Friday, April 20, 2012

I Think we are about through Tornado Alley

April 16th (Monday)
Much better today so on the road fairly early - headed for Pierre, Nebraska

Have some head wind, but not too bad. Making good time on the northward run, crossing those now famous Nebraska Sand Hills, made famous by all the news about the Canadian Pipeline proposal to cross them. Then we stopped at a large slough that is the water level of the Ogallala Water Acquifer to take some pictures of some Pelicans flying over head. While I was out, noticed that my power cable to Toad was pulled away from ELTORO and dragging on the pavement, and had worn about half the fixture away. I tried to "Jimmy Rig" it but with out much success. Plugged back in still had right signal light and right break light, but nothing on left side. Decided to just travel on till I could buy a new one. Only 30 miles or so to Valentine, Nebraska, and once there found a new one at the Napa Auto Store. I asked and he told me of a RV Park just 5 miles north of town, so we decided we would stop for the rest of the day and get our repairs completed there. Found the park easily along the highway and checked in at a self check in. Only two other units there, a motorhome and fifth wheel, but seemed no people around. A nice park with all the amenities except cable TV, but clean and neat. I made a full meal deal for breakfast as it was still only 11:30 AM. We enjoyed bacon, eggs, potatoes and fried tomatoes, juice and coffee. Then with my able assistant repaired the power cable. Need to make sure all the wires are attached in the proper spots, and my assistant made sure of that. No second guessing!! Hooked it up again and Holy Shit, everything worked as it is supposed to!! Rest of day --- more relaxing.

A nice little "Fish Pond"

A curious "Killdeer"

The "Power of the Wind"

They looked meaner than they really were

Another nice sunset

April 17th (Tuesday)
Onward north today - weather good - no issues - left the highway 83 and went west 20 miles at Selby to find a RV Park on the Missouri River at Mobridge, South Dakota. A little basic but still OK for 1 night.

Highway Bridge over Audubon Lake

Riding the Rails
April 18th (Wednesday)
Another day, another couple hundred miles closer to home. Weather good, roads just OK, 60 or so miles of no shoulder, but from Bismarck on to Minot was all 4 lane and good. Had reserved in Minot at the Roughrider RV park. They are in the process of rebuilding this year as a result of last years flooding. Everything is still in quite a mess, but they found a dry site for me for 2 nights. Last year on May 12th, I believe they said they were told to evacuate as a wall of water from Canada was headed their way, and with in 4 hours it did arrive and flooded the park to about 4 feet deep. They were not allowed to return till in July, and little rebuilding could be accomplished for the rest of the year. They only opened this year on April 10th, and they are now hard at work to get things in order. A new office has been built and construction is everywhere in the park, Sewer, water, electricity, etc. It is going to be some time before things are back to normal!
2009 Satelite imagery

2011Satelite imagery

Souris River
 The Souris River flows out of Canada near Estevan, Saskatchewan, and as you can see is very slow moving with oxbow after oxbow, so when heavy rains hit the area the water does not drain very fast and just floods the whole river valley. Eventually the river returns to Canada in Manitoba and then back into the States to joins the Red River south of Winnpeg and adds the the flooding issues there. As one man we met commented, "When the Big Guy up there designed the earth he basically did a good job, but he sure made a mistake here by draining the water northward rather than to the South."
April 19th (Thursday)
Overcast and cool this morning ---- and a few of those white feathers falling. What are those things things anyway????

Completed Cross Border sales for last 4 months
Calculate we owe about $65 GST - we are happy and willing to pay that amount - Denice's and my individual calculations were only about $6 apart. We completed those numbers by noon, so will rest the rest of the day --
April 20th (Friday)
Woke up this morning to light rain, but after checking the weather decided it did not look too bad so hit the road by 8:00AM. 95 miles to the border at Portal, south of Estevan. Arrived there at 9:30, prepared to be asked to come inside and declare our purchases. Drove up to the entry window, and answered the usual questions:

"Where are you from"?
"High River, Alberta"
"Do you have your passports"?
"Yes, here they are"
"How long have you been out of the country?"
"105 Days"?
"How much were your purchases worth?"
"How much liquor do you have"?
"1 1/5 liters of rum and 2 cans of beer"
"Any fire arms"?
"Any cigaretts or tobacco products"?
"Do you have over $10,000 with you"?
The agent returns our passports and says, "Thank you and have a great trip home"
------- Absolutely Amazing ---------
On the road again within 3 minutes of arriving - had planned on being detained for an hour or so, and was not sure how our wood turning blanks from Texas might be viewed, although I had gone through their website and printed out the reasons that I felt justified approval of them into Canada. Guess its a non issue now. Two hours later we were in Moose Jaw and settled into the Prairie Oasis RV Park for the remainder of the day.
April 21st (Saturday)
Only drove as far as Medicine Hat today and stopped for an overnighter at Ross Creek RV Campground
April 22nd (Sunday)
Medicine Hat to home - Uneventful - Now the fun stuff of unpacking

Thursday, April 12, 2012

On the Way North, Up Tornado Alley

April 9th (Monday)
Heading north again this morning from Junction to Padukah, Texas. Not much in this town but I had found an RV park owned by a J D Brooks, just a good ole Texan boy, with a long drawl, so booked in there. Very Plain Jane, but what the heck!  Not many spots but to get to the one I picked had to pass under some trees branches, Broke the stove/furnace vent and one bathroom vent. Damn!!  Patched with McGiver tape. What would we do without Duck tape??  We will see how it holds uo in the wind travelling tomorrow.  Weather forcast was for heavy thundershowers, Hail, and wind, with a possibility of tornado activity in the area!! Denice freaks out, so I call the owner and ask about shelter in the event. Advised to go to the court house with a ramp down underneath for protection, should the warning sirens sound. I unhook the jeep and we go and find the place, then return home and wait and watch TV updates. We only get heavy rain, light winds, no hail, and no tornado. Just a good nights sleep.
April 10th (Tuesday)
Leisure day, up the road for a couple hundred miles from Padukah tp Liberal, Kansas, crossed the Oklahoma panhandle as it is only about 35 miles across. Arrived in Liberal early and found a RV Park east on Highway 54 about 5 miles out of town. It is very nice and well  maintained but bare and flat. Reserved for 2 nights at $25/night
April 11th (Wednesday)
Went down highway 54, back through Oklahoma and  to Texhoma, that is right on the border of Oklahoma and Texas today. Denices Aunt is buried there since she passed away 6 years ago. We were at her funeral at that time, but have never had the chance to return so when we were this close decided we should place some flowers on the grave.  We placed flowers on both Uncle Bob"s and Aunt Leona's graves.

Then returned to Liberal and went to The Wizard of Oz and Dorthy's house. One of Denices long time wishes!! Rather ironic that the Wizard of Oz is all about tornados and yet there has never been one in Liberal, Kansas. Go figure!!

April 12th (Thursday)
We had planned on moving north today, but the wind was howling and not a nice day so we just decided to sit another one here.  Went to the Liberal Air Museum. Its the 5th largest in the USA.
April 13th (Friday)  Bad Luck Friday the 13th
Good weather this morning so on the road by about 8:30AM. Only travelled about 160 miles to a Good Sam park in Oakley, Kansas. Had thought of going farther, but as far as I can see the next couple of days may be at "Basic" RV Parks with few amenities, so we decided to stop here and make sure where the next stops might be. The next good park seems to be in Bismarck, North Dakota, with probably a couple of poor ones in between. Likely no WIFI for a couple of days!
April 14th (Saturday)
We have been following the weather pretty slose and just sort of dodging all the possible tornado areas along the route by stopping early or travelling beyond their projected paths. Today seemed a pretty good day with little weather events forcast, so we headed north again, but only planned on going to North Platte and then hold up over Sunday when high winds were forcast. 40 Moles after leaving Oakley we encountered "Pea Soup" fog, and it just went on and on for a hundred miles. Sometimes thick, sometimes not so bad. Finally just before North Platte it finally lifted, so we were glad to check in to a "Good Sam" Park there. Spent a quite afternoon as weather was nice. Sun shinning and warm.  4:30 PM there was threatening thunderstorms, but we decided to just go around the corner to "Applebee's for a bite of dinner. Well --- all hell broke loose!!  City tornado serens started blaring, the TV's switched to a local weather channel. Tornado sightings started being reported. Two touch downs just 5 miles south of the city at Malone Lake (they have an RV Park there and as we passed by we commented that maybe we should stop there) and one at the "Flying J", a half mile from us. Before leaving ELTORO we had put the slides back in, "Just in Case". Thank God we did. Rain and hail just pelted down for a hour or so. We were comfortable in the restaurant, enjoying our meal, but the manager and waitress kept coming around with updates about the tornadoes, and advised if the sirens indicated the need, that we would be moved to the restaurant coolers. We never had to, but it was close a couple of times. We stayed there much longer than we intended to, but seemed the safest spot. When we left we thanked the manager for his accomadation, but advised the entertainment was "Not So Hot" Finally we did return home, but were only there a short time until the sirens started to blow again.
Threatening Clouds

Parked in a Lake

TV's diagram of storm direction

 The "Fall Out Shelter" in the park are the bathrooms. They are in a sturdy separate cement block  building. We did stay in ELTORO with the TV showing the storm cells, but ready to evacuate quickly if needed. Denice has her emergency kit packed with her pills and our passport inside. She says that is the most important things to protect. A rather violent rain and hail storm did pass by with quarter sized stones. I made a run for it and drove the jeep under a tree. It was struck several times but seemed to suffer no damage. ELTORO was also struck a lot with some dimples to the curved sections on the top roof edges and at least one small hole in the bathroom vent cap. It only lasted about 10 minutes and then cleared quickly, but large severe looking clouds continued to show through out the evneing. We hope that is all for today!!
April 15th (Sunday)
In a word ----- boring ---- especially after yesterday

Strong winds so just sitting it out today

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The last days in Mission & Heading North

April 2nd ( Monday)
Little to report. Just relaxing and enjoying our last days here.
April 3rd (Tuesday)
Little to report. Just relaxing and enjoying our last days here.

April 4th (Wednesday)
Starting to Pack up for the move north later this week
April 5th (Thursday)
Packing up. Didn't think we had a lot to do, but seemed it took the whole day to accomplish the task. Of course the weather had some impact on that, as it was 100 F and felt like 110 F, so there were several water breaks inside, in the air conditioned motorhome. We did stop for a brief period this morning before it got too hot, and went over to the Butterfly World. Now I did not take many butterfly photos, but I did take a few of other interesting subjects!

The weather today from my weather station

A friendly little guy

and two more

A Thresher

A Baltimore Oreole nest - Only uses it once

Close up of same
We are seeing lots of them around here so we knew there would be lots there, as they have planted all the flowers that attract the various species if them. After taking some pictures of the rather elusive little guys, and of course some pictures of the bird population, we returned home to the packing and, Alas, all was accomplished by 8:00PM. Then I even had time for a short time in the cool swimming pool to lower my elevated temperature.
April 6th (Friday)
Well today was final Day in Mission. Hooked up TOADONE and on the road by 9:00AM. First travel day for 3 months, and so we started slowly with only 150 miles northward on Highway 83. We had routed in a stop for the night at Loredo in the State park there but when arrived they informed us being the long week-end that we would have to book for 3 days. "I don't think so!" so moved on north another 20 miles to Los Boitines RV Park. We have stayed here many times before. It is rather basic, but good people so checked in there by 1:00PM. Had some lunch and then wandered around the park for a bit. The prickly pear cactus are all in bloom and are especially beautiful. We took photos of yellow, red, pink, and orange blossoms on them. I mentioned that this RV park was very basic, but as we wandered around toward evening found a tremendous upgrading in progress, even since last fall when we stopped. Many new concrete pads have been built, and a pioneer village is in the works complete with a little church, bar, prison wagon, barber shop and store. A very large new building is also in the works. Looks as it might be a gift store and maybe a restaurant. We will have to see next trip down.

As a post script: yesterday we paid 10 bucks to go and see all the butterflies in Mission, today we had very close ups of them all, as they were plastered all over the front of ELTORO!!!!!

Saw a lot of Scissor Tail Flycatchers today, Apparantly they are just starting to return to this area for the summer. We have seen them before, but they are rather unique as they have a very long tail that they open up as they fly down to catch flys, then they usually return to the same spot on any high wires then wait for another fly to be within striking distance.

April 7th (Saturday)
Again on the road by 9:00AM on 83. Very good highway with little traffic. Followed 83 this time north rather than taking the highway along the Rio Grande and Mexicn border. This route took us into new territory for us and into Texas Hill Country. The road was perfect, the traffic very sparce and the scenery exceptional. Even though it has been hot here, spring is blooming in Texas and the wild flowers are out of this world.

As the traffic was so low and the two lane highway had quite wide shoulders we stopped several times just to photograph the blooming plants (no pun intended) Arrived in Junction, TX by about 1:00PM and checked into a Good Sam RV Park
April 8th (Sunday)
Today we wanted to see another cavern that was fairly close by our route. Sonora Cavers are west of Junction on I 10 and about 60 miles up the road. We have been past it before, but never took the time to stop and go for a tour, As we are in no rush this year we decided to just take the time and do it. Drove up I 10 and then south 7 miles to the caverns. We were concerned being the long week end that there would be too many people there for us to enjoy the time there, but were pleasantly surprised at how few people were there. In fact our tour was only 4 persons ourselves and an other couple. It was great. The next series of pictures are just random ones that I took as we were guided through the caverns.

Access Road to Caverns

This is a lake that is 5 feet deep.  Sooo Clear!!!

Another of the lake

A popcorn formation

Close up of same

Bacon Formation

Chrystal Formation


The Caverns of Sonora is recognized as the most beautiful cave in Texas and one of the most beautiful show caves in the world. The Caverns of Sonora is located on Interstate 10, about half-way between Big Bend National Park and San Antonio Texas. We are located 15 miles southwest of Sonora, Texas and the Caverns is a great place for people of all ages to experience the wonders of nature. Along with guided tours of this beautiful cave; there are many other activities to enjoy such as gemstone panning, exploring the nature trail, enjoying a Group Tour, Specialty Tour, or one of our many Workshops, camping out in an RV or tent, or just relaxing and enjoying the outdoors.
The Visitor Center and gift shop, built in 1961, is a ranch barn design with vaulted ceilings and exposed oak beams. Come in and browse the wide variety of merchandise including sterling silver and gemstone jewelry, handcrafted stoneware, and unique rocks, minerals, and fossil specimens from around the world. Try a sample of fresh cream and butter fudge made right here at the Caverns of Sonora.
In 1966 the cavern was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior, and is one of the most active caves in the world with over 95% of its formations still “growing”.
National Speleological Society co-founder, Bill Stephenson said, after seeing Caverns of Sonora for the first time, “Its beauty cannot be exaggerated, even by Texans.”