Friday, May 2, 2008. Back on the Road.


The weather report is terrible. Thirty mile an hour winds in the pass to get to Gunnison, with gusts to 58. It snowed some also, and we understand that the grouse don't display very much if there's snow on the ground. We decide to pass.

After breakfast and saying goodbye to Shani and the kids, who all leave in their van for school and work, we finally get the trailer hitched to the truck and take off.

After a bit, I call our contact and tell him that we're not coming. He says this morning, they had about 30 birds displaying and thought it would be ok tomorrow also, but we elect to play it safe and bypass that windy, snowy route for a lower, clearer one. I do this reluctantly, because it seems that it might be ok after all.

Decision made, however, we stay on I-25 till we get to the KOA in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Sharon has an announcement, based on personal experience: Don't try to give Boomer water in a cup in your lap while we're driving down the road. It spills easily, she says, as she does her best to sponge up the spill from her jeans.

Passing Castle Rock, there are snow dustings everywhere. It is overcast and there are wind warnings for this area too, though not as bad as near Gunnison. It's a little breezy but not bad.

We pass the Air Force Academy, and Sharon spots a glider being hauled up to altitude for drop off. Another glider slides in to land.

We stop for lunch at Cuerno Verde, though I can't find that on a map as I write this. Then it's Trinidad, the New Mexico border, Raton, Springer and Las Vegas, where we decide to spend the night, at the Las Vegas KOA.


There is a fun thing going on with my master card. Some stations have a $75 limit, others have a $100 limit. Limit, in this case, just means you have to read your card in again, in an entirely separate transaction.

So the first tank in Las Vegas is 26.32 gallons for $100. The second tank is 0.39 gallon for $1.50. We get a big kick out of that. If I weren't trying to do mpg calculations, I'd just get a hunnert dollars worth and carry straight on.

I heard a hilarious bit on Saturday Night Live's segment called Weekend News Update. Amy Poehler was the "news anchor" and she said this:

The U.S. Post Office is raising the rate of a first class stamp from 41 to 42 cents. Big Oil said, "Aw, isn't that cute."

We bird our site a little, getting some excellent birds, including the most beautiful turquoise blue Mountain Bluebird I've ever seen.

Sharon's throat is still bothering her a bit, and she wonders if she has strep throat or something. I slide over in the bed a little bit.

Las Vegas, NM KOA Birds: Eurasian Collared Doves, American Robin, the spectacular turquoise Mountain Bluebird, Chipping Sparrow, Western Meadowlark, Northern Mockingbird, Red-shafted Flicker.

No Life Birds Today.
Life Birds Still Stand At: 4

Trip Birds Today: 1 (Mountain Bluebird)
Trip Birds Total: 107

RV Park: Las Vegas, New Mexico KOA. $34

Miles Today (on our pickup): 343
Total Pickup Trip Miles: 2979


Saturday, May 3, 2008. Las Vegas, New Mexico to Holbrook, Arizona.

When we checked in last night, the lady working the desk, upon learning that we were from San Jose, said, "I graduated from Los Gatos High School." We told her that we know the person she would have known as Martha Nicholson, but I couldn't think of Dick Walker's name fast enough. He also went to Los Gatos High School. Anyway, she said she has all her high school yearbooks, so later she'll look her up. To my later astonishment, I realize I didn't ask her name, so I could tell Marty.

On our way out, we get a nice Say's Phoebe and a beautiful Chipping Sparrow, chipping away.

As we drive along I-25, we occasionally pass through a cut that the highway crew made and can see the great sedimentary my dear Watson. We come to an area that is covered with trees, totally different from the desert habitat we were traveling through earlier.

We take a short morning break and then put Boomer in the trailer about 10 am. He seems to like it, since every time we go to the trailer, after an hour or so, he either doesn't come to the door at all, or comes with a huge yawn. I guess it's good cat sleepin' in the trailer.

We follow the I-25 around Santa Fe, which feels like our old stompin' grounds, continue south to Albuquerque, and turn west onto Interstate 40. We immediately pull into a Love's service station, behind a big diesel motorhome. Sharon says this really cool thing to me that she sometimes says. She says, she says, "Give me some money." Which I do because I like to do things to please her, so she goes into the building to get some pretzels or something. We fill up, and because we're in New Mexico and have the same problem with the lowest grade being 86, I have to buy a combination of 86 and 89, to make an average that's about 87. Which I do.

Sharon comes back, and we take off. But immediately after we get on the freeway, we notice a big commotion ahead, on the other side of the divided highway. A semi-truck and trailer has turned over on its side, its contents have exploded out the back of the trailer and are all over the road, and over the next minute or two, we go past a line about five miles long, backed up behind the accident. Hope nobody was hurt.

We continue westward, and pull off the freeway in Grants, New Mexico, at a Walmart supercenter, where we get properly groceried up. We learn that the DC Madam has died in Florida.

With this sober knowledge that even the DC Madam can die, we get back on I-40 and soon cross the Continental Divide. This is the point where everything east of this point flows down to the Democrats, and everything west flows down to the Republicans. Or is it the Fords and Chevrolets? Or the Yin and the Yang? Hmmm. Oh yes, it's the Atlantic and Pacific. Or sometimes it's the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific, which is probably what it is right here.

It's the first Saturday in May and that means it's Kentucky Derby day. The favorite is a horse named Big Brown, named after UPS, with which the owner's company does a lot of business. Actually the owner recently sold 75% of the horse for three million dollars to a syndicate or group of owners who invest in lots of horses.

Anyway, I thought I would be able to pick up the race on the radio, but no dice. Another small argument for satellite radio. Oh well, I'll watch the news tonight.

Sharon's ear infection is still bothering her. She's took Cipro twice a day for three days, and it seemed to get better, but now it's ba-ack. Dangit. I feel so sorry for her. She's going to try to tough it out till we get home.

My lovely wife gives me a driving break, so I take a nap in New Mexico, and wake up just as we cross the border into ...


I adjust my wrist watch to Pacific Daylight Time, which is the same as Arizona time right now. Our cell phones will automatically adjust, based on the locations of the cell towers that it connects with. So there's that.

We stop at Indian City to do some gift shopping for friends, neighbors and relatives, and there's some really nice things in here. We shop till we, uh, get tired. Then we pay up and leave. There is another shop there called Chee's. It has a sign that says, "Shop at a real Indian-owned store," but Indian City's sign says that it is Navajo-owned.

I was hoping to make it to Flagstaff, but we decide to make it an easier day and stop at Holbrook, a couple of hours short of Flagstaff. We check into the Holbrook KOA, and as I go into the office, another couple says, "Hey, are you following us?" I don't recognize them, but they were at the Las Vegas KOA last night, and remember us. Then I think that maybe I do remember them.

We have dinner, watch a little TV, then go to the office for a little souvenir shopping. I buy this cool cactus made out of glass. You have to see it to understand, but it's pretty cool. Wait. No you don't. Here's a photo.

We go back to the trailer, and on the sports news, I see that Big Brown easily won the Kentucky Derby, so I'm pretty happy about that, as I liked the horse's story. Which I won't go into now.

No Birding Today.

Life Birds Still Stand At: 4
Trip Birds Total: 107

RV Park: Holbrook, Arizona KOA. $33

Miles Today (on our pickup): 354
Total Pickup Trip Miles: 3333


Sunday, May 4, 2008. Holbrook, Arizona to Barstow, California, with a Sore Throat Stop in Flagstaff.


Sharon wakes up and says she has to do something about her sore throat. I get on the internet, which luckily we have here, and learn that there isn't an urgent care facility in Holbrook, and the nearest reasonable one is in Flagstaff.

Sharon has her morning coffee and some aspirin, I think, and we take off for Flagstaff., making a gasoline stop on the way. We make it there in about two hours, and having the address and a rudimentary Flagstaff map, we go pretty directly to the Concentra Urgent Care Center, which gives Sharon excellent treatment. Including a diagnosis of strep throat. Aarrrgh.

They prescribe the correct antibiotics (and said three days of the Cipro weren't enough to do the job, plus it wasn't exactly the right kind of medicine), and we finally find the Walmart they tried to direct us to. The sign was hidden by some big foliage as I was passing in front of the store, which was in a shopping center, and in my dash to turn left from not-the-left-turn lane, it was only the quick actions of the driver who WAS in the left turn that prevented me from nailing him.

Thank you, mister, even though you did do all those wild gyrations at us. And without finger gestures too. Flagstaff people are totally nice.

The pharmacy doesn't open till 11 am, so I wait out in the trailer while Sharon takes care of business inside.

Sharon is out about 11:45 and since I studied the Map feature of my iPhone by pressing the Where-Am-I-Now button, then zooming out a little, have worked out the quickest way to get back to I-40 west.

She downs her first dose of medication and we're off. I wonder if her drinking out of my water bottle will have any effect on me. Hmmm. Well, we'll see. I should know in about two days.

Well, we just crank out the miles. Sharon gives me a nap break for about fifty minutes, then we swap back. When we get to Kingman, Arizona, we make a non-normal stop for gas. Oh sure, it started off normal. We're back into 87 grade gasoline again, so that's good. I connect the hose to the fuel tank, get the gas flowing, then I grab a couple of paper towels to check the oil. Oil's fine. I close the hood and start back to discard the dirty paper towels, and I see that the trash can is on the OTHER side of the hose.

Like I've done hundreds of times before, I step over the hose, but what's this? I hook the tip of the front of the shoe on my left foot UNDER the hose. Since I'm intending to step over it successfully, my body is already leaning forward a little. I try to snatch my foot up to make it over, but it's too far under and I'm too far forward.

Down goes Frazier.

I crack my left knee cap straight down onto the concrete pad. "Oh, oh, oh," I yell quietly. I roll onto my side and try to stand up, but my left knee objects, so I have to make adjustments and stand up without bending my left knee. I make it ok, and then I finish my task, which was to toss the dirty paper towels into the stupid, stupid trash can, which on the stupid OTHER side of the stupid hose.

Mamacita, that hurts.

A man in another line comes over and asks if I'm ok. "Yes," I lie. "I'm ok."

Well, I finish refueling, then have to keep my left leg straight as I climb back into the cab. If I lightly bend my left knee and don't use the muscle to lift the leg, it doesn't hurt much at all. But if I flex it the tiniest bit, BAM, down comes the pain.

So I tell Sharon about my little argument with the concrete pad, and she compares that with the pain in her throat and says, "Aw, isn't that cute."

We're about 70 miles from Needles, and we have a choice of staying there tonight, then doing an absolute humongous drive tomorrow, or driving an extra two hours tonight, and having a bit of an easier drive the next day. Now that's to get back home Monday night. We do have the option of having two easy days and nights, and getting home Tuesday, and Sharon says that's ok with her. But based on past trips, I remember how much unloading and laundry and other stuff there is to do when we get home, and Sharon has a meeting Tuesday night, so I really want to get home Monday night.

Sharon leaves it up to me, and I decide to push on for Barstow.

We come to the Colorado River and there are three beautiful white bridges crossing the river, none of them are the highway. They are all associated with oil or gas lines, it seems. Anyway, they are outstanding, backlit by the sun. So here we are in ...


I've been reading a Louis L'Amour western about Hopalong Cassidy. Huh? Louis L'Amour created Hopalong Cassidy? I've gotta google this when I can. Anyway, the characters in this book would call it Cali-FOR-nee.

Well, it's a huge long drive, doing the extra two hours with the sun in our face, and we are pooped, but we make it, and we've stayed at this place before. I distinctly remember one night being here on an incredibly windy night. I was really happy we were in such a protected spot between the office trailer and a row of trees.

We check in and they give us the exact same spot. It's pretty windy, but nothing like last time.

They have cable TV, so there's that, but my knee is really bad. I'm wondering if I have an ACL or MCL or MC Hammer or one of those things.

No Birding Today.

Life Birds Still Stand At: 4
Trip Birds Total: 107

RV Park: Shady Lane RV Park, Barstow, California. $25

Miles Today (on our pickup): 459 Total Pickup Trip Miles: 3792


Monday, May 5, 2008. Cinco de Mayo. Barstow to San Jose. Who's Knee Hertz?


Waking up to a clear morning, I enjoy the artwork on the trailer across from us.

We leave the Shady Lane RV Park and drive to the Barstow Pilot, where we fill up again. I steer clear of the gasoline delivery hose. Up stays Frazier. Up stays Frazier.

We hit the Kern County line near Boron about 9 am. We're making great time. We hit Highway 99, go north to the 46, then turn west, aiming for Interstate 5. But we stop in a Rite Aid shopping center parking lot in Wasco for lunch.

We've been listening to Beach Road, a book-on-CD, and we polish it off after getting back on the road.

We hit the I-5 and head north. We make our final gas stop at a Chevron station, where gas is $3.999. There is a Mobil station across the street, where it's only $3.989, but the Chevron people aren't biting at the price war attempt by Mobil.

After what seems like forever, we exit onto the 152 westbound, stop at a fruit stand, and reject all. Then we continue homeward, passing the San Luis Reservoir, turning north on the 101, and making it into our driveway at a little after 5 pm.


Well, everything else is pretty anticlimactic. Sharon's medicine clears up her strep throat. I never get it. My body was apparently too busy trying to heal my knee ligament or whatever. My knee is slowly getting better. The doctor prescribes stationary bicycle and swimming, and recommends against much walking for the first couple of weeks. I can do that. Louis L'Amour did not invent Hopalong Cassidy.

No Birding Today.

Life Birds Total: 4
Trip Birds Total: 107

RV Park: 7221 Via Romera, San Jose, CA. Free parking.

Miles Today (on our pickup): 362
Total Pickup Trip Miles: 4154

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