Saguaro SKP 25th Anniversary Parade

This is our second winter at the Saguaro SKP Park in Benson, Arizona.  The park was established by a group of Escapee’s and the first dirt was moved in 1989.  Much of the work was done by the first leaseholders who established a strong volunteer ethic that has been the hallmark of the park ever since.

This week has been the 25th anniversary of the official opening of the park and there have been a number of events and celebrations.  Yesterday was the park’s first parade and Susan was a participant.

Cowboy_Susan_2015_03_22

There were over two dozen vehicles in the parade.

Sauguaro_SKP_Parade_Start

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Making some repairs

A number of small and not-so-small items that need to be repaired have cropped up.  We were fortunate about a couple of them.  Our front shade stopped rolling up and would only roll down but that turned out only to need its controller to be re-programmed.  Our generator would start like it should but we weren’t getting any power inside the motor home but that only needed a circuit breaker to be reset on the generator.

Our toilet has been more of a problem.  About a month ago the cable that runs between the foot pedal and the valve mechanisms broke.  I replaced it but a week ago it stopped working again.  At first I thought the cable had broken but when removed it and took a close look at it it was the foot pedal that was broken.  Strangely enough it was actually broken by the replacement cable.  The original cable that was installed at the factory had two broad ends, one which fit in the pedal and one that fit into the valve mechanism.  The replacement cable had a broad end on only one end and a collar with an allen screw for the other end.  The allen screw-collar end went on the pedal end (that’s what the replacement instructions said) but what happened is that the collar is a bit narrower than the original end and it ended up reaming our a new hole for itself through the pedal (which is only plastic).   This split the pedal and when I tried to repair it, it broke off flush with the hinge.  When I replaced the pedal, this time I put a broad washer under the collar so it spreads the force out and the collar will not pull through the pedal again so we have a functional toilet again (I was having to hand-flush it by reaching behind and twisting the valve mechanism).  I’ve also gotten pretty good at taking the toilet out and re-installing it which is not a skill I expected to acquire.

Our toilet upside down on my work bench
Our toilet upside down on my work bench

Our entry door handle also broke and I ordered a new one from the Tiffin factory.  I finally arrived and today I replaced the old one.

Broken_Door_Handle

There were a lot of moving parts behind the panel, but I took photos at every step when I disassembled it so I’d know how to put it back together.

What's behind the door panel.  The handle and lock are in the lower right-hand corner.
What’s behind the door panel. The back of the handle and lock are in the lower right-hand corner.

It turned out to be relatively straightforward.  I took off two rods, unbolted the old handle and lock assembly, put the new one in its place and re-attached the rods.  I tested it and everything works fine so we now have a functional door handle again.

I’d thought we might have to stop by the Tiffin factory in Red Bay again but that’s pretty much all that needed to be done and I was able to do it all myself this time.  I’ve learned a bit more about how things work and feel more comfortable tackling any future repair projects.   There’s a local Freightliner facility so we may have our annual service done there this year and not bother to stop by Red Bay at all but we’ll have to wait and see if anything serious crops up.

We are going to replace our tires this year before we hit the road.  They are about eight years old and that’s about all that’s safe.  I’m also considering replacing the house batteries (a bank of four deep discharge batteries that power everything inside the motor home when we’re not connected to power and aren’t running the generator).  They’re also reaching the end of their useful life and the couple of times that we’ve needed them lately they seem to discharge too fast.   I’m going to wait until April however, before we do these things.

Partial Rainbow

It’s been rainy all day and we just had a short downpour.  I happened to look out front and when I did I saw this rainbow.  We’ve had a bit of rain during the last couple of weeks and have seen rainbows several times, but this one was particularly bright and there was only this short segment so I went outside and took this photo.  Less than five minutes later it was gone.

Rainbow_2014_12_18

International UFO Museum and Research Center, Roswell NM

How could we visit Roswell, New Mexico and not see the International UFO Museum and Research Center?  We are not believers but we couldn’t pass it up.

To give them credit they did have all the material involving the Roswell Incident on display.  There were newspaper clippings galore and signed testaments of the those involved.

Roswell Incident

There was some balanced reporting as well since other explanations of the events were displayed.

Roswell Incident 2

But most of it was pretty hokey.  A lot of the displays were devoted to different UFO and alien sightings, as well as to UFO movies.

Susan and the Aliens

 

Richard and Susan and Gort

The admission was $8 for the two of us and I suppose it was worth it to be able to say we went.  It wasn’t on our bucket lists and realistically it wasn’t worth the drive from Ruidoso, but that’s okay.

We’d give it a C for handicap accessibility partly because the only parking was on the street and Susan had to get up and down the curb before getting in and out of her wheelchair, but mostly because the entrance doors were very narrow and Susan’s wheelchair got hung up in the entrance both getting in and getting out.  Once inside everything was level and easy to get to it was just the while getting in and getting out thing that wasn’t too great.

Roswell Museum and Art Center

We are camped in Ruidoso, New Mexico and yesterday we drove to Roswell which is about 70 miles east of us.  We went to the Roswell Museum and Art Center mostly because it had a section devoted to Robert Goddard, the rocket pioneer.

We’ve been to art museums in different parts of the country and have been disappointed almost every time.  I’d hate to think this is because we are old fashioned and “out of it” but I have to say that most “modern” art doesn’t do much for us.  I think that this is in part because too often abstract art is like a Rorschach test, it is what you make of it.  I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that but I tend to think this is a cop-out on the artist’s part.  We both prefer art where the artist definitely says something.  We may not like or agree with what the artist is saying but at least we can understand it.

We were more than pleasantly surprised by the Roswell Museum and Art Center.  It had a very eclectic collection of art, mostly ranging from the mid-20th century to now, and most of the displayed art had something to say.

Ken Saville - S.A.N.C.H.E.Z.

Ken Saville – S.A.N.C.H.E.Z.

3-D Collage
3-D Collage
Peter Hurd - Gate and Beyond
Peter Hurd – Gate and Beyond

There was an entire gallery and one hallway devoted to the works of Peter Hurd.  He was born in Roswell but studied art in Philadelphia.  He returned to the Roswell area to make lithographs in the 1930’s.  He eventually settled in San Patricio and his gallery there is now a state historical site.  A lot of his landscapes were of local farms and ranches and in our travels through Texas into New Mexico we saw a lot of farms and ranches that looked exactly like his landscapes.

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World’s Largest Pistachio

Just outside of Alamagordo, New Mexico, there are a number of pistachio orchards.  We just had to stop at the McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch because it had the World’s Largest Pistachio.

Susan and the Worlds Largest Pistachio

They had a store with a lot of touristy-type stuff but there was also testing table with over a dozen varieties of flavored pistachios.  They were very good but expensive, even so we still bought a pound of regular shelled pistachios and a half a pound of shelled garlic pistachios.

New Mexico Museum of Space History, Alamagordo

We are camped in Ruidoso, New Mexico which is in the mountains about 50 miles northeast of Alamagordo.  We drove into Alamagordo today to visit the New Mexico Museum of Space History.

The Museum is a 5-story glass building set on a hill above Alamagordo with a great view of the Tularosa basin below.   When you first arrive at the museum there are a number of rockets and related items on display out in front.  The upper four floors are devoted to exhibits but two of the floors were undergoing renovation and most of the exhibits on those floors were closed or nonexistent. Even so there were a lot of interesting things on display.  The White Sands Missile Range is nearby and the Space History museum reflects much of the work that was done there.  Like any museum it has areas of expertise and I would say these are rocket sleds, small ballistic missiles and inertial guidance.

Rocket sled used for testing motors and aerodynamics
Rocket sled used for testing motors and aerodynamics
The first rocket sled with a human on board that broke the sound barrier
The first rocket sled with a human on board that broke the sound barrier
The end of the rocket track where the sleds were stopped
The end of the rocket track where the sleds were stopped

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We lost a tire on our tow dolly but we still consider ourselves lucky

We were driving today from San Antonio to San Angelo on Route 87 which is a back-roads Texas highway.  It’s mostly two lanes and it goes through the center of a number of towns but in between the speed limit is usually 75 MPH (65 MPH is fast enough for me and the speed we usually get our best fuel mileage at).  We were about 50 miles from San Angelo and I was looking in the rear view mirror when I noticed some stuff being thrown up next to our tow dolly.  I wasn’t sure what it was, so I immediately pulled over,  Once I stopped I could see that the left tire on the tow dolly had blown completely and what I had been seeing was pieces of tire being tossed around.

Blown tire on our tow dolly

Now I realize that doesn’t sound like good luck, but we’d been looking for some kind of a pull-out along Route 87 so we could stop and have some lunch and we hadn’t seen anything of the kind for miles and miles.  Somehow though we managed to stop right next to a paved pull-out.  It was on the other side of the road but all I had to do was drive over to it and we were safe and well off the road.  That was good luck.

The tire was completely destroyed and had taken a big chunk out of the fender (which is made of plastic, go figure) as well.  We don’t have a spare tire for it so I got on the phone to our Roadside Assistance (Coachnet).  It took a couple of tries because the cell phone reception there wasn’t very good and my phone kept dropping the calls, but I was finally able to explain our situation and where we were and they found a nearby tire service that would come and replace it.

In less than an hour and a half from when we pulled over the tire had been replaced by a serviceman from Bob Moore’s Tire Company, and at a very reasonable price ($163 for both the tire and the service call).  I duct-taped the fender back together, put the car back on the dolly (I had taken it off to make it easier to get at the tire) and we were back on our way.

We were lucky and we know it.  This could have been much, much worse.  Our car and the tow dolly itself could have been damaged and we could have been stuck on the edge of a busy highway, getting blown side-to-side every time a big rig truck went by.  Instead we had some lunch and read for a bit well off the highway while waiting for the service truck, got our service done quickly and at a reasonable price, and were on our way again none the worse for the experience.

 

The San Antonio Riverwalk was just ducky

We were in San Antonio about a year and a half ago and visited the Riverwalk at that time. It is very charming and every city should have one.  We’re back in San Antonio partly because it was more or less on our route (we’re meandering to Arizona) and partly because Susan wanted to see the Riverwalk again.

Ducky Riverwalk 5

We got there a bit after noon and the first thing we did was find a restaurant for some lunch.  While waiting for our lunch to appear, we noticed that there were a large number of ducks and geese both in the water and walking all around.  We don’t remember seeing them the last time we were here but was Spring then and it is Fall now so maybe that has something to do with it.

The ducks in particular were very bold and not shy about walking among the tables at the restaurant.  There were more ducks than pigeons, but they were both after the same thing, which is whatever crumbs people dropped off their table from their lunch.

Ducky Riverwalk 3

 

Ducky Riverwalk 1

Ducky Riverwalk 2

The Riverwalk is very pleasant and we enjoyed rambling around.  Some care has been taken to make it handicap accessible since there are at least a half-dozen public elevators located at different points and ramps alongside many of the stairs.  Even so, there are several restaurants we had to pass by because you had to climb a set of stairs to get to them and we had to go back up to the street level and down a block to find a handicap accessible bathroom.  We never did find a way to get to one section of the Riverwalk because all the accesses that led to it consisted of stairs.  Even so, we enjoyed it and it was worth the trip into San Antonio from our campground on the outskirts of town.