Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Things Matter - Don't They?

The Thing?

Come with us as we go to see the thing. Do you believe in extraterrestrials? 

If you have driven I-10 through New Mexico and Arizona you had to be asleep not to have seen sign after sign advertising "The Thing."  For three hundred miles bill boards tease and entice you with things like "See the Mystery of the Desert" or "What is it?"

Well, I'm happy to say I have the word "Sucker" written on my forehead. We paid our money and willfully, dare I say happily went into "The Thing Museum" and had a ball viewing all the exhibits. 

Do you believe in alien life? Are you at least open minded about it? I'm not talking about folks that are crossing our borders, instead I am talking about the extraterrestrial kind of alien.  

Once inside the museum, the signage extols "What if....the conspiracies, cover-ups, and concealments are true?  What if.....the conspiracy theories are based on the truth."  How could you not want to go and see what they offer?

Entertainment or Truth?

The creators of the "museum" were very careful to frame every claim with a "what if," but their hypothetical situations were both funny and fascinating.

Dinosaurs Were Once Ruled by Aliens From Another Planet?  Say Whaaaat?

 Must Be True. I Mean, Someone Built a Museum About It After all

Family Snapshots

Yes folks, what if there were aliens here from another planet that used mind control to control the dinosaurs?  And then the dinosaurs figured out that they were being controlled and turned on their masters?  So the aliens sent an asteroid to make the dinosaurs extinct.

Is Human History a Lie?

And what if there were "good" aliens and "bad" aliens …. and the "bad" aliens controlled the likes of Hitler while the "good" aliens are responsible for all of the technological advances that have helped society?  They have pictures where you can see an Alien in the background where WWII treaties were signed.  If it's in a picture, it must be true, right?

Throw in a few bits of "old stuff" and "stuff we found in the desert"....don't forget the dinosaur bones with suspicious marking..

Who Controls Your Mind?

Where the Hell is Elvis and Was He Probed?

And at the end..."The Thing".....perhaps an alien from prehistoric time.  Who knows?  But how fun to speculate.  

This exhibit reminded us of a bad B movie or a junior high creative writing project.  It was too much fun to turn away, but certainly nothing to take seriously.  Definitely worth our investment of $8 and change for the tour.

After the tour, make sure you shop at their gift shop.  In addition to "Thing" tee shirts, there are some pretty cool blankets and moccasins, jewelry and sculptures.  Yep, this is where our cheap date got expensive.

Where to find the thing?  Take Exit 322 off I-10 in Arizona.  From there, you can't miss it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Exploring Saguaro National Park

Exploring  Saguaro National Park was a unique experience. No where else in the world does Saguaro grow in "forests.  Even with ever increasing pressure for housing around the park the Saguaro thrive in this other worldly place. If you visit Tucson by all means take the drive to the National Park and see the Saguaro. Join us as we visit the Giant Saguaro Cactus Forest (click below).

Friday, December 7, 2018

Estimating and Replacement of Our Wind Damaged Patio Awning

  Wind Gust Ripped our Patio Awning Off (Part 2)

November 9th 2018

Some of our readers may know about our RV patio awning getting ripped off by wind. Now that we are in the Benson/Tucson area we will be getting estimates for repairs. Getting one blown off while in motion is sort of nerve racking and dangerous at best.

And then there is the whole what to do about removal after it happens. I can tell you it's a bit like playing Jenga. If you get it wrong you gotta problem and if you screw up you could damage the coach or RV while removing the wrecked parts.

Since we were in disbelief of what had just happened Martha googled what to do when your awning does this while I dug out the tools, rain coat and my 10' step ladder.  She ended up looking at Exploring the Local Life's blog for advice since this happened to them. We pondered the problem for a bit before we decided to rip down the remaining awning and awning arms.

The bottom line is that if the awning hardware was substantially bent or ripped through it's pivot points and mounting hardware you are screwed. You might as well just take it down. My first thought was that I could maybe save the awning roller. But on close inspection I could see that it was damaged too. Since there was no dumpster nearby I did something I would never do otherwise. I left all the debris in a ditch along the highway.  

Removing our wrecked patio awning

Estimating Insurance Replacement and Labor Costs

December 4th 2018

Today's task is to get an estimate started for replacement.  I didn't think I would miss having the awning but when you want to grill something in the rain, well, it's indispensable. Tucson where the repair guy's shop (Ricks RV Repar) is located is about an hour away. This requires me to break camp and then re-establish it later in the day. It'll be a pain in the arse but necessary. 

So, I went to the repair shop in Tucson (Ricks RV Repair) and we discussed my options for a new awning. It'll depend on how much the old custom awnings replacement will cost. It is/was an electric awning with a wind sensor. What I really want to replace it with is something on the order of the type awning Entegra uses. Our side walls are very tall and the old awning came almost straight out from the coach. In this configuration there wasn't much shading because the awning was 12' off the ground. Entegra uses one that looks like this:

desired awning replacement

This configuration will provide the shade we want but I worry it won't take much wind.  Not making a decision yet so I have a bit of time. Getting your RV awing ripped off while you are driving really sucks. But it could have been much worse.

December 10 2018

We seem to be making some progress on putting together an estimate. Rick from "Ricks RV Service" called me this morning with some concerns regarding being able to get information on the awning that came with the RV.  He will be contacting Newmar for information on the old awning by using the original build sheet for the coach. So, we wait again.

December 12 2018

Ricks RV Service sent the claim to State Farm and copy to me. The total for replacement and labor is $3,469.00 for the awning hardware, awning fabric and labor. I am going to talk with Rick and find out if we can work within this budget and replace the one awning with two.  I would like the power awning on our kitchen slide which is next to the entrance door and a manual awning on the space between the kitchen and bedroom slide with this one set down lower on the RV so we can reach it to put the awning out.  I guess I will determine what we can do after State Farm reviews the estimate.

More later. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Getting Your Cowboy On - Tombstone Arizona

Viewing Businesses along Allen Street - Tombstone, Arizona 1879

Like most children of the 50's, I grew up with westerns. I watched every black and white television series like The Lone Ranger, Sky King, and Gunsmoke. And we lived for movies like Fort Apache, High Noon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Winchester 73, anything with John Wayne in it and, well you get the picture.  

When I learned how close Benson, Arizona was to Tombstone I knew we had to visit.  As you might suspect, it is now a tourist trap. But the history is true, the shoot out at the ok corral was real. But there is so much more history to this town.  Is Tombstone a tourist trap?  Yes.  Is it worth going to?  If you are fan of western lore and western movies, by all means.


Viewing Allen Street - Tombstone Today

In 1877 a man by the name of Ed Schieffelin was staying at a place called Camp Huachuca, Arizona and during his stay, he decided to join a military expedition to scout for Chiricahua Apache Native American strongholds.


Ed would leave the expeditions encampments to look for rocks within the wilderness despite the fact that fellow soldiers at his camp warned him not to. The soldiers told him that he wouldn’t find stones out in the wilderness and would only eventually find his own tombstone. Fortunately, for Ed, he did not find his tombstone, but he did find something. He discovered a large exposed vein of silver in the place he eventually named Tombstone, an name which he of course took from his military friends.



Word of the silver find soon spread and the town of Tombstone grew.  If you are a fan of the wild west you have no doubt heard of Tombstone. The area around Tombstone became well known for its silver mines. And more people came to the town. Some were settlers, storekeepers and miners. But others were looking for easy money. These were gamblers and thieves who drank too much alcohol and settled their disagreements with their guns.



Big Nose Kate

By the end of 1881, the town of Tombstone had a population of more than 5,000. It also had five local newspapers, at least two theaters, a courthouse, hotels and many local drinking places. And a gunfight had already taken place that would forever include Tombstone among the famous stories told about the American Wild West.


Doc Holiday

One of those famous stories was about gunfight that took place on October 26, 1881 between the town's top lawman, or marshal, and his deputies on one side and an outlaw group called the Cowboys on the other at the now famous O.K. Corral. On the day of the famous fight, those men were gathered near the OK Corral, an enclosed area used to keep horses and other animals. They were armed, in violation of a town ban against carrying guns. They were also drinking alcohol and threatening to kill the Earp brothers.

Wyatt Earp

Morgan and Louisa Houston Earp

Virgil Earp


Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp and Morgan Earp (not positive this is real)

Virgil Earp decided that it was his duty to disarm them. His two brothers and a friend, the gunfighter Doc Holiday, went along to help. The four walked down the street toward the corral. Virgil Earp told the cowboys to surrender their weapons. Billy Claiborne ran away. And the fight began.


Ike Clanton

Historians say 32 shots were fired in the space of about 23 seconds. No one really knows who fired first. But Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton died of gunshot wounds. Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded but survived. Only Ike Clanton and Wyatt Earp were not hurt in the gun battle.


Wyatt Earp's Wife Josephine aka: Sadie Jo

Looking At Tombstone Today

Today, Allen Street in Tombstone is the "main drag."  The sidewalks are boardwalks and the street is dirt, and everything (except the merchandise and the prices) feels like you're back in the old west.  There is a "theme park" where you can see a comedy gunfight and of course, the OK Corral, where you can see a re-enactment of the famous event.  The courthouse is now a state park, and the gallows where the guilty were hung are still in the yard behind the courthouse.  You can tour the town in a Humvee, a trolley or a horse-drawn wagon.  There are several museums, only one of which is free.  Expect to spend $5 to $15 per person on anything you do.  



Catch a Stage?




Friday, November 30, 2018

Driving West Texas (is monotonous) & Getting Ready to Explore Benson Arizona Area

West Texas

Oil and Nothingness 

Martha and I have made our way from Thanksgiving with family in the Dallas area to Benson, Arizona for a month stay before moving on to Tucson, Arizona.  There are only two words that encapsulate how I feel about West Texas "Oil" and "Nothingness." 

For hundreds of miles along I-20 in West Texas,  you only see a brown, stark and unforgiving landscape with the added bonus of plenty of wind to keep your attention while driving.  There is little there to hold the dirt in place, so when the wind blows, there is dust in the air.

The landscape, buildings and curious looking oil field structures along with a tangle of rusted tanks and pipes dominate wide open plains. They paint a bleak and stark photo in my mind reminiscent of the photos taken of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. I imagine a woman with a child clutching her leg both with desperate looks on their faces peering at us passing from a dusty old beat up house.

Everything you see along the highway looks tired and worn looking. Sprinkled here and there are shiny, bright and gaudy looking businesses called truck stops that look weirdly out of place in the desert. West Texas is inexorably tied to big oil and gas and its inevitable that when the oil runs out most of West Texas will run out too.

Once you are on I-10 and past El Paso, you enter New Mexico and the scenery changes from everything oil related to miles of nothingness. You encounter a string of cattle feed lots, then it goes from arid to drought stricken, with frequent warnings and instructions about what to do in a dust storm. While it felt bleak and stark to me, Martha said that it felt like she was going home.

Starting Our Exploration of Benson and Surrounding Area

Today we are going to the Pima County Fairgrounds for the RV show mainly because we want something to do that we don't have to work hard at. Later in the week we are going to see "The Thing" It should be interesting. What is the thing?  I don't know but the billboards along two hundred miles of I-10 tease you into wanting to know.  We may even let you know what we see.

We made a couple of overnight stops prior to arrival in Benson. The was "Whip In RV Park" in Big Springs and then "The Desert Willow RV Park" in Van Horn, Texas

Our in Route Campground Reviews Below

(see more reviews and our blog at

WIFI Yes, slow during peak hours morning and evening
ATT - Yes, two bars, three bars with WeBoost
VERIZON - Yes, four bars. five bars with WeBoost
SERVICES - 20/30/50 AMPS, Sewer, Water and cable
OTA TV - Not used here
COORDINATES  32.223400, -101.481400

COST $32.00 dollars with Good Sams a little expensive but if you need full hookups this is the place. 


REVIEW - Easy off and on I-20, great overnight spot and easy back onto the highway. We were able to get a pull through site that handled our rig and toad (55') but reserve early in the day. Great staff, dog park. The park has a lot of full time oil workers living there but it was surprisingly quiet here other than the noisy highway nearby. This is a great overnight spot and if you stay here ask if site #18 is open as it is almost a straight shot out of the park from there.

Our site was #18

site #18 Big Springs Texas

Site #18

Desert Willow RV Park - Van Horn, Texas

WIFI - Yes, works but slow
ATT - Yes, two bars, three bars with WeBoost
VERIZON - Yes, four bars. five bars with WeBoost
SERVICES - 20/30/50 AMPS, Sewer, Water and cable
OTA TV - Not used here
COORDINATES  31.040250, -104.827010

COST - $25 dollars nightly $22.50 with Good Sams
DISCOUNTS - Good Sams and many others (military, etc.)

REVIEW - Mom and Pop place in the city of Van Horn. Large parking lot like appearance but we were in West Texas where all parks match this description.  The park was neat as a pin, though.  Not a thing out of place, and it was obviously well cared for, unlike much of the main street in Van Horn.

Easy off and on I-10 and into and out of the RV Park. Owner is a nice guy and very helpful. You are in walking distance of the only "fancy" restaurant in town which is at the El Capitan Hotel. We did not eat there but I was told the food was good but expensive. The park is all graveled and can be dusty when the wind blows.

Travelers hint - If you need fuel and are leaving early in the morning do yourselves a favor and avoid Loves Truck stop. It is a really hard to get on the highway there after fueling. It seems there is a second entrance to Loves directly adjacent to the I-10 on ramp. Truckers line up to get fuel by using the ramp approach. Because the are so lengthy they block the ramp access by moving as far left on the approach as they can so they can make the turn. It's truly a cluster (insert appropriate verbage here). We waited a little over one half an hour waiting on the traffic jam to clear and it only cleared because a Sheriff's Officer sorted the mess.

Click Photo to Enlarge

Van Horn Texas

Van Horn Texas

Van Horn Texas

Our most recent blog

Things Matter - Don't They?

The Thing? Come with us as we go to see the thing. Do you believe in extraterrestrials?  If you have driven I-10 through New Mex...