Friday, July 31, 2015

Spectacular Santa Fe

Santa Fe is always a delightful destination.  It’s never a surprise, but always full of surprises.  The first was checking into our RV park and finding our good friends, Geri and Bob, camped directly across from us, just as they were the last time we visited three years ago.  We have enjoyed their company, including happy hours in their “yard” as well as shared meals at some of our favorite restaurants.  (Geri and Bob's rig is always easy to find; outside is Geri's wonderful "garden" of succulents and native plants.)

We were fortunate to be in town for Spanish Market.  The four of us took the bus downtown to the plaza area, which was filled with booths…from food and drink to offerings from artists specializing in all genres, including some I didn’t know existed. 

There was something for everyone, from painted tortillas...

and armadillos made from motorcycle gas tanks...

to fanciful critters.

We had a great time!

Our time here in Santa Fe has been all too short, as it always is.  The week flew past.  We enjoyed reconnecting with our friends, Rob and Donna, who live here full-time.  On Tuesday night they introduced us to a new favorite restaurant, Gabriel's, located outside of town past the Santa Fe Opera.

Then on Wednesday Rob and Donna gave us, Geri and Bob a tour of their wonderful 100-year-old adobe home on Comino Don Miguel that they have refurbished and updated.  It could be featured in any publication spotlighting Santa Fe homes and architecture!  

Resident Cat, Rusty, was there to welcome us as well.

The dogs have had a wonderful time in Santa Fe.  We went to the Frank Ortiz Dog Park almost every day.  The park is built on the site of an old landfill, which has been reclaimed as an open trails area.  Not only are there fantastic views of the city, but also miles and miles of trails, and a good flat, level space for throwing balls.   There are plenty of dog friends to play with as well.

Just at the edge of the dog park, we came upon this lovely home that overlooks the city.  The statuary outside is almost as impressive as their view.


We supplemented visits to the dog park with trips to the arroyo behind our RV park.

It is an area populated with bunnies and ground squirrels, and the dogs were ever-hopeful of catching one.  

It is hard to beat time spent with good friends in a magical place.  We hated to leave Santa Fe, but look forward to our next visit.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Best-laid Plans....Gang Aft Agley...Again!

Well, as it turns out Tuesday evening was only the mid-point of our brake/wheel problems.  On Wednesday Val and his guys came out to our home-away-from-home at Royal RV Park and installed new brakes on the RV and mounted our spare to replace the missing wheel.

They also found out why the brakes overheated in the first place.  After trying unsuccessfully to get the new brakes to operate correctly, Val crawled under the truck and discovered that when the new truck bed was installed in Mount Pleasant, the welder accidentally melted the return air line from the brakes.  Now, I’m not a mechanic, and you probably aren’t either.  However I can understand that once the trailer’s air brakes were applied, they could not be completely released because the air had no where to go.  For the several miles before we discovered they were overheating, the brakes were partially on.  We are just very fortunate that John could tell something “just wasn’t right” with the way the rig was handling and disconnected the air lines to the trailer brakes.  Otherwise the overheated brakes could have caused a fire that probably would have destroyed not only the RV, but the Volvo and Tracker as well.  

While waiting for the work to be done, we amused ourselves throwing balls for the dogs, and admiring the mama llama and her almost-grown child 

and the mares and foals in the next pasture.  

This little paint filly was especially curious and not at all shy about coming up to the fence to say hello.  

She was a good photographic subject, as well.

There were plenty of Mississippi kites in Snyder, as well.  They feed primarily on grasshoppers and dragonflies, so this dove wasn’t afraid to perch nearby.

The brake job was finished late afternoon, and we decided (wisely!) to wait until Thursday to leave Snyder.  On Thursday morning, we pulled out and stopped ten miles or so down the road to check the temperature on the newly-installed brakes.  Again, we found that one wheel was hotter than the others, indicating that we still had a problem.  Val and his mechanics came out immediately and determined that the brake had a bad caliper.  (Now, I’m not sure exactly how a caliper works, but I do know that it’s the thingy that engages and disengages the brake so it’s very important.)  Since there wasn’t a replacement part available, we decided to remove the caliper and do without the brake on that one trailer wheel.  Since there are five others working, plus the brakes on the Volvo, we’ll be just fine until we get back to Austin and can replace it.

We left after lunch on Thursday and got as far as Lubbock, enjoying views of a greener-than-usual Texas Panhandle on the way.

Then, yesterday we made the 300-mile trip to Santa Fe.  As we got closer, the herds of calico cattle were joined by groups of pronghorn antelope.  

We arrived in Santa Fe Friday afternoon, and are camped in our favorite Santa Fe destination, Los Suenos RV park on Cerritos Road, just across from our friends, Bob and Geri.  We look forward to getting reacquainted with one of our favorite cities and eating some of that great New Mexico cuisine while we are here!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Best-laid Schemes o' Mice an' Men....

Well, we are on the road again, and you know what Robert Burns said, “…the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley, an’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, for promised joy!” That was true in 1785 when the poem was written, and it still holds true today…unfortunately.

Yes, we are on the road…but just barely.  We left Austin on Sunday and soon had problems with the trailer brakes dragging and overheating.  We disconnected the air to the brakes and had no more problems after that.   We assumed they had overheated because they had been sitting for several months.  (The truck is very capable of stopping the fifth wheel, but it’s nice to have the trailer brakes working.) We overnighted in Abilene at the KOA, where we saw a couple of juvenile hawks careening through the mesquite trees.  We think they were young Mississippi kites.

We left for Clovis yesterday morning.  A few miles short of Snyder we pulled over to check the temperature on the wheels (as we had been doing to make sure they weren’t getting hot).  We were very surprised to find that the front trailer wheel on the passenger side was missing!  We had checked the tire pressure 10 miles or so before, and that tire was registering a few pounds less than the others.  However, our PressurePro tire monitoring system never sounded to indicate a serious pressure loss.  

What happened is a mystery.  We were on pretty good roads (US Interstate 20) and didn’t hit anything to our knowledge.  The bolts holding the wheel just sheared off it it was gone.  We went back to look for it, but the roadside grass was shoulder high in many places, and we never saw it.  

The brakes were redone about 12,000 miles ago, so we’re getting new ones tomorrow, as well as a new tire and wheel.  We are now camped in Snyder and hope to have the work done and be back on the road tomorrow afternoon or Thursday morning, headed for Santa Fe.  We’ll stay there a week, then go to the NRA Whittington Center outside Raton for four days.  After that (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!) we’ll visit my cousin in Estes Park, CO, then head north through Wyoming.   

In the meantime, we’ve been exploring Snyder, population 11,532.  We’ve become very familiar with Val’s Truck & Trailer, as Val and his guys are doing the work on our coach.

There are also interesting old cars, old buildings, etc., to occupy my time while John and Val ponder what needs to be done and where to find the parts.

After seeing this one, it makes me wonder who/what lives in that hole!

Wish us luck with the repairs and check the blog to see how this "adventure" turns out!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

RV Redo Done!

Well, it’s finally finished!  The RV Redo is DONE!

(And it’s a good thing, since we’re scheduled to leave our home base in Austin a week from today.)  

We’re pleased with the results, and can hardly wait to be on the road.  Hopefully we’ll have a chance to show you the remodeled coach in person.  If not, here are some photos of the finished project.

We started by replacing the flooring with snap-together vinyl planking and installing new carpet in the bedroom and slides.  Then we repainted the inside walls.

We tiled the kitchen and bathroom backsplashes and John installed a new kitchen faucet and refinished much of the wood.

Except for the kitchen faucet, all those projects were done by someone better at it than we are.  John also replaced all the wall sconces and the light fixture over the dining table.

The biggie for me was redoing all the window treatments.  Most of the original valances were made up of three layers of wood, all covered in different fabrics.  They had to be taken apart and recovered, as well as the pieces on the sides.  I just know the people who assembled the originals were paid by the staple.  I didn’t know you could put that many staples in a piece of wood and still have it retain its integrity!  

They all came together nicely, though, and I even had the courage to tackle the headboard.  The whole fabric affair consumed two large boxes of staples, and I wore out 4 Power-Shot staplers!  I just kept going back to Home Depot and trading them out for new ones.  After all the window treatments were done, I really needed that massage!  

We thought that all the hard work was done at that point, but then we had to reinstall all the MCD shades that had been removed for painting, and put up the valances.  Easier said than done…being a contortionist would have helped.  It’s all done, though, and we’re loading the coach.  Stay tuned.  We’ll be on the road in about a week.

Monday, July 6, 2015

More Fun at the Farm

For the last couple of weeks, we have spent a lot of time at the farm.  The rains we had in June have moved on, and the weather has been more typical of early summer…hot and humid!  The pastures are green, though, and the milkweed pods have burst and are scattering their seeds.

In spite of a few maintenance issues with the skid steer and one of our air conditioners, we have accomplished a lot.  Perhaps the most noticeable change has been the addition of a flagstone walkway from the parking lot to the front door.  Here’s a work-in-progress photo.  

And here is the finished product!  We’re thrilled, not only with the look, but with the fact that no longer will we track in mud and debris as we enter the house! 

We have had fun with my brother and his extended family on the weekends.  My great nieces and nephews, Noah, Rachel, Jamey and Laura are very busy and always a joy. 

Last weekend Laura climbed the rose arbor with her brother, Jamey, and cousin, Noah, to play “look no hands” while we all held our collective breath until she was safely back on the ground.

When we arrived on Thursday, we found B4 with a brand-new baby bull calf.  When I sent a photo to my friend, Kathy, she said, “He looks just like a panda.”  So I guess that will be his name.  

We were somewhat concerned because the new baby seemed more lethargic than he should be.  In fact, when we found him curled up at the edge of a briar patch, he didn't move when we touched him, but his eyes were bright and his ears alert.

John and I lifted him to his feet and pointed him toward his mother, who had been calling to him.  He was happy to see her, and followed her off to a corner of the coastal field.  The next day, the same thing happened.  B4 was hanging out with her sisters, but the calf was nowhere to be found.  After I began searching the area, B4 mooed softly and went to her baby.  He was curled up by a fence, still as a mouse.

Again, he did not respond to his mother's calls so I lifted him to his feet and he walked over to her and began to nurse.

We continue to be on maternity watch for B8 cow, but so far doesn’t seem to be in any hurry.  There are other maternity watches going on, however.  On Allan and Jef’s front door is a cardinal nest with four eggs.  It’s in a pretty precarious location, so we hope no harm comes to eggs or babies.

And then, on Thursday of last week while on my walk I noticed a turkey vulture flying away from an old elevated deer blind that we no longer use.  On Friday, the vulture again flew away as we approached, and this time it was clear it came from inside the blind.  The ladder is still in place, so I carefully climbed up to have a look.  Sure enough, Mrs. Buzzard has repurposed the deer blind and made her “nest” on the floor.  You can see her two eggs on the carpet.  

We’ll be watching this nest as well to see these babies when they hatch!

It was a great time to be at the farm, and it had a fitting end.  Cousins Kathy and Eric came to celebrate the Fourth of July, and we had a great visit.