Motoring Across America

With James "Alex" Alexander

with James "Alex" Alexander



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WEEK ELEVEN: COWBOYS AND SURFERS

CONTENTS
Rearview Mirror - Summary of the past week: Ocean Camping
Pups Across America! - Beach Pups
Favorite Photograph - The Really Laid Back Camper
Travel Tools & Toys - Walkie Talkies
Camper’s Corner - Paradise By The Sea RV Park, Oceanside, CA
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading: Morro Bay

REARVIEW MIRROR
Start: Paradise By The Sea RV Park, Oceanside, CA
Stop: Malibu Beach RV Park, Malibu, CA



Sunday
Morning Stroll
I got up super-early to edit pictures and plan for the day. Around six, I took the Kids for their morning walk, taking a different ocean-side route. The only other folks around were surfers and a few workers drinking coffee as they walked/biked/drove to their destinations. A tad chilly--I was wearing sox and a wind breaker--quite a bit different weather than the heat across much of the south. No complaints from me.



Gardens
Late morning we drove the 20 minutes down I-5 to Encinitas to the Quail Botanical Gardens. Jan had read an online review that led us to believe that we were in for a mediocre visit--boy, were we in for a surprise. The gardens are spectacular with exotic plants from all over the world showing off their color and beauty on every step of the way. The gardens are divided into regions making it easy to find your way--from Australia to Africa to the Mediterranean and more. Great way to relax and spend a couple of hours. Highly recommended. www.qbgardens.org.



We drove back to our park taking the ocean drive, seeing a cross-section of humanity ranging from War/Oil/Wall Street protesters, to surfers, tourists, and mommas with baby strollers. We stopped for lunch at a famous local establishment, Bull Taco, for a Mexican lunch of the Surf & Turf Burrito for me and fish tacos for Jan.



Bubbling Stress Release
A nice solution for weary bones was the whirlpool tub located by the pool off of the office. Here we relaxed and met new folks, learning of their travels and experiences and getting tips for future excursions.

Monday
Seaside Walk
The four of us went for our seaside walk in the morning quiet before the village was fully awake. As the day before, it was a little chilly, made more brisk by the ocean breeze. As always the Little Ones enjoyed sniffing the scents of their canine brothers and finding out what had happened over night.

Electronic Keynote
At 9:00 I had my weekly marketing call and at 10:30 I gave an electronic keynote presentation (done in the privacy and comfort of our motor home) to the North American services management team of a very large organization. This well-known company has worked its way through some difficult years and is now undergoing a services transformation--it is really good to be a small part of a big change.

BLTs on the Grill
Jan grilled BLT’s for an outside picnic lunch, then I had another client call at 1:30, planning for a training workshop in a few weeks. The rest of the afternoon was spent catching up on e-mails, and making some airline reservations.

Dueling Cards
Jan and I participated in our afternoon ritual of gin rummy. All this practice seems to be paying off because Jan is now winning as much as she is losing! Nice having some solid competition.

Tuesday
Mobile Office
I woke up to a chilly coach as I started the coffee and skimmed the newspapers online. The bulk of the morning was spent developing my presentation for a Thursday Webinar. At noon I had a phone call to firm up a proposal for a new client--it should be fun, as services are poised to become a much more significant part of this company’s strategic direction. I will be helping them build their new portfolio of services offerings.



Errands
We had some errands that required a trip to the post office. Since we were out, we drove the eight miles to the Mission of San Louis Rey where we viewed the grounds and the structures of the oldest mission in California.

Back to the Tub
Around 5:00 it was back to the whirlpool. This was followed by cards, dinner, and an early trip to bed.

Wednesday
On the Road
At 9:00 it was left out of the gates onto the North Coast Highway, right at Oceanside Boulevard, then north on I-5, the San Diego Freeway, for 32 miles. Next we picked up California 73 North for 18 miles. From there it was on to the infamous I-405 going past LAX airport and through some very busy parts of Los Angeles. This is one of those crazy big-city highways where you never know when the fast clip of moving traffic will turn into a crawling parking lot of cars and trucks, buses and motorcycles. With several slow downs and a crawl or two, we turned west on I-10, the Santa Monica Freeway, for four miles, then slid over onto the California 1, the North Pacific Highway, for the remaining 20 miles going through Santa Monica and a few miles past Malibu to our camping destination.

(Note: Jan drove the entire trip as though she were a professional bus driver--cautious but cool, competent as well as confident. Maybe I’ll buy her one of those fancy bus driver hats :;>>>. )

Buena Vista
Once we pulled into our site, all we could see was the blue waters of the Pacific. Magnificent views all through this park. Wow, we felt lucky just to be here.



Welcome Visitor
Late afternoon our good friend Jo drove over from LA (Culver City, actually) to visit and spend the night. It was great catching up and we sat outside enjoying the weather, the scenery, and the company.



Thursday

Webinar
At 9:00 I put on a Webinar, “The Challenge of the Channel” (how is that for a catchy title?), sponsored by my friends and business partner, Service Strategies. It is a topic of interest in the services industry as close to 200 people signed up to listen in for the hour session. It went well with lots of good questions.

Late morning Jan and I left the Kids in charge of the coach and headed for the big city. We took Highway One east to I-10 East, north on the 110 to Union Station. Here we carpooled with Jo and headed north to Griffith Park.



Autry Museum
At least for our American readers, hear the word “Autry” and most of us think of Gene Autry, the Singing Cowboy of cinema and television fame in the ’40s and ’50s. So when Jo took us to “The Autry,” I was expecting to see memorabilia specifically about Gene Autry and cowboy movies and shows. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Autry National Center and the Museum of the American West at Griffith Park was much, much more. Among many things, its exhibits range from historical documentation of cowboys, to native American art, to women’s role in building America, to studies of the American west. Extremely well done, and just a pleasure to visit. I highly recommend. http://theautry.org.





Alvara Street Lunch
We drove back to where Jo’s car was parked and walked down Alvara Street to her favorite Mexican restaurant for a great meal. After a missed exit or two on my part, we re-traced our steps, this time a little later in the day and into a lot heavier traffic--it took two-and-a-half hours to make it back.

Friday
The Getty Villa
In the afternoon, Jo drove back over to our campground. Here Jan and I got in her car for the twenty minute trip back to Malibu to the Getty Villa. We’ve been there before, but we were looking forward to another visit. FYI, there are two Getty museums in the LA area, and both are outstanding. The Getty Center in LA concentrates on Western art from the Middle Ages to the present, and the Getty Villa is all about the art and culture of ancient Greece and Rome. We saw the special exhibition on the Aztecs. After viewing some really impressive pieces, we viewed a few select exhibits then strolled through the impressive gardens before returning to our home on wheels.

Seafood Down the Hill
After some careful research, we decided to take Jo to dinner at a seafood restaurant just down the hill from where we were staying. We were told “nothing fancy, but really good food. Be sure and bring your own wine and glasses, though.” They were right on all counts. As you walk in the door you are immediately in line (this is a popular place), and on your right is a counter full of your meal selections. Once we made it to the register, Jo ordered Mediterranean sea bass, Jan asked for the halibut, and I had the wild Alaskan salmon. Bread, fries, and cole slaw completed our order--no beverages (a steal for $80 ;>>>). We then scoped out then claimed our picnic table across the drive and opened our bottle of wine as we waited for number 83 to summon us over the not-very-clear-sounding intercom. I was pleased that we had broken the code and had brought our own beverage and vessels, but we were really awed by some of the other customers. Some of them had to be professional diners here! Red checkered table clothes, cloth napkins, fine wine glasses--one small group brought a complete bar!

Not being able to hear what numbers were being called, Jo and I walked across the drive and stood in line at the Pick-Up-Your-Order counter until the sliding window opened and we were handed our order served on paper plates with plastic utensils--all this added to the special ambience. Gotta love it.

Saturday
Jan made a wonderful quiche for breakfast to help fuel our day. Jo ate and ran (she had a big dinner to prepare for), and Jan and I did our morning chores. I took the Pups for a nice walk out on the state trails that adjoin the campground. Back at the coach I buckled down doing work for the week then catching up on the blog.



While I was working, Jan took the Little Ones up the coast scouting out a place that sold diesel and was big enough to handle our rig. (Note this is not an issue in most places, but it sure is in California! On our trip up the coast I only saw one or two places that fit our requirements.)

Out to Dinner
At 4:45, two other friends, Barbara and Mike (Jo’s brother), drove down from the Valley to pick us up and chauffeur us over to Jo’s place in Culver City. We were joined by Jo’s friend Rene and and his family. Immediately after greeting everyone, Rene headed for the kitchen where he individually prepared Mojitos. It must have been his Cuban heritage, but the Mojitos were wonderful, and I don’t even like Mojitos. We had a fast-talking, wide-ranging conversation peppered with U.S. English, Mexican/Cuban Spanish, and snippets of Spanglish thrown in as needed to ensure understanding. Just a great time. It is always wonderful to spend time with old friends and make new ones. (Hey, we invited everyone to come to Pine Island this winter!)



Big Water Commentary
I didn’t know that I missed the Gulf of Mexico until spending time by the Pacific Ocean in Oceanside and Malibu. There is something special about being on big water--the salty smell, the incoming breeze, and the sound of the waves. It is just wonderful waking up with an ocean view from our front windows and going for a morning stroll along the beach.

PUPS ACROSS AMERICA!
Although dogs are not technically allowed on most California beaches, Jan and I were happy to spot these three beach pups out during our early morning walk. Check them out. Can you guess which one did not like me taking his picture?



Oh, my, I’ve added a candid cat picture to the collection, Jo’s cat Souli. She was a personal challenge, as Jo said she doubted that I’d even see her at her condo let alone photograph her. True, it is not a shot I’ll be entering in any contests, but I got her nonetheless.



Schedule Your Pup Shots
Please e-mail me at alex@PupsAcrossAmerica or call me at 239-671-0740 to set up a shoot when we are in your area.

Pass the Word
Know other Pup Parents who might enjoy this blog? Please spread the word.

FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPH
I know that I am biased, but my favorite is Laid Back Camper. I think this guy spent the night in this chair in his site directly across from us. Early morning, this is how he looked. I could not resist sneaking in this pic.



TRAVEL TOOLS & TOYS: Walkie-Talkies
For $30 you can buy a pair of decent quality walkie-talkies that have multiple uses. When parking a 40-foot motorhome it is sometimes difficult to see your parking buddy, and almost always you can’t hear each other speak. Walkie-talkies make this sometimes-stressful job much easier. Also, there are times when instead of towing our car, we are driving both vehicles. Yes, you can use cell phones to communicate, but the walkie-talkies are easier to use. Finally, we sometimes hike in areas where there is no cell phone signal. Walkie-talkies help us keep in touch. We use the Motorola FV300 www.motorola.com/Consumers/US-EN/Consumer-Product-and-Services/Two-way-Radios-and-Accessories/ci.Talkabout+FV300+Two-Way+Radio_US_EN.productCompatibility

A word to the wise: Kids are drawn to walkie-talkies like deer to a salt block. Either put them away around youngsters or have plenty of spare batteries!

CAMPER’S CORNER
Paradise By The Sea RV Park, Oceanside, CA. This is the cleanest part I’ve ever seen! Every morning the help is out sweeping the concrete and racking the sand. Full hook-ups, cable, pool, hot tub, even a meditation garden. Activities for kids and activities for adults. It’s 250 yards to the Pacific Ocean and minutes away from just about everything you want. A little pricey, but, hey, this is California. Highly recommended. www.paradisebythesearvresort.com

HEADLIGHTS
June 27 thru July 1
Morro Dunes RV Park, Morro, CA

July 2 thru July 4
Pinnacle National Monument?

July 5 through July 9
Monterey, CA?

July 10 thru July 21
San Francisco RV Park, Pacifica, CA

July 22 thru 24
Napa Valley?


Going to be near? Look us up. Have some suggestions concerning places to see? We are open.
Comments

WEEK TEN: CALIFORNIA DREAMING

CONTENTS
Rearview Mirror - Summary of the past week: Go West, Young Man
Pups Across America! - Father’s Day Pup Shoot in Carlsbad, CA
Favorite Photograph - The Rookie
Camper’s Corner - Thoughts on were we stayed and other RV topics: Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree, CA
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading: California Coasting

REARVIEW MIRROR
Start: Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree, CA
Stop: Waters Edge Campground, Escondido, CA
Stop: Paradise By The Sea RV Park, Oceanside, CA

Sunday
Early Morning Hike
At sunrise I took the Skull trail hike, walking from the campground to this prominent point and then back returning in a circle out among the boulders. After breakfast we took a car tour--first over to Key’s View to take a look at the San Andreas fault, then back to Barker Dam where we took an hour hike to first view the hieroglyphs and then walk down to the old dam. We drove through Hidden Valley, the place purportedly often populated with cattle rustlers in the last century. We took the road down to Keys Ranch, however, the gate was closed so no tours were going on (it is the off-season at the park. We ended our morning tour taking the dirt road dubbed Geology Trail.



On to Town
Since there was no Verizon or AT&T signal, we drove to the town of 29 Palms (no, I don’t know how it got its name). Our plan was to catch up on communication while having lunch. While Jan counted nine tattoo parlors on the main road, all we saw was MacDonalds, Denny’s, and other fast-food looking establishments. When we spotted a beat-up building with a sign touting Mexican food and cold beer, we pulled in. Turns out they had no food, but since we were there I sat down and did work for an hour while Jan went out for groceries and cash.

When we got back to the coach we grilled steaks and enjoyed the almost-perfect weather. We capped the day with a nice drive to the west end of the park and back.



Monday
Instead of taking a dawn hike, I decided to be a slacker. I made coffee, then sat in bed catching up on this blog and planning the day. At 7:15 I drove to 29 Palms for three phone calls and got some work done on the computer.

Early afternoon we packed up and drove through the west end of the park to Joshua Tree (the town). There we got onto Highway 62 and headed west through Yucca Valley and Morongo Bay. We got onto I-10 West the on to 60 West. Past Moreno Valley we took I-215 South to I-15 South down to a campground just outside of Escondido.



Tuesday
In the Element we drove the 20 minutes into Carlsbad where we met our host for the photo shoot, scoped out the shoot site, and I got a much-needed haircut. Carlsbad is a gorgeous community with flowers blooming everywhere.

Wednesday
We moved our motorcoach, BALY, to a manicured RV park in Oceanside, a very short walk away to the ocean. We got settled in then walked the Pups down to the big water, eating outside at a hamburger joint on the Pacific Ocean. Late afternoon (after a couple games of Gin Rummy) we pampered ourselves lounging in the camp’s jacuzzi.

Thursday
Jan and I took a wonderful walk along the beach to start the day. After that, though, it was pretty boring: I spent most of the day doing consulting work. A photographer colleague of mine lives a short distance north of where we are staying, and he drove down and we talked shop for a couple of hours. Once again in the late afternoon it was back to the whirlpool.

Friday
We took the Pups out early. Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach (they let kids on the beach :’<<<), but we walked them on a hill that overlooked the breaking waves.

Once again not much of interest to report as I spent most of the day working on consulting projects.

Saturday
Spent the day preparing, shooting, and editing pup pics. We did stop, however, by the Farmer’s Market for some great vegetables, flowers, and fresh fish. That evening our new friend Frankie came over (bringing a wonderful bottle of an ‘07 Cabernet from Napa Valley--Parallel). We feasted on grilled ribeyes, caught-this-morning sea bass, corn on the cob, and fresh asparagus.

PUPS ACROSS AMERICA!
We had a pup photography shoot in Carlsbad. Met some cool pups and some great pup parents. Lots of work but lot of fun.



Schedule Your Pup Shoot
Please e-mail me at alex@PupsAcrossAmerica or call me at 239-671-0740 to set up a shoot or if you have ideas or suggestions.

Pass the Word
Know other Pup Parents who might enjoy this blog and the PupsAcrossAmerica event? Please spread the word.

FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPH
My favorite is the shot of Rookie.



CAMPER’S CORNER
Jumbo Rocks Campground in Joshua Tree National Park near Joshua Tree, California, is a great place to camp, especially if you are self-contained like we are. Adequate size for big rigs and all sites are nestled in the boulders. Neat, clean, and they recycle. Highly recommended.



HEADLIGHTS
June 20 thru 22
Paradise By The Sea RV Park, Oceanside, CA
This is a great area.

June 23 thru 27?
LA area to visit friends.

June 28 onward
Heading up the Pacific Coast.

Going to be near? Look us up. Have some suggestions concerning places to see? We are open.
Comments

WEEK NINE: HOT AND DRY

CONTENTS
Rearview Mirror - Summary of the past week: Up Down, Over and Around
Pups Across America! - Our latest canine encounters: Navajo Pup
Favorite Photographs - Pick pics, pointers, and ponderings: Anastazi Hulk
Camper’s Corner - Thoughts on were we stayed and other RV topics: Cottonwood Campground at Canyon de Chelly Park
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading: The Big Father’s Day Pup Shoot in Carlsbad, CA

REARVIEW MIRROR
Start: Desert Rose Resort, Bloomfield, NM
Stop: Cottonwood Campground at Canyon de Chelly Park, near Chinle, AZ
Stop: Entrance to Pima County Fairgrounds, Globe, AZ
Stop: Prince of Tucson Campground, Tucson, AZ
Stop: Marker 87, I-8, AZ
Stop: Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree, CA

Sunday
On to Arizona
By 8:30 we were on the move: 64 West through Farmington, south on 491 at Shiprock, west on 464 at Ya Ta Hey, then into Arizona and on to Window Rock. After Ganado we turned North on 191 onward to Chinle. Here we drove east through town and into the Cottonwood Campground at Canyon de Chelly National Monument.



North Rim
After filling with gas back in Chinle and stopping at the Park visitor center, we took off in the Honda exploring the North Rim vistas. Wow, is this place something! When it comes to the ruins of the ancients, Chaco has a special aura, Mesa Verde gives that up-close presence, but they are both surpassed by the beauty of Canyon de Chelly.



Monday
Early Morning Hike
By 5:20 AM I was out the door, driving along the South Rim, arriving at the White House trailhead as planned at 5:35. Not another soul around (except for some horses and sheep) as I started on the three-mile hike: 1.5 miles down 600 feet of elevation to the canyon floor and 1.5 miles back up. I spend some time photographing and videoing the White House ruins, the horses, as well as the glistening rock formations, many of which looked as though they had been freshly coated with copper paint. Wonderful hike.



Fresh Fried Bread
I was back at BALY by 7:45 with time enough for breakfast before an 8:00 phone call. As soon as the call was completed, the four of us loaded back into the car to explore the other scenics of the South Rim. After we had seen the sights, a handmade sign by the road caught our eye, “Fresh Fried Bread.” Now who would resist that marketing pitch? We pulled into this very neat homestead and walked into the combination diner, Navajo art studio. While our bread was being baked (delicious with honey and powdered sugar) we checked out the work of the spouse of the man who waited upon us, then played with their puppy, Iglaseo. Although most Navajo are very reluctant of photographs and they had a large sign proclaiming this, they agreed that pics of their pup was just fine. What an animal!



On to Show Low
By 12:30 we said goodbye to this wonderful place and were in the coach heading south on 191, retracing some of our Sunday journey. This time we went south at Ganada, then through the villages of Klagetoh, Wide Ruin, Chambers, Sanders, St. Johns (where we picked up 61 South), and Concho. We ended up for the day at a one-night-stand of a campground in Show Low.

Tuesday
Pup Shoot
At 9:00 we had a pup shoot of a couple dogs of our overnight neighbors. One was a nine-week old pup named Show Low and his older sister. Next it was back into our rig as we headed south by southwest on our way to Tucson. We were looking forward to arriving in Tucson, as we had plans to go out to dinner with our friend Lauren and her daughter Clare. However, our plans changed.

Picturesque Mountain Drive
Little did we know that the first 90 miles or so of our trip was composed mainly of hairpin curves going up and down from 5,000 to 7,000 feet then 7,000 to 5,000. However, it was beautiful country and we were enjoying the views as we averaged 30 miles an hour on our journey.

Breakdown
About 10 miles from Globe (actually Jan measured it later at exactly 12.3 miles), our coach started to slow down, quickly followed by the engine warning signal, the “stop now” light, and complete engine shutdown. Since the shutdown was so fast I wasn’t able to pull completely off the road, we unhooked our tow car so as not to block the highway.

Expert Diagnosis
The gauges seemed to be within acceptable operating parameters, but because of the driving conditions and the heat (I neglected to say earlier that it was 95 degrees outside), we decided to have a ham sandwich and play a game of gin rummy at the side of the road as we waited for things to cool down. So after 45 minutes we tried again with the exact same results--within 100 feet we were occupying a similar location as before. Since no cell phones worked in these parts, Jan went for help as I pulled out the manuals. A friendly officer of the law stopped by, and we did a simple test: we poured water into the coolant reservoir only to hear it splash on the ground. Diagnosis--busted hose! He radioed ahead to the local “fix the trucks and motor homes on the mountain” outfit and within an hour a guy showed up.



Led by my formidable diagnostic and mechanical knowledge (:’>>>), the technician was able to locate the leak and remove the faulty hose. He jumped back into his truck with the promise of returning within an hour if he could find a replacement part. True to his word, he was back with his gear, and an hour later we were heading into Globe. The technician followed us, and after a few miles he passed me waving his hand frantically. I pulled over and saw what I’d feared: water and coolant all over the rear end of BALY. I drove ahead slowly, and made it another half-mile, just pulling off the road onto a small area at the entrance to the Pima County Fairgrounds. Our technician (not too happy about the situation), said the rig needed to cool down and that he’d be back in an hour. We pulled a couple of chairs from the basement and sat in the shade enjoying a cold beer and watching the vehicles drive by. Two-and-half hours later (at least he came back!), in pulled our man along with his girlfriend. The sun had already set, so under lights he re-fixed his fix. After seeing the earlier consequences, I took seriously his words of advice of going to an RV dealership and replacing his hose with one designed specifically for the coach. By the time our technician left it was close to 9:00 PM and the end of a long day.

Wednesday
Up Early
We were on the road before, 6:00 AM, wanting/hoping to get to Tucson before it got too warm. First, however, we stopped for fuel and washed the grime off of both the car and the coach before heading south on 77 and the up-down, wind-around mountain roads. We saw a couple of wild pigs beside the road, and the Saguaro cacti with the mountains as background was a beautiful sight. Jan was driving and she kept a close eye on the temperature gauges and made regular glances on the dash where the warning indicators laid in waiting.



Biosphere II
Right outside of Tucson, we saw the signs for “Biosphere II” and said what the heck, it was time to pull over for breakfast anyway. While Jan made breakfast in the parking lot, I took the Pups for a walk to scope things out and found out that the first tour of the day was coming up in 30 minutes at 9:30. I wolfed down a couple of one-eyed monsters plus some sausage then walked back to take the tour (no dogs allowed so Jan decided to stay with them). Fascinating place.



By mid-day it was in the high 90s, and we were set up in a “it will do” campground right off of I-10.

Dinner with Friends
That evening we drove downtown to meet our friends Lauren and Bob. We had a wonderful Mexican meal while catching up on all the happenings since we were last together.



Thursday
At 11:30 we had lunch with Lauren’s daughter, Rocky, her dad, Pete, and Pete’s good friend. This young girl was now an attractive young woman, just graduated from high school and preparing for her first year at the University of Arizona. Before and after lunch was quite boring, as I did consulting work.

Friday
Motorhome Stuff
After our motoring challenges earlier in the week, we thought it prudent to get our cooling system checked out by a certified RV service center. So we dropped it off in the morning and picked it up mid-afternoon. During the time in between I worked at our friend Lauren’s house. We left the RV center a little before 4:00 PM and headed northwest on I-10, then west on I-8. A strong headwind kept me on my toes driving, blowing dust filled the air, but it was good to be back on the road.

Exit Oasis
A little after 7:00 PM we’d had enough for the day. We pulled off of the interstate at Marker 87 into the parking lot of a grocery store (and nothing else). Jan walked in, bought a couple of burritos made by the owner along with some wicked potato chips, and negotiated with her to let us spend the night. For ten bucks we had the whole back parking lot to ourselves--our only companions were the chattering nearby birds and the locomotives in the distance.

Saturday
Morning Romp
Up before sunrise, I took the Pups out for a walk down the dirt road. They were off leash as there was zip for traffic. Pretty soon we were back on the road (only takes a couple of minutes preparation when you dry camp), heading east on I-8 through Aztec, Dateland, then on to Yuma. Soon we crossed the line into California, staying on I-8 until El Centro, then north on State 111. The skies were clear and the weather was warm, but not hot. At Brawley we stopped by a supermarket and I bought supplies while Jan prepared our lunch. We sat in the coach enjoying hot dogs with the works, chips, and cold water. Back on 111 we continued driving on these flat lands through Calipatria and Niland.

By the Sea
From there the highway curves around the east side of Salton Sea, 235 feet below sea level. This big body of salty water (376 square miles) really looks out of place, like it shouldn’t be there. Maybe it won’t be there for long--it is directly above the San Andreas Fault!

Joshua Tree
Mid-afternoon we set up camp at Jumbo Rocks Campground in Joshua Tree National Park.

PUPS ACROSS AMERICA!
Also, we have finalized dates for our event with the city of Carslbad, California. It will run both days over Father’s Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, June 19 and 20. More to come very soon.

Schedule Your Pup Shoots
June 13
Joshua Tree

June 14 & 15 ???

June 16 & 17
In Carlsbad, preparing for the shoot

June 18 and June 19 (Father’s Day Weekend)
Two-day pup shoot in beautiful Carlsbad, California. Click on the Pups Across America page for details.

Please e-mail me at alex@PupsAcrossAmerica or call me at 239-671-0740 to set up a shoot, or if you have ideas or suggestions.

Pass the Word
Know other Pup Parents who might enjoy this blog and the Pups Across America event? Please spread the word.

FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPH
My favorite is the Anastazi Hulk.



CAMPER’S CORNER: Cottonwood Campground at Canyon de Chelly Park, just outside of Chinle, AZ
This cozy, 90-site campground is right in the park and it is free. First-come, first-serve, I’d suggest arriving early in the day. Not only is it super close to the sights, it has nice shade in most sites. The only drawback is that it is a tad challenging navigating a big rig through a campground designed primarily for tents and pull trailers.

HEADLIGHTS
June 13
Joshua Tree

June 14 & 15 ???

June 16 & 17
In Carlsbad, preparing for the shoot

June 18 and June 19 (Father’s Day Weekend)
Two-day pup shot in beautiful Carlsbad, California. Click on the Pups Across America page for the details.

June 20 and June 21
Probably in Carlsbad, recovering from the shoot!

June 22 onward
Probably heading up the Pacific Coast.

Going to be near? Look us up. Have some suggestions? We are open. Know a Pup Parent in the vicinity? Pass on this Web site and have them give me a call to schedule a shooting of their best friend.
Comments

WEEK EIGHT: BACK MOTORING


CONTENTS
Rearview Mirror - Summary of the past week: Flower Power and Ancient Ruins
Pups Across America! - Our latest canine encounters: Aztec Al
RV Gourmet - Jan shares her on-the-go culinary secrets: Not this Week
Favorite Photographs - Pick pics, pointers, and ponderings: Prairie Dog
Travel Tools & Toys - Gadgets for fun and productivity: Cell Phone Coverage Maps
Camper’s Corner - Thoughts on were we stayed and other RV topics: Ponderosa RV Park
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading: Canyon de Chelly and SW

REARVIEW MIRROR
Start: Austin’s Home, Parker CO
Stop: Colorado Horse Park, Parker CO
Stop: Ponderosa RV Park, Antonito, CO
Stop: Desert Rose Resort, Bloomfield, NM

Sunday
Prairie Dogs
By 6:00 AM I was sitting in the middle of Prairie Dog Pasture, just off of Main Street and 20 Mile Drive in Parker. Nestled right off of a main drag and adjoining a strip mall, 100 or so prairie dogs make it their home. Our pup Jerry loves to watch these little varmints, and I promised him that I’d get him a picture or two for his scrapbook. It was a hoot listening to their tribal calls as these Meerkat-like critters sounded their warnings and maneuvered their tunnels and holes. I could pack a lunch and spend all day (of course, I’m easily entertained :’>>>).



Pretty Flowers
After breakfast we packed our travel gear and drove a half hour to the Denver Botanic Garden. For the next hour and a half we wandered among the manicured gardens enjoying the vibrant colors of nature’s palette and the fragrant smells of spring flowers. Wow, is this a beautiful place, further enhanced by an exhibit of Henry Moore sculptures placed strategically within the gardens. Even the harsh light of midday could not take away the beauty.



Back to the Park
Next we went back to the playground in the Parker park. Lots of kids today, and Austin had a wonderful time running, climbing, sliding, and swinging. This mini-trip was capped off with a chocolate mint cone from Baskin Robbins.



Senior Championship
Ironically, the final round of the senior championship that we watched on TV, was in the city of Parker, less than 10 miles from Austin’s home. However, after a “high-energy” day, I preferred the comfort of the couch over the glory of the gallery. Really fun watching these old geezers (men my age) bogey, birdie, and eagle their way around this classy prairie course. In case you missed it, Tom Lehman won it in a three-way playoff.

Monday
Laid Back Memorial Day
Up early, I edited prairie dog pics, walked the Pups, then took Austie to the playground to burn off some energy. Next we went poolside in Helman’s backyard to watch Austin play and enjoy a quiet Memorial Day.



Bad Boy, Grandma!
At one time during the afternoon, Jan scolded Austin for teasing Mitzi. After some crying at being reprimanded, Austie came up with this: “Grandma, bad boy...Grandma and Mimi take time out.” What can you say to that without a smile on your face?

Tuesday
Global Connection
My workday started with a 6:00 AM phone call followed by several others. Most of them were “foreign” calls--Taipei, Brussels, New York, and LA! I must be “time-zone challenged,” as I have a whale of a time figuring out who to call, when and where.

Back to Normalcy
While I was doing consulting work, Jan was busy getting ready for the return of Austin’s parents. Mid-PM, we picked up Aaron and Kelly at Denver International and brought them back to reality. We quickly grabbed our stuff and headed to the Colorado Horse Park where we had been storing our coach. In ten minutes we had the slides out, water connected, and juice on--we were back camping.

Wednesday
Boring day doing work.

Thursday
Back on the Road
Finally, at 9:30 AM we were back on the road after hanging out around Denver for a month. We’ve had a great time, but it was time to go. Taking Parker Road south, we picked up I-25 South through Colorado Springs and past Pueblo turning west on State Road 60 at Walsenburg. We were retracing some of our steps from last year’s motoring adventure. Viewing the Spanish Peaks to our south, we took in the vista of various shades of green across the valleys bordered by the brightly lit snow-adorned peaks. The Aspen trees were in full bud, and their bright green hue contrasted nicely with the darker pines.

Old Home Week
The state map of Colorado shows a continuous connection of the black dots that designate scenic highways. They are right--just a pleasure to drive through this country. At the junction of 160 and 159 we stopped at Del’s Diner, as we had last year. It has a classic Elvis motif with a little Marilyn Monroe and James Dean thrown in. After a lunch of tacos and tostados, it was south on 159 to San Luis, then west on 142.

New Country
At Romeo, we turned south on 285 down to Antonito where we turned west on 17. My intent was to make it as far as Chama, New Mexico, before camping for the night. However, less than 10 miles outside of Antonito we were viewing down the mountain to the running waters of the Conejo River. Just then we saw a sign indicating a campground in one mile, and it was like a tractor beam latched on the coach turning us into the Ponderosa campground, a gorgeous setting with only 31 sites located on the water. Jack, the owner, put us in a nice pull-through site. However, because of the set up, we had to run our power cord and water hose under the rig. This is not a big deal, but Jan came up with a good idea: why not use our “dog power” to pull the connections under the coach? When I hooked the power cord to Jerry’s collar it almost scared him to death. However, with a little coaxing of a reward, Little Mitzy, our German plow horse, first pulled the power cord and then the water hose to their needed locations.



New Friends
Within 30 minutes of set up, we met two couples who had been coming to this location for over ten years. Great people. Next year, we’d like to come back and spend a week.

Friday
Jan and I took the Pups out on a short hike down by the river then back into the valley. Soon it was back in BALY and we were on our way, heading west on 17 through the mountains, then entering into New Mexico. At Chama, we picked up 64 heading west through Dulce, then south and west through the Jicanilla Apache Indian Reservation and the Carson National Forest. We blinked through Gobernador, Navajo City, and Blanco before setting up camp in Bloomfield, just a few miles from Farmington.

Saturday
Chaco Canyon
The four of us were outside the campground by 4:36 AM driving toward Chaco Canyon in our Honda Element. I’d been thinking about coming to the Chaco Culture National Historic Park for about a year, and it was finally happening. We took off driving southeast on New Mexico highway 550, a smooth four-lane road, and made great time making the 45 miles in about 45 minutes. Just past Nageezi, we turned south on 7900. The first ten miles were paved and fairly smooth. However, the next 20 miles were dirt, the surface being mainly washboard (if I didn’t know better, I’d say the the person who maintains the road takes great pride in making it as rough as possible), and ten miles an hour was about our speed limit. In the pre-dawn light we saw a half dozen horses running free and a small herd of cattle searching for fodder in this barren country. By six o’clock we were at the park entrance just in time for sunrise. At 6:10 a ranger opened the gates, and we were the first car on the the road to the ruins. Within five minutes we were in the parking lot for Pueblo Bonito, the best known of Chaco’s Great Houses. Soon we were on the trail viewing these amazing structures that was the center of the universe for these ancient people, the Anastazi, and the predecessors of today’s Pueblo peoples, the Hopi, Navajo, and Zuni. A couple hours into our exploration, we started on a dog-friendly hike on the Pueblo Alto trail. Great views and more petroglyphs were the promise. Alas, our foot trek was ended after a quarter mile as Little Jerry took ill. Hence, we reversed our direction and strolled back to the car. We made another brief stop to see a great kiva, but then pulled into the Visitor Center parking lot before 9:00 AM. As you might have guessed, we didn’t see a total of more than 20 people all morning. We purchased a few mandatory souvenirs, then had an early picnic at a table overlooking some ruins. It was a wonderful morning. The initial drive back seemed longer and rougher, but soon we were back at our motorhome, BALY.



Aztec Ruins
We were parked within ten miles of another location of Anastazi dwellings, the Aztec Ruins National Monument at Aztec, New Mexico. So after only 20 minutes of freshening up, Jan and I (we left the Pups to get some rest) were back in the car heading for another really cool place. We watched an interesting video on the Ancients, then strolled the ruins putting special interest in a meticulously re-constructed underground kiva where one could feel the presence of peoples past. Our visit to this small, but interesting National Monument ended at their museum where we purchased a small engraved Navajo-red plate that was made by a couple artisans who were demonstrating their craft.



Salmon Ruins
Enough culture for a day, you think? No, not for us. Another historically significant site was within five miles of our campground, the Salmon Ruins Museum and Research Library. Here we walked the ruin--an 11th century Chaco Canyon outlier pueblo. Reading the guide composed by the main archeologist of the dig, we moved from station to station. Highly interesting, but after a solid day of archeology and history, one kiva starts to look like the next! However, the museum was extremely well done, with just the right blend of art, history, and science.



Wonderful week!

PUPS ACROSS AMERICA!
Take a look at this shot of Aztec Al taken from the back of his pet parent, Greg’s, pickup truck.



Also, we have finalized dates for our event with the city of Carslbad, California. It will run both days over Father’s Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, June 19 and 20. More to come very soon.

Schedule Your Pup Shoots

June 6 till June 17
Working our way down to Southern California.

June 18 and June 19 (Father’s Day Weekend)
Two-day pup shoot in beautiful Carlsbad, California. Details available soon.

Please e-mail me at alex@PupsAcrossAmerica, or call me at 239-671-0740 to set up a shoot, or if you have ideas or suggestions.

Pass the Word
Know other Pup Parents that might enjoy this blog and the Pups Across America event? Please spread the word.

RV GOURMET
Nothing this Week

FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHS
My favorite is the prairie dog (see above).

TRAVEL TOOLS & TOYS: Cell Phone Coverage Maps
If you need to keep in phone or Internet contact while traveling in out-of-the-way spots, cell phone coverage maps are really helpful planning tools. For example, I’m writing this as we are driving through the Four Corners and wireless coverage can be very spotty. Since I have scheduled phone calls tomorrow, this impacts were we go and stay.
For AT&T: http://www.wireless.att.com/coverageviewer/
For Verizon: http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/CoverageLocatorController?requesttype=NEWREQUEST

CAMPER’S CORNER: Ponderosa RV Park, Antonito, CO.
This small, friendly, laid-back campground is a great place to relax for a night or a week or more. We plan on going back soon and spending more time. Highly recommended. http://www.coloradodirectory.com/ponderosacampcabins/

HEADLIGHTS
June 6 & 7
Probably Canyon de Chelly

June 8 till June 17
Working our way down to Southern California

June 19 and June 20 (Father’s Day Weekend)
Two day pup shoot in beautiful Carlsbad, California. Details available soon. Please let your San Diego-area Pup Parents know about it.

Going to be near? Look us up. Have some suggestions? We are open. Know a Pup Parent in the vicinity? Pass on this Web site and have them give me a call to schedule a shooting of their best friend.
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