Archive for May, 2017

Took a quick trip out to Prescott for these two to meet. Barbelo and Jeana, Lagotto Romagnolo (Italian Water Dogs.)

Barbelo’s a patch, white and brown, his coat is short here. Great temperament, he and Jeana hit it off.

 Jeana does the chase-me, chase-me zoomies…  could be puppies in their future!

My dogs exploring our host’s backyard. They’d just moved in when we arrived.  There’s a lot more Lagotto Romagnolo hanging out in the house and few cats too.


Going for a hike in Prescott. Olympia hunting for whatever she can find!

The girls cooling off.

Windy up here as I take a photo overlooking the dam.   I don’t know if dogs like heights but mine are very patient with me.

Lovely Spring hiking including displays of vintage gold and copper mining equipment.

River access and in-town trails make Prescott a great place to walk.

I’ve been to Prescott and surrounding areas of AZ and NM quite a bit in the last few years. (I haven’t always posted about these trips.) The area continues to grow. Wish to see less of the cookie-cutter stuff and more sense of place like this mural.

This trip was a working trip, still the dogs and I did some sightseeing including visits to Sharlot Hall for history and the Phippen for more American Art.

A gambling basket on display at Sharlot Hall Museum

In the Transportation Building at Sharlot Hall Museum. Notice the dog.

An overview of Prescott, Sharlot Hall Museum


Cowboys, Cowgirls, Native Americans and the Great Southwest.
Loved the Phippen! Here’s a few photos from the museum. I took a lot more. 

George Phippen, first President of the Cowboy Artists of America, died in 1966, leaving behind a group of artists interested in creating a facility that specifically represented artists in the American West. In 1974, the George Phippen Memorial Foundation was formed to create a centralized venue that would fully support Western Art.

Mule Train, George Phippen

Devil’s Herd, George Phippen

Walking your saddle, Hoss? Steven Lang

JD Challenger, From the Warrior’s Heart

James Swinnerton, Near Sedona

Maher Naguib Morcos, Jack-Knife the Leader

George Phippen, Danger in Red

Solon H. Borglum, Evening

Solon H. Borglum, The Indian – A Study

Jim Norton, A Shared Fire

R. S. Riddick, Midnight Arbuckle

Arthur C. Begay, Lead You To the Squaw Dance

Edward Aldrich, Under Dark Skies

Kim Wiggam, Full Moon

Leo Beaulaurier, Squatter’s Rights

Dave Drost, Sonoran Moon Glow

Jack Van Ryder, When the Desert Meets the Moon


Gail Jones Sundell, She Dances for the Moon

The Road to Jerome

Interesting weather in Prescott. Had to shorten my visit to Jerome as the thunderclouds surrounded the smoke from a brush fire. Before I was down the mountain it’d started to storm. I could see the clouds streaming down with heavy rain while it remained only drizzly as I drove back to Prescott. The next day I was walking with the dogs in sunshine, visited downtown then drove to one of my favorite lakes in the area to be pelted with hail. The dogs and I ran back to the van with wind so strong it rocked the van and caused it to slide in the gravel, yet by the time I’d returned to the home I was visiting the sun was peaking back.

One of the nice things about my little B Camper is how easy it parks and how simple it is to take on tours. Did great pulling up the 7% switchbacks, parking in the tiny town of Jerome, camping in front yards, fitting nicely into parking areas at the lakes and trail heads, perfect for shopping, downtown, viewing wildlife . . . almost anywhere I want to go except for towns implementing no RV Parking and some oversize parking restrictions.  Although my van is legal for any normal or full size parking spot I can run into trouble with these regulations.

The Official Prescott Song — Will Strickland & Norm Fisk


Met many residents relocated from California and from the Mid West.
The CA folks missed the ocean, I would too.

Amiss in California

I remember California’s majestic beauty far more from my earlier years. How I loved its solitude, the natural arches, cliffs and wide open beaches of the shoreline, tall trees in dense forests, rock outcroppings and wild rivers. From deserts to ferns; from orange groves to fields of flowers.  I remember wild open spaces, the awe of nature and long distances between cities. Today as I drive in the roads are typically terrible and crowded. For whatever reason the fast lane is smoother, with less potholes, rumbles and dips which makes it awkward. I give up the slow lane and just let the faster cars go around me. The rips in the road even have the trucks moving over and/or doing the road maze dance trying so hard to avoid that roughness. It ratchets heavy vehicles giving nasty jarring lurches to anything inside. Thick traffic is the norm with pedal happy swerving motorists.

I thought I could spend the night at the edge of Bakersfield, I wasn’t prepared to find camping at $70 and higher..  Yep, CA prices. I can’t boondock or dry camp as I need power to run the air conditioning and the heat, I need space to run and walk the dogs so it’s easier, simpler to use a paid camp, but I expect $12 to $29; have been paying more but $70!  Considered detouring to Lake Isabella but the sky was stormy, intensely windy with blinding sand so I opted to the I-5 for a quicker journey.


Spent an uncomfortable night in Coalinga stuffed into an unused cobwebbed site between full-time residents, I heard fights and the lights were left blazing all night. I left before first light not bothering with the bathhouse or dumping my tanks. Walked and fed the dogs at the next restsop, washed my face and had a glass of water.

Found these fields near the campground, wanted to walk in them but decided to stick to the road. On the other side of the RV Park was a large empty lot which would have the better place to spend the night. A few big rigs were doing that, it was behind a large gas station and store. Approaching the RV Park trash marked the path like landing lights.

A random street in Tracy, California

The non-usable bathroom next to a well used playground at a big park in Tracy. Great idea kids, and no bathroom. BTW it was Spring and not Winter but still not open. Nice park though, had a lovely walk, the dogs of course rolled and rolled in the grass, they were laughing and happy.

Most coffee and breakfast spots were closed in Tracy on a Sunday. There was one restaurant open at 9 am. it’s down this path which is in the downtown area. I’m hungry!

Turns out all these people were hungry too. Too long a wait for me, darn. Maybe a few more places could be open? Everyone can’t be in church? Isn’t this CA and not Texas?

Daisy the cow.

Hmm, this was in Placerville. I thought about buying that beer just for the can.

My friend patiently waiting for me while I bought a cappuccino. I was in a new temporary habit of getting myself a cap and snack in each city I stayed overnight to compare the quality and artistry of the offerings. A fun and innocent adventure.

Lee and Craig’s place and my darling girl Olympia.

Home away from home, the sewing room. Very Comfy 🙂

Blooming Ocotillo in the Sonoran Desert. Saw these all over. They live for 60 to 100 years and can be up to 20′ high.

Are we here yet?


Needles Marina Park, lucked out with this spot on the point all to myself 🙂

Yes, Mason, we’re in California now!

Loved this Park on the Colorado River on the California side. Very dog friendly and close to town. The Park is well maintained, with lots of grass, water and room to wander. The weather when I was there was actually perfect (in other words not roasting hot!)  I didn’t use the pool but it looked inviting. I checked the Arizona side of the Colorado where there is another Colorado River RV Park, also very spacious, but more set up for groups traveling together and families and friends wanting to spend time boating.


Beautiful sunrise morning.

Swim time but there were stickers.

“Needles Marina Park located on the Colorado River off interstate 40 and Historic Route 66 nestled right at the Needles Bridge has been family owned and operated since 1976. We are in our 40th year of business. The park owner takes pride in the facility and his love for this park comes through with the way he meticulously maintains the facilities.” 

See how peaceful it is here? That wasn’t going to last only the WIND would last.

West and then Northwest to Northern Cal.  WINDY WINDY WINDY doesn’t show but the last part of my drive was the usual fight against the wind with the addition of sand storms, little twisters and thunder.  

My truffle dogs exploring the forest in Flagstaff, AZ

The Coconino National Forest is one of the most diverse National Forests in the country with landscapes ranging from the famous red rocks of Sedona to Ponderosa pine forests, from southwestern desert to alpine tundra. Explore mountains and canyons, fish in small lakes, and wade in lazy creeks and streams.

The City of Flagstaff in the Ponderosa Pine Forest at 7,000′ makes a reasonably easy crossing over the mountains, certainly easier than I-70 over the Rockies. I recommend the Lowell Observatory unless you’re seeking flash and entertainment, then you might be disappointed. I didn’t visit on this trip but have in the past, taking the time to learn about research, construction and history of the telescopes.  In a land of ghosts, alien sightings, UFO’s, crazy weather and dark skies it’s heartening to seek for the universe out there. Where are you everyone! It’s frustrating to me to be limited to this one tiny beautiful planet. No matter how many voyages and discoveries I want more, I want what’s out there. I don’t know why but somewhere out there could be a place that might fit with the images in my head? No? Yes? Well, having reached Flagstaff I was primarily interested in getting to Northern Cal to pick up Olympia. It was time to head back.

The city itself was intensely crowded, I was unable to find parking before my patience wore out. There was an almost LA kinda frenzy, honking horns and getting cut off by zooming SUVs and jeeps.  I wasn’t prepared so I went in search of camping. Hoping to avoid high fees I wanted to stay at the County Park but the RV camping wasn’t open yet for the season, instead I found a nice (and relatively inexpensive) spot on the edge of the forest. The dogs could run naked of their leashes. I was intending to head back to the city and explore, have a coffee and browse the scene but the forest won. Frankly one store is like another and all to often they are the same stores, the same experience, a “non-place” or placelessness pervades.. Sure, each city is a constructed environment with its key symbol and narrative however the loss of place still happens with the agonizing repetition of  sameness, for some perhaps its a comfort, they never really left home, only rearranged with a different backdrop and climate (am I being silly?) I didn’t want to leave the trees. I hiked about, made dinner, watched the sunset, the stars and had an early night.

I met a few campers, a couple from Germany traveling by RV across the U.S. I ran into them again. Pulling in next to me in her Class C camper another solo woman RVer, she had a dog but it wasn’t with her. She had a space problem, too much stuff. With a small RV everything you take needs a purpose and a place. If you start allowing things to pile up in the aisle or in the kitchen or the bath area, you’re gonna be in trouble. It doesn’t take talent to live and travel in a small space it takes discipline. In the beginning when I started out I’d pack items that SEEMED so useful, even essential only to discover they were in the way. I don’t do that anymore. I rarely need to buy an item on a trip as I know what I’m going want and need and I know where I’ve stored it (most of the time), comes from experience and many hours sorting, eliminating, measuring and like a fine wine, getting the correct balance. You can’t be lazy, everything has its place.  Well you can be lazy, but that’s not my style. I’m happy when my rig is clean, the dogs are safe and there’s a sense of beauty.  I’d wanted to own a B&B, a dog and art friendly one.  It wasn’t possible yet as I travel more and more I know it would have been a perfect security and joy for me.  I don’t “relax” as many do by sitting still, I relax by motion and activity. I’m happiest when my entire day is busy. I do for my dogs what I’d do for my guests, creating a perfect space, fixing problems, cleaning what needs, repairing whatever breaks, organizing, figuring out improvements. I’m happiest making others at ease, being useful and entertaining in little doses. People that come and go are the perfect recipe. During my working days I was best at resolving intractable issues and “herding cats,” as they called it. I’m sure this is due to my past and to my inherent nature. I’m driven to fix things, solve things others say can’t be fixed, or can’t be done.  It’s tough for me to walk away, I’ve learned to, I’ve learned to sit and do nothing…  hey never mind, drifting off to other subjects. Let’s get back to this trip.


A lively Route 66 town and the gateway to the Grand Canyon.

There was a life-size human replica sitting on a chair by one of the stores. He was in motion with his hand moving up and down and looking very real. My 2 larger dogs had to place their heads (one at a time) just where the arm would come down expecting he’d of course pet them. You can image their disdain when he did not!

Early still but plenty of activity.

Love street art!

Next time will do the drive through Bearizona Wildlife Park.  Apparently it’s doable in a small RV with pets as long as one keeps their windows rolled up. “One can view larger North American mammals up-close.” There’s a walk through area as well. I’d think the dogs could stay in the van for that. Website says animals are rescued or rehabilitated. I can only hope it’s a good place for these animals, they seem to run free while the humans come to observe.

Another improvement is to do a bit more research, even if I’m in a hurry there could be things I’d take the time for.

Heading West to California.  That towel is up there on my dashboard because Jeana often likes to get up there when I leave the dogs in the RV on their own. I’ve seen Mason up there too. 


Yep, WINDY, as always. We were warming up a bit from our night in Amarillo. It’s time to have the door seals replaced on the LTV! When it’s cold enough and windy enough it feels like an arctic blast pouring in around the side doors.

Checking out the dam at Santa Rosa Lake State Park, there was a campground here. Didn’t stay.

How do you get a lake in the desert? Build a dam.

I stopped in to see the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa New Mexico on Route 66 halfway between Amarillo and Albuquerque. What was I expecting? It wasn’t what I found, didn’t look like the picture on the Internet or in my mind. Maybe it was the wrong time of year, the entrance gate was closed. No one was there as really there was no reason to be there. There was some water, and it was blue and round. That was it. I thought about taking the dogs over to it but it was windy and cold and the water level at the entrance was low and steep.  It had that deep deep look. I think it’s 60 or 70′ feet down and nearly 200′ with the caves at the bottom.

I was unimpressed with the reservoir, Santa Rosa Lake, probably fine for fishing or boating, likely a nice family outing. It would be quiet and have stars but no view of the lake from the RV sites. Probably wrong time of year although there were a few, a very few campers. In the right circumstances with some warmer or less windy and drier weather it could be fun but it wasn’t it for me. Being alone, if it doesn’t suit my fancy or doesn’t seem right for my dogs I don’t need to stay.

Old Town Albuquerque and the Pawslinger Gang! Hey, guys the snake went that way! 

Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Pawslinger Gang hanging out thinking about their next caper. We were missing our big mamma boss, she was back in Northern Cal.


Gallup NM, Route 66

OK everybody, hold still and it’ll look like we’re part of the street art.

Flying Curls Jeana


Familiar Rest Stops Route 66 Trading Post. The shops here were having clearance sales, at the junction of New Mexico and Arizona, the rest stop is just ahead. There’s a row of  Native American souvenir and gift shops…  touristy.  Up on the hill there are replicas of wildlife. I remember traveling as a family in the 1960’s how thrilling it was to spot REAL animals! Elk, pronghorn antelope, bears, bighorn sheep, bobcats, mountain lions, fox, beaver, javelina, porcupines. All I’ve seen are rabbits, deer, squirrels and of course birds.


We’ve been at this rest stop  too quite a few times lately… approaching Flagstaff.  Flying Curls Jackson.

Road song about traveling west:
Ballad of I-40 West ~ Kevin Brennan and Wavelength ~ original song

Happy. Art Part 3


Thompson Dog Park, Amarillo Texas.  Discovered this off leash dog park as I was wandering the neighborhoods of Amarillo, it’s located within a much larger park. Was super cold and windy so no one was there.  This might have been a good thing as I’ve read unfavorable reviews of crowds and trash. Wonderful park for us! Clean, Texas style big for long long runs and happy sniffing, green and it had a pond.  I did keep diverting the Lagotto’s attention from the water; far too cold for wet dogs.

A so-so night at Amarillo Ranch RV Park. They at first assigned me what could have been the worst site in the park which fortunately they let me change. I don’ know exactly why but it happens with some frequency that I as a woman RV’er alone am shunted into some of the worst spaces in RV Parks. Do they think they have to put me near the bathroom with the lights and people going back and forth or the entrance with lots of traffic, or in their worst space that no “single male” or couple or family would accept?  I do wonder.  Frankly the first space I was assigned should not be a camping spot at all as it was on a busy intersection surrounded with foxtails, bight lights and smack on top of the neighbors in front and to the side; kinda leftover  bit of land that some wise ass said, hey we can put another one in there.  That’s revenue!. I did notice that while they put out the No Vacancy sign they never put anyone in that site. To further this aggravation a single MALE in a 22 foot Sprinter showed up while I was going through the process of being switched which took quite some time; he did not have a reservation either and arrived at nearly an hour after I had,  yet somehow they found him a nice site. What, the park wasn’t full for him?!?! They didn’t put him in my vacated miserable joke of a site?!?!  You can tell I didn’t leave this Park a great review. It was not my style, noisy, crowded, strange layout, but in spite of the super-fierce wind I slept well. The park offered limo trips to the Big Texan Steak Ranch, my Canadian neighbors tried it with the comment, ”it was interesting,” BIG steak. Beef town. They (a mature couple and a cute little dog) in an upscale Class A were using my park site table (the one which should have been mine) since their outdoor TV and entertainment bar was on their opposite side (and they wanted to take up both sides, one for her and one for him I guess) which left me no room.  (They were supposed to use the table on their camp side.) Didn’t matter as it soon started RAINING with the wind and thunder, rock & rolling our rigs so after discussing treacherous driving conditions we all retreated.  Oh that was another reason I wasn’t fond of this place, I asked the ladies who staffed the park for the forecast, and , well, no, they didn’t know anything. Nope, not a clue. REALLY!  After about 10 min one of them gave me the local news station so I could listen to it in the privacy of my RV. Shush… everyone the weather is a SECRET!

Amateur art galleries on Route 66..  artist occupied.

I called ahead and reserved a different RV Park, Oasis, for the next night as  Amarillo was on snow watch! Up ahead was already a blizzard.

On the Route 66 section of town I found something open, it was still very early even after the dog park, comes from waking up at 5 am. Found a mall type building full of amateur galleries occupied on the availability of the artist. I visited the first one open owned by a woman who was married to the curator in charge of the Amarillo Art Museum. She told me how the City of Memphis, I think the Dixon Garden and Museum where the museum had been closed, maybe they were rehanging the pieces, had loaned works from Monet, Degas, Renoir, Sisley, Matisse, Cézanne to the little town of Amarillo. She was very proud of it so of course even though that show had closed I had to check out the museum.

Amarillo Museum of Art.  Dr. and Mrs. William T. Price of Amarillo Asian Art Collection.

It was raining. I love rain. Love exploring. I parked in the student parking lot. According to directions if you’re visiting the museum you do not need a parking sticker on your vehicle. I looked around for the pay machine; what I thought the parking sign said could not be right but there was no way to pay for a parking spot. Logically that meant I could not park there. In California if you can’t pay, it’s no problem you will be given a $50 parking ticket or possibly booted and towed. I closed up the van, lowered the blinds and cracked the windows for the dogs and happily immersed myself in the cool wet windy environs enjoying the sound my shoes made on the wet asphalt and then the brick stairs. I asked if I could park in the lot across the way, Oh yes, I was told as long as I was visiting the gallery, no problem. I stopped myself from asking how it would be determined that the owner of any given vehicle sans parking sticker was in the gallery or not. I did not see a spy.


Texas Panhandle Sunrise

Am running short of time and likely won’t have wifi again for a bit so will have to label the art work later (if anyone checks back) and tell the great story I heard about the Texas Rancher and his daughter who made the Amarillo Art Museum so special….  more wonderful American Art along with international offerings. Suffice to say that although it did not snow with the wind chill factor it was in the low 20’s and biting. the cold came in through the door seams, I had to stuff them and cover them over even with both my little electric heater and the propane heater it was still chilly, but enough to be comfortable especially with a nice hot Tex-Mex fish plate. Going outside for walks!  That was another story but by morning the storm had cleared….  nothing left but the WIND!


….  So may be a delay before the end of this journey is posted…  Off on the road again.

Camping at another KOA in the rain.

I headed south towards I-40 driving briefly though Fayetteville as I wanted to camp at one of the State Parks. Forth Smith was the closest: not only was it SUPER WINDY it was isolated with no Wifi and other than the joy of being blown around if you didn’t have a boat there was not a lot going on. I decided the weather wasn’t right.  I don’t mind being inside my little camper with the dogs on an inclement day but I like to have somewhere to walk during breaks other than sink deep mud, stickers and burs. Soggy gunk automatically transfers into my van hoping for a free ride to California no matter how many paws get wiped. I drove in and out  of local towns, walking with the dogs when the rain and wind allowed. Wound up at a KOA. It was muddy but I managed a spot with some gravel, a view of the fields and masses of colorful birds. Couldn’t do the hiking trails with wading in calf-high mud but the KOA dog park worked out great and afforded a long conversation about “bad” breeders and some tragic tales with another breeder camper. (Please if you breed animals be responsible and if you don’t know what that means, get yourself some fixings for stuffed animals. You can smooch these together in any way you like; stay away from living creatures! Got it?)

This was one of those times when I parked “backwards.” My RV is not quite 20 feet so if the “camp” side (that’s the side with the picnic table where my double side doors open (parked correctly) means that there is not a nice view out the back doors/window, I turn around the other way. Don’t care how many campers watch with amusement as I vie for the right angle. With only one of me this sometimes means backing a little, then getting out to check, going forward, changing angle and doing it over until I’m satisfied.  My power cord is long enough to wrap around from the power side (the side with the RV connections) to reach the campsite power box and water supply.  If I want to use the septic I’ll turn around in the morning before I leave to drain the tanks.

Love waking to a great view and relaxing in the evening to the outer world. I leave my bed (which when retracted is a couch) all the way down or mostly down when traveling with the bed made up with sheets and blankets.  I have a 2″ foam pad  with a 2″ organic wool topper under me, this compresses but is very comfortable. Then a fitted sheet to keep these clean, covered with bed sheets and a blanket.  Over all of this is a fitted soft polyester sheet for keeping dog sand (and mud) out of bed.  If I know we’re going swimming or it’s pouring rain I have a waterproof dog blanket that I can throw on top.

Typically I buy gas at a Truck Stop, this is the truck side; there’s another side for cars and van’s like mine. The prices are always better than commercial gas stations, there is more space, proper windshield cleaning tools, useful amenities including food and showers, and one can rest without being disturbed. A few such at Pilot provide additional gas discounts with a Good Sam card. Alternatively Costco has good prices and other larger chain stores that offer gas stations. This Love’s Truck Stop was just past Oklahoma City. There were truck stops on all 4 corners, both sides of the highways and they were JAMMED PACKED WITH TRUCKS! Red ones, and pink ones, blue ones and silver ones, black ones and white, yellow and purple and on and on and on.

Oklahoma City was a mega shopping mall overlaid with Lego like freeway overpasses. Don’t most people buy things online?  Well, maybe not, what would they put in their pickup trucks?


Nice secure feeling, one can run for the restroom! And so many told me how they were afraid of CA earthquakes. Typical Rest Stop Tornado Shelter! Glad I didn’t have to test this.


I drove all the way through Oklahoma into the Texas Panhandle not stopping till I reached Amarillo. My plan to head south onto highway 9 and leisurely explore had instantly been replaced around 10 am. I was exploring Muskogge, OK, birth place of Carrie Underwood, most everything was closed so that’s when I decided to head south to 9 thinking I’d spend the night somewhere around the river or lake, maybe Lake Eufaula State Park , can’t always avoid “man-made” lakes or perhaps Fountainhead State Park, I tend to be curious and I-40 was too big a road for me.

I had known that hwy 9 just south of me was where the worst of the hail had hit, but that was days ago. It was on my mind. I pulled into the town of Checotah hoping for something open, maybe a coffee or late breakfast. I never got out of the van. The sky went from partially cloudy, a little drizzly to densely clouded, looked like it might flood which is what the posted signs said to watch out for. I pulled over and studied the map. I pulled open my weather app, turned on the radio. Those darn words, DANGEROUS weather conditions…  Oh Shit. That was happening here and hwy 9 was the place to avoid! Even as I sitting and checking on this the sky did something I’d never experienced before. It turned completely BLACK! 10 am and reminiscent of black velvet being spread out on the sky and tucked into the corners. AND IT WAS QUIET. I floored it. Go West Young Woman (hmm …   not so young woman) and Dogs, Go West. No wonder nothing was open. I was the Lone Ranger with the William Tell Overture  This RVgirl kicked her accelerator pedal and off she went. Yeah, the dogs gave me a nasty look when we didn’t get out and walk.

I beat the storm, but is wasn’t far behind me!

Have you any idea how fast such a sky can change and fill with dark clouds, rain and thunder. Can you see how the wind is blowing.

The wind pierces holes in this realm we inhabit as the cold bites inside minuscule channels of my skin.  will the world really hold together?

The reminder of my drive that day was as fast as I could go. Every-time I found sunlight it felt good, but it never lasted long. Along the highway wind turbines and cows.

“Wind power accounted for 12.68% of the electricity generated in Texas in the 12 months ending Oct 2016. …..   created over 24,000 jobs”

This Amarillo Visitor Center is permanently closed but the important stuff is etched on the door.