Friday, March 31, 2017

The earth is about 25,000 miles in circumference at the equator


That almost divides perfectly into 24 time zones of 1,000 miles each.  Allow for a smaller circle around the earth at our northern latitude, and maybe we’ve got 750 miles in a time zone.  At our current pace of 250 miles a day, Judy and I should cross into a new time zone about once every three days.


Since Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings, we were effectively in the Pacific daylight time zone when we were there.  When we drove out of Arizona into New Mexico, we stayed in the same time zone, but now observed daylight savings time.  We turned the clocks forward an hour.  The next day, we drove from Mountain daylight time to Central daylight time.  Another time zone.  Two time zones in two days!  That’s like driving 1,500 miles!  That’s like driving for six days!  And we accomplished it in only two…


Meanwhile, we continue to head east and south in search of humidity.


return trip map


We arrived at Balmorhea to 91 degrees and 5% humidity.  That’s a little dry for us.  We have the humidifier blowing full blast in an attempt to make the air habitable.


We’ve got it up to 16 percent so far.



Thursday, March 30, 2017

Driving back across Southeastern Arizona on Interstate 10


…got me to thinking about the dust storms that closed the freeway on our trip out.  We’ve seen dust storms here before, with reduced visibility, but never with zero visibility, requiring the freeway to be completely closed.


Of course there are dust storms across the interstate.  The topography in Southern Arizona consists of north/south mountain ranges with wide flat sparsely vegetated valleys, and even dry lakebeds, between them.  When they built the interstate, instead of wandering through the forested foothills, like the detour route we followed when the interstate was closed, they picked the smoothest, most direct route across the state.  That took the road across these flat plains, and dry lake beds.


We talked to some locals.  They agree that the dust storms have always been an issue, but they’re worse since the pecan groves went in; miles and miles of pecan groves right next to the freeway.  Perfectly flat groves of trees with the ground beneath groomed perfectly nude; nothing alive to stabilize the soil.  Of course it’s worse now.



Our day’s drive was a success.  We’ve finally made it out of Arizona and are at Hacienda RV Resort, a familiar stopover, in Las Cruces, New Mexico.




return trip map


Tomorrow, and every day after that for the remainder of the trip, and the foreseeable future, Texas.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Arizona Radiator and Muffler shop


It’s not very big.

But then, what muffler shop is?


They have a side-yard to do their work.


It wasn’t a straight shot to get the bus in there.


They worked on the fix.  The problem is that a weld that held the exhaust pipe to the intake manifold had broken.  The emergency road service guy put a clamp over it and squeezed the joint together until we could get a more permanent fix.  The people that could do the permanent fix looked at the field-fix and decided that was the best approach.  With the engine running, they listened with a stethoscope, found a slight exhaust leak, tightened the clamp down a little harder, then put some lock nuts on so it won’t come loose.  Again, with the stethoscope, they determined the exhaust to be leak-free, and released us back out into the world.


Well, after I paid the bill.


Sixty dollars later, we were good to go.  Yes; there can be RV repairs that don’t require commas!


Good weather.  Good company.  Good home-cooking.


Arizona trip map


Tomorrow, we mean to resume our way east.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017



An uneventful drive to Arizona Radiator and Muffler shop in Tucson.  Roman and a tech had a look and admired the exhaust pipe fix the road service guy had applied.  We decided I should bring the coach back to them early tomorrow morning when they have time to work on it, they’ll make the pipe clamp more permanent, and that will conclude the repair.


We’re at the KOA in Tucson only four miles away from the repair shop.

It’s nice here.


Chicken on the grill.


Henry approves of his new lounger.


The view isn’t much,

…but we always enjoy having that little doggie in the window.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Plans Change


Rolling down the highway, still in Arizona, headed for Deming, NM, we got a “low air” warning light and pulled over.  Can’t mess around too long with low air, because air does a lot on diesel pushers.  It not only controls the air suspension that keeps the ride height right, it is also the critical element in air brakes.  The default condition for air brakes is full-on.  It takes air in the tanks to release the brakes and drive.  Once stopped with no air, the bus is going nowhere.


This happened to us the night before just as we pulled into a truck stop.  A repair guy there found the air leak and fixed it.  He didn’t have any idea why the line had leaked, but he fixed the leak.  We thought we were good to go, but today, on the freeway, we lost air again.  This time we didn’t make it off the highway, we were stranded on the shoulder.  Not a good place to be.


We had a visit with the highway patrol.


The Roadside Service guy came and looked it over.


He found an exhaust leak right up by the exhaust manifold.  Escaping hot air was scorching the air lines until they failed.  He patched things up enough for us to move off the highway; a big improvement.


…but guess where we moved off the highway to; the parking lot of The Thing!


All those highway signs for all these years, me determined to never get sucked into stopping at such a blatant tourist trap, and here we are.  Judy went inside to tell them we might be in their parking lot for a while and they couldn’t have been nicer.  Judy found a ring to buy.


Working from below, and through the access hatch in our bedroom, our repair guy got a clamp around the offending section of exhaust pipe.  He proclaimed us good enough to go, as long as we didn’t go too far.  Now it’s dark, so we determined to not go anywhere at all tonight, and stay in the Thing’s parking lot.


Arizona trip map


The closest town of any size, in either direction, is Tucson, 60 miles west.  El Paso, to the east is 250 miles away.  That’s too far.  We’re going to abandon our eastward trek and return west to Tucson.


The first order of business is to get to a big-rig muffler shop that can replace a section of large pipe.  We’ve got the shop located, but no telling how long that job will take.  Once the cause of the air-line-leaks has been corrected, we can move on to problem number two at a different shop and have someone give all the air-lines a good going-over; make sure anything that needs more than a “roadside” fix is taken care of.


This morning’s view at Kartchner Caverns.


Tonight’s view at The Thing.


Not quite the same.


But we’re happy to be here.  For all the time we spend on the road, interruptions that change our plans by more than a day don’t happen very often.  We can weather this.


We’ll refigure the trip home when we know more.  In the meantime, we’re happy with our home on wheels.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

We've moved on


...but not very far.


Arizona trip map


We’re at Kartchner Caverns State Park again.





It’s a good story about how the caverns were discovered.  Two cavers were checking out an ordinary sink-hole in 1974 on a cold day in November, when they noticed warm moist air coming from a hole under a ledge.  They widened the hole enough to get in and discovered two and a half miles of pristine cave passages.  Hoping to protect the cave from vandalism, they kept the location a secret for fourteen years.  They worked with the landowner, the Nature Conservancy, and the state of Arizona to get it established as a State Park before the discovery of the cave was made public.


Other caverns in other places got discovered and opened to the public, forever changing the underground processes.  If you just blast a big door for everyone to walk through, you change the moisture level and dry out the cave, arresting any formation development.


Kartchner Caverns is protected.  The number of tours is strictly limited and access is through airlocks.  It can be studied as a living cave.


Here for a night, then on the road again.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

De Anza RV Park


It’s a nice desert park


With a view of the mountains.


We drove a little south to Tubac.


arizona trip map


…and found Arizona’s Aspen.









A drive up Madera Canyon in the afternoon to Santa Rita Lodge to watch birds.  We finished up the evening owling.  Saw the Elf Owl come out.




Drove a little higher to Mt. Wrightson Picnic Area


… and heard Northern Pygmy Owl and Whiskered Screech-owl.  A three-owl night!



Friday, March 24, 2017

Travel Day


Much as we enjoyed our visit with the kids, it’s time to head back toward home.


arizona trip map


Lunch at Picacho Peak State Park.


Ocotillo in full bloom.


A walk in Florida Canyon outside Green Valley in the afternoon.


Dinner at De Anza RV Park.


(I might have waited a little too late at night to take the picture of our campsite…)


We've been watching gymnastics


I already posted Alex’s parallel bars from State.


(You can click to make the screen full size.)


Here is his high bar routine from State.


He’s working on his dismount off the high bar.  For a couple years he did a layout back flip.  This year he does a double back.  He’s working on adding a full twist to it.


Here he is on the floor.


At the same time Alex is practicing, there is a lot of other stuff going on as well.  The Arizona State University gymnasts are practicing.  I shot a couple of them working on their routines.




High Bar.


I love the teammates gathering around cheering their routines.


And watch the girl in pink.  A straight tumbling run.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Who knew?


Who knew Kit was here too?


Lunch with Kit.

We last knew her at Gulf Waters in Port Aransas years ago.


Dinner with Matt and Lindsay, for that matter.



(Like every other night since we’ve been here.  J)



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

We're hitting all the spots


Well, before noon anyway, and it gets too hot.


The Desert Botanical Gardens.











We liked it so much, and we’re going to be here every year, so we bought an annual membership.