Balloon Fiesta 2008

We enjoyed our time in Albuquerque. We found it was more fun to watch the balloons landing than taking off (landings tend to be a little more unpredictable). We joined the balloon chaser teams and hung out where there were a lot of balloons landing. The Special Shapes Rodeo was particularly neat - there were birds, bees, trains, fish, cats, pigs, and even Darth Vader. The Balloon Fiesta is something I would recommend to everyone - at least once in your life, it's worth taking in.

We are now in western Oklahoma, and should arrive in Missouri on Sunday, just in time to beat the storm which is following us across the states.

into New Mexico - Wolf Sanctuary

In Flagstaff, we had a certified Onan technician trouble-shoot our generator which was not running. He found that we had 3 more gas leaks and literally laughed at how bad the installation was (he called over other technicians and they all had a good laugh). Certainly, it is not so funny. The installers had used piping which was much smaller than called for by Onan, and they had not flaired the copper gas piping well; no amount of tightening would have prevented the leaks. The pipes were severely kinked by their attempts to tighten the connection and the technician was amazed that the generator ever ran! After another $400 in repairs, we're in business. Hopefully the installer will reimburse us once again for the problems.

After leaving Flagstaff, we visited the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in New Mexico and stayed in their RV area. The wolves howled all night (it was fantastic) and strangely, Rex did not howl back. We had a visit in the morning from a tarantula, then took the tour of the sanctuary

We felt sorry for this 12 yr old partially blind wolf who seemed so very lonely in his enclosure. They had tried housing him with others but the others were too rambunctious for this old guy.

This wolf dog is a sad but typical example of a wolf dog - too much to handle for her family, she is now caught in between two worlds, not happy as the high content wolves may be in these enclosures, missing the family connection she once had with humans. Her sadness was clear in her eyes, and makes me cry. We enjoyed our visit but this was not a happy place for us - a holding place for wolves and wolf dogs who have nowhere else to go. The high content animals seem to be happy in their family groups, but low content animals are hurting to be members of a family. Though we have met many folks along the way who had wolf dogs and successfully merged them into their families, it is not something that should be left to amateurs - and many of these animals have to be destroyed.

Sedona - Pine Flat West campground

After leaving the South Rim, we headed towards Sedona and stayed in Oak Creek Canyon north of Sedona for 5 nights. Sedona is in a beautiful setting, and we enjoyed visiting the local state parks / nat'l monuments. Unfortunately, the canyon we stayed in had a healthy skunk population, and we found out Rexie really likes to go after skunks. Perhaps he misses his brother Gabie so much, he thought those black & white kitties would make nice friends. He got skunked! Twice! On Saturday night, it was just a slight spraying, and we had to drive all the way to Cottonwood to find a groomer open on Sunday. Then Monday night, he got hit once again, this time a full spray in the face which blanketed his whole front end. We found a groomer in Sedona on Tuesday, but we think they were rough on him; he was extremely sore the next day and really struggled to move around. It took him a day or two to recover; now he is back to his normal happy self; most people comment on how good he looks and acts for his age.

From Sedona, we headed to Mund's Park where we recharged and rested at a full hook-up park for 4 nights. Then we headed up to Flagstaff for repairs on the generator.

Gary had a great time sliding down the "slide" at Slide Rock State Park:

At Montezuma's Castle:

A very sad Rexie sulking about the skunking - though still he has not learned his lesson and wants to hunt down that little kittie to extract his revenge:

Ray leaving our terrific little camping site at Pine Flat, on his way back to Seattle:

A second visit to the Grand Canyon

After White Horse Lake, we returned to Grand Canyon South Rim. Gary's brother Ray came down from Seattle on his Harley and stayed with us for a while. We had a great time once again at the canyon. I hiked down the Bright Angel Trail a ways, and then also hiked part of the South Kaibab Trail - while the guys relaxed at the trail head. You cannot truly appreciate the size and grandeur, I think, until you hike down and experience a completely different perspective from inside the canyon. It was fantastic, and next time we go, we would like to hike to the river and spend the night at Phantom Ranch there at the bottom.
We also saw lots of mule deer and elk, who basically just hung around our campsite there at Mather Campground. I also feel lucky to have gotten a nice picture of one of the 65 California Condors now living in the area. It was a terrific visit to the canyon.

Gary and Ray had a great time together:

That's our trailer in the background; we had a whole herd of elk sleeping in the woods behind our campsite one day.

Very sad news on our kitty...

For those who knew Gabe, we have some very sad news. On Sept 9, our last day at WhiteHorse Lake, our sweet kitty Gabriel passed away. We are not sure if he died in his sleep of a heart attack - or if he died from a spider bite (the next morning we found a huge black widow on the deck where Gabe spent a lot of time). We found him curled up in his normal sleeping spot - well, not really curled up - Gabe didn't curl - he sprawled - like a dog - which he thought he was. Anyway, I cried on and off for several days and we really miss him (Rexie too). Here recently, Gabe was even going on walks with Rexie and me. He was happy, purring, and playing as normal, including that morning, so it was a sudden thing with no warning signs that we could determine.

He did live a very happy life (absolutely spoiled), but I think went through all of his nine lives along the way. When I adopted him from the shelter, he had lost his mother well before he was weaned (1) and was very sick with a terrible respiratory infection; he almost didn't make it (2). Then there was the fall from the upstairs loft - not the most graceful of cats, he was somewhat of a clutz (3). At about 2 yrs old, we came home one evening to find him dragging his back legs, unable to move them - the vet said to prepare for a $5000 surgery, but after lots of praying and a weekend hospitalized on steroids, he made a complete recovery by Monday (4). Then there was a urinary problem (twice) that was almost his undoing (5 and 6). There was also a close call with a vehicle at Newport Dunes (7), plus an even closer call with our neighbor's dog Sammy (8) -- I think dog druel on his back provided a very good lesson - finally impressing on Gabe that not all dogs are his best friend and brother.

Gabe was just 8 years old; for his entire life, he followed the dog around like his best friend. He was always loveable - the only cat I've ever known who would let you pet his feet - toes and all, rub his tummy, and he would never tire of the attention. He would greet everyone with his friendly nature, and would walk up to complete strangers for some attention, including children (some of whom were not that gentle - yet he would lay there and tolerate just about anything). He would sprawl in the middle of the floor and if you asked him to move, he would just look up at you, with a gaze that said, "go around, and don't you dare step on me". He loved to be carried and held, and would wrap his paws around your neck and your waist, then give you a great big kiss. Truly the sweetest cat.

We miss him terribly.

Gabe relaxing on the deck:

Sprawling next to his best friend Rexie (often he would reach out and place his paw on top of Rexie's) - he always had to be close to that dog:

Gabe the big Mountain Cat exploring the woods:

This photo was taken on Gabe's last day, relaxing (yes - this cat really knew how to relax) in his favorite chair on the deck, at what we now call Gabe's Lake.

Finally online again...

We had a terrific time at White Horse Lake - it was a beautiful place. If ever in the area again, we will stay there. Gary had a 5-day fishing license and caught his limit almost every day - so we had lots of fresh trout dinners. We had fun hiking the local trails (Rexie especially!) and kayaking / boating in the lake. We also had some terrific thunder / lightning storms. It was a thrilling experience in the early morning to listen to the elk calls echoing across the lake.

Steam rising from the lake, early morning: Gary fishing at white horse:

Rexie really enjoyed hiking in the woods:

Greetings from the Grand Canyon

We left San Diego on 8/16 and headed to Laughlin for 2 days - where Gary had a lucky streak, in about 2 hours time he hit a Royal Flush!!! and then a 5 of 5 on Keno, and I won $200 on a Black Jack table. After leaving Laughlin, we then moved on to Grand Canyon where we stayed at the Trailer Village for two nights - it was very nice with full hookups plus cable TV and internet, but we decided we like Mather Campground better (no hookups, but prettier sites amongst the trees). Rexie is much happier in this climate! Below are some pictures from Grand Canyon including a couple of mule deer who walked through our campground and kept their eyes locked on Rexie. Rexie gave them some good growling and posturing so they knew he's a big tough predator. I don't think he knew what they were - but they were big, and they were close, so they needed to be growled at.

Speaking of Rexie, traveling with Rex and Gabriel is like having a couple of kids in the back seat. The cat constantly wandering from one window to the other (are we there yet? are we there yet?), or insisting on sleeping on the center console right in the way, and Rexie periodically complaining - "he's touching me!!! he's touching me!!!" They have a huge area and big cushy padding across the whole back seat - but like a couple of kids they can't seem to share that huge space peacefully for more than a few minutes at a time.

We have changed our plans for Grand Canyon area. We were not happy staying in the "parking lots" they call RV Parks here, so will be staying in Williams at Grand Canyon Railway RV Park for only one week (8/20 - 8/27). Then we are heading to White Horse Lake Campground, which is 20 miles into the mountains, on a beautiful lake. We drove the truck out there today and were thinking we did not want to take the 5th wheel on that gravel road! But when we saw the campground and the lake, we decided this is the place we really want to stay. We will be staying for 2 weeks; it is remote with no hookups, so we will have no TV, no internet - but it did appear to have good cell phone reception. And I have some good books to read, plus we will be enjoying the kayak on the lake.

Then on 9/10 we head back to the Grand Canyon South Rim for another 6 nights. Then it will be on through the Petrified Forest and into Albuquerque.

Chargers - Cowboys game, La Jolla Caves

We went to Qualcomm stadium to see the Chargers trample the Cowboys - woo hoo! It was a fun event - we took the local train / trolley (MTS) to the game - which was much better than parking at the stadium for the $25 parking fee!

We took the kayak out to La Jolla to snorkel and explore the caves. We had lots of fun, had fun paddling into and through the caves. The snorkeling was good, most clear water I've ever seen in SoCal - and finally, we swam with the sharks!!! We saw 3-4 sharks at a time - leopard sharks just swimming around below us. They are just off shore - you can simply walk into the water and there they are - best of all, it's free! If you enjoy snorkeling, I highly recommend La Jolla.

Mission Bay, Coronado, Del Mar

Gary has been having a good time cruising in the Zodiak around Mission Bay.
Rexie enjoyed our visit to Coronado and the dogs beach. Ever since he caught a grunion in Newport, he is very excited to run through the water trying to catch fish. He seems sure that every bit of white foam is a fish. We also have been to Del Mar a couple times to watch the horses.

More pics from the zoo

SD zoo has to grizzly cubs from Idaho; I got some good pictures of them. Also love the snoozing sun bear.

They were walking a wolf through the park so I got several shots of this beauty, who was a little nervous.

San Diego Zoo

Loved the zoo! Although we were sad for some of the animals whose enclosures seemed much too small. Some of my best pictures were of "non-zoo" animals, such as the humming bird. Gary was carrying a plastic bag with water bottles, snacks - and all the animals seemed very interested in it, so we got animals coming right up to us. Except the koalas, who were all napping.

San Diego wild animal park

Went to the Wild Animal Park on a 5-day, 2-park pass which included the park and the SD Zoo; really enjoyed the "Journey into Africa".

Mission Beach

We've taken some nice bike rides around the bay and the beaches (riding everywhere, better than running the truck and much easier than trying to PARK the truck, anywhere near the beach!). Pacific Beach has what I think is the only Hotel ON a pier - you sleep with the waves banging away at the supports beneath you...for only $300/night in the summer...yikes! Mission Beach has Belmont Park (amusement park) and the Wave House where we enjoyed watching guys riding the wave makers. I also rode my bike over to a local dentist I found through 1-800-DENTIST - (after all that dental work while I had dental insurance, the $1000 crown I got just last year broke!) - The amazing thing is, the dental visit - work and all - was only $45! The dentist charged less per hour than the RV repair guy!!!! That really is unbelievable. Anyway, NEVER put a porcelain crown on a back molar, especially if you occasionally, absent-mindedly, accidentally chew ice! Doh!