Join us as we explore America…



This is the story of our “Great American Adventure.” It’s a record of our years-long motor home journey across America. It’s my online scrapbook. My collection of trinkets. My recording of nature’s soundtrack. I want to capture here the sights and sounds of our country, the breeze across the water and the smell of salt sea air. I want to hear the noisy bustle of city streets and the peace and quiet in the redwood forest. I want to milk a cow and drive a tractor, ride in a freight train’s locomotive and learn about hobos during the Depression. I’ll play checkers with one of the fellas in front of the General Store, visit the Grand Ole Opry, Woodstock and Radio City Music Hall.  I’ll go to a rodeo and watch the cowboys compete.  I’m going to sit a while with the old man on a bench and listen…really listen, to what he has to say. I’ll meet a  fisherman in New England and chat with him about the day’s catch. And I’m going to help anyone I can, in any way I can, along the way. I want to make a difference. I want to see our country and meet the people who live here.

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Laughlin: The second time around…

ANOTHER STOP IN LAUGHLIN, NEVADA.  We’ve been on our Great American Adventure a long time and now we’re on our final leg of the Journey. We’ve come full circle and are back at Laughlin, Nevada where we stopped about four years ago. Since we have so many happy memories about time we spent here over the years, we couldn’t resist the temptation to stop one last time. The southernmost tip of Nevada, along the Colorado River, where Nevada, California, and Arizona meet, has become a major national tourist destination and gambling resort within the last few decades. The townsite of Laughlin was established in the 1940s as South Pointe because of the proximity to the southern tip of the state of Nevada. The early town consisted of a motel and bar that catered to gold and silver miners, construction workers building Davis Dam, and fishing enthusiasts. In the 1950s, construction workers left, and the town all but disappeared. But now it’s a different story. The town is bustling and the River is lined by about a dozen casinos, each with a high-rise hotel and lots of night-life. Many of the casinos along the river are linked by an unofficial pedestrian thoroughfare known as the Laughlin Riverwalk. And a river ferry runs up and down the river if you’d rather casino-hop by water than by foot.


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Arizona for the winter…

CASA GRANDE RV RESORT. We’re not exactly snowbirds, but we can see why lots of them spend the winter in Arizona. Since our drive to Oregon was delayed due to the early winter and lots of snow on our intended route, we decided to spend a couple of months here. It’s outside of Tucson and the weather was absolutely beautiful for our entire stay. But after about May, forget it! Some folks who live in the area told us the temperatures are as high as 120 degrees during the summer. I guess that’s why so many Arizona residents visit San Diego during the summer each year. We call them “Zonies.”

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Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 



Thanks for traveling with us! We’ll see you again soon.


Florence and Greg Alford

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Lights Out at Rusty’s RV Ranch…



RUSTY’S RV RANCH.  The ranch is located in New Mexico’s high desert, with 360 degree mountain views. This is a captivating land of hallowed mountains, red rock canyons and vast serene plateaus.  The Native Americans who reside in the many reservations here present a vision of hope for humankind’s relationship to the natural world by interpreting the myth, beauty and power of the American West. The Indians believe that those who share the land itself create a community to which we all belong. This is land where bighorn sheep, elk, deer, antelope, foxes, mountain lions and bobcats roam vast areas with little human interruption, giving us only an occasional glimpse. Less timid and easier to spot are pheasants, roadrunners, deer and quail. The landscape is about as different from our home in San Diego as it can get and it’s a treat for us to experience a part of America we’ve not seen before now. Rusty’s is located about 3 miles north of the middle of nowhere–situated between the Chiracahua Mountains to the west and the Peloncillo Mountains to the east. There is no significant human population within 50 miles.


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Categories: Jeep, New Mexico | 5 Comments

Deming and Hatch…two little towns in New Mexico.

TOWN OF DEMING, NEW MEXICO. People don’t come to this area for the city life, that’s for sure. Deming is a rather depressed town and only about 14,000 folks call it home. It’s located 65 miles from Las Cruces and 33 miles from the Mexican border. The town is named after Charles Crocker, one of the “big four” of the railroad industry. The silver spike was driven here in 1881 to commemorate the meeting of the Southern Pacific with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroads. This was the second transcontinental railroad to be completed in the United States. The Deming area is rich in native pottery artifacts, as well as beads and stone implements made by the Native Americans who still live here.






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Hidden Valley Ranch RV Resort…

WAS THIS A GOOD IDEA?  As we drove the seven mile road to Hidden Valley Ranch outside the little town of Deming, New Mexico, we wondered if we’d made a mistake. The spot is a working cattle and horse ranch located far, far off the beaten path. The dirt road leading to the ranch is so wash-boarded that it took us over an hour to drive to the ranch. Was it going to be worth it? We’d heard from others that it was, but as we drove that road at a snail’s pace we wondered. Turns out that the drive was well worth the effort.

HIDDEN VALLEY RANCH RV RESORT. The resort is nestled in the high New Mexican desert, surrounded by the foothills of the Cooke’s Mountain Range. It’s but a small portion of 7,000 acres of open BLM range, framed by endless skies. Here we found quiet solitude, desert beauty and diverse wildlife. There are no trains rumbling in the night or trucks engaging jake-brakes as they exit the highway. Just the occasional howl of a coyote or the whistle of the wind. The ranch is a star-gazers dream. The skies are forever, and not interrupted by city lights. Being a working ranch, we saw cattle being sorted, counted and tagged. Molly was introduced to horses, cows, calves, bulls and ponies. We fed carrots to the horses and generally felt as if we were at a dude ranch. What fun!

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Categories: History, Jeep, New Mexico, Wild West | 4 Comments

A Drive to Remember…

WHAT IF I TOLD YOU.  What if I told you we took our Jeep on a drive over the mountains shown in the first picture of the series? Would you believe me? What if I told you that we found about 30 big horn sheep climbing precariously on the cliffs at the side of the road? What if I told you we also found a large herd of Roosevelt Elk on the plains below the mountains? Would you believe me?

WHAT A RIDE. The Rangers at the campground where we’re staying told us of a very rugged yet “4 wheel-drive-vehicle passable” dirt road that climbs to the top of the mountains and then descends to beautiful vast plains on the other side.  Then, we’d come upon the Los Alamos Demolition Army Base, still a top secret facility and famous for the national laboratory initially organized during World War II for the design of nuclear weapons as part of the Manhattan Project. As a bonus, the Rangers said the chances were very good that we’d see elk and bighorn sheep along the way. Even if we didn’t, they highly recommended the drive so long as we paid close attention to the weather forecast and took some provisions and emergency supplies for use in a pinch. I’m not much of a risk taker, but we decided to take the drive. Armed with our large first aid kit, a gallon jug of water, flashlights, two GPS devices, cameras and cell phones (turns out there was absolutely no coverage) we left “civilization” at about half-past noon. It was a nail-biter along many sections of the road. My photos simply don’t do it justice! Because when I was driving up a really steep grade or navigating over some large rocks or ruts I was in no position to stop and take pictures. And even though we weren’t going more than about 5 mph much of the way, Florence was hanging on for dear life! But you’ll certainly get a good sense for the drive, and we’re sure glad we did it.

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Categories: Armed Forces, History, Jeep, New Mexico, Scenic Byways | 4 Comments

Santa Fe, New Mexico…

OUR VISIT TO “THE CITY.” We’ve been in the Santa Fe area for a couple of weeks, but where we’re staying is at Cochiti Lake, a CoE park located about twenty miles south of Santa Fe and surrounded by vast Indian reservation lands. For those of you who missed my description a couple of weeks ago about this beautiful country, you can take a look at my post about this very serene spot.  The weather has been bright, crisp and sunny, but winter is right around the corner and the temperatures have been getting colder and colder. Daytime highs are only in the 50’s and we get a hard freeze almost every night. So, it’s not exactly been “sightseeing weather.” But today we went into town for a couple of hours to have lunch and take a look around the city.

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Cochiti Lake, New Mexico…

SOMETIMES WE WANT TO BE TOURISTS. Since we left home more than four years ago to begin our Great American Adventure exploring America, we’ve more often that not wanted to be tourists…to see all the places in this great country that we’d never had a chance to see until now. But having been on the road for so long, there are other times we enjoy finding a place to relax and just enjoy the surroundings, far from the hustle and bustle of modern America. We decided to take a week and enjoy such a place at this point in our travels, and we located Cochiti Lake in New Mexico to do so. It’s a perfect place to relax and unwind. We’re in a Corps of Engineers park at Cochiti Lake, about mid-way between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Our site is in a setting surrounded by vast open spaces and natural landscape plateaus in the distance. There are only a handful of other RV’ers here and it’s so quiet you could hear a pin drop!  It’s almost eerie, and we realize how much noise pollution is the norm in our daily lives. The sun shines brightly all day long with temperatures in the mid-seventies. And the night sky, oh my gosh! It’s black as ink but thousands of stars stand out sharply against the backdrop. My words don’t do it justice. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.” -Anton Chekhov. I wish I could find words like that.


We’re staying at Cochiti Lake, about mid-way between Santa Fe and Albuquerque.


View of Cochita Lake from our site.


Another view from our campsite. Look at the mountains in the background. Beautiful.


See what a neat site we’ve got here? A beautiful spot with a small gazebo, cement table and benches with a nice grill right on the patio. Water and electric, no sewer, but only $10 per night. Can’t beat that with a stick! 


These beautiful wildflowers punctuate the landscape where we’re staying.


PUEBLO DE COCHITI. The CoE park is surrounded by an Indian Reservation called Pueblo de Cochiti. Certain regulations are in place in keeping with Indian beliefs and traditions. Some areas and tribal buildings are strictly off-limits. The Pueblo de Cochiti requests that respect be given for the privacy of its members, for the rules and regulations for visiting the Pueblo, and for Tribal Officials. In turn, the Pueblo offers a wide variety of experiences to visitors including recreation areas such as the one we’re enjoying, pueblo dances and sometime access to pueblo artists. We’re here in the off-season, so the Indian dance exhibitions and activities ordinarily open to the public are closed. However, Tent Rock National Monument is accessible and it’s breathtaking. The “mood” in the campground and the surrounding reservation is reverent and quiet. Respect for the land and its Indian inhabitants is expected. The sanctity of this land is palpable, similar to the feeling we experienced years ago when we stayed at Valley of Fire in Nevada.


Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument at Pueble de Cochiti. Formed by volcanic explosions during the last million years, these cone-shaped rock formations range in height from a few feet to almost a hundred feet. 


OTHER RULES ON RESERVATION LAND. Sketching, recording, picture taking, and any other means of audio or visual reproduction is prohibited within the Pueblo. The Pueblo de Cochiti belief is that when an experience is unforgettable, the experience is maintained in one’s heart and mind, and cannot be reproduced unless experienced first-hand. This gives the opportunity to re-visit the Pueblo de Cochiti and bring friends and family to share those experiences. The use of cellular phones in the reservation is also prohibited. I don’t know if folks observe that “rule” but it’s kind of refreshing to know that certain places are “off limits.”


Day’s end at Pueblo de Cochiti. 


WHAT’S NEXT IN NEW MEXICO. We’ve got about two weeks before it’ll get extremely cold in this part of the state. Before we depart for warmer climes, however, we’re going to take a good look at both Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Check back in a few days to see what we’ve found. Or better yet, subscribe to my blog and you’ll receive email notice each time there’s a new post.


I’ll continue with my story next time.

Categories: History, New Mexico | 1 Comment

Las Vegas, New Mexico…

BREEZING THROUGH LAS VEGAS. Today is our second short stop in the little historic town of Las Vegas, New Mexico. We were here briefly in October of 2014, when we were in the area to explore Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands National Park and all the UFO sites in Roswell, New Mexico. This time we’ll just be here for a night and tomorrow we’ll head to a CoE Park near Santa Fe. It’s dry and brisk tonight. The temperature is about 45 and it’ll get down to the low thirties before morning. We’re at an almost deserted KOA park and it’s as dark as India ink outside. The only light is our little porch light and the stars shine brightly. The weather continues to guide us, as neither one of us relishes travel in snowstorms or on icy roads but so far we’re comfortable. And with the furnace in our motorhome, we’re cozy and warm as toast.

The town of Las Vegas, New Mexico was born of a Mexican land grant in 1833. Before that the area played host to Indian hunters, Spanish explorers and travelers of the Santa Fe Trail who took advantage of its hot springs and clear rivers.


The historic Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico.



  1. Doc Holliday and Big Nose Kate lived in Las Vegas for a while in the 1870’s. They got into so much trouble they had to move to Tombstone, Arizona!
  2. Jessee James came came to town in 1870 to enjoy the Hot Springs. He was looking for a place to live anonymously. But he got into a horse race with Billy the Kid and three years later he was shot in the back by Charlie Ford.
  3. Colonel “Teddy” Roosevelt’s Rough Riders (623 strong) held their first reunion, one year after the battle of San Juan Hill, in Las Vegas in June of 1899. Amid the celebration and wild west show, Roosevelt announced his candidacy for president of the United States.
  4. Some of the West’s most infamous outlaws and troublemakers passed through Las Vegas. Among them: Scar-Face Charlie, Mysterious Dave, The Durango Kid, Cockeyed Frank, Webfingered Billy, Rattlesnake Sam, Cold Deck George, Flapjack Bill, Stuttering Tom, Little Jack the Cutter, Tommy the Poet, Flyspeck Sam and Handsome Harry the Dance-hall Rustler.


NEXT STOP. Our next stop will be at Cochita Lake near Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s the “end of the line” on the Old Santa Fe Trail which we’ve been driving for the last week or so.  We hope you’ll join us again there. I’m sure there will be lots to see and do!


Cochita Lake, New Mexico is just about 20 miles from Santa Fe. From the pictures we’ve seen, it looks as if it will be a good place to stay for a while, weather permitting. 



We’ll find lots to see in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


I’ll continue my story next time.

Categories: History, New Mexico, Wild West | 2 Comments

Driving through Colorado into New Mexico…

KANSAS IS BEHIND US.  Kansas is behind us and as we enter Colorado we find ourselves in a vast and sparsely populated area called  the Comanche National Grassland. In the distance we see the snow covered mountains around Denver and we’re glad that we made the decision to change our route and avoid the severe weather there. Vegetation here is mostly short-grass prairie although pinyon and juniper trees are found in rocky canyons, and cottonwoods and willows grow near streams. The landscape is vastly different from what we saw for so long as we drove through Missouri and Kansas, and grassland finally yields to some hills and pines. We’re on the Original Santa Fe Trail, one of America’s scenic byways. The Trail was a 19th-century transportation route through central North America that connected Independence, Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico. It served as a vital commercial highway until the introduction of the railroad to Santa Fe in 1880.

THE SANTA FE TRAIL. In 1821, the land beyond Missouri was a vast uncharted region called home to great buffalo herds and unhappy Indians, angered over the continual westward expansion of the white man. Before Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, the Spanish banned trade between Santa Fe and the United States. After independence, Mexico encouraged trade. Though numerous dangers awaited him, Captain William Becknell was determined to make the trip through water-less plains and war-like Indians to trade with the distant Mexicans in New Mexico. On September 1, 1821, Becknell left Franklin, Missouri with four trusted companions, and after arriving in Santa Fe on November 16, and making an enormous profit, he made plans to return, thus blazing the path that would become known as the Santa Fe Trail.

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Categories: Colorado, History, Kansas, New Mexico, Wild West | 4 Comments

Leaving America’s Heartland…

  If Chicago is the “windy city” then the state of Kansas must be the country’s windiest state. Wow! A day or two ago the wind was so strong on the highway that we were forced to stop driving early in the day. We were fortunate to find a beautiful lake near the little town of Marion, Kansas where we took shelter for a few days and contemplated our next move. The sustained winds were about 40 miles per hour with gusts to 55 mph. It’s just not safe to drive in that kind of weather! We’ve now continued west on Interstate 70 to another small town called Goodman, Kansas, where the winds were calmer. But we’re planning to leave in the morning, because the weather forecast is for increasingly high winds, freezing temperatures and light snow. I just don’t know how to drive in these kinds of conditions! Before we depart, though, I want to give you my last impressions of Mid-America.


Wind farms are common sights on the plains of Kansas. And the propellers move briskly!

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America’s Heartland, Part II

WE’RE MOVING ALONG. A few days ago we put Missouri in our rear-view mirror and traveled west to Kansas, in search of Dorothy and Toto. We didn’t find them, but we did find more interesting spots in mid-America. The seasons are changing. There’s a chill in the air. Leaves fall from the trees and a red fox peers at us from the thicket as if to suggest that we’d best move along before snow covers the ground. We’ll next be in Utah and then Colorado. I’ve never driven in the snow, and I’m hoping the weather will cooperate so I don’t have to learn how to do it.


Believe it or not, this is the road leading to the town of Cherryvale, Kansas. I’d say we are a bit off the beaten track!


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America’s Heartland…

MANSFIELD, MISSOURI. As we trek across America from East to West, we find ourselves today in Mansfield, Missouri. Only about three hundred families live here. We’re still in the Ozarks. Highway signs blare: “Abortion is murder!” Streets have names like Hickory Hollow and Cemetery Road. A gunmetal water tower announces the town’s name. “Rick’s Quality Used Car Lot” lures customers with a string of multi-colored triangle-shaped flags flapping in the breeze. The lot is on Main Street. Of course. Baptist churches are everywhere. It doesn’t seem as if there are enough people to fill the pews on Sunday mornings. Everyone in “Ma and Pa’s Diner” knows each other. They’re polite to us but a bit skeptical of Californians. There’s a gas pump outside. A tractor driving down the road slows traffic. The town is very quiet.


Main St and Town Square of Mansfield, Missouri.



Rocky Ridge Farm, in Mansfield, Missouri. This is where the “Little House on the Prairie” books were written. The Laura Wilder Museum is next door. It’s closed. We’re parked in a grassy field nearby, where Molly has lots of room to run. She loves it here.  


LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. Laura Ingalls Wilder was an American writer known for the Little House on the Prairie series of children’s books, released between 1932 and 1943, which were based on Wilder’s childhood in a settler and pioneer family. During the 1970’s and early 1980’s, the television series “Little House on the Prairie” was loosely based on the Little House books, and starred Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls and Michael Landon as her father, Charles Ingalls. 



Rural Missouri in America’s Heartland.


AMERICA’S HEARTLAND. This is middle America, a casual term for the United States heartland. The term is generally used as both a geographic and cultural label, suggesting a Central United States small town or suburb where most people are middle class, Evangelical Christian, mainline Protestant or Catholic. These are white folks. Hard work, simplicity and honesty are highly valued. As a cultural label, mid-America is contrasted with the more culturally progressive urban areas of the country, particularly those of the East and West coasts. Conservative, family values are typical of Middle America, although larger cities and major university cities are exceptions. Accordingly, many of the political battleground states are located in this part of our country. The economy is traditionally agricultural. Home prices are very low and economic disparities between folks are less pronounced than on the coasts. 


We’re in Middle America, “America’s Heartland.” The way of life and political climate here is as different from San Diego as “night and day.” Life is slow and measured. Everyone drives a dirty pickup truck. A few cows resting under an oak tree swish their tails to discourage the flies. There’s not much to do. Walmart is about 25 miles distant, and folks drive there just for an outing. 


Rural Missouri in America’s Heartland.


Typical scene “just outside of town.”


NEXT STOP: CHERRYVALE, KANSAS. By tomorrow evening, we’ll be in Cherryvale, Kansas…almost twice the size of Mansfield. Whowhooo! But it’ll no doubt be an interesting stop because it’s the home of Sam Avey, the wrestling promoter! (In Cherryvale, it’s a bit of a stretch to find notable people from the area!) However, and this may be the town’s saving grace for me, it’s also headquarters for the South Kansas and Oklamoma Railroad, a shortline that runs 511 miles of track in Kansas and Oklahoma. No kidding, those of you who have followed me on our journey for the last four years know that I’m a true “rail-hound,” a “train buff.” (Look on the “topic list” at the right of this page in blue print and click on “railroad” to see some of my railway posts.) So we’ll hope for the best. Plan to join us…you never know what you’ll find in the tiny towns of America’s Heartland. I’ll see you again in a few days.



I’ll continue my story next time.




Categories: History, Missouri, Museums | 3 Comments

Welcome to the Ozarks…

WELCOME TO THE OZARKS. We’ve arrived in southern Missouri’s Ozark Mountain Country, also referred to as “the Ozarks.” It’s a highland geologic region of the country’s central states of Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma, extending in Missouri all the way northeast to the suburbs of St. Louis.  Although sometimes referred to as the Ozark Mountains, the region is actually a high and deeply dissected plateau, covering nearly 47,000 square miles.


We’re in Missouri’s Ozark Mountain Area. The Ozarks are actually not mountains. Rather, the area is a huge plateau extending in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.  


The hills in Tennessee, Kentucky and here in the Missouri are heavily wooded, green and beautiful. I love San Diego and it is certainly beautiful, but compared to this the landscape there is like a desert.  


Cattle ranch in the Ozark mountain area of Missouri.


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The Solar Eclipse…

How does the moon cut the sun’s hair? Eclipse it.

SOLAR ECLIPSE ON AUGUST 21, 2017. Not since 1979 and not again until 2024 will there be a solar eclipse like this one. What a big deal! I don’t know where you were during the eclipse, but in this part of the country seeing it was supposed to be a real “happening.” We’re staying at Wappapelo Lake in Missouri, close to the “path of totality” in a coveted spot to watch the moon pass between the sun and the Earth, according to the local astronomy folks.  People  from far and wide traveled great distances to get a glimpse of this rare phenomenon. For example, a farmer in a small town in Oregon rented spaces in one of his fields to ten thousand out-of-town folks who camped overnight to witness the eclipse! Everywhere we’ve been for the last month, folks have been talking about it. Safety glasses were given out in libraries and visitors’ centers and folks were definitely “on the road” for this event.  For this eclipse, the longest period when the moon completely blocked the sun from any given location along the path was only about two minutes and 40 seconds.  The last time the contiguous U.S. saw a total eclipse like this was in 1979. Here are the stats for Lake Wappapello, where we watched the eclipse.

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Categories: History, Missouri | 2 Comments

Have you ever found a “kindness rock?”

KINDNESS ROCKS. Several weeks ago, I began finding small rocks, painted with inspirational quotes, around RV parks and at the beach. They were in plain view, unlike geocaches which are carefully hidden. Have you guys seen these kinds of rocks, just lying around on the ground? “What’s going on with this?” I wondered. So I checked it out and here’s what I learned.


Who’d have ever guessed I’d put a post on my blog about Kindness Rocks? Not too many years ago I wouldn’t have been “caught dead” posting such a silly thing, much less thinking about painting a rock on a rainy day. But now, it seems kind of fun and I’m no longer much concerned about what folks think! What about you? 

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