Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Like I said before, we are in El Paso, parked in the famcamp near the Ft Bliss Army base. The famcamp is not on the base, just outside, but, it has full hookups and they will give you a $2 discount if you're holding a golden age/golden access pass. It's not a 50% discount, like up at the North Dakota Air Force bases, but, it's better than nothing. Ron got his medications refilled and we met fellow Boomers Steve & Kay Krasovetz, who were already here. We had happy hour with them yesterday and also went out to a Chinese dinner with them. Too bad they were leaving so soon, but, they had already been here awhile and were on their way to Florida for the winter. It was so nice to meet fellow Boomers that we know of after seeing them post to the BBB now & then. We hope we have them talked into joining us for Quartzsite in 2010.

Tomorrow morning, we are headed out to Las Cruces, NM, to meet some more Boomers, who have since gotten off the road and built themselves a nice house. We're looking forward to seeing them again and seeing their house. I'm sure we'll have more pictures of our get together soon.

That building on the left is a house, the upper story is just a shell

After getting back to the main highway, it was only about 16 miles to the border to go back into Texas. We did make a brief stop at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park visitor center, just to see what there was in there. As we were going in the door, I took a picture of some walking sticks making babies. Apparently these two had been photographed a lot that day.

Driving up there was a gradual climb up to the top, here we are going down the windy road back to the highway..

Lots of parking available, but, get there early in the day

By the time we got back to the parking lot, most of the RV's and the tour bus were gone.
When we first went in, the weather was quite nice outside, but, after being underground and wearing my sweatshirt, coming up out of the hole, found the outside temps as being a bit warm. Ron wanted to walk down towards the natural entrance to maybe get some pictures of it, but, I didn't really want to walk in the heat. Instead, we browsed around the gift shop and bought an ice cream in the restaurant. We just took a picture of the path to the entrance and also the buildings you see on the side of the hill probably belong to all the rangers working at the park.

You might have to click on each one so you can see it better. Looking at it in person is different than seeing it on the camera...

These next two pictures are the same, but, I included both of them, so you can maybe see the ape man it appears to look like. If you have great imagination, there are some amazing shapes inside there. There were some stalagtites hanging from the ceiling that looked just like lion tails, but, our picsof them didn't come out that great.

We decided to stop and visit Carlsbad Caverns on our way by. We haven't been to the caverns for about 19 years, so wanted to see if there had been any changes made. When we went through, there were still guided tours and they also had colored lights throughout the whole cavern area. When we were there, in 1990, there was no visitor center and we parked out in the dirt.

Well, now there is a visitor center and a paved parking lot. We actually were able to find a spot to park the bus and car. The RV parking spaces were all filled up, so we parked on the other side in the regular car spaces. If you have a National Park golden age/golden access pass, you don't even have to pay for the tour. There is no guided tours anymore for the masses, you go at your own pace and they have an audio tour, where you buy a headset or two and at the numbers, you press the corresponding number on your headset and it tells you the history about that spot you're standing at. We just bought one and I carried it.

We couldn't go into the natural entrance that day, because there were some migrating bats coming in on their way south and since they don't live in the caverns, I guess they were a little leary of going so far inside and like to hang out around the entrance. So, they didn't want the people scaring them, so we had to go down to the caverns in the elevators. (When we first toured these caverns, we did go through the natural entrance and I couldn't believe it when we got to the end of the tour and went up in elevators.)

Once we got down there, another surprise was seeing the restaurant, (now closed for the season) and some tourist items down there. I know they didn't have all that when we were there last. The lighting down there wasn't very good for taking pictures and since the shutter speed was so slow, it was extremely hard to hold the camera so still, so a lot of our pictures came out blurry. But, a few of them did turn out okay, so those are the ones I'm posting.

We did talk to a ranger on our way back out and they are trying different lighting, like maybe LED, rope lighting or something that doesn't cause algae to grow in the cavern. They will be redoing the wiring in the whole cavern, because some of it goes back to the 1920's and all the remodeling will probably take about 3-4 years. Don't know if they will close the cavern or just close parts of it while they are doing all this work, but, it should be real nice once they are done.

One other thing we learned, well, I learned, while we were walking through. Remember, I have the headset. One of the things the rangers have to do on a regular basis is pick lint off all the decorations in the cavern because of all the people walking through. Tons of lint come off of our clothes on a daily basis, think about what the lint trap looks like in the dryer from just one load of clothes. If they didn't do that, I can't imagine what the stalagtites & the stalagmites would look like with lint all over them.

These windmills are still being used in the vast reaches of cattle country to bring up water for the herd

Wind turbines are alive and well in Texas, we saw several different areas full of them.

A rest area with the picnic shelters shaped like oil derricks

On Sunday morning, everyone was going around taking last minute pictures, getting info from the others. The rally master had made a list of everyone there with names, addresses, phone numbers & emails, so we could keep in touch if we wanted. The other good thing about that list was it could be used to help out a fellow bus nut in need, if he broke down in Texas. One new friend we met, who had recently bought a Flx Highliner, told us that if we had any problems at all driving out of Texas, to call him and he would come to help. Fortunately, we are not having any problems at all with our bus on this trip, but, it's comforting to know we have friends all over who would help if we needed them.

We got on the road and started heading towards Lubbock, TX. Our ultimate destination was El Paso and we wanted to get as far as we could that day. We ended up staying overnight in a small town called Brownfield, which is about 50-60 miles south of Lubbock, we were now in the cotton producing region of Texas.

Can you pick our bus out of all those down there?

One of the bus members had a nephew who was going to be flying over our area on his way home, so she had called to ask if he could take a picture of our group from the air. I'm sure his wife was with him and she's the one that took the pic. It shows 24 buses showed up to this rally and a good time was had by all.
Ron learned a lot by talking to the other bus owners that were there. One of the things he learned about was something called "slobber tubes", a contraption that you somehow hookup so that the excess oil that usually spews behind the bus and gets all over the tow car, as well as the back of the bus, goes into these catch tubes instead. He says he knows what to do to get it hooked up and we shouldn't have any more problems with oil spray. This next picture has got to be the cleanest engine I have ever seen, he obviously has one of those slobber tubes hooked up because I don't see any oil anywhere!
That last picture of the cute little red & white one is called a Flxible Clipper. It belongs to one of our members, you might have seen one like it in the movie "RV".

The next few pictures are of the various buses that were at the rally, too bad we didn't wait a day or two, they would have looked better in the sunlight.

About an hour after we set up, a bus came in and parked right next to our friends, Jere & Ronnie. They had a bloodhound puppy, about 7 months old and he was not accustomed to being tied up. Apparently, he was able to roam at will at home. Well, let me tell you, this puppy barked almost the entire time we were there!!! The reason being, his owners would just go off and leave him tied up, a couple of times they were gone in their car and the rest of us had to put up with his barking!! Talk about rude!!! It would seem that he wasn't very disciplined, the few times I went up to pet him, he would get so excited that he wanted to jump up on me and he had a habit of biting at my jacket sleeve. He just needed to play with a dog of his own size or maybe run his legs off somewhere out of the state park, just to release some of that pent up puppy energy.

Once, while we were walking Star, we let her get close to him and it was plain they wanted to play together. Ronnie was afraid he would hurt her, because he was a lot bigger, but, I think she would have been able to dodge him quite well, as he was still in the clumsy puppy stage. Anyway, we managed to get a couple of cute pictures of this monster dog.

Our little group enjoying dinner, but, all bundled up and then enjoying the fire

Fellow bus nuts waiting for dinner, while the rally master is cooking up hamburgers & hotdogs.

Apparently, this was the 3rd annual "All Bus Rally" and we were hoping for a good turnout. The weather wasn't the greatest, at first, cold, windy and cloudy and everyone was bundled up that first day and night. Eating hamburgers with all the fixin's and no tarps to keep out the prevailing wind, BRRR!!! But, there was a roaring fire at one end of the pavilion, so most of us, (me), were standing as close as we could get to it, without burning ourselves.

We would have loved to have stayed a few more nights at this lovely campground, but, the bus rally was calling to us, so we left on Thursday morning and thought we'd be one of the first ones there, but, there were already about 6 or 7 already there. We picked our spots and Ron starting sprucing up the bus...

An overall view of the campground

Our spot next to the lake

Wednesday, October 21

Hi folks, well, it's been about a week since I've posted any pictures and that's only because we
weren't in a very good cell area. We are now in El Paso, so I can get caught up on the blog.

When last I wrote, we were in Sherman, TX at an Elks Lodge getting ready to move up to the Corps of Engineers Park. These next pictures show us all settled into our sites by the lake, and with our golden access card, we paid only $10 a night, which was a great price.