Wednesday, August 20, 2008

ALASKA TRIP WRAP-UP . . . . . . . BLOG # 20

   My old original Fishermen Trio buddies, Dan Betzer and Jimmy Smith, made a connection with me while we  were out near the Utah/Arizona border. We are going to try to get together and do a little music out of the past down in Ft Myers around the middle of  this coming January. We all came to work for Ford Philpot in Lexington in the early seventies. Dan was an Associaate Evangelist, Jimmy was piano player, accompanist and soloist and me, as Crusade Choir Director and soloist. A few weeks later, while gathered around a piano at Tattnall camp in Georgia, we just sort of began putting together a little harmony and voila', there it was, a good sound and a lot of fun. Two or three years later they both moved on. So here we are, about 35 years later and we're going to give it another shot. Can hardly wait. Awesome!

   Now, back to the journey. OF COURSE WE MADE IT TO TEXAS.  The short cut around Albuquerque takes us for about 30 miles over the old MOTHER ROAD. That would be Historical U S 66. For me that's memories of November, 1954.  Ron Scheibner and I were just a few months out of Marlette High School and both working at General Coach building house trailers. When they shut the small factory down for deer season, we jumped into my lightly customized '52 Ford and headed for California. Being young and needing little sleep, we drove day and night. I recall so well rolling along through those western states to the music of the Chordettes singing, "Mister Sandman, bring me a dream.....". Heady stuff for two l8 year old squirts who at that time, had ALL the answers to life. We truly "got out kicks on route 66." So here we are in the Motorhome rolling along on 66 a few days ago and what comes up on disc three of that multi-stacker up top? Along with Tennessee Ernie Ford's, Sixteen Tons, there again was the sounds of Chordettes, doing it one more time , just for me, out there on the Mother Road. Awesome again. This trip has had an awful lot of AWESOME!

   Just outside of El Paso we picked up I-10 and with a few breaks here and there, ran that super-slab the whole 880 miles across Texas. West Texas was hot, wide open and a bit boring with an 80 MPH speed limit. No, I do not drive the coach 80 miles per hour. I might approach it at times heading down a long hill in order to gain momentum for the up-grade ahead, but that's all. Besides, there is a governor that cuts everything off at eighty.

   We pulled into the Hidden Valley Campground just outside the circle by-pass on the southwest edge of San Antonio on Tuesday afternoon. We called Daniel and Kristen to plan our schedule. We wanted to see them an Little Zeke. We set up camp, turned on the A/C and headed over to see the grandkids. After warm and exciting greetings, it was time to head for the hospital to see the baby. When Ezekiel and I had our first greeting I could tell he was excited to see his great-grandfather. What a precious little boy. Small of course, but doing well. Great-grandmother, Sweet Lynda, thought he was very SPECIAL too. We had a bite of supper and went back and spent more time with him.

   On Wednesday we decided to check out a bit of downtown SA. We parked the Blazer in the deck at the RiverCenter Mall and walked inside. Ambled back out to the River Walk and strolled up and down and back and forth along this delightful path through the city. How nice and so appealing. Went back into the mall to catch the IMAX movie of the Alamo. Very good, too! At 2pm it was time for our scheduled tour of the city. Which tour, you might ask? Gray Line? Taxi? Horse and Carriage? No way, Hosea. Young and virile upstarts like us headed for Segcity. You probably know that a Segway is that two-wheeled conveyance with handlebars that you stand on and lean ever-so-slightly forward or backward to make it go. It takes TALENT and SKILL of course. I was a little slow but for Sweet Lynda, no problem. Matt was our leader and we saw the city. Gorgeous old theater's, more of the River Walk, remnants of the 1968 World's Fair and of course, the Alamo.  We really had a good time.

   On Thursday we spent the day again with the kids and Ezekiel. These are special loving people and we continue to pray that the little boy will do well. Not easy to say good-bye to these dear folks.

   We pulled out early Friday morning, filled up with gas on the east side of town at Flying J and pointed this home-on-wheels toward Louisiana on Interstate 10. Rain off and on throughout the day. Stop and go traffic through Houston. Camped north of Lake Charles at Quiet Oaks in Fenton and moved on up US 165 at 6:30 Saturday morning. Did the breakfast buffet at Shoney's and kept on going. Picked off the southeast corner of Bill and Hillary's home state and turned east again , this time on US 82. We crossed the Mississippi river on the old bridge but they are nearing completion on the beautiful new one. US 82 across Mississippi is an excellent highway. We eventually came to the Natchez Trace Parkway and turned north/northeast. About 240 miles to Nashville. The Trace is a very lovely and well-maintained two lane road with no towns to contend with but a little too much of the same thing. The Blue Ridge Parkway is much more interesting. It was after dark when we got to Nashville. We continued on up to Flying J at Franklin, KY. It was a long day of over 700 miles While having breakfast at Cracker Barrel in Bowling Green Sunday morning we got at call from Dave Evans with the Central Ohio Camping Club. The group was at the hot air balloon doin's in Findlay. We would like to be with them. They are great people to hang out with.

   We were back in Danville about noon. . . with a bit of sadness in our hearts. Good to be home of course, but sad because this marvelous journey was over. Saturday evening, Evans, Teresa, Jasmine and Sophie arrived back from the other side of the world. Sunday evening we went over to the farm to see this precious, new little granddaughter. WELCOME SWEETHEART! It was good to see everyone again, including the neighbors. . . . . and last but not least, Madchen, the Doxie.

    THE TRIP?  Of course we missed the planned conclusion because of the Texas swing. So, maybe in a couple of years we can still do the Arches, the Canyonlands, the Million-Dollar-Highway, Durango, Mesa Verde, the Four Corners, the Royal Gorge, Pike's Peak, the Garden of the Gods, the Air Force Museum and Rocky Mountain National Park. And maybe the Gateway Arch too. We drove the Georgieboy Cruise Master 13,812 miles and the Workhorse with the Chevy V 8 performed perfectly. No problems at all. For that I am truly thankful. In every way, it was a wonderful journey for both of us. Alaska has been a strong desire for most of my adult life. To have been able to do it all with my beautiful wife and companion, Sweet, Sweet Lynda has been an extra special joy. We have traveled well together.

   To our families, loved ones and friends from all over, thank you so very much for all the phone calls, e-mails and blog comments along the way. We could not have possibly made it without you. Hope you've enjoyed the blog.

Love and blessings always . . . . .thanks for sharing the adventures of Winston & Lynda


Sunday, August 10, 2008

SOUTHERN UTAH . . . . . . . . . . BLOG # 19

   We left Jacob Lake campground last Monday morning, rolled west, northwest back down off of the high Kaibab plateau and on over in Kanab, Utah. We sat at McDonalds for a few minutes and made some phone calls. There's phone connectivity in the towns but not out in the Hinterlands. Filled up with fuel a little farther up the road and turned right on Route 12. This took us past Bryce National Park with all the spectacular Hoodoos but we didn't stop. We both saw it just a few years ago so we moved on through Tropic and Cannonsville and on up through this lovely land to Escalante where we parked for two nights at Broken Bow Campground. Actually a neat little town with a Sinclair gas station/True Value hardware combination. Things to see require back-road driving. The Blazer is 4-wheel drive but Hole-in-the Rock road was pure washboard. We opted out.

   I've read about route 12 for years and have wanted to see what it was like. From Escalante   northward it is big-time uphill but wonderful. On top, it's a narrow, skinny hogback for a ways. We were definitely close to Heaven up there. We spent a couple of hours driving this gorgeous highway on up to Torrey, a much prettier area. We camped at Thousand Lakes just west of town. We took the car and drove a dozen miles or so east on route 24. It took awhile. Holy Cow! We stopped for photos over and over. Marvelous and rugged beauty. Stuff like Twin Rocks, Gooseneck Canyon and the Castle. We drove past the visitors center and took the ten-mile scenic drive. Whooppee! At the end of that we headed on back Pleasant Creek (dirt) road for several miles. a few sprinkles of rain here and there but we both enjoyed it very much. Then it was back to the campground for a western cookout. We had packed a lot into just one day.

   On Thursday morning we drove farther eastward to the town of Hanksville and stopped at the Red Rock restaurant for a little breakfast. Eventually we got to talking to Larry at the next table. Larry is a 65 year old Morman who is in the sawmill and lumber business. So very personable and talks about everything including farming and old tractors. We hung-out with Larry way too long but we certainly had a good time there. Sort of hated to say goodbye.

   We drove the long stretch southward down route 95 in the general direction of Monument Valley. Awesome country as usual. We stopped at an Overlook for a view of the tail-end of Lake Powell and talked with Nicholas and Kenny, a couple of young travelers from Belgium who were  spending a few weeks vacationing in the country.

   We cut off on route 261, the road to Mexican Hat. The road looked fine BUT there was a warning about hazardous conditions twelve miles ahead. Obviously, NO PROBLEM. An l8-wheeler had passed me before the dangerous zone so I figured if he can make it, I can make it. When we arrived at the overlook I saw him, down there on the valley floor and heading for town. When I saw what was ahead however, I almost changed my mind. The problem was, I couldn't SEE it. The road hugged the vertical mountain edge all the way down and it was out-of-sight. Five miles per hour with several switchbacks. Passing cars coming up was very limited. Sweet Lynda was not happy.  We eased this baby back and forth straight down that half-baked excuse for a road, gunned her off the last hill and headed for town too. Sweet Lynda was STILL not happy. She added it to her 'short list' of roads never to travel again in her lifetime.

   Once through Mexican Hat, Monument Valley begins to open up. There's no place like it. This is where John Wayne made some of his best films, like Stagecoach, The Searchers and She wore a yellow ribbon. Two nights at Goulding's campground. On Friday I drove up to Moab to pick up our mail. On the return I drove 20 miles off to the west of route 191 to the Needles Overlook that eyeballs the way-beyond-spectacular CANYONLANDS. There's nothing like IT either. Four years ago Alan and I drove the Shafer trail down to the canyon floor from the other side. I could easily see the road below from the rim where I stood and sure enough, it called out to me, loud and clear. It's on my BUCKET LIST...along with a few hundred other list. A few things however, have been crossed off in the past few months.

   Well, there's news. Have your plans ever changed? Our's have. We left Monument Valley yesterday morning and are currently parked out west of Albuquerque near I-40. We plan to be in San Antonio sometime Tuesday afternoon. You see, our first great-grandchild was born four days ago on August 6th. Ezekiel Solace Pike arrived way early and weighed in at only 2 and 2. But they took him off the respirator yesterday and he's breathing on his own. Put "little Zeke" on your prayer list. His parents are Daniel and Kristen. We can't wait to see all three of them.

   It's 6:45 on Sunday morning. Today we will worship and praise the Lord while rolling down the Interstate. Sweet Lynda and I (can you believe I/m married to a Great-grandmother?) are headed for the Lone Star state.

Blessings...on the road with Winston and Lynda somewhere west of Albuquerque and headed for Texas.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Leaving the camping spot at Angel's Camp, CA, I 'scrunched' a boulder with this delightful Monster we're driving and living in. A slight dent along the bottom of one of the storage bays and a bent-up exhaust tip resulted. I got out my large pair of channel-locks and re-opened the end of the exhaust so the engine could breathe again. We were heading for Yosemite but just beyond Sonora on route 49 we decided to stop and make a phone call. The guy at the campground down that way said not to use route 49 because of the new fires in the area.. The park was open but smokey. Probably not a good move for us. We discussed it a bit more over breakfast at the Holstein restaurant and charted a course for Paso Robles. The Yosemite fire was said to have started by a hunter doing target practice. It's hot and dry in southern California. Of course, it's ARNOLDS FAULT. The government is expected to fix everything.

Our mail was at Paso Robles two days after being sent from Kentucky. It's a very nice area with rows upon rows of beautiful vineyards up and down the steep hillsides. We stayed at the Wine Country RV Resort, the classiest place at which we have camped. We sat there for three nights. Also the most expensive we've stayed at. We drove a few miles west and took a final 'last look' at the Pacific Ocean. Just a bit to the north sits the enormous Hearst ranch and castle. William Randolph Hearst HAD and DID it all, including a few things he shouldn't have had and did. A publishing genius, he began building the castle, which he called a cottage, at age 56. Work never ceased for l5 or 20 years and of course, it was never totally completed. Oodles of Hollywood celebrities enjoyed weekends at the place in it's heyday. Antiques and purchases from around the world fill the rooms. We enjoyed seeing it all. Hearst's father, George, fresh from mining wealth, began purchasing ranch land around the end of the Civil War. The ranch was a place W.R Hearst enjoyed his entire life. He was born in l863 and died in l951 at age 88. The Castle is impossible to describe but wonderful to experience. We made additional camping reservations and had the motorhome serviced before leaving town.

We rolled east a hundred miles or so, around Bakersfield and on toward Barstow. Sweet Lynda continues to knit everything imaginable and continues to cook up tasty meals. The slow-cooker does a great job on beef and potatoes. Saw hundreds of huge windmills on mountain tops doing their thing. Got a phone call from my old buddy, Bobby McFalls, from down in North Carolina. We both worked for Ford Philpot back in the seventies and have tried to keep in touch now and then over the years. He was always a good friend. It was 105 degrees in Barstow but cooled down over night. The next morning, August 1st, we headed northeast on I-15, had breakfast at Denney's in Baker (next to Pike's gas station), turned east and drove 30 miles to Searchlight, NV (Home of Dingy Harry, where I suspect he currently is since he and Nancy turned out the lights in Washington), and headed an hour north up to Hoover Dam. While passing through Searchlight, I recalled Cottonwood Cove, just a few miles to the east on Mohawk Lake, where four years ago , Alan, Elizabeth, Ethan, Noah, Angela the baby sitter and I camped for three very hot days on our five week long "King of the Road" trip. Good times!

Lynda and I drove the outfit through Boulder City and on down almost to the dam when the guy at the security check said, "I need to look in your storage bays." Well, the whole rig with car and all was too big to maneuver anyway in the relatively tight surroundings, so we made a U-turn and drove back to a large vacant area across from the big casino, left the coach there and again got in line behind the slow-moving traffic headed for the dam. Hoover Dam is always a great sight to see but the new bridge being built across the chasm is something else. It is sticking out some distance from each side but the long center section is not there yet. Scary! It is to be completed sometime in 2010.

The thermometer in the Blazer has always been very accurate and this day it bounced back and forth between ll6 & ll7 degrees. The gentleman at the tool booth said it was ll2. By the way, that one-time, ten dollar Golden Age Pass is one of the best investments a senior citizen can make. We have entered everything related to the National Park system, not just the parks themselves, free of charge. We drove the Northshore senic road along Lake Mead about sixty miles on up to Overton. Stopped several times just to take it all in. At Overton, we plugged into 50 amps and turned both air conditioners on high. We just "let em' run" while we went to supper at Sugar's and topped it off with a little dessert at the Inside Scoop. Before we ever left home we decided we were going to check out the ice cream places around the country. It seems as though we have held up that part of the plan quite well. Of course, Sweet Lynda only likes ice cream during daylight and nightime hours. With all that ice cream in her, she has turned out to be a 'real cool' wife.

Saturday morning we 'clipped' off the extreme northwest corner of Arizona an I-15. The 'slice' through the mountains in that short distance is absolutely wild and jaw-dropping awesome. I never saw a road like that little stretch. My, My, My! We thought about turning around and driving back through again just for the thrill. In St. George we grocery shopped at Walmart and filled up with fuel at Flying J. Then it was off to the east-southeast across the Kaibab Plateau and a long, scenic, up-hill drive to Jacob Lake, AZ, a 45 mile drive from the Grand Canyon.

We have both previously been to the South Rim, so on Sunday, two days ago, we drove down to this KING OF THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD, the North Rim. It's a busy place but nothing like the other side. As the Bald Eagle flies, it's about 10 miles to the South Rim. By road, it's over 200 miles. We took in the 10 am church service in the auditorium. The Lodge south lobby windows give an instant view of this amazing spectacle. We made dinner reservations, then lunched at the Deli. We walked out to a couple of near-by points with straight-down looks. I walked the quarter-mile trail out to Bright Angel Point. Too much! Talked to both Brad & Angel while there. We checked out the book and gift shops. I won't tell you what Lyrical Lynda purchased. Later we hung out in the lobby and read a little, snoozed a little, looked over the edge some more, etc. At 4:45 we had dinner with a view and then drove to Imperial point to look into the Abyss from that perspective. After that, an additional 15 miles to Cape Royal to watch the sunset. It was somewhat overcast but still magnificent and a joy so see. It was dark when we drove away but it was definitely a very special day.

A couple of thoughts before we ring off::: #1 - "The time to dance is when the music's playin'." #2 - "You can't get ahead of anybody you're trying to get even with."

Just a final word: Special thanks to the gentleman's blog comment concerning Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians. So very nice to hear all about it. We are currently in Escalante in southern Utah. Will wander around this general neck-of-the-woods for the next week or ten days, then a week or so of Colorado. Expect to be back home before the end of the month.

Blessings to all . . . . . on the road with Winston & Lynda