You are currently viewing archive for November 2012

2012/11/30: Wilcox

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The town of Wilcox looks a little sad, at least the old downtown and the area where the campground was located. It seems like every other building is closed with a "For Sale" sign on it. The burned down hotel around the corner from the campground doesn't improve the appearance at all. Now, out by the interstate it's a different story. We asked a local if there was a reason for the depressed appearance and her answer was a) there was a fire bug back in the spring, b) people from out of town had purchased many of the closed properties and when told they needed to follow building codes when fixing the buildings abandoned the projects, c) a fewer number of tourists seem to be stopping in town. The old downtown is very pretty, so it's sad to see it dieing.

Ever hear of Rex Allen? He was the last of the singing cowboys. I hadn't, so either his popularity didn't make it to Ontario or I was too young and don't remember.



A main freight railway line runs through Willcox. John and Ed happened to be standing in the correct place when two trains came through town.


After visiting the old downtown of willcox, we loaded up wagons, er trailers, and drove to Tombstone. We're staying in a RV park on the edge of town. Cait and Zaph enjoyed a walk into town with me.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Luckily you don't need to be pronounce the name of the park to be able to visit it. In case you're interested it is pronounced cheer-i-cow-ah with a long e and short i vowel sounds. This park is also known as a "Wonderland of Rocks".

We drove 36 miles south east of Wilcox through some beautiful ranch land on the way to Chiricahua National Monument. Dogs are not allowed on the hiking trails, so we opted to bring the dogs and do the scenic drive and walk the dogs on the few trails around the parking areas.

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When we stopped to look at the pipe organ formations, a couple of Mexican Jays came to visit. One of them sat on the edge of the open truck door and let Carol with Caity in tow come to within 3 feet.

Massai Point is highest point you can travel in a vehicle. The view was breathtaking.

Even Zaph was suitably impressed.

Looking the opposite direction gave you this beautiful view of Harris Mountain.


While we were on the scenic drive we saw four deer and this little fellow, a Coatimundi. The coatimundi is a member of the raccoon family. We caught a glimpse of him, then backed up the truck to find he was still there, slowly wandering away as we watched him.

This area was settled by Neil and Emma Erickson along with their children, Lillian, Ben and Hildegarde. Lillian and her husband Ed Riggs ran a cattle ranching operation as well as a guest ranching operation. Ed promoted the "Wonderland of Rocks" as a tourist operation and potential national monument. Chiricuhua National Monument was established in 1924. Lillian named the ranch "Faraway" as it was so far away from everything.

Not sure why the bathtub was on the lawn, but couldn't resist the photo op.

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
No photos today as it was moving day. We left Las Cruces this morning and drove 192 miles (310 km) to Willcox, Arizona. The drive was pretty much the way we like it, uneventful. Spent a few minutes driving through "historic Willcox" late this afternoon and plan on going back tomorrow along with a visit to Chiricahua National Monument.

2012/11/27: Touring Las Cruces

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Looking through the travel brochures, John found a hike that sounded interesting, Dripping Springs Trail in the Dripping Springs Natural Area. Would you believe dogs are not allowed on the trails? We decided the kids could stand a rest after their romp on the sands yesterday, so off we went.

In the 1870's, Colonel Eugen Van Patten built a resort of approximately 16 rooms called "Van Patton's Mountain Camp". The camp was built near a dripping spring that provided water for the camp.

A quarter mile below the camp was the stable area. There was a chicken coop and vegetable garden in this area as well that provided for the camp.

Remains of the camp give you an idea of it's size. There was the building on the right which was attached to the remains in the center of the photo. This remains portion of the building was quite deep.

In 1917 Van Patten went bankrupt and Dripping Springs was sold to Dr. Nathan Boyd. Dr. Boyd's wife had contracted tuberculosis, so he built new buildings and opened a sanatorium.

There is a trail that takes you up to a ridge giving you a good view of the sanatorium and the valley. While the boys were taking photos, I hiked the trail. Once Ed had seen where I had gone he had to follow. Can you find Ed in the photo?

The spring is still dripping but very slowly as New Mexico hasn't had rain in a while. If you look closely you can see a strip of green coming down from the opening in the rocks and landing on a wet section of rock. There was a slow drip much like a dripping tap.

An interesting rock formation near the visitor's center. If you look beyond the rock you can see Las Cruces in the distance.

Another place that intrigued us was the historic Mesilla. The first settlers arrived in Mesilla in 1848. In 1854, The Gadsden Purchase declared Mesilla officially part of the United States. For $10 million the United States purchased the land from Mexico that now makes up the southern border from El Paso to California. This church stands at one end of the main plaza.

Many of the original adobe structures still stand. One claim to fame for the town was the trial of Billy the Kid for murdering a sheriff.

Lots of chilies. The wreaths are made of red chilies and the red bags and white sacks are full of red chilies.

The store was closed but I was impressed with the outside decor.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Our goal for today was to visit the White Sands National Monument. As we were driving there, Ed saw a sign for the White Sands Museum and direct John there (John was driving). As the museum is on a US Military base, we weren't sure if Ed and I would be allowed on as we are not US citizens. Turned out we were. The base sits on a small piece of the White Sands Missile Range where, you guessed it, missiles are tested and have been tested since at least WWII. In the northern portion of the Missile Range is Trinity Site where the first atomic bomb was tested.

The outside portion of the museum were samples of old rockets, rocket launchers, etc. The inside of the museum had some rockets but also had a lot of information about the area before it became a missile testing area, the base back in the 40's and 50's, the missile dogs (dogs used to find parts of rockets after they exploded), the atomic bombs, etc.

John inside a MK 35 5-inch gun. Yes, the boys had fun.

White Sands National Monument is the largest gypsum dune fields in the world.

It wasn't as visible as I hoped but I wrote Zaph "heart" Cait.

Cait and Zaph had a wonderful time running in the sand. At one point Cait ran up a dune running out of steam about a yard from the the top --- good to know that even dogs full of energy can get tired running up a sand dune.

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Sunset lighting up the mountain range to the east.


2012/11/25: Good-bye Birds

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Time to move on. After one last visit to the crane pond, slept in an 45 minutes, we packed up the trailers and drove 2 1/2 hours south to Las Cruces. After phoning a few RV parks to check rates and looking on-line at reviews we decided to stay at Sunny Acres RV park. The RV park is in an industrial area of the city but the park itself is very nice, large lots with a few trees and no park models. After we were set up, the boys went shopping to Best Buy and Carol and I took the dogs for a walk. Enjoyed a glass of wine instead of going to the crane pond for sunset --- kind of missed that.

To the east, there were huge flocks of Snow Geese.

The Sandhill Cranes are large enough that they need to run before they can take off.


Looks like someone is getting a scolding.




We did see a few other types of birds but the Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes got all of the attention.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
We're still at Bosque del Apache NWR in San Antonio New Mexico. Decided to do an extra day here so we could catchup on laundry and stock up with groceries.

Up at 5 am again to see the geese take off. Thought it was going to be a dude but the geese did their mass take off, just a little later than expected. Even with the geese being late we made it to the crane pond before all the excitement.



Ed was busy with another camera so I decided to take a few photos with his big telephoto lens.

This is what I shot. Not sure what the dance signified.

For some of us (Carol and me) the day was a chore day. We drove into Socorro about 10 km away to do laundry and grocery shopping. Decided to treat ourselves to lunch and found a nice little Mexican restaurant and ordered the lunch burrito. At our waitresses suggestion I had steak, potatoes, cheese and green chili sauce. Yum, it was good though my lips did tingle by time I finished eating. Green chili sauce is a big thing in this area as we are not far from Hatch, the chili capital of the world, that's what their web site claims.

While us girls were slaving away, the boys went birding.

This photo of a Gamble Quail was taken at the RV park, Bosque Bird Watchers RV Park. The RV park is on the edge of the Bosque del Apache NWR and is home to a number of types of sparrows, Gamble Quail, other small birds and rabbits.

Thousands of Snow and Ross Geese were in this pond.

They would take off, fly in a large circle and land again.

Ed asked me to add this photo that John took as it gives you a better idea of the magnitude of the geese.

The geese seemed to be having a good time this afternoon.

Ed and John also spotted some mule deer.


Strips were being cut in a corn field, spreading the corn onto the ground. The Sandhill cranes came by the thousands to feast.

Back to the crane pond for sunset. Carol and I got to go as well.



In the local tourist brochure we read about “The Owl cafe and Bar” in San Antonio. The restaurant is famous for it’s Chili Cheese Burgers and decor. The mahogany bar was brought to the restaurant from the first Hilton Hotel after it burned. Turns out Conrad Hilton was born and raised in San Antonio New Mexico. There is also a wall of signed one dollar bills. At the end of the year the money is removed from the wall and given to charity. There is also a wall of signed foreign money. Lastly, there are photos and news paper clippings about Trinity, the location of the first atomic explosion, as this was the closest town to the site. The scientists from the site stopped regularly for chili cheese burgers. After reading all of this we decided we couldn’t leave town without trying a burger. Being Saturday night we thought there might be a wait to get seated and a wait for food. Turned out neither was true. Tables turned over quickly so we found one in a couple of minutes. Ed and I ordered chili cheese burgers and chili cheese fries. The food arrived in a couple of minutes and it was excellent. Would definitely return to this restaurant.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Very busy day today. Ed and I were up before 5:30 to see the birds, then back to the trailer where we met up with John and Carol and drove out to the VLA (very large array) stopping in Magdalena and Kelly on the way.

A flock of Snow Geese taking off.

Sandhill Cranes taking off in the pre-dation light.

Gliding through the sky, not sure how Ed managed to get this photo as you rarely see the wings straight out like this.

Start your engines, ready for take off

Kelly was a booming mine town which was home to thousands of citizens. The mining operations sent huge shipments of lead, zinc and silver ores to smelters. Kelly was the foremost mine in New Mexico's 19th century past. 1947 saw the last residents depart. The majority of the homes were hauled down to Magdalena. Today, Kelly is a "ghost town".

The Kelly mine headframe.

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Interesting men's room.

Magdalena was the railhead for the area. It was used to ship cattle from the Plains of San Agustin and to ship ore from the Kelly mine. The railway station is now the public library and an old box car beside the library is the local museum. Interesting way to add air conditioning to a box car.

One of the old buildings in Magdalena.

The EVLA (Expanded Very Large Array) consists of 27, 230-ton, 25-meter diameter dish antennas that together comprise a single radio telescope system. The EVLA will have more than 10 times the sensitivity of the VLA.

One of the antenna in the maintenance shed.

The antennas are moved around on railway track to form different configurations depending on what area of space is being looked at. If I found the correct page on the Internet the VLA is currently in the "A" array with a 21 km baseline. When Ed and I visited the VLA in 2007, we saw the VLA in a tighter configuration (the dishes were all close by).
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
A day like to today is a day to be thankful for. Beautiful starry morning when we left the trailer at 5:30 am to head to the ponds at Bosque del Apache. The morning show put on by the birds was wonderful. The Thanksgiving turkey John prepare was very good .... the turkey was marinated in a brine for 12 hours before being roasted to perfection. The rest of dinner was good too. Just before sunset, Ed and I headed back to the Crane ponds for the evening show. Tonights color was orange. Are you tired of bird photos yet? I tried to restrain myself but there are so many wonderful photos from today that I just had to share.

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Ed and John are in the middle waiting for sunrise.

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Pre-dawn light and the geese begin to take off.

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A family of Sandhill cranes looking for breakfast.

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After the majority of Snow Geese left the pond, we drove over to the crane ponds to watch the morning light hit the mountains.

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The "magic" light just lit up the Snow Geese.

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The Sandhill Cranes also glowed in the light.

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John, Carol and myself sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner.

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Ed (and I) took a lot of wonderful photos tonight but I'm showing restraint and only publishing a few.

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The sky really was this fabulous orange turning to red and the cranes co-operated and flew in the correct direction so Ed could capture this shot.

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2012/11/21: Big Blue is Back

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
In our previous visit to Bosque del Apache we enjoyed watching morning take off at sun rise. The sun rises at 6:40 and as we wanted to be at the ponds by 6 even Ed was up at 5:30. Unfortunately, it was overcast this morning so the birds were not all that anxious to leave the roosting ponds. A bit of a lunch bag let down.




The photography may not have been great but the news we heard later in the morning was great. Big Blue (our truck) would be repaired today. As it was overcast today, we decided to do some sight seeing instead of bird watching. Fort Craig, an old fort, was on the way to Truth or Consequences (yup that's the town's name) where Big Blue was being repaired.

Fort Craig was built in 1854 and remained active till 1885. The army spent the early years at Fort Craig conducting campaigns against native Americans. In 1862, a brigade of Confederate soldiers heading to the Colorado gold fields fought with the soldiers from Fort Craig, later known as the Battle of Valverde. This was one of the two battles fought in New Mexico during the civil war.

A model of the fort.

Remains of the officer's quarters.

The storage buildings were partially dug into the ground with the remaining structure built from adobe bricks.

2012/11/20: Trucks and Birds

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge is the winter home to thousands of Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes. Many of the birds roost in the ponds of the refuge and the Snow Geese make quite a show with a mass exodus at dawn. As we are in the area for several days we skipped the dawn trek to the Refuge this morning and drove over at the more sane hour of 9:30. Just before sundown we drove over to a pound not far from the park to watch the Sandhill Cranes come in to roost and enjoy the sunset.

In the afternoon John and Ed drove both trucks to Truth or Consequences (yup that's the name of the town), about an hours drive, to take our truck in for service. This was the closest GM truck dealer. We assumed correctly that the truck was going to have to stay overnight. Turns out the water pump is shot and needs to be replaced. With a little luck the truck will be ready tomorrow otherwise it will be Monday before it is ready as the GM service department is closing for a four day long weekend over Thanksgiving.

The Snow Goose summers north of the timber line in Greenland, Canada and Alaska and winters in the warmer climates of the southern US.


The Snow Geese come in two colors, white and blue. The White geese are white with black wing tips and the blue have a white head with a blueish gray body. Immature blues are drab color all over.




The Sandhill cranes summer on the edge of the Nebraska sandhills and in northern Canada and winters in southern New Mexico, Arizona and Mexico.


The Sandhill Cranes always remind me of Mary Poppins when the drop their feet and coast to the ground.




2012/11/19: Truck Troubles

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Only a six hundred km to drive today and we gain an hour, so we opted for a slightly later start. Didn't leave till 9am, how nice was that.

Another beautiful day for driving, sun and comfortable temperatures. All was well till we were less than 100 km to our destination and the "low coolant light" came on. We pulled off at the next exit (only 1 mile away) and pulled into a gas station, bought some radiator fluid and filled up the reservoir . Hoping it was due to evaporation we continued on our way. First thing Ed did when we arrived at the RV park was to check the fluid .... it was done and there was coolant all over the engine. As you can image Ed was not a happy camper. The truck has an appointment with a GM dealer tomorrow (unfortunately the nearest dealer is an hour away). Let's hope the problem can be fixed quickly.

We are now at Bosque Bird Watchers RV just outside of San Antonio, New Mexico and have met up with our friends John and Carol. Deciding Ed needed something to make him happy, I sent Ed and John off to see the birds coming in to roost at sunset .... they drove John's truck.






2012/11/18: Palo Duro Canyon

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
In 2007 we camped at Palo Duro Canyon for a few days. We enjoyed the canyon a lot and decided to drop in for the day. We've been having fabulous weather on our trip so far and today was a bit of an exception. The temperature was good, we were wearing t-shirts but it was mostly overcast and even rained lightly on us a couple of times. The weather didn't stop us from going hiking on a couple of trails.

Zaph was having a wonderful time.


When we were visiting a rest room, I noticed a couple of guys in the bushes. Took me a minute to spot two deer.

Boys like to have fun. The water was actually quite low when you look at the gage to see what can be expected.

The lighthouse. This is the most famous rock sculpture in the park.




2012/11/17: A Long Day

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
We knew today was going to be a long drive and it was. Ed chose the slightly longer but simpler route from Bella Vista, Arkansas to Amarillo, Texas (Highway 71 to 540 to 40). Ed was happy to drive a bit further if it meant avoiding toll roads and one city. No, you guessed wrong we're not at a Walmart but at an RV Park, Overnite RV Park. Tomorrow is a day off from driving ... we'll do some sight seeing instead.

2012/11/16: Bella Vista

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Friday`s route was changed Thursday afternoon. We talked to our friends, Jean and Bob, and decided to stop in Bella Vista for a visit. So, on Friday morning after a three and a half hour drive we arrived at the RV park in Bella Vista. We had a nice break from driving and an even nicer visit with Bob and Jean.

Zaph demanding some attention from Bob.

Playing with Wubba.

2012/11/15: Continuing south

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
This morning we were on the road by 8:30 and enjoyed an uneventful drive to St. Robert, Missouri where we landed at, you guessed it, a Walmart. This evening we had dinner at Miller Grill --- we`d eat there again. Stayed above freezing tonight so the furnace didn't have to work quite as hard to keep us warm.

2012/11/14: On the Road Again

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
We left Wednesday morning the 14th of November for another adventure. This year we’re going to spend the winter in Arizona.

The border crossing was one of the easiest crossings we’ve had with the trailer. There were only two cars in front of us when we pulled up to US customs and they went through quickly. The custom agent asked us a couple of questions … where were we going, were we both Canadian citizens, did we have dog food with us and did the dog food contain lamb or goat. After explaining that we weren't sure what was in the dog food but that the dog food was manufactured in the US, the custom agent said "Have a nice trip". Didn't even go in the trailer!

Given the border crossing was so quick, we drove a bit farther than we had planned and stopped at the Walmart in Clayton Ohio. Nice Walmart, would stay there again. It went below freezing but the trailer furnace did it`s job and kept us warm.

Now some catch up

The first half of November was wet and gray.

Shouldn't really complain about the weather as this was the the total amount of snow we had before heading south.

On one of his walks around town, Ed found this old foundry.

A tree down by the river.

Much of our time was spent getting ourselves and the trailer ready for winter down south. Ed did find time to build a replica of an ice chest for the theater room. The popcorn machine needed a permanent home.


A fellow from the local legion has an amazing collection of war memorabilia mostly related to local men and women who served in the Canadian military. Each year an Honour Your Hero display is put on at the legion. Ed and I were suitably impressed with the display.

Our friend Lori is part of an Art Walk in Kitchener each November and if I’m in town I go down and help with pricing and set up of her pottery. This year Ed drove down with me and he toured some stores he doesn’t usually get to and came back for dinner. Zaph stayed home this year and spent the day with Rob and Ellen where he was suitably spoiled with a drive to cottage, several walks and just lots of attention.

Rudy, one of Jack and Lori's cats. Rudy decided to help by climbing on the shelves ... he was evicted from the room.

Ed was in charge of keeping Pancho out of trouble.

One of Lori's new glazes.

Did I mention that we also celebrated Jack's birthday?

One last visit to vet was also on the agenda. The blood test showed that the platelet count appears to have stabilized. The prednisone is at a reasonable dosage so all is good. The vet decided to take one last look at Zaph’s gums (tells you a lot about the blood) and noticed something funny with one of Zaph’s back teeth. At first the vet thought it was tarter but turned out to be a piece of tooth that the vet flicked out with his finger nail. Then the piece of tooth hanging like a flap was found. So long story short, Zaph got to spend a few hours at the vets office and the piece of tooth was removed.

Happily the weather co-operated on Remembrance Day (i.e. no snow this year). Ed, Zaph, our neighbors Rob and Ellen and myself walked to the cenotaph for the Remembrance Day ceremony (think it’s the same as veterans day in the US). Even Zaph was wearing a poppy.


An early Christmas dinner was had at Anne and Victor’s home on the 11th. Dinner was wonderful and the company even better. Zaph happily showed off his Chirstmas present, a Wubba


Ed and I had the trailer packed and ready to go, well except for last minute items by 5pm on Tuesday. Ellen and Rob invited us over for dinner and drinks, what a nice way to relax on our last night at home.