Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 10 - Tucson, AZ

While we hadn't set an alarm clock, we were both awake and up just after 7 AM. It was easy to tell that it will be a bright, sun-shiny day here in Tucson, Arizona.

Linda had a nice bath and John worked on trying to catch up on the travelogue. We went for our complimentary breakfast around 8:15 AM. Not only did they have the perfunctory Choice Hotel waffle maker, they also offered a Denver omelette and some link sausages. It was a nice breakfast and neither one of us went away hungry.

Once back in our room, John worked on the travelogue for Day 02 and Linda gave Fannie Mae a beard and mustache bath. Then, Linda and Fannie Mae went on a short walk so Fannie Mae could do her business.

We left our motel somewhere around 10:17 AM, headed for the Saguaro (pronounced "swar" as in "swarthy" then "oh".... "swar-oh") National Park. This park is divided into two districts. There is an East District and a West District. The city of Tucson sits in the middle between the two districts. Our adventure today would take us to the East District, which is only about 9 miles from our motel (Pay attention if you are playing our Mileage Madness Game).

On our way to the park, John noticed something neither of us had seen in a very long time. There were speed limit signs posted along the way with different speed limits for day driving and night driving. A photo of one of the signs is included in today's photo gallery.

We arrived at the park and used John's National Park Senior Pass to enter the Saguaro National Park. We figure that pass is probably the best $10 we've ever spent!

Since we brought Fannie Mae with us, we couldn't plan on doing much hiking and leaving her in the car. That was just fine with John who's a bit out of shape to be an avid hiker (especially at altitudes above 300'). There is an 8 mile long loop drive through the park with many outlook points where you can pull off the road, view the scenery and take photographs. The loop drive is a one-way drive through the park. So we were able to stop pretty much anywhere we wanted to on the road and take photos. There was very little traffic except for an occasional car or bicycle. There is a dirt road about 2 miles long off of the main loop drive and goes to a picnic area with restroom facilities. Of course, we had to explore that road.

It took about 2 or 2-1/2 hours to complete our loop drive through the park. We then stopped at the Visitors Center to get our National Park Passport Book stamped and for Linda to get a lapel pin for the Saguaro National Park. Did we mention they also have restroom facilities at the Visitor Center?

On the way back to our motel we stopped at a Jamba Juice and both got a cold, refreshing drink. The temperature at that time, which was about 1:45 PM was over 90° here in Tucson.

We got back to our motel about 2:00 p.m. and had a bit of a snack so we would be ready to go out for a nice Mexican dinner this evening. Spent most of the afternoon working on travelogues for earlier days. Trying to catch up.

Just after 6:00 PM we went to dinner at La Parrilla Suiza, a nice Mexican restaurant recommended to us by an employee at the Comfort Inn. Linda had a vegetarian burrito and John had a shredded beef chimichanga. Both were way too much food and we each took half of our entree and put it in the cooler to take with us tomorrow. Our room will have a microwave....so, dinner is served.

Spent the rest of the evening on finishing up Day 03 so we can get it posted tonight and send the notification email. Then it was time to pack up the computers, make sure the camera batteries are all charged and get a good night's rest. It's only about 4-1/2 hours to El Centro and we just made reservations at the Rodeway Inn there after we got back from dinner.

To view today's photo gallery just click here.

Here is a short video:
A Few Seconds on the Saguaro National Park Loop Road

See you tomorrow!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 09 - Mayhill, NM - Tucson, AZ

Here it is Monday, May 30, the day we are to leave Kathy and Vernon's home in Robin Hood Park near Mayhill, New Mexico. Our destination for today is Tucson, Arizona.

Since we had loaded most of our things into Wilma (our Honda Odyssey) the evening before, we didn't have to get up too early. We set the alarm for 6:30 AM. However, both of us woke up prior to the alarm going off (it's a senior thing). After a nice breakfast of yummy oatmeal and toast, we loaded up the rest of our belongings and set off for Tucson. We pulled out of Vernon and Kathy's driveway at about 7:25 AM.

We needed to fill up with gas fairly soon as Wilma's tank was getting pretty low. We had wanted to go all the way to Alamogordo before filling up as gas would be cheaper. But we did not want to take a chance of running out of gas. So we filled up in Cloudcroft, New Mexico. Sure enough gas was $.10 per gallon higher in Cloudcroft than it was in Alamogordo. Oh, well.

On the way to Alamogordo we stopped alongside the road and took some photographs of the White Sands. John had hallucinated that he saw a Starbucks in Alamogordo so we drove through town on the business route. But alas, there was no Starbucks to be seen. Next stop was Las Cruces, New Mexico where there was a Starbucks. Between Alamogordo and Las Cruces. We noticed that even on the "backwoods" highways, New Mexico provides Rest Areas! There were several of them and they each consisted of a gravel parking area and two porta-potties. Seriously!

John used the Wi-Fi at Starbucks in Las Cruces to find a motel for this evening. As we headed west on Interstate 10, we stopped at Butterfield Stage which is still in New Mexico. In New Mexico you can buy some nice fireworks.

A bit further west on Interstate 10 we came Lordsburg. Here we stopped at McDonald's and got some lunch. We ate our lunch in the car under the shade of a tree. It was just too hot to leave Fannie in the car while we went inside. While stopped for lunch Linda called the Comfort Inn & Suites in Tucson that John had identified on the Internet earlier in the day. She made reservations for us.

While we were in Lordsburg we drove south to find the Shakespeare Ghost Town Linda had noticed in her road atlas. This was about 4 or 5 miles south of Lordsburg. We pulled up to the entrance of the Shakespeare Ghost Town only to find that you had to be a prearranged tour in order to visit the Shakespeare Ghost Town. It seems that they should have put that information on one of the earlier signs we saw about 5 miles or so back up the road.

We arrived at our motel at just about 3:00 PM in the afternoon. Our room in Tucson is really nice. It is a corner suite and has its own fenced in patio. The patio is a gravel area and Fannie can go there to do her business.
After unloading most of our belongings. We set up the computers and finally were able to reconnect to cyberspace. We found an IHOP not too far away and went there for dinner about 6:00 PM. Both of us decided we would have BFD (breakfast for dinner). Our meals were both tasty and filling.
After stopping by a Walgreen's for Linda to get some drugs, we got back to the motel about 8:00 PM and unloaded the rest of the things we needed for our stay.

Tomorrow we will be going to the Saguaro National Park and maybe some other interesting places in or around Tucson.

For today's photo gallery click here.

Shakespeare Ghost Town a Road to Disappointment

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 08 - Mayhill, NM

On Sunday, May 29 which was the actual day of our anniversary, we were still in Mayhill, New Mexico visiting with Kathy and Vernon. For breakfast we had cereal and toast and homemade blueberry jam from Kathy's daughter Dana, who lives in Arkansas.

While Vernon and Kathy and Linda went to Sunday school and church, John volunteered to guard the house and dog sit Fannie Mae and Gizzzmo. Kathy and Vernon have quickly gotten involved in their new church home. Vernon was the Sunday school teacher for our class and the lesson of the day was about forgiveness, something everybody needs to think about at times. Kathy almost got Linda tickled during Sunday school class but Linda resisted the temptation to answer the note that Kathy wrote her in the margin of the Sunday school lesson.
They both used to have a problem with bloody fingers when they were younger (they would press their fingernails into their fingers to try to keep from laughing out loud during services).

After Sunday school it was time for church in the beautiful sanctuary. There is an open window at the front which looks out onto a peaceful, almost reverent, setting of pine trees. Vernon is the song director and the music was great.

After church Vernon and Kathy showed Linda just how close the Mayhill fire had come to their church it was within about 200 yards. If it had leapt across the highway the damage would have been much greater. As it was over 32,000 acres burned and three houses were destroyed. As it turned out, all three houses belonged to the same lady but she seems to have a good attitude about her loss and is coping just fine. At least no human lives were lost. There were some cows and horses who died. Linda prepared a letterbox to plant somewhere in Mayhill and the theme of the letterbox is about the Mayhill fire. It started on May 9 and it was much later in May before it was contained. Kathy and Vernon helped Linda pick a place to plant her letterbox and it was the first letterbox to be planted in Mayhill. For letterbox info go to www.atlasquest.com.

We met John for lunch at the Mayhill Café Hotel and Feed store. They have great food and everybody except Vernon chose something with a Mexican food theme.

After we got home it was time for anniversary presents. Linda's present to John was a bag of pistachios in a cute burlap container. Also two hearts that she had found at the Apple barn once said "We've only just begun" and the other one said "Here's my heart". John's present to Linda was a Kindle reader with a book of love poems on it. John already had a Kindle so now they will be able to share books back and forth. We had a simple dinner of fruit and chili and chips. We started packing up to leave the next day.

For today's photo gallery, click here.

To watch any of the videos below, just click on the one you want to view. It will open in it's own YouTube window. When that clip is finished, just close that YouTube window and you'll return here.

The following video clips are available:
Fannie and Gizzmo Playing
Fannie and Her Twig
Fannie and Gizzmo Playing on the Deck
A Brief Look at the Results of the Mayhill Forest Fire

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 07 - Mayhill, NM

We awoke Saturday to another beautiful day in the piney mountains.

Before I forget, I have a clue for the Mileage Madness. In all the trips we took while we were at Kathy and Vernon's, we rode in their red Hummer. So you don't want to figure out any mileage for trips to church or to Cloudcroft because we were in their car and not racking up mileage on Wilma.

During the day on Saturday, John stayed home with our furry children, Fannie Mae and Kathy and Vernon's Pomeranian, Gizzmo. We drove to look for some letterboxes. First, we went to Cloudcroft and were successful in finding a letterbox right downtown underneath the very place that the clue said it should be. If you are interested in finding out more about letter boxing, you can go to atlasquest.com, or just Google letter boxing.

We also went to Alamogordo to a pistachio grove. The one we chose had a talking cowboy right outside the door. All you had to do was press a button and he would start talking to you. Linda made a short video clip of Vernon and Kathy standing on each side of the cowboy. You can view the video clip by clicking here. (Just close the YouTube window and you will return here.)

Linda got some pistachios that were the flavor John likes, which is plain. Then she took a photo outside of the largest pistachio in the world. At least that is the claim and we have no reason to doubt it. It's in the photo gallery.

We also took a trip that day to High Rolls, NM, where Linda had a clue for another letterbox location. Alas, we could not find a letterbox, but it was an interesting location. It was right beside a tunnel and there was a historical marker there pointing out where some Indians had made a protected area to stay in a mountain across the way. Remains of a moccasin have been found at that site. The timeline was from several hundred years ago.

We got back to Mayhill and again received a good report on the behavior of our furry children. We relaxed for a while and then it was time to go to dinner at a fancy place in Cloudcroft called The Lodge. Vernon and Kathy said they wanted to take us out to celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary which would be occurring the next day. The restaurant at The Lodge is named "Rebecca's",  after a ghostly presence who is still said to inhabit the Lodge. She was a former employee who was caught in bed (by her boyfriend) with a lumberjack.  Shortly after that, she disappeared, only to reappear as a friendly ghostly presence.

The Lodge is next to a beautiful golf course that Linda has fond memories of going to with her parents and grandparents when she was elementary school age. At that time she was amazed at how very green a golf course could be. It was quite different from what she had seen in Plainview and Denver City, Texas.

Our dinner at the lodge that evening was a gourmet delight. Kathy and Linda had pistachio crusted trout, asparagus and a salad. John had a ribeye steak, asparagus and potatoes. Vernon had the special of the evening, which was shrimp and lobster with a spinach pasta. Vernon had warned us that we were getting dessert and to save room. The two special desserts are bananas foster and cherries jubilee, which are both prepared at your table. All four of us chose cherries jubilee. It was quite entertaining to see it made and extremely delicious to eat. We decided it was just the right combination of tart,  sweetness and texture. All this was accompanied by lovely music from a grand piano played by a talented entertainer. 

All in all, it was a day that would be hard to have improved upon.

You can view today's photo gallery by clicking here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 06 - Mayhill, NM

Friday we woke up to a another beautiful day in Mayhill, New Mexico. We had a light breakfast of cereal and juice since we were going to have lunch at a Mexican food place in Ruidoso, NM.

After a leisurely morning we loaded up in the Hummer and headed for Ruidoso for a sort of mini reunion with a former classmate from Plainview High School who neither Kathy or I had seen in 49 years. We would not have known she even lived in Ruidoso if it were not for the website that our Plainview High School class of 62 has. Thanks Sandy!!! When we got to the restaurant there was a couple with friendly faces waiting outside. That couple was Pat Herring Drexler and her husband Charlie.

The restaurant chosen was Casa Blanca. Over lunch we all had fun getting reacquainted and catching up and the Mexican food was delicious.
Pat and Charlie wanted us to come by and see their home. So after lunch we followed them and got to see where they live in Ruidoso and the amazing things they have done to the house they bought there a few years ago. They moved to Ruidoso full-time from Midland, TX about one year ago. Pat has done an amazing job decorating and their home is a real showcase. An interesting note is that she ordered most every furnishing on the inside off the Internet. Pat and Charlie also have children with fur, but they are cats instead of dogs. When we asked if she had any grandchildren she said, "No, I had my children fixed".

We headed back to Mayhill after a short stop at Walmart for some groceries. We decided to eat light for dinner since we had all enjoyed so much Mexican food for lunch. For dinner Linda prepared the pineapple salsa that our son, Jay, made for the Petaluma Chili Cookoff. It was a prize winner. Jay's company received second place in the fruit salsa division. If you are interested in the recipe, just let Linda know. It has quite a kick, but you can make it milder if you are a wimp.

It was another wonderful day of getting to visit with Kathy and Vernon.
Be sure to see the photo gallery by clicking here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 05 - Mayhill, NM

The next morning after arriving in Mayhill, New Mexico we got up and had coffee with Vernon and Kathy. Then Kathy started preparing a dish to take to their Bible Study Group. John stayed home to watch Fannie Mae and Gizzmo while Kathy, Vernon and Linda went to Bible study at the home of a member of their church. The devotional for the day was Come to the Table. That seemed especially appropriate for this church being that they hardly have any events where they do not all arrive with a covered dish. It was a lovely group of people and Linda really enjoyed getting to meet some of Kathy and Vernon's new friends.

After Bible study was over Vernon, Kathy and Linda returned home where John gave good reports on our furry children. After that we relaxed at their lovely home, often out on the veranda with a cool drink of water or lemonade.

That afternoon Linda started preparing dinner. She had brought ingredients to make white chile using the recipe that Jay gave her from his company's chili cook off entry in the Petaluma Chili Cook Off earlier this month. The chili features BBQ chicken which is most appropriate since Jay works at Petaluma poultry. It is an award winning chili. They got first place in the chili cook off. And it was a big hit that night in Mayhill. If you are interested just let Linda know and she will be more than happy to share the recipe. Kathy provided desserts which were chocolate dollops on a little crust with whipped cream on top. It was just the right amount. And it was a nice end to a wonderful day.

For today's photo gallery click here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 04 - Tombstone - Mayhill, NM

Leaving Tombstone at about 6:37 AM. It's bright and sunny here and it's nice and cool.

We had originally planned on having breakfast at the Longhouse Restaurant before leaving Tombstone. However, when we checked Wilma's navigation system in the motel parking lot, Wilma reported that it would take over nine hours to get to Kathy and Vernon's house. So, we decided to leave Tombstone and catch breakfast on the highway somewhere. What we didn't realize was that Wilma's navigation system will lie to you if you are not already on a designated highway (parking lots don't count). Once we pulled out onto the highway, the travel time became five hours instead of nine hours. Whew!

Since we had already left Tombstone, we just kept going and stopped in Benson, Arizona at a small family restaurant. We often pick restaurants by how many cars are in the parking lot. In this case not only were there a lot of cars, but most of the people in the restaurant were construction workers. That's always a good sign. It was a very homey place with funny signs and postings for local events.  They had a NO SNIVELING sign (we used to have one in our print shop).  John had eggs & trimmings, Linda had a big bowl of fresh fruit.

Since we had left Tombstone so early, by lunch time we were already in Alamogordo, New Mexico. That's pretty close to our final destination for the day. We stopped there at a McDonald's for lunch and then headed on our way to Kathy and Vernon's.

The climb from Alamogordo to Cloudroft is from just over 4,000 feet elevation to around 8,600 feet elevation. From Cloudcroft to Kathy and Vernon Norris' home in Robin Hood Park, you drop down to about 7,700 feet elevation. Big deal. John reports that there is very little oxygen in the air at this elevation.

We arrived around 2:30 PM. One of the first things we did was to introduce Fannie Mae and Gizzmo (picture of Gizzmo in tomorrow's photo gallery). We took them out on a large back deck which leads down the stairs to a huge, fenced backyard and let them play and get acquainted. There was a "hole" lot of sniffing going on. The humans sat in chairs on the deck and enjoyed tall glasses of tangy lemonade. Fannie Mae is a miniature schnauzer and Gizzmo is a pomeranian.  What a relief that they hit it off fine from the get go. Kathy and Linda have known each other since they were 4 years old in Plainview, Texas. They have become better  and better friends as the years roll on. Within the last 10 years or so they have decided that they are cousins. Kathy found out that one of her great grandmothers was named Ayers (which is Linda's maiden name). Kathy and Vernon moved to Cloudcroft from Plainview full time at the end of May last year.

They bought their place 5 years ago and completely revamped it into a warm, comfortable and beautiful home, doing 98% of the work themselves (walls, paint, beams, fireplace, tile, deck, flooring, plumbing). They are both such hard workers and they love doing projects together.  Their next project is a greenhouse. They have prepared the foundation and will be erecting the greenhouse (a kit) during the next few weeks.        

Later on the evening of our arrival Kathy prepared a wonderful pork chop dinner for us. Along with the rosemary seasoned (from Kathy's garden) pork chops, we had some terrific green beans and a nice fresh fruit salad.

As reported in an earlier distribution e-mail, we were going to break our no TV rule on Tuesday and Wednesday evening to finish off American Idol. Unfortunately, we missed the Tuesday performance show as the Tombstone Motel does not carry the Fox Network. So we did not get to see the actual performances of the two finalists. The good news is this: it's on the DVR at home. However, Kathy and Vernon were kind enough to let us watch the finale on Wednesday evening. We were both happy to see that our favorite, Scotty  McCreery, won the American Idol for this season.

It was getting a bit late and after a long day's drive it was time for bed. In our travels, we were too occupied with getting to our host's home and visiting with them to do any photography. So, there is no photo gallery for today. But, just wait.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 03 - Tombstone, AZ

We woke up to a nice, bright and cool day in Tombstone. We were up early enough to arrive at the Longhorn Restaurant just about the time it opened at 7:30 AM. Linda had fruit and John had the Cowboy Breakfast. This breakfast consists of three eggs, bacon, toast and hash browns. John got them to exchange the hashbrowns for some fruit. He also had a large glass of orange juice.

After breakfast, we went back to the motel and got Fannie Mae to bring her with us downtown. Fannie Mae, now 11 months old, likes to bark and growl at people, especially children. We are trying to break her of this so we thought it would be good to bring her with us to downtown Tombstone. We were downtown a bit earlier than we needed to be, and most of the stores weren't yet open. So, we window shopped and walked up and down Allen Street to check out what was going on. Linda shopped in a few stores while John sat on the bench and had Fannie Mae on a leash.  She is just not yet the chick magnet that Maggie Mae was. It is a turnoff when you are approaching a puppy and she growls or barks at you. Amazing how she can be so sweet with us but so protective that she seems unfriendly.

One of John's favorite establishments was Madame Mustache Purveyor of Pleasure and Things to Tickle Your Fancy. At least that's what the sign on her building says.

One of Tombstone's deputy marshals was walking around town with his rifle and making sure the tourists were not illegal immigrants. Actually, he was hitting on one of the women who was visiting Tombstone.

Starting at about 9:00 AM there is a Wells Fargo stagecoach that goes back and forth along Allen Street, the main drag through Tombstone. You can pay to ride it if you are so inclined. You will find several photos in today's photo gallery of the Wells Fargo stagecoach.

Businesses on both sides of Allen Street have boardwalks in front of them and and the boardwalks are covered. This provides some nice shade.

Linda visited the Bird Cage Theater. The original Bird Cage Theater was "erected" in 1881. It was the employer of many a working girl, but was also a first class and successful variety theater bringing professional artists and performers to Tombstone. The Bird Cages can still be seen and were the venue for prostitutes to "entertain" their clients.  It has been described it as notorious, bawdy and wicked. It is said that no respectable lady would set foot in the Bird Cage and that troupes performing in Tombstone had to perform at the Schieffelin Theater for the respectable citizens to attend,  The Bird Cage had different names over the years, including the Elite and the Olympic,  It closed as a theater in 1892.  It has been a museum over the years and is the original 1881 building.  It includes a horse-drawn hearse and a basement.

Big Nose Kate was purported to be Doc Holliday's girlfriend. If you see an actual photograph of Big Nose Kate you'll see she's not a comely woman at all. One of Kate's workers who lived in the basement of her saloon had tunneled underground to some silver mines in Tombstone. He supposedly took a great deal of silver from those mines. At Big Kate's Saloon you can descend into the shaft and see how much was dug out by the worker in his spare time (to try to find a silver motherload).  Nowadays, you can hunt for hidden treasure there or buy a t-shirt.

Linda's sister will be glad to know that Mary Kay is alive and well in Tombstone. However, it looks like the resurrected Elvis is the Mary Kay consultant here. See the photo gallery.

We had lunch at guess where? The Longhorn Restaurant again. We both had their Cobb salad. It was very nice and their salad bowls are deceptive. The bowl doesn't look like it holds that much, but there was a lot of salad there. Obviously, Fannie Mae was not able to join us for lunch.

After lunch we visited the Boot Hill Graveyard. We have lots of pictures of interesting graves in our photo gallery. If you've ever heard the old saw "Here lies Lester Moore, Four slugs from a .44, No Less, No More", it actually does comes from his gravesite in Boot Hill and there is a photo of his grave in today's photo gallery.

John had received an e-mail message through his cell phone that a package he had ordered from Amazon to be delivered to Kathy and Vernon's home was not deliverable because no one was home at the time the post office attempted to deliver it. John needed to reschedule delivery at the US Post Office website. He really needed Internet access and found it at the Tombstone Library. Fortunately, he was able to use their Internet access long enough to reschedule delivery of the package to Kathy and Vernon's. And, yes, it did show up. By the way, the Tombstone Library is in the old railroad depot. It's very cute.

Would you like to guess where we ate dinner this evening? You are correct! We had dinner at the Longhorn Restaurant. Linda had a Cactus Margarita and a bowl of black bean soup. She was trying to save room for one of their signature desserts – Death by Chocolate.  Alas, the bean soup was really hearty and there was no room. John ordered a patty melt and requested that they put gravy on it and serve it openface. This was his way of getting something close to a hamburger steak, which is really what he wanted.

After dinner, we loaded our belongings into Wilma, keeping only those things we needed for the evening and early the next morning. With full tummies we went to bed for a good night's rest.

For a visit to Tombstone via our photo gallery, click here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 02 - Indio, CA - Tombstone, AZ

Seven o'clock straight up-and-down in Indio, CA. We just filled up with gas for $4.03.9 at the Valero station. Now we are off to have breakfast at Clark's Auto Truckstop on historic Highway 99. If you recall the Day 01 post, Clark's Auto Truckstop is famous as the location of the hook up for the adulterous act committed by the Reverend Jimmy Swaggart that led to his "professional" downfall (but not hers!).

They even have a brass plaque at the door commemorating the event and citing the date. The restaurant next to Clark's is called Los Primos.
Being a Mexican restaurant, Linda had a nopales burrito. John had bacon and eggs. The lady owner/cook had difficulty with the English language. Fortunatly, her consultant (that is a true statement) showed up and confirmed our order. She's only had the restaurant a few months and really needs help. Hence, the consultant. Breakfast was good.

We grabbed a cup of coffee in the lobby of our Motel 6 as we checked out. We hit the road about 8:10 AM, off to Tombstone. Interstate 10 across the desert toward Arizona is only slightly less boring than Interstate 5 in California. However, as we were driving along, John discovered a Starbucks in Blythe, CA which was only 30 miles away (we love Wilma's GPS system, not only for getting us where we want to go, but feeding us as well).

Just east of Buckeye, Arizona we took Arizona Highway 85 south and hooked up with Interstate 8 at Gila Bend which took us into Tucson. This saved our driving through Phoenix traffic and is delicately referred to as the "Phoenix Bypass".

Arizona Highway 85 is a beautiful four-lane road with hardly any traffic. Every few miles there is a sign at the edge of the highway listing a person or business who adopted that section to clean up trash alongside the roadway. We noticed that one person named "Available" had adopted more sections of highway than anyone else. The roadsides were, all in all, very clean.

We grabbed something for lunch from a McDonald's at Casa Grande, AZ. Filled up with gas for $3.79.9 (much better than in California) and continued on our way to Tombstone.

Arrived at the Tombstone Motel just after 3:00 PM. We were located in a newer section of the motel. We did NOT have Wi-Fi. We did NOT have a phone. We did NOT have a desk or work table. We did NOT have a fridge. We did NOT have a microwave. We did NOT have a coffee pot. We did have a comfortable king size bed. The room was sparse, but clean, and quiet as we were the only ones occupying that building. We were at the Tombstone Motel because the Best Western Lookout Lodge did not have rooms available. Take it from us...try the Best Western first.

After unloading and resting a bit, we went out for dinner and found the Longhouse Restaurant (much nicer than the Longhouse in Gilroy). Full bar there so John had a Jack Daniel's and water. We had driven over six hours a day for the last two days and he deserved it! Linda had a chef salad and John had a South of the Border Burger which had an Anaheim chile and guacamole on it. He had it open-face and used the lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions for a salad. The meals were good and the staff was very friendly.

We took a couple of photos of Allen Street (the main drag in Tombstone) at sunset on our way back to the motel. Hit the sack early and set the alarm for 7:00 AM.

You can view the short photo gallery for today's trip by clicking here.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day 01 - Morgan Hill - Indio, CA

We pulled out of the driveway for our Cloudcroft road trip on Sunday, May 22, 2011 at somewhere near 6:57 AM. The trip meter has been reset to zero and just as a safety the total mileage on the odometer is 51,418. It's become a tradition that we stop at the Daily Bagel Cafe for coffee and something to eat before we get on the road, so that's where we headed.

And, just as we were pulling out of the driveway, Linda cut loose with one of those "Oh, there's something I forgot!". She fetched her clementines and cream cheese and we took off again.  Linda has this habit of glancing around to make sure the garage door was closed. Oops! It was open so John fixed that.

Obviously, Linda isn't the only one who forgets things. About a mile down the road, John thought about his fanny pack which he forgot to bring. So, we turned around and went back and Linda gladly (almost gleefully) fetched the fanny pack from the house for John. We also cleared the trip meter so that we start off at zero again from our driveway and we then left on our trip at 7:10 AM.

Again, in accordance with Buzzard Road Trip Tradition, on the road trip there will be no radio or music in the vehicle. And in the motel rooms we will NOT be watching TV. There will be one exception. Well, make that two exceptions. We will be watching the last two episodes of American Idol.

We ate lunch at a McDonald's in Burbank. John had an angus bacon cheese burger and iced mocha.  Linda had yogurt and fruit and a chicken roll up.
While in Burbank we filled up with gas and paid $4.14.9 cents per gallon. Then we got back on the road headed toward Indio.

We arrived in Indio at about 3:15 PM. Remember, we made no reservations in advance. From what we had seen on the internet we had our eye on a Best Western motel in Indio. However, it had no outside doors. That's a no-no for us. So, we cruised around Indio and stumbled across a Motel 6. The sign on the marquis said $43.95 for a single. It had outside doors. Just what we wanted. So John went into the office and inquired about a room. For a double it was $44.95 instead of $43.95. The only add-on was for Wi-Fi access at $2.95. Not bad overall. We have a very nice room with two double beds and a great air-conditioner.

We've been thinking about stopping at Tombstone, AZ for a couple of nights on our way to Cloudcroft. John was checking on the internet and found a Best Western in Tombstone. But, when he looked for room availability for tomorrow night and the next night, he found they had no rooms available. So he searched and found another pet-friendly motel, the Tombstone Motel. It had good ratings, is close to town, and is pet-friendly. So, John called and spoke with Barry. Now we have reservations for the next two nights.

Linda and I are partial to IHOP restaurants and we found one just up the road from where we are staying that's our plan for dinner tonight.
We only had to backtrack about 7 miles to La Quinta, CA in order to get to an IHOP restaurant. Linda had a nice grilled talapia, smothered with mushrooms and served with broccoli. John had breakfast-for-dinner. His meal consisted of fried eggs, bacon, pancakes and hash brown potatoes. Both of us had decaf coffee.

After returning to Motel 6 Linda took Fannie Mae for a walk to historic Clark's Truck Stop across the street.  There are old-timey murals on two walls of the building and a brass plaque commemorating that "In 1991 Jimmy Swaggert picked up a 'date' at Clarks".  As soon as Linda finished taking the photo the next thing she saw outside Clark's was a "working girl" trolling for a "date". History has a way of repeating.

The weather here in Indio is warm (about 83°) and very, very windy. Linda and Fannie are out for a walk right now. We have a long drive ahead of us tomorrow and will be leaving pretty early. There is a Valero truck stop right next door that has gas at $4.03 per gallon and has a restaurant. Will stop there for breakfast and to gas up.

On our last road trip Linda posted a piece of Tea Bag Philosophy each day.  Despite their popularity she is switching to a trio of other SOMETHINGs of the day. You will get 0,1,2 or 3 of them a day.  Ta dah! The personalized license plate of the day is "Rkamysol" (Rocka my soul?) seen on a pickup - with maybe a guy named Abraham driving. The joke of the day (from Linda's Joke of the Day calendar is "If you can't be kind, at least be vague".  And Linda's silly socks of the day are purple with pink letters that say "Party Your Socks Off".

Well, here's the link to the brief photo gallery for today.

Good night, all!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day with Jay and Danielle

Jay had made reservations for the Mothers' Day Brunch at the Sheraton. Jay and Danielle came over at 10:00am and we were seated right away in the restaurant.

Jay, Danielle and Linda had the brunch buffet and John had eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and English muffin. The breakfast was good! It was really nice to spend more time with Jay and Danielle. Just the week before they had returned from a week's vacation on the east coast where they rode trains and went to lots of baseball games. They had a great time, but had to work on the chili cookoff when they got back. It had been a hectic week for them.

Linda got lots of nice Mothers' Day presents from both Jay and Danielle. We had about 1/2 hour before checkout, so we took them to our room so Danielle could meet Fannie Mae. Danielle's a good dog trainer and didn't let Fannie boss her around. She had also given Fannie a present for Mothers' Day. It was a bag of dog treats which Danielle referred to as "crack for dogs". Must admit, Fannie Mae seemed to really like them.

We left at noon, our appointed checkout time, said our "goodbyes" and headed back to Morgan Hill. The drive was very nice....UNTIL we got close to Berkeley. Have we ever said how much we hate that stretch of road?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Petaluma Chili Cookoff, Salsa and Beer Tasting

Had extended an invitation to Jay and his girlfriend, Danielle, to meet us at 8:00am for breakfast at Black Bear Diner up in Rohnert Park. We were looking forward to meeting Danielle, but she wasn't able to make it. So, we had breakfast with Jay and then let him get on his way to help get their booth set up at the event.

We hung around the Sheraton and went over to the Sonoma Marin Fairgrounds around 12:30pm. Found a really great parking place less than 100 yards from the event venue. Our wonderful son had tickets for us at "will call". We entered the venue and immediately found the Petaluma Poultry booth (our son works for Petaluma Poultry). Not only that, we found both Jay and Danielle.

We were delighted to find that Danielle, like Jay, sports a nice handlebar mustache! (Just kidding). We tasted lots of different chilis, salsas and beers. Just after 1:30pm we also to go meet Danielle's parents, Bob and Penny. This was also Jay's first time to meet Danielle's mom and dad. What Danielle didn't know was that we had snagged Bob's email address more than a week earlier from one of her posts. We took it on ourselves to email him and he sent us a slew of factoids about Danielle.

While Jay was working at the booth we had a nice visit with Danielle and her parents. They are very nice and lots of fun. We thoroughly enjoyed our time spent with them. Unfortunately, they had to leave around 3pm to go to a dinner engagement. We left soon after and went back to the motel. John was hankering for a steak and made a reservation at Cattleman's. We had a nice dinner there. John got his steak and Linda had a nice salmon dinner.

Jay's company won first place in the chili cookoff and Jay won second place for his pineapple salsa. They were very happy with the results.

It had turned cold and windy in the afternoon. It was easy to fall asleep with our full tummies. Fannie Mae spent her second night on the bet with us. She likes to cuddle up by Linda as she doesn't care much for my noisy CPAP mask hissing and blowing.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mini-Road Trip to Petaluma

Drove to Petaluma mid-day on Friday, May 6th. Traffic was great except for 580 near Berkeley. We hate that area as it is really poor design and is always really slow.

Checked in to the Sheraton Sonoma County and got a beautiful room. While the $159 rate was much higher than we are used to paying, they had a deal where your second night costs the last two digits of your birth year. For us, that was $44. So we averaged just over $100 per night which is much closer to what we are used to paying (still a bit high).

Lunch from Burger King in our room and dinner at IHOP. John had BFD (breakfast for dinner) and Linda had grilled talapia. Both were off of the 55+ menu.