

The white color of the sands gives the park an "Other-Worldly" appearance at times.

We stopped at numerous locations and climbed the dunes for unique vantage points.

Due to the fine consistency of the grains, and the water soluble nature of the gypsum,
the dunes were somewhat firm and easy to walk upon.

A view of our truck from one point to give some perspective.

One of the intersting facts about the park is about how the plants and animals have evolved
to survive within this unique ecosystem.

The plants need to adapt to the constant movement of the dunes.
The Yucca will grow on the surface and as the dune increases in depth, it must
continue to grow to keep its head above the surface.

Sometimes the dune will stop growing and recede.

Below a Yucca seed pod is extended above the plant.

What often happens, as in the plant below, the Yucca continues to grow taller and taller to remain
above the dune, then the dune moves on, the sand recedes, 
and the plant cannot hold itself upright and falls back upon itself.

Its all a part of life on the dunes.

Soon it was time to head back to Las Cruces for our final night,
and my Sunday Night Broncos Game.

We really enjoyed our visit here and look forward to an encore one day.

Tomorrow we put the bus back in motion westbound towards the setting sun.
Our destination is the Tucson Arizona area where we will basically remain
thru New Years. 

Next stop - Catalina State Park.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving - Las Cruces, NM

On Wednesday we rolled into Las Cruces, NM where we
will stay till Monday.  While here we will visit some of the local
sights, our first being Old Mesilla.

Old Mesilla is a small village just south of Las Cruces.  
It was established when the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo,
which ended the Mexican-American war in 1848,
set the boundary between the two countries.

A number of people who now found themselves living in the United States but
preferred to live in Mexico moved south and established Mesilla in what was then still Mexico.

5 years later - boundary disputes between Mexico and the US were resolved
with the Gadsden Purchase - which moved the boundary further south to its 
present location, and Mesilla became part of the US.

The Gadsden Purchase documents were signed in 1853 here in Mesilla on the town square.

A reminder that you can click on photos for a large version.

On Weds night we determined that it would be prudent to perform some
Pre-Thanksgiving warmups, so we went to dinner at The Double Eagle,
a nice restaurant on the square famous for its aged steaks and wine list.

In a historic building loaded with period antiques, it was a memorable evening.

We arrived early for dinner and were promptly seated in the more
casual courtyard section.

I had an aged NY Strip that was out of this world.

By the time we were done with dinner the quiet restaurant was filled.

On Thanksgiving morning a Road Runner made an appearance in front of the Bus.

Beep Beep

Yesterday we had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner prepared by Kate.
Turkey, Stuffing, the works.

Where's Waldo......  Notice Gracie on the seat observing...

No sooner than the dishes were done and put away - Kate started to
break out the Christmas Decorations.

We hope that all of you had a great Thanksgiving!

Its been raining on and off here for the past several days,
quite unusual weather for the desert.  
Today its cloudy and we are going to have a couch potato day and watch some movies.

Tomorrow (Sunday) we will go visit White Sands National Monument, which
is about an hours drive from here.

We've never been to White Sands but have heard so much about it.
We are really looking forward to our visit.

See you there.