Friday, March 20, 2015

Western Swing and a Rally

Our plans to attend the Escapees Rally in Tuscon in March were made last October, before we even arrived at the ranch. At the time we made our reservations to attend, we assumed that after the rally we'd be well on our way to some fabulous boondocking in Arizona and Utah before making our way back to Seattle.

It didn't quite turn out the way we planned, but if there is one thing we truly appreciate about this fulltiming lifestyle, it's the flexibility.

Last November, when we first arrived at Live Oak Ranch and Steven was away in Ireland, I began a long-put-off dental upgrade replacing old and failing crowns with a combo of implants and new crowns. I assumed the work would be done by February but I was wrong. In any case, it was easy enough for us to head out to Tucson for the rally and then return to the ranch. I mean, we had nothing else going on, so why not?

We had a few days to kill before we needed to be in Tucson, so we planned a little Western Swing through far west Texas and a visit to a few of our old haunts in New Mexico. 

Davis Mountains State Park

It has been a couple of decades since I have been to the Davis Mountains, so for all intents and purposes, this was a new place for both of us. We were also excited to take a day trip to Marfa and visit the McDonald Observatory. We did these things, but I can't really say much about them. I was in some serious pain.

The drive to Davis Mountains State Park was beautiful. 

tetons02   tetons03
Sunset and moonrise at Davis Mountains State Park

Scoopy all tucked in at her slightly tight quarters.

The evening of our second day at the campground, we headed out for a walk to the ranger station to see if we could get any kind of connection on our phones. But before we got there, I had an encounter with an embedded rock, and the rock won. I went down in spectacular fashion, landing on both of my wrists, which then sent shockwaves up my arms into my shoulders. I also got a gnarly knee (a matcher to the one I got last year) but that turned out to be the least of my problems.

IMG_3387   IMG_6572   IMG_3383
Gnarly knee, bruised arms, oh my! Maybe Siri could have helped if only our phones had a connection!

I was in absolute shock and of course, I was crying. It happened so quickly, I had a hard time wrapping my head around exactly how I ended up on the ground wailing. My first thought was "Holy Cow! Will I be able to drive??" Suddenly, those RV Driving School lessons for Steven seemed more important than ever.  We slowly made our way back to Scoopy, and Steven set out to find an emergency room. Despite having next to no connectivity he managed a phone call and found out the closest one was in Alpine, 40 miles away. I didn't want to go, but I finally agreed, but only if I could take a shower first. (hahahaha, so typical...) Since I couldn't extend or fully move my arms (think T-Rex arms) my shower was awkward and I cried through the whole thing. Steven helped and afterwards I felt better. So, I reneged on my promise to go to the emergency room. Instead, I downed a couple of painkillers and went to bed. I lay in bed wondering if I had sustained life-altering damage to my arms and I thought about how quickly things can change so unexpectedly and so profoundly.

The next day I found I could drive, as long as I took ibuprofen first. So off we went on our visit to Marfa and the observatory. It was a good site-seeing day, but honestly, my heart just wasn't in it. I spent the rest of our time in the Davis Mountains holed up in Scoopy, feeling sorry for myself.

marfa   IMG_6468 
Despite serious injury, Linda posed for a fabulous photo at Prada Marfa and the MacDonald Observatory.

IMG_6470   IMG_6472
Highlight of the observatory: Space Ice Cream!!!!

I was ready to move on, but we ended up extending our stay in the park due to an unexpected ice storm that hit the area. When we did finally go, we found ourselves traveling in icy fog on I-40. We just turned on our flashers and took it very, very slow.

tetons04   IMG_6474
Frost in the hills and icicles on the rig. We knew we weren’t going anywhere on this day.

IMG_6486   IMG_6500
It was a little scary driving and seeing this overturned SUV. Visibility on the road was at a minimum.

tetons05   tetons06
Are we crazy? Should we go back??                            LOL, yeah, right!


Over the next few days I monitored the state of my arms. I was still in quite a bit of pain, but it was manageable. What really freaked me out was the bruising. I had bruises in the weirdest places, like the back part of my upper arms. How does one even go about falling on the backside of their arms? It's impossible, or at least, not a natural way to fall. Any movement that required pushing or pulling required Steven's assistance. I never realized how much pushing and pulling goes on in a normal day.

Still, we had a fabulous few days at the Elks in Alamagordo. There are many things we find appealing about this city, but the big attraction to the photographer among us is White Sands National Monument. Steven visited multiple times, while I didn't go even once (you can read about his adventures here). I think I just needed some solitude and rest.

IMG_6507   FullSizeRender
Elks Lodge in Alamogordo                                         Toadie looking dapper at White Sands

We took a couple of day trips to some of our favorite places in the area. We visited Cloudcroft, drove by the house we co-owned with my parents in Ruidoso, since sold, and took a long drive through Carrizozo to visit Valley of the Fires. Both Steven and I are drawn to New Mexico, and we love coming here.

Deer through the rear view mirror on the way to our old place in Ruidoso.

Wild and windy views from the Valley of the Fires.


Is it a rite of passage for new fulltimers to stay at the Escapees Park in Deming when passing through? It must be, because I can't think of another reason to make this place a stop. But stop we did, for two nights at the Dream Catcher RV Park. Other than a day trip to Silver City, there was just a whole lot of nothing going on for us in Deming. I guess it's the convenience of an overnight stop there, because there are a ton of RV parks in the area. What am I missing?

Cabin from “The Missing”, donated to Silver City by director Ron Howard.


We arrived in Tucson a couple of days before we were due to check in at the Pima County Fairgrounds for the 55th Escapade so that Steven could finally complete his two-day RV driving course. We checked in at Justin's Diamond J RV Park way out in the boonies. It turned out to be a great place for the driving, but not very convenient. We were miles away from everything and everybody.

Despite its inconvenience, Justin’s Diamond J backs into some picturesque open desert.

Steven successfully completed his driving course and he found he's a pretty good RV driver.  I went along on the first day, but on the second one, I went shopping. There is only so much support I can give in this area. :) Still, given recent events, I know first hand how important it is that both of us know how to drive the rig.

IMG_3422   IMG_3425
Finally!! Steven gets comfortable in the captain’s chair.

We had a few visits with Fred & Jo Wishnie, who have recently settled down in an adorable condo after nine years on the road. It's still hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that they are no longer traveling, but they both seem quite happy in their new abode. As always, the birding and the Manhattans were amazing at the Wishnie compound and we enjoyed our time with them.

IMG_6625   IMG_6635
Fred’s famous Manhattans and good company made for a great night at the Wishnie’s.

The 55th Escapades Rally

By the time we registered for the rally, all the spaces with electric hook-ups were taken. Our only option was boondocking, which basically meant a parking spot on the grass with other late registrants. Of course we'd boondocked before, but just for a day or two, never for a full week!  Because of our residential refrigerator, we would have to run our generator a couple of times a day to make sure our batteries stayed topped off. We requested parking with the Boomers, an Escapees "BOF" group well-known for their 4 o'clock happy hours and of which we are members. (BOF stands for Birds of a Feather . . . and flock together we did, every day at 4 p.m.)

Our Boomers rendezvous outside of Walmart before heading over to Pima County Fairgrounds. 

Since this was our first Escapade Rally, we made sure to attend as many seminars as possible, sometimes going together, other times splitting up so we could cover a variety of topics. We took notes and reported to each other all that we'd learned. The week flew by and soon the closing ceremonies marked the end of the rally. We had one last thing to do before heading back to the ranch, and that was get Scoopy weighed. With that chore done, we were on our way.

tetons13 tetons14

tetons15  IMG_6742

IMG_6766  10974497_10206196131722292_5890156343185547699_o 


Highlights from the Escapade Rally including the infamous Boomers Happy Hour gathering!!!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .

We made a beeline back to the ranch with just one overnight stop in Van Horn, TX. We both had a couple of errands to run in Abilene, and my final dental appointment was scheduled for March 17th. We made plans to skedaddle out of Texas on the 19th and meet up with Clarke and Elaine Hockwald for a few days of boondocking in Arizona and Utah. As I was getting ready to head to my appointment, the phone rang. Due to a lab mix-up and a primadonna ceramist, my final appointment would have to wait another three weeks.

Whaaaaaat???? We both freaked out for a few minutes, but then we got over it. In this lifestyle, stuff happens that upsets the best laid plans, it's unavoidable. Though we were really disappointed that we'd miss out on boondocking with our friends, the fact is our schedule had loads of flexibility. Even better, it wasn't a mechanical issue that sidelined us, so we simply looked at the map and said, "hmmmm, where shall we go now?"