Puerto Penasco, Mexico

This is the last of three installments chronicling our 2016-2017 travels.  Once again we returned to Puerto Penasco, Mexico, in mid-February where we spent 10 warm, sunny days with old and new friends.

After leaving our 3-month stint in Death Valley, followed by about 10 days or so in the Las Vegas/Laughlin area, we headed down to Dateland, Arizona for a 3 day visit with our good friends, John and Betty Gallagher. We always have a great time with them, and they are very generous in allowing us to stash our bikes and other ‘stuff’ that we won’t be using while in Mexico.  BTW, Dateland is best know for it’s great date milkshakes; click for more information.


Entering Mexico at the Lukeville, AZ/Sonoyta, MX border crossing. Crossing this year was much slower than usual. The Mexican Border Agents were very courteous and friendly when they boarded us.  It took over an hour to get all 35 coaches across.


The guy on the right was in our Winnebago Puerto Penasco group. His dog went with him everywhere, including on his custom-designed Harley rear trunk. The helmet matched the bike color; the goggles (yep, really) were not shown.


Happy hour every day at 4 PM, in the Playa Bonita Beach Bar. Drinks were cheap and copious…


One of the tourist-trap shops at “The Dirt Mall,” so named because the road through there used to be dirt and was not paved until about 2 years ago. You can get anything you want here…well, almost…


We met up with some old friends and made some new ones in Puerto Penasco. This pic shows us, Matt and Gloria (old), Sharon and John (new) and MonaLiza and Steve (old) at the El Capitan Restaurant.  What a terrific view – highest point in town.  And if you ate before 4 PM, you ordered off their 50% discount menu…so we went there twice during our visit.


Dee Dee met a younger man in Mexico. We lost track of her for 4 days.


The girlz in front of the Shrimper’s Memorial Statue – Gloria, Sharon, MonaLiza and Dee Dee.


Dee Dee with the boys at Mr. Fish on the Malacon. Great place, very fresh seafood and they are all very friendly. We ended up bringing back 10 lbs. of monster shrimp and 5 lbs. of red snapper.


We took an all-day guided jeep trip to a very remote beach about 65 miles south of Puerto Penasco. We stopped just before the beach dunes so that everybody could ‘air down’ to about 20 lbs. tire pressure, for driving in soft sand.

Millions (really…) of these shells covered acres and acres adjacent to the sandy road we used to access the beach.

Headed up a hill just off the beach. It’s much steeper than it looks…took 2 trys to get to the top.

Charlie found a sucker in Steve. Once you throw him the ball, he owns you…

Pacifico’s on the beach with our good friends Steve and MonaLiza.

Dee Dee and Steve doing weird hand tricks on the beach.

MonaLiza with a sea cucumber that she found floating in the surf.


Beers with our buddies at the JJ’s Cantina out in Cholla Bay. Funky place on the beach, and probably the most expensive beer in all of Mexico. We only had one and then left.


Steve and Bob installing a Magnashade magnetic sun screen on our coach.  Very simple ingenious method to block sun and ensure a degree of privacy, while still being able to see outside.  Click here for more information on this product.


We met this lady on the beach one day. Turns out that she is from Canada and her family owns a popular restaurant in town called Frenchy’s. Which it turns out, is the name of their dog.  Click here for more information about Frenchy’s


Charlie taking a break from chasing a tennis ball and playing with every single little kid on the beach.


Back to one of our most favorite restaurants, Peggy Sues, not too far from Barstow, CA on I-15.


Dee Dee picking oranges near Bakersfield, CA.


We stopped for the night at Yreka, CA. Actually had to. I-5 from there to the other side of the Siskiyous Summit had a chains required/4WD restriction. But 10 AM the next morning the road was clear enough to safely pass.

At the top of the Siskiyous Summit, on the way down the steep hill into Ashland, Oregon.

Yreka Dog Butt.


We had a wonderful visit in Modesto with lots of old, old and very good, friends. What a great evening. Thanks to Derek Waring (on the far left) for setting this up. What a treat it was for us!


Remnant of Kubrik’s classic film, “2001 – A Space Odyssey.”


This trip was not without it’s problems, that essentially started as we were departing Mexico.  One of our slides got stuck open (for the 2nd time in 7 months), delaying us for about an hour while we did temporary repairs to get it back in, with the help of a bunch of good friends who were their with knowledge and tools.  We got back across the border into the US with no problems or issues – it was a very easy crossing, despite what we had garnered from others who preceded us.  (Since Trump took office, ICE has become very aggressive at the border.  Things have changed for US citizens travelling in and out of Mexico…and not necessarily for the better.  But, once we were in Mexico, it was all good.  The Mexican people are friendly, tolerant and welcoming.  It’s a wonderful country.)

The 2nd night back in the US, at Newberry Springs, CA, another slide failed, but we managed to nurse that one in.  For the remaining 6 days of our trip back north, we only had one functioning slide.  The coach was livable, but cramped.  Several months previously we made an appointment at the Winnebago West Coast Repair Facility in Junction City, Oregon, so we were able to take the coach directly to them on the way home (they are located about 4 hours south of us.)

So, as I write this, our RV is almost completed; it has been there for over 3 weeks.  We went back down there about a week ago to inspect what they had done so far and it all looked great…just one or two other minor repairs to be completed.  I am headed back down in a few days (March 24th) to pick it up.  Because of all the issues we have experienced over the past year, Winnebago has agreed to give us another year on the factory warranty, as well as having the Plant Manager and the West Coast Sales Manager present when we pick it up.  They have been very cooperative (albeit after a bit of ‘nudging’ from us), so we are generally pleased with them.

That’s it for now.  We are home for a bit, but have several small trips planned over the next months.  Then, probably in October sometime, we are off again for another extended (4-5 month) trip, probably to south Texas, New Orleans (again), Mississippi and the Florida Pan Handle, near our favorite place in Carrabelle.

Stay tuned…

 

Death Valley…Once Again…

We are still in the process chronicling our travels during 2016-2017.  This chapter of our blog covers the 3 months we spent as Camp Ground Hosts for the National Park Service at the Furnace Creek Campground in Death Valley National Park from November 1, 2016 to about January 25, 2017.  You won’t read much about the actual time we spent working (4 days on, 4 days off, usually, and we worked hard.)  Rather, this post covers all the great things we saw during our off time.  This installment is a l-o-n-g one, so crack open a beer, kick back and take your time.  We hope you enjoy the read and the pics.


Our Host campsite at the NPS Furnace Creek campground. Lots of tamarisk (non-native) trees for shade. This was our home from November 1, 2016 to January 25, 2017.


This cluster of dead salt cedars was directly across from us in the Furnace Creek campground. Woooooooooooooo…spooky..


The first beers (with many to follow over succeeding weeks…) at the Corkscrew Saloon in Furnace Creek. One of our favorite haunts – always a delight!

We have been going to the Corkscrew Saloon, in Furnace Creek, for beers since the 1970’s. Alas, by the time you read this post it may already be gone forever…a victim of ‘progress’ as it is being demolished as part of a massive remodeling project (by Xantera Corp., not the NPS.)


Near Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, part of Death Valley NP, but not in Death Valley proper.  Located outside of the Park, on the way to Pahrump, Nevada.  It is operated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

Extensive fencing to protect the rare Pupfish from human intrusion, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.  Click to learn more.


A small herd of Mountain Sheep (all bucks) we spotted at the abandoned White Point talc mine on Warm Springs Road, at the extreme south end of Death Valley National Park. The white substance you see are talc spoils from the mine…not snow.


A portion of The Grandstand, a rock formation at The Racetrack Playa.  Twenty five miles of rough road to get here; multiple flat tires are not uncommon.  No country for Honda Accords…

Another view of The Grandstand, in The Racetrack Playa.

The Racetrack Playa…pristine and undisturbed, as it should be.  Click here to learn more.

The Racetrack Playa, violated by jerks who think it’s cool and macho to wreck the place for others. Driving on this Playa is a Federal offense, punishable by huge fines and prison time. Because this area is so remote, it’s hard to catch these idiots in the act. However, these guys WERE caught, thanks to advanced GPS techniques and good investigation by the NPS. And, after several years of these destructive activities, the NPS is finally creating a volunteer watchdog/educational position to be a presence at the site.

Dee Dee and the famous moving rocks, The Racetrack Playa.

More moving rocks at The Racetrack Playa.

Teakettle Junction, about 20 miles down the dirt road to The Racetrack Playa. This is one seasons’ worth, left by travelers down this road. The NPS removes all of them every year, to make room for new ones. Sadly, they are disposed of; volunteers have offered to collect, catalog and store them, but the wheels of Government approval grind at a snails pace…


Our friend Bob McNamara (aka, “Texas Bob), who knows virtually every square inch of Death Valley. He guided us to many new and exciting places during the 3 months that we were there this stint. Bob is a retired commercial photographer from Minnesota. He was a fellow Campground Host who worked the Texas Springs Campground (hence the name “Texas Bob.”) While there, he developed a bad case of shingles that, luckily, healed rapidly. This pic shows some of the scabs that developed. (Pretty gross, huh?)

Thanksgiving Day found us heading back to Marble Canyon, about 20 miles of rough road from Stove Pipe Wells, off of the Cottonwood Canyon Road.

The 3 of us at The Stop Rock in Marble Canyon. “Stop Rock” meaning you have to Stop at this point. To get around it, and back into the magnificent slot canyon behind it, you backtrack and take a steep path over the top to the other side.

Entering Marble Canyon slot canyon. Some of the most magnificent geological formations in all of Death Valley.  Their beauty will take your breath away.

The 3 of us in Marble Canyon. Wow, huh?

Texas Bob demonstrating one of the narrowest points in Marble Canyon. Before the Stop Rock blocked the entrance years ago, you could drive to this point. Only small 4WD vehicles could make it through.

Group shot of the 4 of us leaving Marble Canyon. Only Charlie would not wave…

Back on the Cottonwood Canyon Road, after leaving Marble Canyon. What a magnificent way to spend Thanksgiving Day!


Aguereberry Point, arguably with a better and more expansive view than the popular Dante’s View, which is located on the eastern side of the Death Valley.  Dirt road for the last 10 miles, the last 1/2 mile of which is not for the faint of heart.  Look off in the distance and you can see the salt pan on the Valley floor.  Click here for more information about this place.


Texas Bob and I heading over Hunter Mountain. Yes, this is still in Death Valley, on the extreme western side. We made an elevation gain to over 5,500 feet. We encountered snow and ice, in some place treacherous (we almost slid into a bank on a bad curve.) The day after this pic was made, the road was closed due to heavy snow. Incredible country.

Coming down Hunter Mountain. The road is MUCH steeper than it looks.

Visiting an old mining camp, off of Hunter Mountain Road.

Inside the shack, pictured above. Many visitors pick up artifacts, but leave them here, as they should, so that other can enjoy seeing them.


Waiting at The Rio in Las Vegas to see Penn and Teller. Great show. And, we had great seats…4th row center.

This is Teller, of Penn and Teller. He is the one who never speaks while on stage. This was taken during one of their great magic tricks. And he DID talk to that fellow, who was sitting right behind us.


One of the advantages of an NPS Volunteer is that you get the opportunity to go to places in the park that are closed to the general public. The following 3 pics were taken on a trip back to the Keane Wonder Mine, that has been closed for several years due to safety concerns. By the time you read this, the NPS will have completed restoration work and it should be re-opened to the public. Get more information about the Keane Wonder Mine by clicking here.

Keane Wonder Mine. Dee Dee is bringing up the rear of the line as this guided group hikes to the platform you see pictured below.

Keane Wonder mine structure. The tramway you see at the top of the hill, behind, extends another 3,000 feet up the mountain.


We make another quick trip over to Las Vegas to ride the giant ferris wheel. We had tickets to the special “all-you-can-drink-in-30-minutes” car. It had a full bar and held about 10 of us. It was all we could do to down 2 drinks and a shot. In our younger daze, it would have been a different story… The wheel never stops moving, so you board on a long platform, and have to pace your entry with the car’s movement. Easy getting on, not so easy getting off after the drinks…

Us after getting off the ferris wheel. The drinks were still apparent. And yes, that is a full moon.


Dee Dee had to stop to barf.  Enough said. We did not take the opportunity to go into this store (he is always the opportunist, eh?), but odds are that most of the stuff in there was made in China. (Or Russia.)


At The Artist’s Palette with our good friends Mike and Gloria Hardcastle-Taylor, who we knew from our time living in Dan Diego. We spend a great 3 days with them and took them to see lots of stuff. Great time!


Scotty’s Castle, at the north end of Death Valley, was closed in October, 2015, due to catastrophic flash flood damage to Grapevine Road and portions of the Castle itself. The NPS has already allocated over $50 million for repairs, mainly for the road.  As we told you above, because we were NPS volunteers, we were given access to the area, through this locked gate. For more information on the Scotty’s Castle closure, click here.

Entering Grapevine Canyon, going to visit Scotty’s Castle.

Grapevine Canyon Road, or what’s not left of it. The flash flood damage was horrific. Look carefully and you can see that the elevation of the original road sits ABOVE the roof of our Jeep.

Entering the grounds of Scotty’s Castle. We had the whole place to ourselves. All furniture and antiquities have been be removed due to the lack of proper control of heating, air conditioning and humidity controls. They are being stored at a secret location in Southern California.

Another view of Scotty’s Castle, looking over the never-completed swimming pool. Click here for some more history of Scotty’s Castle.


We took another trip with our friend, Texas Bob, to the Eureka Dunes, located at the extreme north end of Death Valley National Park, and accessible by driving 50 miles of washboard road. Most people are familiar with the sand dunes near Stove Pipe Wells; the Eureka Dunes dwarf these. Their scale is incredible; very few people ever visit them.

Another view of the a portion of the Eureka Dunes. In the picture above, note the people standing on top of a dune, in the distance.

Dee Dee and Texas Bob walking the Eureka Dunes.

Our plan after leaving the Eureka Dunes was to keep going and take the pass over to Big Pine and Highway 395. However, it started snowing hard at about 7,000 feet, and we still had to gain another 1,500 feet to cross the 8,500 foot pass. We opted to abort and turn around…good thing, as we never would have made it. There was a blizzard in the Owens Valley that closed Highway 395.


Still another trip with our Friend Texas Bob was back up Warm Springs Road to the Geologists Cabin, located about 20 miles from the West Side Road, 4WD all the way, in some places serious 4WD. This pic was taken inside the abandoned White Point Mine.  You can learn more about this particular mine by clicking here.

On the way back to the Geologist Cabin…

Dee Dee and Texas Bob at the Geologist’s Cabin, located in Butte Valley. Striped Butte can be seen in the background. The rock cabin is one of the more famous overnight backcountry hostels in the Park. People treat it with great respect and most leave it better than they found it.

Texas Bob inside the Geologist’s Cabin. For more information about this place, click here.

Exploring a portion of Butte Valley, about 25 miles from the nearest paved road. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but those are some steep, gnarly hills in the background.

After we left Butte Valley, we headed back to the West Side Road and decided to drive about 50 miles out of our way to visit the Crowbar and have a beer. I had been here before, several times, and it’s worth the trip. This day, however, it was closed…


And so another chapter of our Blog draws to a close. We leave you with this great image of two fellas we encountered on Warm Springs Road. We were driving along slowly, and they seemed to be following us…


Wandering (Wondering?) Our Way to South Dakota

So, I bet you are all wondering, “What the hell happened to that Gauvreau blog thing?”  Good question.  Let’s just say that the intensity of posting most of last year got to me and I needed a vacation.

Or something…

Anyhow, for what ever reason for being gone, it’s back again.  Big yip, huh?

So, we are starting off by going w-a-y back to last September, when we began our next big adventure, heading off to South Dakota and the goal of seeing Mt. Rushmore.  So, here we go…

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We left our home in Silver Lake, Washington, on September 13, 2016, kicking off a 4-week trip to South Dakota. Our first stop was in Walla Walla, Washington, probably best known for the large herds of (now-extinct) Walla Walla’s that roamed the surrounding hills, eons ago. Today it is best known for over-rated $14 martini’s at a local bar, and an RV park run by an insane woman. Oh, and the chickens there are mighty big, too…


After leaving Walla Walla, we stopped in Spokane where we visited our little niece and nephew, Kim and Selby. We always have a great time with these two characters. We closed down the bar in the Elks Lodge one night; the 2nd night we headed out for dinner to a great place on the river, where Selby managed to eat something that disagreed with him – a lot. Enough so to cause them to miss our planned 3 days of camping with them in Montana. Even so, they did manage to drive over to see us for a few hours.


We ran across this odd truck on Highway 84, on the way to Walla Walla. I talked to the driver, who told me that is was a prototype design for Freightliner that he was testing. The complex graphic is actually make up of a peel-and-stick (no kidding…) material design to mask the lines of the truck. I guess…at least that’s what he told me.


With our (really) old buddies, Steve and Linda McCullough – from high school and college times. They took us ATVing up in the hills above Townsend, Montana. We spent a great 2 daze with them – such good friends and wonderful hosts. Charlie greatly appreciated their charming hospitality, at least the 2 lbs. of raw roasts that he swiped off their kitchen counter and ate all in one sitting. Oh, and Steve makes a MEAN martini.


With Steve and Linda, at an old cabin about 15 miles back in the hills. We had a great trip back there and it capped a super-fun day…only to be bested by Steve’s martini’s once we returned to their house; they have a full bar in the garage, and in the kitchen, and in the den, and in the living room and on the deck. You don’t need to walk for a drink when you visit.


Life would not be complete without a stop in Butte, Montana, where we had a great visit with our old Modesto friends and neighbors, Ed and Betty Banderob. Butte is the consummate mining town, and Ed is a veritable font of information about the entire area, since both he and Betty grew up there, and their families go back generations. We were really lucky to have Ed drive us around town in his old, but mint condition, Cadillac. What a treat! Such great hosts!


A tunnel under an open-pit mine access road, Butte, Montana. It led from a visitor information center to a viewpoint.


One of many abandoned mining ‘gallows’ in Butte. This one is fairly contemporary; many are decades old. All are part of the colorful history of the town.


Dee Dee just after we arrived at Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming. A cold, nasty day…we had this magnificent view all to ourselves.


Another view of Devil’s Tower the next day, complete with buffalo and a Texas Longhorn.


We hiked up and around Devil’s Tower. This is a view from the base of the Tower, looking back towards our campground. Close as a crow flies, but several miles by car. Did you ever see the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind?” Portions of it really were filmed at Devil’s Tower. The production company was based at this campground.


And yet still another view of Devil’s Tower, taken from the trail around the base. You can’t see them here, but there were about a dozen or so climbers up there.


On the way down from our 3.5 mile hike around Devil’s Tower. There was a beer waiting just outside the frame…


After about two weeks of traveling, with many stops, we finally made it Hill City, South Dakota, our base camp for a week while we explored the area: Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Sturgis, Deadwood, and surrounding towns. This campground was a great central location; it had only 6 spaces, and 2 of them were occupied by work-campers who maintained the grounds and took care of several cabins on the grounds. It was a perfect location and the guy who runs the place is a total delight.


After almost 2 weeks on the road, Dee Dee and the Boyz are taking a much-needed break.


Dee Dee’s scratched one off her Bucket List when we arrived at Mt. Rushmore! This was the goal of the trip, and we made it. By the way, if you have seen the iconic Hitchcock movie, “North by North West,” part of it was filmed here…but don’t expect to see anything remaining from that time, except for the mountain. No longer can you drive right up to a viewpoint. You are now required to park ($11, no discounts) in a seven-story parking garage and walk about 1/2 mile to the viewpoint. The National Park Service has done a good job in developing the area. You do pay to park (no choice), but entry to the Monument is still free.


After Mt. Rushmore, we visited the privately (tribal) operated Crazy Horse Monument. This is a bigger-than-life-size mock-up sculpture located in the expansive visitor’s center. Work on this monument is largely funded by private resources and donations. It’s been going on for 2 generations and it is anticipated that it will not be completed for several more. In other words, your kid’s kid’s kid’s kid’s may be lucky to see the final product. it is really unbelievable what is going into the development of this area…not just the Monument, but also an expansive regional educational center. Has to be seen to be believed.


Us at Crazy Horse Monument. You can see they have a l-o-n-g way to go before it is completed.


One of the many breweries and wineries in the Hill City area. No shortage of beer here. Lucky for us, we were here at the tail-end of the tourist season. Many businesses were literally within a few days of closing down for the winter. Things really start to taper off after October 15th.


We made it to Sturgis! Not much going on, but at least we have the picture of the Harley Dealership to prove we made it. And yes, we did get t-shirts.

There is a magnificent motorcycle museum in Sturgis. Totally supported by private funds and donations. If you are into bikes, and in the area, this place is not to be missed.

This is one of the many great exhibits in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. They had a whole series of Honda’s from 50cc circa 1964 scooters to contemporary Gold Wings. I owned a Honda 305 Super Hawk just like this one, in 1968. It was a great bike. Still miss it.


A portion of a Big Round Thing, on display in Leadville. It was part of a very important project, related more to nuclear science that mining. It just forget what it was part of… The diameter was over 15 feet.


Fall colors in a magnificent canyon between Deadwood and Sturgis. We were there at absolutely prime time.


“Oh, give me a home, where the buffalo roam, and the deer and the ANTELOPE play…” This was taken near a small town in Wyoming. Dee Dee and I were sitting in a local bar having a beer and we told a guy sitting next to us about this herd. “No way,” says he. “Antelopes (sic) have been extinct for over 200 years.” So much for local knowledge.


Storage silos, near Wall, South Dakota. We stopped at the famous Wall Drug (immediately behind where I was standing to take this pic.) It was OK. Great for kids. It’s still a monster tourist trap.


A herd of mountain sheep, blocking the road on the way to Badlands National Park, in Wyoming, about a 125 mile drive from our base camp in Hill City and about 100 miles from Rapid City, South Dakota. No, they (the sheep) are not as yet extinct, but then again, we did not inquire with the locals to be sure…


Entering Badlands National Park, just like the sign says…


Badlands National Park is a small, but immensely spectacular place. The geological formations were amazing. You could spend days here wandering around, exploring. You can actually meander through the entire park in about 2 hours, it’s that small. We were lucky, again, to be here in early October: good weather and few other visitors. It was a great time to be there.


More Badlands…


And even more Badlands…


…and here we leave you with a magnificent view of a portion of Badlands National Park. You have the bench all to yourself. Badlands National Park was the end of our long journey eastward, from our home in Washington to South Dakota.


The way home was not as enjoyable as the trip out. The end of good fall weather was upon us, and winter was rapidly setting in. We encountered nothing but wind and rain all the way back home. Many visitor places, such as RV parks and other campgrounds were closing down or were already closed, on the route home (South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington.)

But we made it just fine, and our RV managed to survive the trip with no major problems or breakdowns. (We did have it service by a Freightliner dealer in Rapid City, South Dakota, while we were there.) We arrived home about mid-October, got unpacked, did some work around the place, and then took off again about 10 days later, headed for a 3-month gig as campground hosts at Death Valley National Park, and then some travels in Nevada and Arizona, capped by 10 days in delightful Puerto Penasco, Mexico.

But that’s the next installment of the Blog…stay tuned…

Viva Las Vegas!

This chapter of our blog starts off with our heroes still in Modesto, living the good life, visiting with all our old friends.  We had a great time during dinner at Verona’s Restaurant with our old buddies Jim and Linda Johnson, and Steve and Linda Collins.  As usual, too much wine (thanks to Steve) and a high dinner bill, but what the hell, right?

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Dinner with old Modesto friends

Dee Dee spent more time walking old walking places (the ‘Giacomo’s Coffee Circuit’) with her buddy Dorlene.  And Charlie-the-dog certainly enjoyed his time away from the RV…poor guy is used to free-roaming on our 7.5 acres at home…now he is confined a lot of the time to about 150 square feet.  He is a really patient doggy.  More golf with Steve and Big Al out Jack Tone Golf.  Bob’s game still sucks, but it’s the camaraderie that’s important…plus winning about $12.

One of the greatest times we have had in a l-o-n-g time was a get-together with a bunch of old, (old) MJC friends on Sunday afternoon. Kim Gyuran and Anne Shanto organized and it was a hoot!  It was wonderful to see Kim and Anne, as well as Jim and Linda Johnson, Todd Guy, Eileen Hibbard (Olhson), Wes and Barbie Page, Larry and Muggs Zable, John Chappell, Derek Waring, Steve and Linda Collins and Dorlene Salazar.  I got so caught up in visiting with everyone that I neglected to take a single picture.  Bad Bob!

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Good friends Al and Linda Cover

 

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Getting ready to depart Big Al’s RV Park and Sheep Ranch, in Modesto

 

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One of Big Al’s work benches

We said our good-byes to our good friends Al and Linda Cover, who were gracious enough to allow to once again stay at what we fondly call ‘Big Al’s RV Park and Sheep Ranch.’  As an (important) aside, Al (whose demeanor exudes ‘calm’) has become a community activist in the fight with the (scoundrels) in City of Modesto Government, and the Chamber of Commerce, to annex an area known as Wood Colony.  The proposal is to build business parks, a four-lane freeway overpass, etc.  (Back in the early 1980’s, this same crap was going on under the guise of ‘re-development’, which destroyed part of the historical heart and soul of downtown Modesto.  I was somewhat involved in the fight to stop this, but we lost.)

Wood Colony is a historical agricultural area that he and many other farmers have called ‘home’ for over 100 years.  (Al’s family goes back 4 generations, and is not dissimilar to other families in the surrounding area.)  And the proposed Wood Colony annexation has not escaped national attention.  Al was interview by a New York Times reporter, and his picture was featured as part of the story.  (For more on all of this, you can go to here to read the article and see Big Al’s picture.)

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Lunch at Peggy Sue’s, near Yermo, CA

 

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The ‘Original’ Peggy Sue and Dee Dee

We had uneventful drive down the remainder of the Central Valley to Bakersfield, where we stayed at the Orange Grove RV Park.  On Tuesday, we made the long drive over to Las Vegas.  On the way there, we made our traditional stop at Peggy Sue’s Dinner, on Interstate 15 near Yermo, CA.   Always a great time, lots of funky 1950’s stuff to see and great food.  And this time, we met and talked to the REAL Peggy Sue!  She is a delightful lady – so cordial and friendly.  She spent 5 minutes with us and we felt very welcome.  So cool!

After leaving Peggy Sue’s Diner, we made the l-o-o-o-n-g pull up The 15 to Las Vegas.  At one point our fuel consumption indicator was registering under 5 MPG.  By the time we rolled in, we are sucking fumes.

We had originally planned to stay at the Main Street Station RV Park, near Fremont Street, but at the last-minute changed our plans and headed for Sam’s Town, near Henderson.  We figured we had seen Fremont Street enough, and the RV park is pretty tight, not to mention the 3 block walk to Fremont Street, which can be somewhat scary at night.  And, a pretty crappy dog run as well.  Charlie was not happy when we stayed there.

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Sam’s Town entrance at night

 

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Sam’s Town RV Park, restrooms at night

We have stayed at Sam’s Town at least 6 times in the past.  The RV park is about ½ block from the casino, which is pretty nice, with lots to see and do (indoor waterfall, movie theatres, liberal slots and plenty of blackjack tables.)  However, we discovered things had changed since our last visit.  KOA had recently taken over management of both the transient (near the casino) and the long-term (not near the casino) parks.  In the past, transient travelers (like us) could not stay in the long-term park.  But, since KOA took over, they started putting transients in the long-term park…which is pretty much like a ghetto and a long walk, crossing a very busy 6-lane street (Flamingo) to get to the far side of the casino.

You guessed it…they stuck us in the ghetto.  It was bad.  After registering several (very vociferous) complaints with the office staff (all of whom were new and not at all well-trained), we finally got moved back into the park where we had always stayed in the past.  But it took some doing, and only after we were pretty much forced to stay in the crappy park for one night.  What did we learn?  ASK where you are going to be when you make a reservation; NORTH = BAD, SOUTH = GOOD.  On the good side, KOA has done a nice job in cleaning up the park, they are very friendly and they did not crank up the rates (yet.)

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Part of the buffet at Sam’s Town

We got some good deals for breakfast and lunch in the excellent buffet, gambled (up at the slots, down at the tables, for break even.)  We went to see ‘Gone Girl.’  Without giving away the ending, if you see it (which we recommend), get ready for twists and turns and a weird ending.

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Light show at Mystic Falls, indoor water feature at Sam’s Town

We headed down to Lake Mead one day to take Charlie swimming and wear him out.  The poor guy has been very patient.  Marshall Dylan enjoyed walk along the lake shore.  As expected, the level of the lake is pretty low – further down than we have ever seen it in the years we have been going there.

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Dee Dee and Charlie at Lake Mead

 

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Charlie and tennis ball, Lake Mead

Several months ago we got tickets to see ‘Rock of Ages,’ an 80’s-era musical playing at the Venetian.  Thanksgiving night found us at the show.  WOW!  HOLY CRAP, BATMAN!!  Our seats were not bad; (ahem…) 4th row center.  You could almost touch the stage.  And the music brought back memories (…at least what we can remember…) of the ‘80’s:  Styx, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Journey, Pat Benetar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Poison and Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane/Starship.)  High energy, incredible backup band (featuring some of the original members of Whitesnake).  Great choreography.  The last trip through Las Vegas we saw ‘Jersey Boys’ and were blown away.  Well, ‘Rock of Ages’ topped that!  This is a show that will get you totally jazzed – not to be missed if you get to Las Vegas.

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Rocker and Dee Dee, as we were leaving ‘Rock of Ages’ performance, Venetian Hotel/Casino, Las Vegas

Oh yeah.  Almost forgot to mention our Thanksgiving dinner before the show at a restaurant called the ‘Public House,’ inside the Venetian.  It was billed to feature a huge variety of  beers.  (The beer list was given to you on an iPad…pretty cool.)  But, prices were $10-$15/glass; as a benchmark, they wanted $10 for a 12 oz. Heineken.  We opted for the house wine with dinner…$54/bottle.  The turkey dinners were actually pretty good, $28, and about the cheapest thing on the menu (except $20 for a hamburger.)  Oh well, it’s only $$$ and you only live once, right?

We are in Las Vegas for a couple of more days (with maybe one day of golf), and then we head to one of our most favorite places, Death Valley, where we have been many, many times before.  (We worked 3 months for the National Park Service as Campground Hosts, back in 2010.)  There may be at least a week-long void in the blog, unless we can find Wi-Fi in Furnace Creek.

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment.