"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime"-MARK TWAIN

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Same Old Routine


We’ve been home a little over two weeks, now.  Nothing of much interest to blog about.  The weather hasn’t been conducive to much outdoor activity.  Cold, cloudy, rainy; you get the picture.

My brother purchased another small house from the bank.  We’ve been working on it a couple days a week.  Would rather be doing new construction than tearing out and remodeling, but it is something to do. We’ve added a new metal roof, fascia and soffits, and hung some replacement sheetrock.  It’s amazing how they built houses back in the 1950’s-60’s.  Very apparent energy conservation wasn’t a priority.

We plan to have the Casita rolling again the end of the week.  A rally in Alabama which started five years ago as a small gathering of Casita owners.  I think we had about 12-15 trailers, most all strangers to each other, meet over Saint Patrick's Day weekend.  Fun was had by everyone, and it was decided to do it again in 2012.  Word spread, and we outgrew the campground in 2013 with about sixty rigs.  We moved to a larger COE campground last year, and filled it up.  This year the rig count is over 100.  I think it’s called Southern Hospitality.

Messing around with my blog on Blogger.  Decided to change the header picture after four years.  Always liked the picture of the Casitas in line, cruising down Hwy. 12 in Southern Utah.  May go back to it at some point, but after enjoying our time in Kofa National Wildlife Refuge this past February, thought a picture of our campsite would be appropriate.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015



I guess you could say that we made a mad dash for home after departing the Ft. Davis, TX area.  We were on the road by eight or so, and found ourselves at Pedernales Falls State Park near Johnson City for the evening.  Having purchased the Texas State Parks pass this year, I felt the need to get the best use of it.  The park campground was quite nice, with large, shaded sites.  Sorry to say that we did very little, but sit and enjoy the evening.  I did walk Sally down to some small falls, but didn’t have my camera with me.  A good reason to visit there, again.

The next day we said goodbye to our traveling companion in Livingston.  It felt funny driving off and not seeing her in the rear view mirror.  An hour or so later found us in one of our favorite campgrounds.  Seems we always make it our first stop heading West, and our last before getting home.  Sandy Creek COE, near Jasper Texas.  $8.00 a night, water and electric for a site like this. Temperature was in the 70’s.


We had an early dinner, and our last campfire of the journey.  Watched a little television before turning in.  Found out a cold front was coming through during the night.  Made our decision whether to stay an additional day, or not, easier.  Woke to a cold North wind.  Sally huddled in the trailer as we fixed some breakfast.  We were on the road by nine, had lunch in Alexandria, LA, and home by 3 PM.

We went about doing the normal things around the house after being gone six weeks.  I restored power to our well pump, but as I was leaving the pump house, I heard the pump cut off prematurely.  Never a good thing.  After checking all the possible causes, I came to the conclusion that it was toast.  A friend helped me pull the pump on Friday morning, and my diagnosis was confirmed by our local well expert.  The pump was almost twenty years old, so guess we got our monies worth.  When I asked for the same brand and quality for a replacement, he just laughed at me.  Said they don’t make them like that any more. I left with the same size pump, but something tells me it won’t last twenty years.

While working on the pump, we received word that a cousin which was very close to our family had passed away.  The weekend was taken up with visitations and the funeral.  Monday brought trips to town for groceries, fuel, and other sundries.  It’s funny, how once you are retired, you never pay any attention to holidays.  Went to the post office, to find it closed for Presidents Day. Who knew?

Today, Tuesday, finds us inside for most of the day. The Winter storm  moved over our part of the Country yesterday afternoon, dropping the temp from 68 to 37 in an hour and a half.  Thankfully, the rain had stopped, and we had no ice or snow.

Not much planned for the next few weeks, so posts may be few, and far between. There’s a trip on the horizon, though….jc

Sunday, February 15, 2015

McDonald Observatory


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Also in the Ft. Davis area is the McDonald Observatory.  A part of the Astronomy program at the University of Texas.  The facility spans two peaks of the Davis Mountains.

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Lots of interactive displays within the visitor center.

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As well as outside. A view of the star party area behind the visitor center.

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We weren’t lucky enough to attend on a star party date, but we did manage an afternoon program.  We had a very well informed guide.  He said that his “degrees” were in Geology, but he had been working at the observatory for 17 years.  Though he defined himself as an amateur Astronomer,  his knowledge sounded very professional to us.

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He set up two telescopes which allowed us to view the sun.  Pretty awesome seeing sunspots and flares on our nearest star.

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We also got an “up close and personal” tour of two of the research telescopes.

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Learned a lot about the history of the facility, going all the way back to 1939.  Lots and lots of technical information, also.  I’m sure all amateur astronomers would love this tour.  Hope to get back one day for one of the star parties…..jc

Friday, February 13, 2015

Davis Mountains State Park


After two days driving, we were looking for a break.  I had read some blogs reporting on the Ft. Davis, TX area.  Davis Mountains State Park was also nearby.  We had purchased the Texas park pass the first of January, so it made sense to check it out.  A really nice park located between I-10 and Alpine, TX. The altitude was over six thousand feet and provided some outstanding views of the countryside.  Can you spot the two Casitas in the picture below?

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One of the reasons for stopping there.

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A pre-Civil War outpost on the San Antonio-El Paso road.  A new visitor center had lots of displays.  Not only of the fort, but of the area and cultures within.

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Horses and goats had free range of the area.

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Lots of ruins,

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and artifacts like old square nails and broken window panes lying around.

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Officers Row.

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The patterns in the adobe reminded me of petroglyphs.    

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There were restorations of the enlisted barracks, an Officers quarters, the Commanding Officers home, the Commissary, and the post hospital.  I didn’t take pictures in any of those because everything was behind glass. That makes for good reflections and poor photos.

Well worth the stop if you are ever in the area……jc

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Quartzite II


After leaving the Imperial Dunes, we made our way back to Dome Rock, near Quartzite.  It was the week of the Quartzite Gathering, and we wanted to attend a couple of days before heading toward home.  When we arrived there was already twenty or more trailers present, though the event didn’t officially start till Thursday.

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As the week progressed, more and more arrived. Just pick your piece of the desert and set up.

Our spot.

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It was really great to meet up with many of the Casita and Blogger friends we have made through the years.  John and BJ, Lynne and David, Jim and Carolyn, Don and Kathy, Paul and Sharon, Mike and Gail, GrandJan, all the Diane’s, and many more.  Much better than any other reunion we’ve attended.  All those folks, and many more, all because of our silly little trailer.  As my brother says, it’s a cult.Smile

I didn’t take many pictures.  Just spent our time wandering around the area during the day, and visiting around a campfire each evening.  And though we departed the gathering early, it was reported that over one hundred molded fiberglass rigs were counted as attending on Saturday.

Departing the area, we made it to Deming, NM the first night, then the Davis Mountains of Texas the next evening.  Road weary, we decided to take a day to rest…..jc

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Imperial Sand Dunes


One of the benefits of visiting Slab City was a drive through the Imperial Sand Dunes.

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What a playground for dune buggies, and ORV’s.

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Located just a few miles East of the Imperial Valley, which is an irrigated oasis growing everything imaginable, they are something to see.  Soaring hundreds of feet high.

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I would have loved to own a buggy and get out there, roaring around.  Can only imagine what all that sand does to bearings, chains, and all other mechanical parts, though.

Just another little place I can say “been there”.  Heading toward home.Sad smile

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Slab City


I first read of Slab City in the book “Into the Wild” years ago.  About a young man that left home with the dream of homesteading in Alaska.  He spent some time at the Slabs before continuing on to Alaska, where he ultimately starved to death.  His journal was used for the book, and later a movie.

When we started planning our retirement and reading RV blogs, Slab City was mentioned quite often.  Folks went there to spend the Winter months in the warm dry climate.  The history of the place is that it was a Marine base before, and during WWII.  Hence the old guard shacks at the entrance.

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Our little compound.

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Shortly after the war ended, the Military tore down the entire base, leaving only the roads, reinforced concrete structures, and bare concrete slabs.  Hence the name.  The property was returned to the state of California and basically forgotten.  Sometime later, a counter culture of folks that didn’t necessarily like the way things were, started moving onto the slabs. Lots of artists.

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Creating whatever type shelter they could, the became squatters.  As word got around, more showed up.  There is no water supply, garbage, or sewer system; nothing but desert.  Some live here year 'round.  Old folks, young folks, some look like bums, some look like college students.  Male, female, kids; all represented here.

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There is a library,

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with a reading room.

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And, Capitalism has found it’s way into the Slabs. One of the best solar guys around runs his business from the slabs.

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Garbage and trash is everywhere.

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Scattered among all the trash and hovels are motorhomes and fifth wheels of Winter snowbirds.

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What brings them here is a mystery to me.  The area around the Slabs is either desert or agriculture.  No attractions like casinos, or anything else.  The town of Niland is a ghost town for most part.

Maybe some have that longing to live outside the box, but aren’t ready to give up their creature comforts.  Whatever it is, I don’t get it.  There are way too many nice places to get away from it all.

I understand that the state has plans to evict everyone and clean up the area, again.  They might be better off just leaving them along.  Where would they all go from here.

The best part of our time in the Slabs was this.

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A great evening with friends.  We all made a break for normalcy the next morning.  Been there, done that.  Don’t think we’ll be going back…..jc