Monday, June 17, 2013


Since we've been travelling to new places, we have a few new favorite restaurants.

The best Mexican restaurant in Arizona (which probably means it's the best in the US) is Rancho de Tia Rosa, in Mesa.  The mole is simply to die for, and where else have you ever seen crabmeat tacos with watermelon salsa?  Who would think to put watermelon salsa on a taco?  Or to make a taco out of crab meat?  There's also salmon tacos with mango salsa.  The decor makes you feel like you are in Mexico, and the culinary style is that of Baja California.  The margaritas are great, the chips and salsa fresh and homemade.  They have another location in Gilbert, but we haven't tried that one and can't think of a reason to go anywhere but the one we know.

My second favorite Mexican restaurant in the US is Barrio Cafe, in downtown Phoenix.  It's Mexico City style cuisine, and they make the guacamole fresh at your table.  Pricier than Tia Rosa, and much smaller.  No reservations, get there early or be prepared to wait.

My favorite Mexican restaurant in Mexico is La Fonda, in Cabo San Lucas (do your own web search, they don't have a web site but there are many review sites).  Their menu is very different, and they are off the beaten path and not crowded, at least when we went fairly early.

Maybe the best Italian restaurant between San Francisco and New Jersey is on the banks of the Gunnison River in Gunnison, Colorado. It's called Garlic Mike's.  I had a veal marsala the likes of which I have not experienced since leaving the Northeast, and the profiterole must have been beamed in fresh from Paris.  Mike could open up anywhere in Manhattan or Brooklyn, double his prices, and be an instant success in the land of 10,000 great Italian restaurants.  Red and white checkerboard tablecloths, of course.

My new favorite chain restaurant is Bonefish Grill.  We ate in the Mobile, Alabama location last winter, and just tonight in Loveland, Colorado.  There are not many of them, scattered around the country.  They're a step pricier than Red Lobster, but with a much more sophisticated menu, and atmosphere and service comparable to Ruth's Chris or Morton's.  A great price performer for a fairly elegant night out.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lake George

We stayed at a campground near Lake George, and visited Canoe Island Lodge, where we vacationed when I was in high school. I remember watching Juan Marichal vs. Sandy Koufax on the TV in the lobby.

Friday, June 14, 2013


I suppose the Postal Service really does deliver most of the mail successfully, but if they didn't deliver something to you, how would you know?  Most of what we get is junk anyway, and would never be missed.

In two recent cases, though, I did miss things.  Since we're on the move all the time, we have a mail forwarding service.  Every few weeks, we call them up and they send us a priority mail package containing all the US mail they've received since the last time.  We were in a camp in Moab, Utah, for a week and ordered our mail to be forwarded.  It went out on Tuesday, via priority mail, which is advertised as 2-3 business days delivery.  It even has a tracking number, and when we looked it up, it said expected delivery was Thursday.

When Thursday came and went, we looked again and expected delivery was still Thursday, and the package had made its way from Livingston, TX to Houston, to Phoenix, and to Salt Lake City, where the latest scan indicated that it was received at the sort facility on Thursday (no time stamp).

Moab is not too far from Salt Lake City, so we figured maybe it would arrive Friday.  No luck.  No indication of any more scans on the tracking web site.  The Moab Post Office confirmed that it had not been received on Friday after the local delivery trucks left, and they get mail from the sort center in Provo, which would be the next sort after Salt Lake City.

The post office web site does have a way to send inquiries about such things, and it says to expect a response in 48 hours.  Oh, and if your priority mail hasn't arrived in 2-3 days, wait until 5 business days and let us know, and we'll start looking for it then.

We made arrangements with the Moab office that they would call us Saturday morning before we left town, and let us know if our package had arrived.  If not, we could submit a change of address form and it would be forwarded, and if so we could pick it up before it went onto the truck.  It did arrive Saturday morning and I picked it up at the post office before we left.

Another thing we were watching for were some rebate checks, which were due because of getting our new smart phones and personal internet device.  Each one came with a separate rebate.  On April 10, the rebate company mailed three checks, all to our Livingston address.  On our next mail shipment, one of the checks arrived.  We kept asking our mail forwarder about the others until the 60-day waiting period expired at the rebate company, and then ordered replacements.  They told us one of the checks had been returned by the Post Office marked "Attempted - Not Known", and the other one had not cleared the bank.  Three identical items mailed on the same day to the same place, one delivered, one considered undeliverable, and the third simply disappeared (into Newman's closet?).  Had they been some pieces of junk mail that we weren't expecting and didn't care about, we might have thought the Post Office had delivered everything that had been mailed to us.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Colorado wildfires

We're in a camp tonight a few miles from the Black Forest fire that started today.  We're upwind, so in no immediate danger.  The wind might shift tomorrow, but it would blow the fire back over ground that is already burned, so not the worst possibility.  We passed by the Royal Gorge today as that fire was raging, and they closed the road shortly after we passed there.  There are 5 fires now on the Eastern slope of the rockies.  We have some pictures, I'll post them later.  We're watching the TV news to see if we will have to evacuate.

Our first look at the Royal Gorge fire:
As we drove by, we could see the flames
Coming into Colorado Springs, we saw the Black Forest fire
and then after we parked the RV
The wind shifted as predicted, and the fire is moving sort of toward us.  They have a good spot to stop it before it gets here, and they've mobilized the DC-9's to drop retardent on it.  The winds are not severe, and we're not in the evacuation zones yet, but we're staying ready to move just in case.

Some more pictures.

6/13 update:  The Black Forest fire is now the worst wildfire in Colorado history.  We're getting ready to leave.  Not in danger, but with the smoke in the air it's not healthy to go outside.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Baseball Hall of Fame

The Baseball Hall of Fame is something every fan of the game needs to visit. It is worth a trip to Cooperstown just for itself, if you can't combine it with a vacation to the Finger Lakes or Lake George. From the opening video to the early days of the first professional leagues, to the Majors and the Negro Leagues, to today's heroes, it is a trip through time and a visit with yourself as a child.

Yes, it's only a game, but the things these people did are extraordinary not only for their on-field accomplishments but for their lives as well. If you've ever shed a tear hearing Lou Gherig's farewell speech, bring at least a few handkerchiefs when you go to the Hall.

The pictures are self-explanatory, I think. Oh, except for the Chinese restaurant on the side street. There is not a valid translation.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland because the phrase was first uttered by a DJ there, Alan Freed, in 1951.

It is a fabulous experience, especially for someone of our generation. They have everything, from the roots of rock and roll in gospel, country, blues and jazz to the music of the 90's (it has to be 25 years since your fist hit before you're eligible to be inducted). There is music galore, displays of the clothes and instruments used by the members, their life stories, and videos of interviews and concerts. One exhibit is 30 minutes of American Bandstand highlights. There's an entire floor dedicated to the Grateful Dead.

The one disappointment I have is that they want to usurp under the banner of Rock and Roll every type of electronic noise and human utterance emitted since Rock and Roll. Rock and Roll may be here to stay, but that other stuff isn't Rock and Roll. They would do well to limit future inductees, and open a Post-Rock Hall of Fame for the things that pass for music today. I don't see much possibility of physical expansion, so any new exhibits risk displacing what is there and deserves to remain.

They don't allow pictures inside, because of copyright issues, so we only have a few from outside and the lobby.

If you haven't been, and you like the music of the 50s or 60s or 70s, don't leave Cleveland without going there. But hurry up, before they induct a bunch of gangsta rappers to replace the Beatles and Elvis exhibits.

The Henry Ford Museum

The Henry Ford Museum has a lot of unique stuff. 
A lot of it is from my childhood, things very familiar but unseen for years. 

 Some much older. 

 There's a couple of trains (that's Vicki driving)

some furniture, 

doll houses, 


and of course the cars.

More pictures here.  Very interesting, educational, and entertaining.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Greenfield Village

In Dearborn, Michigan is The Henry Ford. There are two parts, Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum. There are more parts, but those were the two we went to.

Greenfield Village has a working farm using the technology of the farm where Henry grew up, some demonstration factories and shops where they sheer the sheep, 

card the wool, spin it into thread, and weave it into finished goods. Henry also bought homes of people he admired and moved them here, including Noah Webster and George Washington Carver. He also brought the Wright brothers' cycle shop and Thomas Edison's lab, where the light bulb was invented. And lots more.

At 16, Henry left the farm and went to work in a factory. He had been fascinated by the farm machinery he had been using, and machines of all types. He founded two car companies that failed before starting the Ford Motor company. The story of his production line is well-known, but the other thing he did differently from others of his day was to pay his employees twice as much as other companies.

Ford was a great admirer and friend of Edison, and they shared many traits that made them both successful. Irony of ironies, the day we went to Greenfield Village and learned all about Ford, and Edison, and the Wright Brothers and others of their age that did remarkable things, was the day after President Obama's famous “You didn't build that” speech.  

A few more pictures here.  Should have taken more of this place.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Where's Waldo?

At the intersection of County Road 28 and Wisconsin 57, about 7 miles south of Plymouth.

Now you know.


Whistling Straits

Whistling Straits is in Kohler, Wisconsin.  They played the 2010 PGA here, and Dustin Johnson was in one of these sand traps

on the 72nd hole, along with 50 or so spectators also standing in the sand trap, which had no rakes nearby, and grounded his club, thus incurring a penalty and missing the playoff.

The club is based on Irish golf, architecture, and cuisine.

We ate lunch there with Vicki's brother Steve, and Joy,

had an excellent shepherd's pie, and Irish soda bread, and because it was my birthday they gave me a free dessert, a brandy alexander torte.  Mmmmm.

The course is along Lake Michigan, and there was a 20 mph or so breeze blowing the whole time.  Quite a difficult golf course, I imagine.  Didn't play there, my back was still hurting, and it was ex-pen-SIVE.

Kohler is the home of the plumbing fixture company of the same name, and we toured their plant and saw their famous wall of toilets.

Also nearby is Johnsonville, world capital of bratwurst.  We bought some Johnsonville brats in the Piggly Wiggly, and they had every sort of sausage imaginable there, from Andouille to Polish.  Well, not quite all.  I didn't see any chorizo.

More Whistling Strait pictures here.

Nebraska and Iowa

On our way from Greeley to Wisconsin to visit with Steve and Joy, we passed through Nebraska and Iowa. Stayed a few days at Lake McConnaughy, the largest lake in Nebraska.

The lake was low, and there were RVs parked on the beach right near the water, so we decided to take the truck down onto the sand. Big mistake. It turns out a dually is no good in the sand, too heavy. 4-wheel drive makes it even worse, as it adds even more weight. We got stuck. Tried to dig ourselves out, and Vicki strained her rotator cuff, and I strained my back, and we had to get towed out. It turns out the guy who towed us, who had a monster tractor with 8-foot diameter tires, also tows the RVs down to the lake and back up, because you can't do it with a normal truck.

Then we checked the air in the tires, which we do all the time because they told us in boot camp it was very important. We couldn't get to the air valves on the rear wheels, and were thinking that during the struggles in the sand something must have slipped in the wheels. So we went to the GMC dealer in Ogallalla, who said he had never worked on a dually before, so we'd better go to the tire place across the street. The tire guy was also stumped at first, but when he took the wheels off he saw that the GMC dealer in Greeley had put them on wrong. There are holes in the wheels and the wheel cover that have to line up so that you can get to the air valves. Apparently that was such a stupid mistake that nobody had ever done it before. And we wonder why they went bankrupt.

After the Lake, we stopped at Gothenburg, which is an historic Pony Express site. I was supposed to get a free round of golf there for my birthday, but because my back was out I didn't get to go. The park had a covered bridge

and a playground

The highlight of Nebraska was our visit to Ed and Edda, my friends from Connecticut. Edda cooked one of her famous meals for us, and we spent a nice evening together.

We did stop overnight in Iowa, but the only pictures we got were some interesting clouds.

More pictures of Nebraska here.