The Magnificent Saguaro Cactus

The Saguaro Cactus (pronounced Sawarro) is the largest of the cactus family and can live to be 150-200 years old. These are found in The Sonoran Desert of Arizona and Mexico and occasionally in southern California.

These cactus have one tap root that only goes down about 2 feet or so and other roots that spread out just below the surface and spread out as far as the plant is tall. Although a 10 year old plant might only be about 1″-2″ tall, they can grow to be 40-60 feet tall and sprout their first “arm” at about 150 years old.

The Saguaro get most of their moisture during the summer rainy season and can end up weighing between 3000-5000 pounds. Arizona has strict regulations about harvesting or collecting Saguaro.

Once a Saguaro dies, the woody ribs can be used to build furniture, roofs, or fences.

A healthy Saguaro about 40′ tall in the National Forest

We hopped in the car and took a day trip down from our winter home at Rover’s Roost RV Park to visit the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, the Saguaro National Forest and maybe the International Wildlife Museum.

The blue dot just to the left of Casa Grande shows our home and the red balloon about an hour southeast is the Saguaro National Forest where we spent most of the day

We headed down I-10 and entered the Saguaro National Forest from the north. Although the visitor center was closed due to the federal government shutdown, the park/forest was open and we could wander all we wanted.

As usual, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged view and then you can scroll right or left to see the next picture.

There’s so much to see … even though we’re not hikers. And there’s many other types of cactus growing in this region besides the Saguaro. Some of it is even flowering now in the midst of winter when generally this happens in the spring.

We then drove on down the road a bit to the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum. But as it turned out, the entrance fee was $25 each and we were already half way through the day. We decided that for that price we had better come back another day to be able to take advantage of all the museum has to offer. We’ve heard lots of great comments from friends who have been there and want to be able to get our money’s worth.

But if you just can’t wait for our post about the museum, here’s a link to their web site to find out more.

Lunch is always a highlight of my day and this one was no exception. At the south end of the park trail is a nice little cafe called “Coyote Pause Cafe”.

After a late lunch we moved on down the road a little further to the International Wildlife Museum on Gates Pass Road. Although this museum costs only $7 each to get in, it was getting into mid-afternoon and we wanted to hit the road (I-10) before the Tucson rush hour traffic.

We’ll come back another day here too. But at least now we know what we want to see and where it is.

Thanks for coming along and be sure to sign up to get our future blog posts automatically by entering your email address in the little box on the left side where it says “Sign Up To Follow Our Blog”.

You can check out all our RV full-time travel videos at herbnkathyrv on You Tube and click SUBSCRIBE down in the lower right corner of any of our videos.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Another Great Climb .. er, Drive up the Mountain

We met Rob & Michelle when we were working up in Michigan last summer at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Park. They were pretty new to the full-time RV lifestyle themselves having retired from work, selling their home and buying the truck and the 5th wheel to live in as they traveled the country.

We were glad to find that Rob & Michelle had made their way from Michigan to Arizona and were staying at an RV park near Tucson for the month of December.

We reached out to them through Facebook and then spent the day together driving up to Mt. Lemmon (about 9000′). It was a beautiful day with temps down in Tucson at about 70+ degrees and the sun was shining brightly. We knew the temperature up on the mountain would be 20-30 degrees cooler.

Mt. Lemmon has a summit at 9159′ and is located in the Santa Catalina Mountain Range of the Coronado National Forest. The Catalina Highway is a two lane paved road that heads north from Tucson and winds it’s way on up to Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley and the little town of Summerhaven that sports a couple restaurants, a general store, and a few other small businesses.

The white squiggly line you see going up from Tanque Verde is the Catalina Highway that takes you to the summit

Summerhaven, although home to a few full-time residents, is mostly inhabited by folks who come up from the hot desert climate to escape from the heat of the summers.

One of the restaurants in Summerhaven on Mt. Lemmon

We stopped at most every wide spot in the road to be able to get out and marvel at the sites as we looked at the oddly shaped rock formations and the view of the expanse of Tucson down below.

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged view and then you can scroll right or left to see the next picture.

One of the really cool things we found before heading out on our trip was an app called “Mt. Lemon Science Tour“. This app can be downloaded from your device app store (free) and it is an approximately 1 hour narrated tour of the ride to the top. It tells you when to pull over, pause the app and goes on to explain what you’re looking at! It’s a really great idea … but we ended up having too much fun talking about what we’ve all been up to since the last time we were together. Kathy and I decided we’ll go back up sometime and use the app to learn more about what we’re seeing.

As we pulled over at one of the larger roadside parking areas we noticed about a half dozen U.S. Border Patrol vehicles. It seemed odd that they would be chasing after some bad guys all the way up here.

The parking area with Border Patrol vehicles

But as we moved closer to the overlook at the wall we could then see what all the activity was about. They were practicing their rescue techniques having installed hardware to perform a repelling operation. They actually had one of their members in a basket and were preparing to lower him over the edge into about a 100 foot drop to safety. We stayed and watched a while before we moved on.

This first video shows them getting ready to drop him over the edge – head first!
Part 2 video of the repelling operation – he’s about halfway down the cliff

All in all, it was another beautiful day in paradise and it was especially great that we were able to share it with two of our full-time RV buddies Rob and Michelle.

We look forward to maybe hooking up with Rob & Michelle (and many others) when we’re at the Big Tent RV Show in Quartzite the last week of January.

Thanks for coming along and be sure to sign up to get our future blog posts automatically by entering your email address in the little box on the left side where it says “Sign Up To Follow Our Blog”.

You can check out all our RV full-time travel videos at herbnkathyrv on You Tube and click SUBSCRIBE down in the lower right corner of any of our videos.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Arizona Cotton Farm Tour

One of the great advantages of being in one place for a bit of time (in this case the winter season) is that you get to know the other folks in the park and they quickly become your friends, or in many cases .. your family.

Last week a lot of “the family” took a tour of one of the many local cotton farms – The Caywood Family Farm  just east of Casa Grande.

Being that we lived in central Ohio for 30+ years, we were somewhat familiar (but not well versed) in the farming of wheat, soybeans, and corn. This tour provided us with TONS of information about the cotton business. We’ve seen the cotton bales and modules in fields along the road and we’ve become well aware of the cotton transport trucks, but this tour really opened our eyes to the entire process.

Some of the pictures in this post were taken while on the tour, others were taken at fields or at nearby gin, and then a few were pulled off the internet to round out the post.

Nancy Caywood was our tour guide and shared with us that she is the third generation of the Caywood family to farm that property. 

Nancy Caywood

Her son Travis is now actually running the farm and Nancy and her helper Al handle the tour operation.

You can learn more about Nancy and the rest of the crew by following this link.

We learned a lot during the 3 hour tour about the cotton farming business and how hard it is to “make it” given the dire water situation here in central Arizona along with all the government regulations on when they can plant, when (and if) they can have water, how they are required to control dust, when they must have the crop out of the ground and so many more “must” and “must not” regulations.

Here are some of the interesting facts we learned;

  • Water rights are first given to the;
    • Native Americans then;
    • City and County Governments then;
    • Industry then;
    • lastly to the farmers (if there’s any left)
  • A typical round “module” of harvested cotton weighs about 5000 pounds
  • The rectangular modules weigh about 15,000 pounds
  • The harvest weight will be about 2/3 seed and 1/3 cotton lint
  • Crops can be planted as early as late March (weather dependent)
  • Crops MUST be off the field by mid-February (regulation)
  • Crops generally get picked twice each season before the plant is cut and turned under
  • Between field preparation, planting, fertilizing, picking, 2nd picking, cutting, tilling, leveling, and other necessary operations the field is crossed by tractor 15 times or more during a typical season
  • A typical John Deere 4 row picker costs about $650,000 (new)
  • Central Arizona farmers typically grow either Pima (Egyptian) Cotton or Upland Cotton
  • The cotton “modules” are trucked to the local cotton gin for cleaning and separating the seed from the cotton lint and packaging to be transported to storage and ultimate sale to textile mills
  • Cotton or cotton seed is used in; clothing, animal feed, pharmaceutics, explosives, adhesives, oil, toothpaste, currency and hundreds of other applications
  • 95% of the cotton grown in the U.S. is exported to the Pacific Rim (China, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and others)
Al and Nancy started off the tour with a little homespun music (play the video)
We loaded up on two wagons for the farm tour

The cotton seed is planted in the spring after the final frost. The seeds begin to germinate and pop their heads out of the ground about a week later. Cultivating is done to minimize weed and grass growth that would otherwise choke out the cotton plant.

The crops are watered by flood irrigation.  The ditches are filled with water from either; on site wells or from canals coming to the area from the Central Arizona Project. The CAP gets it’s water from Lake Mead.  Yes, that’s right … central Arizona gets it’s water from Lake Mead (nearly 300 miles north of Phoenix).  The opening and closing of the irrigation gates to the fields are controlled by government agencies with hefty fines to the farmers should they be caught abusing their privileges.

Typical Irrigation Ditch (gates controlled by government agencies)
The flower has fallen and the unopened boll is exposed

About 2 months after planting, buds begin to form on the plant & in another 3 weeks or so the blossoms open with pale yellow flowers.

In a few days the petals change color to dark purple. A few days more and the flower withers and falls leaving the BOLL that contains the seeds and moist fibers. Eventually, as the seed matures the BOLL bursts open exposing the fluffy bounty. The cotton now is ready to harvest right after it is sprayed with a defoliant. This allows the leaves to fall thereby producing a cleaner cotton harvest.

Now the boll is open and ready for the picker

Here’s a typical hopper style picker.  This two-row picker collects the cotton in the large hopper in the back.  When it’s full, the picker then dumps the hopper into a large rectangular Module Builder

This picker holds loose cotton

Here’s Nancy showing us the head of their two-row picker.  This picker pulls the cotton out of the plant boll and places it up into a hopper in the back.  The loose cotton is then “dumped” out of the picker into a large rectangular cotton module builder that can then be transported to the gin for processing.

Nancy and the Picker Head

Here’s one of the picker heads showing the tall row of spindles (silver horizontal spikes). The spindles are about the size of your baby finger and rotate (very fast) and have little teeth on them that catch and pull the cotton off the plant.  At the same time, the vertical shaft that the spindles are attached to is also turning and moving the spindles under a brush to remove the cotton so it can be blown up into the hopper at the rear of the picker

Inside the picker head showing the spindles and brushes. 
This shows the doffers that pull the cotton off the spindles so it can be blown up into the hopper

Once the cotton is picked it needs to get to the gin for processing .. right?  So the farmer dumps the cotton from the picker into what is called a Module Builder.

The wheels on the Module Builder are mounted on hydraulic rams so that the “box” can be lifted off the ground so it can be towed by the tractor

The module builder is basically a large metal box that is open on the top and bottom, one solid end and a gate on the other end.  It is usually hooked to a tractor to not only move it around the field, but also to supply the hydraulic power for the ram to pack the cotton tightly

The inside of the large module builder.  Note the large white arm that holds the ram to pack the cotton tightly.  The ram is remotely controlled to move from end to end

The walls of the module builder are sloped being wider at the bottom than the top so that the builder can be pulled off the module easily

Here’s a You Tube video I found online that shows how the Module Builder works

After the module is packed, it’s time to pull the builder away and then the transport truck comes to pick up the module and take it to the gin for processing

The wheel hydraulic rams lift the builder, the tractor pulls the builder forward, and the cotton module is left on the ground awaiting transport to the gin

This cotton transport truck drives onto the cotton field, backs up to the end of the packed cotton module, turns on the chain drive track in the floor of the trailer, and backs up …. at the same speed that the chain drive runs.  This picks up the module .. one foot at a time .. and neatly deposits it into the truck trailer where it’s then taken to the cotton gin for processing.

One of the large 15,000 lb modules on the feed conveyor into the gin
Close-up of the conveyor system feeding the gin. The blue bin in the front holds the yellow (round) module wrappers to be compacted and sent to plastic recycling
Just some of the modules sitting in the gin lot waiting to be processed.

The newer and larger cotton pickers can produce their own round modules

A newer 6 head cotton picker that makes it’s own round modules
This picker rolls the cotton into round 5000# modules.  These larger pickers eliminate the need for a separate (rectangular) module builder

The round modules are dropped in the field by the picker and then a very large fork-lift type of truck goes out and picks them up and sets them onto the flat bed trailer for delivery to the gin.

This picture below shows round modules arriving at the gin and being weighed

Round modules coming from the farm and being weighed at the gin (40,000# est)

Look closely below (right side of picture) and you’ll see the tractor placing the round modules onto the conveyor to head into the gin for processing

Modules being loaded onto a conveyor belt that feeds them into the gin
Trucks loaded with the ginned 500# cotton bales to head to storage (for ultimate sale)

Unfortunately, we can’t go into the gin to see the operation first hand (safety issues), but I found this YouTube video online that explains the process very well.  Although this video was done in Australia, the process is very similar if not identical to how it’s done here in Arizona.

An Australian video of the cotton ginning process

The picture below shows the large piles of cotton seed that will be processed further for things like; cottonseed oil, fertilizer, animal feed, soap, glycerin, cosmetics, rubber, and a lot more that we use every day.

Large piles of seed outside the gin. This will be processed further for other products

All in all it was a great day and we thank Nancy Caywood for the very informative tour. Now when we drive throughout Arizona and see all the cotton farms, we’ll have a new appreciation for the crop and the people that work so hard to produce it, especially given the limited water supply.

To learn more about Caywood Farms, you can visit their web site at www.caywoodfarms.com or find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/caywoodfarms/

Thanks for riding along with us. Visit our You Tube channel @ herbnkathyrv to see some of the videos we’ve produced

And remember … not all who wander are lost – J. R. R.Tolkien

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Cactus in Casa Grande

We took a drive over to Avocado Nursery near Coolidge, AZ – only about 20 minutes or so northeast of our spot at Rover’s Roost RV Park.  Kathy had a small Barrel Cactus that she had bought at Kroger in 2016 and it’s been on the dashboard of the coach ever since.  She’s re-potted it a couple of times and our daughter Sara had given her others to add to her collection when we were visiting Ohio back in the spring of 2018.

The (now brown) larger spiky cactus turned brown seemingly pretty fast.  We weren’t sure if it just got too much sun, was infected by some sort of bug, or was just root-bound.

The Barrel Cactus along with the others seemed to be doing ok, but we decided it might be a good thing to get some larger containers and re-pot them into fresh soil with larger surroundings so they could flourish.  We don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to plants and flowers, so that’s why we hit the road — besides, we like road trips – no matter how long or short they might be!

They couldn’t tell us definitively what had caused the one plant to go brown all of a sudden, but they offered to get us some other containers and also do the planting for us.  Ordinarily this would be something we’d do ourselves but living on the road in an RV means if we bought a 5# bag of soil, and some gravel for the bottom we’d still have to lay out a tarp at our site (all gravel and concrete) and we’d most certainly have leftover soil and gravel to deal with getting rid of.

It was just so much easier to let them do it for us.

While we were watching and visiting with the ladies doing the re-potting, I took the opportunity to talk with the owner, Phil.

Phil and his wife bought the 10 acre property in 1980, built their home, and began to build the nursery.  They were both school teachers (Phil taught vocational agriculture and horticulture for 30+ years) and had the summers off and although the southern Arizona summers can be brutal, these two forged ahead and built their home, the greenhouses, and all the other little buildings on the property, all while building the nursery business at the same time.

Although Phil’s wife passed away a few years ago, he and his 6 employees work 6 days a week to keep this retail garden nursery open along with working at their 300 acre wholesale nursery up near Douglas, Arizona.

Kathy and I walked throughout much of the 10 acre grounds and wanted to share some of what we saw.  Here’s a sampling of what we found at this rare find in the desert.  And as always, you can click on any photo to see an enlarged view.

Although you don’t see a lot of pretty multi-colored flowers like those of us from the mid-west are so accustomed to, when we look closely we can see the buds and blossoms on the cactus and see the beauty that the desert has to offer.

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Entrance to the compound with the Great House in the background. Note the bird nest holes in the cactus on the right.

Throughout the southwest, and specifically Arizona, there are many sites of ruins from early native peoples.

Last week we took a short drive from our winter home at Rover’s Roost RV Park in Casa Grande, Arizona on over to Coolidge where we visited the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.

The other ruins we’ve visited in Arizona have been home to cliff-dwelling peoples (see this link to our other visits) while this one was home to Sonoran Desert farmers.  In the center of the community is the “Great House” and the foundations of other smaller buildings and meeting and work areas surround the larger structure.  Further out from the walls of the community were an impressive network of large and small canals for crop irrigation.

The Sonoran people abandoned (for unknown reasons) the area about 1450 A.D. archeologists tell us while the area was first visited by non-native people around 1690.

Here are some pictures of our visit, but you can find more information about the ruins by clicking here.

As always, you can click on any picture to get an enlarged view to see more detail.

The wood beam and metal bar are recent efforts to reinforce the wall to keep it from falling

Thanks for riding along with us.

Take Care of yourselves and our best wishes to you wherever you might be.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our Stop at The Home of The Aliens

November 1st, 2018

Roswell, New Mexico

We were through this area a couple years ago and stayed at the Escapees “North Ranch” RV Park at Lakewood, NM and took the opportunity to visit Carlsbad Caverns, but our schedule at that time didn’t allow for a trip to Roswell.

So this time (after ABQ Balloon Fiesta and RV rallies at Wellington and Brownwood, TX) we decided to take in Roswell and it’s surroundings for a couple of days.

We “dry camped” just about 12 miles due east of Roswell at Bottomless Lakes State Park.  Dry camping means there are no hook-ups for electricity or water (fresh or waste).  We bring along our own electricity and water so dry camping for a week or so is not a problem for us.

Our (1st) Dry Camping Spot at Bottomless Lakes State Park

When we pulled in and reviewed the sites available, we decided to camp at “The Devil’s Inkwell”.  We backed the coach into a nice wide spot where we could take a walk up the hill and look down into the “inkwell” and over our site to the western setting sun.  A beautiful and quiet spot.

Panoramic view of Devils Inkwell and our dry camp spot down below

The “Bottomless Lakes” are really giant sinkholes.  There are a number of them in the park ranging from 17′ to about 90′ deep.  The water is crystal clear and while some of the water is great for aquatic life, some of the other lakes are too high in saline (salt water) for anything to live there.

After our first night there, we moved our rig from Devil’s Inkwell over to Lea Lake Day Use area.  This gave us a great view of the lake and although there were other campers in the area, no one was closer than a couple hundred feet.

Here’s our spot right at the edge of Lea Lake

This is a view from the park road up atop the lake. Our rig is on the right side of the picture at about the 2 o’clock position

And of course, who could visit the Roswell area without trying to connect with an alien or two?

These guys welcomed us as we drove into town.

 

Part of a display the the UFO Museum in town

Spooky – Their eyes followed us wherever we went

Visiting the International UFO Museum

We ended our 2nd evening with a “night out” to the Cattle Baron Restaurant.  We split a Teriyaki Kabob and each enjoyed their salad bar.  What a great meal!

My FIRST trip to the salad bar! – Not good for my “Low Carb” diet but you just gotta splurge sometimes!

We could’ve just driven on westward toward our final destination, but being this close we figured we just had to stop and see the sights at Roswell.  It was worth the time to see not just the alien novelties, but the park was beautiful and restful.

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Volunteering at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF)

UPDATE: It’s October 30th, 2018.  We left Albuquerque on Oct 9th, attended the RV Nomads Rally in Wellington, TX followed by the Texas Country Air(stream) Rally in Brownwood, TX then to Lake Colorado City State Park (TX) and now we are at Bottomless Lake State Park at Roswell, NM for a couple nights.  We are on our way to our winter home at Rover’s Roost RV Park (Casa Grande, AZ)

We just crossed the two year mark as full-time RV’ers. We’ve sold our Sticks n Bricks house in Ohio and lived virtually rent-free by Workamping our way around the country.

As Workampers, we stay at RV parks, campgrounds, and other places for free in exchange for (generally) about 12-20 hours per week working at the park or campground.

Very often parks and campgrounds want to bring on Workampers for the entire season .. usually 5 or 6 month stints.

We started the full-time RV lifestyle to see the country and soon realized that if we only move twice a year … or go back to the same place twice … then we’ll be about 130 years old by the time we see all the places we want to go!

As a result, we’ve been looking for shorter term gigs. That’s how we came to volunteer at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF). We met our new good friends Matt and Sherry last winter at the Escapees RV Club “Rainbows End” park in Livingston, TX while we were all Workamping there.

Matt & Sherry Hylbom “Get Out The Map”

Matt and Sherry shared with us their experiences the previous fall working at the AIBF and it sounded exciting to us, so we reached out to the contact they gave us and here we are!

We arrived a full 3 weeks before the start of Fiesta, and we spent that time; chalking boundaries of all the 1600 RV parking spaces, stringing flag lines around the perimeter lines of each of the 40 or so parking areas, setting up the volunteer break tent with tables, chairs, fridge and freezer, and getting the check-in booth all ready to greet and register the soon- to-be arriving RV’ers.

Early on, before the show begins … stormy weather can be seen obscuring the Sandia Mountains – See the rainbow just over the bed of the pickup?

Of the 1600 spaces, about 400 had water and 30 amp electric. Electricians ran all the electric, but volunteers ran all the water lines

As one of the 1100 Navigators (Volunteers), we both got these snappy jackets!

Most of the south lot is dirt, some gravel and even some old asphalt. Dusty week for sure with all those rigs coming and going!

And then the fun begins!

Kathy worked 6 hour shifts at the check-in booth as RV’s pulled in to the lot (room for 1600 rigs). There are 3 windows at the booth so she worked with two other ladies each shift. They checked in the arrivals and gave them their parking passes and each rig also received a “goody bag” with some small gifts and lots of printed information about the event and the grounds.

The Check-In booth where Kathy and the other ladies worked

 

My primary responsibility was to stand at the head of the line and greet RV’ers pulling up, ask them to check-in at the booth, and then once they had their parking credentials, point them in the direction of a “parker” driving a golf cart who would then take them to their spot.

Pix published in the Albuquerque Journal

 

Our work day started at 7:30 am when we all met in the volunteer tent and had a short meeting about what size crowd we could expect that day.  Since everyone had reservations, we knew what groups were coming in and which ones were leaving on any given day.

Although some stayed for the entire 10 day event, many came just for one or the other of the weekends.

Rigs would be lined up in the drive from the night before and we parked all day until closing at 7:00 pm.  Any arrivals after that time dry camped in the entrance drive until the next morning.

Although we worked a LOT of hours during the 10 day Fiesta, we did have an opportunity (3 times) to take the shuttle bus across Alameda Avenue to the launch field to see the balloons.  We went once in the morning to see the daily “Mass Ascension” and twice in the evening to see the “Glowdeo”.  It was also great to be able to see the balloons land right in our RV parking lot occasionally!

Here’s a slide show of some of the pictures I took.  If you want to see ALL of the pictures, then go ahead and follow this link to a Google Photo Album I put together.

All in all, it was a great event and a once in a lifetime experience.  Kathy and I spent just about a month from mid-September to mid-October and although we worked long hours many days, it was great making new friends, seeing new sights, tasting new/different foods, and being part of the AIBF experience.

They always need volunteers (Navigators) and if you think you would like to volunteer and in turn receive; free RV site, free utilities, free food, tickets to all events, and a really nice jacket … then early in the year, go to this link.  Don’t be discouraged if the web site still shows last years info, just wait a few weeks and try again.  In 2018 the volunteer web application didn’t start until May.

There you can fill out the application.  They need about 1100 volunteers to make this event work.  Some volunteers are golf cart shuttle drivers, some are guest info folks, some work on the launch field, and a host of other volunteer positions are available.  If you have an RV and you know you want to be a “parker” then indicate that on the application.  They need and should have about 35-50 volunteer parkers.

Although we had a great time, we won’t be going back.  Kathy and I made the decision to live the full-time RV lifestyle so that we could “see the country” and we’re working toward that goal.  If we go back to the same place twice, it’s just gonna take that much longer to see all that there is to see … and there’s a LOT out there!

Thanks for reading.  C’mon along by subscribing to this blog (www.herbnkathyrv.com) or subscribe to our You Tube channel herbnkathyrv and visit us on Facebook.com/herbnkathyrv.  We look forward to seeing you down the road.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Tinkertown? What the heck is that?

Writing this on Nov 19, 2018

While we worked at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF) in the fall of 2018, we were able to take some time to see some of the local sights.

We took a drive up to Sandia Crest (that we could see from where our coach was parked).

The view looking east to Sandia Peak from our initial parking area at AIBF. This is a shot just before sunset casting the “Watermelon Glow” on the mountain range

The drive along the winding curvy road along the edge of the mountain to the peak (crest) at 10,760 feet came to a dead end where there was ample parking area, a coffee and gift shop, and a forest of cell and radio towers.

Kathy and I at the peak, over our shoulders is the AIBF field below to the west

Cell towers, broadcast station antennas and government radio station antennas at the peak adjacent to the parking area

The Crest House – now home to a cafe, coffee bar, and gift shop

Just so happened to be a sports car rally at the peak the day we were there

Now the trip to the peak and the view from the top was great … ooh I forgot to mention … we were there with our new good friends from Wild Rose, Wisconsin … Bill and Jackie.  We really enjoyed their company and their friendship while in ABQ and we look forward to seeing them again yet this winter in Arizona – perhaps while we are in Quartzite for the “Big Tent” RV Show.

Bill & Jackie from Wild Rose, Wisconsin

On our way back down from the peak, we were told by others that we just had to stop and check out Tinkertown.  And are we glad we did.  You can drive right by it if you’re not careful.  There’s one small hand painted sign along the road side “Tinkertown 500′ ahead” and if you’re not really looking for it, you’ll zip on by.

Tinkertown is one of those places that some like to call “eclectic with a touch of whimsy” – I think it’s really eclectic with a boatload of whimsy.

So what is Tinkertown?  Well, this clip from their web site says it best;

“It took Ross Ward over 40 years to carve, collect, and lovingly construct what is now Tinkertown Museum. His miniature wood-carved figures were first part of a traveling exhibit, driven to county fairs and carnivals in the 1960s and ’70s. Today over 50,000 glass bottles form rambling walls that surround a 22-room museum. Wagon wheels, old fashioned store fronts, and wacky western memorabilia make Tinkertown’s exterior as much as a museum as the wonders within.

Inside, the magic of animation takes over. The inhabitants of a raucous little western town animate to hilarious life. Under the big top, diminutive circus performers challenge tigers and defy gravity while the Fat Lady fans herself and a polar bear teeters and totters.

Throughout, eccentric collections of Americana (wedding cake couples, antique tools, bullet pencils and much, much more) fill Tinkertown’s winding hallways. Otto the one-man-band and Esmerelda, the Fortune Teller, need only a quarter to play a tune or predict your future. Through a doorway and across a ramp waits a big-sized surprise: a 35′ antique wooden sailboat that braved a 10 year voyage around the world.”

Here are some pictures that I took as we traveled through the “museum” constantly fascinated by not only the craftsmanship of Ross Ward, but the imagination he must’ve had to come up with all this.  Absolutely amazing.  Read on.

As always, you can click on any of the individual pictures to see a larger image. And be sure to click on the images of the sailboat the “Theodora R” and the map on the wall of the 10,000 mile voyage – fascinating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To learn more about this fascinating museum and the fascinating man who had the vision and the talent, visit their web site at http://tinkertown.com/

Just one more example of all the interesting places to see in this great country of ours.

Thanks for riding along .. until later .. take care of yourselves

herbnkathy – Currently wintering at Rover’s Roost RV Park in Casa Grande, AZ

 

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

It’s the people that make the difference.

As I’ve said before, we love seeing new sights but more than that, we so enjoy meeting all these fascinating people and listening to their stories.

Enter Jerry and Pat who hosted us at their home just north of Springfield, MO.

These folks are retired educators, Pat having been a school secretary and pre-school age teacher and Jerry a math and physics teacher, principal and ultimately a school system superintendant.

But far more interesting than their “real” jobs was their retirement career.

They joined the circus!

Jerry, while perusing the newspaper, was caught up by a classified ad .. and that’s what newspaper ads are supposed to do, right? The ad sounded too good, it read something like “get paid to travel the country .. earn a living meeting people” or something like that.

To make a long story a little shorter, Jerry and Pat ultimately met with the circus owners and came to an agreement on how their job responsibilities would look.

The circus (based in Oklahoma) covers the whole country in 2 years. They travel ideally no more than 100 miles each day and cover the eastern half of the country one year and the western half the following year.

The 100 mile limit gives them just enough time to tear down the circus tents and pack up all the animals and props, move to the next town, unload and set up the tents, bring out the animals and props and put on the next show. And then do it all over again the next day!

And sometimes I dare to think that WE have a hectic travel schedule? HAH!

All we have to do is pull in the slides, turn the key, and roll on down the road .. ok so there’s a little more to it than that, but not much. After hearing Jerry’s description of how the circus has to prepare to travel each day, I’ll never complain again!

Our host’s job was to serve as the advance team traveling the planned route about 3 months ahead of the circus’ planned cities and villages.

They would solicit local civic organizations and service organizations and sign up one of them to act as sponsor of the upcoming circus. Profits from the circus would benefit the local community organization and of course the circus would get their share as well.

The local organization .. be it the local Lions Club, YMCA, library, or volunteer firefighters .. although excellent at what they do and worthy of the community support that would be realized by the circus coming to town .. are typically terrible marketers.

This is where Jerry and Pat come in. They help guide the sponsor organization as to where and when to advertise and share the circus’ expertise on how to enlist the aid of others in the community to make sure they get the biggest crowd possible.

This all happens 3 months in advance of the event. Then at the one month mark, Jerry and Pat came back to town as “Professor Carson and Barnsey the Clown”. (The circus company is Carson and Barnes).

Because they were both retired educators, they keenly understood that they would not be allowed to interrupt learning to “hype” the circus in the schools.

They developed the “Magic of Math” routine which accomplished both the goal of marketing the upcoming circus to the students and teaching the kids at the same time. It was a win-win for the local organization, the kids participating in the “Magic of Math” show, and the circus!

Jerry and Pat “worked” for the circus for years traveling in their RV and moving from town to town sometimes having 3 or 4 shows scheduled in one day! A crazy schedule that they eventually retired from and only RV “locally” now visiting family and close friends in and around Missouri.

Jerry encouraged us to visit Hugo, (OK) someday to see the home of many circus companies including Carson and Barnes. He promises us it would be an interesting visit where the circus folks would welcome us as they encourage visitors to stop on by.

He told us that when we go to Hugo, we should be sure to visit Travelers Cemetary. Jerry went on to explain that “the old man” (I’m not sure if that was Old Man Carson or Old Man Barnes) saw the need for a final resting place for the nomadic circus employee. And since the circus is really a family, why not offer a place they can all call their “final show”.

To that end, The Old Man bought some acreage and started the TRAVELERS CEMETARY. Jerry tells us the fence posts around the cemetary are topped with ornamental circus animals. Tombstone monuments are decorated with images representative of that persons position/job in the circus be it a juggler, animal trainer, trapeze artist, or other position.

We’re gonna put Hugo, Oklahoma on our bucket list!

And Jerry and Pat’s driveway on our “return visit” list!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

repost: The Day our Heartland RV Left us Homeless

I just learned of this family’s plight this morning.  Their story is nearly unbelievable, although I’ve been reading more and more about the generally poor quality of RV’s built today.

In talking with other RV’ers (weekend warriors or full-timers) we hear time and time again about how so many RV manufacturers are pushing crap out the door.  And when it comes to standing behind the products they make, their response seems to be “who, me?”

If you’re thinking of buying that new RV, I urge you to take a close look at what’s on the used market.  The thousands you can save can go a LONG way toward changing out that outdated flooring or fixtures.  And generally the frames (although they may have a little surface rust) and the structure are made of much heavier (stronger) materials.

When you look at the older (10+ years) rigs, pay attention to things like; leveling jacks and other frame components.  Now compare how beefy they are to the ones on current model rigs.  Look at all the cabinet work inside and compare.  How many of the new rigs have real wood?  It may look pretty, but get up close and you’ll likely see (and feel) that it’s nothing more than a man-made composite covered with a high grade contact paper.

Yes, I know … the older rigs don’t have the bells and whistles the new rigs do.  But do the bells and whistles do us any good if our rig is in generally such poor shape after just a couple years that we no longer are able to use it?

Don’t believe this can happen?  Read this one couples story via The Day our Heartland RV Left us Homeless

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
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