Friday, July 18, 2014

Las Vegas

Friday morning we left for Las Vegas to visit daughter Heidi, husband Joseph, and twin sons Landon and Julian.  From Williams, AZ to the Vargas house in NW Vegas it is about 185 miles and four hours of driving.   Trip was uneventful.  Twins, of course, were thrilled to see their grandparents!

I never succeeded in uploading a video into blogger, but in separate e-mail I will send an excerpt - the twins dancing to the World Cup video.

Here are a few photos.  It is really hard to get a good picture - they're (almost) always on the move.

Watching a video in the castle.

New educational developmental puzzles from grandparents: when you fit the object into its cut-out position, you get the sound of the appropriate animal or vehicle, as the case may be: Mooo!

Landon is Susie's main buddy.  Julian latches on to me.  He's the one with curly hair and the yellow shirt.

I took my bike to Vegas and did a couple of early morning rides in the neighborhood.  This area was once rural, now it is becoming surrounded by new homes and businesses.  The old properties sort of remind me of the North Valley of Albuquerque.  There are large estates, horse stables and pastures, even an arena.  

I did a double-take as I rode by one fence and tree line and thought I saw a buffalo the other side of the trees.  I did!  Two of them.

And here's a horse picture.

We stayed for the World Cup Final, Sunday afternoon, then drove back to Williams.  Timing worked out so that we could stop in Kingman, AZ in late afternoon for Cracker Barrel's Sunday fried chicken special.  Very good.  Mountain showers as we returned to the high country en route to Williams.  Uneventful trip home the next day.  The dashboard A/C worked just fine.

W.r.t. road trips, I came across this article on how to eliminate boring road trips.  Number one: Leave the interstate.  We do this some of the time, but obviously not on this trip.   On earlier trips across this same terrain, we have traveled and enjoyed some stretches of historic Route 66.  Which reminds me: Williams advertizes itself as "the last Route 66 town bypassed by I-40."  Just taking Business 40 (old 66) through Williams and Seligman are worth your time occasionally.  For a longer diversion, take old 66 from Seligman to Kingman.  Did that once.

All told a very nice two weeks with friends and family.  We've got this week to do laundry, then it's off to Colorado for most of the next week with our granddaughters there.  Stay tuned.

Susie and Rob

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Flalgstaff and Sedona

When I was in graduate school at Oklahoma State University, Judy and I met and became friends with Wayne and Cynthia Sjoberg at our Sunday School class at the Methodist Church in Stillwater.  We  both graduated in 1967 and Wayne became a professor in the Psychology Dept. at Northern Arizona U in Flagstaff.  For several years, he had the additional duties of being the Faculty Rep for athletics.  We've exchanged Christmas cards and gotten together (all too) occasionally over the 47 years since.  While in Williams, I contacted Wayne and we arranged to get together on Thursday.

We drove over to Flagstaff, about 25 miles from Williams, and found our way to the Sjobergs' house.  They took us on a drive through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona for lunch.  Had a very nice lunch and a great time catching up during lunch.

Oak Creek Canyon had a serious forest fire recently and all of the recreational areas in the canyon are closed.  With the "monsoon" season upon us (we had rain every day in Williams, I believe), there is great concern about mudslides and the road has been closed recently on very short notice.  But, we got through both ways.  Here are a couple of Sedona pictures.

Can't you just feel the harmonic vibes in those scenes.

Driving back to Flagstaff we stopped at the Oak Creek overlook and a very friendly Dutch man touring the States took our picture.

Had a great day with Wayne and Cynthia and look forward to seeing them again some time.

I should mention that the rest of our Allegro group left on Wednesday, so we were on our own Wednesday and Thursday.  As I mentioned, we decided Williams was close enough to Las Vegas that a side trip was justified.  So, Friday we drove the Explorer to Las Vegas to see Heidi, Joey, and the grand-twins, Julian and Landon.   We had considered driving Tuzigoot to Vegas but high temps and uncertainty about whether we could maneuver Tuzi into their driveway led us to leave Tuzi in Williams and drive the Explorer.  Anyhow, Vegas next.

Grand Canyon

On Wednesday we rode the Grand Canyon Railway train to and from the Grand Canyon.  It's just over a two-hour trip, traveling at 40 mph, arriving just about noon.  We opted to ride up in a dome car, back in a coach.  Here's an uninteresting shot of the view from the dome.  We did have a cowboy singer come up and serenade us on the way.  And survived a hold-up from some desperadoes on the way home.

At the Canyon we had lunch in the El Tovar dining room, overlooking the canyon.  Our plan was to ride the park shuttle along a portion of the south rim to three or four vantage points during the three hours or so we had available before our return train.  The crowds and the wait for a shuttle, plus threatening weather, in which case the Ranger in charge told us that the buses would be shut down, made us decide to stay within walking distance of the train station.  Didn't want to get stranded and have to spend the night on a park bench.  For future reference, the better way to do this trip is to stay overnight at a Canyon lodge, rather than make a one-day trip.  Here are some shots of the Canyon.  You can see that it was a cloudy day.

The sun came out briefly and illuminated one promontory nicely, though.  Anybody know the name of that?


Next: Flagstaff and Sedona

Susie and Rob

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Train Stuff

I've been taking early morning bike rides since we got here.  Today, Tuesday, I rode around the train yard, the other side of the tracks from Railside RV Park, and got a few pictures that might be of interest.

Wheels - would make some nice yard art - or the base for a picnic table.

Bus wheels, too.

Here's a restoration candidate.



Could make it into guest quarters.

More wheels.

A couple more cars.

That's it.

Next blogpost: Grand Canyon.

Rob and Susie

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

July Travels

Greetings, All.  And a belated Happy Independence Day to you.  To celebrate the Fourth, and more, we traveled to Williams, AZ, for a rally with our motorhome club, the Zia Allegros.  Allegro is the model name of some motor homes made by the Tiffin Company in Red Bay, AL.  Tuzigoot is an Allegro Bus - 2004 vintage.

Five motor homes (three Tiffin coaches and two others (known as SOBs - some other brand; we are not exclusionary) and their owners gathered at the Railside RV Park in Williams, gateway to the Grand Canyon, the first week of July.  We were the last to arrive, Wed., the 2nd.

Our trip over from Cedar Crest, about 370 miles, was fairly miserable; the dashboard A/C was not putting out cool air.  Unfortunately, I did not come up with Plan B: run the generator and power the rooftop A/C from that, as the other Zias reminded me upon arrival.  Live and sometimes Learn.

This group has pretty clear priorities - most of our group activities centered around meals, starting with dinner catered the first night by our RV park owners and staff.    Breakfast the next morning was at a downtown restaurant.  Pat and Tamara, the RV park owners, are great hosts and managers.  They catered a breakfast and another dinner for us during the week we were there.  Thursday morning Pat found a mechanic who came over and topped off the freon in our front A/C.  Problem solved.  Memo to self: check the A/C before the next hot-weather trip.

Just before we left home, daughter Heidi sent us a video of our twin grandsons running and dancing - they are especially turned on by the World Cup music.

[Technical Difficulties: Can't upload the video or find a way to link to it.  Stay tuned.]

Susie said, "That does it.  Williams is close enough to Las Vegas; Gotta see those boys.  We'll go there after Williams."  I agree, of course, so that's the plan.

Meanwhile, Friday evening, Susie and I went to Williams' Fourth of July parade, billed as the longest parade in Northern Arizona.  Not sure how much competition there is for that title.  Note, no fireworks in Williams that night because of fire concerns.   Here's a selfie: it was a cool evening.

There were fire trucks and flags and horses and many organizations with floats and members marching or riding.

This young man directed traffic.

There was also a collection of old tractors on a side-street.

Saturday morning the highlight was this steam engine pulling the Grand Canyon train.  Nice sky, huh.  The steam engine is just used on selected Saturdays through the summer.  We made reservations to do the regular Canyon trip on Wednesday.

The track runs right by our RV Park, appropriately named Railside, so morning and evening some of our group as well as Park management would run out and wave at the tourists.  That's about as exciting as it gets.

The cable system in the RV Park doesn't carry ESPN (!) and I canceled satellite some time ago because we usually stay at parks that have cable TV.   To follow the World Cup soccer games on Saturday, I had my choice between streaming the games on our computer and watching the cable-provided Spanish language channel that carried the games.  Can't miss that Go-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-al!! call.  The pictures came and went on both media, but I caught most of the games.

Sunday we drove the back way from Williams to the mining town of Jerome - 25 miles of paved highway through very scenic forests and meadows, with awesome views of the deserts below and distant mountain ranges, followed by 25 miles of somewhat primitive road winding, ascending, and descending the rest of the way to Jerome.  This was a real scenic treat with some sense of adventure.  Some scenes:

Great day for clouds.

On the last picture you can see the very narrow road carved into the side of the hill from whence we just came.  Luckily, we didn't meet any 4-wheelers or other vehicles on the narrowest stretches with the greatest unprotected drop-offs or on the sharpest switchbacks.

We had planned on lunch in Jerome, but it was very crowded (Tourists!) and we couldn't find a decent place to park.  Jerome is stacked on the side of a very steep hill, not an easy place to drive or walk.  You can google it for some pictures and history.  We drove the highway over the mountain from Jerome and down into the Prescott Valley to have lunch, then back to Williams via highways.  We drove in rain much of the way after lunch and were glad to have driven the Jerome backroad before the afternoon rains began.  We've had p.m. rains every day - very pleasant.  However, today, Monday, it rained and hailed, small hailstones, very hard - put a hole in the plastic cover over our bathroom ceiling vent.

We've been a bit snakebite on this trip.  First the A/C, then I realized that I had lost a wheel cover somewhere on the way over (probably related to the fact that I bought new tires the day before we left), then our toilet began squirting (clean) water every time we flushed it.  We put off the last problem until we get home by packing some towels around and under the leak source and by making less frequent and quicker flushes.  So far, so good.

We debated the last few days whether we would drive Tuzigoot to Vegas or leave it here and drive the Explorer.  We thought about parking Tuzi at Joey and Heidi's, but not sleeping in it in the high temperatures there (oh, I should mention that the bedroom A/C is not working either).  Also, I worried about the engine over-heating, particularly on the return climb from blazing desert to mountain heights.  We decided to leave Tuzi here and drive to Vegas Friday morning - about 200 miles.  Two days of RV park rental costs less than 400 miles of diesel fuel, and there would be less strain on us, so it was an easy decision.

Meanwhile, I contacted college friends, Wayne and Cindy Sjoberg, who live in nearby Flagstaff.   We'll be getting together with them on Thursday.

Here are a few Williams scenes.  It's very much a Route 66 town - Williams advertises itself as "the last town bypassed by I-40" -- October, 1984, as the sign below proclaims.

 Elvis has left the building.

The world's largest Route 66 shield.


That's enough for now.  Stay tuned for more reports.

Susie and Rob