28 January 2010

Postcard from Florida- 3

26 - 28 Jan 2010
(Fiesta Key on Long Key, FL)

I'd done a Google for an RV campground in Key Largo which would break up the trip nicely. I found what we needed and called the number. Made the reservation and then loaded the address into the GPS.

When we arrived at the programmed address we were greeted by... nothing! There was no sign of the resort. Whatever had been there at one time had been consumed by the mangrove swamp. I suspected if I listened carefully I'd hear Tarzan swinging thru the trees.

Ocean views at Fiesta Key
A quick call to the same number got the explanation: Fiesta Key Resort has nothing to do with what the on-line listing is about. The phone number was right, but the address was way off. Not to worry though as Fiesta Key Resort had our reservation and all I had to do was drive another 25 miles. Looks like I need to ask questions even though a listing is quite clear.

Fiesta Key, apparently an ex-KOA park judging from the office building, was a nice park. We were 1 row back from the waterfront which is on the Atlantic. The dogs loved all the new smells and all the weird sounds of small waves slapping the sea wall. The park had perhaps 20% occupancy which was s shock for the middle of snowbird season. Yikes! I'm convinced it's the prices here: $125/nite... even more than Sugarloaf Key where we're headed next.

28 Jan 2010
(Sugarloaf Key, FL)

So off we went to our final destination. Check-in time is 1:00 pm and we arrived about 11:30 am. But our site was empty so they got us in our site ahead of the rush. Unlike any of the other campgrounds we've used, Sugarloaf has all sites at 90 deg to the access road instead of the usual 45 deg. It becomes a challenge in backing into place and requires a really good person to guide the driver into place. The guy who helped us was a master at it, but never had to prove it. Instead, he checked the empty site behind us and asked "Think you can make that turn?" I said sure (with my fingers crossed!) and we were able to park as though we had a pull-through site. Yee haw!

So now we're parked in a beautiful campground which fronts on the Atlantic. It may not be paradise, but it's as close as these 2 old toots are going to come. And we're as far south as we can drive in the US... no way is Mrs. Bowman's little boy dragging a 5th wheel into Key West!

26 January 2010

Postcard from Florida- 2

22 Jan - 24 Jan 2010
(Wildwood, FL)

The park looked empty but filled later
Wildwood, FL was a stop very close to I-75 and truck stop. Standing outside and listening to the noise level had me convinced I'd made a disastrous mistake. But the reality was not bad at all. It's old and the spaces are narrow and out of date, but everything worked and, since no one was given the space on either side of us, we had plenty of room.

So we took advantage of the room and deployed our awning for the first time. What a comedy of errors! But we got it out and are ready to repeat the performance the next time anyone needs some entertainment. One couple thought we were locked out and trying to get into the trailer and were ready to offer some suggestions. Or maybe they thought I was trying to break in... ???

The morning after we arrived everyone was invited to a pancake breakfast. We probably wouldn't have fixed pancakes for ourselves, but when it means not having to wash dishes (that's my job), I'll be there! Apparently this is a fairly common weekend thing at these campgrounds and gives people the chance to meet other campers.

24 Jan - 26 Jan 2010
(L Okeechobee, FL)

I thought it was a small site... till Sugarloaf Key KOA
After Wildwood we were off to Lake Okeechobee KOA. Okeechobee was our first experience with a really crowded and upscale destination resort. If, like us, you're not a golfer, you'll probably feel out of place! I thought the sites were really tight (I now realize I had no concept what "tight" really means in an RV resort!). But no one seems to complain since they spend most of there time on the golf course or one of the two swimming pools. And they have entertainment at their convention center, e.g. The Four Aces were on the bill. The best feature was a mini dog park where the girls could be off-leash for awhile. I think Kelly set some sort of speed record for the facility and Annie had a great time herding Kelly. It was great watching them have a really good time.

Still some sites, but a day later it was filled
The resort grounds are gorgeous thanks to all the recent rainfall, and they added to the total while we were there. The rain made walking the dogs a challenge what with flooded streets. Since it was raining we decided to go for a drive around the lake. But Okeechobee has a surrounding levee and a drive around the lake amounts to a drive beside the levee. Not a droip of water can be seen except where the locks are visible from the road

So we thought "Hey, we haven't had a Starbucks coffee for weeks... let's go find one!" Asking around we learned Starbucks is non-existent here. What's more we couldn't find any place that had an espresso machine. Bummer.

On the 26th we were off to the Keys. First Key Largo for the night, then on to Sugarloaf Key where we're booked for a week.

22 January 2010

Postcard from Florida

 20 - 22 Jan 2010
(Chattahoochee, FL)

Lots of shade in Chatahoochee KOA
After our 2-night stop in Gulf Shores, AL we were on our way to Chattahoochee, FL... just east of the state capital in Tallahassee, FL. The campground is in a rural setting with an excellent canopy of trees, mostly oak. Annie discovered acorns and did her best to clean up the grounds. I was scared to death she'd get sick but I can now confirm 2 things: she didn't get sick, and acorns come out looking pretty much the same as the way they go in since she just swallowed them whole. Which is pretty much the way she eats everything!

Annie doing an acorn survey

We made it into the town of Chattahoochee to do some shopping and found ourselves at an IGA grocery. My maternal grandfather, in the tiny Central Valley hamlet of Lockeford, CA, owned an IGA. It's probably just IGA today, but at that time IGA was the abbreviation for Independent Grocers of America. My grandfather's store had the innovative name of Lockeford Grocery. He had that store from well before the Great Depression and kept a lot of farming families alive during that economic disaster. After he died in the late '60s my mother told me that as late as 1968 there were still a couple people paying back what they owed at $5 per month. So that makes 2 trips down nostalgia lane on this trip: a Piggly Wiggly and an IGA grocery store.

Other than enjoying the quiet there's not much to recommend a stop here. So to liven things up the weather magicians sent a nasty T-storm our way. It got wet and ugly outside but, other than a few places where wind blew some water in past the slide-seals, we got thru it OK. The neighboring town of Quincy (12 miles away) wasn't quite so lucky- they were hammered by a tornado.

Off to Wildwood, FL.

20 January 2010

Postcard from Alabama

We were up early in Louisiana hoping for a fast start as it was going to be a 300 mile day. We typically average about 50 mph including stops and 6 hours of towing a 37' trailer is enough, thank you!

So it was disappointing to find fog when we popped outside. I charged on hoping for the best. By the time we had said our goodbyes and were pulling out of our site the visibility had increased to about 1/2 mile. As we headed east the fog kept thinning and after 30 minutes it was nothing but a bad memory.

The drive was the kind we hate: I-10 for 95% of the trip. But after we passed Mobile, AL, Mr. Garmin routed us off the Interstate and onto AL-59. What a relief! We rambled our way thru the south Alabama countryside enjoying the ride past farmland. We got to the campground in plenty of time. Which was good as we had a bit of a problem...

A portion of I-12, where I-10 re-joins east of New Orleans, is in terrible shape. We hit a section without cautionary speed signs that had the truck and trailer flying in opposing directions (I think they call this "chucking"). I needed to slow but had a big 18-wheeler bearing down on us. He wasn't having a problem, but we certainly were! When we arrived at the campground I started unhitching and discovered that, in addition to dumping all our clothes off the bar and opening cabinet doors, the 5/8"diameter electrical cable (it connects the truck brakes to the trailer brakes and tail/brake lights) had become trapped under the base of the trailer hitch... a space the cable normally would never fit into. The hitch weighs about 300# and the weight from the front of the trailer is another 2,000#. With over 1 ton mashing the cable I was worried the the insulation might fail. It took the better part of an hour but I finally got enough slack into the cable to unhitch, then used a pry bar to lift the hitch enough to get the cable dislodged.

This KOA had assigned us to one of their 3 "super sites", a really nice site adjacent to the office, showers and laundry. After all the drama with the cable, I joined the Brown Knee Society. The BKS is an exclusive organization composed of travelers who have opened the sewer cap on their RV in order to connect the flexible sewer line only to find some idiot (that would be me!) had left the holding tank drain valve open, then used the toilet enroute to the next campground. If you're uncertain what happened next, watch Robin Williams' movie RV. It wasn't pretty. The Admiral wouldn't let me into the coach to change clothes (Admirals are like that). Instead she passed a garbage bag to me filled with clean pants, laundry detergent and my towel and shower gear, then sent me on my way with her best wishes. Let me tell you, guys, no one loves you when you've been kneeling in the family poop!

The campground in Gulf Shores, AL, across the bridge from Pensacola, FL, turned out to have a great location on Perdido (Hidden) Bay. We couldn't see it for the trees when we arrived, but we were right on Perdido Bay. A short walk down a nearby trail had us on the beach.It would have been a great stop, but sadly the toilets & showers are not Admiral approved!

We were still nursing colds but we did manage to cross the bridge into Florida and then drive back on the sliver of sand that forms to opposing boundary of Perdido Bay. You'll have to take my word on this since we weren't permitted to stop along the roadway, but the beaches are a blinding white sand. Portions are protected from development by a state park, but the mass of the area has already been developed with the malignant infestation of high rise condos. The very thing that attracts visitors has been covered. Reminds me of that line from a Joni Mitchell song "... they paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

We found a pretty good restaurant along the strand called Hazel's. So did every other visitor over the age of 65 and they all were there for the inexpensive buffet. And it was pretty good, too.

PS- most folks know what a mobile home is and presume that "mobile" refers to the fact they are gotten to their destination by towing them, making them mobile. The reality is something different and one of those mostly-forgotten bits of Americana. 

After WWII, the home building industry could not come close to keeping up with demand for housing. Modular homes - houses built in a factory then delivered to the home site on the bed of a truck - were the short term solution (and still a popular product everywhere, especially in New Mexico). They were inexpensive and could be built much faster in a factory than carpenters working on a job site. They did, however, require a large truck to get the modular home to the site. 

An innovative builder of modular homes in Mobile, Alabama named Mobile Homes hit upon the idea of building the modular home on top of a metal frame with axles and a removable hitch. This not only eliminated the need to use large trucks, but it also made the home maneuverable for positioning in the their final location. And the design allowed the use of cheaper materials. Just connect the finished home to a smaller truck with a stout hitch and away you go. Not sufficiently durable to be used as a travel trailer, but moveable none the less. The corporate name Mobile Homes was just too convenient and non-specific to retain its corporate roots and mobile home became the noun of choice to describe ultra-light modular homes delivered on integral axles.

So the next time you see a "mobile home", remember that you're celebrating the industrial genius of a company in Mobile, Alabama.

19 January 2010

Postcard from Louisiana- 2

Lafayette, LA

We made a 2nd visit to Fezzo's and were as happy as the first visit. This time we tried chicken & sausage gumbo. Amazing. Spicey, but not as hot as the last green chile I had at Castro's in Santa Fe.

As mentioned, we extended our stay 2 more days. We had hoped to take it easy but at least see a few things. That wasn't to be. Our colds had us flattened and the best we could do was watch a couple football games. Just as well as the weather was crap too. Not freezing at nite, but ...

I've made reservations for us to stay a couple nites at the KOA in Gulf Shores, AL and very near Pensacola, FL. The forecast is for warmer weather starting Monday, the day we leave.

15 January 2010

Postcard from Louisiana

14 - 18 Jan 2010
(Lafayette, LA)

KOA in Lafayette, LA
 Finally a new state! Traveling east across Texas starting at the tip of the panhandle is a l-o-n-g way!
We arrived in Lafayette, LA on 14 January and I believe it was on 2 Jan that we left Las Cruces, NM and entered Texas.

Sadly the sunshine in the photo was short lived and temps started dropping. But it didn't freeze overnite so we aren't complaining. Weeeell... maybe a little, but only cuz we're so good at it! :)

Getting unhitched takes awhile now since I can only operate the landing gear for a little over a second at a time without blowing a fuse. But mechanically it worked great and there was no repeat of the the loud noises nor refusal to move.

When we checked in, the Admiral asked about local restaurant favorites and the consensus was "Fezzo's" (FEE-zo's). We got directions and made it there between the lunch and supper crowds with the place nearly empty. It took a little chit-chat with our helpful waitress Jamie and we ended up with a mountain of food that was delicious. I've had gumbo before and enjoyed it, but after eating at Fezzo's I have to admit  I've never really had gumbo before... it was incredible! A little hard to see the name on the roof ("No kidding, dude!"). But it's between the Harley and Kawasaki dealerships and well worth the stop. This place is Admiral approved!

The problems with the landing gear had to be addressed, so Friday had me on the phone calling first the Keystone factory (they made our Montana) and then a Montana dealer. I was getting busy making plans to get us to Ville Platte, LA to have the dealer there look at things next week (the earliest!) when the Admiral pointed out that the best info we've gotten concerning anything important was right at the RV park wherever we were staying. So why not ask?

So OK, I'll play her silly game. 5 minutes later we met Bubba who happens to be the 2nd of the 2 3rd-generation siblings running the RV park. We talked it over, he seemed to understand what I was certain was the problem and he stopped down to look at part numbers. He left to make a few calls and see what we were supposed to have installed while we went to Piggly Wiggly for groceries.

There's more than one supermarket in the little town of Scott (adjacent to Lafayette), but I just had to shop at Piggly Wiggly for sentimental reasons. Back around 1915-1920 my grandfather managed a Piggly Wiggly store in the Central Valley of California (Turlock? Modesto?). Piggly Wiggly was a marketing innovation: you could not get from the entrance to the cash register without passingt every shelf in the market... you had to 'wiggle' your way past everything they had. The hope, of course, was to get people to buy more than they planned, but customers hated it. So the layout didn't last long, but they kept the name.

After leaving the market we stopped at another Auto Zone where I could buy electrical terminals in order to install the circuit breaker I bought earlier. Who should I see but Bubba. "I think I have the problem figured out. When I ran the motor, the fuse holder got really hot. I think it's a bad fuse holder. And you really ought to have a circuit breaker in there instead of a fuse anyway." Ohmygod. Could it be this simple? 20 minutes later the groceries were put away and the landing gear were working properly. AND they operate much faster than they ever have. They sound like a sack of peach pits in a garbage disposal, but they seem to workjust fine. Who'd a thunk it. I still believe the gear ratio is different than the original, but it works better, so who cares?!

And yes, the Admiral was right.  Again!

An hour later it was pouring down rain. But that was OK because it was rain and not snow. And nothing on the trailer seemed to leak.

Sadly the Admiral is now starting to feel pretty crappy. My guess that Zyrtec was helping her get thru this with mild symptoms appears to be crap. So  now I get to take care of her for awhile. Pretty nice how this worked out and, other than the traffic noise from I-10, this is a nice place to spend a couple extra days while she heals.

And oh btw, we can watch the playoffs. Weeell... I'll watch, the Admiral will sleep!

More later.

14 January 2010

Postcard from Texas- 5

After a painful thrashing of our checking account in Conroe, TX for repair of the landing gear, we headed for Brookeland, TX. This was our first experience with camping in a rustic setting and were pleasantly surprised with the woodsiness of the surroundings. Nearby was Sam Rayburn Reservoir plus signs announcing there were canoes available somewhere.

But we didn't see much: by this time the colds we had gotten in Conroe were hitting us pretty hard. The Admiral routinely takes Zyrtec for other respiratory issues and ended up not getting hit as hard as I did. Which worked out good for me as I wasn't able to do much once we got unhitched.

Which is when we found a problem with the repairs done in Conroe.

As I mentioned already, the last thing they said was that the 30 Amp fuse had blown and that I needed to buy replacements at a place like Auto Zone. The fuse was blown alright and now the landing gear motor eats fuses if operated for longer than 1-2 seconds at a time under heavy load. Like when trying to lift the front of the trailer to hitch up.

In hindsight I now realize they didn't repair our landing gear but instead they installed rebuilt legs from a different model Montana. That would be fine except the gear ratios seem to be different between our original legs and the rebuilt legs they installed (they extend more rapidly with no load). Our old 2002 electric motor can't seem to handle the extra load caused by the different gear ratio and we're blowing 30 Amp fuses. And Conroe is far enough away to be a different planet.

Anyway, as you can see it was still bloody cold, but the forest of sycamore and pine offered a nice setting and completely different from anything we've seen before. You can also see that the roads and campsites are dirt, so when we heard it was about to rain we headed for Louisiana ASAP.

One good thing, I finally used those 2"x8" boards I've been dragging cross country. The site was just a little off-level so using the 2 of them was just what the doctor (engineer?) ordered.

Btw... notice the light colored mud on the tire? The entire lower part of the truck is covered in the stuff. I thought it was sand when I drove on it, but the little bit that  splattered into the exhaust pipe is still there. Insidious stuff.

When we got up Thursday AM we realized it was a tiny bit warmer. Could it be? Off to Lafayette, LA to find out!

Postcard from Texas- 4

Conroe, TX

Our frantic escape from San Antonio & Columbus, punctuated by near frostbite while hitching up, had us on our way to Conroe, TX and what we feared would be even colder temps. We weren't disappointed.

The KOA in Conroe Lake is a huge RV park. It was originally an independent, but newer owners chose to join the KOA system. This is the first time we've seen a high-end RV park and we were taken aback by all the 'toys'. Like the indoor/outdoor pool and 2 fenced dog playgrounds. This park set a new standard for us. But with the cold temps the place was nearly empty save for the employees and us.  Oh... and this brand new New Horizons. Roger & Debbie gave us the cooks tour and it's gorgeous. And big! You can't see the big red Volvo 610 they pull it with, but it's normal to see a 610 as the tractor of an 18-wheeler.

Not only was it as cold as we feared, neither were we free of our current trend of F-O-R-D: Fix Or Repair Daily. It wasn't the truck (which is doing fine). This time the landing gear was (were? whatever) the culprit. We called a mobile repair service advertised in the park brochure. That person passed us off to someone else because he was out of town and that company, Conroe RV, did the repair. They first repaired the driver side leg (the gears were worn enough that they were slipping), then with that repaired they found the passenger side was also bad. So a one day repair stretched into 2 days and about $750. And as they left they said "btw, the 30 Amp fuse is blown so you'll have to get a replacement at AutoZone or some other auto parts store."

So off we went to Brookeland, TX hoping things, both weather and repairs, would improve. Hah!

Postcard from Texas- 3

San Antonio, TX

We arrived in San Antonio at KOA Alamo. Pretty nice facility! Lots of trees, all of which are looking quite naked this time of year. There's a stream very near our site- Salado Creek- and there's even dichondra hanging on to it's native green color. In the past when I ran into a mix of Bermuda, dichondra and rye I called it weeds, but in RV-speak it's called grass.

The drive from San Angelo was pleasant with very little traffic. Mr. Garmin designed the trip to take us through cotton fields just east of San Angelo and ranch land for the rest of the trip. We had 4 lane US-highways with just enough 2 lane to keep me alert until we joined I-10 at Junction, TX. On I-10 we had a lot of steep grades from Junction to San Antonio and I watched the fuel mileage drift relentlessly down to 11 mpg.

As pleasant as the drive to the outskirts of San Antonio may have been, the drive thru the city to the RV park was hell on wheels. And this was before the commute started. Once off the Interstate we were dumped into an industrial area with pock marked streets common to war zones or heavy trucks. Perhaps it was this high tension prelude that makes the park seem so deliciously tranquil.

We had grey weather  starting 10 minutes after we arrived. But we were determined to get out to see the San Antonio River Walk. This mariachi was hanging around waiting to get into Rita's restaurant and looked about as glum as the whole day had been. In a couple hours he'll need to be in happy mode!

When we returned to the park we found this note attached to the door. Good thing we went out when we did! It turned cold and generally ugly, so we did little more than pull on our woolies to walk the dogs for the rest of our stay here. It was generally miserable.

Columbus, TX

We bailed out of San Antonio with our collective tail between our legs, beaten by the cold. Again. I know better than to whine because I realize how hot it can get along this route, but we are wondering when we'll be treated to slightly warmer weather. I can only hope that it gets the cold stuff out of the way before we arrive in the Keys where they're expecting 40 deg F at night... about 20 deg F lower than usual for winter in Key West.

Columbus, TX was a stop beside the freeway for the nite. And yes, it froze again over nite. We did drive into town for din-din and found that folks here have some respect for trees as witnessed by this circuitous preservation of 2 old timers. Wonder if they'll do the same for me when arthritis leaves me stranded in the middle of the street some day... yuh think maybe? Nah!

Off to Conroe, TX.

05 January 2010

Postcard from Texas- 2

We made it to San Angelo, TX, but not without a little drama. When I got up Sunday AM I found the waterline was frozen. Not surprising since it had gotten down to 27 deg F... duh! That was easy enough to deal with: join the 2 ends of the hose and toss it in the storage compartment to thaw. Better than our neighbor whose internal waterline burst and required some repair work inside.

Our bigger issue was the front slide which houses the settee in the front lounge area. Something in the drive mechanism was slipping and the unit refused to close. Finally I got outside and pushed while the Admiral operated the power switch and we managed to get it closed. Then on the roughly 300 mile trip from Van Horn to San Angelo I noticed the slide would work its way out maybe 1/8" - 1/4". Not a lot, but enough that the seal would probably leak in a downpour.

So after we arrived at the campground we contacted a local that has a mobile RV repair service. Shannon and his helper Bud ripped apart the drive, found the Woodruff key that connects the motor drive shaft to the gear had sheared. They found a replacement plus a spare for me to carry for the next time it happens, and had it back together and working in 2 hours. Before they arrived I hadn't a clue where the motor was located. Now I have a hunch I might be able to replace the key myself in the future.

After resisting the fussy chore of connecting to the campgrounds cable TV (requires changing how the TV cables are connected) I finally gave in so we could watch the Sunday nite game (a disaster if you're a Cincinnati fan, but the Jets looked great). While the lack of a channel guide to find what's playing is annoying, the available programming was so far superior to DirecTV that it makes me wonder why we're paying all that $$$ for The Weather Channel- it's the only thing we watch. They don't even offer us CNN except as a premium channel... CNN is a premium channel?! Gimme a break! I think DirecTV may be short-lived around here.

The sun currently is setting about 5:30 around here. Perhaps 45 minutes before sunset we had one of those 'deja vu all over again' moments when hundreds of birds (starlings?) started arriving and settling into the trees. It was straight out of Hitchcock's "The Birds" and was downright spooky! I expected to awake in the morning and find the Dog House covered in bird poop, but we were spared.

The truck is fueled up and we'll be, as Willy would say, "on the road again". Next stop San Antonio for 3 days. Supposed to start raining at some point while we're there. If it has to rain I sure hope it warms a little first. With current temps it would probably be snow!

02 January 2010

Postcard from Texas

 Van Horn, TX

At last... on our way east!
We were away a little earlier today. The Admiral pointed out that the longer we stay somewhere, the longer it takes to get going. Sure enough, after a 3 night stop it took us till 9:15 to get on our way. Much better than the 10:45 getaway from Benson after 8 days! I got this look at the hills to the NW as I waited for the Admiral to finish the mini-walk with the dogs.

The trip from Las Cruces, NM to Van Horn, TX could have been much better were there a way to avoid El Paso. This is perhaps our 3rd time thru here and the traffic is no better. And, even though I had thought it impossible, the smog is even worse than last time. But, like a root canal, it was eventually over and we felt better.

Van Horn KOA... every site is a pull-thru!
Here we are in Van Horn, TX, all connected and ready for din-din. I asked an employee at the Las Cruces campground what I was going to find in Van Horn besides the KOA Kampground where we're parked for the night. He said "It's kind of like an oasis." I asked "Really? It's that good?" "No... it's more like the only thing that isn't desert. Nice little town, but there's not much around there." He was right on the money, but it's still a nice stop for a weary driver and the campground is very easy to get in and out: every site is a pull-thru.

Actually, we're not very weary as we only had a 175 mile day. Tomorrow's trip to San Angelo, TX will be our longest so far while towing- close to 300 miles. Some might think us wimps, but we've arbitrarily set 250-300 miles as our daily limit.

In preparation for a fast getaway we haven't unhitched. While it'll be convenient in the morning, it means the trailer rocks & rolls. When the dogs scratch at their harness, the whole floor leaps around like a California earthquake.

The KOA here in Van Horn has a small cafe which is why we didn't have to unhitch. We had dinner last nite and breakfast this morning. Van Horn is definitely not a luxury resort, but this was pretty darn close!

More coming from San Angelo...

Postcard from New Mexico

Las Cruces, NM

We're getting really good at taking forever to get going in the morning! It was nearly checkout time (11 AM) when we pulled out of Benson, AZ. But we eventually made it out the gate and onto I-10 and trucked on down the road.

There's a serious problem with Arizona highways: the &^%$#! rest stops are all closed! Don't know if it's the season or budgetary issues, but it's a pain in the bladder for old toots like us. We finally pulled over at the exit to a closed rest stop and used the toilet in the Dog House. I was pissed, but I got over it! :) The only real issue with the Montana FL3655 is that, in a situation like this, we have to extend the dinette slide a little to be able to squeeze into the toilet. We managed to get moving again before the Highway Patrol found us.

So what happened to the warm southern winter!
After a stop at a Love's in Lordsburg, NM for lunch [ someone had driven into the corner of the building and really messed things up ], we pushed on to the KOA in Las Cruces, NM. It was cold, windy and cloudy but we managed to get hooked up before dark, so it was a good arrival.

Organ Pipe Mountains, Las Cruces.
And we had a glimpse of a spectacular sunset under the clouds.

The forecast was for 26 deg F overnight, so I disconnected the water only to discover the temps got nowhere near that low. You, the astute reader, probably wonder how I would know that. Easy: We spent from 1 AM to 2 AM tracking down Kelly who had bolted out the door without a leash. It's a no-no to have your dog outside unleashed. Do you suppose if she'd gotten away from us dragging her leash behind her it would have been technically OK? She had a great time running at full speed from shadow to shadow as she played her version of hide-and-seek.

Nice level sites on parallel parking strips in Las Cruces KOA
Here we are all snugged down for our stay in Las Cruces. We decided to stay 3 nights instead of 2 in order to avoid being on the road on New Years Day. I can't imagine things are any different in Las Cruces than in Santa Fe when it comes to driving under the influence, so better safe than along the side of the road with a bent RV.

Las Cruces "town center"... sort of
A cruising friend from the Keys asked us to find the town center, so we did... here you go Michael! Had no trouble at all finding it! :) I think we got the last available parking spot. It's a SuperCenter and the lot was full on this New Years Eve!

We'll be on the way tomorrow (Saturday, 1/2/2010) headed for Van Horn, TX.

ps- I really hope everyone remembered to hop on their left foot while saying "Rabbit, Rabbit!" on Saturday morning. We did... gotta keep that good luck coming! :)