Monday, December 28, 2009

My Top Ten Adventures of 2009

Looking at the map of where I went this year, it looks like I was going around in circles. But sometimes things just work out that way, and with wheels you can go wherever you want.

It was fun looking back through the blog and picking my favorite adventures of the year. If you click on the links, you can read the original posts. Let's start with -

Number 10 -- Rapid City, SD. Supposedly my hometown. I visited Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Custer State Park, and did lots of other stuff.

Number 9 -- Moab, Utah made it to the top ten even though I've been here many times before. I always find something new to do, and continue to enjoy things I've done before. New this year was the "secret hike" to False Kiva, a hike up Mill Creek, and a jeep trip to Hurrah Pass. Even more fun here, here, and here.

Number 8 -- Ft. Worth Stockyards. We got to park right at the stockyards which was why it made it to my top ten. We went to a rodeo and did lots of dancing here and here. And got our own private tour of the Lockheed Martin plant.

Number 7 -- Bandera, TX Dance Rally. This was my second year attending this dance rally put on by Singles International in the Cowboy Capital of the World. We started out with a wienie roast with a L'il Abner twist, then had lots of great dance instruction, dress-up dances, and nights out on the town.

Number 6 -- Lake Powell Houseboat Trip. After being delayed by high winds, the trip turned out to be terrific. The highlight was a visit to Rainbow Bridge, the largest natural bridge in the world.

Number 5 -- Aspen, CO with the Grandkids. I joined up with Corrie and family while they were on vacation here. We went white-water rafting, to a rodeo, and to Maroon Bells, one of the prettiest places I've ever been.

Number 4 -- Attending my first Escapade, put on by the Escapees RV Club. I won the first door prize, went to lots of seminars and shows, and even became a star!

Number 3 -- Grand Teton National Park was one park I've always wanted to explore more. I went on some beautiful hikes, saw lots of wildlife, and spent some time in the town of Jackson.

Number 2 -- Cheyenne Days - a not-to-be-missed experience, including several parades, breakfasts for 10,000 people, rodeos, and concerts. I even got to see a near hanging!

Number 1 -- Nashville, TN. Since my daughter went to school here, I had been here before, but never when the CMA Music Fest was going on. WOW! I only went to the free stuff, but it was great! I also went to the Grand Ole Opry.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Goodbye to a Special Friend

My little Westie, Molly, passed away this week. She lived a long and happy life, to the ripe old age of 15 1/2.

When I first got her as a puppy, I lived in a house. I don't have any puppy pictures with me, but I do have a picture of her doing her favorite thing - watching TV. She even seemed to understand the plot line, and would start barking when the bad guys went after the good guys.

After I started RVing, she would sit on my lap so she could see the TV.

By far, her favorite person was her "sister," Corrie.

And her least favorite thing was getting a bath.

She really loved having a "new outside" every day. In my old trailer, she had her very own window.

In the new trailer, I could open up a door so she could see out.

She got to do some pretty exciting things, even kayaking with her very own PFD.

She was buried at the pet cemetery outside Yuma. It's off the road to Algodones, and a really nice place.

I know her grave doesn't look like much, but I plan to make something special to mark it.

Goodbye, Molly! I really miss you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Little More on the Slabs

Although parts of the Slabs do look like this, most of it is fairly clean. It seems to have gotten even better in recent years.

Several groups, like the LoWs have nice facilities that are spotless. They were very friendly and invited us WINs to join them several times while we were there.

This is the home of Linda, the unofficial "mayor" of the Slabs. She puts out a newsletter and has a radio program each day.

The residents are really friendly, albeit a little eccentric. Lizzie invited us all to her birthday party, but unfortunately it wasn't until February.

There are all kinds of vehicles at the Slabs.

And most of them have solar panels, since there are no electrical hookups here. Solar Mike at The Sun Works takes care of everyone's needs.

The Slabs has some unusual amenities. Check out this Olympic size swimming pool, left over from the days it was a military base. Well, maybe some water would help....

But wait, here's a natural hot spring. The water drains from here into "The Hole," a natural shower.

Most evenings there is free entertainment at "The Range," an outdoor stage. This was also shown in the movie, "Into the Wild."

There's a beautiful pet cemetery. I recognized 3 of the pet names: Cody, Mina, and Thor were beloved pets of WIN members.

One truly amazing amenity is the library. It is open all the time, and you are free to take a book if you need a book, or leave a book if you have an extra book. No strings attached.

Begun by Peggy Sadlic, who passed away 9 years ago, it is carried on by her significant other, shown here straigtening out the shelves.

It even has "Inernut Access!"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Salvation Mountain

The highlight of any trip to the Slabs, near Niland, CA, has to be Salvation Mountain.

Built over the last 25 years by 78-year old Leonard Knight, it's a huge piece of folk art that's been declared a National Treasure by Congress.

Leonard welcomes you so openly that you feel like you are a long lost friend. He gives everyone a personalized tour. Although the mountain is decorated to highlight his religious beliefs, he doesn't push religion on you.

You may remember that Leonard, the mountain, and the Slabs were all in the movie "Into the Wild."

His current work centers on "The Museum," the area to the right of the main structure. It's supported by "trees" that Leonard built from old tires.

And tree branches that are bolted together and decorated.

A closeup of the largest tree made from tractor tires.

Outside of the front of The Museum you can see how he incorporated windows into the hay bales and adobe.

Out back you get a good view of the new hay bale construction.

So far, the Leonard has used 100,000 to 200,000 gallons of paint, most of it donated. Because of the extreme heat and sunshine here in the summer, the mountain must be repeatedly repainted.

Around 1994, the state said the land was contaminated by lead paint and the mountain must be removed. Petitions and protests ensued, and in the end Leonard hired a private company to do testing. They said the land was clean. So now it's a National Treasure and safe from destruction.

At the end of the tour, Leonard invites you to climb "The Yellow Brick Road" through 2 painted waterfalls to the top of the Mountain. You might have to look closely to see me - I kind of blend in!

There are also many decorated vehicles on the property. This one even had an old faded WIN sticker on it!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Making Art from Trash

The "Slabs", just outside Niland, CA was the next stop on the WINs Western Winter Circuit. This is a unique place, an old abandoned WWII military base, where RVers and others can live free for as long as they want.

One morning we took off on a trek to find one of the more interesting residents.

This is Container Charlie's home, consisting of a large storage container and several small outbuildings/trailers. The container is hard to see here, but it's underneath the satellite dish.

Since there is no electricity here at the Slabs, the container is covered with solar panels, enough for Charlie to do his welding, and run his A/C in the summer when the temps go to 120 degrees.

Some of the Slabs are covered with junk. Charlie decided to turn his section of trash into art objects. This tower is a work in progress, but there are many other completed projects in his yard.

Charlie is a friendly and open guy, who gave us to a tour of his place and answered all of our questions.

Some of the things I especially liked -- The fence, made out of bed springs.

A collection of bottles for future art projects.

A baby grand piano.

A full size bus that a stranger dropped off and buried in the backyard. Charlie fixed up the inside and uses it as a guest room. He had to straighten up the bed, table and stove.

When Charlie first came to the Slabs, he lived in this VW van named Cinnabar Charm. It's now covered with various items.

As are several cars.

All in all, a great experience. More on the Slabs to follow!