Another Day Another Museum

Still in Phoenix, well Scottsdale and we are leaving in the morning as I write this for Tucson, another long day on the road 🙂 Google Maps says 110 miles, 2 hours 1 minute

On Saturday Jackie Mobley came over and restrung (restrang? restrunged?) three of our day/night blinds.  If you haven’t been on a coach and seen them there is no way I can explain how they work, just take my word for it that the stringing is either far more complicated than your average mechanic can deal with or mere child’s play if you know what you are about.  She did the whole job in an hour and a half and that included repairs to two of them.

This left us time to go back t the Musical Instrument Museum for our second visit.  We spent over four more hours there which is include an excellent lunch in the grill – from the Global Menu we both had the Ethiopian Stew, a vegan stew that was very flavorful and filling.  Friday we had taken a bike ride and wandered through Papago Park.  It had been so long since we had ridden that we limited our time and distance to avoid strain.  Nonetheless we were out for a couple of hours and determined that there was much more to see in the park.

Yesterday, Sunday, we got back on our bikes and started to ride into the park.  We made it as far as the Desert Botanical Gardens, about a 15 minute ride.  There we cabled the bikes to the bike rack and began a lengthy exploration of the gardens.  We wandered around the paths in the gardens for three hours, leaving only because they were closing and the sun was setting.  Carol took way too many pictures to begin to sort through and I took none, well a few on my phone, because I was too dazzled to think what to take a picture of.

If you are at all into botanical gardens, desert flora, this is one of the musts.

Other stuff.  After over a year of depending on my droid for wifi hotspot, I got fed up with the limited available monthly data and relatively slow response.  Also it meant I could not leave the coach and take my phone if Carol wanted to work on her computer while I was gone.  Today I bought a 4G LTE MiFi thing from Verizon that provides a very nice, fast wifi hotspot with 5 GB of data monthly.  So far it is very fast and relatively reliable.  Carol also got a new phone as hers was four years old – virtually an antique.  Verizon Wireless is grateful for our long term relationship forking over large bucks every month.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, we will drive to Catalina State Park, just north of Tucson where Dean and Jane are camping.  We have not seen them since last April just north of Calgary.  This is the joy of RVing, we meet new people and we get to see them over and over as our paths intersect over the years.

A Visit to Rochester in February

We left North Ranch with a stop to get the coach weighed right there on our way out.  This is a very necessary service as it is not easy to get corner weights.  I might be under my gross axle weight rating (GAWR) on one axle and still be overweight on one of the wheel positions.  In order to get the most appropriate tire pressure I need to know the weight on the heaviest wheel and inflate both tires on that axle for the heavier weight.  I know this is a bit arcane for those of you who don’t drive an RV.  Most vehicles have plenty of excess weight capacity, RV generally don’t.  Anyhow we were within our limits and well balanced side to side as I expected since we do this whenever there is a set of scales available.  Thank you to Escapees for adding this service in Livingston and North Ranch so far.
Sixty miles or so after leaving North Ranch we pulled into Apache Palms RV Park in Tempe.  It is crammed into the middle of a commercial block with little to offer in the way of scenery.  It is very well maintained and the people are very nice and the main thing it had to offer is excellent access to the Phoenix Light Rail.  There is  a station right across the street from the entrance.  From there we toured Mill Ave district in the midst of the ASU Campus, we climbed Hayden Butte and we toured the Heard Museum.  Finally on Friday we road the Light Rail to Sky Harbor, the Phoenix Airport, and flew to Rochester.  We had to rent a car as we had given my Prius to Dan, but we didn’t need a hotel room.  1482 was waiting for us.  All we needed to do was bring up the heat, turn on the water and the water heater.
We had two and half days to see just a few people.  Our primary reason for the trip, our first visit to Rochester in February in 12 years, was to attend Zvi Zeitlin’s 45th and last recital in Kilbourn Hall and attend his 90th birthday party.  We were greeted with snow when we got up Saturday morning.  It was the perfect snow, about 4 inches and it stopped by the time we needed to go anyplace.  the rest of the weekend was clear and moderate. We had had lunch with the Perlman’s and Guhdes on Saturday at Max’s Market and dinner with Zeitlin family and friends at Pomodoro on Monroe Ave Saturday night.  As Carol and I prepared to walk to Pomodoro on University Ave it dawned on us that the last time we ate with the Zeitlins was at the Pomodoro on Monroe and maybe we had best make a call or two to be sure where we were going.  Whew.  However several other people were late and dinner did not get underway until an hour after the planned time. 
Sunday started with brunch with our grandson Josh and we had a delightful time with him at Jines and at home.  After dropping him back at his house, we made our second trip to Wegman’s of the weekend.  We figured by the time we left we had been in Wegman’s four times, just normal Rochester living.  Our hunt for Wegman’s  Dark Chocolate Almond Bark at two stores was met with failure.  We did see plenty of Wegman’s Dark Chocolate Almond Bar, but without the “k” it just isn’t what we were searching for, we did try Deb, honestly.
The concert was amazing.  The hall was sold out, people were standing in the entrances and many were turned away.  Zvi was at his peak and it was a pleasure to hear the Shubert pieces he performed.   It is amazing that he was able to stand for the duration of the concert and then, when the presentations were being made at the post concert reception, he refused to sit down for the hour long presentation, I was getting tired.  We should all have his strength and vitality at 90.  The party back at the house was amazing, many of his students and colleagues were there as well as the family and close friends.  It is a privilege to have been included in that group.  We have the close friendship of my late parents with Zvi and Marianne to thank for our present relationship. We have extended the friendship to another generation as we have become close with Stuart and Leora, son-in-law and daughter  in Las Cruces over the years.  
Our flight on Monday wasn’t until 4 so we started with brunch at Jines again, this time with Don Onimous and Lorraine Wolch.  Then we closed up the house for the rest of the winter and put our travel gear in the rental and headed for the Eastman Dorm where Jerome Lowenthal, a close friend and colleague of Zvi’s who teaches at Julliard was giving a piano master class.  I don’t remember ever attending a master class and this was a wonderful experience as he talked four very talented pianists through alternative interpretations of the pieces they had prepared.  His insights were fascinating and the common thread was that it is necessary to understand the life of the composer and his own style before attempting to interpret the works.  
Back in Phoenix we had dinner with the Markusens and Samloffs and then moved the coach to the Elks Lodge in Scottsdale.  We immediately went to the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) where we spent three and a half hours and need to go back for another three or four hours.  It seems that every region in the world is represented with its instruments and field recordings. The admission includes the use of a radio which clearly uses wonderful short range technology.  At each exhibit area there is a video and as you approach the video the sound immediately syncs to it.  At times this is disconcerting as we walked into a new room and had to figure out which exhibit was offering us its audio. We were trying to leave and drifted too close to the US section and we were captivated by Dick Dale, Jake Shimabakura, The King – Elvis is in the building – and an exhibit of Marten Guitars and D’Addario and and and . . . we will go back in the morning – did I mention the exploded Steinway Concert Grand and the room of instruments for visitors to play and the player instruments and and and …
Enough!  You all must come to Phoenix to spend a day at MIM.

North Ranch SKP

A reminder, SKP is also spelled Escapee and is our primary membership organization.  They also provide our postal mail address – that Livingston TX address you  may see from time to time.  The campground at North Ranch is about 60 miles north of Phoenix and about 20 miles north of Wickenburg.

We returned to Wickenburg on Saturday and had lunch before walking over to the museum which had so impressed us almost two years ago on our first visit.  The open shed that had faced the center of town has been enclosed and houses some exhibits that were in the main building, minerals and Native Americans, as well as a new exhibit of the history of the “Express” companies.  It was interesting to see which of the old companies continue to exist in some form to this day.  The two most dominant ones are Wells Fargo which was primarily a stage coach line then and American Express which handled freight on stage and then rail.  Some of you might remember Railway Express Agency, later R.E.A. the last company to handle interline freight on the railroads as an independent company.

As we toured the main exhibit building we found a collection of photos of Arizona ghost towns with really fine interpretive audio by the photographer, Kurt Wenner.  To see much of what we saw click on this link and select Arizona.  As we walked through the exhibit and listened to the audio we noted that a few of the sites were near by.  On Sunday we worked around the coach until after lunch then we took off to see if we could find anything in Congress and Stanton.  We took 89 a couple of miles north to the intersection with 71 and turned left over the railroad tracks to Ghost Town Road which I had noted as we drove by on our way in.  There was also a sign pointing to the Congress Cemetery.  Eventually, as all interesting roads in these parts do, we left the pavement behind.   Proceeding up the dirt continuation we passed a BLM dry camping area about .6 of a mile along and eventually we came to the Old Congress Cemetery.  The most recent burial we saw was in the ’50’s and that seemed to be forty years after the next most recent.  Retracing our tracks we found a turn with no indication that the road was private and followed it to the current town cemetery.  We returned to 71 and contemplated our next adventure.

We had heard that Stanton was east of 89 just north of the intersection and a check of the website and Google Navigation confirmed that. So we set off on another adventure.  Six miles of good dirt road brought us to a sign that read LDMA Stanton.  LDMA? It did not mean anything to us so I decided to play stupid, not hard on some days, and parked and walked into the office as if I was looking for a campsite, which I might indeed have wanted.  I learned that LDMA is the acronym for “Lost Dutchman Mining Association.”  The campground is members only and we were given permission to look around.  We immediately met a member who was not out mining for placer gold and was more than willing to give us some of the history.  The buildings date back to the gold rush of 1863! and have been restored and maintained by the association for their own use.  There is a large Opera House with a bar that fills one end and the hotel across the street houses the card room, TV room and kitchen.  Most of the men were off on their claims and the woman we spoke with said she preferred to “mine” on beaches for lost coins and jewelry as the sand is easier to dig than the rock in the claims around Stanton.  Membership in LDMA includes the privilege of working the claims the association owns all over the west and into Alaska.  We have run into the name in our travels, but had never met any members before this excursion.

Following directions from our guide and in agreement from Google Nav we continued up the road we had come in on and 6 miles of tortuous dirt road that climbed a couple of thousand feet brought us back to 89 in the town of Yarnell at 4800 feet.  This is the Big City for the miners and there were a couple of businesses that seemed to still be open, most of the town which sits astride the road from Wickenburg to Prescott seems to be verging on becoming a ghost town itself.

We returned down the very long grade from Yarnell to the valley floor and our coach at North Ranch.  We concluded the day’s adventures by going to the activity center for the weekly Ice Cream Social.  We slipped the ice cream but enjoyed the social which became a do it yourself program responding to questions about the states east of the Mississippi.  Carol and got roped into telling what there was to do in Alabama.  We surprised ourselves, and others, with how many interesting paces we knew to recommend in Alabama.  Lots of fun.

Dinner, the Grammy Awards, and our books on Kindle concluded the day.

Two for One – a Catch Up Post

Yes indeed we went to Laguna Seca Recreation Area, the Chapparal Camping Area which happens to over look the Mazda Race Track at Laguna Seca.  We got to watch school cars race around about half the track from our campsite.  Some were slow and many got faster as the day progressed.  Most were Mazdas, but there was also a class of open wheel racers out there at times.  Side note, had an open wheel racer pass us on PCH in Malibu one day!

Point Lobos walk

The climb to the campground was noted as a 16% grade!  Since the curves lilmited speed to the 20 MPH we were able to make on the grade it did not seem outrageous.  Coming down on the other hand. . .  even in the car it was hairy.  At the top we met Anna Lee and Jerry and the rest of the Springfield RV Club.  We shared a wonderful potluck dinner the first night – it was so good we were able to repeat it the second night after a day that included a long walk on Point Lobos, lunch at  Vivolos Chowder House – Carol found a place next door where she enjoyed a vegetarian meal without the smell of fish.  I will refer you to Jerry and Anna Lee’s blog for food pictures and site pictures.  I am working with limited bandwidth so will take advantage of other’s pictures when they are available and excellent.  Day two included wine tasting at Ventana Winery followed by a trip to the Farmer’s Market where some of us bought fresh fish to bring back and grill.  More fresh halibut for me, yum!

Thanks for the warning!

The third day included brunch at First Awakenings in Salinas followed by wine tasting at two wineries; Paraiso and Hahn.  At each we enjoyed the tasting and made some purchases.  Storage has become an issue.  We have several bottles under the bed and the wine rack is temporarily full.  We also have added a Port to the standing collection in the food file.  As always visits with friends come to an end, although we hope to see Jerry and Anna Lee in Rochester in the Fall and maybe go on up to Niagara-on-the-Lake and Stratford with them.
Left Anna Lee and Jerry at Laguna Seca and headed up to Sacramento to see niece Minda and her fiance Will for dinner Thursday night at their apartment in Davis.  We stayed at the KOA on the western edge of Sacramento as it is the closest place we could find.  The Elks is way out on the other side of Sacramento. Friday we had them come to the coach for dinner.  Carol made a wonderful vegetarian stew and salad which we all enjoyed.  On Saturday we picked up Will and Minda and went to the farmers market in Davis where we had breakfast and bought some great produce and lots of oranges.  Will went to write and Minda joined us for a walk which we based on a Volksmarch.  We found some interesting galleries and ended at her friend Val’s home.  Will joined us there and we had dinner together at Tulli a local restaurant.  After dinner we made our farewells and returned to Gee 2 for a good nights sleep.

We were in touch with the Hoggs (see past posts) and learned that they were in Ehrenberg, AZ for a few more days.  We set off early on Sunday morning with 600 miles to cover.  Clearly this was going to be a two day push for us.  We started out with a determination to head down I 5 as it is another route that many take and contains the “Grapevine.”  We didn’t make it more than 30 miles before we crossed over to CA 99 which is parallel to and slightly east of I 5.  This road surface seemed much better than the 5 and traffic flowed easily.  Over the distance we traveled (Stockton to Bakersfield) it was entirely freeway.  At Bakersfield we picked up CA 58 which heads out into the mountains.  Reading “Days End” (an Escapee website that tracks free and cheap overnight camping ) I learned that there was a parking area just off exit 172 that had been reported as  an overnight stopping place.  We pulled off the road and settled into the large flat space with Edwards Airforce Base to our southwest.  We watched a magnificent sunset over the base and the lines of wind turbines marching along the ridge lines.  After sunset we could see the red lights on the many towers flashing in unison across the desert. As we had breakfast we watched lines of oversize loads with wind turbine blades headed out onto the highway.  We prepared for departure with a minimum of effort and by 9 we were moving.  The route was 58 to 395 to 18 to 247 to Joshua Tree NP and then south on 177 to I 10.   I will let you pull up your own Google Map or paper atlas to see the area.  

Ehrenberg sits on the east bank of the Colorado River barely into Arizona.  The Hoggs are in a membership park on the river.  We settled into a desert parking lot for $1 a day which seems exorbitant since it buys us nothing but desert.  On the other hand a buck seems pretty cheap.  We have had a couple of Happy Hours and dinner at the Hoggs and dinner at the Quartzsite Yacht Club the next night.  We moved to Quartzsite to wait for our mail to catch up with us after the Hoggs moved on to El Centro.  I took the car  in to have someone look at the tires.  One valve core is leaking and another tire seems to have lost a bit of air for no reason.  

Purple Mountains Majesty – Hi Jolly  BLM Area Quartzsite

The mail did not come in on Thursday as expected so while we were waiting I stopped at Best Auto for a look see at the tire with the leaking valve.  The owner replaced the valve core and I handed him a $5 and much thanks.  We camped in the desert at the Hi Jolly BLM area.  There was plenty of sun and no reason to run the generator until we wanted toast for breakfast.  The solar panels were putting out plenty of power for our needs and the batteries held up fine running the furnace overnight and my CPAP machine.  Friday the mail arrived and we moved on to North Ranch Rainbow Campground north of Wickenberg AZ (north of Phoenix).  This looks like an exciting week to be in Arizona as they are celebrating the centennial of Statehood on February 14.