Our Chalet Truck Camper

Our Chalet Truck Camper

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fall weekend camping on Casco Bay

Just couldn't stand to put the truck camper away for the winter without one last fling. We called up some TC friends who were relatively nearby and talked them into coming to camp on Casco Bay in Freeport, Maine for the weekend. It would either be one of those glorious times in late fall in New England or we'd freeze. But being intrepid souls (and owning propane furnaces and generators) we decided to go for it. After all, LL Bean is open 24/7 and we could always go to the hunt/fish store and either buy long johns or warm up by the wood stove.

Joe and I arrived first and set up by the water. We camped at Recompence Campground which is owned by Wolfe Neck Farm, a 600+ acre salt water farm conservation group.

Feet up, we relaxed and enjoyed the 50F degree warmth, bright skies and watching a local clam digger work for a living.

As more TCs arrived during Friday afternoon, the fog started to roll in, getting denser and denser. Wolfe Neck has a large cow herd and, cows being the curious creatures that they are, they came to see what we were doing.

As it had rained during the week, the ground was quite wet. Since there hasn't been a prolonged frost or cold spell yet to firm up the ground, we found TCs sort of sinking. As more rain was coming, we decided to get them all out of the field and herded into what higher ground we had. Only one got stuck and the guys had a great time with tow straps and deciding the best way to ease it out. Yes the Ford pulled out the Chevy.

This camper didn't get stuck but was sort of listing to port before Ron wisely moved it.

Mike T and Stoney brought up a trailer full of tents, propane heaters, and propane lights which we set up to have a cozy place for meals and socializing. Good move since we had a couple of pretty heavy rain squalls.

Lots of people brought firewood and we kept a blazing fire going for three days. Since this was a boon dock, we occasionally used generators but for the most part, propane and fire kept us comfortable. The temperatures stayed in the 50s which is remarkable for this time of year - plus no snow! However, when you add cold ground from frosts and a cooling ocean with 50 degree temperatures, our TCs herded looked like our own herd in the fog -

Hard rains, cozy tents, good friends, great food and drink and lots of tales told of places seen and places to go made this a super weekend. Sunday morning broke bright and clear so we moved outside to have a farewell breakfast by the bay.

Most had to leave Sunday for work on Monday, but four friends followed us home and camped at our house until Tuesday. Had a "girls day" Monday and headed north up the coast to some of my favorite Maine places. The guys started winterizing our TC and we finished it up today. Our yard looked a bit full of TCs but now it's sadly empty.

Looking out the garage second floor window at dawn:

Thanks everyone for coming up. The unplanned gatherings with good TC friends are really special.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Urban TCing

End of August we went down to mid Massachusettes to meet up with several TC friends. Where did we go? No - not a boondock and not a campground but the urban home of a TC couple we meet up with often. Four TCs filled the driveway and around the corner on the street. Jayne and Rob were gracious hosts and treated us all to a weekend of hot tub, pool, blongo, and way too much food, laughter and sharing our travels. As Jayne said, TCers are pretty easy guests - they bring their own bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and usually a lot of food and drink. Great time was had by all. Thanks again!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Catching up on August summer trips

Been a long time since I've caught the blog up to date. We've had a busy summer with mostly local trips around New England and over into New Brunswick.

Mid August we drove up Route 1 through the small coastal towns in Maine and overnighted in Belfast at a seaside campground. Lucked into a waterfront site due to a cancellation. Cooked steak and sat with feet up looking out at the bay after several long walks along the beach.

Next day, we continued up the coast, then the "Airline" road from Bangor up to Calais. Easy border crossing and then down to one of our favorite places, St. Andrews, New Brunswick. Once again we walked the 20 acre gardens at Kingsbrae Gardens and then the tiny unspoiled town. Our camp for that night was at the Kiwanis Campground which is right on the Bay of Fundy with those spectacular tides.

Relaxing drive home and a day to clean up the camper, looking forward to the fall North East Truck Campers Jamboree in N. Hudson, NY.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

What we do when not on the road

So what to do when we aren't out seeing North America? Why work around the house and gardens of course. As we get older they both seem to get bigger and need more care. We had the man who built our house come back and insulate and sheetrock the garage to hopefully help with heating the room above the garage. Since it is a garage the sheetrock had to be fire rock which is quite heavy. Didn't think we would do well up on ladders hanging fire rock so just hired it out. We're doing the taping and painting and it is about half done. Using left over paint cause it is a garage right!

When we aren't working on the garage we spend some time weeding and just enjoying the gardens. This year they are just gorgeous due to the abundant rain and high temps. Veggies didn't do as well so they got ripped up but the perennials are great.

Getting really itchy to go truck camping again. Enough with the paint and weeds!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Visit from TC friends

Our truck camper sits on the edge of the woods looking lost and lonely even more so after a visit today from another Host truck camper.

Rob and Jayne (FamilyTimes) dropped in on their way home from a week vacation in Nova Scotia. They joined JerBear and Paula at their home and then treked all around the island visiting new places to camp. Best of all they have a Host also so got to listen to their water pump running. I thought ours was loud? Their's is louder! Short visit but so nice they took time since when you are headed home it is awfully hard to make yourself stop.

We'll join up with them again in August for a weekend and then make a week of it over in the mountains of NY with about 40 other truck campers. Diesel is going down a bit but we're still recovering from the five week trip so at home for a bit more.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

End of the western trip - home again

Home again, home again after ending the trip with a visit to family in VA. Mom was doing well this visit so that made the ending even sweeter.

Would we take this trip again? A resounding YES now that we have an overview of parts of the west and know what places we would like to concentrate more time in. As the t-shirt says "Utah Rocks" and that state in particular deserved a lot more time than we were able to give to exploring.

Every road turn out west the scenery changes, not like the east which is older, tamer and greener. In general, the western roads, even way back roads, are in better shape than the eastern roads. That is probably due to a lot less traffic on them. We'd often go for many, many miles on back roads and never see another soul. Our local roads getting close to home are in horrible shape and a bone rattling welcome home. Kudos to the highway departments out west.

My best places visited were Capital Reef/Grand Wash for the incredible geology, Custer State Park particularly the internal roads Wildlife Loop and Needles Highway, and Yellowstone for the diversity in wildlife and geology,

Joe's best - Devil's Tower and the walk around it because it stood alone and wasn't in amongst a blaze of rock formations so you could study it, Wyoming and Utah overall and Canyonlands National Park.

Joe's worst - Zion National Park due to having to take the crowded shuttles, Anasazi State Park in Boulder, Utah which was very small and a comparatively expensive entry fee, Amana Colonies in Iowa because he felt it was just shopping.

Anne's worst - also Zion crowds with really high temperatures and the shuttle, Memphis for the poor road conditions, signage and trash/litter.

We were best prepared for: map routing with Delorme Street Atlas software. Really like this program because we can change it on the fly, look ahead for fuel stops, re-provisioning (known as Super Wal-Mart), get the name of geographic features, find the smallest roads possible.

We were worse prepared for: the heat. Even though I was raised in VA where the heat is quite high, I've lived in Maine since my 20s. The western heat is dry but it is intense and lasts well into the night. I'd forgotten how draining of energy that can be and how on edge it can make you. The Host's AC worked perfectly but you cannot live in AC when you are out to walk, hike and see the sights. At least we drank a lot of water each day so it probably wasn't as draining as I'm remembering.

Things that will stick with me: The Oklahoma City National Memorial for the Murrah Building bombing. This is a MUST see if you are anywhere close by. Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings, first look down into the Hoo Doos at Bryce Canyon, crossing the mud washes at Palo Duro State Park in Texas, Fossil Butte National Monument.

Questions I wonder: Why all the horses and no one is every riding them? We saw many thousands of horses and only time we ever saw anyone riding was on a pack ride in Bryce.

Sorry we missed: Meteor Crater, Death Valley, more boon docking in the desert, BLM lands and Grasslands.

TC is now emptied of all gear, ready to be washed and cleaned up tomorrow, oil change Monday, and then repacked for whatever small trips the summer brings.

We averaged 11.34mpg, spent just over $3,100 in diesel, travelled over 8,700 miles and are very sorry it is over. Sure it isn't fun spending the diesel money but I'll have these memories for a lifetime and can replay them when I'm old and can not longer go! Get on the road as often as you can everyone, short trip or long, local or new. No telling what will happen with cost, health, family, etc. tomorrow so do it NOW! and never, ever look back.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

June 25 Nashville through Knoxville and the Great Smoky National Forest

June 25 - Nashville through Knoxville and the Great Smoky National Forest

Today turned into part fun and part travel. Left Nashville at rush hour and got hung up in a traffic jam where a tractor trailer cargo burned. Cab looked okay so somehow the driver must have been able to disconnect. Long, slow inch by inch traveling.

Decided not to stop in Knoxville though it looked like it had a lot to offer. Took I-40 to I-140 to 129 at Alcoa, TN, then 35 at Maryville to 321 to 73 at Townsend to a good Smokey Mountain Travel Center for maps, etc. and into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

The road we were on was called the Little River Road and snakes up through the
forest following a stream up and down, rounded gentle lush green mountains of very small size compared to the west. I can see where so many of you TCers like this park as we spotted a lot of side roads that looked jeep friendly.

Then you come to the scene below within 100 feet of the scene above

Shock of coming out of the forest and BAM - right into the middle of true honkey tonk in Gatlinburg was awful. We could not find a native artisan for pottery, all reproduction junk. Very disappointed and spent a minimal amount of time in this tourist trap. I'm sure the good local artists are there but just not easily found quickly.

Back to I-40, through Asheville and further on some of the worse concrete roads we've ever driven. Bone jarring to say the least. We had planned on going up 173 through Boone, NC and then onto the Blue Ridge Parkway through Fancy Gap, Meadows of Dan, VA and then over through Danville and from there to near Richmond. However, these older bones just aren't going to take more sightseeing right now. We stayed on I-40 which got even worse for concrete joints and bouncing and are tonight in a campground near Statesville, NC. It was 95F late afternoon, is 91F now and 82F inside with AC. Our fifth week on the road and we have fallen prey to the siren song of air conditioning!! Sorry folks, sitting in a Wal-mart or by the road tonight with generator just wasn't going to cut it. Tomorrow we'll be at my family in VA and will spend 4-5 days visiting and resting up from the road. This trip is pretty well over as we'll head straight back to Maine, ready to plan the next one and getting all our thoughts, notes and photos in order.

Can't say enough on how well the Host Rainier has performed. One broken drawer latch and a screen door slightly out of alignment (don't ask) and that is it for over 7,500 miles. The Ford F-350 has handled all we've thrown at it. The engine/fan noise has not re-occur ed now that we are down out of 8-10,000 feet at high temps and long, slow pulls with a load. We look forward to many more trips but will be rethinking what we were carrying for gear, clothes, food, etc. Rally trips and long travel trips are two different animals!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

June 23-24 Arkansas, Memphis and Nashville

June 23 - OKC through Arkansas

Today was a pure travel day with no sight seeing. Left OKC early and headed into some fairly heavy rain. Welcome temperature of 70F and no trouble driving. We were on I-40 which is a heavy truck traffic route so took a leisurely pace and just drifted along looking at the green fields. Quite a contrast from UT, AZ and NM.

What I don't like about a lot of the states we are going through? Billboards! Hundreds of ugly billboards clutter the side of the highway and obstruct views. Glad the top tier of New England states doesn't allow them anymore.

We frequently buy diesel at the Love's Stations chain and there has always been a pump for diesel on the gas station clearly marked RV fills. Today in Palestine, Arkansas, pulled into a Love's and no diesel with the regular gas pumps. So around the back we went with all the big trucks. Took a long time to get to the pump, even longer to do the paper work inside but..... while Joe filled and papered, I chatted
with some of the road crew for Brad Paisley. They were traveling in four gorgeous big buses with bright graphics and clean as could be. Nice group of guys. Said Brad flew in to concerts but sometimes traveled with them. They asked lots of questions about Bangor, Maine as they are going there relatively soon.

Tonight we are in Village Creek State Park in Arkansas. It is a large park with maybe 100 campsites. There are about 5 people in all in the park. Think gas prices are catching up with everyone? We chose to stay here because we are very tired and needed a quite night with no road noise or big diesels roaring early AM. We're pretty played out and ready to head for home except a few more stops. Tomorrow we go see Elvis and Beale Street,then Nashville, a friend in TN, and then VA to visit family. That last 850 miles back to Maine is going to be a killer!

June 24 - Memphis to Nashville

The drive into Memphis was not fun. The roads are broken up, dirty, lots of litter and very impatient drivers. Sorry those of you who live in that part of TN, but the parts we saw would not draw us back. Got to Graceland about 10:00AM and it was already 94F degrees. The fee to enter the parking lot was $8.00. At least they didn't charge us the $10.00 for an RV. Walked into the area to buy tickets and were told it would be an HOUR before we got to the head of the line. $27.00 for a
walk around the outside of Graceland, $32.00 for a quick tour of the inside, $68 for a full tour and that is per person. We'll spend money when it is something we really want but we looked at each other and said no way! There were people from all over the world waiting to get in. Bless them and I hope they enjoyed it. Bought an Elvis magnet for our travel board, post cards to send home and left. Cheap? Maybe but
that $136 dollars will buy diesel to see a lot more interesting things, a lot less crowded and maybe cooler.

Back on I-40 which had even heavier truck traffic today. As soon as we could we moved over to the Natchez Trace and followed it up to Nashville. Interesting history to the Trace but after the views out west, this became routine really quickly.

We took fellow RV.NET member JerBear's advice and are in Two Rivers RV Park in Nashville tonight. We had a great steak dinner at Sante Fe Steak house and tomorrow will take a quick van tour into Nashville to see some of the sights and country star's homes on a drive by.

Next is Knoxville and into VA to my family. We're then headed home to Maine as quickly as we can. Cool, foggy weather calls.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

June 22 Oklahoma City Zoo, Gardens, Memorial

Can we have some of that cooler TX canyon weather back? Another sunny, bright, hot, dry day in the Midwest. Our cool, foggy days home in Maine are going to seem unnatural! Awakened this morning to the noise of about a dozen diesel engines firing off in big RV busses. This was a rally group headed on to their next destination with toy haulers, motorcycle haulers, car carriers, etc. etc. Made quite a spectacle
pulling out - lot more noise and flash than a group of us TCs leaving.

We are camped close to the Oklahoma Zoo and went there early morning. Walked all the trails, looked at lots of hot animal and took the little tram back from the furthest reaches of the paths. Watched one of the grizzly for a long time and thought of our truck camper friend, Farctic Ox and his bear spray. He bought bear spray to carry while camping back in the wilderness areas of Yellowstone. Sorry Ted - this guy charges, you will die of fright long before you can get the bear spray in action.

We were going to the Omniplex to see a seven story tall theater screen presentation on violent weather tracking but decided to stay outside. Next drove into town to the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge. Downtown OK City is pretty deserted on Sundays and we were able to just park on the street. Again, long walks up and through this tropical hothouse shaped like a tube. Can you say sweat? Today at
least we had all the hats, water, sunscreen, etc. etc. and used it all. I think people in the western part of the US have to stay waterlogged to survive.

Mid afternoon we drove over to the OK City National Memorial for the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in 1995. A lot of people around and you could hear a leaf fall. Even the children were strangely silent. Two arches to enter the grounds, reflecting pool in the middle, and sculpted chairs for each person who died - all 168of them.

We spent several hours inside the museum looking at actual artifacts, film, photos, TV reports from the time, etc. It is a very sobering experience but the fact that the museum exists, to me, shows the freedom our country has to survive and endure. If you get a chance to go, do so.

Tonight once it cools down from the current 93F degrees, we'll load the TC back on the truck and get ready to head for Memphis tomorrow to see Elvis. Another truck camper friend, JerBear and Paula, gave us name of a good RV park within walking distance to Graceland!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

June 21 - Palo Duro mud to Oklahoma City, OK

Rained hard last night and we were quite restless from the heat, wild winds, lightning and thunder. Tired as we were, we did sleep some but woke wondering what the six flash flood road crossings would look like. The ranger said that four wheel would get us through fine and that only one guy camped with a travel trailer near us was likely to get stuck.

Rain stopped as we left the campsite. First crossing was not bad, just mainly dirty water running over the road. Then came the second one -

Doesn't look like much does it? It was about 8-10 inches of red ooze much thicker as you approached the flowing water than once you were in it. We debated putting the Ford into four wheel drive (hubs) but could see tracks where others had already passed. Man could you hear the mud hitting up under the truck! Was sort of fun sliding through all that mud especially knowing that there were several heavy pieces of equipment nearby that could get you out if you went in to the stream bed. We didn't and the next four crossings were about like the second one.

No place to wash it off so we drove on up to Route 40 and crossed into Oklahoma. We were very disappointed in never finding a Texas tourist information center on Route 40. That is a big road and most states have centers on entry points. We might have stayed longer in Texas if we had found more info. Texas is a vast land.

Oklahoma has a beautiful, new center right as you enter with gracious women very familiar with all parts of the state. We came away loaded with places to go and see along our route. We'd planned a one day stay in Oklahoma City but after reading, we decided to make it two nights.

Headed to the Stockyard District in OK City and found a truck wash to get pounds of dried, hard red mud off. Poor Joe didn't know the ulterior motive of going to this area of OK City was a Navajo jewelry store. Ever since coming west I'd wanted an unusual piece as a memory. Got it! As a payback to his patience, we went across the road to the Cattleman's Steakhouse. I fully expected to have to shell out for a fillet mignon but we werent' really that hungry so had steak hamburgers. Inexpensive payback.

We're at Two Fountains RV Park outside OK City on the north side. We are close to the Omniplex where there is a model train exhibit and the Science Museum and Zoo. Truck and TC have achieved saucer separation so we will tour for two days or however long we can stand this 90++ heat. The main purpose in stopping here is to go to the Alfred P. Murrah National Memorial and Museum. Have to see how long we hold out in the expected 93-95F heat.

Truck and Host cleaned up nice didn't they? We're parked on a concrete pad in amongst half million dollar buses with toy haulers. We think we are prettier and a lot more nimble! Don't think they would have made it through the mud but of course, they never would have been down to that spot to start with!

June 20 - Santa Fe via Tucumcari, NM to Palo Duro Canyon, TX

Today started out to be a travel day but we really meandered along. The absolute best part of being retired is not having a schedule. As Joe says, if we see a sign that says "World's Largest Ball of Twine" and decide to go see it, we do.

Santa Fe proved as busy in the AM as last evening and the RV slots were full. Rather than raise the stress level of trying to find a parking place, we hit the road east to play with finding and driving parts of Route 66. We'd bought a small book on Route 66 years ago and had pre marked a DeLorme route map. Well reality and maps/books vary widely! Route 66 often ends up as a private dirt road leading off into what looks like endless desert.

Or you find that it has become only I-40. We decided to abandon the hunt for the moment and take Route 40 to Tucumcari, NM to the MesaLand Community College's Dinosaur Museum. It proved to be a small but well presented exhibit and a good stop
from hunting for Route 66.

Leaving Tucumcari, we again drove parts of Route 66 which in this part of NM, was beside I-40. For the most part it was a pretty good road but disintegrated after a while near San Jon into a white shell like rutted gravel path. It was still marked Route 66 but got so bad the fun was gone. Most of the old service stations and buildings are abandoned and quickly going back to nature. We backtracked to the last
I-40 entry point, dieseled up for $4.59 which was the least we'd seen for a while (Love's Truck Stop) and continued east into Texas.

At Vega, Texas, on a whim, we headed south down 385 towards Hereford, TX. This route is wide open spaces, huge ranches and 25% of the beef in the US. Hereford calls itself the beef capital of the US and it probably is. Every where you look, are huge herds of cattle, feed lots, corn and what looked like wheat fields. The farms/ranches are spread out by multiple miles and at many points you can see the
horizon. Texans don't fool around with wimpy speed limits so this relative small road was 65mph. We were driving about 60-62 and were passed constantly but every pickup that went by, slowed, waved and gave us a thumbs up. Friendly folk in a beautiful land. The RV.NET fellow's warning about not following a cattle truck came true. I thought it was for the odor. It is, but also for the fluids that trail the transport trucks. YUK!

We were headed for Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Canyon, TX in hopes that there would be an opening for an overnight camp. We got the last spot!! and it was at the end of all the roads, way back as far as you can get into the canyon at Mesquite Camp Area. This canyon is a much softer, greener, gentler canyon than most we saw in Utah. Very quite with owls and coyotes as night noise. Nice small museum with a lot of western artifacts. We hope to see the resident live longhorn cattle on the way out.

There is another Truck Camper here, a Lance 1161 on a Dodge. They are from Illinois and were also touring the west. Had a nice time talking and gave them the list of fall rallies

Black rain clouds threatening. You cross six river crossings on the park road coming down to the campsite. Yesterday, there was a lot of rain and the TX DOT had to come and dig out the mud from the road to let campers out. The flood gauge is in feet. Wonder what tomorrow will look like? A bit of rain will be most welcome and maybe force a down day if we cannot get out of here? Ranger said at least the danger of
fire was down.

Only in the mid 80s for temperature today and we must be getting used to it and the dryness as we were able to easily hike a bit in the park this afternoon. Tomorrow we will head on into Oklahoma.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

June 19 - Cortez CO to Santa Fe NM

June 19 - Cortez, CO to Santa Fe, NM

Today was basically a travel day. We decided to take the southern route since we do get to see mountains in New England and have seen a lot already here in the west. We don't have deserts in Maine. Left Cortez, CO on Route 160 and hit a lot of construction headed east. One delay was over a half hour so we just read and relaxed. Out west they "chip seal" roads, meaning lay down a thick bed of tar and then spread red or gray chips of rock over the top. It gets swept and probably rolled (though we don't know about that). Hard, smooth surface but bet it throws rocks for a long time. We already have one crack in the F350 windshield, fortunately down low under the wiper blade area.

Truck ran well today except the last 20 minutes or so. It had been from cooler Cortez, up through mountains, down to valleys, through a lot of heat. The Santa Fe entry hills at 95F degrees in slow traffic brought out the whine again. As suggested, it just might be a fan kicking into high and not bad diesel. We do know what that tank of good diesel did maybe it is a combination.

Finally turned onto 84 and were almost alone again, driving through beautiful Colorado mountains, lush, deep valleys with lots of cattle and horses. Why don't we ever see anyone riding these horses? We've seen thousands and not one rider except a horse tourist trail ride in Bryce Canyon. Stopped for lunch beside a beautiful CO Fish and Wildlife lake near Chromo. Almost hit a pretty good size deer as we were leaving but managed to stop. He turned right around and crossed in front of us again!

We passed through tiny dots on the map such as Chromo, Chama and Brazos where there is a post office and a general store and that is that. We drove up a couple of boondock roads in the Carson National Forest and bet we were miles and miles from any other human. Saw elk, deer and lots of beautiful black/white birds with long tails - a different type of partridge maybe?

Reprovisioned in Espanola, NM at (where else) a Wal-Mart. Never far from them are we but it is an easy quick place to replace items used like milk and paper products.

We passed in and out of many Indian reservation lands. By the time we got to Santa Fe it was 5PM local and very busy traffic. Tired from just driving with not a lot of stops for walking, we decided to try to go into downtown Santa Fe, park and walk around. No way!! as we didn't know the hidden town parking lots for RVs. We did drive through the narrow streets with the town square and big cathedral and all the

Tomorrow we'll go back and park in the pay lot behind the cathedral and walk around a bit. Then on east headed for Amarillo, Texas.

We are about toured out and need either a couple of down days or to just stop touring and head east to Oklahoma City. We keep watching the weather and know we are going into rain but hopefully not into flooding or violent thunderstorms. Good to have that NOAA weather radio along. Tonight the sky in Santa Fe is just beautiful.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June 18 - Monument Valley and Mesa Verde National Park

Last night we just missed taking the moonlight jeep ride out into Monument Valley. Today we drove through a lot of it. Joe thinks he saw John Wayne disappearing in a trail of dust over the horizon.

We went up 163 through vast endless stretches of land, passing through tiny towns like Halcita and Mexican Hat. Most of this land is part of s Navajo Indian Reservation which encompasses parts of four states. We decided to play pure tourist and stop in Four Corners and stand so that you touched four states at once. The Navajo very wisely charge $3 a head to enter and then have 40-50 booths set up with native crafts mostly beautiful silver and turquoise jewelry. Can you say Christmas presents? Joe got bored with my trying to decide which ones to buy and had a fry bread hamburger. Man looked quite content.

Truck still felt sluggish this morning but not the problems of overdrive hang like the few times yesterday. On the off chance that we got a bad batch of diesel, we ran it almost dry. Filled up at the Ute Mountain station which was handling a lot of big rigs so we figured the diesel would be fresh. YES!!! It was like giving the truck a shot of adrenaline. We did stop at the Cortez Ford dealer to try to get an oil and filter change but they told us it would be next Monday before they could touch it. Gave us the name of Big O's Tire Center. They took us in immediately including a valve stem replacement that had been worrying Joe. Transmission fluid was fine and the young manager told us in this altitude and on long pulls with a load, his diesel would also kick into high overdrive and sound like a whine. Going up a lot of mountain roads today, not one hint of a problem so it probably was bad diesel.

The snow we can see out the camper window. looks really good right now. We are still in Cortez, CO which is the foothill of the Rockies and there is still snow on top.

It was 94F outside and about 85F inside the truck camper when we set up for the night. I think we'll run the AC all night tonight. We both really pushed the walking today and my legs are cramping even though we both forced water. For you who live in the west, my floppy sun hat is off to you for being active outdoors. Guess you do eventually get used to it.

Mesa Verde National Park with the Indian cliff dwellings of 1000 to 600 years ago was our adventure for the day. I'd seen photos as a child and always wanted to see them. We did not take the escorted ranger climb down to the biggest set of ruins as you still cannot get up into it (of course). I did not think in 90+ heat I was ready to climb ladders down a cliff - and back up. Smart huh? This park is set up so you can see most of the dwellings from the opposite side of the canyon. The Visitor Center had many pots and artifacts from the dwellings plus a display of silver/turquoise jewelry from the late 1800s that were stunning. Going into and out of the park is an adventure also as it is 28 miles one way from the route 160 entry to the end of the park. It is long climbs, very steep turns and lots of slow going on switchbacks. So glad the Ford likes it's new diesel and performed perfectly.

If you are ever in Cortez, stop for lunch or supper at "Tequila's". It is local, not a chain and great Mexican food at a reasonable price. We were too hot and tired to even think about fixing supper tonight in the TC. Recommendation came from the workers at Big O's. And yes - Tequila's does serve good margaritas. Over our supper we discussed where to head next. Do we stay in CO and head up into the mountains to see even taller peaks where it will be cooler and greener and then up to I-70 to head east via St.Louis, MO, Lexington, KY, Charleston, WV and to Richmond, VA for family? Or do we drop down to the desert and hotter climates to Santa Fe, NM and to Route 40 to head east through Amarillo, Texas, Okalahoma City for the memorial, Little Rock, AK over to Memphis, TN to visit Elvis, up to Nashville for BBQ, Knoxville and then over to near Richmond VA to visit family and then the slog up the coast to Maine?

Decision tomorrow morning!