Sept 19 2021 Getting Blog Ready

Dusting off cobwebs on blog …. I think it’s ready for primetime 🙂

Let’s Roll !

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Day 55 Pikeville Tn – Salem Va – Home

Friday … thought we could get as far as Natural Bridges VA …  we only have approx 750 miles to go to end our journey. Had issues finding a campsite for the nite .. late in the afternoon .. decided to stop a Salem Va .. Dixie Caverns Campground.

Sat morning departure from Salem Va …

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Sat .. left Salem campsite at 6:15 in the morning … early start .. 450 miles to finish line .. think we can make it home today… Made 4 stops during the day .. lunch .. rest areas .. After 10 hours of driving .. we made it ! It was a long day .. but .. we really wanted to be home…

Welcome sign encouraged us .. but .. we still had approx 2 hrs driving time left

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Arrived home at approx 4:30..  unloaded truck and Casita in stages .. first .. unload .. second clean and put away our stuff… it was a very long day .. but .. at the end of the day ..we slept in our own bed after 2 months on the road .. it felt GREAT  !

No major issues with either GMC or Casita… although Casita was ‘bruised abit’ .. Alot of landscaping to do in yard .. grass/weeds have taken over .. pleasantly surprised that deer didn’t destroy our flower/plant beds .. Must have been that heavy dose of ‘Deer Scram’ and ‘Liquid Fence’ we used before we left. Indoor plants and house were all in good shape .. thanks to our home Crew .. thanks ‘guys’ ! Thanks to Nick & Leslie for letting us campout at your Tenn place .. we needed those 2 days of rest !

A few stats …per AAA our driving time (not including any side trips) was 89 hrs 49 min.. for a total of 5,852 miles. No issues/problems with directions .. time we spent with AAA in trip planning was well spent .. thanks .. Debbie !

Loop is complete !!!

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Still haven’t totaled up any expenses … will post some numbers when we sort through the bills. Need to sort through MANY photos and video clips .. dashcam clips and time lapse clips … hope to condense everything in an online VIMEO video …. That’s going to be a big project … but .. it will be fun reviewing our travel adventures. We had fun .. endured some 100 + degree days in Utah /Arizona .. met up with old/new Casita friends .. and explored places we’ve never seen before …

Thanks for following us on our Casita Adventures.

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Day 53-54 Pikeville TN and Day 55 Salem VA

 

Catching up on blog .. went ‘dark’ for a few days …..

Spent 2 nights in Pikeville Tn at Nick & Leslie’s property .. They had campsite utilities all setup for us .. just needed to park the Casita … very convenient !! Spent most of our days relaxing and catching up with what’s been going on …  needed a few days of non driving .. temps continued to be warm … actually had some rain last night … haven’t seen rain in quite awhile !  Took a ride int Chattanooga TN .. for a quilt shop run and for lunch .. Well rested .. we left Pikeville this morning at 7:30.. heading towards Virginia … toying with the idea of making it home in 2 days ..  but .. that’s alot of miles to cover ..

Friday …. went from Pikeville to Salem Virginia … 350 miles … i 40E to 81 N .. we’ll take 81 N for almost the entire trip home … After today’s drive .. we’re ‘semi-confident’ that we can make it home tomorrow !! Wanted to drive another hour or so today … but .. had trouble finding campground .. tried 2 .. both filled up ..Need to cover approx 450 miles tomorrow .. but .. thinking we will leave early .. take our time .. and arrive home whenever … just want to be home before dark .. So .. if all works out .. this will be our last night at a campground !!! (for now) ..

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Day 52 Buffalo Tenn

Tonite’s Location….   note …. Our trip loop is almost complete !

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280 miles closer to home … uneventful drive  .. a little messy around Memphis .. merges .. construction .. traffic cones everywhere .. Staying at a KOA in Buffalo Tenn.. just a few min off I 40 E… Not unhitching again tonite .. makes things alot easier in the morning.  A little reorganizing of truck and Casita .. and off to bed … All ‘business’ today .. no sightseeing or photos..

Next stop Pikeville TN to spend some time with Nick & Leslie and the ‘Canine Crew’ …..

Glad we’ve moved on from our Tucson campground .. we stayed in Oro Valley ‘Catalina State Park .. photo below is Oro’s temps this week … brutal ! Read that several hikers in AZ have died recently due to heat related issues ….

 

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Day 51 On to North Little Rock Arkansas

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300 miles closer to home …. long day on I 40 … No issues until we reached our campsite .. KOA mistakenly thought our reservations were LAST nite not TONIGHT.. so .. they charged us for $10 cancellation fee .. and if we did not show up today .. we would have been charged for the entire nite. They seemed a little reluctant about refunding our $10 .. but .. they will talk to owners and/or KOA.. Needless to say WE will followup.. need to make sure they don’t charge us for two nights instead of just one. Camp hosts appear not to be on top of things ….. Campground is full .. so .. I guess we’re ‘lucky’ we have a site for the night.

Father’s Day lunch/dinner at Cracker Barrel …. Blue Bell ice cream for dessert later tonite.  🙂

Driving all day .. no photos .. tired .. and will go to sleep early tonite … !

Tomorrow’s plan is to head to Tenn …..

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Day 50 Amarillo TX to Choctow OK

Another 270 miles closer to home … Left around 7 this morning .. thought we’d get an early start .. stop at a FlyingJ’s for gas and Denny’s for breakfast .. one stop shopping was the theory .. Not to be .. filled truck .. but .. no parking in lot for us so we could have breakfast. We have had this ‘issue’ with FlyingJ’s before .. most of them do not have dedicated spots for rv/travel trailers. So we backtracked a few miles and found a Cracker Barrel .. they ALWAYS have rv/trailer parking… it’s one of the main reasons we go there .. (biscuits is another reason !).  FlyingJ’s are NOT rv/trailer friendly .. even though they advertise they are .. sent an email to FlyingJ to advise them of what I think of their parking 🙂 To balance things out .. I sent an email on Cracker Barrel website (as well as spoke to onsite manager) as to how great their service was .. we were approached several times by different people (including manager) asking how we were doing .. do we need anything .. can they clear our plates .. etc .. everyone was friendly .. from waitress’s to cashier .. to folks working in their ‘store’ .. Quite a few times we’ve run into some unfriendly … grumps folks in stores and restaurants .. Cracker Barrel  folks were on top of their game !

After driving 90 min .. we pulled into an info center/rest area… very nice .. well kept and clean. Browsed some tourist brochures for the fun of it .. not thinking of anything special .. came across info about RT 66 Museum .. it was just off  I 40 .. a few miles down the road .. so we thought we’d check it out.

Actually .. we were traveling on a portion of Rt 66 (I 40) .. Alot of museums and restauranats going with Rt 66 themes in alot of states … posters .. tshirts .. pins .. hats .. etc .. etc . Rt 66 is a big business. Small but nice museum ..  in that Rt 66 goes from Chicago Ill to Calif .. this museum was built from a Oklahoma perspective .. Actually found another Casita in museum parking alot ..

 

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RT 66 Diner opened up in 1956 in Shamrock TX .. (double click second photo to read story

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Did you know .. Phillips 66 gas stations were named to cash in on RT 66 name .. very similar shield logo

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Terri cruising in her red convertible ‘Vette !

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Misc photos taken during our tour …

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Staying at a nice KOA campground tonite … Choctow OK.. wide sites .. pull through .. individual/private showers .. No issues driving today until we got close to Oklahoma City … we could see alot of very dark clouds in direction we were heading … we haven’t seen rain in many weeks since we’ve been on the road … sky was split … dark clouds around us but there was a small patch of clear sky in between them .. we could see lightning and hear thunder on both sides of us .. as luck would have it .. we only encountered a short burst of heavy rain for a few minutes. Rain came at a bad time in that we were in some congested areas .. fortunately .. storm went around us .. and we stayed dry while we setup Casita … very lucky ! We can tell weather is getting more and more humid as we travel East .. miss that ‘dry’ heat .. 100 + days in Utah and Arizona … NOT !!!!

Tomorrow we head to Arkansas .. next day we should be in Tenn !

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Day 49 Santa Fe to Amarillo TX

284 miles on the road today .. switched over to Central time zone.  On I 40 E for almost the entire day .. (as we will tomorrow and the next day)….  A little problem getting a campsite reservation .. Fri.. weekend coming up .. Father’s Day.. finally found a place in Amarillo ‘Overnite RV Park’ .. not the greatest .. but we are not unhitching and will leave first thing in the morning … In that reservations may be tricky .. we went ahead and made reservations for tomorrow nite at a KOA in Choctaw Ok.

Got settled in at our campsite at around 3:30.. Found out that there is a shuttle service from campsite to a restaurant called ‘The Big Texan’ .. we’ve seen numerous billboards during our ride up .. so we decided to check it out .. especially in that we do not want to unhitch tonite .. Shuttle driver picked us up and drove approx a mile to restaurant..   Very Texas touristy .. food not great .. but atmosphere was ‘interesting’ .. Split a meal (small steak) and salad and a dessert …

An attraction is that if you can eat a 72 oz steak with all the trimmings .. you do not pay .. if you can’t finish meal in 60 min .. you pay $72… Saw a few guys try it .. not even close to finishing the meal .. one guy left with 2 doggie bags he had so much left over. Before a challenger starts .. announcement is made he’s read the rules .. he gets to take a bite to ensure steak is to his liking .. entire crowd cheers .. the clock countdown starts !!!

Shuttle .. nice horns on the hood !

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You are probably  thinking ‘what does 72 oz of steak look like ??

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Inside was all out Texas decor  ..

 

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One of the challengers .. (we left before his time was up).. he just started .. he had 57:12 min left

 

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Two  more challengers at the table .. both unsuccessful

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Misc photos …

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‘Time Out’ box for ‘troublemakers’  🙂

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Day 48 Santa Fe ‘The Plaza’

Spent most of the day in downtown Santa Fe .. focal point is a green park ‘square’ in town called ‘The Plaza’ .. Shopping to had for several blocks around ‘The Plaza’ ..  Local native craft venders are lined up with their jewelry .. pottery .. fiber crafts .. etc .. etc .. Numerous clothing stores .. Art galleries .. Sculpture galleries and gardens.. and of course many restaurants in the vicinity. We would have liked to have been visiting during the weekend .. when many more venders and live bands perform on The Plaza.. but .. for a week day .. there were quite a few people milling around.

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Alot of churches around downtown .. one of the most interesting was the ‘Loretto Chapel’ .. beautiful architecture .. and an amazing story about it’s staircase to the choir loft. Church was built in 1870’s .. seems as though a conventional stairway could not be built because it would impact seating capacity of church. As legend has it .. on the last day of prayers by ‘The Sisters of Loretto’ a mysterious carpenter arrived to design and construct a circular stairway ! Tools on his donkey were .. a saw .. a T-square .. hammer and tubs to soak the wood. ‘Miraculous stairway’ contains 33 steps in two full 360 degree turns. Stairway has no center support nor is it held from the side .. it’s full weight rests on the final tread. Upon completion .. carpenter disappeared .. no records found for any materials purchased.. Originally built with no railing .. 1880’s a railing was installed …. How was this ever designed and built … no nails .. just wooden pegs. There is no known duplication of this design .. Engineers and Architects still marvel at it’s design.. Needless to say this is a very popular tourist attraction .. all seats in Church were almost filled.

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Other random photos from today’s visit..

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Day 47 Turquoise Trail

Spent almost the entire day on Turquoise Trail … Scenic Rt 14 Byway that took us through several off the beaten roads into some pretty small towns. Very interesting day .. alot of history .. and alot of quirky things to see and do. Brilliant idea to have the trail .. leads tourists to places they may not have noticed .. good for townsfolk .. bring tourist $$ into town. A few of towns we visited mentioned below ….. Entire trail is approx 60 miles .. we covered most of it.

Cerrillos..  gold, silver, lead, zinc and most of all turquoise was mined heavily in the 1880’s..  At it’s peak ,, town supported 21 saloons and 4 hotels (note .. Cerrillos is a very small town). At one point it was being considered for capital of New Mexico. Main street recently got paved .. side streets are still dirt roads .. Movie ‘Young Guns’ (Keifer Sutherland) was filmed in Cerrillos..

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Madrid .. Woodstock on steroids … rich history of coal mining.. today it is a distinctive artists’s community. Because of the unique geology in the area .. hard and soft coal were mined with shafts going as deep as 2500 ft. Company town became famous for it’s 4th of July parades .. lighted Christmas displays (Walt Disney paid them a visit to check out Xmas decorations) .. had first lighted baseball stadium (minor league) in the West. In early 70’s artists and craftspeople converted old company stores and houses to shops and galleries. Movie ‘Wild Hogs (John Travalta) used ‘Diner’ in town as a backdrop.

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Sandia Crest .. high point on the trail .. 10,678 ft.  ski and nature area. Also home to Tinkertown Museum .. voted in top 10 of small museums.. A little backround info…  Museum has a definite circus vibe …

‘It took Ross Ward over 40 years to carve, collect, and lovingly construct what is now Tinkertown Museum. His miniature wood-carved figures were first part of a traveling exhibit, driven to county fairs and carnivals in the 1960s and ’70s. Today over 50,000 glass bottles form rambling walls that surround a 22-room museum. Wagon wheels, old fashioned store fronts, and wacky western memorabilia make Tinkertown’s exterior as much as a museum as the wonders within.’

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While there we met Oma and Esmarelda .. A self proclaimed Swami and his partner .. a goose .. They read our Tarrot Cards .. fortunately our ‘fortunes’ were good ! Oma is quite the character !

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Day 46 Truth or Consequences to Santa Fe

Had an early breakfast in T or C at a highly rated breakfast place per TripAdvisor .. ‘Passion Pie’ .. Quite abit of a hippy vibe going on within this cafe and entire town .. We both had waffles … TG went for the fruit and whipped cream version .. got a little more than she was expecting …  yes .. there is a waffle underneath all that whipped cream .. no .. TG could not finish it ! To borrow a phrase from someone .. ‘it was a plate of regret’ !

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200 miles today .. mostly arid.. scrub brush terrain …. hardly any traffic until we approached Albuquerque … Staying at Santa Fe Skies RV Park .. outside Santa Fe City limits .. Santa Fe has an altitude of 7000 ft .. 1500 feet higher than Denver .. so .. we are expecting much cooler temps during our 3 night stay. Santa Fe is supposed to be in the top 10 cities with the cleanest air on the planet !!! To conserve water .. Santa Fe businesses and homes cannot have green grass or water often… lack of water is a big issue in SouthWest …

After setting up . went into town to find a pharmacy to get some meds renewed .. lunch .. then back to campsite for showers .. Alot of sightseeing scheduled for next 2 days .. we’ve never been to Santa Fe .. all new to us .. One thing on our to do list is check out ‘The Turquoise Trail’ … Almost 60 mile Scenic Byway (road) from Santa Fe to Albuquerque.. alot of History and Arts & Craft stops along the way .. I’m sure we can spend most of the day on The Trail …

 

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