May 19 2014

The Blog Has Moved

Published by under 2010 Travels

You can now find our blog at the following link:

 

blog.richardlafferty.com

 

 

Comments Off

Mar 13 2014

Tombstone

Published by under 2014

Yesterday we drove to Tombstone for the afternoon.  I don’t remember being there since sometime in the early 60′s with the family.  They call themselves “The town too tough to die” which it appears they still are.  There were a fair number of tourists wandering the streets and shops,

I seem to remember that they used to stage reenactments of the shootout at the OK Corral right on the main street in town, but it is now held in a separate location where you have to pay to watch it.  It’s kind of like the Old Tucson set.  There are guys dressed in period outfits all over town trying to get you to go see the show.  There’s also the OK Corral itself, (which you have to pay to visit) and the Birdcage Saloon, (which you have to pay to visit) and some other historic buildings, including one with real “ghosts”,  (which you have to pay to visit).  I think you get the picture.  Every building is either a shop selling tourist trinkets or someplace you have to pay to see.

We wandered the streets and read all the signs explaining what each building was, but we didn’t visit a single shop.  I guess we’ve just seen too many tourist traps like these in our travels.  We did  shell out $5 apiece to visit the Tombstone State Historical Park in the old courthouse.  It is now a museum and quite well done.  It has displays and artifacts explaining the history of the town and Southeastern Arizona.

We also made the obligatory stop at the Boot Heel Cemetery.  It is owned by the city and is free, but you can only enter and leave through the gift shop of course.  Almost all the headstones have been replaced with standard sized and freshly painted boards that I suspect bear little resemblance to their originals.  Still, it is a real cemetery, and the people whose names are on the markers are actually buried there, even if it did feel like Disney built it.

It was a simple and inexpensive outing, only an hour from Tucson, and we learned something about the town and area.  Still, I wonder what the future holds for them long term?  My generation grew up with cowboys, Indians and outlaws from the old west on TV.  There were more westerns on TV than cartoons, and not just on Saturday mornings.  Westerns made up a good portion of the prime time shows as well.  But that changed with my kids, and the subsequent generations.  I venture to say that very few kids today have ever heard of  ”the shootout at the OK Corral”.  Although it is spring break this week, and we did see a few families in town, the vast majority of visitors were our age.  That can’t bode well for “the town too tough to die.”

 

4 responses so far

Mar 08 2014

Organ Pipe National Monument

Published by under 2014

In an attempt to follow up on my recent return to blogging, here’s another post already! Will wonders never cease?

After dropping off Dale at Colossal Cave for his continuing journey on the AZT, we moved out to a boondocking location about 2 miles south of Why. One really does need to ask why. There are a few houses, a gas station, a cafe, a couple RV parks and lots of Border Patrol agents. There’s not much else.

On Thursday we drove about 15 miles south to the Visitor Center at Organ Pipe. We watched the 15 minute movie, took the very short nature walk, and then took the 21 mile loop dirt road around Ajo Mountain.  Some of the road was in pretty good condition but there were places a Jeep would have been a better choice than a Lexus.

We stopped about half way around and took a 2 mile hike up Arch Canyon.  There is a double arch, one above the other, that is very interesting to see.  On the loop we saw plenty of organ pipe cactus.  This is the only place they exist in the US but they do grow further south into Mexico.  Although the arms look a lot like a Saguaro, they have a very different internal structure.   Instead of the wood ribs that form the trunk of the saguaro, the organ pipe has a single wood like shaft in the center.  It’s quite large in comparison to the ribs of the saguaro.  They appear to be up to 3 or 4 inches in diameter.

Friday we drove about 20 miles up the road to Ajo.  It was built as a mining town in the early 1900′s and is architecturally interesting.  There is a central plaza that reminds me of Santa Fe, and the old school, which is now an apartment building workshop space for artists, is also interesting.  The entire Ajo area is dwarfed by the huge piles of tailing from the mine and smelter.  We drove up to the open pit lookout but it was closed.  Nonetheless, we were able to see almost all the way to the bottom from another vantage point.  It is one huge hole.  The mine closed down in 1985 but the town seems to be going relatively strong.

Today we moved back to Tucson and are staying at the Pima County Fairgrounds.  We plan to be here about a week before returning to Mesa.

4 responses so far

Feb 27 2014

What Have We Been Up To?

Published by under 2014

It appears that some regular readers think we are overdue for an update.  Perhaps.  It’s just that we typically post about new adventures, and most of what we have been doing for the past few months is just living our normal lives.  While our lives may seem like an adventure to some, when you have been full time RV’ers for nearly 15 years it’s just business as usual.

After our Blue Ridge trip in late September we spent a couple weeks in early October travelling to Elkhart, Indiana where we had some maintenance work done on our trailer.  The suspension system was worn out so we had the manufacturer  replace most of the main components with new and upgraded parts.  It is also the center of the RV industry in the country.  We visited the RV Hall of Fame and Museum and generally enjoyed our time there.  The weather was nice and we were able to see most everything by motorcycle.

Elkhart is Amish country and we enjoyed visiting the sites and eating good food.  We arrived just in time to visit two “floral quilts”.  They are created from pots of mums which are arranged in quilt designs.  They were most impressive and very lovely.   We celebrated our 45th anniversary by going out to dinner and seeing a play, “Annie Get Your Gun”.

We then returned to Tennessee and stayed until after Thanksgiving.  It was the first time we have spent Thanksgiving with Darin and his family in a long time.  We really enjoyed our time with them last summer.  It was fun (and a lot of hard work) working with Darin and Diane as we whipped their new house into shape.  They now have a very nice place to call home for many years.

The day after Thanksgiving we left for Texas to spend Christmas with Dayna’s family.  It was nice as always, but you can keep North Texas weather in December.  Snow and ice storms are not fun.

After spending New Years with the Jennings, we made our way to Arizona to spend the rest of the winter.   We spent a few days in Mesa visiting Mom before moving to Quartzsite for a couple weeks.  Dale went with us and watched our trailer for a couple days while we went to California to see Greg and Tina who were visiting from India.  Greg now works for a company in Chennai, India.  We had a chance to see Marie and Adam’s twins who were born on April 1, 2013, as well as the rest of Dianna’s Southern California family.  My brother Don was making a trip to Wisconsin that weekend so we were not able to meet up with him at the time.

We spent several days in Quartzsite before moving down to Yuma for a couple weeks.  We did some hiking and also visited the old Territorial Prison.  After that it was back to Mesa for another 14 days, and then to Tucson where we are now.  We are staying in a boondocking area known as Snyder Hill.  It is just off the Ajo Highway near Ryan Field.

Dale rode with us to Tucson but the next day we took him to the beginning of the Arizona Trail near Sierra Vista.  He’s hiking part of the trail this spring.  You can read more details about his adventure on his blog.

While here we have visited the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum which is always interesting.  We also made a trip to Kitt Peak.  There are many more telescopes up there than the last time we visited.  It was a pretty cold ride by the time we got to the top of the mountain, but we were prepared for it.

We made a short, quick trip to Albuquerque last Sunday and Monday to attend the memorial service for Joyce Stepp.  She was the wife of our pastor in Edgewood and a dear friend.

Since our return we have made a trip to Saguaro National Park where we hiked to see several petroglyphs and then rode around the Tucson Mountains, coming back down Sliverbell and over Gates Pass.  Tucson has changed so much since I grew up here that things are hard to recognize.  In addition to good conditions for growing cactus, Tucson obviously also has good conditions for growing houses (you wouldn’t believe Marana today) because they have sprung up everywhere.  I think the only thing that has not changed in the past, nearly 50 years is the roads.  It appears that they have not been repaved or maintained since then because they are some of the worst we have run into anywhere.  It is a big contrast with the roads in the Phoenix area.

There you have it.  You’re all up to date.  We plan to see a few more things while we are here this time, and then will probably head out to Ajo and Why for a few days before returning to Mesa.  We do have plans to make another trip to California at the end of March for the twins’ (Sydney and Noah) first birthday party.  After that we have made tentative plans to spend the summer volunteering for the Forest Service in the mountains north of  Payson, AZ.

 

3 responses so far

Sep 25 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway – Days 6 and 7

Published by under 2013

We waited for the rush hour traffic to die down somewhat and then rode the 10 miles to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport.  That seems like a strange name for what should be called the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Annex, but when you donate $65 million dollars to its development, they name it after you.  The facility downtown on the mall is stuffed to capacity, and the Smithsonian had many large pieces they could not display, hence the new facility.  Dianna was a trouper but it wasn’t really her cup of tea, nonetheless we saw some very impressive things among the hundreds of aircraft and other displays.  The highlights were the SR-71 that flew from Los Angeles to Washington in 1 hour and 4 minutes at an average speed of over 2,250 MPH, the Enola Gay B-29 bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, a Concord, one of the first Boeing 707′s,  and the Space Shuttle Discovery.  It was particularly interesting to see the shuttle close up.  It’s much larger than I thought.

 

 

After eating lunch at the McDonalds which serves as their cafe (no dollar menu), we rode down the interstate another 8 miles to the parking lot at the end of the Metro Orange Line.  It was an easy subway ride into town where we exited at the Smithsonian stop near the Washington Monument.  Dianna had wanted to visit the monument, but the damage from the earthquake in 2011 has still not been repaired.  It is completely encased in scaffolding and you can’t get close.

The first place we went was to the WW II memorial.  It is located at the other end of the reflecting pool from the Lincoln Memorial and was built since the last time I was here.  We both considered it as a way to honor our Dad’s who served.  It is nicely done and we enjoyed it.  We both spent some time thinking about our Dads.

 

 

 

We then walked the length of the reflecting pool and made my usual pilgrimage to the Vietnam Memorial.  Iam not moved as I was the first few times I went there, but it’s still something I feel I need to do.  We then visited the Lincoln Memorial, which I always find moving, the Korean War Memorial which I’m not impressed with, and finally the Martin Luther King Memorial.  I had not read much about the MLK Memorial, but it was nicely done.

By then it was after six PM so we hoped we would miss most of the rush hour crush on the Metro.  We didn’t.  It was standing room only most of the way, but we were lucky and each found seats, just not together.  Our feet and legs were tired from all the walking.  DC is a big place and nothing is close.

The scooter was waiting for us at the motorcycle parking area near the entrance to the station, and we found we didn’t even have to pay for parking with it.  Another benefit of the two wheel world.  The ride back to our hotel in Manassas was slow for a while, but finally the traffic broke up and we zipped along, stopping a mile or so from the hotel for pizza before the day ended.

This morning we saddled up and hit the interstates.  Rather than take the long, slow way back to Cleveland, we are doing it the quick way.  We rode 300 miles today and will be home tomorrow afternoon with only about 260 to go.  We rode the length of the Shenandoah Valley today, looking up to our left at the Blue Ridge where we rode just a couple days ago.  The weather was clear to start but became cloudy as we rode south, and we hit rain just 20 miles or so from Wytheville, VA where we are spending the night.  We’re in the same hotel, and the same room that we stayed in on day 3.  The hot tub felt real good.

This will likely be the final post on this adventure.  Tomorrow it is more interstate down through Knoxville and on to Cleveland.  This has been fun, even with the rain, and we’ve seen some beautiful scenery,  interesting sights, and moving memorials.

5 responses so far

Sep 23 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway – Day Five

Published by under 2013

BRRRR!! Except for the last hour of our ride the temperature didn’t get above 55 all day! Richard might have had his cold weather gear but I didn’t and I was a block of ice all day. (I’m still thawing out!)

Our first and only stop (besides Visitor Centers and any place we could get in out of the cold for awhile) was at a farm exhibit. It had the same buildings as the Beringer Cabin (main cabin, spring house and root cellar) plus a small barn, chicken coop and a peg pig pen (so constructed to keep the bears out). There were furnishings in the cabin and a docent to describe things in it as well as what life was like in the late 19th century. It was very interesting to see how my ancestors and others lived. The people were poor Appalachian mountain folk and they had to provide everything for themselves.

Mountain land was far less expensive than valley land and (mostly) poor Presbyterian Scots-Irish settled the area. My Knox ancestors were of that descent and they settled in VA and then NC before moving west.

We ate lunch in Waynesboro at the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We then continued our ride, entering the 105 mile long Skyline Drive which goes through Shenandoah National Park. The biggest differences between Skyline Drive and the BR Pkwy are there are no farms, churches or cemeteries to dot the landscape and the speed limit is only 35 instead of 45. We had many wonderful views at “lookouts” of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley during the afternoon.

One stop we made was at a camp store which is at the 900 mile mark of the north-bound Appalachian Trail. (Dale hiked through there on June 17 of last year.) We visited with the proprietor who regaled us with stories. He was a marathon runner and one of his stories was that he and other marathon runner friends completed the AT in just 72 days in 1968! He said, had they known there’s a race to see how quickly one can finish the trail, they would have done it in far less time.

We finally completed our journey along the Blue Ridge and Skyline Drive and dropped into Front Royal, VA around 5pm. We drove 45 miles east toward Washington, DC and are spending the night in Manassas.

One response so far

Sep 22 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway – Day 4

Published by under 2013

The rain moved through and we awoke to patchy clouds but much colder temperatures. We have our cold weather riding gear but putting it on and waddling around in it is something of a hassle. Nonetheless, we headed out.  As the day went on the skies cleared even more and it turned out to be a beautiful, crisp fall day.

We made three noteworthy stops today.  The first was at the cabin of  Orleana Puckett.  She was born in 1837 and died in 1939 at the age of 102.  She was a midwife and helped in the birth of over 1000 babies.  Ironically, she gave birth to 24 babies of her own, but none survived infancy.

The second stop was at the Mabry Mill. It is the most photographed spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway and it is easy to see why. Here’s a photo of Dianna in the prime photo spot.

We wandered the grounds exploring the mill and other artifacts.  The water wheel powered a grist mill, saw mill, lathe, jigsaw and whatever else Mr. Mabry could think of. There was also a blacksmith demonstration, a still, a sorgum making facility, lye soap making equipment, and many old farm implements. It was an enjoyable stop. The hot cider we bought at the restaurant there was a welcome touch too.

Later on, after stopping for a picnic lunch at an overlook above Roanoke and then crossing the Roanoke Valley, we climbed back up onto the ridge and stopped at Fallingwater Cascades and took a half mile hike down into the canyon to see it. It was pretty and we needed the exercise.

Tonight we are in Lexington, VA. Tomorrow we should complete the Blue Ridge Parkway, ride the length of Shenandoah National Park on Skyline Drive, and end up just outside of Washington DC in Manassess, VA.

One response so far

Next »