Friday, July 11, 2008

New Mexico and Death Valley 2005

We left Carlsbad at 5:00 AM and arrived at Susan's house, in Sun City West, early afternoon.
The weather in Phoenix was better than I had anticipated. We were able to sit outside and feast on finger food. Susan and Jack also fed us at dinner time and told us to use their shower. We accepted that since we will not have hook ups the next few days, and that way we preserve water and do not fill up the holding tanks. Besides, we do not want to take showers when we camp in front of a friends house. The water pump is noisy and the neighbors can tell that we are camping in the street. Most communities frown on this. We had to negotiate though to use our own towels and soap. Susan wanted to provide those.
When we visit friends, most of them do not understand why we want to sleep in the motorhome instead of their beds. There is nothing wrong with their beds, but we have everything in the motorhome, like my computer, it is our house.
The food was good and we had a good time talking to our friends. We went to bed happy.
It was warm in the motorhome and it took us a while to fall asleep. At 1:00 AM we were looking for the sheets and at 3:00 AM we needed the down comforter, it had cooled off.

I woke up at 5:30 AM, later then I had planned. We got dressed and took off. The traffic was heavy already, but we got out of town in good time.
We stopped at the Sunset View Rest Area, north of Phoenix, had breakfast and shaved, and got ready for another day. I shaved, Doreen does not have to do that yet.
When we arrived in Flagstaff I had to put on a sweat shirt and exchange the sandals for tennis shoes. At 7,000 feet is was very cool.
When we came to the intersection of I-40 and highway 191, I filled up the gasoline tank of the motorhome. Gas was $ 3.19 a gallon.
I did not want to take a chance. When we came to Ganado the gas station there charged only $ 2.99.
We stopped at Hubbell Trading Post Historic Site, had lunch and then visited the store. The Navajo rugs are beautiful and very expensive.
We arrived at Canyon de Chelly National Monument at 2:30 PM. After a short rest we went to the Visitor Center, saw a movie about the Navajos in the canyon, and about the canyon. Then we went to the Thunderbird Lodge and inquired about the truck tour into the canyon.
Since it had rained the last hour we did not make reservations for tomorrow. We will see first how the weather will be tomorrow. The campground in the park has big trees, and there is no charge. There are no hook ups, I knew that.

In Phoenix we went to bed without using a sheet for cover, last night we started out with the down comforter and a blanket. We slept like logs. In the morning we used the little propane heater for a while.
I got up at 6:30 AM and told Doreen that I was not sure whether the time was correct since the Indian Reservation has daylight saving time, Arizona has not. I went outside and asked people, but nobody was sure.
I went to the Thunderbird Lodge and asked for the time and bought the tickets for the 9:00 AM trip through the canyon. The reservation is one hour ahead of Arizona time.
We ate breakfast, took our winter jackets and jumped on the open truck. The seats were comfortable, but it was cold when the truck was moving.
After a while the sun warmed us up. We had a blue sky all day and the temperature was pleasant.

Our Navajo guide was very good but repeated everything several times. The scenery was beautiful. The walls of the canyon are between 600 and 700 feet high and very colorful. The Cottonwood trees along the river bed are beginning to change colors.
We stopped at the cliff dwelling ruins. At one ruin we stayed for 20 minutes and took refreshments.

Navajo women and men have tables set up and sell jewelry. Doreen liked one necklace very much. Last Christmas I had given Doreen a hand written coupon for one hot air balloon ride in Napa Valley. When we came through the valley it was raining and on our last trip we had no time. This was my chance to come clean. I also bought the matching ear rings.

The whole tour through the canyon was fun. Our last stop was at the White House ruins. We spent ten minutes there and then we were on our way back to the lodge. We went through river beds and sand. The four wheel truck was sliding from side to side sometimes but the water and the sand were no problem. We got through.

After lunch we drove along the North Rim by car and went to the look outs and saw everything from above. We had driven the South Rim several years ago.

After a short visit in Chinle, getting some money at the Wells Fargo bank, we called it a day.

We left Canyon de Chelly at 6:30 AM and stopped in Farmington, NM for lunch.
I had made a map of the location of our friend Lola's house in Aztec.
When we arrived in Aztec we made a wrong turn. When we realized it, a car passed us and honked the horn. It was Lola. She was shopping in Farmington and spotted us there, but could not keep up with us. When she finally caught up with us, she guided us to her house. She dared not to drive us fast as we did, from Farmington to Aztec, there are usually speed traps along the highway. We were lucky, the cops were probably at the donut shop.
Lola has two extra lots next to her house. She could host a whole WIN gathering. We set up the motorhome and then sat down at the patio and caught up on news.
Lola will be leaving Sunday for a gathering with the Loners on Wheels in Deming, New Mexico. She is getting her motorhome and the house ready. I helped her draining the Water out of the pond, and removing the dish for the TV. Lola treated us with a shrimp dinner.

Today we went to Durango, Colorado. Lola came along. We drove half way to Silverton, to see the fall colors, and did we see colors.
The trees in the mountains are in gold and red. With the snow covered mountains in the back ground it was a beautiful sight. We had again blue skies and the temperature was in the low seventies.

Back in Durango we had lunch in a restaurant next to the Animas River. We had window seats and the lunch was good, a perfect outing. Lola was itching to go home, she had a 3:00 PM appointment to pick up her Honda Goldwing motor bike. It has a 1500 CC motor, a big machine. Since she is only five feet tall she has it converted to a three wheel motor bike.
When we got back to Aztec, we had a short rest and Doreen and I went then to the Aztec Ruins National Monument. Here is the largest Kiva in North America.

When we got back to the house we had to admire Lola,s new toy. She also has a trailer, in the same color, she can tow it with the bike. The next thing she has to purchase is a trailer for the bike and its trailer, so she can tow her toys behind her motorhome. The four wheel drive SUV has to stay at home.
Some people get old and slow down, and some people get in their second youth. Lola is the later, she is a motor biking grandmother..

After breakfast we helped Lola get her motorhome ready. I checked the tires and inflated them to the correct tire pressure. We emptied the house freezer and refrigerator and loaded the refrigerator in the motorhome. We worked all morning around the house and garden.
In the summer Lola volunteers at the Aztec Ruins National Monument. Today they had their volunteer appreciation day. Doreen and I were invited.
At 12:00 noon we went for lunch and at 1:00 PM we took off in four wheel vehicles to see the arches near Aztec.

We traveled over dirt roads which the oil companies use to get to their pumps and equipment. The San Juan Basin has a lot of oil. The first three arches were easy accessible. To get to the last arch we had to climb over boulders and walk up a steep incline.
Some of the group chose to stay behind. When we got back to the National Monument we were treated with a wonderful dinner. This was a super day.

The lights in the motorhome were very dim last night and the inverter made noises when I charged the battery for my lap top.
This morning I crawled under the motorhome and removed the second house battery from the cage I had built. It is difficult to check that battery and I had a feeling that I fried it. My feeling was correct.
We drove to Durango to a battery shop. The stores in town did not have gel filled batteries. I found out that I can not mix a gel battery with a normal water and acid battery. Replacing both batteries at $ 112.00 each did not appeal to me. I bought a completely sealed, maintenance free battery.
On the way home we stopped for lunch. We also wanted to attend a Indian Cultural Affair at the National Monument, but headed for home since the sky got very dark.
When I tried to attach the cables to the new battery I encountered my first problem. The old battery had posts, the new battery needs cables with holes. At NAPA I bought cables and fasteners. When I got back to the motorhome, the fasteners fit the cables but were too large for the holes in the battery.
It started to rain. I decided to put the battery in place and the get smaller fasteners later. Laying on my back and lifting that battery took the last bit of strength I had.
When I came back from NAPA with the correct fasteners it was raining hard. It was dry though under the motorhome. I forgot where the positive terminal was, so I had to crawl out and get a mirror and a flash light, to be able to see the top of the battery. I was not going to bring that monster down again. When I dropped a nut and it fell into the plastic box where the battery was sitting, I almost gave up. Again I would not bring the battery down. I was able to use a nut which holds the cage together.
After I was done everything worked but the water heater. I think it is not connected with the battery problem. Sometime spiders block the propane from going through the jet.
Doreen went and took a shower at Lola,s house. When I came to the house
Lola asked me whether I thought we would be able to get the motorhomes out of her yard, with all that mud. We are leaving tomorrow for Los Alamos and she for Deming. We will meet again in Albuquerque in a week and head together west to Death Valley.

We had agreed to leave at 8:00 AM. At 6:30 AM I heard Lola slamming the door of her motorhome.
We got up and I guided Lola out of the yard. The rain had stopped and she made it without any problems. Doreen guided me. The levelers had sunk in the soft, wet soil, but we got out too.
After we hooked up the cars, I locked the gate and Lola checked one more time her house. Off we went, it was 7:15 AM. We stayed in touch per CB up to Bloomington, where Lola headed west on highway 64 and we headed east.
The first hour the sun was low and it was difficult to drive. We arrived in Shama at 9:30 AM and could have taken the 10:00 AM train ride with the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad to Antonito, Colorado. It is a steam powered train. Since there were black clouds on the horizon we decided to do it in another year.
The journey from Shama to Espanola was very exhilarating. At one point we came down a mountain and had below us the Shama River, we could see upstream for several miles, and at both sides of the river the valley was a sea of gold. A few of the trees looked like they were on fire, deep red. I said to Doreen: "I wish we could stop here". The road was very narrow. As we came around the corner, there was a parking area and people were taking pictures. Looking at a sight like this is very rewarding, and it moves a person. We enjoyed that sight tremendously.

When we came close to Espanola the fuel gage was low but I knew I could make it. We passed a gasoline station and they wanted $ 3.15 for a gallon of gasoline. I did not feel like paying that much, since it would be cheaper near the city.
When we came to the intersection of Highway 84 and 554 we were stopped and told to take highway 554 to 111, and then to 285, which would bring us to Espanola.
I asked the officer whether there would be gasoline available on this detour. He told us that there was a gasoline station in El Rito. When we arrived there the station was closed, because it was Sunday. The next station was 32 miles away. Several other people had the same problem.
They came the other direction.
I started to sweat and made plans how to get gasoline after we run out. Doreen was to go by car and fill up the reserve tank I had emptied yesterday when we went by car to Durango. I did not want to pay the high gasoline prices in Colorado and used the spare tank. When we came back to Aztec I had to install the new battery and did not go and fill up the spare tank.
I saved some money and now I was going to pay a high price for it. We rolled along and finally found a station in Ojo Caliente, a town with five houses. I paid $ 3.15 and was happy to buy a few gallons to get us to Chimayo.
After setting up the motorhome at the Cottonwood RV Park, and taking a nap, we went to Los Alamos and checked out the camping facilities at the Elks Lodge.
The rest of the evening we spent cleaning house and knitting and watching television. We have not seen much television lately and do not know much about the problems in the world.

We had a very good day today. It was a big breakfast day for me. Doreen did not like my cooking and after putting some HP sauce on her portion gave it back to me. Now it tasted horrible for me.
I filled up the fresh water tank, since the Elks Lodge in Los Alamos has turned off the water for the season. We left at 9:15 AM and arrived in Los Alamos at 10:00 AM.
After setting up the motorhome we went to the library, and then headed for the Jemez Mountains. We hiked to the waterfall at Jemez Falls campground. State highway 4 is a scenic road and the Jemez River follows it at some sections. The trees along the river looked like the leaves were gold plated. In Jemez Springs we had lunch at a little restaurant.
Then we drove to Jemez Pueblo. The Pueblo is not open to tourists, but the visitor center is.
On the way home Doreen shopped at a little store along the road. When we got back to the lodge, I went to the bar and paid for the next two days.
After a while we heard a knock on the door. It was the Leading Knight of the lodge. He asked us whether we needed water. I told him that we had a full tank, but we would like to stay several days. He thought the weather would not change soon and he turned on the water again for us.
We had blue skies all day and it was warm. The evening was warm too, I felt like working on the water heater. I took the burner assembly apart and reset the gap on the igniter and cleaned the unit. I called Doreen and told her to flip the water heater switch. It fired up right away.
Right now we use the electrical part of the water heater. When we get to Death Valley we do not have electrical hook ups and need the propane heater part. I feel better now. The price for the book "RV Repairs and Maintenance" has paid for itself several times over.

Today we took the "High Road to Taos". Our first stop was at El Santuario de Chimayo. This church is one of the most visited churches in New Mexico. On Good Friday some 30,000 people come to the village of 4,000. People think it is a mystical place of healing.

We saw people picking up dirt from a hole in the ground, in the church, and putting it in small containers.
We also visited Ortega's weaving shop. The Ortegas can trace their family history back eight generations, when they came from Spain.
They sell beautiful vests and other garments and of course rugs. Their wares are very expensive though.
When we left town we went the wrong direction on highway 76. Instead going to Truchas we ended up in Espanola. We did not go back, we took highway 78 towards Taos. In Embudo we stopped at Embudo Station, a former stage coach stop, in the middle of nowhere.

It is now a restaurant, located on the west side of the river. We sat outside under large cottonwood trees. The sun came barely through the golden canopy of the trees. The Rio Grande rushes past the restaurant. It is a beautiful spot to have lunch.
Several years ago Doreen almost fell into the river. She had gone over the bridge, to the other side, to take a picture of the restaurant. She slipped down the embankment and almost went for a swim. Luckily she could stop before she hit the water. Doreen does not know how to swim.
We had lunch and then continued on to Taos. Doreen enjoyed shopping at the Plaza.
On the way home we saw dark clouds over Los Alamos. As soon as we got back it started to rain.
At 6:30 we had a dinner appointment at a friends house. It had stopped raining when we went to Roland's house. He lives on the highest Mesa in Los Alamos, and on clear days he can see Santa Fe.
He cooked a wonderful salmon dinner. He is not only a nerdy scientist, he is also a good cook, and a good father He has a Ph.D. in nuclear physics.
Roland is the son of German friends from Chicago. His sons are 13 and 15 years old and they are well behaved and talk like adults.
Peter is into mountain biking, and he has a mountain bike which cost a small fortune. Roland says that both get good grades in school and he never had any problems with them. They go skiing together and go camping. On my Colorado trip I visited his brother Martin and his family.

At 1:00 AM Doreen woke me up. It was raining very hard and lightning and thunder had woken her up. She asked me whether she should wind the TV antenna down. After she brought the antenna down we went back to sleep. A short time later Doreen told me to unplug the electric blanket for my bed. I pulled the plug from the outlet and turned around. It was still thundering, and we had a light show.
In the morning it was cloudy and it looked like it would rain soon. We went to Santa Fe and it was perfect weather for walking around. We had a wonderful Mexican lunch, New Mexico style.
On the way back we stopped at the library.

Doreen decided she had enough of the high altitude. We left the Los Alamos Elks at 8:00 AM, went to the city dump site, emptied the holding tanks, and headed south. We arrived at the Albuquerque Moose Lodge at 10:30 AM, set up the motorhome and went by car to the Elks Lodge.
They have excellent parking spaces with electricity and water nearby. We paid for two days, left a chair on our site and went back to the Moose Lodge and picked up the motorhome. The Moose did not charge for camping, they have electricity, but the neighborhood was not good. Doreen looked through a hole in the garden wall of a neighbor of the lodge, and saw a mattress with two pillows. A homeless person must live there or did live there.
We hooked up the motorhome at the Elks, took a nap, and then went to Old Town.
The weather is perfect, blue sky and about 70 degrees F. The weather called for a chocolate chip, mint ice cream. A South American band played at a little shopping center near the Plaza. Doreen went to some stores while I enjoyed the goings on.
When we came back, our neighbor had a long water hose and he was hooking it up to a faucet. I asked him whether I could connect my water hose to his when he was finished. He told me that it would take a while, he was filling up his 100 gallon fresh water tank. While the tank was filling up we had a nice conversation. He and his wife are from Ohio and since August last year on the road.
When he was done I filled up our tank, and helped him roll up his hose. Our neighbors on the other side of us, went on their motor cycle to town. They tow a trailer, in which they have their toys.

Today was a domestic day. After breakfast we went to do laundry. On the way back I stopped and washed the car in one of those do it yourself car washes. Then we went to a Wal Mart Super Center and bought groceries.
On the way to Wal Mart we got lost and ended up in the airport. We could not turn around and went through the parking garage. When we showed the lady at the exit booth the ticked she smiled and gave us direction to Walmart. There was no charge for the five minutes in the garage.
The rest of the afternoon we took it easy.
A WIN came in with his motorhome. I recognized him and had a short conversation with him. He will be in Borrego Springs for Thanksgiving.

We went for hot chocolate to Sandia Crest. Last time, when we went up there, we took the Aerial Tramway, this time we drove up.
At 10.640 feet it was cool and the hot drink felt good. The view was terrific; the whole city was below us. In the distance, the river, with its golden trees on both sides, was winding through the valley.
When we came back to the city we went to Old Town for a late lunch. I had a delicious meal at my favorite restaurant in Albuquerque. La Placida is located at the Plaza. Doreen had a bad start. Her meal was too spicy.
There was too much chilli on her dish. Her lips became numb. The waiter brought her another meal without the chilli and she liked it. I love dishes with green chilli.
Back at the motorhome I removed the air filter assembly, and some of the fan cowling. I tried to get a good look at the radiator. When I walked around the motorhome this morning I saw a green puddle under the motorhome. When I ran the engine, cooling fluid was coming down the radiator.
After removing the air filter assembly, Doreen could not start the engine, and I could not see where the leak was. I tightened all the clamps on the hoses and put everything back in its place. When I started the engine there was no more coolant squirting down the radiator.
I was lucky again and did not have to find a place on Monday to get the problem fixed.
While I was playing mechanic Doreen was writing post cards.

The gasoline at Flying J costs now $ 2.56 a gallon. This was a surprise. We went there to check out the parking facilities. We will meet Lola there tomorrow afternoon and stay the night. I would prefer to stay at the Elks.
We visited the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. They had Indian dancers dancing in the court yard and a charity event going. For $ 15.00 one could purchase a hand made bowl and have it filled with food by participating restaurants. The restaurants had tables set up at the edge of the circular court yard. The bowl was then yours to take home.

We also went to the museum where they displayed Indian art. Then we went one more time to Wal Mart.

Doreen had written 14 post cards. We went to the post office where she bought stamps and finally got rid of the cards.
We had passed several times a store with the name: "Ritzy Rags", and Doreen could not wait to pay them a visit. Today was the day.
When we came back to the motorhome we prepared the motorhome for leaving the Albuquerque Elks. I filled the fresh water tank and then we headed for the Flying J Travel Plaza. I emptied the holding tanks and filled up the gasoline tank. At $ 2.56 a gallon it is less painful now.
Lola arrived about 2:30 PM. At 3:30 PM the three of us went to the Petroglyph National Monument. We had been there before but it is always interesting to see the figures on those large boulders and guess what the writer had in mind when he created his art.

For dinner Doreen cooked stir fry. After she was done it had turned into a Mexican meal, with tortias and all the trimmings. We all liked it.
I had noticed that the harness between Lola's motorhome and her Explorer was cut. She had no break lights, signal and stop lights on her SUV. I spliced the wires together and wrapped the splices with tape.
Lola's son came by in the evening. He is a doctor in Albuquerque. We decided to stay the night at the Travel Plaza. It will be a new experience.

This was a driving day. We left Albuquerque at 7:00 AM and arrived in Winslow, Arizona at 1:30 PM. The Elks in Winslow have two sites with electricity. With our arrival the campground was full.
After a long nap we went to the library and reserved a computer. We had more than an hour to kill, so we went to one of those Dollar stores, where Lola bought a pair of eye glasses. Her prescription glasses disappeared, and then we visited the La Posada Hotel, which is now a museum. It was a Fred Harvey Hotel when passenger trains were still running. With the Santa Fe train station next door, and being located on Route 66, it was a popular place to stay. Movie stars on their way to Chicago and New York stayed here.
It is a beautiful building with a lot of history. The sunken garden is a perfect place to relax.

We left Winslow at 7:15 AM and arrived at the Community Center in Golden Shores, AZ at noon. Golden Shores is located south of Bullhead City.
We were greeted like long lost relatives. Many of the WINs who were on the Utah-Colorado trip were here. They are slowly heading South. We will see them again for Thanksgiving near Borrego Springs. The are about 50 motorhomes here. The Community Center has several acres of flat land behind the building. The WINs negotiated a $3.00 daily donation.

Kelly came over and told us all the latest news. The dance rally, scheduled for the end of February in Casa Grande, AZ, is in jeopardy. The two hosts resigned because of an disagreement with the president of WIN. We hope they find new hosts.
After dinner we went to the bar across the street. There are more women in the WIN than men. This was visible here again. The locals came as couples and our women did not get a chance to dance much.

Route 66 goes through Golden Shores, and becomes I-40 at Kingman. We took
Route 66 today and went to Oatman to show Lola the wild Burros. We were
early and the animals had not arrived yet. The women went into stores and I walked to the end of town.
After a while about ten mothers with babies appeared. They stopped at the first store, where the owner brought out a bucket of water and alfalfa pellets.
Slowly the burros walked into town where tourists fed them carrots. Stores are selling carrots and other food for the wild beasts. They are actually very tame, since they grew up around people.

After the gun fight in the street we headed back for Golden Shores. At the 4:30 Circle Meeting the host for the Golden Shores gathering announced that she handed the Community Center a check for $750.00.
They were happy for the donation and hope the WINs come back next year. The stores in town were happy too.
Tomorrow morning everybody will leave for Parker, AZ. We will be heading North and visit the places the group has visited the last few weeks.

After Hugs and Mugs everybody left Golden Shores. We arrived at the Laughlin Ramada Express casino at noon.
The upper parking lot is reserved for motorhomes. There must be about 100 rigs here. The casino has a dump station and water. There is no charge.
Lola left right away to go into the casino and pay for her stay. Later, when we saw her, she told us that she made a donation also for us. Doreen and I drove to the Wal Mart in Bullhead City to buy groceries. I also needed fluid for the power steering of the motorhome.
Before we left home, I had work done on the power steering, today it leaked more than ever. When I added more fluid it slowly ended up on the ground and I can not find the leak. I went into town and got an appointment for Monday morning.
In the evening we went across the street to the Colorado Bell Casino. I was lucky at first and won some money, since the house always wins, I lost it again. When I had lost my daily limit, I stopped feeding the machine.
The three of us went upstairs and had an ice cream, and then walked back to the motor homes.

The women went to the Wal Mart while I checked out the power steering problem again. It is leaking form the pump drive shaft; the seal is bad.
There is no leak at the fittings, of the two hoses, the mechanic replaced back home. I attracted a lot of hobby mechanics. Everybody wanted to help.
Lola offered us her bed for Monday night and she will sleep on the couch. I have a feeling they keep my motorhome overnight.
At 4:30 PM we went to the lounge in the casino and listened to the music and danced. During the break we went outside and witnessed a Halloween costume contest. There were some bummers, and a few very, very good costumes.
In the late evening Doreen and Lola played Rummy Cube while I played with my computer.

The high light of the day was riding the Ramada Casino train. I took one complete round trip; did not get off the train at any of the stations.

Doreen and Lola walked across the street to the Colorado Bell Casino, and from there to a shopping center. They came back exhausted. While picking up a Laughlin entertainment guide at the casino, I stopped and put some money in a quarter machine. After the third try I hit a little jack pot, 160 quarters. I put the money in a cup and went back to the motorhome. I am even now. Tomorrow I can loose it again.
The library opened at 1:00 PM today. We got our E mail. I have a lot of mail to send from my laptop. The Internet Cafe, which has WIFI, was closed today.

We took the motorhome to the Paul Evert's RV dealer ship and repair facility at 8:30 AM. When we came back from the Internet Cafe we stopped and looked at the progress.
They had not taken anything apart, but they showed me a new power steering pump. When we came back at 3:00 PM, everything looked the same.
The pump was the wrong pump. I was told that by 5:00 PM we would have the motorhome. At 4:30 PM the mechanic had only removed the air cleaner assembly. They needed the rig over night. I told them that we were living in the motorhome, so they came with an electrical cord and told me that we could sleep in the motorhome. After hooking up the electricity and changing the refrigerator from propane to electricity, we went across the street and got a supreme pizza from Pizza Hut and went to Lola's motorhome.
This was an expensive pizza. While waiting for the pizza I went to a quarter machine and made a donation.
After dinner Lola and Doreen played a game of Rummy Cube and then we took our towels and sheets and went to our own home. We thought we would have to stay with Lola and had prepared for it.
In the afternoon we had gone to the Riverside Casino and visited the antique car museum. They have some beauties there,starting from 1905. I was able to send my E mail from the Internet Cafe. This is probably the last time on this trip. In Death Valley is no library.

We had a wonderful sleep at the RV Center. It was very quiet. Security came around once.
In the morning we picked up Lola and went to the Edgewater Casino and had breakfast. After a visit to the library we went back to the motorhome.
The mechanic had installed the new power steering pump, but had ruined the pulley and was waiting for a new one. When we came back at 4:45 PM we were told that the new pulley did not fit and they would get two different pulleys in the morning.
I hooked up the electricity again and put more water in the fresh water tank. While I was doing this, Doreen cooked dinner.
After dinner we went back to Lola. When we arrived there, a 40 foot motorhome tried to squeeze into a tight spot. Doreen talked to the lady who was guiding her husband, and told her they could have our site. We moved our chairs and saw one happy couple setting up their motorhome.
We gave Lola the bad news and went back to the motorhome, had showers and took it easy the rest of the evening.
During the day I had gone into the casino and won some of my money back. My total loses are now $ 25.00. Ramada Express deserves it. They did not charge us for staying at their parking lot and let us dump there and give us water for the fresh water tank. The generator etiquette of our fellow campers was very good. We were able to sleep. Security came around quite often and checked on things.

We are stuck in Laughlin. Three pulleys did not fit on the shaft of the new power steering pump. I have a hard time believing that I am in a spot like this.
It is a regular Ford 460 engine, there are millions of vehicles with that motor on the road, and they can not find a matching pump and pulley.
They located a pump in Florida. Instead of ordering it right away, they asked me how I want it shipped, and lost time. I want it over night. Now we have to wait until Friday morning to get the pump up here.

Today should have been our first day at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Since we will not have time to camp there, we drove up today and took the Lake Shore Drive. The weather was fine, 70 degrees F. and the lake and its surrounding mountains was a beautiful sight.

We stopped at several outlooks. The lake is very low; some islands have appeared.
Lola had not been in Las Vegas for over 30 years. We drove up and down the strip and were amazed at all the new large buildings. The scenery changes every few years in Las Vegas.
After a late lunch we headed for home. We made good time until we arrived at the intersection with highway 95 in Henderson. Traffic came to a stop. It took us an hour to cover about five miles. A large semi truck had lost two joint wheels. They went 40 feet into the air and landed on a pick up truck, killing the driver. We found that out on the evening news.
I have a bad feeling about the new power steering pump from Florida. Doreen says that they keep us here until we buy one of their new motorhomes.
Early this morning I filled the fresh water tank, using the six gallon plastic water can I always have with me. I emptied the gray water holding tank using the portable blue boy from the repair facility. This is a tank on wheels.
We are not suffering, but there is not much to do in Laughlin, other than losing money, and we are not gamblers.
I would like to get out of here by Saturday and go straight to Death Valley. The 49ers Encampment starts next Wednesday, I had planned to attend a four wheeling meeting on Sunday and go four wheeling on Monday. We will see.

The pump and pulley arrived. A new mechanic started to work on the motorhome in the afternoon. The work was completed by 5:30 PM. When they turned on the engine, cooling fluid was leaking from somewhere. The mechanic had stayed 30 minutes after quitting time, and hoped he could complete the job. Now he was disgusted and went home. The mechanic who started the job, and ruined the pulley, will come in and finish the work.
A group with antique cars is having a show in the Ramada Express parking lot. I walked over there and had a look. There were a lot of cars from the 20ties and 30ties.
My first car was there too, a 57 Pontiac Starchief Hard Top. Doreen was looking around in the shopping mall.
We also went with Lola to the grand opening of the new Sam's Club in Bullhead City. There were a lot of vendors with samples, form pizza to cakes. One lady gave me a big piece of salmon. I stayed in the food section and enjoyed all the samples. This took care of lunch.

At 9:00 AM Doreen and I went to the Internet Cafe and sent our E mail.
The mechanic was almost done when we left, and when we came back I could go to the office and get the bill.
I have $ 816.00 less in my account. Paying also for the mechanic's mistake did not thrill me, but we were glad to get away from Laughlin.
Last night I had informed Lola that we probably leave at 10:00 AM this morning. When we called her this morning, she was at the laundromat. When we arrived at the Ramada Express camping area she was not ready. She still had to dump and get fresh water. We waited for her; when she informed me that she wanted to go to Bullhead City to the Sam's Club, and buy gasoline for the motorhome, I had enough. I told her she can go and we meet her in Searchlight. She changed her mind. But she informed us that her neighbor, in the Ramada camping area, would follow us in his motorhome. He had no CB but we managed. When we got lost in Henderson, we stayed together. Richard knew the area and guided us back on track.
We arrived in Furnace Creek, in Death Valley, at 3:45 PM. After setting up the motorhome and going to the machine to pay our camping fees, we prepared dinner and then took it easy.
Some of the regular people are here already. One of our neighbors in the campground sold us badges for the encampment.

In the morning we went for a small hike and then drove to the National Park Visitor Center and got our stickers for the cars. With our Golden Age Pass there is no cost for staying seven days in the park. Camping is six dollars per day with the Golden Age Pass.

We showed Lola, and her new friend Richard, the stages and post office and store, and the Furnace Creek Inn.

After dinner we went to the Fiddler Stage for "Dancing under the Stars". During the break we left and went to the jam session in the Sunrise camping area. When we had enough of their music we went back to our campground and joined our neighbors at their fire.
The weather is perfect, some clouds, and about 70 degree F.

This was a long day. We had changed our minds about going on the long four wheel drive through the Bare Mountain mining area. First we did not want to go, but after I talked to our camping neighbor, I decided to go.
He drove me last night to friends of his, who camp at the Sunset camping area. They had nobody to go with them and were glad we came along.
So, this morning they picked us up at 7:00 AM and we went to Rhyolite, a ghost town near Beatty. This was the staging area. From there we left at 8:30 AM. We were number 11 out of 38 four wheel drive vehicles.

We visited many abandoned mines and Dave Heffner, Mister Death Valley, gave us a lot information about the history of the mines in the area.
There were not only gold mines, every kind of metal was mined and marble, and a cement plant was started.

When we came near the still active Panama Mine we were greeted by a security truck and a truck with the manager of the mine. They saw the large dust cloud we were making and could not figure out what so many vehicles were doing near the mine. Famous "Area 51" and the Yucca
Mountain nuclear material storage mine are nearby. The manager thought the National Guard was coming.
When he saw what we were doing he gave us a history of his mine and what they will be doing in the future, how they will use cyanide more safely, in processing the ore, to get the gold.
We had many questions and learned a lot. When we came through a narrow canyon, we saw a little pond with water. Reeds and small cotton wood trees were growing near the water. A spring is feeding the pond all year long.
Before we left the canyon we had to stop. A large, beautiful male big horn sheep was standing on top of the ridge, looking down at us. He was protecting his harem. Doreen gave me her camera, but I was to nervous to operate it. I finally found my camera and took some pictures. With the blue sky behind the animal, the pictures came out very good.

Near the town of Beatty we saw about ten burros, there was one black one.
We got home at 5:00 PM, very tired but happy.

We learned a lot today and saw beautiful mountain ranges. A "sun dog" appeared in one of the clouds over the desert. I did not know what a sun dog was. It is a rainbow in the cloud, caused by the sun and water crystals in the cloud.
We did not go to Fiddlers stage or the concert at the Sunset camping area. After dinner we took a shower and just took it easy.

At 9:30 AM we left for Stovepipe Wells and attended "Death Valley Truth and Legend" a very good program about Death Valley.
After the program we drove to the Charcoal Kilns. The last four miles were on a bad dirt road. The poor Saturn had to pretend it was a Jeep.
The Kilns are 30 feet in diameter and 30 feet high. The ten kilns are shaped like beehives and look like remnants of an ancient civilization. They are located in the mountains, about 5,000 feet above the valley floor. It was cool up there.

We picked a bag full of large and good tasting pinon nuts. Most of the pinon pine trees were cut in 1870 to feed the kilns.
In late afternoon we drove along all the streets at the Sunset campground and looked for Chappy. ( Richard Chapman) He has the same motorhome as ours. We did not find him.

The Encampment started today. At 2:00 PM we attended a slide show about the Valley and at 3:00 PM Kerry Christiensen had his show in the Visitor Center court yard. His show attracts a lot of people.
Lola and her friend Richard liked Kerry, and Lola told Doreen that it was worth coming to Death Valley.
At 6:00 PM we went to the Fiddler Stage for Songs of the West. Rod Erickson, Teff Raff, Kerry Christiensen, and the Jeppsens were the main entertainers. It was a super good show.
The weather is still perfect. In the evening we needed only a sweatshirt. In the morning we went to the store and at 11:45 we stood in line to put our folding chairs at the Fiddler Stage. At 12:00 noon, the run was on.
We got a good spot in the fourth row. The chars will stay there until Saturday night. Our other chairs will be used for the Friday breakfast show at the golf course and other entertainment. It is important to bring at least two chairs per person.

We had a busy day. At 9:00 AM we saw a movie, in the National Park Visitor Center auditorium, about the 20 mule teams. At 10:00 AM we went to Patio Talk. The superintendent of the park talked about the park and answered questions. It was very informative.
Then we went home and Doreen cooked a spaghetti dinner and I made a salad. When we were finished cooking, Lola and Richard came over and we had lunch. At 3:30 PM Doreen and I drove to Stovepipe Wells for the Kerry Christiensen Show.
The Encampment is held at Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek. The entertainers are scheduled at both places. After the show we drove back to Furnace Creek and went to the Fiddler Stage for the Coyote Howl Show.
There were 36 acts, most of them from campers at the campgrounds. There was a lot of talent. We did not see the whole show. At 8:00 PM we ran for our car. We felt a few drops of rain. It did not rain much, but the wind picked up and it stayed windy.

When I looked out of the window at 6:00 AM, there were big, dark clouds in the sky. It sure looked like rain.
We decided not to go to the Hootenanny Hoedown Breakfast. The breakfast was at 7:00 AM, outside, next to the golf course. By 7:00 AM the clouds had moved out of the valley. The entertainment part started at 8:00 AM and we took our second set of chairs and set them up fifteen minutes before show time.
The MC was Dick Hillary, a preacher, and the Chaparral, a western band, provide the music. Dick is funny and does not apologize for preaching at a function out of church. He uses humor and gets his message across.
This is our fourth Encampment and we have seen every time an older woman(83) and her mother attend the hoedown; the mother just turned 103. They live in a 24 foot motorhome and travel across the country.
At 10:00 AM we saw a movie about last years wagon train. At 1:00 PM this year's wagon train arrived at Furnace Creek. Every year hardy pioneer type people travel 100miles in either horse, or mule drawn wagons, through Death Vally. It is an reenactment of the trek of the people who came in 1849 through the valley.
The movie showed their daily activities. They traveled 20 miles a day. After the movie we bought bratwurst with sauerkraut and then took a look at pictures, and other art, the artist displayed in booths.

When we sat on our chairs alongside the road and cheering on the wagons with their period costumed occupants, we noticed a large group of people, with many very young people, on the other side of the street, they were having a time of their life.
They were not only cheering on the wagons, they were cheering on the park ranger vehicle at the end of the wagon train , and the trucks and cars which were stuck behind the wagons. Some people waved back and others just wanted to get out of there.
At 6:00 PM we went to the Fiddlers Stage for the evening entertainment. Lola asked me to bring their chairs back. She and her new friend Richard are leaving early tomorrow morning.

At 10:00 AM was the annual 49ers parade through the Furnace Creek Resort.
We took position at a shaded spot and watched fire trucks, rescue vehicles, red hat ladies, people in garb of the 1800's, along with children, and a lot of golf carts with dressed up people.

After the parade we drove to the Artist Drive and enjoyed the colors on the side of the mountains. We spent some time at Artists Palette, where the colors are very distinct.

From there we went to the Timishi Shoshone Indian Village and had Indian Tacos. They are very tasty ,but are not for faint hearted. They burn holes in ones innards with their fresh made salsa.
In the evening we went to the stage at Ol' Dinah, the steam engine, and listened to " Desert Night Music" with the Chaparrel band. The weather was wonderful again.
We had some close calls with the weather in New Mexico and here at Death Valley, but it never stopped the fun.

We are heading home. The alarm clock was ringing at 5:00 AM and 45 minutes later we were at the dump station and emptying our holding tanks.
I could visualize the long lines of motorhomes waiting to do the same thing in an hour or later.
In Death Valley we experienced the most beautiful sunsets. This morning we had the most unusual, beautiful sunrise. The clouds were formed in narrow strips, fanning out like sun rays. The red sun was giving them a wonderful red glow.

In Baker we filled up the motorhome fuel tank and Doreen took over driving. The new power steering pump gives enough friction to the steering wheel that Doreen can feel some pressure and feels comfortable driving the motorhome, no more moving the steering wheel from side to side, looking for resistance.
I do not know why the new pump should make a difference, but it does. I had the motorhome several times in for checking the steering system, and every time I was told there is nothing wrong. Last year when I had a leak, they replaced the low pressure hose, before we went on this trip the high pressure hose was replaced. The leak got so bad that I could see where it was leaking.
The mechanic in Laughlin could not find it, so I had to tell him. The same guy was grinding the pulley in half, instead of removing the pump first and then use a pulley puller. The mechanic who installed the pump was very good. he told me that the fan clutch was leaking. If the first mechanic would have told me that, there would have been plenty of time to order a new clutch and install it.
The third mechanic, who finished the job Saturday morning, did not have enough coffee and cigarettes yet, he broke one fastener for the air filter assembly and stuck the remaining fasteners in the holes where the nuts should have been. The nuts were gone. The hoses held the assembly in place. The broken fastener is sticking there without a head. This happened at a big RV dealership, with a big repair facility, not a mom and pop shop.
I will be busy this week, installing a new fan clutch and work on the air filter assembly, and buy and install one more house battery
There is a silver lining in this cloud though. I get help now driving the motorhome.
We will be leaving for Borrego springs next week and celebrate Thanksgiving with the WIN group. We also will see Ron Carlson out there and probably Gary Magee. We will do a lot of four wheeling in the desert.
We hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with a lot of turkey.
Last year with the WINs we had nine turkeys.

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