Stuck Up Cadillacs and More

Cadillac Ranch

Approaching Amarillo there is a stop you are pretty much obligated to make… at Cadillac Ranch. Created in 1974 by a group called the “Ant Farm,” it consists of 10 old Cadillacs, buried nose first, at supposedly the same angle as the pyramids in Egypt. Or something like that. The cars have now been planted in the earth longer than they ever drove across its roads.

The cars have huge blistering wounds all over. At first I guessed it was uncontrolled rust, but then figured it is literally hundreds of layers of paint. The blistering is more pronounced in easy-to-reach areas.

Since graffiti is encouraged, and I have never done such a thing before, I thought I’d give it a try. There were dozens of spray paint cans left on the ground – surely a few had paint left in them! Yep, the second one I tried was loaded. So now, what to write? My Grandfather taught me “Fool’s names and Fool’s faces, always appear in public places.” I think that comes from a time when spray paint hadn’t been invented, so knives were used to deface trees, etc. So what could I write? Not my initials… So I scribbled ONT for Our Next Horizon. Got my pictures, and in less than 15 seconds, a little girl came, painted blue over most of my artwork, and then “SAM” on top of that. Not anywhere near 15 minutes of fame!

On the way back to the motorhome, (Second from left), I tried a Pano shot – and captured the world’s longest semi trailer!

Check out this little video of Caddies from the air. And look for the guy taking a picture of my drone!

Cherryl at the Wheel

I really like driving our cool home around. It drives well, provides a wonderful view of the surroundings, and it’s just fun. But sometimes I share… Cherryl drives it well and sometimes gives me a break, so I can take a nap or work on my blog. Here she is moving our home from Texas to Oklahoma.

Ardmore, Oklahoma

Lake Murray hosted us a while back, and since we wanted to be in Ardmore for a while, we headed back there. This time we got a site at Buzzards Roost – doesn’t that sound picturesque? We reserved a site online, and when we arrived we noticed the sign said it was a “Handicapped Accessible” site. It was the only site open on the website, but when we were actually in the campground it looked like there were plenty of spots open. And then we noticed that the post with the electrical hookup wouldn’t work. We survived with only battery power that night (Can you imagine??) and in the morning I called the parks office. They had a team there in 15 minutes to fix the electric problem, and let me move to the site across from us. Later we saw a camper van with a handicap sticker in that site, so we were glad we were able to move.

We actually did see lots of buzzards circling far above the campground. Wondered if there was a high mortality rate among campers here.

I love the old stonework on some camp structures. This gazebo with a huge fireplace, the cool tower on the other side of the lake (That I talked about last time so won’t mention further here), and what might have been ranger cabins at one time.

Behind a stone cabin were what turned out to be old bridge abutments. The span was missing, but the abutments looked very strong. The picture below shows both abutments, with a tree growing where the span used to be. (Or is this two abutments with a Pontic that is missing?)

Again, in an attempt to show life on the road isn’t all peaches and cream, I will tell you about the passenger seat footrest. We had the seats replaced a few months ago (The fake leather was falling apart and Newmar replaced all the furniture for us! Thank You Newmar!) and one day the footrest went up, but didn’t want to retract down again. This is a problem, because it severely blocks the way to the door. With some effort, we got it down, but have been afraid to use it. (Cherryl finds it far more comfortable to have it extended. Something about her feet don’t quite reach the floor otherwise) So I called Newmar, and they told me to call Flexsteel, who made the seat. A problem here – Flexsteel just announced a few months ago that they are getting out of the RV furniture business. So they gave me a number of a lady who used to work for them, and now is going to try doing warranty followup. She told me to try a few things, which really didn’t help much… it would now retract to only a few inches from completely down, but it was still annoying and a bit in the way. So last week I started taking it apart. Lots of funny pieces, so at one point I took this picture so I could remember what it used to look like…

With the pads off, and some of the linkage off, it would close just fine. So I started reassembling it, until it failed again. I could find no place the parts were jammed or interfering with each other. I got it all back together, and still no improvement. The only thing I hadn’t done was try to lube the parts – after all, they were new, and looked all shiny and clean. A little lubrication, and the stupid thing works very well. Why didn’t I start there?!

A little more serious problem popped up later. We have a “hood”, the panel under the windshield, that gives access to the generator, my pressure washer and de-ionizer tanks, compressed air outlet, and 4 or 5 thousand miles of wires. The hood is opened by pulling a handle in a lockable compartment on the port side of the coach, just under the driver’s seat. Except when you pull the handle, and nothing happens. Sigh. I knew the cable ran from that compartment, up and around to the bottom center of the hood where the latch is. How on earth could I get up there?? I couldn’t get my hand up on the port side, and could just barely reach the latch from under the starboard side. I sure couldn’t see it, so I stuck the phone up there to “see” what the latch looked like. With that info, I was able finally to push the latch with a screwdriver hard enough to pop the hood open. Then found the cable had come off the latch mechanism (big surprise) and was able to reattach it, and adjust the cable supports so this won’t happen again. In this picture you can see one of the tanks, in blue, the latch at the lower right, the pressure washer hose past the tank, the generator housing on the left, and the generator fuel filter that looks overdue for replacement. Sigh. Soon.

Denver to Dalhart

Doing Denver

A short stop in Denver let us see lots of old friends. I keep swearing to myself that I will take pictures of all our friends when we get together, but usually forget. Sigh. What’s even worse, is that I thought I had taken some pictures here, but can’t find them. They can’t go under the couch cushions… how can they get lost on a phone?? So I just have to tell you about our wonderful morning with Darrell and his lovely daughter Brooke, a super fun afternoon with Dick & Eleanor, and great evenings with Lonnie & Laura, Bill S, and Oneida & Kerry.

With Lonnie & Laura
With Dick and Eleanor

In addition to seeing fun friends, we had the privilege of getting our teeth cleaned and checked by the awesome McArthur Dentistry team. Dr. Mike Lueck and his team are great! Thank you to all of the team, and a big Hello to all my former patients. Love you all!

I’ve been accused of only putting up the beautiful stuff on this blog. Well, who wants to see ugly stuff?? But just to show you we also do regular life chores, I’ll tell you about the Suburban’s brakes. We drove up to Boulder one evening, and the brakes felt funny in the car. It almost felt like they were overheating… I checked the parking brake, and it wasn’t set. So the next morning I took it to a brake place to have them checked. They felt fine the few miles to the shop, but they put it up on the lift and had a look. They and I agreed, everything looked fine! so they put it all back together and I was free to go. They didn’t even charge for the diagnosis! Thanks, Brake Plus!

We stayed at the same campground as previous trips, in Golden, what I think of north western edge of the metro area. Extra credit if you can find our rig in either of these pictures!

Dalhart, Texas

We’ve decided to head farther south for a while to get out of the cold weather. So after a few days in Denver, we headed south. A day’s drive took us to Dalhart, Texas. I pick out our campgrounds or RV parks with internet apps, and chose one that looked fine, and called for reservations. When we drove up to the entrance, we both simultaneously said “We’ve been here before!” On an earlier trip, headed north, we had stayed in the same park and I didn’t remember when I booked it.

Maybe that’s because there isn’t a terrific amount of excitement in Dalhart. But there are some interesting points…

Dalhart was part of the XIT ranch, once a 3,000,000 acre cattle ranch, the largest in the world. (Go Texas!) Turns out those acres were given to a consortium in payment for creating a new state capital building. It was originally planned that the acreage would be resold as many parcels, but they decided they’d fence it first. Only 6,000 some odd miles of fence! Then they might as well try running cattle, so for many years the XIT ranch tried to make a profit on a HUGE spread. It was finally decided to sell it off in chunks, over the years, till all that’s left is the XIT name and a lot of historical artifacts. There is some discussion on how the name was chosen – I think it was from an incomplete EXIT strategy from the beginning.

Here is the Dallam County courthouse. The first courthouse was in Texline in 1876, but the county seat was moved to the new city of Dalhart in 1903. The courthouse there was quickly outgrown, and this nice building was erected in 1922. The monument out front has the outline of Texas, with the shape of the XIT ranch solid in the upper left. It may not look big compared to the whole state, (Texas is big, right?) but the north – south dimension was over 200 miles.

The Empty Saddle Monument is to “Pay homage to the range riders of the past.”

We rode our bikes to the Lake Rita Blanca. The pictures will portray the incredible beauty of the lake… well, it was a decent ride anyway.

The La Rita Theater, was built in the 1920’s and remodeled in art deco style in 1942. After WWII, Dalhart began to decline, and the theater with it. The last movie was shown in 1957. It was then used first for office spaces, and eventually just used as a warehouse. In the 1990’s, The Dalhart Theater Company bought it and began restoring it to its former glory. Unfortunately, it is now closed for COVID reasons, so all I could do is look through the windows. Maybe next time through Dalhart we’ll catch a movie here!

The campground in Dalhart isn’t fancy, but it’s clean and has a train close enough that you know you’re camping.

You know you’re out of the big city when you see billboards like this one:

And here was a sign not far from our campground… Do people in Dalhart like swimming in dirt and weeds?

Grand Time in the Tetons

We’ve always loved the Tetons, but I was thinking nothing could match the beauty of our recent days in Yellowstone. Shows how little I know! It was breathtaking!

In a decade long ago, we did several annual canoe float trips from the dam at Jackson Lake through Oxbow Bend to the Pacific Grove take out point. Now Pacific Grove is closed for upgrades, so we just put our kayak in at Cattleman’s Bridge, just upstream from Oxbow, and explored the Bend.

Our time there was so wonderful, we decided to try the whole float as in years past. From Cattleman’s Bridge (Where there was a bridge many years ago; now no trace of it is left) to the launching point at Jackson Lake Dam was only 3 miles by road, so we put the kayak together at the dam, and I drove the Suburban to Cattleman’s. Then got out the folding bike, and rode back to Cherryl and the kayak. We had an awesome float, past our takeout like the previous day, played around Oxbow Bend some more, and then back up to the Suburban. Then a short trip back up to the dam where I’d locked the bike up, and we were all done too quickly!

Getting on the water early was really cool. I mean, really. Just above freezing: we were wondering if we’d be frozen after a while on the water. The mist over the water was beautiful. The sun quickly burned that off, and kept us suitably warm.

Watching the geese take off from and land on the water is great fun. Either they don’t have a very good rate of climb, or they enjoy skipping along the surface. Maybe they are simulating barefoot skiing.

The water is so clear you can see quite a ways down. It’s amusing to see literally hundreds of fish, probably a foot and a half long, swimming in the middle of the river. And see fishermen along the side of the river, catching nothing.

We recently acquired a set of wheels for our kayak. They let us effortlessly take it a long ways to a launch site, without carrying it. (It gets heavy if you have to lug it far!) The wheels then collapse, and we can strap them in the back, so we don’t even have to walk back up to the car! Love our new wheels!

In the many times we’ve been to the Tetons before, we’d never driven to the top of Signal Hill. So we fixed that! From the top you can see the whole valley – it’s worth the drive up there!

We contemplated launching the kayak (We should have a name for the kayak! Any suggestions?) on Jenny Lake; a beautiful little lake right at the base of the mountains. When we got to the secluded spot where we hoped to launch, the wind was pretty strong and we weren’t. So we skipped the lake and went for a short hike instead.

So we’ve spent the best part of two weeks in National Parks, known for their wildlife, and never saw a bear. Sigh. I shouldn’t admit this, but a century ago, when I was young, we toured Yellowstone and fed bears through the car windows. They would come right up to the car, and we’d hand them slices of bread. There would be a dozen bears at a time milking the tourists in a location. We had bears in our campground trying to take food off our picnic tables (Just like Yogi. Well, somewhat like Yogi.) (No hat or tie) Now we realize that that was a lousy diet for bears, and unsafe for people as well. As long as I’m reminiscing about old days, when my folks were just married (Before my time) they did Yellowstone. We have a picture of Mom boiling eggs in a cheesecloth sling dipped in the Morning Glory pool. Now I think they’d gun you down in a heartbeat if you got that close to a water feature. They might shoot me now for even mentioning it! (If I suddenly disappear, you’ll now know why.)

I started the above paragraph to talk about our current attempts to spot a bear. Not a one in either park. But after we left, and had driven an hour or more east, we saw cars pulled over on our side of the road, so we followed suit. There just 30 feet away was a Grizzly Bear!! He was having a great time just hanging out and putting on a show for us. At one point he rolled over and put his feet up in the air, just like he wanted us to scratch his belly. (We didn’t) I did open the door and shoot pictures from the step, but that was close enough.

Pickin’ Berries, Pluckin’ Apples & Persuing Geysers

Before we left Spokane, we went Pickin’! Sherman Valley Farm is just down the road from the Kid’s place, and they have dozens of varieties of apples on hundreds of trees, and more blackberries than can be imagined. We learned a lot about apples, and took a lot of them home with us! We picked about 2 gallons of Blackberries, and the beautiful gracious proprietress would not charge us for them, because they were so late in the season! (So we left a nice donation). In a couple of weeks they press barrels of cider – wish we could come to that big party!

A surprise perk in the farm is a little zip line. It was intimidating only in that it was attached to what looked like very small branches! We were assured that the farm owner safely zipped, so we had to do it too!

What do you do with tons of apples and blackberries? Karen sent us off with a ready-to-bake homemade Apple Blackberry Pie. You wish you could have had some!!

Blackberry Apple Pie!

Coeur D’Alene

We had a nice quiet campsite near Lake Coeur D’Alene, where it was pretty obvious fall is moving in!

When exploring the forested campground, I was surprised by a very large cat hiding in the bushes…

Missoula, Montana

Next stop was Jim & Mary’s Campground in Missoula. A very pretty campground, with lots of flowers everywhere!

Amazing Yellowstone!

Then on to West Yellowstone… It’s only been a few years since we were here, but it always amazes! If you’ve never been here, Get Here! If you been before, here are just a few pictures of Yellowstone’s awesome features to jog your memory. I run out of superlatives pretty quickly, so I won’t try to comment on all these.

Except to say this sturdy Bison stopped a lot of traffic by walking down the middle of the road!

One morning we got up to see all these clouds moving rapidly in from the north, and in a few minutes we got snow! Not so much that stuck anywhere, but enough to emphasize fall is coming!

When in Yellowstone, you have to see Old Faithful erupt; it’s the law. So I included it in the following video – a compilation of some of my favorite views of our trip.

That finishes up our time in Yellowstone… and next we will head south, through the Grand Tetons. I’ll give you a teaser… It was almost more beautiful than Yellowstone! See you next week!

Seeing Seery’s Spokane Shop Sheetrocked!

While the Western half of the USofA was on fire, Washington had plenty too. Fire came within 7 miles or so from our kid’s home, but we never had to evacuate. The smoke was VERY thick, however, and lasted for 10 days or so.

This week’s blog will mostly be a summary of the shop project.  With the smoke so thick you had to shovel it out of the way to walk, we weren’t going to go hiking or do anything outside. We had extremely strong winds a couple of days before the fires, and a dead tree a little ways behind the motorhome broke, and fell onto another tree. We were not happy leaving it that way, thinking it may fall unexpectedly and maybe squish somebody we care about. It wasn’t very close to a roadway where we could pull with the truck, so we tried people power and a rope around the trunk. Here’s the short version:

Adirondack Chairs

In honor of Ashlyn’s baptism, and Bryan’s birthday, we gave them a couple of Adirondack chairs. The point is they can comfortably study their Bibles outside in God’s great nature. The fun was putting them together! Very well made, and a fun little project. And they are really comfortable!

Shop Project

Our kids just moved to this cool place near Spokane.  It has a beautiful house, and a large outbuilding they call the “shop.”  It is a nice pole barn, with concrete covering two thirds of the floor.  The remaining third is very large gravel, to allow mud and snow to fall off a vehicle and not onto the clean floor.  The shop had metal siding, but no insulation.  Loren was hoping to insulate and finish the walls, eventually making it good for playing in as well as storing cars and stuff.  He got a bid to do that work, and I said I could do it for about half that amount… since the labor would be free!  (I never said I was clever)  

So we set out to upgrade the shop.  As a post barn, it had no regular framing that you could hang the drywall on.  So we had to frame out the whole interior.  We needed to add a couple electrical circuits so there would be plenty of outlets for future needs. (11 Quad outlets should be adequate!)

First all the materials get delivered:

Next, We build the framework:

Crazy Pano shot of finished framing… no, there is only one garage door…

After the electrical wiring is in, up goes the insulation:

Then the Sheetrock goes up…

Then taping and sanding:

Finally, primer and paint:

And now they have set up a slightly small Pickle Ball court! Fun!

Some other things going on during the Shop Project:

And now, what you’ve been waiting for (even if you didn’t know it) – Videos! One short one of framing up a panel, and then one of the whole project.

Building a Frame
Time Lapse of Whole Project

Leaving Idaho for a While

One of our last days in Idaho was spent riding bikes through Sandpoint. Sand Creek runs south into a little lagoon, adjacent to and culminating in Lake Pend Oreille. The large bridge in the photo below is filled with little shops, and is mainly to relieve tourists of excess currency. But very quaint.

The bike trail eventually heads over to the lake side, towards a very long bridge.

The bridge is a couple of miles of straight shot across this corner of the lake. It’s obvious the original bridge was deemed too old or small for the traffic load, so a new portion was created right next to it. So now all motorized vehicles travel on the western half, and the eastern half is just for pedestrians and pedal powered people. It’s a nice, level, paved ride, with a gorgeous view, and the added benefit of the noise and fumes of huge trucks zooming right beside you!

Here’s the “Shopping Bridge”

A pretty little marina is on the south side of town.

Back to Washington

We returned to Spokane to see our Daughter and her beautiful family… and work on their outbuilding, which is referred to as the “Shop”. It is a pole barn, very nicely built, but without any insulation or finish inside. I heroically (foolishly?) volunteered to finish the inside of the shop, if they bought the materials. Hopefully this will save them some bucks. The shop project consumed a lot of our time, but not so much that we couldn’t find time for a kayak jaunt on nearby Medical Lake. I have no idea where the name came from. The water was refreshing, but I wouldn’t have thought medicinal. (Tune in next week for details on the shop upgrade!)

Kids were playing on a little rocky island an easy swim from the shore.

We saw what looked like a stone bunker hidden in the steeper shoreline. Was this to protect the lake from foreign invasion in WWII?

The other side of the lake was popular for rock jumping. At least for one kid, who must have climbed up and jumped a dozen times while we watched from the water.

Here is a very short clip of the rock jumping kids…

An Uphill Float??

Campground in Northern Idaho

We stayed about a week in a nicely wooded campground in Northern Idaho. Most of the sites were fairly spacious and separated from each other… except two. Ours and our neighbors. The site next door was empty when we arrived, but a few days later a nice couple in a “new to them” motorhome moved in. Their site was so close, I tried putting our awning out to see if it would touch. It actually extended over their rig a few inches in the front! It was only able to do that because their site was a couple feet lower than ours. Anyway, they were nice people and we had fun talking with them. They only stayed two nights.

The Little Lake (Pond) at our Campground

McArthur Lake

With a name like that, we HAD to explore it! We unfortunately picked a windy afternoon, and found that the whole lake was full of seagrass, threatening to clog our clever kayak propulsion systems. We managed to run the length of the lake, but the sky was the prettiest part. If you go there, feel free to skip McArthur Lake.

The name looked good on our GPS!

Meeting Charlie and Din

One evening, (almost our bedtime), we heard some fun music wafting up to our motorhome. I went out to investigate, and ended up spending some time with a fun couple of musicians. They were on a little stage, playing to the starry evening and nobody else. They were not camp employees, but just traveling through and like to sing! In chatting with them, I learned they have two Hobie Mirage Drive kayaks – the same system as our tandem kayak. They talked about a float trip that they wanted to do, but weren’t sure how to do it without another vehicle. We tentatively planned to try it together in a couple of days.