Bye Bye Carpet, Bye Bye

What’s a traveler to do when stuck at home with no place to go? Jon’s been busy tackling maintenance and renovations on the fifth wheel with dreams of hitting the road again. I’ll let Jon take over from here to tell you about his chore.

Since we are not able to travel right now (due to the pandemic) I decided to finally get rid of the carpet in the Cougar.  The carpet the manufacturer installed looked like it was ten years old after only a few weeks of use, and it was one thing we always hated about the fifth wheel.

The carpeting worked like a magnet, attracting every crumb, piece of sand, pebbles from our shoes, and even Linda’s hair.

Living area before demo

Here’s the area at the foot of the bed, which was so flattened down the vacuum would no longer perk up the carpet strands.

Bedroom before demo

Thirty-seven screws held the dinette in place. Oh, joy.

Dinette partial demo

We wanted to match the existing vinyl flooring as close as possible and this SmartCore Coweta Oak, available at Lowes, was pretty close.

Carpeting stripped and ready for flooring planks

I hoped the manufacturer had installed the original vinyl sheet flooring under the carpet. No luck on that front. The removal of the carpet revealed a bit of a ramp transition I didn’t expect. This was an issue as the vinyl plank required a flat surface. 

Bedroom flooring in process

The room slide also required something to hide the lip that hangs over inside the trailer.

One more flooring strip to go

The solution for both transitions was a “Hide-a-cord” strip along the transition to complete the install. I installed the plank long ways here to avoid making too many cuts, which could have caused the floor to lift.

Bedroom flooring done

As you can see in the photo below, it appears we gained about 18 inches of floor space by getting rid of the carpeting.

Finished living area

The work involved was more than I had thought it would take, but when it was all done, the time it took was worth it. The only place left with carpet in the trailer is the bed area, which is fine because there is less traffic there.

Now all we have to do is wait for the all clear, so we can venture out on the road again.

Stay safe

Winter 2016 Adventure – Big Bend National Park or Bust Part Three

On our way out of town on February 24, 2016, we fueled up at the Shell gas station in Gila Bend. While Jon filled up the tank, I snapped a few photos of these fierce-looking dinosaurs.

I’m bigger than you, so keep on walking

We settled in at Butterfield RV Resort in Benson, Arizona. With a fierce wind forecast, their asphalt roads and pads drew us in. What we weren’t aware of was the railroad tracks only a block away. Because there are several streets the train must cross in town, we heard the whistle tooting softly off in the distance, and then blasting outside our door, before fading out again, repeatedly throughout the night.

The rest of the resort is quite nice, and they even have an observatory on site. The observatory was closed due to the wind on this trip. With park models and plenty of RV sites, the resort is a favorite destination for winter visitors.

Benson, Arizona, sprouted from the desert in 1880 when the Southern Pacific Railroad selected the site to cross the San Pedro River. The town boasts a population of approximately 5,000. With a Safeway, Walmart, and Tractor Supply store, what more could an RVer want?

A twenty-minute drive took us to the Kartchner Caverns State Park. A strict policy to protect the bats living in the cave prevents patrons from bringing in purses, backpacks, or bags of any kind and no photography (thus no photos) or video equipment allowed. Food and drinks, even bottled water, are also banned. They request visitors to stow their belongings in the cars and provide lockers if needed. Caves we have been to in the past are always cold. Not so at Kartchner, where the inside temperature is warm and humid.

The next day we drove to Patagonia, Arizona, and then circled back to Tombstone before heading back to Benson. Founded in 1898, Patagonia incorporated fifty years later in 1948.

Visitor Center has brochures and things to do

The estimated population today is under 1,000 residents. The city draws in their share of tourists each. They come to spend time at the Tucson Audubon Society’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds and the Nature Conservancy’s Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Wildlife Preserve. Other tourist activities include hiking the Arizona Trail, camping and boating at the Patagonia State Park, or shopping and eating in the downtown area.

Come on, let’s shop

We only had time to cruise around the little downtown area and wander in and out of the stores. There wasn’t much activity during our visit, which is fine with us. We like having a place to ourselves.

Look, a restaurant. Let’s eat lunch.

Tombstone, Arizona, is a historic town founded in 1877. It is best known for the OK Corral gunfight on October 26, 1881, with Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers (Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan) pitted against the Clanton-McLaury gang. The lawmen against the cowboys, or you might say, the Republicans against the Democrats.

Gift shops, saloons, and restaurants line three blocks of shaded boardwalks.

For a small fee, visitors are treated to a reenactment of the conflict. I had to drag Jon along to see the show. He’s not impressed with what he calls a “tourist trap” although I thought it was fun. The actors have to eat and put a roof over their heads like everyone else.

Me with Doc Holliday and the Earp boys

We learned that the actual shootout occurred in a vacant lot owned by C. S. Fly, a famous photographer. The lawmen won the battle that famous day, killing Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton, all of whom are buried in the town’s Boothill Graveyard a few miles from the historic part of town.

Mannequins depict the location of the participants as recorded by Wyatt Earp. They’re so close together it’s no wonder three men were killed.

No social distancing for these guys.
Talk about curling toes; these men need a fresh pair of boots

The Schieffelin Hall opened on June 8, 1881. Schieffelin was a surveyor who happened upon a vein of silver ore and subsequently formed the Tombstone Mining and Milling Company with a partner and investors.

It looked like Schieffelin Hall had a recent facelift

Reprints of the Tombstone Epitaph with original reports of the gunfight are available at the newspaper office and museum with the ticket from the gunfight show. John Philip Clum started the newspaper on May 1, 1880. He arrived in Tombstone five months earlier from the East, bringing with him experience as a meteorologist, Apache agent, lawyer, and newspaperman. In 1881, town folks elected Clum mayor. He also served as the postmaster and was the head of the local vigilance committee. For the past 135 years, the newspaper has reported on the people, events, and places of the old west. A subscription today costs only $25.00 a year.

Tombstone Epitaph

During its eight-year heyday, the Bird Cage Theatre earned its reputation as the wildest, wickedest night spot between New Orleans and San Francisco. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the building contains over one hundred and forty bullet holes, and a legend says twenty-six people lost their lives there. Hmmm, I wonder if the Tombstone Epitaph has information that will confirm or dispel the legend.

The haunted Bird Cage Theatre

Gone are the cowboys and prostitutes. Visitors now buy tickets at $25.00 a piece to take a ghost tour of the building and possibly encounter an apparition or two or three.

Hotel and Mercantile
The Crystal Palace

That concludes our time in Benson, Arizona. Next up, we make a quick stop in Las Cruces, New Mexico, before continuing into Texas.

Stay Safe

Winter 2016 Adventure – Big Bend National Park or Bust Part Two

On February 19, 2016, we continued our Winter 2016 tour toward Big Bend National Park, stopping at the Gila Bend KOA in Gila Bend, Arizona, for a few days of poking around. We liked the extra roomy spaces with plenty of room for multiple vehicles. The park was fairly quiet with only a negligible amount of road noise and the soft rumble of trains off in the distance. The friendly neighbors, who had wintered at the park for years, were a bonus. They gave us ideas for things to do.

Hard to beat an Arizona sunset

In need of restocking our pantry and refrigerator, we inquired at the office to find out the best place to shop. The town of Gila Bend once had a regular grocery store, but it had closed. Our choices were the Family Dollar that had a small supply of food or the Mercado De Amigos Carniceria that had mostly meat.

The Butcher & the Farmer in Buckeye, Arizona

Had we known, we would have stopped in Buckeye at the Butcher & The Farmer Marketplace a half-hour north before we arrived. Our grocery shopping curtailed the amount of sightseeing, so we picked a drive to Organ Pipe National Monument and a quick ride to the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site.

Organ Pipe National Monument

Seventy-six miles south on SR 85 from Gila Bend led us to the Kris Eggle Visitor Center. It was well worth the trip to see the Organ Pipe National Monument, and we were glad we had packed lunch because there was no food near the monument.

Our lunch spot along the Ajo Mountain Drive

This, our first visit, introduced us to the east side of the park and the 21-mile Ajo Mountain Drive, which made us fall in love with the area.

Sorry little squirrel, you need to find your own food.
The rock formation reminded us of a dinosaur head

The well-graded gravel road took us through forests of organ pipe cactus, saguaros, and ocotillo.

Organ pipe cactus and saguaros
The organ pipes get huge
Jon taking photos
Not many saguaros with arms in this area

About halfway around the one-way loop road, we stopped at Arch Canyon where visitors can take an easy 1.2-mile round-trip walk into a canyon.

Arch Canyon Trail

Aptly named, the canyon contains several arches, which are difficult to see depending on where the sun shines.

We almost missed the bridge in the bottom third of the photo.

A sign warned the steep hill was a dangerous climb. I went up a little way and carefully scrambled down before I landed on my bottom.

Careful on the slippery rock
Chain cholla
Jumping cholla
Prickly pear
Crested organ pipe cactus
Ocotillo bloom

Interested in learning more about the monument? We’ve stayed in the Twin Peaks campground a couple times since our first visit and have posted descriptions and pictures here and here.

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site

It is about a 30-minute drive east of Gila Bend to the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site and Campground. Visitors will find hundreds of petroglyphs on the jumble of rocks at this ancient archaeological site. There is no potable water at the campground, so plan accordingly when visiting.

Bring your own water, there is none around here

Jon and I took the path to the right around the cluster of rocks and boulders, searching for the petroglyphs. We didn’t see much until we had walked halfway around. I’m glad we took the route we did because when I saw so many petroglyphs, I wasn’t sure where to look. If we only knew the meaning of the etchings, we could learn so much about the culture that lived there thousands of years ago.

Split rock
Travelers from the 1800s left their marks beside the ancient ones
So many petroglyphs

Jon called me over, “Hey, look at this.” I had never seen a lizard so beefy and long before. I didn’t want to get too close.

Common chuckwallas are rock dwellers
There must be a story in there somewhere
Desert Sunflower

That ends our time in Gila Bend, Arizona. We next make brief stops in Benson, Arizona; Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Fort Davis, Texas. Big Bend National Park will come up soon.

Stay safe

Woo-hoo! The Farmers’ Market is Back

Woo-hoo! Pleasanton’s year-round Farmers’ Market opened May 9, 2020. We receive a delivery of vegetables and fruit every other week and supplement our fresh produce with quick trips to the market. But visiting the farmers’ market on Saturday was one of our weekly treats.

One thing I’ve been missing most is the fresh-popped kettle corn. When I heard the news, I planned all week how to keep myself safe. Blue skies and temps in the low 60s made it a perfect day for being outside. I left the house early to arrive before nine, the designated time for oldsters to shop.

Stella loved kettle corn when she came to visit

I pulled on my gloves and face covering, slipped my camera strap around my neck, and crossed the street. Where vendors usually occupied both sides of the street like in the photo below . . .

Will we ever crowd in so close again?

on this Saturday they only covered one side. Instead of the vendors all squished together, there was plenty of space in between. This left plenty of room for lines to form and patrons to pass through. An X inside a circle marked the spot for people to stand while waiting for their turn to make a purchase. I looked to the west . . .

Looks so strange to see all the masks

and then to east but “Eat the Best Kettle Korn’s” blue, screened-in tent was nowhere in sight. They must be around the bend.

People look like they’re dressed to rob a bank

Everyone wore a mask as was the rule. Even the policeman standing watch modeled proper behavior.

The Officer Knight looked like a bandit too

A vendor commented on how strange it was not to offer samples. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do besides stand there and wait for customers. Customers aren’t allowed to pick up the food or squeeze or pinch it to test its ripeness. Do not touch until you buy it.

Oranges and squash all bagged up and ready to go

Usually, there’s a person or several playing music and singing songs. There was no such activity this Saturday. Nor did I smell the aroma of popping corn or hear the corn kernels being stirred around in the metal kettle.

I’ll take a 3-pack, please

I turned the corner where the vendor booths continued the length of the parking lot. My shoulders drooped when I reached the end and realized there’d be no kettle corn for me.

No kettle corn as far as the eye could see

I’ll have to wait a little longer to satisfy my craving for the sweet and salty popcorn. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my 3-pack of red heart strawberries and cartons of blueberries and cherries.

Fruit on a Plate

Although our governor loosened some COVID-19 restrictions this week for local areas that meet certain criteria, our county and the Bay Area do not meet the requirements. We must abide by the more restrictive orders. The only prohibitions the health department loosened this week was for construction, real estate transactions, and some outdoor businesses and activities so long as they follow social distancing protocols.

To the delight of local golfers, the Pleasanton Golf Center at the fairgrounds opened the gates.

Ah, the sound of golf balls being whacked by a club

The familiar thwack, thwack, thwack is back for those who dare, however chipping practice is off-limits temporarily.

No chipping practice for you

That concludes my wrap up of the goings on in Pleasanton. How are things working out in your neck of the world?

Stay Safe

Winter 2016 Adventure – Big Bend National Park or Bust Part One

Today we begin our look back on a trip we took before The Traveling Todd’s blog started. It was February 15, 2016, when we left our home in California with Big Bend National Park as our ultimate destination. Of course, we had to make several stops along the way before we arrived. I invite you to sit back and enjoy the first installment of our adventure. More will come in subsequent weeks.

We pulled into Desert Willows RV Park in Hesperia for our first night. While we contemplated the closed gate that greeted us, someone drove up and ta-da, the gate opened. Setting up in the dark is not something we usually do, but sometimes it’s hard to avoid in the middle of winter. In the morning the hills and mountains iced with snow surprised us, given that the past few days had been quite warm.

Wrightwood topped with snow

The next day we transitioned from Interstate 15 to Interstate 10 going east and made a stop at the General Patton Memorial Museum on Chiriaco Summit.

General Patton Memorial Museum

On November 11, 2018, the museum celebrated its 30th anniversary with the opening of a new exhibit called Chandi West Wing. I guess we’ll have to return someday to check out the displays that tell of Patton’s early years, the Great War, and World War II.

Remembrance walls

Most of the displays we saw were outdoors. They included the Remembrance Walls, the outdoor chapel, and vintage vehicles.

Outdoor chapel
Vintage vehicles all in a row

Jon was most interested in the tanks as he compared them to the ones he drove in Viet Nam.

Handsome hubby

Then on to Blythe, California, for a three-night stay at Riviera RV Resort and Marina where we snagged a spot overlooking the Colorado River.

Plenty of space at Riviera RV

That’s right; we hadn’t left the state yet. We had driven through Blythe before without stopping in the past and wanted to see the area. We’d also heard a lot about Quartzsite, Arizona. It was time to see what all the fuss was about.

Colorado river

Our poking around time came to a halt before it began the next day. Jon noticed a separation on the front right tire. We were thankful it didn’t blow out the previous day. A Goodyear store in Blythe was not a “true” Goodyear store and was no help. Our closest option was Yuma. The hour and a half drive there and back and the two hours waiting for the new tire took up most of the day.

It turned out there wasn’t much to interest us in Blythe. At least we got to spend some time in Quartzsite and the surrounding area the next day. While looking for the Bouse Fisherman (didn’t see it), a cholla attacked Jon’s pants and wouldn’t let go.

Never found this work of art
Steer clear of the cholla, they jump

We saw a naked man at a bookstore and bought a couple books from the old cowboy sitting out front. The naked man was Paul Winer, who passed away on May 7, 2019. He was the owner of Reader’s Oasis Books in Quartzsite and also known as Sweet Pie, a boogie-woogie piano musician. I was glad to see the bookstore is still open when I checked their page on the internet.

Who is that hiding in the shade?
See anything you can’t live without?

Another attraction in Quartzsite is the Hi Jolly Monument—built in 1934—that honors the first Arab Muslim immigrant to the US. He arrived in the states by invitation of the US military thanks to Jefferson Davis, secretary of war. Around 1848 at the end of the Mexican-American War, Davis persuaded Congress to approve $30,000 for a US Camel Corps.

Hi Jolly Monument

Hadji Ali, nicknamed Hi Jolly, was the lead camel driver for the experiment to use camels in the dry western deserts. The plan failed because the camels caused Army’s burros, horses, and mules to panic, and Congress did not continue funding because of the American Civil war.

Quartzsite cemetary

Besides the nickname Hi Jolly, Ali had two official names over his lifetime. He gave up his given name, Philip Tedrow, when he converted to Islam and became Hadji Ali. He returned to Philip Tedrow when he married. In his later years, Ali eventually settled in Quartzsite where he was buried in the town’s cemetery in 1902.

We also drove around the desert and marveled at the saguaro along the road.

I see you
Framed by saguaros
Watch out, the Ocotillo have thorns

Next up we spend a few days in Gila Bend, Arizona, and visit Organ Pipe National Monument for the first time.

Stay Safe

A Walk in the Park: Business Park, that is

Bernal Corporate Park sign overlooks Interstate 680

I was all set to write my next post detailing our 2016 travel adventure that took us to Big Bend National Park in Texas. Then I took a walk. It felt good to get out of the house and enjoy the feel of the sun on my arms, hear birds singing in the trees, and smell the fresh-mown grass and blooming flowers. I walked the half mile to Bernal Corporate Park where there is a concrete path that surrounds the park.

The first thing I see is a spiky green ball hanging from a tree. I wondered what it was while I snapped a photo.

Is this a conker or horse chestnut?

New growth on a redwood tree looked interesting too.

Future redwood limbs

I’m not sure what these long strands are in the photo below. They sort of look like Brussels sprouts stalks, except the balls look soft. Perhaps they turn into flowers. Although I’ve walked this path many times, I never once remember seeing these and the spiky balls.

Does anyone know what these strings are?

I often see co-workers out for exercise or otherwise engaged in a confab between two or more whenever I walk the path. This was Saturday, a day off for most. Except around these buildings, Saturday is usually still bustling with employees. This day I only saw people out for a leisurely walk, walking their dogs, or running.

Exercise equipment and benches for resting along the path
Flowering trees line the path
Cars usually pack Interstate 680 even on Saturdays. Not this day.
Reflections in the windows
Snapdragons and pansies, my favorites

In the photo below, water used to flow over the bricks into a pool at the base of the metal structure. It was turned off during the drought and never turned back on.

Art in the park

The sound of water flowing drew my attention to a courtyard. Water rushed over these two obelisks and splattered into a pool. Benches, tables under a cabana, and a full kitchen including a bar with taps would be a great place to hold a party. For employees who prefer working outdoors, there are even power towers, some of which include both USB connections and electric sockets.

Courtyard for relaxation and fun
Fully equipped outdoor kitchen
Plug in and charge away
Lillies in the grass

Need to work on your putting skills? Head out to the putting green in the courtyard.

Putting green

I can envision people gathered around the fireplace on cooler days and nights. I wonder if they have marshmallow sticks to use.

Got marshmallows?

The Pear Tree Café is closed temporarily. I never knew the restaurant was there. I must try it when they reopen. The photo of the Ahi Poke Bowl on their Factbook page looked like a delicious choice.

Hope Pear Tree Cafe reopens

There are charging stations for the electric vehicles that are so popular in the Bay Area. I’ve heard that nature is taking over since humans are stuck in their homes. It looks like spiders have already taken over after only forty days.

Spiders take over the world

As I worked my way back home, I saw this woman and her husband riding minibikes around the empty parking lots. The huge smile on her face told me she was having great fun. This is one way Pleasantonians can enjoy themselves when everything else is closed. I wished I could have joined them.

Hey, can I have a ride?

Below is a picture of my favorite part of the park. Meandering between buildings, a path follows a creek under mature shade trees. I always wished I could have had my office overlooking the creek when I was still working. It’s always a few degrees cooler there and refreshing to walk through after a power walk. I crept up on this gaggle of geese pecking around in the grass searching for food. Too bad I didn’t have my Sony with the zoom lens.

A gaggle of geese

Across the street from the business park, the Alameda County Fairgrounds and Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare prepares for the April 27, 2020, opening of a COVID-19 testing site scheduled to operate through June 27.

Testing anyone?

The building below is the off-track betting facility operated by the fairgrounds. Parking near the building is reserved for the facility. Out by where I took the photo, commuters use the lot to park their cars, then board a bus to ride across the bay to their workplaces. During the week cars fill the lot to overflowing into adjacent gravel lots. There are days the freeway crawls with semis and vehicles to the point it barely moves. I can’t imagine how bad it would be with the additional cars that fill these lots. For now, while most employees are working from home, the lot is empty.

Park and ride the bus from the off-track betting facility

On most Saturdays golfers sometimes have to wait for a spot at the driving range and a constant thwack, thwack, thwack can be heard. Unfortunately, the county health department classified golf as a nonessential activity during the shelter-at-home restrictions. I’m sure many people disagree with the classification and are jonesing to whack a bucket of balls for an hour or two.

No golfers at driving range during the lockdown

Energized from my walk and with a phone filled with fresh photos, I hurried home to write up this post to share. The 2016 Big Bend trip can hold for another week. Of course, there’s always the chance something else shiny and new will capture my attention.

Stay Safe

Riverside, California, Mt. Rubidoux, and Tio’s Tacos

Gale force winds woke us early on February 10, 2020. Driving during a wind warning is not our idea of fun, but it was moving day. We had reservations at Rancho Jurupa Regional Park and Campground for four nights, so we packed up and headed out.

Spot 213

We were glad we tried this park. The spaces were wide, surrounded by green grass, and quiet. Instead of a noisy freeway like we had in San Diego, we heard birds singing in the trees and small aircraft flying overhead. I think this park is going to become our place to stay when visiting the Inland Empire in the future.

Crane scouting for food

The park includes two fishing lakes, cabins, and unobstructed views of the sunset and Mt. Rubidoux each evening. And the gnarly tree limbs were perfect subjects to photograph.

“Walk away, then. I’ll wait here.”

Perfect place for a barbecue and picnic near the lake

Mud hens having fun

Playground for the little ones

A trail to where

Horse and rider

Line of trees leads to Mt. Rubidoux

Goodbye sun

Our friends Suzie and Dan Bloomer came to visit one day, so we drove over to Mt. Rubidoux to get a good view of the valley from the top of the mountain. There is an easy trail and a steeper trail. We chose the easy trail up and came down the steeper trail.

Prickly pear garden

The Peace Tower and Friendship Bridge is a popular landmark built in 1925 to honor Frank A. Miller for his vision of the mountain and his ideals of International Friendship and World Peace.

Peace Tower and Friendship Bridge—the guy in the red shirt under the bridge is Dan

The cross and tablet at the summit was erected in 1907 to honor Father Junipero Serra who is thought to have traveled through the valley and rested at Rubidoux Rancho. Americans United for Separation of Church and State objected to the cross on city property and threatened a lawsuit to have it removed. To avoid the legal tussle, a group formed to raise money to purchase the top of the mountain and the .43 acres beneath it. They raised enough money to purchase the land and provide an endowment, the interest from which is used to manage and maintain the property.

Cross at the top of the mountain

Sunrise services have been held on Easter at the top of the mountain since 1909. However, due to the California and local COVID-19 restrictions in place, the service has been canceled for April 12, 2020. The top of the mountain is also used for July 4 fireworks. Let’s hope and pray for lifted restrictions by then.

View northwest from Mt. Rubidoux

View south from Mt. Rubidoux

View mostly east from Mt. Rubidoux with what I believe is the San Jacinto Mountains in the background

The trek up and down Mt. Rubidoux triggered hunger in our bellies so off to Tio’s Tacos for lunch. Opened in 1990, Tio’s has become another landmark in Riverside.

Tio’s Taco entrance

The owner, Martin Sanchez, is the creator of the funky art pieces that populate the half-acre of unique gardens. All of the pieces were created from recycled objects once relegated to the fate of landfills.

Dressed in plastic dolls

Roof acrobats

Suzie sprouted angel wings

Craft project: Shape a roll of chicken wire, fill it with plastic bottles, and presto change-o, a work of art

Mission bell, flags, and lights

We definitely want to come back and explore Riverside in more depth. We hear the Mission Inn went through a recent renovation, and I’d like to check out the mission-style architecture in the area.

Next up is Pismo Beach which was the last stop on our Winter 2020 tour.

Wishing everyone health and well being in these trying times as we hunker down the best we can and avoid traveling too far afield.

Stay safe