Monday, March 28, 2011

Williamsburg and Cold Weather

Thursday 3/24

Took Nancy into town to a laundromat this morning and Mr Thompson called about 10:45 and said he had the trailer parts in hand and was on his way to the campground. They arrived about 11:45 and went right to work. Fortunately our BigFoot leveling system allows me to lift the rig into the air with all 8 tires off the ground.

They finished the repair work around 2:30 and we loaded up and headed for Williamsburg. Arrived at American Heritage RV Park about 5:45. Very nice destination campground with good WiFi. Lots of trees so our satellite dish is struggling to get all of the HD stations, but we can get them all in non-HD, the campground has a good cable hook-up, and our bat wing antenna is picking up something like 40 over-the -air stations!. Of course I managed to screw up and missed the F1 practice Thursday night because I programmed Speed HD on the satellite box! Oh well, win some lose some.

Dinner here at home Thursday evening.

Friday 3/25

Up early Friday morning and headed over to Colonial Williamsburg. Spent the entire day there. I won’t go into a lot of detail about what we saw, toured a number of buildings and businesses, suffice to say we’re glad we bought a two day pass as we will be back on Saturday!

Had lunch in the Trellis Restaurant in the shopping area between the historic district and the College of William and Mary. A lot of the places to eat are sandwich shops with outside seating, which would have been fine if it had been a bit warmer, but we wanted to get inside. Turned out well as lunch was excellent and reasonably priced.

Weather has turned a bit nasty, cold for the season. A high of only 50 today, but it was sunny most of the day and the sun was warm. We layered and were very comfortable all day. Sunday is supposed to be the coldest of the weekend with rain and snow flurries!

Dinner tonight at The Whaling Company, a seafood restaurant recommended by the campground owner. Pretty good dinner, but nothing really spectacular.

Saturday 3/26

Up early again, watched the F1 qualifying on tape while we were eating breakfast, then off to Colonial Williamsburg again. Caught an excellent presentation by a Thomas Jefferson re-enactor who did really outstanding job. A half hour speech followed by 20 to 25 minutes of extemporaneous responses to questions from the audience which were as detailed and involved as the original speech - quite an impressive performance.

A bit colder today and cloudier so we did not have the advantage of the warming sun today - we dressed a bit warmer and were very comfortable all day.

Visited several more other shops and houses. Of particular note were the wheel wright, blacksmith, cabinet maker, and weaver. We visited the weaver’s shop both days as they were doing different things: Friday they were explaining spinning cotton and wool, Saturday the dying of fabric, both of which were quite interesting.

Finished up our tour of Colonial Williamsburg about 2 PM and stopped for lunch at our favorite chain restaurant (you figure it out!). Stopped at a small outlet mall and Nancy picked up a pair of shoes at Easy Spirit and I checked out the Black and Decker store, but nothing caught my eye. Quite a number of outlets here, but nothing we were really interested in. Back home and relaxed.

Excellent dinner tonight at The Seafair. A very uniquely decorated restaurant, somewhat of a throwback to a fifties supper club with a nautical theme, leather banquets, nice tablecloths, attentive wait staff. The food was outstanding! Nancy had very nice crab cakes and I had the blackened grouper special. A nice bottle of wine and it was a very enjoyable meal in pleasant surroundings - and cheaper than last night’s dinner with two beers!

Sunday 3/27

Really yucky weather this morning - low 30’s, rain mixed with occasional snow showers. We decided to relax and stay home today. Watched the AM news shows, and the F1 race from Australia on tape. Then we made a quick run out to WalMart for some supplies and watched the Indy car race from St Petersburg and the NASCAR race from California. (Why in the world did they go to Las Vegas, then an off week, then Bristol, TN, then California, and then to Martinsville, VA next week - someone has their head up their butt!)

Along with watching the races we were researching places to stay between Charlottesville, VA (heading there Monday) and Lexington, KY. There is a dearth of convenient campgrounds in West Virginia. Some are not open until April 1st, some are way to far off the highway into the mountains. Finally settled on a stop along the way and a place in Lexington. Pizza at home tonight.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Booker T. & Mr. J.

Wednesday 3/23

On the way across from Roanoke to Appomattox on Monday afternoon we saw signs for the Booker T Washington Birthplace National Monument and Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest. So, making the best of being stranded here in Appomattox, we doubled back this morning and visited Booker T Washington’s birthplace. A very nice, small national monument that was well worth the trip. This was the farm where Mr. Washington was born as a slave and where he lived until he was nine years old. We all know the story of Booker Washington and the Tuskegee Institute, but the one thing that really struck us while watching the short film about his life is that he had tea at Buckingham Palace with Queen Victoria! This man who was born a slave on this small farm in rural Virginia lifted himself up from what could have been a life of crushing poverty to a position in the world where he became a guest of the Queen of England - wow!

Signage in the monument points out that prior to the Civil War half of the slaves in the south lived and worked on farms like this with less than twenty slaves. They also pointed out the fact that owners of these farms were economically devastated by emancipation. The owner of this farm for example owned assets, other than the farm land, totaling $7,100, but his slaves were $5,500 of that total. So more than 75% of his wealth was in slaves which were suddenly declared valueless!

After leaving the Washington Birthplace National Monument we stopped at Fat Daddy’s BBQ in Bedford, VA. Tiny place with a few seats at a counter and tables outside (we ate outside). Pretty good pulled pork.

Then we visited Poplar Forest, Thomas Jeffersons “country villa”. Jefferson’s wife Martha inherited the 4,000 plus acres at Poplar Forest from her father shortly after they were married. The farm there provided the Jeffersons with much needed income and over the next forty years Mr. Jefferson only visited there four times, once in 1781 when the family fled Monticello just hours ahead of the British and took refuge at Poplar Forest for several months. In 1806, two years before leaving the presidency he began construction of his country villa, probably the first octagonal house built in America.

About 75 miles from Monticello as the bird flies, Jefferson visit here several times a year after leaving the presidency and it provided him a retreat from constant visitors to Monticello. Traveling here Jefferson took a round about route of about 93 miles to avoid intervening mountains.

Nancy & I wondered why we had never heard of this house and it turns out that it was only acquired by the Corporation for Jefferson’s Poplar Forest in 1984 and opened to the public in 1986. Restoration of the exterior of the house has been completed and the interior restoration is just beginning, while archaeological research continues on the landscaping and grounds. The $14 admission is a bargain as it includes a docent guided tour of the interior of the house and a hand held, GPS triggered, video guide to the rest of the grounds. Well worth a stop if you are in the area.

Stopped at the Cracker Barrel in Lynchburg on the way back home, just to keep our record intact! Blackhawks game on TV tonight.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Two Weeks Updates Plus and Sitting in Appomattox

Finally landed where we have a good Wi-Fi connection, so here is an update on the last two weeks!

Sunday 3/6

On the road just before 10AM, on schedule as we wanted to be in Yuma just after noon. Unfortunately the compartment door where we keep our sewer hose fell open, dropping the hose on the road. I saw it in the mirror as it came out and we stopped and picked up the pieces. Once we got onto I-8 near Casa Grande we stopped in a rest area and I jury rigged a strap to hold the door closed the rest of the way.

Those two stops cost us close to an hour and as a result we did not get to the fairgrounds in Yuma until about 1:30, where the parking crew put us in the queue of early arrivals - there were about 75 RVs in front of us! We made lunch and relaxed, listened to the end of the NASCAR race on Sirius and finally were escorted to our site about 4:30! We had been concerned about getting a site with electric hook-up since we do not have a generator nor a large battery bank for more than overnight boondocking. Fortunately this was not a problem as we not only have an electrical hook-up, right beside one of the cattle barns, but a water source as well.

We had to do a bit of running around in Yuma in the evening, stopped at Walmart and bought a new sewer hose, and ended up having a late dinner at the Cracker Barrel.

Monday 3/7

Registration and arrival day for the rally. Nothing really going on until late in the afternoon. Wind was gusty all night, but it was warm in the low 60s. Windy as well today.

In the morning I repaired the compartment door. It appears that the clamp that hold the door closed has never made proper contact with the metal bracket inside and was just clamping on a piece of fiberglass trim that finally broke.I was able to shim the bracket so that the clamp now engages it properly.

We were planning on grilling a pork roast that Nancy had had marinating for several days tonight, but since it was supposed to get windier in the afternoon we decided to grille the roast early and just reheat it for dinner. Our little propane grille struggled mightily to cook the pork roast and it got the job done in spite of the wind which blew it out a couple of times.

Tuesday 3/8

There are five seminar sessions each day of the Gypsy Gathering, with five seminars scheduled in each session, so there is a lot to choose from and sometimes we need to decide which subject we really want to hear about. Some of them we can easily skip, such as those on electrical management systems, satellite TV, or tire pressure monitors since we already have each of those.

Today we only went to three of the sessions: Nick Russell’s Gypsy Journal FAQ, just because he is always an interesting speaker; “10 things never to do with your computer”, on computer security; and a very interesting one about SkyMed insurance to cover catastrophic health issues while traveling.

Speaking of computers on line, we are really pleased with the mobile hotspot feature on Nancy’s new Verizon Droid. We turned it on when we left Tucson since we knew there would not be any WiFi here. It is $20 a month, but we can turn it on and off at will. Nancy can also access the web directly through the phone without using the hot spot, but the screen is pretty small. The hot spot works well and is a lot faster than most campground WiFi.

The travel insurance from SkyMed is pretty interesting and we are seriously considering purchasing it. We were away from home for almost ten months last year, and are already in our third month this year. We know we will be traveling most of July and August and all of December, so even without any spontaneous trips we will be traveling at least six months this year. As the doctor often says, “Well, as we get older...”. Having a medical emergency of any kind is a real risk when traveling. SkyMed will cover all the expenses of ambulances and air transportation home from anywhere in the world that is not covered by your own insurance, it does not matter if you are traveling by RV or any other way. In addition they will cover the cost of transporting the RV home if the driver is physically unable to do so for any reason. Looks like a good plan and we will most likely spring for it once Nancy has a chance to look over the actual contract.

We had to run out to the pharmacy at lunchtime so since we were out there we stopped at In N’ Out Burger for lunch - heading east at the end of the week and won’t have many more chances!

Light dinner back here at home and watched the Hawks game on TV. Now that we have left Tucson and access to local TV on Dish we have reset our location back to Chicago so we get the Hawk games again. We are able to pull in all the local network stations here with our rooftop antenna.

Wednesday 3/9

A few more seminars today. We went to a very interesting one on ways to use velcro around the RV (I know, unless you are an Rv’er it sounds kind of silly). He had some interesting and unique products, we ended up going by his booth and purchasing a number of items, primarily a clever set of handles for our 30 and 50 amp plugs that will make it much easier to unplug them without damaging them. Them we went to a seminar on RV comfort and safety, but it turned out to be primarily aimed at motor homes, so we slipped out early.

Since that gave us a bit of time at lunch we decided to take a run out to Chocolate Crafters, a store nearby that had donated to our door prizes. It is 11 miles back east on I-10, but as we went east we saw that the west bound lane was backed up by construction, so we got off at the first exit and came back to the fairgrounds. We’ll give it a try tomorrow.

Doing pretty well on our water consumption. We were a bit concerned about filling our waste tanks to quickly, but we are now more than halfway through our stay and our tanks are less than half full, so we are golden. We checked out the dump station situation here and there are two problems: first it looks like it will be a bit difficult to maneuver into it until some of the attendees leave, and second, I expect there will be a long line! Since we don’t have a weight problem we will probably wait to dump the waste tanks until we get to a regular campground Friday night.

The wind finally died down here, so the dust and grit situation has improved. Hot though, and we only have 20 amp electric so the AC is not an option. Fortunately we are away during the hottest part of the day. The public relations officer from Marine Corp Air Base across the street who spoke to us the other night said Yuma feels a lot like Afghanistan!

Pizza party tonight, sat with an interesting couple who are representatives of Adventure Caravans. They will be doing a presentation on the Great River Road tomorrow. Back home to watch the Blackhawks game after dinner.

Thursday 3/10

A couple of presentations today on smart phones. Picked up on some good tips for Nancy’s new droid. One of them was on good apps and that had a lot of good info.

At lunch time we ran east to Chocolate Crafters and bought a lot of good stuff. Little place where the owner makes all of the chocolate right there, started as a hobby. Some really unique and unusual combinations (chocolate and Key Lime? - Amazing!) Well worth a stop if you are ever in the Yuma area. It is in a small shopping center just south of exit 14 off I-10, around on the south side of the building, enter by the road south of the shopping center.

Final get together this evening and door prizes (we won a fire extinguisher from Mac the Fire Guy). Tomorrow all 310 of us hit the road again. We are heading for the Escapees park in Benson, AZ. on our way east to Bristol. We were concerned that we might need to drop down into TX to avoid bad weather, but so far the weather looks good on I-40 all the way across. We’ll take I-10 across AZ, then angle across NM up to I-40 near Amarillo. Then it will be I-40 all the way past Knoxville.

Friday 3/11

On the road about 9:30 AM. Good weather and light traffic all the way to Benson, AZ. Stopped at the Cracker Barrel in Mariana for lunch. Arrived at SKP Saguaro Park in Benson a little after 3 PM. We have a very nice, specious site with a great view out our back window for $17! A nice, big laundry room as well which Nancy appreciated as she did a weeks worth of laundry after we arrived.

Ran into town and had dinner at Irene’s Cafe.

Saturday 3/12

Longest day of the trip, 415 miles to Roswell, got on the road a little after 9 AM. Again we had perfect weather and no traffic problems. Lunch at the Cracker barrel in Las Cruses, NM and arrived at Trailer Village in Roswell just before 6 PM. Parked and set up by 6:30, into town toPepper’s for a really nice dinner. Stopped here last time through Roswell and liked it a lot.

Sunday 3/13

Good cable TV hook-up here, so we were able to get CBS Sunday Morning, which we watch every week. Oddly enough it started at 7:30 AM here instead of 8, fortunately I had the TV on to check out the terrible pictures form Japan - our hearts go out to those poor people, what a disaster. As a result I caught the beginning and got the VCR going. Taped the show while we were packing up so we can watch it tonight. Got on the road about 9:15, lunch at the Cracker Barrel in Amarillo about 2 PM (gosh, if they ever go out of business we will have to stop traveling!) and arrived in Texola, OK about 5 PM. Double D is a tiny, basic campground right off exit 1 in Oklahoma. Nothing to write home about, but all pull throughs and an easy spot to stop. Passport America rate is $11 for a full hook-up, not bad.

A cold wind north wind has built up during the afternoon, we had a good tail wind for the last two days, averaging 9.7 MPG running between 65 and 70 both days, excellent milage for that speed. Tomorrow may be a different story. About 50 degrees when we got here, supposed to drop to 30 tonight! Filled our fresh water tank and disconnected the water, safer to do it now and easier than doing it in the cold in the morning! I picked up a quick disconnect gadget at the rally, just push it onto a water bib and slide the outside up and it is connected with no leaks - release the catch and it pops off!

Monday 3/14

Well we can say unequivocally that I-40 from Oklahoma City east to the state line absolutely sucks! Through OK City it is rough and twisty due to construction, the rest of the way it is just rough - really lousy concrete.

Other than the rough ride it was an uneventful day, got on road a little late, 10 AM - feeling the effects of losing two hours between the time change and moving into the Central Time Zone.

Staying tonight in a small campground at Wiederkehr Winery in Altus, AR. Only people here. Campground is four miles off the interstate with a pretty good climb up the mountain. Again a small, basic campground, water & elec. only, but the water was still off for the winter. Plenty of fresh water on board though so no sweat. Had a nice dinner in their restaurant. Sitting and watching the Blackhawks game now.

Tuesday 3/15

We planned on staying at Tom Sawyers Mississippi River Park tonight, but checking the campground website last night we found that the campground was “closed due to high water”. So we went on through Memphis at landed at Memphis East Campground 20 miles west of the river.

Although we are obviously big Cracker Barrel fans, we have been a bit disappointed with them this trip. We have been at the CB in Yuma and Mariana, AZ; Las Cruces, NM; Amarillo, TX; Oklahoma City; and North Little Rock, AR. Yuma had some serious issues and each of the others there were little niggling problems - slow service, order not right, computer problem, long line to pay, etc. Tonight we went to the Cracker Barrel near our campground and it took exactly an hour from the time we ordered until we received our meal! The waiter was very apologetic, said there was a back up in the kitchen. We were not the only ones sitting cooling our heels. However, when it came time to pay I asked for the manager and asked “How much of a discount do we get for waiting an hour for our dinner?”. He surprised me by taking the check and saying “We’ll take care of the whole thing.”! I said I expected to pay something and he said “We screw up, we take care of it.”. So Cracker Barrel has redeemed them with just that one manager.

Wednesday 3/16

Today we stopped at the Cracker Barrel in Dickson, TN (our eighth one in six days!) and it was running like a well oiled machine. Waitress was ready to take our order before we even sat down. Had a nice conversation with the manager who came to say hi when the waitress told him we had been doing a CB tour across the US.

Tonight we are at Deer Run RV Resort in Crossville, TN, and it is definitely a destination park. It is almost a mile around a 26 acre lake to our pull through site, very pretty although it is really early in the season and there are only a couple of campers here. Looks like a far number of semi-permanent weekend RVs is some sections. Nancy is cooking here at home tonight, tomorrow we will hit the Cracker Barrel here for breakfast - that will make nine in seven days! Only a 182 miles to go to Bristol tomorrow and then DINNER AT THE RIDGEWOOD! Best barbecue we have ever had.

Thursday 3/17

Left the campground around 8:30 AM, stopped at Cracker Barrel for breakfast (yeah, I know). Easy drive to Bristol, arrived at the campground around 1 PM and got set up, did some grocery shopping and then headed over to the Ridgewood for a mid-afternoon repast. After we both scarfed up a pork platter with fries we gave some thought to splitting a third one! After eating we stopped in Bluff City at a laundromat and did a couple of loads of laundry. Then a relaxing evening at home.

Friday 3/18

Slept late, then did a run to Walmart for a few necessities. Took a walk through the souvenir trailers outside turn four - which were a bit thin on the ground compared to previous years - and then walked through the Family Race Night displays. Lots of long lines for some questionable free samples.

Saturday 3/19

A beautiful day, sunny and high around 70. There was a cool breeze, but it was pretty hot in the sun. As a result it was pretty warm in the stands this afternoon. Fairly interesting Nationwide race, but Kyle Busch dominated the whole afternoon so it was probably a pretty boring race on TV. Lots of action back in the field kept things interesting for those of us in the stands.

Sunday 3/20

A bit overcast today, but that kept the hot sun off of us in the stands, probably the nicest day we have had for a spring race in years. Crowd was really thin, looked more like a Nationwide race from a few years ago than a Cup race. Saturday night the track said they had sold 80k seats (out of 160k!), pretty poor showing. Talking to the guys who have been sitting next to us since 1999 we found that they were thinking about giving up their tickets next year. We have been thinking the same - not as much fun as it used to be. It is also becoming a bit of pain to be in Bristol in mid-March (see the last weeks travels) and again in late August. We will make a decision after the August race when renewals come up.

Monday 3/21

Took our time getting loaded up this morning, letting the early morning RV traffic dissipate a bit. We had thought about heading up to Lexington, KY for a few days, but the weather looked iffy so we decided to go to Williamsburg, VA. Planned a stop at Parkview RV Park in Appomattox. A nice basic park just two mile from Appomattox Court House National Historic Park. Good thing there are thing to do around here since we are stuck until at least Thursday.

Coming across VA from Richmond Monday afternoon I started to notice that I was seeing more of the left side of the trailer in my mirror than I was used to, it seemed to be dog tracking a bit. When we arrived at the campground this afternoon I took a look - tires on right side are about 2" apart, the ones on the left 6" - Oh Oh! Crawled underneath and found the rear spring bushing on the left side of the rear axle was gone completely and the spring eye had shifted off the pin and back about 2"!

On the way into town I was keeping an eye out for a shop and spotting a trucking company with a big repair shop, so we called them to see if they could recommend a repair shop. Turns out they have a road service truck and they came by late this evening to take a look. The bushings are shot on all four springs, so they will order the parts and call us tomorrow.

Tuesday 3/22

Visited the Appomattox Court House National Park this morning. Very pretty and interesting little park. Lots of Civil War history around here. Stopped in town and had lunch, visited the Visitors Center, took a short walk around town, and did some shopping.

The gentleman from Thompson Truck Services called and the parts we need will be in on Thursday morning. They will come out here to the campground to install them. I can lift the whole trailer with the leveling jacks so they will be able to put the bushings in.

I guess we are lucky that it did not actually drop on the road and leave us stranded on the roadside, at least I spotted it before it caused any damage and we are in a nice campground with a lot of interesting things to do around the area. Guess we should count our blessings! We'll look at the weather and decide what direction to take after the repairs - either Williamsburg or heading back for home.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Traveling on our Stomachs & Organ Pipe NM

Saturday 2/26

Dog sitting with Sloopy again today. After Nancy gave her a morning walk we headed out to pick up some eggs from the local Egg Lady. There are a lot of people selling things like fruit, produce, and eggs from their cars along the roads. Then we made a run to the grocery store. Starting to get stocked up for hitting the raod, we will be leaving here next Friday and heading to Yuma for the Gypsy Gathering and then to Tennessee for the Bristol race.

Back home we picked up Sloopy and took her to the dog run and played for a while, then back home and relaxed. Windy and overcast today, really the first mostly cloudy day this year. Supposed to be a cold front coming in tonight with high winds and rain, along with snow in the higher elevations. We’ll see.

Sunday 2/27

Cool and windy today. Lazy day watching the NASCAR race. Planned to watch the Blackhawks on Versus this evening, but it was blacked out in AZ because they were playing Phoenix. Bummer.

Monday 2/28

Another nice hike today. We left right after the Monday AM campground meeting and hiked up the Hugh Norris Trail towards Wasson Peak. It would have been nine miles round trip to go all the way to the peak so we only went to the junction with the Esperanza trail and back. Pretty substantial climb right at the start, a long (looong) series of steps cut into the rock to climb immediately up onto the ridge line. Fairly strenuous but great views out into the valley.

Tuesday 3/1/11

Getting ready to hit the road on Friday, stocking up on groceries for the next two weeks so we don’t have to do too much searching around for grocery stores before we get to Bristol around the 17th.

Drove up to Tucson Mall so Nancy could pick up a couple of things at Macy’s. Stopped at IRE Outdoor store and bought a new compass, then the Verizon store to get some info on setting Nancy’s new phone up as a WiFi hotspot. Should come in handy once we get away from here.

Stopped at Beyond Bread for lunch, this has become our favorite sandwich shop, wish they had them in other places besides Tucson!

Wednesday 3/2

Morning walk in the desert and then we went to Coyote Pause for brunch. Nancy went to a craft class that lasted from 11 AM ‘till 3 PM on making little baskets from pine needles. She came home with a very nice little basket. I worked on getting ready to go - loaded bikes on rack and covered them, checked tire pressures, and few other things.

Nancy hit the bingo game one last time tonight, still did not win anything.

Thursday 3/3

Off to Tucson yoga this AM for our last class until we get home in April. A little last minute grocery shopping and lunch at Todd’s. Then we spent the afternoon putting things away and getting the trailer back in shape for the road, Has not been moved since the first of December, so quite a few things needed to be put back where they belong, not to mention things we have acquired. Loaded the smart onto the Volvo late in the afternoon.

Friday 3/4

Got on the road about 10:30 AM after saying goodbye to our winter friends. Headed west on Ajo Hwy (Rt 86) towards Ajo. Stopped in Sells on the Tohono O’odham indian reservation and had lunch at Desert Rain Cafe. Turned out to be a small restaurant with about a dozen tables and counter service, but the food was unique and outstanding. A great place to stop if you are driving through the area, or even if you are going to Kitt Peak, which is not far away.

Leaving Sells we continued west on 86 to Why, AZ. where we picked up 85 north to Ajo. South of Ajo the approach to the city is totally blocked by huge tailings from a defunct open pit copper mine.

In Ajo we stopped at Shadow Ridge RV Park, a Passport America park - $37 for two nights with our member discount. A very nice park with a friendly and helpful owner. WiFi is Tengo Net, but works fairly well, plus cable TV.

In town we found another great culinary discovery - 100 Estrella. Sign says Best Beer and Best Burgers in Ajo. Well, it was probably the best beer selection, a lot of which were on draft, in the southern half of Arizona and I don’t believe I would be contradicted in saying they are the best burgers in the state! They have a selection of four different kinds of beef, from Kobe Beef to local, open range organic beef - which I chose and it was excellent.

Saturday 3/5

Up early to head to Organ Pipe National Monument. Stopped at 100 Estrellas for breakfast since we were enticed by there menu the evening before. A pretty good breakfast too.

Arrived at Organ Pipe at 10 AM. We had called the day before to see if the guided van tour was available but it was booked soe we planned on a hike and drive through the park on our own. When we s[oke with the ranger at the vistors center though we found that there had been three cancellations for the van tour! (Thank you to those anonymous folks for being polite enough to call and cancel). So we signed up for the 1 PM van tour.

We took a 2.5 mile hike from the visitors venter to the campground and back, The campground is very nice and very roomy, but dry camping only.

The van tour took three hours and covered the 21 miles loop through the mountains east of the visitor center, with a half dozen stops along the way. The ranger guiding the tour was a geologist and provided some fascinating information about the geology of the mountains and desert, as well as the desert plants. Well worth the time.

Back in Ajo we went to Marcela’s Cafe and Bakery for dinner. A very good, small Mexican restaurant.

Tomorrow morning we head to Yuma and the Gypsy Gathering. The only internet access we will have there will be through our Verizon hot spot, so I will not post to the blog until Friday or Saturday when we will be on the road headed back east.