Saturday, December 30, 2006

Gulf waters

A spoonbill visits our pond every evening.



Friday, December 29, 2006

Golf course lot

Here is a picture of what the new RV site we just bought looks like so far. It's a pie wedge 24 feet wide at the entrance, and 74 feet wide across the back, looking out across the lake to the fairway (the lake and the fairway are not actually there yet, but we can see where they have been roughed out).

Nothing

Nothing new. Nothing to write about. We’re having stormy weather here too, just like Colorado, except we’re seventy degrees and raining… and it’s calm. Oops. Sun just came out.

Quiet days getting some end of the year work stuff done; a productive time. Talked to our Daughter in Denver, and the word “frickin” crept into the conversation several times. Maybe being snowed in is beginning to take its toll?

Well that’s all there is. Boring boring boring. Let us know if we need to pack up and go somewhere else so we’ll have adventures to write about.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Port a

Terns are so fast..... even when they're standing still.



Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Port a

Seventy degrees.



Aransas pass

Aransas Pass, the other side of Corpus Christi Channel (they call channels passes here). Port Aransas is the beach town on the island. Aransas Pass is the mainland town. Now we have RV Sites on both sides of the channel. Today we bought an RV lot in a golf course community under development outside Aransas Pass.


http://www.irongator.net/



Site 33. 5,000 square feet overlooking a pond and the golf course. Top right on the site map.




Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Motorhome repair

The end of the extended repair saga. All for a little damage to a couple cabinet doors.


Before and after.




Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas

Christmas dinner: an entire (small) turkey cooked in the microwave convection oven (with an inch to spare all around), stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cranberries. It can be done. Nice going Judy.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sunday

Wow, what a storm! Howling wind, pounding rain. We put the jacks down and still it made the house bounce. It was a long night (Judy tells me. I slept through it). Some of the rain blew up under one of the slides and made the carpet wet during the night, so we spent the day today with fans and space heaters blowing to dry it out. Nothing serious.

Ready for a quiet Christmas. Judy got a small turkey to cook in the convection oven. We tried to buy each other presents, but neither of us can think of anything we want and don’t already have. Limited space; can’t buy stuff just to be buying stuff, so we’ll keep an eye out for the next thing we want, then call it a present to ourselves.

Enjoy.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Saturday

The air between the raindrops here, by the way, is fully saturated. The humidity is high.

Saturday

No walking barefoot on the beach today. Stormy weather; thunder, lightning, wind, and rain. Poor Annie is not enjoying this at all. Judy and I take turns holding the vibrating dog. The wind will push the waves up to meet the dunes at high tide tonight. No camping on the beach either.

It’s supposed to calm down by Christmas.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Port a

We leave behind the swarms of black crested tufted titmice and carolina chickadees at Lost Maples for the drive to Port Aransas. The last day of driving for a while. A sunny day and seventy degrees at our arrival. It’s good to be here.

Merry Christmas everybody.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lost maples

A cold morning in the twenties, a warm sunny driving day with no wind or trucks. Seventy degrees this afternoon at Lost Maples State Park, named for an isolated stand of bigtooth maples left over from the last ice age.

Meanwhile

Okay. My humidity question has evolved. I've read all the humidity definitions. I realize the air only has to be fully saturated in the clouds to precipitate rain. The part I'm having trouble with is how nice dry air, with rain falling through it, can stay dry. Wouldn't the rain falling through it raise the humidity somewhat? I guess it did some. The humidity was in the 20s before the rain, then in the 40s during the rain. I'm just surprised that's all the difference the rain made. The air is totally full of water and the humidity doesn't even make it to 50%?


From: Steve Taylor [mailto:spt@thetaylorcompany.net]
Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2006 7:45 PM
To: Bill Taylor (Bill Taylor); David Taylor (David Taylor); Tom Taylor (Tom Taylor)
Subject: meanwhile

Can someone explain to me what relative humidity is? “Relative Humidity”. We all say it, but relative to what? Relative to how much moisture the air can hold at that altitude and temperature? That would be logical to me. How is it that we wake up in the morning in Arizona, it is raining, and the relative humidity is 49%? I got on line. It was raining on the Texas coast too, but the relative humidity there was 99%. Is the rain that much wetter in Texas? Were the raindrops that much farther apart in Arizona? The air was filled with water in both places.

I don’t understand relative humidity.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Meanwhile

Can someone explain to me what relative humidity is? “Relative Humidity”. We all say it, but relative to what? Relative to how much moisture the air can hold at that altitude and temperature? That would be logical to me. How is it that we wake up in the morning in Arizona, it is raining, and the relative humidity is 49%? I got on line. It was raining on the Texas coast too, but the relative humidity there was 99%. Is the rain that much wetter in Texas? Were the raindrops that much farther apart in Arizona? The air was filled with water in both places.

I don’t understand relative humidity.


Fort stockton

A windy west Texas day. A little difficult driving in the crosswind, and difficult because Interstate 10 is a trucker’s freeway all across the southwest, until Interstate 20 splits off east of Van Horn. More trucks than cars before the split, lots of leapfrogging, hardly a truck to be seen after. We have a favorite KOA in Fort Stockton. It’s always nice to stop here.

They do things different in Texas. They’ve got big long roads out there. The speed limit out west? 80 mph. We didn’t drive that fast. What we did do though, is continue driving (about 60) in strong crosswinds. In every other motorhome we’ve had, we’ve pulled over when driving in the wind felt dangerous. I’m sure that could still happen with this one, but I think we’ve already driven through conditions that would have stopped us before.

Meanwhile, we’re watching the weather reports about the Denver area, buried in a blizzard. It’s currently snowing at the rate of 2 inches per hour, with 40 mph winds. It’s supposed to continue through the night and all day tomorrow. All the interstates are closed. The airport is closed. Colorado is basically closed. The Christmas blizzard of 2006.

Tomorrow... Lost Maples State Park outside San Antonio. That's the place we finally got the green kingfisher a couple years ago.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Last week

Renting the motorhome was odd. We went to their shop, looked around the different motorhomes, picked one and asked, “What would it cost us to rent this for a week?”. Simple question, maybe even an obvious one, but he seemed unprepared to answer. The response… “It depends.”

“Do you have a weekly rate?”

“No. We rent by the day.”

“Okay, then, what is the daily rate?”

“It depends.”

“Depends on what?”

“Date and availability.’

“The date is now. Are you telling us you may not have any available on Monday?”

“No. We have plenty available. I just can’t tell you what it costs to rent one until I go back to the computer.”

It turns out this entire exchange was legitimate. It might have cost $400 for a week, it might have cost $1,400. There is no standard rate. Cruise America prices their motorhome rentals like airlines price their seats. It depends on where and when you call, how long you want to rent, what day you call… maybe even what hour you call. There was no way he could tell the rate without putting our trip into the computer.

We finally got the rate. It was about the same as renting a hotel room with a kitchen for the week. That seemed reasonable, so we jumped on it quick, before it changed.

What a smart way to run a business. Variable pricing as a function of demand. It changes every day. It is a well designed process. Check-out and check-in was a breeze. There wasn’t much going on while we were there, but they said they’ll check-out thirty rigs a day out of that location when they’re busy. Wow.


Las cruces

A quiet day rolling down the highway. Las Cruces, New Mexico tonight. Tomorrow… Ft Stockton, Texas.


Can you spot

the cardinal in this picture?

Monday, December 18, 2006

On the road again

We have a new favorite place, Catalina State Park just north of Tucson. The motorhome repairs are done. The cabinet door damage saga is over. We were free to go at 4pm. We drove until 6pm to get here. We didn’t really want to drive until dark, but we were anxious to get underway, and this is the place we wanted to wake up tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow night…. Las Cruces, New Mexico.


One of these birds

is not like the others.



It was

a very dovey place.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mesa

Termini provided the name for us; those tall pine trees that look just a little out of place up on the ridge, and on closer inspection turn out to be man made monsters housing microwave antennas: Frankenpine! Not many pine trees here. Palm trees. I love the palm forests. Every RV Park has them. In fact, you can pick out RV Parks along the road from a distance by the palm forests. But today, something different. Something a little out of place. That’s right: a Frankenpalm!


Sunday

The weather went south….. and found us. It rained. We had to wear sweatshirts. In the morning.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Mesa

The wandering tribe has returned from the desert. We’re back in civilization, Mesa. The rental RV has been returned and we’re back in the big house. It’s nice to be home. The body work has been done (perfectly). The paint is almost done. Maybe half a day on Monday and we’ll be free to go. We’ll probably leave Arizona and head for the gulf right away.


Along the way

Friday, December 15, 2006

Catalina

I’m not much of a constellation guy, but I walk outside on a starry night and immediately locate the big dipper and the north star; confirm my sense of direction. This far south, this time of year, there is no big dipper. There is a north star, but the big dip is below the horizon in the evening. It won’t rise into view until much later at night; long after I’m asleep. Winter is a good time to spot Orion rising in the east in the evening, but it’s not the same, not having the big dipper there.

The meteor shower changed all that; the meteor shower and the motorhome. Because of the meteor shower, I’m more aware of the sky when I wake up at night. Because of the motorhome, the rental motorhome, I can look right out the window that’s at the head of our bed. (Miss that window to look out at night. Don’t miss the cold air falling on my head, but miss the immediacy of the untinted window right there.) Four am. I wake up, look out to check for meteors, and there is the big dipper, shining in the night sky, circling its way around the north star, just like it should be. All is well.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Catalina

Catalina State Park, a very birdy place. Gila woodpeckers talking it up. House finches and goldfinches, with a constant background of whistling mourning dove wings. Roadrunners, flickers, shrikes, jays, verdin, nuthatches, wrens, kinglets, mockingbirds, phainopepla, warblers, sparrows, towhees, cardinals, pyrrhuloxia, but no quail. A very birdy place, but no quail.

And a dark place. Geminid meteor shower, compliments of our friend Rock. Not that he actually caused the meteor shower, but he did alert us to it. Got one really big streaky one. Thanks Rock.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Desert

We have a full-size bed in the back, a bathroom, a large shower, a kitchen, dinette, couch, a cabover bunk to pile stuff on, a Ford V-10 engine, and we’re not towing. It’s like driving a sports car. Gasoline engine performance; none of that sluggish diesel response. It’s easy to stop too.

Judy has fully recovered from her gastric thing.

We got the gilded flicker.

Annie is a dirt-ball.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sonoran desert

This is fun, running around in a Class C motorhome. It’s like being on vacation. A vacation from our trip!


Annie

We want to point out to our very longtime dentist friend, Dr. Bob, that Annie takes her health seriously. She brushes every day.



Sunday, December 10, 2006

The adventure

We're back in Mesa. Tomorrow, we turn over the motorhome for repairs. We have to move out of it for a week. What to do with ourselves in the meantime? We’ve decided to rent a motorhome and go on a trip! We called Cruise America and rented a 30 foot Class C. We’re off to explore Arizona.


Organ pipe

All the usual suspects (quail, curve-bill thrasher, cactus wrens) swarming the campsite. A couple tiny verdin flit about the bushes. A small flock of house finches. A cardinal outside the window. A raven croaks past. A shiny black phainopepla. Mourning doves fly on whistling wings. A gila woodpecker peers down off the top of the nearest saguaro. A rock wren, a black-tailed gnatcatcher, a yellow-rumped warbler, and finally, a single canyon towhee. There are not a large number of different kinds of birds here, but there are birds everywhere.


Saturday, December 9, 2006

The incident

Annie seems to have recovered from the great “cinnamon roll” incident. Three weeks ago, in a weak moment as we were checking in to Dakota Ridge, I bought a giant cinnamon roll to eat in the afternoon. I took a few bites, then went outside to hook up the coach utilities. Next time I came back inside, there was no cinnamon roll to be found. There was a dog, and some crumbs on the floor, but nothing more. I immediately suspected the worst, and my suspicions were confirmed when Annie started barfing up cinnamon roll. Her stomach was a mess for days.

At first, I thought she was a bad dog for eating my guilty pleasure: a cinnamon roll the size of a small dog. But the more she barfed, the more my understanding evolved. She isn’t a bad dog! She is a hero! She saw what was going to happen to me. She fell on the pastry grenade, and absorbed the explosion; aftershocks to be felt for a week. She protected me from myself.

Thanks Annie. My hero.

A challenge

Can you spot the mule deer in this picture?



Friday, December 8, 2006

Organ pipe

Organ Pipe is the quietest place we go. There are no hookups. The only electricity is from batteries, generators, or solar panels. Generators are only allowed in the RV section of the campground, and the hours for use are very limited. There are four hours each day when generators are permitted, but basically, you run on batteries and only run your generator for an hour a day if you need to recharge. Our closest neighbors, in a fifth-wheel trailer, never ran their generator; don’t even have one. Three solar panels and careful control of power drains provide all the electricity they ever need. They never hook up to anything. They dump and fill once every two weeks and never plug in to electricity.

Only a few people in the campground this time of year; maybe 10% occupied. It will get busier later as it gets closer to January. The campground is far from any roads, so very quiet during the day, and totally silent at night. Brilliant stars. First night I woke up and thought it was daylight, only to discover is was the moon at midnight, a couple days past full.

It was great to get there after all these years. It got better each day, sitting outside at 75 degrees, retreating to shade during the heat of each day. Sit quietly for a few minutes and a half-dozen quail come out of the bushes to cluck and scurry around your feet. Another half dozen curve billed thrashers in your site, and curious cactus wrens inspect everything. Two different times we had to shoo a cactus wren back down the steps and out of the motorhome hoping to avoid any messy confrontation between Annie and a bird inside the house. Cool at night, 40 degrees.

We finally pried ourselves loose this afternoon and headed back closer to civilization. We’re at Gilbert Ray Campgound outside Tucson Mountain Park.

Happy Birthday Judy.


Thursday, December 7, 2006

Organ pipe

There used to be a 35 foot length limit at Organ Pipe. They finally raised the limit to 40 feet last year, so we’re staying right in the National Monument, at the same campground we stayed at all those years ago. It’s a little tight, but we’re in.

Dry camping (no hookups). We did it a lot when we were driving the VW bus; all the time in fact. As we moved to bigger motorhomes we still dry camped, but a little less with each larger version. We’ve been in this motorhome over a year, and this is the first time we’ve dry camped in it. It is so electronic, turn off the lights at night and there is a forest of glowing lights all through the rig. Turn off everything you can and there is still a steady draw of about 20 amps. I know this because, finally, we have a motorhome that will give us some clues about battery condition and amp usage. It also give us a breaker panel with a main switch to turn off everything that runs through the inverter to make 120 volt power. Flip that switch and we’re totally on 12 volt, and with everything turned off, we draw zero amps. We have a solar panel on the roof that will charge us back up at the rate of 4 or 5 amps all day long. We can dry camp in this thing.


Organ pipe

The campground.



Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Organ pipe cactus national monument

Judy doesn’t feel really good yet, but she decided she could feel not really good yet out in the desert as well as she could in an RV Park in Mesa. We headed south. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the place we went on Spring Break every year with the kids. It was too cold to camp in Colorado in March/April every year, so we went to the desert. Sometimes we just went to Organ Pipe. Sometimes we went all the way to the coast for family, Disneyland, Sea World, or the San Diego Zoo, but we always went to Organ Pipe too. The first year we did it, we didn’t even know where we were going to end up, we just kept driving south until it got warm. We got all the way here, within five miles of the Mexico border in Southern Arizona, and it was magic. A new favorite place. Sonoran desert, Quitobaquito a desert oasis, scorpions under rocks, cardinals, quail, cactus wrens, and curve billed thrashers for background sounds. Trails to follow, hills to climb, interpretive signs to read, and a visitors center with interactive displays. Pretty much everything but clouds.

It’s an easy drive from Mesa. West through Phoenix, hang a left at Buckeye and follow Arizona Highway 85 south through Gila Bend, Ajo, and Why. One hundred seventy miles. It’s nice to be here.


Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Things change

We didn’t head south today. Judy got sick last night; a freight train of a stomach thing, that didn’t allow her any sleep. Must not be food poisoning; we ate the same things all day. Must be a bug. After two years on the road with nothing more than a glancing blow from a cold, something finally got us. Darn. We’re not invincible just because we’re a moving target. We’ll stay here until her stomach calms down, and hope the bug goes away as fast as it hit.


Monday, December 4, 2006

Mesa

A fun surprise yesterday. Forty miles outside Mesa, Arizona, US Highway 60 just before the town of Superior on the most narrow remote section of trail in Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, we meet our favorite family physician (and competitive racquetball player) from Louisville, Colorado: Doctor Becky and family, here on vacation to visit her sister. What a coincidence. Guess we’d better behave like people know us wherever we go. Never know when someone actually will.

We really like the grill they have here, a big permanent one with natural gas piped right to it. No bottles to refill. Variable flame, nice distance from the heat source, it cooks steaks fast, but can be turned down slow for chicken. Doesn’t flare up like a portable gas grill. We grilled dinner every night. I’m spoiled. Now I want one like that with us all the time.

Progress on the coach repair. The insurance adjustor showed up this morning, examined the repair estimate, surveyed the damage, and wrote us a check. Now we’re free until Monday the 11th when the repair work actually gets done. Tomorrow…. points south.


Birds

Wait! I know why the parrots aren’t in the book. They’re illegals. Illegal parrot immigrants. We need a higher fence.


Sunday, December 3, 2006

Mesa

Woke to unusual bird sounds. Not totally unfamiliar, but not normal for the sonoran desert, either. Had to go look. Same exotic birds we heard years ago at Bluewater Key in Florida. Peachfaced Lovebirds. Back then, they were coming from our neighbor’s space; clipped captives let out to play. This time they were wild; a whole flock of peachfaced lovebirds, twenty or so, chattering their way from palm tree to palm tree. They’re not in the book. Looked them up on the web. There are several breeding flocks in the Phoenix area. We don’t get to count them, though, because they’re not listed in our book and they’re not listed on our birding software where we track our sightings and life-list.

But we know they were here.


Saturday, December 2, 2006

Along the way

Classic Sonoran Desert. Saguaro, organ pipe, senita, cholla, prickly pear, hedgehog, and barrel cactus, creosote, ocotillo, agave, ironwood, cat claw acacia, mesquite, and palo verde, inhabited by gambel’s quail, mourning doves, inca doves, anna’s and costa’s hummingbirds, gila woodpecker, verdin, cactus wren, black tailed gnatcatcher, mockingbird, curvebilled thrasher, abert’s towhee, and lesser goldfinch.


Friday, December 1, 2006

Mesa

New bird! Not an uncommon one, (not uncommon in Arizona anyway), but a new one for us. Costa’s hummingbird. Doesn’t occur in Colorado, but it’s common here. Got an extended quail fix today, clucking and chuckling and calling all around us.

Next up, the gilded flicker. It’s a slam dunk bird in Tucson. Can’t miss.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Along the way

The camp at Karchner Caverns.



Mesa

More motorhoming advice: don’t ever run into anything. Don’t do any damage that requires a body shop. It sucks up a lot of time. Today, we met with the repair shop in Mesa and got the estimate for the repairs. Next, an insurance adjustor will inspect the damage and give approval for the work to go forward. The actual work is scheduled for week after next.

In the meantime, we wait in town. The RV Parks here are amazing. Huge places; a thousand to two thousand sites in each. Park after park after park, just lined up one after the other. They're about a quarter occupied right now, but we understand they'll all be full in a month. Quite a winter community they handle here. We drove through several parks and found one we like. We have our own saguaro cactus, and even a gila woodpecker right on site. Friendly people.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Weather reports

A compilation of weather reports:


Mine:


Weather update: it is currently forty degrees warmer here (and it's not snowing).



Others:



It has snowed and snowed here today. We have about 2 feet on the ground -- Aspen has twice that in the town, more on the mtn. Tomorrow, it's supposed to do the same. I cannot ski for another week and am dying... This is a super dump!!!! Am trying to be good, but am not sure how long I can hang in there,...



28 inches of snow in the past 24 hours, currently 12 degrees and dropping like a rock! Send palm trees..........



It snowed 6 inches at our place yesterday afternoon and evening. It's around 16 degrees now with a forecast ranging from 10 degrees to minus five degrees tonite. How's that for a lack of precision? We're making national news with our cold weather.



Snow here up to your ying yangs. It keeps coming... Jim is out on the Bobcat, scraping the driveway. The doggies are all huddled together even though it's warm in here. Oscar is under a blanket. Maybe they have the right idea.



It has warmed up a bit here since yesterday. It was 23 degrees last night and is up to 31 this afternoon (25 with wind chill). Everything is coated in ice and covered with several inches of snow. Kathy decided to make a grocery run at noon today before the next wave of cold hits us, and we spent a half hour scraping off enough ice to make the car roadworthy.



Piss off.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The incredible morphing power ranger

It’s not like when we were kids. No sir. We didn’t have fancy morphable toys that were cars or jet planes, then flying superheroes, depending on which direction we pulled their arms (or wheels, wings, or whatever). We had building blocks. We had tinker toys. We had tin cans from the pantry we could stack and unstack. It’s not like the old days.

We ponder this, while driving down the highway in our motorhome. Our motorhome perfectly proportioned for freeway driving; the maximum size allowable to fit the lanes. When we park, push a button, things change. Slides go out, rooms are suddenly square. The dish unfolds, extends and finds the satellite. Awnings, steps, heat, air conditioning, vents, curtains? Buttons. Now we have the perfectly configured house.

No sir. It’s not like when we were kids.

Benson, to Tucson, to Mesa today. Seventy degrees.


Weather

Weather update: it is currently forty degrees warmer here (and it's not snowing).


Monday, November 27, 2006

Tow cars


From: Steve Taylor [mailto:spt@thetaylorcompany.net]
Sent: Monday, November 27, 2006 4:54 PM
To: Bill Taylor (Bill Taylor); David Taylor (David Taylor); Tom Taylor (Tom Taylor)
Subject: FW: tow cars


In an effort to properly document everything that can possibly go wrong while motorhoming, I'd like to pass along this response from a friend with his own tow-car adventure to report.

Our little tow car is like the original, but I always worry that I forgot something (like leaving the parking brake on). Also, the book recommends we run it for a few minutes every hundred miles or so. I did this one time and when I got to the NEXT stop it was still running. DUH! So now I always leave the toad door open when it is running since I can see the open door in the coach mirror and will not do that again.


Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2006 20:38:42 -0700
From: spt@thetaylorcompany.net
To: billt4@earthlink.net; taylor234@comcast.net; code-boy@earthlink.net
Subject: st vrain

Did I mention how difficult it is to hook up our tow car? Not that it’s difficult to hook it up, it’s just different. The mechanical connection of the tow gear from the motorhome to the tow car is the same as with every other car, takes about a minute. Hook up the safety cables. Hook up the air line for the brake assist. From inside the car, still have to find neutral in the transmission just like every other car. It’s the last part that’s difficult. Taking the key out. For every other car, we had to be sure the key was in the proper accessory position so the steering wheel wouldn’t lock and the front tires scuff off as we towed them sideways. In this Jeep, it’s different. Confirm that the transfer case is in neutral. Pull the key out. Walk away. The steering wheel doesn’t lock. Years of training to check and recheck the key position in the tow car. It’s not easy to overcome. Pull the key out and walk away.



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