Tuesday 19th April
We had an evening flight to LA and as usual we had a slight problem and getting away, this time it was my fault and not the airlines, we got 25K towards Christchurch and I realised I had not turned off the water in the garage, this meant if there was a good Frost this winter and one of the pipes burst we need a rowing boat to get from one end of the house to the other.
Couple that with the roadworks at the airport and we were running too late to drop the car to Marg and Peter’s place at Fernside so it was into the Airport Car Park, Park it in a prominent place, leave the keys on top of the back wheel, the parking ticket in the glove box and a $10 parking fee, I was going to leave $20 but only had a blue note, then I told Peter where it was, he collected it later in the evening paid the $16 parking fee, hopefully we’ll have some money left by the end of the tour otherwise I’ll need to make some time payment arrangements…….
On the plane I searched through the films available to watch looking for The Martian, found it, wondered why NASA sent up whole potatoes instead of processed potatoes, but then I thought perhaps I’m being picky, once the film was over took a sleeping pill and woke up as breakfast was being served just before we landed at LAX. Then clear the luggage through customs, walked down the row of terminals to United, and wait the five hours for our connecting flight.
Then was on to the hotel and when I told the taxi driver what hotel it was I could tell by the expression on his face was very close so a four dollars taxi ride got us to the hotel. It’s always nice to sleep in an air-conditioned room on a nice bed.
Wednesday 20th April
Bright and early we got a taxi to the storage unit, with a jumper lead connecting the owners Jeep to our battery we had ignition on there was the small matter of registering the vehicle, it expired in July when we were being in the boonies of Canada, but first we had to fill the RV with petrol, halfway through filling the tank I didn’t really like the pool of petrol gathering underneath the motorhome’s we called a stop to that headed directly towards Camping World’s service area, the report was that the rubber hose from the Petrol Tank and the tank was perished and that needed replacing, so that was done later in the day and I walked away $400 later lighter, collected all of our material from our PO Box, bought 42 DVDs from a pawn shop at a dollar each, hopefully there are some good ones that we have not seen.
Then it was time to head out to the Crazy Horse Camping Ground which we stayed at last July, this time it was still full with all the snowbirds from the North so we had to park in the overflow area but that was no problem.
Thursday 21st April
Now to carry on with our procurement of registration for the rest of the year but first we had to get an emission’s test, so that was easy driving out to the emission station, driving in and following his instructions, evident we passed because we got the necessary piece of paper, that it was across the Road to renew the registration, I tried to do it on the automatic renewal workstation but it did not like my New Zealand Visa card so I had to wait an hour to be served by a live person who had no problems taking money from my Visa. I was very unlucky during my wait is so much as a 70-year-old sat down beside me and started telling me how wonderful America was and what a fantastic president Donald Trump is going to make, I tried to question his logic briefly, and found it was much better just to nod my head and say yes.
Now was time to get on to this years tour on our first destination was Page Arizona but we stopped off in at Mesa just outside Phoenix to sort out a stale cheque and now we camped in the car Park of a Casino which we used last year the temperature is an uncomfortable 36° inside the motorhome but you come to Arizona you need to expect that.
Friday 22nd April
Was a good drive today from the Casino car Park 290 miles to Page Arizona. Just before page we stopped at a lookout called the horseshoe Overlook Bend Overlook this is where the Colorado River goes round a large piece of rock and heads back almost the way it came rather impressive a 260° curve. Then it was time to head to the Walmart a parked car Park that we used last year as we came through the city.
Saturday 23rd April
Last year we were unable to do the Antelope Canyon Tour being in the middle of the summer there were just too many people, so we got to the starting location just as last tickets were available which saved a two hour wait. One of the most interesting rock formations we have seen all created I would think by the wind with perhaps a little bit of help from some sand in the wind other absolutely incredible shapes and formations.
We then headed on North to Monument Valley and to me this valley always looked much more impressive when Hollywood filmed in this valley but we carried on through the Valley taking photographs as we went and decided to travel on a Road over the mountains that had all sorts of warnings on it as to who should and who should not travel on the Road, evidently was built in the 1950s when there were some uranium around this area and large trucks used to ply the Road, I’m certainly glad I didn’t meet one of those on our way through the pass at probably 5 to 10 miles an hour. Eventually we got through the pass on up on to level ground and carried on for about 20 miles to the visitor station at a junction of 261 and 95. They have a long-term parking obvious to people going tramping and it is expanded for motorhomes apparently.
Sunday 24th April
This morning it was just a short drive to a Utah national monument called natural bridges. These were discovered in 1883 and I guess have been a tourist attraction since that time.
Every time we programmed the GPS for Minneapolis it takes us through Denver, we prefer to travel over the flat so as we left the bridges we turned left instead of right hoping to end up going through Kansas and this took us over what I’d probably call secondary roads and with the end up in Cortez for the night at our friendly Walmart shopping centre car Park.
The problem in going a different direction than Denver is that it adds substantially to the distance and we thought surely we could find some freeways but evidently not.
I just programmed the GPS again for Minneapolis and again it takes is through Denver so need to see what happens tomorrow when we get underway.
Monday, April 25
Today we left Utah and drove halfway across Colorado to the town of Walsenburg where we were unable to find either a Walmart or a RV Park so we drove 4 miles back the Road with come and was staying at a RV Park in a State Park. We stayed on Highway 160 almost all day crossing over La Veta Pass a mountain pass whose summit is 9413 feet in elevation although most of the day I guess we’re at least 6000 feet and consequently we saw lots of traces of snow everywhere amongst the trees, in car parks and on hillsides. Of course the high mountains had a good coating of snow and for a while it looked like we might get a little bit ourselves with some very light flakes of snow floating down to earth.
Tuesday, April 26
This evening we are in Colby after having driven 292 miles from Colorado across Kansas. When we got on the motorway to start this trip today we passed a feedlot with probably 1000 cows standing and being fed on a large concrete slab that has been fenced Orff with 2 inch pipes painted black. A look extremely efficient but all I can say is that I am pleased I don’t live close to the feedlot physically when the wind is blowing in my direction. Passing by in the motorhome was bad enough and the smell followed us for quite a few miles but I guess this is the name of the game to get the meat into the supermarket as a lower price is possible.
The extremely flat area that we drove over today with almost nothing on the horizon in any direction except grain silos makes me wonder what the early settlers thought crossing this land on their wagons pulled by cattle. You’d think you’re never going to get anywhere. We passed to ruined Adobe houses today, houses made out of mud brick and time taking its toll, along with all the other substantially built houses that had been abandoned and were slowly collapsing in on themselves and the little towns that we passed through that have over 90% of the shops empty and the rest I assume struggling to stay open shows the mass exodus from the countryside to the cities and how the food production for America is being produced by less and less people.
Often on the roads today we are the only vehicle that we could see in any direction but I’m sure that won’t be the same as we get close to a major city.
Wednesday 27th April
Today we carried on our direction North towards Minneapolis and the GPS took us towards Highway US 83 and that was wonderful except they were doing work on 83 out our entrance was closed. Now on the tom-tom we can ask for a alternative route but on this American Good Sam Rand McNally GPS no such luxuries, but it does list almost every other sort of stopping point so we cannot get too picky.
So what we do in these circumstances is carrying on the Road we are on waiting for the GPS to catch up with us and tell us where to go, well it took us to the next on-ramp and that was closed so we carried on straight did a right-hand turn at the T-junction and that took us onto a country Road. No real drama we thought until we got in to the Road beyond the point of no return and we found out that it was a four wheel drive Road after it had been raining in over the last two weeks we found out later that had a lot of rain so as we could not turn round because of the width of the Road and the size of the motorhome we carried on straight knowing that 83 was about 15 miles and ahead. We were thankful we were not driving a Fiat with a front wheel drive because we have been stranded within the 1st mile. As it was we made it within 3 miles of 83 and a particularly bad wet patch had the back wheel spinning and sliding towards the right wanting to go off into the field, but we stopped in time.
Off in the vast distance we saw a house so I started walking the mile and a half towards that, and once I started walking on the Road I wondered how I had come so far as it was so muddy and wet but eventually I got to the house and a lonely dog greeted me but there was no one else there side turn round and went back this time with the bitter wind blowing in my face and eventually I made it back to the motorhome property standing in extra 2 inches taller with the mud on my shoes so I climbed back into the motorhome had some lunch, spoke to a woman that was passing by on a four-wheel-drive, she said she had see if she could send some help, then a retired farmer came past slipping and sliding all over the Road and offered to try to pull me out, he said he had see if one of his sons had a tractor handy, we thanked them and said we weren’t going anywhere!
About an hour later he came back, stopped in front of us, pop tow rope onto the front of our vehicle and had us rolling, he was heading off towards 83 so he said he’d keep an eye on us to make sure we made it, which we did, thanked him and wished we’d had a bottle of Jim Beam to give him but we hadn’t, and lead to things from this episode, first one don’t rely on your New Zealand cell phone and second don’t go anywhere near a country Road except in the peak of summer and then watch yourself. Better still get
I an RV that is a four-wheel-drive like what you take to places like Tibet, Mongolia, deepest darkest Africa, or perhaps Mid Kansas.
We then carried on good tar sealed roads out of Kansas and into Nebraska and were parked up on a old parking lot in the town of Holdrege which we passed through last year.
Thursday 28th April
Uneventful day driving to Omaha Nebraska, very cold outside overcast weather lots of trucks on the road. We are parked as usual on a Walmart parking lot
Monday 2nd May
Over the last three days were been visiting our family in Edina just out of Minneapolis. Luda managed to teach her 18 month old grandson a few more Russian words and She will complete the lesson when we finish our travels in September when she will return to Edina. At the moment we are travelling South to pick up with our planned tour which will take advantage of the weather over the next few months.
Tuesday 3rd May
Both uneventful days driving South through farmland seeing more and more leaves on the trees and green grass motorways were not crowded there is quite leisurely to drive. Tonight when we moved from one part of the Walmart car Park to another I discovered the lights weren’t working which was a little bit of a shock.
Wednesday 4th May
This morning we found ourselves right outside a Ford dealership so in we drove, find out where the fuse box was, tested all the fuses and found the faulty one which was a 40 amp fuse, extra large in size, into the spare parts of the Ford depot to be told they were out of 40 amp fuses but they gave me to corroded 50 amp fuses so one of those got me going.
We stopped for the night at Chandler one of the first small towns we have visited the still had its full complement of shops and we did not notice any empty ones. Lights had gone out again with the blown fuse so that was a job for tomorrow morning
Thursday, May 5
We drove through town looking for an Auto Electrician and after a couple of false starts found one that went about it and methodical way and eventually traced our problem to one of the reflectors with a light at the rear of the vehicle, the wire to that bulb had become unattached and the current was going to ground on occasions shorting out the fuse, so with that repaired and a new fuse in the fuse box and $20 out of my pocket we are on our way again.
We had a good drive south through farmland which made fairly boring scenery and as we are getting close to Fort Worth which was our destination we ran into massive roadworks, it looked like they were rebuilding the total motorway, at all levels, a GPS got us through nicely and when we were about 4 miles away from our destination we had a left-hand turn coming up and I anticipated the turn which put me onto an expressway with no exits to we got close to the airport then we were 22 miles away from our destination, but we persevered, reprogramming the campground into our GPS and it was very good taking us right to the location programmed, but of course the land had been sold to a real estate developer and there was a large block of apartments on the site which was very close to downtown and the stockyard area, but there was a large camera store there so I went in checked out the situation and yes block of apartments we were looking at is the replacement for the campground so I used my visit the camera store to buy another battery for Luda’s 60 D and then we programmed the GPS for the next campground about 5 miles away.
Land must be pretty valuable when you get this close to Fort Worth because that campground was now a flat piece of ground and all the houses in the near vicinity had indications that they were about to be demolished or removed so there must be a massive redevelopment going on their which of course did not help us.
Our next stop was the closest campground to where we were which was called JellyStone Park one of the Yogi Bear camp resorts designed I gather for children but for us as an overnight stop. There were five teenagers in the registration shop and they knew I had a funny accent but none of them could locate where New Zealand was they were thinking up near England somewhere and then when I started discussing Holland the closest they got was Greenland, they agreed with me that they weren’t going to be geography professors.
Friday 6th May
We left the Yogi Bear’s campground and headed south towards Austin running in to the most massive motorway building that we have seen on this trip and consequently lots of concrete barriers with trucks roaring past and 75 miles an hour and even two parts of a mobile home on two trucks that took up the full width of one lane roared passes at 65 miles an hour then a course once we got close to Austin we really saw the traffic even at 1.30pm in the afternoon there was about 10 miles of nose to tail driving and I’m only glad that we didn’t tackle this in the rush hour.
We headed to our Walmart that was on our way and supposed to be friendly to RVs when we got there was height restriction across the gate so that spelt it out loud and clear as to how welcome we were so moved on to the next location which was a Sam’s club, no height restriction barriers there, and with some luck we won’t be asked to move on.
Saturday May 7
We started out visiting New Braunfels a supposedly German town just before you get to San Antonio, are supposed to have a lot of German looking buildings but we saw nothing that could be mistaken for German and the town so we got on the freeway heading towards Huston but soon got sick of the continual road construction and the large semitrailers whistling by us at high speed, so we reprogrammed the GPS to avoid freeways and tollways and stick to the ordinary roads which of course let us see much more of the country side and took us through all of the small towns which seemed a little bit more prosperous than those we saw in mid America. We passed by some very rich areas, rich by the size of the houses and of course the names of the streets that they lived in the streets. All had very attractive names.
We were heading towards Katy a small town on the outskirts of Huston with the thought that we travel across that city or around it on Sunday morning when everybody should be in church. Talking of churches were amazed at the number of churches that are in many towns is very obvious that the main religion in this particular area is some form of Baptist. We eventually got to our destination which of course was another Walmart, a very large one that was open 24 hours of the day.
Sunday 8 May
Being close to a Walmart and Internet I thought I’d get this newsletter away but whilst I have three computers with me tour they won’t talk to each other and the other has very little memory and none of the email programs seem to be working. When I get home I’m you have to have it clean up with my computers and go back to just having one.
We set off to get around Huston and the interesting thing was whether we went by motorway or by ordinary Road the distance was the same and according to the GPS the travel time was the same so again we avoided the motorway’s, is interesting to see many cars outside the very large number of churches that we passed and it was also interesting to see almost Cathedral size churches and very small towns.
We expected to see large herds of the Texas Longhorn cattle but they were noted by their absence we did however come across to little groups of these beasts which were well recorded photographically.
We were heading towards the Big Thicket National Preserve a wet area north of the city of Beaumont, it protects 15 distinct biologically diverse areas spread over 152 mi.² getting close to the Louisiana border. Evidently it was a popular spot for runaway slaves in the past and today there are many trails going through this interesting area and we looked at two possible walks one through a dark wet area with many mosquitoes which proved to be the most interesting, the walks were often on boardwalks going through the very wet area that was of course ideal for breeding mosquitoes and all other sort of flying objects. With all the different sorts of plant life and large cypress trees it was an interesting walk however if you stopped to take a photograph 50 million mosquitoes landed on you and started biting so the secret was to keep walking fast. I’d expect to see a lot more of this type of scenery when we get into Florida.
There is an RV Park close to this area with no indication as to costs or how to find out about the costs so we headed north 20 odd mile to Walmart where we knew the cost!
Monday, May 9
We left the town of Woodville and headed south towards the coast, sticking again to the back roads, there was a storm warning little bit north of us in Texas and we felt the edge of the wind as we are driving down towards Louisiana. It was a little bit of a fight to keep the motorhome on the right side of the road particularly when we got to a gap in the trees and we had the full blast of the wind.
We stayed on the back roads and eventually crossed over the border into Louisiana and stayed on one of the main roads until we got to a town called Sulphur and then we headed towards the coast with the intent of staying in a motorcamp on the beach around about Holly beach and we didn’t realise that the Road that took us to the coast its destination was Holly beach, but we thought it must be a little bit further along the road so off we went driving along the coast road with the sea lapping the shore barely 100 feet away with the apparent realisation that the waves coming into the beach were about the same height as the Road we were travelling on.
On the way to the beach we had been travelling over a Road that appeared to be the same elevation as the water in the lake and River beside us and it was like this almost all through Louisiana. Occasionally would see a herd of cattle in the middle of these cattle would see a large flock of herons and it looked like they were there for the insects they were it could catch of the cattle. One spot when we crossed over a bridge we look to the right and we saw probably the largest flock of herons we have ever seen all congregating on the River, unfortunately we were passed at so fast we didn’t get time to digitally record it.
After going along the beachfront for about 15 miles we came to the realisation that probably we had passed the beach we are looking for so when we saw a library – tourist office we stopped to check out where we were and are find out the campground situation. The two ladies in the office looked like they were ready for a chat for the rest of the day, they never met a person from New Zealand, one of them indicated that she and her husband were going to travel there so I didn’t bother with the quiz so hopefully she does not book a flight to Greenland hoping to find New Zealand.
Evidently all the campgrounds in this area with fully occupied by workers working in reconstruction so we decided to head back the way we’d come, crossover on the ferry to Cameron and take it from there.
We arrived at the ferry just as they were loading, they stood us to one side whilst they loaded cars on, eventually was our turn and whilst we were last on the way were set up we were certainly going to be the first all. We had the directions for an RV Park out by the beach so we drove on to Cameron to