Monday, May 28, started as a special day. It was our 39th wedding anniversary (our wedding day also happened to be on Memorial Day Monday). Rick ran 3 miles at dawn, and then we took Zoe for a walk. She had been sick the day before, but she seemed to be feeling better and insisted on going for a walk (she knows how to tell us!).
We had planned to stop and see our friends Park and Lois in Las Vegas to get the photo we forgot to take when they visited us at our campsite. However, around 10:00 a.m. we were leisurely getting the Viva ready to hit the road again when Zoe vomited twice—large pools of bloody vomit. As soon as we saw the blood we were terrified that something was horribly wrong with Zoe. Having just lost Tybee in January made it even worse. Rick hurriedly finished unhooking the Viva and stowing gear as Linda started calling to find an Animal Emergency Hospital that was open on Memorial Day. We found one that was open and had Zoe there within the hour.
The vet tech who initially examined Zoe said she was in excellent health and in no acute distress, which greatly relieved us. Because she had vomited the day before, he thought that the vomiting had irritated her stomach and/or esophagus, and her subsequent vomiting on Monday had resulted in the blood that we saw. However, when the vet came in to check out Zoe, she said the blood could have come from several different things, including an ulcer or a tumor. The dread returned to us at that moment.
The vet didn't recommend anything—instead, she gave us a long list of imaging tests, lab tests, medications, etc., along with the itemized prices, and told us to look over the list and decide what we wanted to do. We would have spent any amount if it would have helped Zoe, but we were essentially put in a position of making decisions without any real guidance from the vet. The vet tech and the vet even disagreed on some of the medications, which complicated things further. Because both of them assured us that Zoe was not in any imminent danger, we opted to forego any imaging or labs (and Zoe had just seen our vet back home three weeks ago for labs and her annual physical) and take the medications that the vet had listed with the thought that we would call our vet the next day.
We went to the Lakeside Casino & RV Park in Pahrump, Nevada. We were assigned a nice space next to the lake that was in the middle of the campground. There were all kinds of birds, from ducks to geese to pigeons to songbirds, and they all seemed to think they owned the place. They were quite bold, and would walk right up to the Viva's door.
We started Zoe's meds. She ate a little bit and drank small amounts of water. We kept her quiet, and she slept okay overnight. No more vomiting, thankfully.
We were scheduled to stay just one night, but the next morning we changed our plans and added a second night. That would give us a chance to talk with our vet to get his input. The thought of canceling the rest of our trip and heading back to Florida crossed our minds.
Zoe seemed better, so Rick took her for a short walk around the lake. She was fascinated by all of the birds, and she sat and watched them most of the day, along with several kids fishing and other dogs that walked by.
We have a great veterinarian in Mount Dora who called and spent nearly half an hour on the phone with us. He is simply the best. We told him everything that had happened with Zoe to date. He advised us to stay a third night. If she vomited again or had other complications, we were still close to Las Vegas and could get specialized testing that wouldn't be available once we were on the road again (we would be passing through Death Valley on our way to the next campground). Our vet said if Zoe ate and drank water with no further vomiting, we should be able to resume our trip on Thursday.
Rick ran on Wednesday, swept and washed the floors, and cleaned the bugs off the front of the Viva. Linda did laundry, made Joe's Oat Patties, and walked for exercise. Zoe continued to do much better.
We didn't take many photos here because our focus was on Zoe. It was a very nice campground that we would have enjoyed much more under different circumstances.
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An easy day—only 93 miles and a stop at Hoover Dam on the way to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Before we were allowed to drive over the dam, a friendly Ranger checked to make sure we had turned off our propane tank. She then inspected our outside storage compartments and took a quick look inside the Viva. With all the craziness in the world, such checks are a regular and necessary occurrence.
After finding a spot to park the Viva, Rick walked across the dam twice and took some photos. Linda stayed with Zoe as dogs aren't permitted to be on the dam. We are drawn to nature's beauty and creations much more than man/woman-made structures, but Hoover Dam was damn impressive!
The drive to Lake Mead RV Village was beautiful, and our site (19) overlooked Lake Mead with a backdrop of multicolored mountains and hills. Stunning! And yet another spot where a camera, at least in our hands, simply could not capture the breathtaking panorama before us.
We got a break on the temperatures during our stay. It was 83 our first day, 89 our second day. On Monday, the day we left, the high was going to climb to 97.
Rick ran 3 miles on Saturday and Sunday. Zoe ran just on Sunday. She overheated a bit and was sick in the afternoon, so we decided no more running for her until we get into cooler environments. Linda walked both days. The trails were blacktop and smooth—a perfect surface for running or walking.
We had nice campfires both nights beneath cloudless, starry skies. There were no bugs, which was nice. On Sunday, our good friends Park and Lois drove over from Las Vegas, and we had a great visit (see the June 21, 2015, blog entry for details on Park and Rick's long friendship). They just returned from Hawaii, so we got to hear all about their trip. Park and Lois are avid travelers and adventurers, and they have been to many of the places we will be visiting in the weeks ahead. It was very helpful to get their insight into what we should see and do on our trip. On our way to our next destination on Monday, we're going to stop at their house to take a photo of all of us—we were so caught up in our conversation and the beauty of our setting on Sunday that a photo completely slipped our minds.
This campground will go down as one of our all-time favorites, near or at the top of the list. It's a large park, with a mixture of permanent homes (trailers) and RV campsites. At a trailer behind us, there was a group of about 40 people partying and having fun on Saturday night. Kids were everywhere, riding bikes and scooters. The campground was quiet and somewhat empty on Sunday—many people had boats and were on the water.
First light was early here—around 4:50—and Linda always wakes up at first light, so it was early days and late nights for us.
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After all that we did yesterday, we needed a quiet day and that's what today was. We were on I-40 for part of the journey, then exited and took historic Route 66 to Kingman. We went through the town of Seligman, which claims the title "Birthplace of Historic Route 66" because in 1987 its residents led the effort to have Route 66 designated as an historic highway. We saw parked tour buses and the sidewalks were crowded with people taking photos and checking out Route 66 memorabilia.
We also drove through the tiny burg of Peach Springs, where we saw a group of elderly people attired in hippie garb loading onto a tour bus, destination unknown to us. We stopped in Hackberry to take a few photos of the Hackberry General Store and its collection of old gas pumps, signs, rusting vehicles from early to mid-20th century, and other items too numerous to mention.
The wind was fierce throughout our drive, kicking up multiple large dust storms that turned part of the sky an orangish hue. The wind was still strong when we reached our destination for the night and hooked up the Viva. Our eyes, noses, and throats burned from all of the dust in the air. We were scheduled to stay here two nights and do the Grand Canyon Skywalk tomorrow, but we decided to limit our stay here to one night, skip the glass walkway that juts over the Grand Canyon, and move on to Lake Mead.
There was too much dust for Rick to run, but Zoe got to go for a couple of short walks and play in the dog park.
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Oh, where to begin to tell about this wonderful day!
The best place to start would be the first stop we made, Petrified Forest National Park. It was the 19th National Park we have visited in the Viva. We had heard of the petrified forest, but had no idea what we would find (the name suggested frightened trees, at least in Rick's mind!). We discovered a stunningly beautiful park, nothing like we imagined. In addition to the petrified wood (all on the ground—no "standing forest"—and very, very ancient), we saw miles of scenery that was reminiscent of the Badlands in South Dakota. Just beautiful. We saw a collared lizard (see photo), and hiked several trails that meandered through acres and acres of petrified wood. The sizes ranged from long trees/logs to tiny pieces, all of it rock hard. There are things that neither words nor photos can adequately capture their essence, and petrified wood is one of those things.
Next was the Painted Desert. We had driven through part of the Painted Desert before. Again, simply beautiful to see.
For a while today we went back in time on Route 66 and we were Standin' On A Corner In Winslow, Arizona, simply because we wanted to Take It Easy. We even saw an Eagle. At least a statue of one. I think it's a city ordinance in Winslow that visitors are required to have their photo taken on that corner. It did feel like a bit of history to us.
And speaking of history, our next stop had an amazing history. Meteor Crater (actually, it should be named Meteorite Crater), was created approximately 50,000 years ago when a meteor smashed into a flat plain and formed a crater nearly a mile wide and over 550 feet deep. At impact the explosive force was greater than twenty million tons of TNT. That was not a typo. Twenty million tons of TNT. The exhibits and a 10-minute film describe in great detail all of the science and the numbers behind the event that happened here long ago. If you are ever in this area, after standin' on that corner in Winslow, you need to visit Meteor Crater.
We were exhausted by the time we made it to Meteor Crater RV Park, so tired that Rick (and Zoe) took a day off from running, after seven days in a row. The three rigs to the right of us were all from Florida, so with the Viva, that was four Florida rigs in a row.
Too tired to write anything else, other than to again say this was a wonderful day!
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Before leaving Roswell, Rick and Zoe went for a 3 mile run downtown and back, while Linda did her morning exercise walk. We left the Trailer Village RV Park with a vow to return someday for a longer stay.
324 miles today, over good and bad roads (including Billy the Kid Trail). New Mexico is known as the Land of Enchantment, and for most of the drive today it lived up to its name with mesmerizing vistas and a painter's palette of colors no human mind could have created. Aliens, perhaps? Sorry, the visit to Roswell hasn't worn off yet. But in the western part of the state, the scenery was scruffy at best. Still, we found some interesting things. We included a photo of an Official Scenic Historic Marker outside the charming town of Lincoln that told about the internment of the entire Japanese population of Clovis, New Mexico. In Capitan we drove past the Smokey Bear Museum, but didn't have time to stop—the bad roads and roads under construction added significantly to our driving time. We saw the Rio Grande River, and it was bone dry. We added two National Forests to our list, Cibola and Lincoln.
The strangest site we saw was the cluster of huge satellite dishes outside Socorro. We later learned (and some of the following was found on RoadsideAmerica.com) that it's called "The Very Large Array (VLA)." The VLA has 27 antennas (like the one in the photo) weighing 230 tons each, and mounted on railroad tracks so they can be moved around. The antennas are arranged in a Y-shape, with each arm of the Y stretching 13 miles in length. The dishes aren't searching for extra-terrestrial intelligence (ah, Roswell again!); instead, they only listen to intergalactic noisemakers such as black holes and pulsars. The Very Large Array has appeared in the movies "Contact," "Independence Day," and "Terminator Salvation."
We were worn out by the time we arrived at the Casa Malpais RV Park. We walked two laps around the campground to give Zoe her evening exercise, then we retired to the Viva. We've driven over 2,000 miles in seven days and experienced a dramatic change in the elevation from what we're used to (from near sea level to 7,000 feet), so we are a bit weary and ready for a good night's sleep. We pushed ourselves to get to this point, and tomorrow our Great Adventure truly begins!
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We first visited Roswell in 2015, and it was great to make a return visit on this trip. But instead of just stopping for a few hours like we did in 2015, this time we stayed at the Trailer Village RV Park on the edge of town. We really liked this RV park—we had a level, shaded spot, the campground is tidy and modern, the staff couldn't be more friendly, and you have to love their alien-themed sense of humor! Of course, that alien-themed sense of humor extends to the entire town of Roswell. Signage and the names of downtown businesses have a little fun with the alien crash that did or didn't happen in 1947. We have always been believers, and after Rick toured the Roswell Museum (International UFO Museum and Research Center) in 2015, he was even more convinced that an alien spacecraft did crash outside Roswell. But you need to come to Roswell and check it out for yourself.
We logged 319 miles of mostly flat, straight, and incredibly boring Texas highways. It wasn't until we were in the western part of Texas and into New Mexico that we noticed a significant change in elevation. We're at nearly 1,700 miles on this trip so far, and our gas mileage is now at 15.7 mpg!
After hooking up and putting out our awning, Rick changed into his running clothes and went for a 3 mile run—1.5 miles to the downtown area and then back to the campground. Scorching (90s) temperatures will be arriving here within the week, but it was under 80 when Rick ran—still too hot and sunny for Zoe. The distance, temperature, and bright sunshine were not a problem, but running at an elevation of over 3500 feet when Rick normally runs at an elevation of 100 feet or so…well, it was a bit of a challenge. Plus, the air was dry and dusty. Rick will be running at much higher elevations on this trip, so today was just a good training run.
Later, Rick, Linda, and Zoe walked to downtown to look around and eat dinner. We stopped at the Welcome Center and met two friendly, informative ladies who told us all about upcoming events. Rick was crushed to learn about the UFO Festival in late July when the Roswell crash site will be open to visitors (and limited to 200 people) for the first time in 20 years. He would love to be on that tour, but we'll be on our way home then and far from Roswell.
We had a great vegan dinner on the outdoor patio of Peppers Grill & Bar. They are a dog friendly establishment, so Zoe was completely welcome. The stroll back to the campground was much more comfortable, as the sun was no longer blazing.
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Someone was very, very happy today! And that someone was Linda! She has long been a fan of Fixer-Upper on HGTV, a show starring Chip and Joanna Gaines of Waco, Texas. When routing our western trip this year, Linda made sure we went through Waco so we could visit Magnolia Market at the Silos, the amazing complex that Chip and Jo have built. Rick is a fan of the show, too, and was almost as excited as Linda.
Our first stop in Waco was at Magnolia Table, Chip and Jo's restaurant, but there were well over a hundred people outside waiting for a table, and we weren't able to find a place to park the Viva. So, it was on to Magnolia Market.
We found on-street parking for the Viva, and a free golf cart shuttle was waiting to take us to the Silos. The shuttle was dog friendly, so Zoe finally got her first golf cart ride. For those who don't know, Zoe loves golf carts. And motorcycles. And iPads. And…well, it's a long list, but golf carts are near the top and she loved her ride.
Magnolia Market at the Silos was amazing—Chip and Jo really did it right. From shopping (Linda bought Rick two hats, including one that said "DEMODAY" on it), to games on the lawn, the food trucks, bakery, the garden, the seed company, the silos—again, it's just an amazing complex. If you're ever in Waco, this is a place you simply must visit.
We were in Waco just a little over an hour after we left Primrose Lane RV Park. When we hit the road again after visiting Magnolia Market, we had hours of driving and many miles ahead of us. We totaled 290 miles today, and the Viva is now averaging 15.5 miles per gallon. That will change when we start hitting higher elevations, but we'll take it for now!
As we were driving on Texas 6, we saw a huge, Gothic style structure off to the right several miles ahead. It loomed larger as we got closer, so we decided to make a quick detour and find out what it was. It turned out to be the Bosque County Courthouse, a beautiful building built in 1886.
We also drove through several small towns that had lots of character but sadly were beginning to look like ghost towns, with shops closed and buildings boarded up. We wanted to stop at the Billy The Kid Museum in Hico, but we were running late and still had miles to go. Linda did take a quick photo of a Mexican restaurant that looked like a fun place to dine.
We made it to Abilene RV Park in time for Rick to run two miles and for all of us to take a two mile walk together. The park owner was very friendly and the pool was nice and inviting (although we didn't take the plunge), but this RV park, like so many others in Texas, Louisiana, and many other states, is home to construction and oil field workers who stay for months at a time, as opposed to traditional, transient RVers. We don't know for certain, but we think we were the only traveling RVers in this park, and also at Primrose Lane RV Park where we stayed last night. Everyone else seemed to be long-term residents. That's probably a good thing for campground owners, but it's somewhat of a weird feeling to be the only travelers in the campground.
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Our day started with Rick and Zoe going for a two mile run and Linda taking a long walk, then it was time to disconnect and hit the road again.
289 miles today, including a trip across the sky-high Calcasieu River Bridge over Lake Charles (see Linda's photo in the link below, taken at 60 mph through her side window with her iPhone). Earlier, we saw more construction and lengthy backups on I-10, but once again, we were fortunate that it was not on our side.
We met our niece, Natalie, and her husband, Chris, at Cedar Brake Park in Montgomery, Texas, this afternoon. Just a few minutes after we gathered in a shelter house the skies opened and it poured for the entire time we were together. It was great to see them again, though, and we had a nice visit. We wish we didn't live so far apart so we could see them more often. We all got soaked as they ran to their car and we ran to the Viva!
We were worn out by the time we arrived at Primrose Lake RV Park. This place seems to be more for full-time residents than traveling RVers, but all we were looking for was a place to stop for the night, and it satisfied that need at a reasonable (Passport America!) rate.
We did have a bit of entertainment after we hooked up and settled in. An older gentleman in a trailer across the street in front of us had his dog—Coco—tied up outside his trailer. Somehow Coco got loose. The older guy enlisted the aid of his next door neighbor, a woman whose body language suggested she wasn't happy about having to track down his dog yet again. We watched Coco run up to her, then run off. Then run up to the old guy, then run off. We would have helped, but it was clear to us the dog would not have let us get close. It seemed to enjoy its freedom and was just running around like crazy. Finally, the woman nabbed Coco and turned her over to the old guy. We watched as he put Coco inside the front door of his trailer…and seconds later, we saw Coco run out the back door! Coco took off again, and this time the woman who had helped before and was still outside, totally ignored both the dog and her neighbor. She was obviously upset that all of her efforts in capturing Coca were wasted. The old guy eventually got in his car and started driving around to look for his dog. Sometime later, another woman appeared with Coco in tow. We watched as she took Coco over to the old guy's trailer, opened the door, and put Coco inside. She pushed on the door to make sure it was shut, then went to the back door and pushed it as well, suggesting she had been through this routine before, too. She started walking away, and we were thinking that when the old guy got home after his fruitless search for his dog, he would open his trailer door and Coco would be free yet again! Fortunately, the woman who captured Coco saw the old man pull up in his car and told him Coco was inside the trailer.
If strong overnight winds don't blow us away, we're looking forward to Monday. After all, tomorrow is another day.
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The day started very early for Linda—she was up at 3:00 a.m. to watch the coverage of the Royal Wedding before we departed Eagle's Landing shortly after 8:00.
We prefer to take scenic highways and byways as often as possible, but today's route of 363 miles was almost entirely interstate driving. There was construction on I-10 forcing traffic into a single lane, and vehicles were backed up for six or seven miles, the longest line of angry drivers we've ever seen. Fortunately for us, it was the eastbound lanes of I-10 and we were heading west! We haven't come upon any accidents yet (and hopefully won't), but yesterday we saw an abandoned Class A (like a bus) RV that had burned. Today we passed a garbage truck that had also burned, well beyond repair.
We were booked at Frog City RV Park, but when we arrived we found it was behind a Super 8 and there was no shade. The host was kind enough to cancel our reservation and recommend the Lafayette KOA just a few miles away—that was very nice of her.
We went to the KOA and were assigned a well shaded site next to a friendly couple who were LSU Tiger fans. The KOA had several hundred sites, cabins, two swimming pools, miniature golf, a basketball court, game room, and a large lake with canoe and paddle boat rentals. We're sure they have amenities we overlooked.
Rick ran a mile (again, too hot for Zoe, and too late to run farther), then the entire family went for a couple of walks.
We were in four different states today—Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana—and actually spotted some gators in lakes as we drove on the interstate. We crossed the mighty Mississippi River, which is always a thrill. Linda went to bed early—after getting up for the Royal Wedding and riding for over 350 miles, she was worn out. Tomorrow will be another early start and long drive into Texas. Rick, as usual, stayed up late to download photos, work on the blog, and backup the MacBook Pro.
One last thing before signing off—so far on this trip, the Viva is averaging 15.3 miles per gallon, which is amazing for a motorhome that runs on gas, not diesel. We love our Viva!
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Some days are better than others…and this day was one of the "others." Nothing much to see or do, all we did was mark off the miles—260 of them today. We first visited this campground during our 2015 trip out west.
The low points—we drove through heavy rain at times, plus we stopped for gas and made a wrong turn leaving the station as we seem to do every time. The route is on the way to Top Sail State Park, and we always get gas at the same place. For reasons neither of us can explain, we exit the station and turn right instead of continuing straight. We blame it on the traffic signs. Yeah, their fault, not ours.
The highlight—it rained briefly after we arrived at the campground, and Linda took a photo of a rainbow over the Viva. That's the only photo we took here, as there wasn't much to see. Just a place to rest and get ready for a long drive tomorrow. It's a good thing Rick is driving and not Linda, as she is getting up at 3:00 a.m. to watch the Royal Wedding. Rick did get in a three mile run, but it was too hot for Zoe.
Oh, and we didn't find that pot of gold. Gas prices are up this year, and we could have used it.
And so it begins, the first day of our 2018 Viva Adventure!
Our departure goal was 10:00 a.m., and big surprise, we met it—actually, we were rolling a few minutes early, and that's including Rick and Zoe's three mile run. After quick stops at the gas station for fuel and Publix for water, we headed to our old neighborhood, Lakes Of Mount Dora, where we lived for nearly ten years. It was a bit of a detour, but one we gladly made. A tradition started the morning we departed for our 2015 Viva Adventure when our good friends and next door neighbors, J.P. and Lois, serenaded us with "Happy Trails." In 2016, before we headed for the Smokey Mountains, J.P. (who is a very talented singer/songwriter/entertainer), sang "Smokey Mountain Rain." We didn't take a long RV trip in 2017 because of our move to our current home, but we couldn't start this trip without a send-off from J.P. and Lois—and what a send-off it was! J.P. again sang "Happy Trails," because we're heading west once more, but this time Lois accompanied him on ukelele! Thanks again, J.P. and Lois!
We drove 172 miles today. Our route took us through Dunnellon where Linda took a quick photo of The Blues Brothers. Just a few miles beyond Dunnellon, Rick spotted a group of wild pigs in a field about fifty yards from the road. Linda didn't want to stop to get a photo of them—so Rick said she must have found them boaring. Yes, the corny jokes started early on this trip.
This was our second visit to Suwannee River Rendezvous Resort And Campground. We were here two years ago almost to the day, when we spent the night on our way to Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. We really like this place—it is spacious and has lots of things to do. The owners are friendly and have a great sense of humor, as evidenced by various funny signs posted throughout the campground. The main building overlooks a picturesque spring that feeds into the Suwannee River. You can take a dip in the spring, plus there is a nice swimming pool with two spas (Rick enjoyed the pool and one of the spas, but Linda forgot to pack her suit). You can rent a canoe and cruise the river, play corn hole, ping pong, volleyball, and the list goes on. The first thing we did after checking in was to enjoy a cold beer while sitting on a swing with the river in front of us and the spring behind us. Very relaxing. This campground is extremely dog friendly, and the dog park is huge—two large exercise areas including agility equipment, and three smaller fenced areas. Zoe was happy to stretch her legs and run free.
One day down, many days and adventures ahead!
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