Volunteering at D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery

Really? We don’t fish … we don’t cook or even eat ENOUGH fish (according to the health experts) and we don’t really have any desire to handle fish or even SMELL fish! Why on earth would we consider working at a fish hatchery as one of our Workamping / Volunteering gigs?

Our good friends Phil and Cheryl volunteered here in 2016 and other good friends Matt and Sherry volunteered here in 2018 and they ALL highly recommended that we get on the list to volunteer here. Matt and Sherry were coming back again this year (’19) and so we submitted our application and resume’ back in August of 2018 and were accepted as volunteers.

D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives is not your normal production fish hatchery. There are 90 national U.S. Fish & Wildlife fish hatcheries throughout the nation along with many other state-managed hatcheries that are still in full-time operation.

This hatchery was an active production facility from it’s completion of construction in 1899 until 1983. At that time it was closed as a major production facility and turned into the national hatchery education site and archives.

Volunteering here has given both Kathy and I a new appreciation for serving as “tour guides” doing interpretive work. We were both a little nervous about this new role in our lives as volunteers. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that most of our volunteer experiences have been working in private or public RV parks or campgrounds as hosts, cleaning crew, or office duties. Although all of these positions have involved working with the public and have given us the opportunity to meet and talk with a lot of new people, we’ve not been put in the position of “tour guide” doing interpretive work.

Would we be able to learn the script? Would we be able to smile all day? Would we be able to be on our feet for four and a half hours at a time? We were not concerned about the camp site, the area, or the management. We were confident that would all be great … thanks to our friends who’d worked here before.

We have to say that as of this writing … we’ve only been here about 3 weeks now … it’s been a wonderful experience and we’re quite comfortable with doing the interpretive work (tour guides) and we’re really enjoying our interactions with the other volunteers and being able to see the many sights that the Black Hills of South Dakota have to offer.

There are basically four different venues here where the volunteers are scheduled to work. Our venue assignments are rotated each shift. Spouses work the same shifts. We work 3 half-days on duty, then 3 full days off duty.

We might work in; the Museum, the Fish Car, the Booth House, or the Gift Shop.

The original hatchery building, constructed in 1899

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

Fish Car #3 and the Ice House

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

The Booth House – where hatchery Superintendents and their families lived

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

The “Pond Shop” gift shop overlooking pond #1
Inside the gift shop we sell hatchery merchandise and LOTS of fish food!
The “Pond Gift Shop” and restrooms with Pond #1 at the left

There are 10 RV sites in “Volunteer Village” which is a separate area of the beautiful Spearfish City Campground that is dedicated to use by volunteers at D.C. Booth Hatchery. We are supplied the Full Hookup site, 45 channel cable, free wi-fi and a community fire pit area where we often gather each night for a campfire with smores and stories. Sometimes we have pot luck meals there too!

Our sites back up to Spearfish Creek and a walking trail
Boys having fun floating down Spearfish Creek right behind our rigs

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

Another special perk of this position is that the volunteers all get a “VIP” card to carry in their wallet. This card is issued by the Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association and it entitles us to free admission to about 40 area attractions and discounts in area gift shops and restaurants.

The idea is that as tour guides at D.C. Booth we have the opportunity to meet and interact with hundreds of visitors daily and we should take the opportunity to talk with them about other attractions in the area. We’re kind of a “mini marketing” team for other things to see and do nearby.

This is the list of all the attractions free to tourism VIP’s

Some of these benefits are valued at just a few dollars while others are over $100 per ticket. It’s a great idea to promote the are wonderful benefit for us too!

While we are here at Spearfish (through Sept 2019) I’ll be writing other short blog posts about our excursion trips that we take using the VIP cards so you can get a better feel for a lot of what there is to offer here in the beautiful Black Hills!

If you think you might be interested in volunteering at D.C. Booth Historic Fish Hatchery and Archives, visit their web site at https://dcboothfishhatchery.org/volunteer-programs/

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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

Just A Sleepy Little Town

After our three days and nights at the Sweetwater Events Center (fair grounds @ Rock Springs Wyoming) we made our way further east on I-80 and then up U.S. 287 through Muddy Gap and around Casper, then up I-25 to Powder River Campgrounds at Kaycee, Wyoming.

Honestly, the only reason we went to Kaycee was because the camping was cheap, it would be a full hook-up site, and they had a laundry. We are members of Passport America and the PA web site showed Kaycee as the closest member park and as a result we are able to stay for $20/night which is 1/2 the normal non-member rate of $40 nightly.

There was one other camper there, but we never saw any occupants

We were cheerily welcomed by the on-site park manager Deneene and she welcomed us to the area, gave us a full hook-up pull-through site and proceeded to tell us a little about the town and especially the Bronc Riding School that would be happening the next two days across the street at the local fair grounds.

Turns out that Kaycee is famous for producing professional rodeo stars – over a dozen have come from this sleepy little town to go on to earn their living as professional national rodeo stars.

Here’s an excerpt from a local paper explaining the phenomenon;

The following is an excerpt from PATRICK SCHMIEDT Star-Tribune staff writer Jul 13, 2006

Blend a supportive community, a heavy dose of history and a simple case of boredom, and it shouldn’t have been too surprising to see five Kaycee competitors in Wednesday’s performance at the Central Wyoming Rodeo.

The small town of about 250 people an hour north of Casper has produced more successful cowboys than most towns 100 times its size. But none of the five competitors in Wednesday’s performance has completely figured out why.

Morgan Forbes, a 23-year-old saddle bronc rider looking for a return trip to the National Finals Rodeo, attributes the success of Kaycee cowboys, in part, to boredom.

“There’s not much else to do out in Kaycee,” he said.

As for Jeremy Ivie, who, at 29, moved to Kaycee five years ago from Duchesne, Utah, it’s all the “old guys” in town who help foster rodeo success. After all, the names of rodeo families in and around the town are familiar in rodeo circles: Forbes. Graves. LeDoux. Sandvick. Scolari. Shepperson. Orchard. Jarrard. Latham.

Dusty Orchard, a 25-year-old bull rider, said the town is a “coffee shop,” where the residents applaud when a hometown cowboy does well and offer a twinkle-eyed razzing when there is more disappointment than success.

Or, as Orchard suggested, it may be because Kaycee doesn’t have a football team to rally behind. Instead, the community rallies around rodeo.

Actually, it’s a combination of those ingredients that blend the perfect atmosphere for the sport, an atmosphere that has helped to produce about a dozen competitors – around five percent of the town’s residents – solid enough to maintain current careers on the professional rodeo circuit.

“If you want to rodeo, it’s the greatest place in the world to grow up,” said saddle bronc rider Sandy Forbes, Morgan’s older brother. ” … It’s just what we do.”

“If you’re wanting to be somewhere that supports rodeo, that’s the town,” she said.

We decided to stay another night and that afternoon after the Bronc School an Airstream trailer pulled in next to us and we met Angie and Bunny who were traveling to Yellowstone (to work) from Indiana. We enjoyed a nice chicken dinner with them that night at a local restaurant.

It was a real treat for these two city-slickers lemme tell ‘ya. We got to see a “stampede” of a hundred horses go by us on the bridge that we could’ve reached out and touched. Add to that watching these young kids get bucked off the broncs as their seniors trained them to ride ’em.

Check out the video below for the full story.

Thanks for riding along. We appreciate that you stop to take the time to read and come along with us on our adventure. Please leave a comment or two down the page in the comments section – What do you think of these kids being bucked off the horse?

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

Great Time at Escapade ’19

As members of the Escapees RV Club, Kathy and I attended our 2nd “Escapade” this past week. The first one we attended was in Essex Junction (Burlington area), Vermont back in summer of 2016. This year’s Escapade was in Tucson at the Pima County Fairgrounds.

Aerial View of The RV Park at Pima County Fairgrounds

The annual Escapade is held in different locations around the country. 2018 was in Sedalia, Missouri while next year’s event will be held in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Holding the rally in different locations allows club members in different areas of the country to attend without having to travel extreme distances.

The rally is an opportunity to; renew friendships with other travelers you haven’t seen in a long while, enjoy some great regional food, attend as many as 10 or 15 informational seminars scheduled over a 4 day period, visit the Marketplace where vendors of RV equipment and supplies display and sell their products, take a tour of nearly 100 new and used RV’s on the lot, and attendees can even volunteer as shuttle cart drivers, hospitality hosts, parking attendants, morning coffee crew members, and lots of other opportunities.

Here are some pictures of various parts of the event. We took over the Pima County Fairgrounds with 830 recreational vehicles (RV’s) and just about 2500 attendees.

As usual, if you click on any of the individual pictures below, it will open into a larger image so you can see more detail.

Here’s a couple videos of the evening entertainment. This evening’s video features “The American Rogues” (Sorry the audio is not nearly as impressive as it was at the live presentation). You could feel the drums beating and the rafters shaking.

The American Rogues

Here’s a video of the “Redhead Express” – and 5 of these 6 band members are siblings!

The Redhead Express

Thanks for coming along. We are blessed to be able to live the full-time RV lifestyle and we hope you enjoy riding along with us on our adventures.

So long for now!

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

A Great Time in Quartzsite (Mostly)

We just returned to our winter home at Rover’s Roost SKP RV Park in Casa Grande, AZ after spending a “mostly” wonderful 10 days or so at Quartzsite.

What’s Quartzsite you ask? Quartzsite is a small town in the western Arizona desert, only about 15 miles or so from Blythe, California. Quartzsite (during the summer) is a sleepy little town of about 3000 people. But WATCH OUT! Because when winter arrives, the town and surrounding desert lands explode with RV’ers and Van Campers and all sorts of folks from all over the country.

The red balloon is Quartzsite. The blue balloons are places on our bucket list

The population in the winter goes from about 3000 up to 300,000 or more as folks show up to attend one or more of the many shows that take place. You have the Big Tent RV Show, Gem show, Rock Show, Jewelry Show, and on-going Flea Market(s) over the winter months.

It’s a boom town in the winter

We went to attend the big RV, Sports, and Vacation Show and we worked at the Escapees RV Club booth selling club memberships to show attendees.

The show officially started on Saturday January 19th although we arrived early on Tuesday the 15th to an area in the desert about 6 miles north of Quartzsite known as “Boomerville”. Boomerville is an unofficial area off the north side of Plamosa Road where about 500-600 Escapee (baby boomers) meet each year at Q to renew old friendships.

It was a crappy cold and rainy day and our good friends Paul and Chris arrived from Yuma with a flat tire on their motorhome.

Replacing the tire in the rain and mud of the desert

Thankfully, Paul & Chris had subscribed to the Escapee Roadside Assistance program and the repairman (with a trailer full of tools) was out to the site within about an hour or so.

While the repairmen were working on replacing the tire, the rest of us gathered in Walter & Rebecca’s rig. We had all met for the first time in Livingston, TX back in December of 2017 and it was great to spend time together again.

Waiting for the tire repair in the warm comfort of Walter & Rebecca’s rig

The following morning we (the 5 couples working together in the club booth) moved on down the road to the site of the “Big Tent” where we would be working over the next 10 days or so.

In line waiting to get escorted to our parking spot at the Big Tent
We got a prime spot right in front of the Big Tent (that’s our green rig in the middle)

The parking area filled up quickly with vendor’s rigs. There were nearly 500 vendor booths inside the tent along with dozens more outside selling everything from new and used RV’s to generators, cell phones, satellite TV systems, RV park spaces, accessories, personal health and beauty aids, leather goods, jewelry, and TONS more.

Here’s a shot of one of the 3 rows inside the tent before most of the vendors arrived
A shot of one of the vendor rows outside the tent during a weekday, the weekends were busier
(L to R) Lisa, Rob, Jim, and Dennis setting up the booth ready for the crowds
Jim and Chris (background) talking with a prospective member along with Paul and Lisa (foreground) signing up a couple of new members
Here’s a quick look video inside the Big Tent

We were fortunate to have 5 couples working the booth and we all had a great time getting to know one another. We had at least 3 pot luck dinners.

Robyn and Larry live in New Mexico and will be retiring and transitioning to full time RV life in May while Dennis and Connie from the Cincinnati area along with Rob and Laura from Indianapolis and Kathy and me (from Ohio) are full timers. Paul and Chris still live on the family farm in Iowa during the summers and travel extensively during the winters. Our fearless leaders Jim and Lisa are both retired but working again for the club as leaders of the RV Show Teams and of the club Head Out Programs (Caravans/Cruises/Bus Tours). Believe me, with their hectic schedule, they are FAR from being retired!

Our crew at the booth near the end of the show. Unfortunately, Lisa didn’t make it into the picture this day

Click on any of the images in the gallery below to see a larger view

As we’ve said before … traveling the country and seeing all the beautiful landscape is rewarding enough, but the big reward is meeting all the new folks and developing such great new friendships. We so look forward to our next opportunity to meet up on down the road.

We worked the booth selling new memberships, we walked the tent looking at all the many vendors had to offer, we spent too much money buying “stuff” (which we can talk about later), and we had a great time over numerous dinners laughing and sharing stories.

All in all, it was a GREAT trip and a wonderful experience. Only the first day was a bummer due to the bad weather and Paul & Chris’ flat tire.

If you’re an Escapee RV Club member and you’d like to work one of the RV shows across the country, reach out to Lisa (you know who she is). If you’re an RV’er and you’re NOT an Escapee … come on along and join us! Here’s the link – it’s a great RV club … and so much more. It’ll be the best $39.95 you’ve spent in a LONG time! (psss – tell ’em Herb n Kathy sent you)

Thanks for following along on the ride .. more to come about our other adventures later and we look forward to meeting up with you somewhere along the way!

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

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

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

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

Workamping Fun at Rainbow’s End RV Park Livingston, TX

We are wrapping up our Workamping experience at the Escapees RV Club park known as “Rainbow’s End.

This was the first park built in the system back in the late ’70’s.  There were a handful of die-hard full-time RV’ers that donated their time and their talents to build this park.

This is also the home of the clubs National Headquarters and mail service that serves nearly 10,000 members and handles 25,000 pieces of mail daily.

We arrived October 15, 2017 and Kathy has been working in the office 8 hrs/week checking in new arrivals and taking reservations on the phone.  I’ve been working 12 hrs/week outside maintaining the grounds and the buildings.

In exchange for the combined 20 hrs/week we receive a free full hook-up site and utilities.  Laundry allowance is not provided.

Here’s a 6 minute video that I put together showing some of the amenities of the park and what the workampers get involved in during a typical week.

I’m also learning to use a new video editing software, so please bear with me and some of the features I’ve been experimenting with like; titles, transitions, voice-overs, fade-in and fade-out, and music.

Please remember to SUBSCRIBE to our You Tube channel by clicking on the icon in the lower right corner, and if you’d give the video a “thumbs up” too, that’d be wonderful.

Thanks for riding along with us and we look forward to the time we can meet up down the road.

Although we’re currently in Livingston, TX … we’re heading out Jan 14th for Florida for the month of February, then back to TX the last couple weeks of March, then (through Ohio) and up to Baldwin, Michigan for our summer workamping job, and in the fall of ’18 we’ll be in Albuquerque, NM working at the International Balloon Fiesta for a few weeks before we head to our winter home at Casa Grande, Arizona.

Here’s the video

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

Merry Christmas!

Kathy and I want to extend a special “Merry Christmas” wish to you and yours.

Although we won’t be with family this year (since we’re in Texas), we’ll be spending some time with a hundred or so other campers here at the park and we’ll enjoy a wonderful Christmas dinner on Monday.

We hope that you are able to be close to family and good friends at this special time and that you appreciate and enjoy that time together.

And of course our best wishes to you for a wonderful and rewarding 2018 too!

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

Foretravel Coach Plant Tour – Nacogdoches, TX

Winnebago, Avion, Jayco, Fleetwood, Airstream, Coachman, Thor, and so many other RV names were familiar to us.  Many have been around for years and years and enjoy a long history of making quality recreational vehicles.

I recently wrote a post on our Airstream factory tour in Jackson Center, Ohio when we were on our way from our Michigan summer workamping gig to our Texas winter workamping gig.

I only recently (within the last year or so) became familiar with the coach building company known as FORETRAVEL.  I realized we were going to be right past the home of Foretravel at Nacogdoches, Texas.  “So let’s go take their factory tour too, eh?”

Like the Airstream factory, Foretravel also offers low cost ($5/nite) camping for it’s customers and visitors.  We pulled in to the parking area in the afternoon and found that the plant tour would be at 10 am the next morning.  We took the opportunity that afternoon to talk to one of their in-house sales reps so we could look at their used inventory and then we also drove up the street a mile or so and met with Brad at Motorhomes of Texas to see what they had in their Foretravel inventory.

The front of the main Foretravel plant and corporate offices at Nacogdoches

Our parking spot for the night at the factory “campground”

The back of the main building showing the service and delivery prep bays

(The following is taken from “The History of Foretravel” on the corporate web site.)

“The business of building motorhomes came about not due to planning by the Fores, but by the traveling they did in their self-built motorhome.

From that modest beginning in 1967 with the 29’ “Speedy Marie” motorhome produced in the backyard of C.M. & Marie Fore, Foretravel continued to set the standard. Weathering the oil embargos of the early 1970’s Foretravel introduced the first diesel-powered motorhome in 1974.

In addition to the numerous conveniences of a Foretravel, i.e., VCR’s, central vacuum cleaners, icemakers, trash compactors, Foretravel was among the first to use fiberglass instead of aluminum, real hardwood, and a full air bag suspension.”

Foretravel continues to be a top-notch motorhome manufacturer.  At present, they make 2 Class “A” coaches – The model IH-45, selling for about $1,000,000 and the “entry level” coach labeled the “Realm” that sells somewhere in the $800,000 range.

Unlike Airstream that makes about 100 units per month and has about 1200 employees, Foretravel has only about 160 employees and manufactures about only 25 units PER YEAR!  Their paint process alone requires about 2000 man hours to complete.

Also unlike Airstream, the Foretravel factory tour allowed us to take pictures!

The “power” end of the new IH-45 coach

One of the “basement” compartments showing electronic wiring.

Two frame assemblies with basement compartments side by side

Aluminum box frame side wall assemblies ready to be mounted on basement frame box

Front end of the coach frame shows (green) Onan diesel 12kw generator

One of the side slide assemblies that will be placed into a sidewall

An entire drivers side sidewall (front end at right end of image)

Now the wall has been lifted into place on the coach basement frame ready to be attached

Basement pass through storage compartments

Aluminum box frame (front end of coach)

The power end of the coach showing one of the slides extended

Workers installing the one piece windshield

Installing one of the large slide units

Some of the features that the Foretravel coaches have that really appeal to me are;

  1. 8 (or 10 if there’s a tag axle) “outboard” air bags.  They place their air bags at the extreme outboard end of where the axle meets the frame just inside the side wall.  Most coach chassis makers have the air bags inside the wheels so the airbags might be 4 or 5 feet apart whereas with the Foretravel coaches the airbags are more like 8 feet apart.  This gives the coach much better stability and far less side-to-side rocking when driving into or out of a driveway.
  2. No slide gaskets or seals that are exposed to the exterior.  No slide trim panels that overlap the sidewall.  Foretravel uses the HWH expanding bladder to seal the slide to the outside wall.  When the slide is retracted or extended, there is a vacuum placed on the bladder.  Once the wall is completely in or out, then the bladder is pressurized to provide an airtight weatherproof seal.  This system not only provides an airtight seal, but when the slides are closed (retracted), the face of the slide is perfectly and completely flush with the sidewall.
  3. Pass-through basement storage drawers (full height from side to side)
  4. Aqua-Hot heating system uses hot water circulated through heat exchangers in the cabin for warm, quiet heat.  This is diesel powered and also provides hot water to the bath and kitchen.
  5. CAT (on older models) and Cummins 450hp and up engines along with Allison Electronic Transmissions (3000 series on older coaches, 4000 series on newer) along with driver-controlled 4-position transmission retarder.  This style retarder gives the operator far superior speed control during steep downhill grades … better than an exhaust retarder or engine brake.

Here’s a cross-section of the HWH slide bladder seal that pressurizes to seal

These next few photos show Kathy getting just a little TOO comfortable inside the new Foretravel REALM that just rolled off the factory floor.  It’s a darn shame it was already sold … aw shucks.

Here’s that REALM on the outside.  I gotta admit – I do like the paint scheme

Oh, take a look at the steps.  These are not your typical RV steps.  Most motorhomes today use electric RV steps known as Kwikee Steps made by Lippert Industries.  These high-end steps are known as “Executive” brand steps made by Braund Industries.

I was really impressed with these steps when we were at the factory.  Our coach steps are well worn and rattle a lot as we’re going down the road.   So I thought, “boy I’d like to get a set of those steps for our coach”  I did some research online when I got home.  Those steps would cost us about $5000 !!!!     Not Happnin’ !

Here’s a few pix of older Foretravel coaches that we looked at in the $125k-$175k range.  We like to look, but we’ll keep our Airstream for now.

2003 Model U-320 38′ w/ tag axle & 2 Slides

2003 Model U-320 36′ w/ 2 slides

2000 Model U-295 40′ w/ 1 Slide

NOTE: We’re doing some interior remodeling and some performance and suspension upgrades to our present Airstream coach and we’ll be publishing posts on those projects soon, once we have all the projects completed.

Oh, I almost forgot …. when we were in Nacogdoches we asked where we should have dinner that night and were referred to the Fredonia Hotel downtown.  We weren’t disappointed.  Kathy had shrimp and I had salmon.  The food was excellent, the presentation beautiful and the service outstanding.  Hats off to our server Brett.  Here’s a few pix of our delectable delights.

The dining room at the Fredonia overlooking the patio and pool

My Atlantic Salmon dinner

Kathy’s Shrimp Dinner w/ Broccoli Cole Slaw

We were good …. we didn’t take anything off the desert tray

Yes, the lounge chairs are IN the pool

The Front Lobby and Registration Desk

 

 

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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