Wednesday, October 19, 2016

It's Been 3-1/2 Weeks? Say what?

Saturday 9/24 Tucson

58 degrees this AM! Good sleeping last night with the AC off for the first time since we’ve been back at Desert trails. Took a nice walk in the desert, snakes should be lethargic.

Stayed cool, low 80’s most of the day but a pretty day. Relaxing day, ran into Tucson Estates to the little grocery and looked at the house, dry wall all done!

Sunday 9/25

Another cool morning and another walk in the desert. Went into town late in the morning and stopped at Bookman’s looking for a Belgium travel book for next summer’s cruise. No luck.

Had lunch at Beyond Bread, stopped at Trader Joe’s and then a local library. Temps got up into the 90’s later in the day.

Monday 9/26

A bit warmer this morning as we had clouds most of the night. Temps only got into the 70’s with off and on showers most of the day.

Hung around home and took it easy.

Tuesday 9/27

Raining in the AM so we skipped the morning walk. Late in the morning Nancy ran some errands and I finished putting away some of the stuff that had accumulated from our trips. It will be good to get into our house and get stuff back in one place. We have things stashed in odd spots in the trailer, in the truck, and in the storage locker! Not even mentioning the stuff still stored with the moving company back in Chicago!

Had a pack rat in the truck! Chewed through a wire for my solar charger! Fixed that and cleaned put the cats fruit they had stuffed up on top of the radiator!

After lunch Nanc went to pick up her prescriptions and I went over to the truck to put my tools away. Drove by the house, no one working, but a truck came up the street behind me and stopped by the house. I thought it might be our builder, so after grabbing the mail I went around the block and there was a guy just sitting in the truck looking at the house.

So I stopped and went inside and he immediately drove away, hmmm. Only thing different from Friday was that all of the interior and exterior doors were stacked in the garage. Was that what he was looking at? Made me wonder.

Back home I cleaned out a couple of compartments in the trailer, not finding what I was looking for!

After dinner I decided to run by the house again, just to see if the doors were still there and check out how my new lights looked on the road.. Full dark here by 7 PM - we’re too far East to be on Pacific time, but we are since AZ does not do Daylight Saving Time. Sun rose at 6:15 to day and set at 6:12! Crazy! 

Anyway, when we came up the street by the house there was a pickup parked there with both doors open and I could see someone in the house with a flashlight and the doors were no longer in the garage! We drove on by and stopped down the street and called the sheriff.

They said they would have a car out pretty quickly. Told me to wait for them on Tucson Estates Parkway. A few minutes after we stopped there what looked like that pickup went by tailgating another car. Sheriff deputies were there in about 8 minutes! Pretty good response we thought. And there were four of them in four cars! Deputy stopped, I told him the story, he said to wait and he would call.

After a while he called and told us to come on up to the house. The truck was gone when they got there and they checked out the house. Turns out the doors that were in the garage this afternoon were now all hung! Oops. Must have been the installation guys finishing up! Oh well. The deputies said they get very few calls in the neighborhood overall and had never even been up on our street! Good to know they come so fast and not very often.

Wednesday 9/28

Up at the crack of dawn this AM. Nice cool night, good to have the AC off the last few nights! Took a nice walk in the desert. Things are very green, much more so than we have seen in past winters. One of the biggest contributors to the overall green in the desert has been the ocotillos that are covered with green leaves. Now suddenly this morning the ocotillo are turning yellow! Must be the change of seasons, weatherman on TV notes that the official end of the monsoon is the end of September. A beautiful day today, heat built up to 90 then some storms came in from the South in the afternoon, we got a bit of rain, and things cooled off.

Nancy went into Tucson Estates for a haircut this morning, then late in the morning we drove into town. Stopped at Tucson Trailer to pick up the extension bar for the bike rack on the Jeep, Lowes for a piece of hardware I needed, Beyond Bread for lunch and then the Mission branch of the Tucson Library to pick up a book Nancy had ordered.

Swung by the house, but now it is locked up tighter than a drum! Guess we will have to start stopping by the morning while the workers are there. This time of year they start early and knock off in the early afternoon to avoid the worst of the heat.

Back home my new fuel door for the Jeep - to cover the ugly exposed factory fuel cap - arrived. Took less than half an hour to install and it looks a whole lot better!

First Blackhawks pre-season game tonight! Yeah! 

Thursday 9/29

And the game last night did not go so well for the Hawks, but no worries, mostly babies playing for both teams.

Overcast this morning, head out for our walk, very dark sky off to the Northwest, but right now weather is moving from South - Southeast to the Northwest. About 200 yards out there was a pretty good crack of thunder! So we turned around and went home. Not too long after we got back there was a lightning strike somewhere pretty close. Off and on drizzle for the next few hours.

Cleared off mid-morning, by afternoon it was warm and sunny. Nancy did laundry, I did some more work on the Jeep, removed the ugly rubber bumpers on the hood meant to support the windshield when it is folded. That’s not going to happen, way to much work than what it is worth to fold the windshield on newer Wranglers! Used to be a simple process on the old CJs. The ability to do so is just a vestige left over from the old days.

Then I took the new LED lights out and turned the brackets around so I could aim the lights a little higher. We’ll see tonight is I was successful! Ran down to the storage locker and reassembled the bike rack with the new bar and mounted it on the Jeep and brought the bikes back home.

Friday 9/30

Nice cool nights lately, able to turn off the AC and sleep with fresh air. Nice walk in the desert this morning as well, too cool for much snake activity.

LED lights in place of the fogs were still too low last night! Bummer. Then in attempting to move one higher I pushed it right out of place! So first thing this morning I remounted them again, pushed forward out of the fog light nacelles a bit.

Got a haircut mid-morning, then we drove into town, had lunch at Culver’s on Ina, then visited Water Tec to get some info on water softeners for the new house. After looking at what was available we have decided against a softener due to excessive water usage. We never realized that they use 30 to 40 gallons regenerating! We decided on a bit more expensive system called the Evolution 55 that uses no salt and has no water discharge. 

Then a stop at the Social Security office for Nancy to register for spousal benefits. She can collect half of my full retirement amount until her own benefits max out at 70, then switch to her own benefits.

Back home late afternoon,

Went out after dark and the lights are now working great! Finally got them aimed up where they belong and they really throw some pure white light a long ways.

Saturday 10/1

Getting in our regular morning walks in the desert this week, much cooler at night lately.

Late in the morning we headed up to Marana to the Kohl’s up on Cordero and I-10. Went through Saguaro National Park and took Golden Gate road, ,which is an unpaved, high clearance road across to Picture Rocks Rd. Picked up the sale items at Kohl’s, had lunch at the Cracker Barrel, stopped at Fry’s for groceries, then back home - on paved roads this time.

Nancy wanted to take a swim, so I walked over to the pool with her and sat and relaxed while she did some laps.

Back home and relaxed.

Sunday 10/2

Another beautiful morning for a walk in the desert! High 60’s, blue sky with a few puffy clouds, just pretty. Don’t remember if I mentioned it before, but we were surprised to see the ocotillo covered with green leaves when we got back here. Now in the length of a week the leaves have turned yellow and started dropping. 

Watched the F1 race first thing this morning and pretty much took it easy all day. Nancy did her Spanish lessons, I don’t think she has missed a day since last spring when the classes here at the park ended.

Nancy’s laptop has been acting up, not responding, can’t load websites, etc. Track pad stopped reacting to input today, so we made an appointment for the Apple Genius Bar for Wednesday afternoon. 

Monday 10/3

52 degrees this morning! Great for a nice walk in the desert. We have been noticing that when the teddy bear cholla drop the ends of their branches, blown off or knocked of by animals, if the ends land in soft soil they start putting down roots almost immediately. We try to knock them out of the way when they have landed on the trail and sometimes we have to actually dig them out!

Later we went to BK Tacos for lunch.

Back home my duster cover for the back of the Jeep had arrived, so I removed the soft top and hauled it down to the storage locker; installed the bikini top and the duster over the rear compartment. Looks great! Jeep is now in the configuration I wanted all along. Have to cover it at night now though.

Tuesday 10/4

Morning walk in the desert, beautiful morning. Nancy did laundry and went for a pedicure. Went over to the truck this AM and the pack rats have put back all of the stuff I cleaned out last week! Chewed through another wire on the solar battery charger! Repaired the wires on the solar panel, wrapped the entire length of the wires with electrical tape. Went to blow out the debris in the engine compartment and the truck cranked but would not start! Oh, oh!

Wednesday 10/5

Morning walk in the desert, then I called the Volvo dealer about the truck. They have road guy thankfully. He called and said he could come by this morning, but they are seal coating the roads in Tucson Estates II, so I made an appointment for tomorrow morning.

Nancy’s computer has been acting up so she had an appointment at the Apple Store. We drove into town - in the Jeep with the new top configuration. Very comfortable, finally have a convertible back, except this time it is one with shade! Nancy is a really good sport for putting up with my idiosyncrasies!

Stopped at Total Wine and More to stock up on whiskey, then the Apple store. Lunch at the deli in AJ’s Fine Foods and then back home.

Thursday 10/6

Still nice and cool in the morning and we are enjoying the trails in the desert again.

Met Ramone from Vanguard Truck Center at the storage lot. Turns out the no start was not the fault of the pack rats! The fuel system had lost pressure and bled down. He pumped it up manually and after a lot of cranking the truck fired up and after a couple of tries finally settled down and ran smoothly. He found that the cap on the fuel/water separator was only finger tight and had started leaking air into the system. He fixed that an all is right with the world! Good thing I had the solar charger on, we had to crank it a lot to get it running!

Took the truck over to Tucson Truck Wash and had the engine compartment completely washed, along with the rest of the truck, then filled up at the Pilot truck stop. 

Stopped in the CB shop there buy the truck stop to get a fitting needed for the CB antenna bracket I had planned on buying. Turns out they had the whole MOPAR kit for the spare tire antenna mount! Better than buying on line and a nicer looking chrome bracket.

Brought truck back to Desert Trails. Researching some solar lights to put under the truck and trailer when we take them back to the storage lot!

Monthly meeting of the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society tonight.

Friday 10/6

So in spite of washing things out and moving the truck back to the RV park, this morning there was more debris packed on top of the radiator! Bummer.

On line research shows a depressing picture of preventing pack rat infestations, especially once it has happened. Only solution is to get the rat out and thoroughly clean with a Pine-Sol solution.

We went to Tucson Estaters Hardware and picked up some rat traps and Pine-Sol. Then I took the batteries out, most likely place, and sure enough found a nest - appeared to be unoccupied though. 

Cleaned every place we saw evidence of infestation with Pine-Sol and then hosed it all off. In the process I noticed that the fuel/water separator has a small leak! Double bummer! Probably the source of the engine losing prime while sitting in storage.

So I put the batteries in and then buttoned things up and we took the truck over to Vanguard Truck Center. Stopped at BK Tacos for lunch on the way home.

Saturday 10/7

Morning walk in the desert, then we watched F1 qualifying. Ran into town to the grocery store late in the afternoon. Otherwise a quiet day at home.

Sunday 10/8

After our walk we watched the first half of the F1 race. Mid-morning we headed into town for a hockey game - yes, hockey in Tucson! Stopped at Augustin Kitchen for brunch, early enough to browse the shops there for a few minutes. Then we went on over to the Tucson Convention Center.

Our new AHL hockey team, the Tucson Road Runners, had an open scrimmage with the parent team, the Arizona Coyotes. Red and White game with mixed squads form both teams. A fun afternoon and we got a chance to check out the area and decided where we want to sit. Won't buy season tickets this year, but plan on going to a number of the games. The home games start at the end of the month.

Monday 10/9

Quick walk in the morning in order to get back in time to listen to Diane Ream review the debate on Sirius NPR.

Temps headed toward mid-90s today so we decided to head up to Mt Lemon where the high was supposed to be 65 degrees! We had thought about going up to Oracle and taking the “back road to Mt Lemon”, a four wheel drive route up the back side of the mountain. That would involve driving all the way up to Oracle and then 20 plus miles of dirt road before starting the climb up to Summerhaven. We decided to just go up the Catalina Highway and then down the back road for a ways before doubling back.

On the way we “just happened” to drive by Beyond Bread, so of course we stopped for lunch!

Delightful drive up to Summerhaven, which is over 8,000 feet. As predicted it was 66 degrees up there. We turned into the four wheel drive road and went about a mile down. It was pretty rough and, because it was in the pine forest, not very scenic. The Arizona Off Road Trail Guide has said that going down Catalina Highway is more scenic than the climb up the back. So after a mile we wimped out and turned around. 

Pretty drive on a nice day anyway. Made a couple of grocery stops on the way home.

Tuesday 10/11

Athletes are us! A two mile walk in the desert first thing this morning, then after breakfast we loaded the bikes on the Jeep and went over to Tucson Estates and road around the neighborhood. Stopped in at the house, first layer of stucco almost complete, drywall taping done and they are starting the overlay with plaster.

Back at Desert Trails we went for a swim - well, Nancy swam, I walked around in the shallow end up to my waist, the water was COLD! They’re not heating the pool yet and the nights are in the low 60’s, so …

Puttered around the trailer in the afternoon.

Wednesday 10/12

Blackhawks open the season tonight! Yeah! Looks like eight rookies on the opening night roster!

Nice walk in the desert, about 60 degrees this morning.

We decided to go down to the Farmers Market in Green Valley this AM. Had a choice of taking the smart and going down I-19 as usual, usually not a real relaxing trip, high speed, lots of traffic and often a good crosswind. Instead we decided to take the Jeep and go down Mission Rd., past Mission San Xavier Del Bac and the open pit mines along the way. Much more relaxing drive, though it took a bit longer.

Unfortunately the lady who sells the skin cream Nancy likes was not there today and the salmon guy we like has not started his season yet. Did pick up a tub of shea butter and a couple small items.

Back to Tucson and a stop at BK Tacos for lunch, Bed Bath & Beyond, and then Walmart for prescriptions and a Prevnar (Pneumonia) shot for each of us. 

Back home mid-afternoon. Hockey game at 5 PM.

Thursday 8/13

Nice walk in the desert this morning. Temps have been right around 60 at dawn this week, beautiful blue sky, really nice for early morning walks. Into the low 90’s every day, but not uncomfortably hot. Speaking of heat, saw a car the other day with two bumper stickers. One said “I’m With Her!” the other said “It’s a Dry Hate!”

Not much happening in the morning, we like to listen to Diane Rehm in the morning and she starts at 7. We turn on the Sirius radio and pause it so we can listen when we get back from our walk.

Late in the morning we decided to go into Tucson to see if we can purchase Roadrunner tickets at the box office at the Tucson Convention Center. Turns out we can and we save $12 on two tickets compared to the TicketMaster rip-off on line!

As long as we were in town we went to Beyond Bread for lunch (and dinner!).

The bikini top on the Jeep has been flapping and snapping at any speed over 40, a bit annoying, but I was more concerned with it ripping. Found a way to hook a light bungie cord from the center rear to the overhead sound bar. That helped but we found that some of the snapping was actually the center of the top slapping against the sound bar over our heads! A small rolled up towel solved that! So now the bikini is silent, at least up to 60 MPH.

Friday 10/14

Cool nights with AC off every night now. Usually right around 60 at dawn. Temps have been getting up around 90 during the day. Regular morning walk.Quick run over to Tucson Estates Hardware, then back home.

Saturday 10/15

After our morning walk we pretty much took it easy all day. Mid-afternoon we ran into town to pick up a few groceries and brats for dinner on the grill.

Sunday 10/16

Early morning walk in the desert, then relaxing watching Sunday AM shows. We planned on going over to the Rilito Farmer Market, then we realized that it is only open until noon! Quick scramble to get ready and we headed over about 10 AM.

Ran into Pericles, the owner of Desert Trails at the market. Happy to see White Cane there with frozen salmon. The had a sign-up for halibut and king carb for later in the season, which Nancy is looking forward to!

Monday 10/17

Headed over to Ten Star Drive first thing in the morning. We wanted to watch where the rising sun hit our great room windows. As we expected the early morning sun hits the East window in the great room until it gets high enough for the front porch to shade it.

The we hiked into the desert there. The trail near our mailbox connects to the Tucson Estates Trail in Tucson Mountain Park and then the Yetman Trail that runs up to Gates Pass. Walked a half mile in and then back. Mild uphill with amazing views out over the Avra Valley. Better views than we get on the trails by Desert Trails. Lots of areas to explore here.

Later in the morning we took a ride up to The Desert Museum and took a short walk around. Since we were going by on the way home we stopped at Coyote Pause for lunch.  

Quiet afternoon at home, Nancy and Joan are doing a lot of research for our trio to Europe next summer.

Tuesday 10/18

Another in a string of beautiful mornings in the desert. Nancy did some laundry in the morning. An early lunch, over to the house to measure windows, then went to the association board meeting in the afternoon. After the meeting we drove around the neighborhood looking at walls and landscaping - our next big project after the house is done!

Wednesday 10/19

Out in the desert just before sunrise, another really pretty morning. Weather forecast for the next seven days is for highs in the low 90’s and lows in the low 60’s! About 10 degrees above normal for this time of year.

Back home we logged on and prepared to sign up for the APHC cruise to Scotland and Norway next June. Tickets went on sale at 12 Noon Eastern, which was 9 AM for us. Jumped in and got our reservations done. As usual the servers were overloaded and kept throwing an error message on submit. Took close to 20 minutes before we were able to get a confirmation, but we were able to get the cabin class (read price level) that we wanted. Joan also got her’s confirmed about the same time.

Joan and Nancy have been burning up the telephone lines (can you still say that? Or does that brand me as a geezer?) selecting places to stay in Belgium and The Netherlands. We will be flying to Brussels nine days before the cruise departs from Rotterdam.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Back in Tucson After a Long Trip

Wednesday 8/31 Tucson to Chicago

Taxi to airport and flight to Chicago. Joan picked us up at airport in spite of having a bad cold! Stopped to eat and at her house late. 

Thursday 9/1 Tinley Park

At Joan’s, prepping for road trip. Got Jeep loaded up and ready to go in the morning.

Friday 9/2 Burlington, IA

Left Joan's about 9:30. Nancy is being a good sport and agreed to traveling with the door top halves off and rear window out!  Nice drive on two lane roads, light traffic, but it took a bit longer than I had planned. Arrived in Burlington around five. Very nice room in Squirrel's Nest B&B on bluff on North side of town, with great view from 3rd floor room out over the Mississippi. (The pic showing the peaked roofline above the deck railing was our room!)

Here is a pic of Nancy on the balcony outside our room:

Walked downtown, 8/10s of a mile to The Drake for dinner, good pizza. During dinner we searched for a place to stay Saturday. Places I had scoped out as tentative were all booked! Not only Labor Day weekend, but we neglected to account for the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island which has places booked all around Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska. Nancy decided to look at AirBnB and found a place in Omaha, a bit out of our way, but doable. 

During night a down-bound river tow lit up our room with it's searchlight reflecting off the water!

Saturday 9/3 Omaha, NE

Lovely breakfast and on the road just after nine. Dropped down to IA Rt 2 and headed West on the two lane highway. Stopped in Centerville for lunch at The Garage on the town square. Excellent burger and soup. 

When we made the reservation in Omaha I estimated we would arrive about 5 PM, we pulled into our hosts driveway at 4:56! 

Dinner at Enzo's Italian, recommended by our host, quite good. Back at the AirBnB (Private Room Bath Near Airport - Downtown) we sat in our private sitting room and used his excellent WiFi to plan for the rest of the week. We had thought about staying at The Springs Resort and Spa in Pagosa Springs, but the only rooms available were all between $300 and $700 a night! So we turned to AirBnB again and made reservations for the rest of the week. 

Planning on two days in Pagosa Springs with a one day pass to the springs and spa, a lot cheaper! Then three days in Lake City for our Jeep tours, and then up to Denver for a few days with the peeps. 

Sunday 9/4 McCook, NE

Breakfast at Harold's Koffe House, again recommended by our host, excellent! Then on the road a little after 9. Good thing we closed up the Jeep last evening as it rained during the night. Cool and overcast this morning so we stayed closed up and jumped on I-80 towards Lincoln. Decided to continue on to Hastings where we could catch US 34, but about half way there the traffic had gotten crazy, probably folks going to the state fair, so we got off at York. Stopped at WalMart to get bathing suits for the hot springs, then dropped south and headed West on 34. No traffic and dead straight for miles and miles. Stopped at a Wendy's in Hastings for lunch and then on to McCook. Arrived a bit after 3 at the Cobblestone Inn. Just a regular medium priced hotel, but new and very nice. In the high 60's and overcast most of the day, but it was sunny and 89 by the time we got to McCook. 

Dinner at A Taste of Texas bar-b-que. good ribs, but the sauce was nothing to write home about, pretty bland.  

We are feeling a bit disoriented these days, and with good reason. In the last 22 days we have slept in a different place on 20 of those nights! On the 14 day cruise the ship was moving all but one of those nights. We have traveled over 8,500 miles in that time on planes, ships, boats, trains, and cars! And we are still on the road!

Monday 9/5 Coolidge, KS

Took our time getting going, easy trip today and we gain a hour going into the Mountain Time Zone. Flat and straight roads across Western Nebraska and 154 miles South in Kansas to Coolidge. Stopped at a Wendy's in Goodland, KS for lunch and ran into a WalMart. I got to thinking that if we are to do some 4WD only roads in Colorado we should have something more than just cell phones to communicate with. Thought I might grab a hand held CB, but the only one they had was a Cobra Compact. I bought that one as it is exactly what I had planned on installing in the Jeep in the future. Also got a magnetic antenna in case we need to use the CB on this trip. When I actually install it in the Jeep I will mount an antenna on the spare tire bracket.

Trail City B&B in Coolidge, KS is a cute place with four rooms, a delightful hostess and very comfortable. We are the only guests tonight so we have the place to ourselves, hostess lives across the street. 

The building is a former saloon/whorehouse that was moved from Trail City 2 miles to the West of Coolidge. Trail City was a wide open cow town in "no man's land”, a three mile wide inadvertent gap that was left when the border between Kansas and Colorado was drawn. In the late 19th century Kansas passed a law preventing Texas cattle from entering the state due to disease issues. Herds coming North from Texas then used the “no man’s land” for cattle drives. Trail City was located where the cattle trail crossed the Nebraska river, as well as the railroad, and it was the first place on the trail where the cowboys drew their pay. It was also known as "the hell hole of Kansas”.

Coolidge is the "family town" where the owners of the bars in Trail City lived. According to a local history, some cow hands signed onto the drives just to experience Trail City!

No place for dinner in Coolidge, Monday evening and the only restaurant in town is only open Wednesday through Sunday! Plus is is Labor Day! We doubled back to Syracuse, 14 miles, where the only places open were Mexican and bar-b-que. Got a couple of burgers to go at Porky’s Parlor. Would not recommend this place. Stopped and bought a cold beer and took it all back to Trail City B&B. After eating I cleaned most of the bugs off the front of the Jeep. We killed A LOT of grasshoppers and other bugs the last couple of days!

Tuesday 9/6 Pagosa Springs, CO

Wonderful breakfast at Trail City B&B! Homemade French toast on homemade bread with fruit and bacon - delicious! Had to clean off the Jeep again in the AM, rain during the night had a lot of dirt in it. 

Hit the road at 9 AM - just seems to be the time we always get going. Just down the road a few miles into Colorado we saw the sign for the National Monument at Camp Amache, the Japanese interment camp at Grenada, CO. Interesting signage and photos in an open air setting at location of camp that housed over 7,000 American citizens during WW II, a serious stain on our country's history of civil liberties!

Stopped at 7th Street Deli in Walsenburg, CO for an excellent lunch, thanks again Yelp! We used Yelp a lot on this trip to find eateries and it worked well. Then on to Pagosa Springs. The AirBnB "Cozy Downtown Getaway" is most definitely "cozy!" Small room with bath and barely room for luggage. Off street parking though and it is a short walk from the main drag, albeit up a pretty steep hill with no sidewalks! Oh well, it's quiet with a comfy bed and a good location. No A/C, but it is in the mountains and already quite cool at night. 

Checked out Tequila's Mexican for dinner, but did not like the menu. Ended up at The Lost Cajun. Pretty good catfish, huge portion, and Nancy really liked the crawfish etouffee.

After dinner we walked over to The Springs Resort to check things, then back to our room. 

Wednesday 9/7 Pogosa Springs

Two nights in the same place, a rare treat, even if it is in a tiny room! The room is actually well appointed and fairly comfortable. Lack of chairs is the only complaint.

Headed into town for breakfast and there was a small doe standing in the street and a fawn in the bushes. Last evening we saw a fawn no bigger than a dog crossing the main drag. Breakfast at Pagosa Bakery and then off to The Springs Resort for a day in the hot springs. 

Quite a nice place, not crowded at all, 25 different sized and shaped pools with temps ranging from 98 to 114 (!) we stuck to the ones right around 100 degrees. 

Very relaxing morning, good conversation with some of the people in the pools. Took a break and went to Rif-Raf Brewery for lunch. Walked down the street to the San Juan Forest ranger station and picked up a good map of the Alpine Loop off road trails. 

Spent most of the afternoon back at the hot springs, then stopped in Tequila's Grille for a drink. No friendlier today than they were yesterday! Only went there because they have a balcony overlooking the springs across the river. They were reluctant about seating us on the balcony for just a drink, hostess seems to be in pre-Labor Day mode still! Place was almost empty, no more than a half dozen tables filled.

Back at our room we spent some time planning our route for the next three days. Original thought was to take our time getting to Lake City tomorrow, check the place out and do part of the Alpine Loop on Friday. Then we decided we wanted to see Silverton and Ouray as well. 

Ouray is only 20 miles from Lake City as the crow flies, 136 miles by road!!! After some back and forth we decided to get going early in the morning and go to Silverton. From there we will take the Alpine Loop route over Engineers Pass into Lake City. Friday we can do the other part of the Loop and then go to Ouray by road on Saturday. The connection to Ourary from the Alpine Loop is rated "difficult," more than we want to tackle at this point in our off road career! The other routes are all rated "moderate" or "easy."

Discovered today that there is a whole other section of the Springs to the West, the "upper" town! Lots of eateries there. A lady at the hot springs told Nancy that Wolfe Brewing Co. had good pizza, so we went out there. She was right, excellent pizza and good beer!

Thursday 9/8 Silverton to Lake City via Engineers Pass

Walked down the hill to The Rose for breakfast and hit the road at 8:50. Drive to Durango was pretty but nothing to write home about. The drive from there to Silverton however, was fantastic! Steady climb most of the way and spectacular views. 

Arrived in Silverton about 11:30, drove through Main Street to check it out. Tiny little town, lots of ATVs (or as they are called here OHV, off highway vehicle) and Jeep Wranglers. When we pulled into the only gas station there were four other Wranglers at the pumps! Gassed up, stopped at small grocery for sandwiches, and headed out onto the Alpine Loop. 14 miles of dirt road before the actual trail and I had made the mistake of taking out the back window along with the door windows! Jeep full of dust! Oops! Stopped and put the window back in. Fortunately the vinyl window bag caught most of the dust in the back. 

Stopped at Animas Forks to eat our lunch, you could see four or five Jeeps at a time spread out across the mountain side to the East slowly climbing up the switchbacks.

Beautiful trip over Engineers Pass, mostly Wranglers with a good number of ATVs and a few bikes. Amazing mountain views all the way up to the top of the pass, 12,800 feet! 

60 degrees with a cold wind up there. A lot of narrow roads with switchbacks and steep drop offs, at one point climbing up a rock on a switchback there was nothing but sky in front of the hood!  Speaking of sky, it was an absolutely gorgeous day! Talk about lucky! Mid 60's and bright sunshine, not a cloud in the sky. 

Looking back on the road we just traveled. Just look at that sky!

Went through an area where the were several thousand sheep grazing, had to wait while some crossed the road. Also saw a couple of sheep dogs with the sheep. Ruins of mines and mining towns all along the way. Coming down the East side of he pass was not as steep,and rocky as the West side, glad we went in this direction. Most of the East side was through pine forest and along a river. Part of it it through a pretty spectacular canyon with towering cliffs on both sides. 

Finally made it through to Lake City, 4 hours and 8 minutes from Silverton, 35.3 miles! Four wheel drive low most of the way across and the Jeep got 11 MPG. Averaged 8.6 MPH. 

Had a bit of difficulty finding the AirBnB (Charming Studio in Heart of Town), Google Maps placed the address in the wrong place, it is actually on North Gunnison Ave, even though the address is South.

Checked out a couple of places to eat, first choice turned out to be closed so we ended up at Packer Saloon and Cannibal Grille. Not named for the football team, but after the leader of a small group who got caught in the valley North of here by a winter storm. He was convicted of cannibalism, notorious story in Colorado! Broncos playing football so we had to sit outside, but it was a nice evening and pretty good food. 

Rustic would be a good description of our accommodations, but they have done a lot to fix the little place up and make it comfortable considering what they started with. Several comfortable chairs and Dish Network on TV.

Friday 9/9 Lake City

39 degrees this morning! Of course we are over 8,000 feet in the mountains, but still! Of course all we packed were warm weather clothes and two light sweaters! Joan saved us again though when she insisted that we take a couple of zip up hoodies from her house. 

Walked a block over to the main drag and had breakfast at San Juan Coffee Company. Really good, fresh baked blueberry muffins!

We both wanted to see Ouray, but although it is less than 20 miles from Lake City there are only two routes: a four hour trip back across Engineer Pass and then a "difficult" rated 4 WD section into Ouray; or 136 miles by road around through Montrose! A bit over 2-1/2 hours, which is the way we went. 

Spectacular scenery going North out of Lake City through the canyon of the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River. Also very pretty between Montrose and Ouray. Downtown Ouray is very pretty with mountains all around. Had lunch at Roast and Toast, looking for something different than the same old beer and burgers. OK lunch but nothing great. Back to Lake City by a little after five. 

Back in Lake City we went to The Climb for an excellent dinner. When the owner brought our whiskey neat with a side glass of ice we knew we were in the right place! An outstanding meal as well. A bit amazing to find this caliber place in a tiny town like Lake City.

Saturday 9/10 Lake City

Drove to Lake City Bakery, a little bakery just on the North edge of town. Just like yesterday at San Juan Coffee, we were served immediately when we walked and there were at least a half dozen people on line, actually outside the tiny shop, behind us! Timing is everything!

Mid-morning we drove about 15 miles North of town to a Forest Service road we had spotted yesterday. Looking at the DeLorme Gazetteer we could see that he road actually went all the way through to US 50 West of the Blue Lake Reservoir. We saw a sign for the "Lake City cutoff" yesterday, but nothing showed on the state highway map. Turned out to be a fairly rough one lane dirt road. Sign at the start said 27 miles to US 50! Also 11 miles to Blue Creek campground.

We drove 6 miles up the road to the turnoff to the campground, that took 49 minutes. Road climbed steeply for the entire 6 miles. Spectacular views of the mountains and valley all the way up and near the top we were driving through a dense aspen forest. Very pretty all the way along.  

On the way back into town we decided to try Bruno's Restaurant & Grille for lunch. Good choice! Excellent burger and filet of sole. French chef and his wife run the place, very friendly and she is a pastry chef. Even though it was a big lunch we glanced at the desert menu and could not resist the dark chocolate mousse cake! Which turned out to be huge! Good thing we split it! If you are counting this makes two 5 star restaurants in Lake City! Who knew?

Back in town we walked over to a craft fair being held in the city park. Some really nice stuff and we bought three glazed pottery solar powered luminaries for the new house. Visited the very nice Hinsdale County Museum. Lots of interesting displays and exhibits including a restored Denver & Rio Grand RR caboose, last remaining piece of rolling stock from the narrow gauge RR. Nancy up in the brakeman's cupola:

Hopped back in the Jeep and took a short drive South of town and did a loop around Lake San Cristobal, the second largest natural lake in the state. Once again really spectacular scenery! This little mountain town is in a beautiful setting, with mountains all around. Not as dramatic as. Ouray, but just as pretty. 

Coming back into town we stopped at at Elkhorn Liquors and picked up a bottle of wine, little store with a nice selection. Then we stopped at High Country Market and bought sandwiches and a salad for dinner back in our room. 

Sunday 9/11 Denver. 

On the road just before nine. Uneventful trip into Denver, beautiful scenery all the way up over Monarch Pass. Traffic picked up as we approached Denver. Stopped at an IHOP on the outskirts for lunch and got to Emily's house about 2 PM. Picked up the keys to Connie's, Connie and Laurie not home from their trip to Oregon. Nancy did laundry while I washed the Jeep, dusty and dirty from our off road adventures. Ordered a pizza so it would be here when C & L got home 

Monday 9/12 Denver

Quiet morning, Nancy and Laurie went to pick up the twins from nursery school at Noon, I picked up some lunch and we spent the afternoon at the Britt's. Cooled of to the 70's today, was 90 when we got here yesterday. We had just perfect weather all of the time that we were in the San Juan mountains last week. Perfectly clear skies and temps in the 60's and 70's all the time we were there. 

Kids are really growing, Miles has become a little boy and you can carry on a brief conversation with Hillary and Oliver. The boys spent quite a bit of time crawling all over the Jeep. 

Back to C & L's for dinner and relaxed. 

Tuesday 9/13 Denver

Nice to just relax in a comfortable place with family, does seem a little odd not to be going back to our trailer in Cherry Creek every night. It will be good to get home next week though, getting a bit tired of living out of a suitcase!

Saturday 9/17 Ojo Caliente, NM

 After a nice, quiet week with the family we hit the road again. Left Connie and Laurie’s a little after Nine, fair amount of traffic getting out of Denver and into the mountains. At the foot of Kenosha Pass there was a sign saying "Stopped traffic at top of pass". No idea what that was about, but at the top there must have been 150 or more cars parked at the trailhead! Sure enough, we came to a complete stop while the folks in front of us looked for places to park!

Traffic slowly dissipated as we got further south, by the time we turned onto Colorado 17 through the San Luis valley we were all alone. Stopped in Alamosa for lunch and arrived in Ojo Caliente, NM about 3:30. Our room at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs and Spa is in the"old hotel", small, no shower or TV (you shower in the bath house in the hot springs area). Not much for $189, but if you factor in two days access to the hot springs and spa it is not too pricy. Spent a couple of hours soaking in various hot spring pools, soda, Lithia, iron, arsenic (!), etc.  Nancy took a mud bath while I just soaked.

Not as fancy as The Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs, but it feels more authentic. A lot older as well. Once again a beautiful sunny day, in the mid-70's by the time we got here. 

Had a drink at the bar just down the hall from our room, beer and wine only, then an outstanding dinner in the Artesian Restaurant. Sat outside by the fire ring for a while, checked out the gift shop and then to bed

Sunday 9/18 Santa Fe

Up fairly early and breakfast in restaurant, then over to the hot springs and soaked in various pools for a couple of hours. No crowds at all! Late in the morning Nancy had a facial, I loaded the car and sat and relaxed on the veranda of the hotel. Once again just a spectacular day! Low 50's this AM, but warming up quickly, 75 degrees by Noon and a brilliant blue sky with nary a cloud!

Went up to Taos, across the Rio Grand gorge bridge, a pretty spectacular canyon. Stopped at the Taos Diner on the way in to town for lunch. Good choice! Old fashioned diner with friendly, fast service and good food. Did not have one, but the burgers looked especially good. 

We were not impressed with Taos, maybe we missed the best part, but we just drove straight through. A lot of stop and go traffic. Took the "High Road to Taos" scenic route South to Santa Fe. Truly a "high road" with spectacular views most of the way along.

Got to The AirBnB (Eastside Downtown Suite) right at 4PM. Very nice and right in town, walking distance to the main square. Called Lilia, our friend from Desert Trails. Lilia came and met us, we stopped at La Posada, right around the corner from our room. Then walked through the main square to the Blue Corn Cafe for a very good meal. 

Or AirBnB is very nice and right in town. 

Monday 9/19 Silver City, NM

Breakfast in our room since our hostess supplied the fixings, hit the road a little after 9:30. South on state highways across both I-25 and I-40 to US 60 West. Good road, pretty day with high clouds and very light traffic. Had to jump on I-25 for 90 miles as here was no other alternative. Headed West on NM 152 to Silver City. Beautiful drive with spectacular scenery and a very twisty road up over the mountains through Gila National Forest. Beautiful canyons and vistas where you can see forever!

Had dinner at Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House in Pinos Altos, 15 miles North of Silver City, right on the Continental Divide at 7,000 feet! Another great find courtesy of Yelp!  From the outside it looks almost abandoned, inside it is lovely with the best service I have see in years, a diverse menu and excellent food. We over indulged, big time! What the hey, our latest dinner on the road for this trip.

Staying at the EconoLodge in Silver City. 

Tuesday 9/20 Tucson (yeah!)

On the road at 9 AM, drove through downtown Silver City just to look. Then headed West toward AZ. Into Gila National Forest again and then Apache National Forest. Absolutely incredible scenery once again, almost into Safford where we ran north in a valley to Globe and then turned south towards Tucson. Into town about 2:30, of course traffic got thick as soon as we hit Oro Valley. Cut over to La Encantada, Nancy found there was a Queen Creek Olive Oil store there. We had planned to swing North to Apache Junction to stop at Queen Creek, stopping here saved us about three hours on the road!

Stopped at Beyond Bread mid-afternoon and had lunch, taking home half for dinner. Stopped and checked out the house, dry wall going in, everything looks great! Pleased to see the interior walls are all insulated. Everything in good shape when we got back to Desert Trails

Our final total for the trips since August 14th ... just over 11,000 miles on planes, a ship, a train, and including the last 3,200 miles in the Jeep!

Wednesday 9/21 Tucson

Took it easy in the AM, then ran in to BK Tacos for lunch and a stop at the grocery store. Back home I washed the Jeep once the shadows lengthened, then we cooked brats on the grille for dinner. Dusk comes early here this time of year, Arizona stays on Standard time, so we are on the same time as California and it starts to get dark around 6:30. Cover I ordered for Jeep showed up today, bought an inexpensive one as I just want to protect the it from dust and sun until we have a garage later in the winter.

Thursday 9/22 Tucson

In the morning I took some stuff to the storage locker, swung by the truck to get a few things. Measured the bike rack on the Jeep to determine the length of extension needed to clear the spare tire. Took the back seat out of the Jeep (a bit of a struggle) and put it in storage. 

We headed into town late the morning and had lunch at Cafe Roma. Also stocked up on some frozen lasagna and various kinds of ravioli. After lunch we drove up to Tucson Trailer on Miracle Mile to order the extension, then stopped at Albertson’s to get pizza for Sunday.

Stopped by the house and picked up mail. The LED lights I ordered for the Jeep arrived.

Friday 9/23 Tucson

After Breakfast I went over to the storage lot to get tools out of the truck. Discovered the solar charger was not working. Batteries still up and investigation showed that a critter (mouse?) had chewed off the connection from the solar controller to the batteries! No sign of any other damage or any infestation thankfully. Fixed that and headed home.

Spent the rest of the morning installing LED spot lights from Inspired Engineering in place of the OEM fog lights on the Jeep. No need for fog lights in Tucson and it seems like a very simple way to install brighter lights without cluttering up the outside of the Jeep. We’ll see how they look tonight!

Lights look really good here in the park, really bright! Might need to aim them a bit higher (not an easy proposition), but I will wait and see how they work out in the current configuration.