Tucson, February, 2019

First Contact

About 20 miles south of Tucson is the Titan Missile Museum. In the 1950s the US Air Force built 54 of these underground Titan II missile launch sites split between Arizona, Arkansas and Kansas. All of these sites were dismantled by 1987 except for this one as part of a nuclear reduction treaty signed as the Cold War thawed out.

Each launch site was staffed by a small crew of four who were responsible for making sure everything was working while they were on duty and for launching the missile if the proper orders were received. They were on duty for a 24 hour “Alert”. The underground site had sleeping quarters, a kitchen and everything they needed for their Alert shift.

Each of the 103 ft tall ballistic Titan II missiles had a reentry vehicle on top with a 9 megaton nuclear warhead inside. These were the largest land based nuclear missiles every deployed by the US. They were 450 times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Each launch control center was protected against a direct strike. Reinforced concrete walls up to 8 ft thick, three ton air sealed blast doors and a 740 ton sliding silo door that could be opened in 18 seconds.

We got a short orientation and then went outside and through two sets of security doors and down eight flights of stairs. And then came to the first of three blast doors.

If you are over 6′ tall you had to wear a hard hat. Lots of low clearance places.

We went down into a service area in the middle of the picture above. There were secure doors into the control rooms to the right and to the long tunnel to the missile silo.

First stop was the control room.

The person leading the tour was very technical. He picked this lady out to sit in the big chair. This whole place screamed 1950s. State of the art for 1950s. Lots of buttons, lights, switches, clocks, dials. The computer here was about the same as an early 1980 PC. No disc drives, no tape drives just a punched paper tape reader. The entire control center was in a hardened shell mounted on giant springs and shock absorbers to isolate it from a near direct hit. The tour leader went through each step necessary to launch a missile.

Alerts and orders to launch came in by radio. There are several different antennas and multiple radio systems. Once the orders came the control center was entirely on its own. They verified orders and codes, started the launch process, the silo doors were opened and the missile was launched in less than a minute.

We left the control center and went though the central area. There were safety suits there worn by the fuel handlers. The Titan missiles were fully fueled and ready to launch at all times.

And then through another blast door and a long tunnel to the launch silo. The tunnel had a suspended walkway full of power and control cables. All of this in another blast resistant structure.

We got to the silo. There were big windows to look inside.

This had a familiar look.

Very familiar.

The hole in the reentry vehicle is to provide verification that the missile is unarmed.

The launch doors are locked partially open, terms of the treaty verification process.

And then I knew where I had seen this. “Star Trek : First Contact” a great 1996 movie that follows the Enterprise back in time to 2063 following a Borg ship. Part of the story is the struggle with the Borg and the other is to ensure that Zefram Cochran makes his maiden flight reaching warp speed. His warp ship is made from a missile in abandoned missile silo in Montana. The first warp drive travel lasted only a minute or so but enough to attract the attention of a Vulcan science ship traveling through the solar system. They land at the launch site and in spite of the Borg’s efforts First Contact was made.

Many of those scenes were filmed here at the Titan Museum. I asked one of the tour guides if I was right and she smiled and said yes. She said almost no one made that connection.

Pretty cool visit.

More later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

Tucson, February, 2019

Diamond Js is out in the desert. It might be Tucson but it is not in the city. Being in a big city is probably the last place we would ever choose to go. It is just not what we want to do. Apparently others feel the same way.

One of Everything

From a very small Airstream trailer.

To a very high end Newell Motorcoach.

And even a Tiny Home.

A nice Prevost pulled in here today. Some trailers, many fifth wheels, motorhomes of every type. And seven Foretravels. Here are six of themSnow

We had a week or so of cool weather. Lows several nights were in the 30s, a couple below freezing. In Tucson they set three records, most rain, most snow and lowest daytime high temperature for the day.

Woke up to snow.

We went for our morning walk anyway.

Snow in the desert. It was pretty neat. A week later there is still now in the higher elevations.

More later, Much Love

Roger and Susan

Tucson, February 2019

We went to the Pima Air And Space Museum with Scott Seibert, Ken Hathaway and George Denninghoff, all Foretravel folks we know. Scott (and Carol) and Ken (and Dori) are at Diamond Js, George (and Steph) are staying over at the nearby Airforce base campground, a benefit to being retired from the military.

George on the left and Scott are waiting for the shuttle that takes us around the out door displays. Harley is Scott’s service dog. He has the waiting part handled pretty well.

Inside we got a close look at an A10 Warthog. Davis Monthan AF Base has one of the larger squadrons of these formidable air planes. We see some flying almost every day. They entered service in 1976 and have been continuously upgraded recently with new wings and are expected to stay in service until about 2040.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairchild_Republic_A-10_Thunderbolt_II

This is one of my favorites. In all of the air museums we have been to I have only seen one more. It is a Grumman OV-1C Mohawk. The bug eyes made it well suited for its job as an observation plane. Wouldn’t this be a cool private aircraft?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumman_OV-1_Mohawk

This is a Beechcraft 2000A Starship. It was a very advanced Burt Rutan designed all composite pressurized business airplane. Only 53 were built, only 2 or 3 are still flying. I made a presentation to Beechcraft in 1989 on an advanced composite curing process. It never made it into a production aircraft.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beechcraft_Starship

And here is a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner! It is one of the first built as test aircraft. Serial number ZA002. It has hundreds of miles of cables and instrumentation installed and was never intended as a passenger model. Boeing donated it to the Pima Air & Space Museum in 2015. This is the only one of these I have seen.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_787_Dreamliner

We had a nice lunch and a unhurried chance to look closer at a few planes. A nice way to do it.

Art’s Birthday

An older fellow from Canada here at Diamond Js had a birthday one day. He smoked a large brisket and invited lots of folks over for dinner (at 4:00 PM). Everyone brought something to share. It was a great dinner, as you can see it was a cool evening.

That’s Art standing up in the back of this two fire pit gathering. Glen, another fellow from Canada, brought his guitar for some very good music and sing along.

More later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

Tucson, February, 2019

We stayed in Deming, NM for four nights. One day visited the local History Museum, went to Si Seńors for lunch and explored the town, found the old Army Air Base (now the airport) and cleaned the coach inside and out. One day we drove to Silver City and visited the City of Rocks State Park. And the last day we just did everyday stuff, filed my sales tax reports and just took it easy.

In the morning we packed up and headed for Tucson, about 4 hours away. Lots of wind that day. We stopped in Benson, about 50 miles to Tucson to fuel up. It was really blowing. When we stop for a longer time I like to be closer to full. I put an anti-bacterial additive into the tank. It prevents algae from growing while we are stationary.

Tucson, Justin’s Diamond J RV Park.

Justin’s Diamond J is on the SW outskirts of Tucson. We approached Tucson heading north on I 10 and then turn back south on I 19 towards Nogales. It is only a short way to the Ajo Highway. This leads west towards Kitt Peak and further to Ajo. It is about 8 miles to San Joaquin Rd. That leads north toward the Tucson Mountain Park, Saguaro National Park and the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. And Diamond Js.

We are in site F72. The sites here are generous. We put out our patio mats and all of the awnings.

And our bicycle tent.

It has been warm enough to wear shorts one day and a warm jacket on another. We had rain overnight last week, snow in the nearby mountains, three feet of it. It got down to 28° last night.

We got the table and the grill out, hooked up the lights (they really aren’t that bright) and we were ready. We are here for a month.

More later, Much Love

Roger and Susan

More Heading West, January, 2019

We split the drive from Kerrville, TX to Deming, NM into two chunks. We thought about going to Davis Mountains State Park near Fort Davis and then up to the nearby McDonald Observatory. It was an extra 2,000 ft elevation increase and a winding twisting road. Maybe next time. We thought about stopping in Ft Stockton but that left a long second day. So we headed to Van Horn a ways west of where I 10 and I 20 come together.

Van Horn has earned a bad reputation about not being friendly to RVs stopping on their streets. I am not sure why. There are several RV parks and they seemed just fine. Nothing special about the overnight or the park but they had a small cafe/pizza place in the park. We saw several folks bringing pizza boxes back to their RV. We did not.

The next morning we got fuel, about 50 gallons. We normally run between 90 and 150 gallons when driving across country. The coach holds 194 gallons. I don’t see much sense in carrying around an extra 400 lbs of fuel.

On to Deming, NM. West on I 10 is long and not much to look at.

About the same all the way.

Except where the entire west bound lanes get diverted through an immigration check point. We waited our turn, drove up past dozens of cameras where they saw we were from Minnesota and that we were older white people. They just waved us through.

To get to Deming we have to go through or around El Paso, TX. We have been through El Paso several times. There is almost always construction, congestion, delays and lots of traffic. So instead of taking I 10 through El Paso we went around.

It was a bit longer but about the same time and a much easier drive.

Shortly past El Paso we arrived in New Mexico. I 10 follows the Rio Grand River up towards Las Cruces and between I 10 and the river there are immense farms growing hay and almost as large cattle feed lots. Everything looks and feels different to us as we get into New Mexico. It is very familiar, very comfortable and somehow different.

Another hour and a half or so to Deming. We stayed at an Escapees Campground named Dreamcatchers. We have been here before, an easy place to stop. There is a motel next door with a pretty good restaurant where we ate an early supper one day.

We drove the Jeep Cherokee north one day to Silver City. It was about 80 miles. We had heard it was a nice place to visit. Along the way we stopped at City of Rocks State Park. It was pretty interesting. It is old volcanic ash and rock formation. Most of the surrounding area has long ago eroded but the particular area was harder and is still here.

There were trails all over to follow through the rocks.

The rocks covered an area about a half mile long by a quarter mile wide.

There was a small camping area with electric hookups and lots of campsites all over for just about every type of camper. Almost all of the sites were full. Another popular New Mexico State Park. Most we have seen have been someplace we would stay. Electric sites are $14/night. Out of state campers can buy an annual camping pass for $240. Unlimited camping for a year. Electric sites cost $4 extra per night. Pretty inexpensive.

Silver City turned out to be a long drive to an uninspiring destination. It is an old mining town. There is still very large open pit copper mines nearby. This is big scale mining where they also find some silver and gold but mostly copper. Huge mountains of tailings, huge pipelines moving used water into large man made lakes of used (contaminated) water.

Not much there to get us to return.

We went to The Deming Luna Mimbres Museum. http://www.lunacountyhistoricalsociety.com. We have been here a couple times before, worth the stop.

I spent some time looking at art work. There are some amazing pieces here.

These are all local artists.

This one reminded me of a Gustave Baumann wood block print.

One of the volunteers at the museum told us she grew up in the Deming area and knew where this Texaco Station was. She said it was gone but the small building behind is still there.

They have an expanding military exhibit area that goes all the way back to the mid 1800s through the present. Much more now from the Vietnam era.

Next stop is Tucson, AZ.

More later, Much Love.

Roger and Susan

More West, January, 2019

We have several days to get to Justin’s Diamond J RV Park near Tucson so we are taking our time.

Canyon Lake COE.

We stopped at Canyon Lake Corp of Engineers park north of New Braunfels, TX in the hill country. We have been here before, COE parks are nice and for seniors with a geezer pass, cheap.

View from the front window.

A very nice site.

A fellow with whom I used to fly Radio Control planes back in the 1980s lives somewhere around here and we thought we could look him up. It turned out he is about 2 hrs east of here so that wasn’t going to work.

The next day we headed to Kerrville, TX for a two night stop.

The Kerrville-Schreiner city park on the Guadalupe River is a good stop. We had plenty of time to get to Tucson so we thought a couple days here would be good.

There seemed to be another visitor from up north visiting as well.

The next day, January 29th, was Our 44th Anniversary. So we drove south to Camp Verde for lunch at the Camp Verde General Store and Restaurant.

This was an Army Post in the late 1850s. Its claim to fame was the attempt to bring camels to Texas to be transport animals for the Army. It didn’t work out so well. Today it is an event center, general store, Post Office, amazing kitchen store and a fine restaurant.

44 years. Wonderful!

We had a great lunch, brought enough home for supper. After lunch we spent some time shopping in the kitchen store and general store.

Susan found one of these holsters for whatever you put in it. It is silicone and just hangs there on its own. We got a new vegetable peeler, some napkins and a few other things. The whole store seems to have things we haven’t seen in other stores. There were some signs I liked.

A good anniversary message. Put your own picture at the top.

We are heading towards Deming, NM next with one stop along the way. It is a long way across Texas.

More later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

Heading West, January, 2019

Time to leave Onalaska. Next stop is Baytown, TX where Rudy and Carolyn live.

But first we had blueberries to use so we made pancakes like we get at the North Pole Cafe at home and then a bunch of normal sized ones to freeze for later.

Blueberries are the main ingredient in blueberry pancakes. So more blueberries than pancake.

Rudy and Carolyn’s

We have been to Rudy and Carolyn’s before. They have a very nice RV site on a lake at their friend Ralph’s place. We stay in front of Ralph’s RV barn. Susan and Carolyn went shopping and to the grocery store. We did laundry, washed the Jeep and a bunch of other stuff that it was convenient to do here.

I did some trim work for Carolyn where their cabinets meet the floor. They are not square corners but round. There were seven corners to trim so I made eight curved trim pieces before we left with enough on each leg to trim to fit.

Once they were finished they matched the sample Rudy had sent.

Once installed they looked pretty good.

I went with Rudy on three Aqua Hot service calls. Rudy is an Aqua Hot Specialist (he had to go to school and hands on training) and is pretty busy at this time of the year. He started this after he retired and it keeps him busy.

We went to a really nice place with a big house, RV barns and horse barns.

Rudy gets into it, really into it sometimes. Rudy fits into these places much better than I would.

Much of what he does is basic service but a big part of what he does is diagnostic. Something doesn’t work, there are lots of possibilities, what needs fixing and how to fix it.

It is always fun to tag along, learning from Rudy. And sometimes actually help. We needed to fix a blown fuse at one stop, a round tubular glass fuse used for in-line fuses. Rudy didn’t have the right kind. We went to a hardware store and they didn’t have one either. So the fix was a normal automotive fuse in and automotive fuse holder spliced in where the old in-line fuse holder was. Perfect.

We replace two bearings in our AquaHot. They were a bit noisy. Rudy did most of the work, I helped. If they ever need replacing again I can do it myself after seeing how it was done.

We went to the Monument Inn for a late lunch one afternoon. Bill Blackmon and Pete and Diana (his neighbors) joined us. Lunch was wonderful, I had blackened redfish, Susan had a Cajun shrimp pasta. The Monument Inn is right on the Houston Ship Channel. Ships went by while we enjoyed our lunch.

Later that day some other Foretravel owners, Keith and Jo, stopped by for a visit. It is always fun to meet new folks.

A beautiful sunset to end the day and our visit.

Next stop is Canyon Lake COE and then on to Kerrville.

More later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

PS. Bill let me know a couple days ago that Tom had flown in and the sale of his coach ( mentioned in an earlier blog) was completed. Bill handed the keys to Tom and Tom drove off. Bill is getting his Airstream trailer this week at last word.