Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Headin' for the hills...


We left the Black Hills - next stop: Hill Country in central Texas.  We plan to be down for a week - the Vespa needs new tires (side trip to Austin), and if Mother Nature cooperates, we want to do some riding/exploring in this area.

This was our RV site in Abilene...


A new park, with a nice layout.  That gravel you see in the site is caliche... white gravel.  Newly put down, so there is white dust on everything.  No matter - the coach gets plenty dirty as we roll down the road.

Today, the views out the window went to less oil and more hills... make sense, since we are heading to Hill Country...




It was a lot of 2-lane roads, some with an extra passing lane (which I really appreciate - it keeps the crazies off my ass).  Part of the problem is the speed limits in Texas: this is a 75mph road...


Given that most people around here drive 5 to 10 mph over the speed limit, they come up behind us pretty fast.

Any stupid people passing you?  Thanks for asking... 5... well, 6 if you count these two dumbasses who both passed on a double yellow...


Yes, that is a "wide load" hauler in front of the pickup; both passing as we approach a curve.  The other 4 were stupid people who had room to get around me where there was a passing lane... yes, a lane just made for passing!  What a novel idea!  No, these no-minds stayed behind us in that area until the sign for the passing lane ending, and then passed where they had to cross a double yellow.  Really, I am not making this up.

On the bright side, a bit more to look at while driving (other than watching for stupid people in the rear view mirror): trees and hills...



Some vineyards...


And this...


The occasional bit of 4-lane.  Of course, no one wanted to pass us when it wasn't a challenge or a death wish.  Surprisingly, we made it unscathed to Fredericksburg; I would describe it as a "quaint" town in Hill Country - lots of shops and restaurants.  And, those riding roads I mentioned earlier, but it is looking like a wet week ahead.

We were fortunate to find an RV site available for the week...


I called the Vespa dealer and they can get us in a day early, so we'll head there tomorrow.  First time the car and trailer have been unhooked from the coach since we left.  Joan said, "Maybe you'd like to ride the scoots around town since we are in early... oh, yeah, you need tires."  Funny.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Dirt Devil...


Not the vacuum cleaner - the Mother Nature kind.

A three-state day today.  Well, we were in southwest Kansas, and pass through the skinny part of the Oklahoma Panhandle, then into Texas... before 10:00 in the morning.




I had to chuckle about the "Drive Friendly - The Texas Way" on that sign.  I'll explain later.

This part of the country is about agriculture and energy.  The agriculture is varied: we saw corn, sorghum, cotton, and more.  The energy...



Plenty of windmills, but a LOT of gas and oil wells...




The terrain goes from flat to hilly...



Another hot, windy day.  Temps warmed up early and the wind was quartering: forecast to be around 11mph, actual was at least twice that.

The roads were good and bad along the way today... if I were keeping track, I'd say more bad than good.  And those drivers...



Notice both of those vehicles in the photos above: they are passing on a solid yellow line.  Yeah, no passing zones.  Because of visibility, around a curve for the car, over a hill for the truck.  The speed limit on these crappy 2-lane roads is 75 mph... I do try to keep my speed up, but I do not double tow at 75.  What you don't see in both of those photos: a passing lane less than a half mile ahead in both cases.  There were regular passing lanes in the first half of our travels today.

This helps keep my blood pressure in check...



A sleepy boy in that photo directly above.  Rufus has been a great traveler.  He likes to be by us and has no issue with "lunch on the run" when necessary.

Not as much road construction as yesterday, but enough to keep me on my toes...


And, about those dirt devils: we saw several today...


There is one just to the left side of the road in that photo.  We saw a couple others moving across nearby fields.  And one that wasn't loaded with dirt - I saw the grass on both sides of the road just in front of us go flat, and... wham!  It rocked the coach and pulled on the wheel.  I braced for it when I saw the grass.  Well, that was interesting.

This was our longest driving day this trip; but, we started early and were still off the road by 3:30.  The park we are staying in is new and they are putting white caliche rock (white gravel) down on the roads and the sites... fortunately, the coach, car, and trailer are already grubby, so you don't hardly notice the white dust.

And bugs - we splattered a lot of bugs over the last few days.  The coach and car are going to be in dire need of some scrubbing.  Do you know the last thing that goes through a bug's mind when it hits the windshield?


Its ass.




Monday, September 17, 2018

The Great Plains...


Or, as I come to call it when passing through southwest Nebraska and western Kansas: the Great Treeless Grass Desert.

The do like their Huskers here...


Go Big Red(neck)!

It turned out to be a tough driving day: oh, the coach ran fine, but we ran into construction early... and mid-way... and towards the end of the day...



It took about an hour and a half to cover the first 45 miles.  After a wait for the escort car, we were doing less than 20 mph behind some large farm equipment.


Joan has been keeping us on 2-lane roads again - we finally turned off and got out from behind these things... oh, it is kinda flat out here...


We often discuss what we think is being grown as we drive by.  I can no longer tell her "sorghum" for anything I'm not sure of - she heard me tell friends Joe and Ruth about that years ago.

"What are they raising in that field?"

"Looks like dust!  They're having a bumper crop!"


The strong south wind didn't help things.  Our track was mostly south, with a bit of east and southeast as we kept to roads that were sure to keep me from getting McDonald's for lunch (I know her tricks, too).


 Really, I kept track: on one 20 mile stretch of road where one car passed us and we saw a pickup and two semis going the other direction.  No surprise that we didn't have any cell or data coverage here.

One turn took us through a recreation area, and across a dam...



A change of pace that lasted a couple minutes.

Rolling across western Kansas, there are some hills...


As we get close to home, palm trees line the Expressway as we get close to the Tropical Tip.  Kansas has something similar with their state tree along the road...


With no place to get Mickey D's, Joan made us sandwiches while we rolled.  She likes cold sandwiches.  I like a hot hamburger and fries.  Did I mention that I know her little "Let's take the backroads" tricks?

A hot (mid-90s), sunny, windy day today, with a 70% chance of road construction...


Yes, even in the small towns we rolled through.

We made it to Liberal, Kansas for the night.  This RV "park" is pretty much a gravel parking lot, but they have hook-ups and it is off the beaten path, so nice and quiet.  No network TV from the over-the-air antenna, but there are no trees here, so no problem for our satellite TV.  All the comforts of home.




:-)


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Heading south...


Just what you want to be doing on a nice hot day.  ;-)

It's time.  We unhooked the Aspect, pulled in the slides, pulled up the leveling jacks, and connected the CR-V and trailer.  We are rolling south.  Not in a hurry, but we do have an appointment for the Vespa in Austin at the end of this week... 1,200 or so miles and 5 days to get there; yep, no hurry.

We left Hart Ranch, turning south on Highway 79...


Highway 79 used to be "one of the most dangerous roads in South Dakota"... the expansion of the road to a divided 4-lane has made a difference.

As we come up on the turn to go to Hot Springs (we aren't), one last look at the Hills...


All those trees are why, from a distance, the hills look black.  Another hour or so, and we are into Nebraska...



Yeah, it looks a lot like southwestern South Dakota, except for the 2-lane road instead of 4.  The flatter terrain means more agriculture...


We stopped in Chadron for lunch and fuel.  I fed Rufus, while Joan picked us up some fine Mexican fare at Taco John's.  There is a big parking area for trucks at the truck stop next door...


With the fuel tank and bellies full, we continued south.  Lots of hills south of Chadron, in the area that is the far west end of the Sand Hills and the bluffs named for nearby Scottsbluff.

Most of the time, Rufus sat on his tower between our seats; he would make an occasional trip to one lap or the other...


He is handling the traveling fine... happy as long as he is where we are.

Some fall colors along the way...


The elevations here are still above 3,000'.  We may see a lot of this color this early as we continue south.  Getting closer to Ogallola, there are more hills...


Just before making the turn towards Ogallola, we ran into this...


Fresh oil/tar on the road.  Ugly.  I tried my best to stay where the few cars who passed this way ahead of us sucked up some of the spray... I know there will some tar remover in my future.  (Sigh)

We are down for the day reasonably early - no need to rush.  It is 95ยบ, but comfortably cool with the A/C running in the coach.  Joan is making us an adult beverage.  Rufus is sitting by my side.  It's all good.

Cue Willie's music: "On the road again..."

;-)