Sunday, January 6, 2019

SW Colorado on Two Wheels

BMW Motorcycle Rallies have a special place in my heart.  Paonia Colorado has a strong relationship with the BMW Clubs out of Denver and Colorado Springs.  Each year I go to Paonia to put a tent up in the City Park, visit with friends and talk motorcycle.  The Paonia Rally is special since it is a gathering of Colorado and New Mexico friends.  Where else can one live like a homeless person and go on wine tasting excursions.  I have ridden BMW's since 1978 although I am currently between BMW's having purchased an Austrian made motorcycle.  I did meet a couple who had recently retired and were touring the summer aboard a big BMW pulling a camping trailer.  They were going from rally to rally all summer. 

The owner of this very beautiful car gave up motorcycles but not the rally.  We rescued a lost dog up on Grand Mesa and got it connected to its owner.  The other riders are parked behind his car.  We cross over Grand Mesa until we reach I-70 and then turn around and do it again.  We usually score lunch on the return side.
This is my KTM, packed and ready to go 500 miles to the rally.  Amazing when you think you can pack your house, bed, extra clothes etc., on this beast.  I even have a cot, featured in this blog in another writeup, that I picked up from REI and is smaller than my old pad.  I strap a chair on the back as well.  My girl Ariel is seeing me off.

I tried to post this video to highlight the rider slums at the rally.  Apparently videos are not welcome the way I formatted it.  It does give you an idea how we spend four days with the beer tent nearby, nightly music and great company.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

San Angelo/Kerrville Texas 2018

This whole trip started due to a missed motorcycle rally in Kerrville Texas and we figured if was good enough for BMW Riders it must be worth the visit.  It was mid Spring and we were having decent weather so why not take the trip. We had accomplished some yard work raising the wall in our backyard and other things.  It would be good to take the rig out for a seasonal shakedown.  We left Rio Rancho with the goal of overnighting in Roswell NM.  We were excited and the road passed beneath us quickly.  Since it was before Memorial Day I figured most campgrounds would be empty and we could just pull in and be out early the next day.  We pulled into Roswell with just six miles remaining in the tank and refueled.  I remembered passing the Gas Station in Ft Sumner thinking about Billy the Kid and how he was buried there and just how much history there is in the area.  Carol began calling campgrounds so we could spend the night.  Considering we have two large dogs and a cat it seemed important to be in a place to spread out.  Despite our best efforts no campgrounds had space and we ended up in a motel for the night.  Seems there is an energy boom in that region so housing is an issue due to so many people relocating there suddenly.  My only thoughts about this are that you cannot go too far wrong with a 36 foot suitcase.  Our stay was uneventful other than one complaint about a barking dog.  We left mid morning and began our trek into West Texas in an area I have never been in.  The further East we went the more desolate it became as Texas is a big State but we did refuel in a timely manner.  We decided to go to the San Angelo KOA for the night.  The name San Angelo conjured visions of Clint Eastwood walking down a dusty road in one of his early Spaghetti Westerns.  Upon arriving we found a modern oasis with a lake, an Air Force Base, a University of Texas campus and a wonderful riverwalk along the Concho River.  The KOA had a very cool dog park and very nice sites.  Carol and I decided to stay longer especially in light of the plumbing problem.

Every trip has a fail, with some fails being worse than others and some just being absurd.  This little plastic part featured below embodies the term fail with a capital F.  I had installed a Kohler faucet in the kitchen of the RV.  It is a sexy faucet that detaches to clean the vegetables and such.  The heart and soul of the faucet lied under the sink attached to the incoming water line.  The attachment was through a plastic part as seen here.  Plumbers in the old days used copper lines and a bit more complex methods to connect waterlines.  Kohler in all its brilliance, and I guess other manufacturers as well,  decided to use plastic connectors.  Cheaper, quicker and did I say cheaper!  We arrived at our campsite, got all the utilities hooked up and promptly had a flood due to a broken plastic part as shown.  I climbed under the sink, realized the problem and figured a trip to Lowes or Home Depot would result in a quick fix.  The plumbing guys at the big box stores stared at the part and said to call this private plumber.  I called the gentleman and sent him a picture via text.  He responded he did not have the part and suggested we contact Fast Faucet in Chicago.  In the meantime we had to take cold showers and do the dishes in the shower or hike over to the KOA showers.  I called Kohler for the part and was told they had none in the States but a shipment might come in soon.  I figure it is pretty lame to put a part out as OEM and then not back it up in a Country as big as ours.  We kept trying to contact Fast Faucet but would either get no answer or a busy signal.  I also had their email which they did not reply to.  A couple days later I was calling Fast Faucet and they answered the phone.  I genuflected as best as possible, provided the information and then was asked how to ship it.  The part was $6.00 and the overnight shipping was $65.00 but we did get the part the next day.

San Angelo has an old town area near Fort Concho and has about 100,000 people which certainly did not fit my Eastwood vision.  We went to the visitors center and were impressed with this little community.  It would seem if one wanted to retire to a mild, low crime city this could be it.  In New Mexico we have a lot of broken glass on our roadsides as well as graffiti.  We did not see any of that in this little town and it has a gem from the past, Fort Concho.  The Fort was established in 1867 and closed in 1889.  Trees were not abundant in the area so construction was of Limestone which has preserved the Fort to this day.  The Fort housed the 4th Calvary and the 10th Calvary.  The 10th is known for having the feared and respected Buffalo Soldiers.  Other units were billeted there but these are the most notable.  In 1867 Texas was just emerging from Confederate governance, Mexico was under French control and Native as well as Mexican intrusions on ranchers were of concern.  The French left Mexico as Fort Concho was being built and the Union presence in Texas grew reducing concerns about the remnants of the Confederacy.  Fort Concho provided a good economy for San Angelo and the Fortt provided medical care since it was the only facility in the area.  The Fort Concho Museum bought what was left of the Fort in 1964.  I think the most fascinating part of the Fort was looking into the barracks.  It reminded me of my soldier days 100 years later with an Airborne Unit.  Open bay with footlockers and barracks NCO Quarters at the entrance to the barracks.  James T. Matthews wrote an awesome book titled Fort Concho, Copyright 2005 by the Texas State Historical Association.  I would encourage folks to visit to get more information and times of reenactments.

I believe this uniform was for an Army Medic.

The Lady in the above picture was not a soldier or camp follower but none other than my beloved Carol.

Termites and fire ruined this Officer Quarters and awaits being rebuilt.
Below is a view of the Parade Field, on the left was the enlisted billeting and on the right was Officers Housing.  The far end had the Administration/Headquarters Building, Hospital and School/Chapel.


Kerrville was settled by Joshua Brown in 1848 and named Brownsborough.  It was renamed Kerrsville after Major James Kerr, a veteran of the Texas Revolution, in 1856.  The s was dropped making it Kerrville.  I had an interest in this spot as there is an early season BMW Motorcycle Rally there which I missed.  Exploring the area I can see why those riders rally there.  Lots of hills and curves making for good motorcycle territory and pretty.  We stayed at the Buckhorn RV Resort which has paved roads, cemented slabs to park on and grass.  It also has a great dog park.  This park has a gated area where folks can lease land for 30 years and have a permanent spot to park their RV and live full time in.  I checked on this but found it to be just above my pay grade.  It is beautiful over there but...
We drove around Kerrville visiting the Shriners Park and going over to Fredericksburg to have a beer and play tourist.  On the way to Kerrville we had a blow out in Menard.  The tires on my fifth wheel were 3 years old and properly inflated, I am OCD about this plus I have a Tire Pressure Monitor.  We called Roadside Assistance and replaced the tire and it was sort of fun just to pull off and watch the coming and going of people.  I thought I had more pictures of the area but they seem to be missing.  If I find them under another file I will post them.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

 Picacho Peak Park 2016-2017 was quite a year.  We were busy with the Park being full from Christmas forward, no matter the weather.  I guess the improved economy and major shifts in the RV community with more younger people becoming RVers brought them in record numbers.  The Newspaper speaks to one of numerous rescues required during the course of our stay there.
                                                                                      Just prior to our leaving Picacho Peak the Civil War Reenactment was done.  2017 proved to be the last one as the State of Arizona refused to host it any longer.  A very sad loss as local and away participants would come and live as soldiers from 1860's.  Their uniforms were very authentic down to the buttons and weave.  The cannons would echo off the Peak and it sounded like the real deal.

 Dale and Julie came and spent a few days with us.  It is always good to see them and they did come last year as well.  We are visiting the site where Tom Mix died.  So much history in Arizona.
 We had a sweet younger couple volunteer to work with the Park.  Briefly their history was they were in the Navy together and had been briefly married 20 years ago.  They divorced, lost contact with each other and then less than a year before their time at Picacho they ran across each other on Facebook.  They hooked up and fell back in love.  She sold her house, quit her teaching job and joined him on the road working as a volunteer.  They decided to marry at Picacho and it was a beautiful ceremony.  Our wedding gift to them was to work their shift the next day which ended up being the busiest day we had seen!

Our time at Picacho ended and Volunteers are honored for their service and hours.  Carolin, shown in the yellow shirt was the number 2 Ranger and has gone on to be number 1 due to the retirement of Rob.  In the second frame Bill and Michele are pictured.  They are Mainers and we did get to visit them in Maine this past year.  Our volunteer work at Picacho Peak was an awesome experience. It was fun working with new people, gathering around campfires and sharing the experience.  This is the good part of the RV experience.

We left Picacho Peak and headed West to the Colorado River.  It was here Grey Lady swam across the river, becoming a mere dot, and on into California.  We spent four days there and loved every minute of it.  The beach was open and the dogs were able to run freely on the beach.  After almost a half of a year of living in the desert a large body of water was just too tempting for Grey Lady!  Our travels took us North to Laughlin and Bullhead City where Jenny, my niece lives.  She was happy to see us and gotta say we had a great time.

Sadly leaving Laughlin and Jenny we went to Williams Arizona.  Williams is 6775 above sea level, or 1700 feet higher than Albuquerque and about 4000 feet higher than Tucson.  In early April it is cold and remained as such to these lowlanders.  We did hop a train to the Grand Canyon for the day and managed to be faux robbed along the way.  We chose first class for the morning and then went to tourist class for the return.  The monetary savings was excellent plus breakfast was provided and as you can see the views were awesome.

Returning home we were reunited with our toys and I built a fire in the backyard to celebrate coming home.  The dogs are so funny as when we first walk in the house they become very excited, running over to their beds and jumping around.  Sometimes the best part of leaving home is coming home I guess.

On a more serious note I rode up to Sipapu and looked over a fire that had burned down the cabin our group has stayed in for the past twenty or more years.  I guess some lady skier became so intoxicated she passed out setting the fire.  I spoke with the owner who was justifiably angry.  It has not been rebuilt and sadly I did not go this past year.

Carol got a car.  We found a little Chevy.  That little car is loaded with technology and even has a turbo.  It is a fun car to drive.

What can I say, hail!

Vietnam Memorial in Angel Fire NM

Getting ready for a ride on the Great Pumpkin

Kicking back in the backyard.

This item is a backpackers cot.  I had been sleeping on the pad, the orange mat pictured, for years.  Perhaps back to the 70's, I am not certain.  I went over to REI to explore sleep systems I could use for motorcycle camping when I go to rallies.  Enter the Helinox cot pictured below.  It works, no rocks, no holes, no lumps, just 4 inches off the ground and comfortable.

4th of July which Carol and I enjoy.  I even have my special 4th hat with faux hair.

Visiting Paonia Colorado for a motorcycle rally lends itself to the unexpected.  This aircraft was parked just off the street sans wings.  It is a curiosity that cannot be overlooked.

This puppy reflects big hearts.  We ride fast on the Grand Mesa having a ball doing what we do.  On the way back this pup popped out on the side of the road.  I stopped and Jim stopped with his car and we coaxed the little guy into his car.  We dropped his off at the local shelter and kept trying to reach the owner by the telephone number on one of his tags.  Jim got the person and the pup was returned to its home.  On the same ride a picture of Bob, Mark and Jim.  Jim drives his car at rallies but the rest of us motorcycle.

My mother fell about the time we returned to Rio Rancho and I assisted in getting her to the ER and later into Rehab.  That whole mess ended up in a very serious split in my family where we are no longer talking.  Prior to the split we were visiting mother in the hospital.  When we went to leave there was a puddle of water left by the janitor which Carol slipped on breaking her wrist.  It resulted in surgery and about a year of healing although she still has issues with it.