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Adventures in the Villa

2021-07-27 – Heading to Missouri for the Oregon Trail caravan… Day 5 – Liberal, KS to Wichita, KS

We left Liberal, KS, at about 9:30 am. We will be in Kansas all day today!

Kansas looks a lot like Oklahoma. At least the part of Oklahoma we saw yesterday…

They do have windmills here. We saw many more under construction…

Here is a windmill blade being transported on a truck. They are over 110 feet long!

Our first stop of the day is Dodge City! and the Boot Hill Museum… We parked the Villa to check out the town.

Dodge City was named after nearby Fort Dodge. The city is famous in American culture for its history as a wild frontier town of the Old West. Its population was 27,340 in 2011.

The US Army built several forts in this area, starting in 1847 (When this area was still Mexico) and ending in1865, when Fort Dodge was built to provide protection for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. Fort Dodge remained in operation until 1882.

The town of Dodge City can trace its origins to 1871, when rancher Henry J. Sitler built a sod house west of Fort Dodge to oversee his cattle operations in the region, conveniently located near the Santa Fe Trail and Arkansas River, and Sitler’s house quickly became a stopping point for travelers. Others saw the commercial potential of the region with the Santa Fe Railroad rapidly approaching from the east. In 1872, Dodge City was staked out on the 100th meridian and the legal western boundary of the Fort Dodge reservation. The town site was platted and George M. Hoover opened the commercial establishment – a bar.

The railroad arrived in September to find a town ready and waiting for business. The early settlers in Dodge City traded in buffalo bones and hides and provided a civilian community for Fort Dodge. However, with the arrival of the railroad, Dodge City soon became involved in the cattle trade. Deputies Bat Masterson Wyatt Earp both served in Dodge City.

In 1866, the first Texas cattle started arriving in Baxter Springs in southeastern Kansas by way of the Shawnee Trail. However, Texas Longhorn cattle carried a tick that spread Texas cattle fever among other breeds of cattle. Alarmed Kansas farmers persuaded the Kansas State Legislature to establish a quarantine line in central Kansas. The quarantine prohibited Texas Longhorns from the heavily settled, eastern portion of the state.

With the cattle trade forced west, Texas Longhorns began moving north along the Chisholm Trail. In 1867, the main cowtown was Abilene, Kansas. Profits were high, and other towns quickly joined in the cattle boom. However, in 1876, the Kansas State Legislature responded to pressure from farmers settling in central Kansas and once again shifted the quarantine line westward, which essentially eliminated Abilene and the other cowtowns from the cattle trade. With no place else to go, Dodge City suddenly became the “queen of the cow towns.”

A new route known as the Great Western Cattle Trail or Western Trail branched off from the Chisholm Trail to lead cattle into Dodge City. Dodge City became a boomtown, with thousands of cattle passing annually through its stockyards. The peak years of the cattle trade in Dodge City were from 1883 to 1884, and during that time the town grew tremendously.

Dodge City became famous because no town could match its reputation as a true frontier settlement of the Old West. Dodge City had more famous (and infamous) gunfighters working at one time or another than any other town in the West, many of whom participated in the Dodge City War of 1883. It boasted also the usual array of saloons, gambling halls, and brothels, including the famous Long Branch Saloon and China Doll brothel. For a time in 1884, Dodge City even had a bullfighting ring where Mexican bullfighters would put on a show with specially chosen Longhorn bulls.

As more agricultural settlers moved into western Kansas, pressure increased on the Kansas State Legislature to do something about splenic fever, known today as anthrax. Consequently, in 1885, the quarantine line was extended across the state and the Western Trail was all but shut down. By 1886, the cowboys, saloon keepers, gamblers, and brothel owners moved west to greener pastures, and Dodge City became a sleepy little town much like other communities in western Kansas.

Today the Boot Hill Museum showcases ancient artifacts, stages gunfights daily, and offers other tourist attractions…

Apparently there is a festival coming up. We’re not sure what it is, and we’re not sticking around to find out…

But we do like old towns. We explored the town of Dodge City… There are historic, old west restaurants right next to the museum..

But seriously folks, there is a nice section of the old town that has been restored…

I like to see details of how new construction technology is uses to preserve old buildings…

Across the street from the town is the Santa Fe Depot…

So we enjoyed some history in Dodge City, then we were back on the road, heading to Wichita… Kansas is quite lovely from one end to the other…

We arrived in Wichita to the Air Capital RV Park. Nice clean sites. Again, good power is a must. It is 97 degrees, and 86% humidity. It is not suitable for man or beast…

At 6:00 pm we called Uber, and we were driven into “downtown” Wichita, to George’s Bistro. We had some time before our reservation, so we walked for about 20 minutes. (Note to self: avoid walking in this kind of weather!)

But we did find the Allen house, completed in 1918, and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. We were here in 2019 and had the full tour… See photos in the Blog archives: Search “Allen House”.

Back at George’s Bistro we went in to cool off. We sat at the bar and ordered Old Fashioneds, made with Boot Hill Distillery’s Bourbon. Drink Local!

We had a lovely dinner of French Onion Soup, Steak Tartare, Pomme Frites, and Crepes with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, and Arugala. I had brought with us a 2005 Cht Clerc Milon, a tasty Bordeaux…

Dear long-time reader: If you think you’ve seen this photo before, you’re almost right…

This was taken at the same restaurant in June, 2019…

We Ubered back to the Villa. An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-07-26 – Heading to Missouri for the Oregon Trail caravan… Day 4 – Tucumcari, NM to Liberal, KS

The RV park in Tucumcari (a KOA) is mostly for overnight stays – it’s not exactly a vacation resort. By the time we poked our heads out of the Villa at about 9:00 am all the other RVs were gone… It’s a strange feeling, and an odd sight to see…

So we headed out at about 9:15 and we pointed the truck roughly Northeast. Today we will drive though portions of four states!

We soon left New Mexico and entered the Texas Panhandle. Lynda almost shot a photo of the Welcome to Texas sign…

Around 10:30 am we arrived the cute little town of Dalhart, TX, population 8,400. We have driven through many small towns on our various trips, and most of them are decrepit and derelict. Not Dalhart! It is a thriving town with many nice residential neighborhoods

It also has train tracks right through the center of town…

So we stopped and waited. And waited… Finally we pulled off the road and parked. There was a very nice Family Dollar store here, so we went in a bought a few trinket’s

Finally the train moved on. (It had been moving slowly, back and forth – adding or subtracting cars somewhere along the line…)

We continued on, and soon entered the panhandle of Oklahoma. We spent about 100 miles in Texas and about 50 miles in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma looks a lot like Texas around here…

And it looks a lot like this, too…

Yhe GPS on the dash was pretty accurate…

We see signs of civilization now and then…

We see these everywhere… Anyone know what the small yellow pipes are doing connecting with the yellow tower in the background?

We finally arrived in Kansas – our fourth State of the day… We turned off onto the old highway…

We found our RV park for the night…

This is on the outskirts of Liberal, Kansas, in the far southwest corner of the State. The park is Very primitive, but they have good 50 amp power hookups. We were set for the night. Did we mention it is HOT here? We quickly turned on both ACs and enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-07-25 – Heading to Missouri for the Oregon Trail caravan… Day 3 – Grants, NM to Tucumcari, NM

We awoke in the Villa in the early morning, we quickly readied ourselves to depart, and we pulled out of the alley onto Main Street. We stopped briefly for coffee and breakfast sandwiches, and we were on the freeway again. These cross country trips are quite utilitarian, and we don’t do much sight-seeing.

We had an uneventful trip. We had more rain – enough to wash off all the mud we picked up whilst parking in the alley behind the winery. We stopped for fuel, as we do each day. We also stopped at a Rest Stop to eat lunch in the Airstream, and to walk around a bit to get our exercise…

At a little before noon we arrived way too early to check-in to the KOA RV Park in Tucumcari.

But we spent some time walking and we were finally shown to a very nice parking spot…

We spent the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the AC – it’s 90 degrees here – the warmest day so far, but we anticipate our next two stops in Kansas will be hotter…

Dinner was our massive quantities of left-over pasta from Moscato on Friday evening. And some nice California Pinot Noir…Always good movies on TCM, and good books to read. I finally finished David Rockefeller’s “Memoir”, and I have started Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories”… Lynda is reading an eclectic mix of novels she picks up at used bookstores and thrift shops. We enjoyed a pleasant evening and an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-07-24 – Heading to Missouri for the Oregon Trail caravan… Day 2 – Camp Verde, AZ to Grants, NM

We had a fairly leisurely morning. We enjoyed a walk around the RV park, and eventually got around to packing up and heading out. We drove north towards Flagstaff. About 20 minutes into the trip I realized that I had failed to attach the electrical umbilical cord. We stopped as soon as it was safe. Indeed, it was dangling off the tongue , and dragging on the pavement. It was a bit worn…

But I was able to reconnect it and everything (lights, brakes, etc.) were all working again. And we were off again.

At Flagstaff we turned east and proceeded across more desert. We entered New Mexico…

We had more rain around Gallup, and lots of traffic after that. The roads in Arizona are abysmal, even though they are constantly under reconstruction. Today we came to a “detour” without any warning, and without posting an alternate route. We lost about an hour of time, poking along at about 5 mph. But we had plenty of time.

We even stopped to be tourists for a few minutes. We stopped at The Petrified Forest National Park; but we didn’t go in – we just stopped at the gift shop. We bought some representative sample of petrified wood for the Grandchildren. They really are interested in gems and minerals these days; we think petrified wood will interest them.

We finally arrived in Grants, NM. As we were exiting the freeway we received a telephone call from our host for the evening – The Uranium City Winery. She talked us in, and we parked around the back. The Uranium City Winery is a member of Harvest Hosts, as are we. We can “camp” at the various business members locations – wineries, orchards, museums, and the like. The Uranium City Winery isn’t much to look at, and the town is not exactly a bustling metropolis, but we had fun!

We were directed to park around the back, about six feet from the winery’s back door. Did I mention that it was still raining?

We went inside to enjoy some wine tasting. Some of the wines were even made with grapes! Unfortunately, their best seller, Cabernet Sauvignon, has sold out. But we tasted a muscat (pretty good), a mead (not a fan), a plum wine (quite good), a cherry wine (not so good) and a sangria (very good). We had a great time chatting with the owner, who grew up in Grants in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was a boom town, supporting the booming uranium mining industry. But in 1975 the federal government stopped subsidizing uranium mining and started to allow the importation of uranium. Within a few years Grants was a ghost town, and it is pretty much unchanged since then. The family moved to Moab, Utah, which continued prospering for a few more years. Then she moved to Texas, finally coming home to Grants 30 years later. With the wine and great conversation, we had a great time. We returned to the Villa, ate some leftovers from Moscato for a simple supper, and turned in early. (Boondocking like this we don’t have TV, internet, or a microwave oven, and we skimp on the lights…)

But an enjoyable time was still had by all…

2021-07-23 – Leaving Home, heading to Missouri for the Oregon Trail caravan… Day 1 – Redlands, CA to Camp Verde, AZ

We’re off again! This time we are going to retrace the path of the Oregon Trail, from Missouri to Oregon. To do this we must, again, drive through the California desert, drive through the Arizona desert, through the New Mexico desert, and on through a corner of the Texas desert, through a corner of the Oklahoma desert, then on into Kansas, and finally into Missouri. We will be retracing some of the same roads and places that we have been through before…

But first, here is an update of our grandchildren…

Roisin got to ride the big school bus to go off to beach and surf camp…

Ian visited The La Brea Tar Pits and stuck his finger into the tar…

George got a little dirty when he had a minor fall during a family hike…

Evelyn has found her calling as “Super Woman”…

They have enjoyed their summer, doing the many things that have been off limits over the past 15 months…

But back to out trip…

We had an uneventful day driving across California and Arizona…

Not the first time we have been in Arizona, but it is always fun to take a photo of the sign…

Arizona looks like this along this route…

We had a little rain, but nothing that delayed our trip. We headed north at Phoenix, and continuing to Camp Verde, located about one hour south of Sedona. Camp Verde is a sleepy little town that has the best restaurant in this part of Arizona. People drive the hour from Sedona because it is better than anything there…

Camp Verde looks like this… We are at about 3,200′ elevation…

We found the RV park. We are in, connected, and paid for…

So, after checking in to the RV park, we freshened up and headed to Moscato Italian Restaurant. We had a fabulous meal, with courses that were way too large – we brought home over half the food. (We drank all the wine…)

Next to our table was a group of six men, about our age, who were celebrating a birthday. They were having a great time, and on occasion we could hear someone mention their Airstream. Several times. We were not sure which man it was, so as we were leaving we stopped at their table and asked, “Which one owns an Airstream?” It turns out that four of them own Airstreams! They were all from Sedona, and, like I said, they drive the hour to Camp Verde to eat at Moscato. We had a fine discussion about Airstreams, diesel trucks, and the finer things of life, and we then left them to continue their celebrations.

We returned to The Villa. An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-26 – Home from Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 31 – Parker, AZ to Redlands, CA

The day dawned beautifully. It was warm, but not too warm to walk about the park.

At about 11:00 we set up our lounge chairs on the beach… The river was quiet still, with a few water skiers and very few racing jet skis and motorboats…

But it was hot. Sitting in the shade only lasted about 20 minutes before we had to go dip ourselves in the water to cool off. It was refreshing…

We had lunch in the coolest part of the restaurant, then returned to the beach. But it was hot. We decided to go back to the Villa and relax in the coolness of the AC, but it was hot.

How hot was it?

We decided to head for home early. We quickly packed up the Villa and we were off at about 5:15… About 30 minutes we were back in California. Also, interestingly, we were also back in San Bernardino County, the county in which we live. We will drive through San Bernardino County for the entirety of the trip, another 3 1/2 to 4 hours…

Lots of interesting mountains to see through this stretch of desert wilderness…

Near Desert Center we came across these palm tree farms…

Finally, at 9:10 we pulled into the storage spot in Mentone Beach…

We off-loaded the Villa into the truck, arriving home just after 10:00 pm.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

PS: Next blog begins July 23, when we head to Missouri to participate in the Oregon Trail Caravan…!

2021-06-25 – Heading Home from Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 30 – Leaving Las Vegas

We had a leisurely morning with time to walk around the park. It is a huge park, with a variety of types of sites and amenities…

We left Las Vegas about 9:30 and headed south through Nevada…

We continues south through Nevada…

Outside Las Vegas there were these very impressive solar farms…

We are headed down through the tiny southern point of Nevada. We stopped in Searchlight to stretch our legs…

And we continued south through Nevada…

We briefly re-entered California at the 40, as we continued on to Needles…

And we continued southeast through California…

There is an exit at Needles to drive along the historic Route 66…

And then we crossed the Colorado River once again and entered Arizona…

California and Arizona have plenty of interesting mountains…

As we headed south on AZ 95 towards Parker we saw smoke ahead…

We never figured out what this was – how does the desert burn like this? But we did hear later that Arizona did close all their State-owned public lands due to the many fires…

We eventually found the Colorado River again…

We found this nice little enclave of vacation homes in the middle of nowhere…

We suffered through the traffic that is Lake Havasu City, and finally arrived at the Pirates Den RV Resort. This place has seen better days… as have all the “resorts” and trailer parks and campgrounds along the river…

When we tried to check in to our site the manager told us that it was not yet available. The current occupants had truck trouble, and were just now started to pack up. We went into the restaurant to wait – it was 110 degrees outside – and, since we finally had internet access we could check our phones…

The resort has many waterfront sites, with private beach cabanas. We didn’t have one of these…

But it is great fun to watch the boat traffic in the river…

Because of the heat we turned in early.

An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-24 – Heading Home from Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 29 – Las Vegas, Nevada

We were up early again. We think. In this part of the world it is difficult to tell time. Our watches, phones, computers, and dashboard clocks kept switching back and forth between Pacific Daylight Time and Mountain Daylight time, depending on which satellite or cell tower it found…

We headed south across Nevada…

We continued south across Nevada…

We continued south across Nevada…

Then we continued south across Nevada…

And we continued south across Nevada…

And we continued south across Nevada…

We stopped to stretch our legs, in Nevada…

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Finally we came across some interesting features alongside the road…

There was even a lake!

We pulled into the Oasis RV Resort just after noon…

We had a brief dip in the pool…

We had happy hours and dinner in the Villa, watching old movies on TCM.

An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-06-23 – Heading Home from Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 28 – Ely, Nevada

We started out today by leaving the RV Park at 7:50. We headed out to buy fuel. However, the phone app that told us where it was was wrong, so we had to back track. On our way we were stopped by a train crossing.

We sat there for over 20 minutes… While some people might be annoyed while a freight train moved back and forth for 20 minutes, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The train was off-loading cars into a freight yard. It would pull forward, a worker threw a switch, the train backed up a bit, the worker disconnected a car or two, and the train would stop. The loose car(s) would continue to roll onto the siding.

Fascinating!

The train finally pulled away, and we crossed over; we quickly found the truck stop, where we refilled the diesel and the DEF. And we were off!

We traveled south, and then we jogged west at Salt Lake City. The freeways on the 15 and 215 in SLC were some of the worst roads we have seen on this trip, and we have seen MANY bad roads. Finally we came to the shores of the Great Salt Lake.

I’m not sure we ever saw any clear water in the lake – only the salt flats…

We passed this huge plant of some kind. We could not figure why this “smoke stack” was so large, but it was a fascinating thing to see…

There a Mosque, too…

And on we drove. Salt everywhere…

And a salt processing plant…

We stopped to stretch our legs at Delle. Nothing here except a small gas station and a very large gravel parking area with outhouses…

We continued west. Salt…

A we neared the Nevada border we noticed that cars stopped along the road had been driving onto the salt… Weird!

Then it dawned on me…

This is the Bonneville Salt Flats!

The Bonneville Salt Flats are a densely packed salt pan in Tooele County in northwestern Utah. The area is a remnant of the Pleistocene Lake Bonneville and is the largest of many salt flats located west of the Great Salt Lake. The property is public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and is known for land speed records at the “Bonneville Speedway”. Access to the flats is open to the public.

Motorcar racing has taken place at the salt flats since 1914. Racing takes place at part of the Bonneville Salt Flats known as the Bonneville Speedway. There are five major land speed events that take place at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Bonneville “Speed Week” takes place mid-August followed by “World of Speed” in September and the “World Finals” take place early October.

Just west of the salt flats we went through Wendover, Utah. We crossed the border and entered West Wendover, Nevada…

We stopped… where else? At a casino parking lot…

We enjoyed a nice lunch and a short nap… Then we headed south. The road looked like this for 110 miles!

And then we arrived at the “booming” town of Ely, NV, and we easily found the KOA campground…

We settled in, walked our required 30 minutes, enjoyed Happy Hours and dinner…

An enjoyable time was had by all…

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