Payson, AZ (sorta) Sharp Creek NFS Campground May 6 to May 19, 2013
Sometimes it is hard putting together a blog. We are not alone with this struggle. The most common reasons we read for putting it off are “I was having so much fun, I just didn’t have time to blog” or “I didn’t do anything interesting so I didn’t have stuff to blog about.” Well, in my case we are having fun, we are doing interesting stuff, but we just having trouble getting motivated about writing.
Part of it is because when we started this blog, we didn’t want it to be a travelogue, documenting that we drove so many miles today and we saw this or that. When we read blogs, we want to learn about the person or persons writing and how they handle everyday life. That’s why it’s better to write the blog while the day’s events are still fresh in your mind as opposed to trying to recreate the experience days or weeks later. I’m a great procrastinator! So, all those great things I wanted to blog about are lost in the maze that is my memory never to surface again.
So why am I writing today? Well, here we sit in the Aphache-Sitgreaves National Forest enduring our 4th or 5th day of rain. It’s gotten to the point that Gabby (the younger cat) is swatting at rain rivulets on the windows and EJ is dancing around the motorhome like a ballerina. I need a mental distraction so I thought “Why not put together a blog?”. Please don’t expect much, as this will be a series of brain burps while I ineptly attempt to recreate the last 2 and a half months.
Starting back in San Angelo, TX in preparation for leaving after a 4 month stay I had one last project to wrap up. We have a Tire Pressure Management System (TPMS) and it has really been a huge disappointment. It only has two jobs. 1) to warn if the pressure in a tire goes too high or too low and 2) to keep an eye on the tire temperature. Out of the 10 tires we have (6 on the motorhome and 4 on the car) It normally only gives readings for 3 or 4 of the 10 tires. We even installed a signal booster, but it doesn’t help at all. But I dutifully did the maintenance and put in new batteries and lubricated the seals to prevent water intrusion.
It didn’t help. There is still no signal reaching the receiver from 6 of the sending units on the tires. BAH! Well, the system is 8 years old, maybe technology has improved by now. Maybe it’s time to invest in a new TPMS system. It sure would be nice to keep an eye on the tire pressures as we are going down the road.
Our preparations were finally complete and it was time to head on down the road. But, we have been to West Texas many times, and it was plain boring driving the same roads again and again then stopping at the same overnight spots again and again. We needed to shake things up a bit and try something different. So we started researching some small West Texas towns to see what they had to offer.
I had been hearing stories of a WWII bomber base in West Texas and I wanted to check it out. Pinning down a location was interesting because the old bomber base was in one town and the museum for it was in another. And what really piqued my interest was the informal name of the base. Rattlesnake Bomber Base. Turns out the base, even though no longer in use, is off limits. So to the museum it is!
The museum itself is in Monahans, TX while the actual bomber base is in Pyote, TX about 20 miles away. The bomber base was named for the many rattlesnake dens discovered during construction. At one time this was the largest bomber base in the United States. After the war it was used as a storage facility and is where the Enola Gay (the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan) was stored.
At one time 100’s of B-29s were stored here before they were scrapped. The West Texas environment was thought to be conducive for long term storage.
And vicariously Frank got to pretend he was dodging strafe and shooting “bad guys”.
Outside the museum was a huge concrete “hole” or as they called it, a “tank”.
Working around the clock for 90 days men and mules hauled material and built this huge concrete structure. Supposedly the bottom of the structure could hold 5 football fields. “Why was this built?” you ask. In the 1920s Shell Oil Company had discovered oil deposits in West Texas that when tapped, were free flowing 500 barrels a day. During those days there was no infrastructure to easily transport the oil to market so they built this huge tank to store the oil. Over the tank they built a wooden roof covered with tar paper to protect the oil from the elements. While this all seemed like a good idea, it really wasn’t. The concrete was poured in sections, which meant it had seams that allowed the oil leak out. Also the dry Texas weather meant accelerated evaporation causing even more oil to be lost. Between these two problems enough oil was lost to make the whole venture unprofitable. In 1929 all of the oil was pumped out and shipped to Oklahoma to be refined. In the 1930s Shell abandoned it. In all that time the tank had only been filled to capacity once.
A later attempt was made to use it as a huge water park. Water wells were drilled, the tank filled, and even water skiing exhibition teams were hired. But it encountered the same leakage and evaporation problems. The water park was open a single day before it too, was closed and abandoned.
Next it’s on to Wink, TX. Where in the heck is that you say? It’s 7 miles from Kermit, 22 miles from Wickett, 31 miles from Notrees, and 40 miles from Pecos. Didn’t help much, huh? Let’s just say it’s in the middle of nowhere out in the oil patch.
Love Hurts, Blue Bayou, Pretty Woman, Crying, It’s Over, Only The Lonely, and I Drove All Night. All songs by the Wink Hometown Boy, Roy Orbison. Roy Orbison was actual born in Vernon, TX but grew up here in Wink. Roy’s songs were big hits in the USA, Britain, Germany and Australia.
Below EJ crooning with the “Big O” and trying on his sunglasses.
You all know about my aversion to large crowds but EJ and I decided to push our comfort zone a lot and go see what an Escapees Rally was all about. With only 3 or 4 weeks to the event we were surprised to find that space to attend the event was still available. So we signed up, paid our funds and wondered what we had just done. But we figured that for 5 days we could endure most anything.
There were two reasons we wanted to attend Escapades. 1) We wanted to see what all the hoopla was all about. Whenever we met an Escapee member they always told us we just had to go to an Escapade. 2) According to the published schedule, it looked like there were quite a few seminars we would be interested in attending.
Because we would be dry camping for 7 days (we were arriving early and leaving late) we needed to position Miss Mosey to be able to dump and fill on the day we were to arrive at the Pima County Fairgrounds where Escapades was being held.
We tried to get into the Escapees Park in Benson, AZ but it was booked solid, so we ended up staying at the Elks Lodge in Wilcox, AZ about 70 miles to the east of the Fairgrounds. We spent 5 days there doing laundry and exploring.
While we were there, the winds from Texas continued to follow us and we spent several days with the slides in on one side of Miss Mosey. With the windward slides out, the toppers flapped unmercifully in the unrelenting winds. Rather than worry about the fabric ripping to shreds, it was much more calming (and quiet) to cope with reduced living space for a few days.
More about Escapade in the next popst.