Subj:  49. Where are we?
Date:  Tuesday, March 5, 2002 6:15:52 PM

We left Atlanta this morning and headed west on I-20 through Birmingham Alabama. Then we picked up US 78 (and a few other highways) and headed northwest until we reached our current location. Although we are still about 20 miles away from a town of note, it's probably the closest town we can describe. The town was once the homeland of the Chickasaw Indians and is also the site of the last major Civil War battle fought in Mississippi. History aside, the town is probably best known as the place where Elvis Presley was born! By the way, for the first time we drove completely through a state in one day. We started today in Atlanta, Georgia, drove from the East side of Alabama to the West side of Alabama, and into Mississippi. That's three states in one day!

We really enjoyed Atlanta, except for the weather. Last Friday was our first full day in Atlanta. The weather was cool but reasonably clear. We decided to do outdoor things since it was supposed to start raining on Saturday. So, we went to Stone Mountain. Stone Mountain is east of Atlanta and is a massive dome of granite rising 825 feet above the surrounding land. It's been turned into a park and is really pretty. In the 1920s, a sculpture was started on a sheer face of the mountain (note this was started before Mount Rushmore). It took 57 years of starts, stops, changes, wars, depressions, and disagreements before it was finished. The sculpture has three colossal figures - Confederate President Jefferson Davis, General Stonewall Jackson, and General Robert E. Lee - sculpted riding their horses on 3 acres of the mountain's sheer northern face. Even though the figure of Lee is the height of a nine-story building and the entire sculpture rests in a niche the size of a city block, the figures seem small compared to the mountain's bulk.

After leaving Stone Mountain, we stopped by the DeKalb Farmer's Market which was recommended by Lynne, Larry's sister. Then we drove to midtown Atlanta to see Georgia Tech (Larry's alma mater). Tech covers at least twice the area it did in the 60s when Larry was there. Larry admits that he no longer knew his way around the campus. Much of the growth of the school was brought about in 1996, when Tech was the home of the Olympic Village during the Atlanta Olympics. There are lots of new dorms and other buildings.

Saturday was a wet and cold day we tried to do things that were inside. First we went to the World of Coca-Cola. Atlanta is home to Coca-Cola and it is part of the city's culture (it's difficult to find a Pepsi in Atlanta but then Larry doesn't know why you would want to try). The World of Coca-Cola is like a museum of Coca-Cola history. There is a lot of memorabilia, video presentations, and lots of displays. It even has a recreation of a 1930s soda fountain, free samples of Coca-Cola products from the United States as well as other Coca-Cola soft drinks from around the globe, and, of course, a retail store. It's amazing what advertising can do for a product that is nothing but sweet, flavored, soda water. Some of the mystic about Coca-Cola is centered on its "secret formula" that is supposed to be known by only a few people and the only written copy is locked up in a bank vault. Fable has it that the original formula included cocaine (thus the nickname Coke), but sometime in the early 1900s, it was replaced by Caffeine.

After the World of Coca-Cola we had lunch at the world's largest drive-in restaurant, another Atlanta icon, the Varsity. It's near Georgia Tech and has been a long time hangout for college students as well as Atlantans from all sectors of society. Of course the only sodas they serve are products of Coca-Cola. We can't say it was great food but anyone who visits Atlanta has to eat at the Varsity, at least once!

After surviving Varsity food, we drove to Buckhead, the area of Atlanta where Larry lived. We drove by the house where Larry lived (yes, it's there but has also changed), as well as some of the rather large houses nearby. We also drove by the four different public schools Larry attended but only three still exist. All of the three have changed significantly and don't look like they did in the 50s and 60s. (The Buckhead area has homes that are larger than the plantation homes we have seen in the southern states. The homes are magnificent and are like mansions and some styled like castles).

That night we had a very enjoyable visit with two of Larry's friends from the old neighborhood.

Sunday was cloudy and cold. Again we did some indoor sightseeing. First we stopped by the Cyclorama. The Cyclorama is a huge circular painting of the Battle of Atlanta. The painting is 42-feet high and 358-feet in circumference. You experience the painting, and the associated three dimensional figures in the foreground, by entering a seating area in the middle of the display. The seats slowly rotate as a narrator describes various things that happen during the Battle of Atlanta. This is one of those places that all Atlanta school children visit during field trips. Larry claims he has seen it probably about 6 times but this time was different. First, the painting was restored in the 1970s, and there were several things that were added to the presentation. This too is a must see for anyone visiting Atlanta. Remember, we are talking about the South. The Civil War started in the 1860s but, 140 years later, the South has not forgotten it.

After the Cyclorama, we went to the Atlanta History Museum. There were some very well done displays about the history of Atlanta, the Civil War, Atlanta's role in golf (after all, Bobby Jones was from Atlanta), and some other displays. They also have a typical southern farm from the 1840s. The Atlanta History Museum purchased a well known local landmark mansion, the Inman House, now called the Swan house. There is no real historical significance to the mansion that was built in 1928 but everyone in Atlanta knew it. We were able to tour the mansion, something that is worthwhile for anyone who is familiar with this landmark.

Monday was clear, but very cold. We decided to spend an extra day in Atlanta to catch up on more mundane things. While Adrienne did the laundry, Larry printed out photos for our photo album. We needed to do some shopping so we decided to do something else Larry wanted to do. We drove down to Newnan Georgia to visit a Super Walmart and have dinner at Sprayberry's BBQ. Sprayberry's is a well known, family owned BBQ restaurant. We both had the Barbarque Plater with both Pork, and Beef. The Platter includes a salad, Brunswick Stew (yum), bread, and french fries. Notice what's missing? We did and we missed the vegetables. Yes, we do have left overs and will probably eat them tonight. By the way, guess what soft drinks they serve? Yep, Coca-Cola products.

We stopped at the Mississippi Visitor Center today and again, like the Georgia Visitor Centers, they serve free Coca-Cola products. Adrienne saw her first Pepsi machine in the South today in this Corps of Engineers campground. Much of it is operated by a contractor, obviously a Yankee contractor.

Now, where are we? We are in a beautiful Corps of Engineers campground near Tupelo Mississippi. Fortunately it is warming up. Yesterday's high temperature was about 36, today it was in the 60s.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun
heading west.

PS. We have to mention that Lynne, Larry's sister, gave us an old copy of a book that is almost as important as our Trailer Life Campground Directory. For anyone who travels the Interstate Highways frequently, a copy of the Exit Authority should be a must have. It lists all the Interstate exits and rest stops. It also lists each exit and what is available at that exit, from gas stations, to Wal-Marts, to Restaurants, to shops, to campgrounds, etc. We plan to buy a current copy next time we stop at a Camping World.

Subj:  50. Where are we?
Date:  Wednesday, March 6, 2002 5:40:30 PM

We left the beautiful Corps of Engineers Campground in Fulton, Mississippi (near Tupelo) this morning and headed west on US 78. We didn't have to drive too far to our destination even though it's in a different state. We are now camped in port city on the bluffs over the Mississippi River. Although the history of this city goes back to 1540 when Hernando de Soto visited this area, the city is best known for two Kings. In the 1950s "The King" rose to music stardom in this city. In 1968, another King was assassinated here. The two kings were Elvis Presley and Martin Luther King, Junior.

The campground is on the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway just outside of Fulton Mississippi. It is really beautiful. The campground has paved roads, the campsites are paved and all the sites we saw were wooded. That makes for very nice camping but creates problems for obtaining a satellite TV signal.

Next to the campground is the Jamie L. Whitten Historical Center. Jamie L. Whitten was a congressman from Mississippi who served in the House of Representatives for 50 years. That means he won 25 consecutive elections. He was the driving force to develop northeastern Mississippi. The Historical Center has exhibits from seven different Federal Agencies involved in this economic development and includes: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the USDA Soil Conservation Service, The Tennessee Valley Authority, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

We are eager to move west to be able to meet some obligations we have at the end of the month, but at our pace. So we'll only spend one night here.

The drive today was uneventful but thankfully the weather is warmer. Some of the Kudzu is beginning to get green so Adrienne was able to get a better idea of how this vine looks when it starts taking over the landscape.

Where are we? We are in Memphis Tennessee.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun

Subj:  51. Where are we?
Date:  Thursday, March 7, 2002 7:17:47 PM

We'll warn you now, this will be a tough one. We left Memphis early this afternoon and continued our treck west on I-40. We've stopped at a nice Corps of Engineers campground right on the Arkansas River. It really has an interesting name, but we'll tell you the name later. We passed through the capital city of Arkansas and continued to the city where we are now located but we haven't been able to find out anything about the city other than it has a factory that assembles school buses.

We didn't spend much time in Memphis but we did one little bit of sightseeing. The people running the campground recommended that we go to the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis to see the ducks march! Yes, you read that right. There are five ducks that march every day, once at 11:00 AM and once a 5:00 PM.

The Peabody is an elegant national historical landmark. It was built in the late 1800s and is quite nice. Apparently it is THE PLACE to stay in Memphis. In the 1930s, the general manager put his live hunting decoys in the Travertine marble fountain in the lobby to entertain his guests. This was the beginning of the tradition. Now, everyday at 11:00 AM several ducks ride the elevator down from their penthouse pond to the lobby. The elevator doors open and the ducks march down a red carpet from the elevator and up the carpeted steps to the fountain. This is done with much fanfare, a Sousa March, and lots of casual observers. At 5:00 PM they march from the fountain back to the elevator and to their own pond at the penthouse. We understand the ducks have been on some of the late night television talk shows. We must admit, it was interesting, unique, and it did draw a crowd. A tradition of 50 years!

The drive today was interesting. We didn't expect to see much standing water in Arkansas. We were surprised by the number of ponds, lakes, and even swamps along the way. We are wondering if Arkansas is wetter than Louisianna.

Now, where are we? We are right outside of Conway Arkansas which is only about 30 miles west of Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas. We are staying at Toad Suck Park! (FOR ADULTS ONLY, Now, considering that we had a past President from Arkansas, and some of the activities that haunted him, we may be able to guess where the name came from). The honest truth is that we don't know the origin of the name. But when we saw it in the campground directory, we just had to investigate. It is a nice place to stay. We are right on the Arkansas River right by one of the dams. We have really been impressed with the Corps of Engineer campgrounds we have used.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun
in Arkansas

Subj:  52. Where are we?
Date:  Friday, March 8, 2002 5:07:34 PM

We aren't sure when we will get another telephone hook up to send these emails, so be prepared to receive several at one time.

We left Toad Suck Park in Conway Arkansas this morning and headed west on I-40. We had planned to continue further west but, after stopping by the Oklahoma Visitor Center on I-40, we decided to take a detour north. We are now camped in a beautiful Oklahoma State Park overlooking the large Tenkiller Lake on the Illinois River. It's too early in the year for many people to be here so there are only a handful of RV sites taken. We are in a region of lakes within the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. We didn't realize that western Oklahoma had many hills, but it does. We are close to a town that has been the capital of the Cherokee Indian Nation since 1839. We intend to visit tomorrow.

The highlight of the drive today was the Oklahoma Visitor Center on I-40. Above the information desk was a huge painting reproduction "The Trail of Tears" by western artist Robert Lindneux. It tells the story of the forced march of the Cherokees from their homeland in the southeastern United States to Indian Territory in the winter of 1838-39. The painting depicts the Cherokee's arrival in their new country, now northeastern Oklahoma. While we were there we noticed some brochures on the "Trail of Tears" that's why we decided to alter our plans. After all if you can't change your plans they aren't plans but are obligations.

We've read several brochures on the Trail of Tears, plus, we have a friend in California who is a Cherokee Indian (Little Dear Durvin) who has a difficult time talking about this event. With the little we've read about the Trail of Tears, we think there is a lot more to it than we know now. We do know that the Indian Removal Act of 1830 legislated the removal of five southeastern Indian tribes to lands west of the Mississippi River. Although the Seminoles, Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Creeks were also removed, the Cherokee Removal is the one that is always discussed. The Cherokees were adopted to the European lifestyle, owning large plantations, and educated their children at local mission schools. The Cherokees fought the loss of their homelands all the way to the U.S Supreme Court. We hope to learn more about this sad historical event.

Now, where are we? We are camped in the Cherokee State Park near Tahlequah Oklahoma.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun
on our way west.

Subj:  53. Where are we?
Date:  Sunday, March 10, 2002 9:27:51 PM

We left Cherokee State Park this morning and traveled west again. We are now in the Capitol city of Oklahoma. Did you know that Oklahoma has the only capitol building that doesn't have a dome? Did you know the capitol building in Oklahoma has an oil well on the grounds? Did you know that Oklahoma has more tornados than any other state? Did you know that Oklahoma has more man made lakes than any other state? Did you know that Oklahoma has more Native Americans than any other state?

Will Rogers once said about Oklahoma, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute!" Well, we experienced that. When we arrived at Cherokee State Park the weather was balmy. It was in the high sixties and cloudy. It stayed warm until about 1:00 AM. Then it became very windy, started raining, and the temperature plunged 28 degrees in two minutes. The temperature had dropped to about 25 degrees over night and the next day (Saturday) it barely reached 40. (The weather got so scary, and watching the weather channel, we decided to pack bags for a tornado. We had a bag with clothes, a bag with food and water, food for Whitney, a bag with flashlight, batteries, tooth brushes, a large blanket, etc. Plus verbal instructions as to who would do what). The wind was strong, there was loud thunder and lightening and our weather radio alarm goes off!! Larry, Whitney and Adrienne did not sleep well !! What an experience!

Despite the cold weather, we visited the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah. There was an excellent display on the Trail of Tears and we learned a lot about this tragic event. We also learned a lot about the Cherokee Indians, their beliefs, their government, and their culture. There was also a Cherokee Indian village. No, the Cherokee didn't live in teepees, they lived in wood stick and mud houses. The Cherokee also had a strong somewhat democratic society and easily adopted the European ways. The majority of the Cherokees tried to keep their lands in the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Georgia by taking their case to the US Supreme Court. They lost and thus the Trail of Tears. That's really an over simplification, but it does illustrate the point. The Cherokee Village used members of the Cherokee Nation to provide the tours, illustrate how the Cherokees made their weapons (a true art form), how they made their baskets, and other aspects of Cherokee heritage. Although this was an unplanned side trip, it was certainly worthwhile and we're glad we did it.

As we mentioned in our last "Where are we?", we were staying at the Cherokee State Park. We kept trying to find a ranger, checking the office, but no one was around. There was no camp host (there was a site but it was empty). We wanted to pay for the two nights we stayed, but alas, no one was there to pay and there was no envelopes or place to pay the fees. We suppose we could have nailed the fee to a tree, but with no nails, no hammer, we doubted that it would be appropriate. So, we had two nights of free camping in Oklahoma. If the Oklahoma State Park rangers read this, please send us a letter or a bill, we will be happy to pay camping fees, even if the weather scared us.

Where are we now? We are in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun

Subj:  54. Where are we?
Date:  Tuesday, March 12, 2002 9:49:49 AM

This is a bonus EMail because we haven't left Oklahoma City yet. However, what we did yesterday deserves a special note. We can't say it was fun, it wasn't. We can't say we enjoyed it, but it was something that was very worthwhile and we highly recommend it to anyone visiting Oklahoma City.

Yesterday, we visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial. This is the Memorial that was built on the site of the Murrah Federal Building that was bombed on April 19, 1995, in the worst act a terrorism on US soil until September 11, 2001. It was interesting that we visited the Memorial exactly six months after the attack on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. Wow, what an experience!

The Oklahoma City National Memorial has three parts to it. We were able to visit two of them. The first is the outdoor symbolic memorial. This part of the memorial has 168 handcrafted brass and glass, empty chairs, symbolizing the 168 people who died in this tragic act of violence. There is a reflecting pool, flanked by the monumental Gates of Time. The East gate has the time 9:01 engraved over the entrance. This is one minute before the bomb detonated and symbolizes innocence. The West gate has the time 9:03 engraved over the entrance and represents healing. North of the reflecting pool, on the highest point of land in the memorial is the Survivor Tree, an 80 year old American elm that survived the impact of the bomb blast. It continues to stand and thrive as a symbol of resilience. There is also a wall of the original building that lists the names of the 800 survivors.

The second part of the Memorial is The Memorial Center Museum. This was just recently opened and is really intense. First, the display shows that April 19, 1995, was a normal spring morning in Oklahoma City. The weather was nice and people were doing exactly what they would normally be doing on a typical morning. This part of the museum also has a display on terrorism, what it is, and where it has happened. We didn't realize that between 1985 and 1995 there were about 30 acts of terrorism in the United States. That's a very small number compared to the thousands of acts of terrorism throughout the world in the same time period. After going through these preliminary exhibits, you enter a conference room where you listen to a tape of a Water board hearing just across the street from the Murrah Building. Then you hear the actual explosion and get an idea of the confusion that occurred afterward.

Then you go through a series of displays and multimedia presentations that depict the Confusion, the Chaos, the Survivor Experiences, the Investigation, the reaction of the World to the bombing, the Rescues and the Recovery, and the Impact of the bombing on people's lives. The final galleries are titled Remembrance and Rebuilding, and Hope.

The presentation is very interesting, educational, and emotional, all at the same time. It's really an excellent presentation and is an excellent Memorial to those innocent people who lost their lives because of a cowardly act of violence. We hope New York City considers what the citizens of Oklahoma City have done to Memorialize these innocent citizens and do something appropriate where the World Trade Towers once stood.

The third part of the Memorial, which isn't on any tour, is the Oklahoma City National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of terrorism. The Institute mission is to deter and prevent terrorism and to mitigate its effects. They sponsor conferences on terrorism and research. The Institute makes helping first responders a priority and supports research in technologies intended to thwart use of biological and chemcal weapons.

We can honestly say that visiting this Memorial had a deep impact on us. We highly recommend a visit if your in Oklahoma City but be sure to bring a supply of tissues with you. Our visit is why we've altered the way we sign off on this EMail.

The Brauers
in Oklahoma City

Subj:  55. Where are we?
Date:  Wednesday, March 13, 2002 8:08:41 PM

This one will be very tough. We can't find out anything about where we are camped other than the town has a campground and, for one night, it's free. After that it's $9.00 per night. Also, they limit you to seven nights unless you get prior approval from City Hall. The best we can do is give you our route. We left Oklahoma City and headed south on I-44 to Wichita Falls. Then we took US 277 South for another 90 to 100 miles to our new location. Most of the drive in Texas was in the high plains. We are at about 2000 feet in elevation and we saw a lot of cattle ranches, fields of cotton, and even a herd of camels! There is a lot of wide open space. Temperatures today have ranged from the 30s last night in Oklahoma City to 93 in the Texas Plains. Hopefully it will be cool tonight.

We don't want to give you the impression that the only thing to see in Oklahoma City is the National Memorial. The Oklahoma City National Memorial is very impressive and certainly is a must see, but there are other things in the city. We did stop by the Crystal Bridge, an arborium with exotic plants. We declined to pay the fee to view the gardens but the structure was impressive. We also stopped by Bricktown, a Riverwalk kind of thing. It's new and not fully developed yet. When it is finished, it will probably be similar to the San Antonio Riverwalk. Writing this it sounds like nothing compares with the Oklahoma City National Memorial. That's probably true but there are other things to see and do in Oklahoma City.

Certainly one of the hightlights of the trip was driving down to Chickasha to see Larry's Sister-in-Law, Janice, her son Tim, and Tim's family. From Larry's viewpoint it was great to see Janice and Tim again. From Adrienne's viewpoint, it was great to meet some of Larry's relatives. Just think about it being great to meet your spouse's relatives. It was truly a wonderful visit.

Oklahoma uses a very eye-catching sign when they are doing road work. At least for us it sure made us slow down where the crews were working. The sign appears to have been drawn by a young school girl. It shows a stick figure of a little girl and has the words "My Daddy works here" in a school girl's scrawl. It is really an eye catcher and, at least for us, it worked.

Now, Where are we? Did anyone even venture a guess? We are in the town of Haskell Texas. For some unknown reason, the city has a campground. It's not fancy but it is nice. There are full hookups and, for the first night, it's free!

The Brauers
Havin' Fun Again
in Texas

Subj:  56. Where are we?
Date:  Thursday, March 14, 2002 6:52:13 PM

The specific place we are located might be difficult but the general area should be easy.

A few miles north of our campground is a place that is well known. It was in that town during the summer of 1947 a rancher discovered some unusual metal debris scattered over a large area. He also noticed a shallow trench, several hundred feet long. Friends told him to notify the sheriff, which he did. The sheriff reported it to the US Air Force. A few days later the Air Force issued a press release stating that the wreckage of a crashed disk had been recovered. A few hours later, the first press release was receded and a second press release stated that the Air Force had mistakenly identified a weather balloon as wreckage of a flying saucer.

A few miles south of our campground is a National Park that is often referred to as "The 8th Wonder of the World." This park is one of the 20 World Heritage sites in the United States. It is best known for its caverns.

We left Haskell Texas this morning and headed first south, then west. This part of Texas is strictly agricultural. The towns are few and far between and the largest one had a population of about 10,000 people. Most of the towns were less then 1,000 people. This is the Texas Plains, there was lots of cattle (we didn't see any camels today), some sheep, lots of fields being planted and oil wells. It was an interesting drive but we can't say that this part of Texas is known for it's visual appeal. It was the high Texas Plains as far as the eye could see.

Now, where are we. We are in an Escapees Co-op RV Park called The Ranch in Lakewood New Mexico. It's the friendliest park we have ever stayed in. When we drove up to the office and before we got out of the RV to register, the manager came out of the office and rang a bell. By the time we got out of the RV, there were people to welcome us and give us a hug. Within 15 minutes, we were at the daily social hour. The social hour is a typical occurance at all Escapee Parks. This is a time to make announcements, get volunteers for various activities, introduce new arrives and just to socialize. The social hours is usually 30 - 45 minutes.  Since we just arrived we had to introduce ourselves. It was amazing how many people knew where Ridgecrest was located. We even signed up for the St. Patrick's Day dinner on Sunday. Guess what the menu will be?

The two places we described above are: Roswell New Mexico which is known for the Roswell Incident we described; and, Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun
in New Mexico.

Subj:  57. Where are we?
Date:  Monday, March 18, 2002 5:23:19 PM

We left Lakewood today and drove north on US 285 to Artesia, NM. Then we headed west on US 82, through part of the Lincoln National Forest, over a high mountain pass (about 8400 feet) with apple trees and snow on the ground, then down a very long steep hill into Alamogordo, then southwest on US 70 to where we are now. We were in this same town about 3 months ago so I won't describe the city. However, the hint will be that we plan on getting our Mexican Food fix tomorrow night at La Posta. Do you remember where we were when we last mentioned La Posta and the great Mexican food? If you do, that's where we are.

We had a great time at The Ranch in Lakewood New Mexico. The Ranch is known as the friendliest park in the Escapee System. We believe that is correct. When we drove in, we stopped by the office to register and the manager came out to ring a bell. Then we were greeted by several of the residents. We found everyone to be extremely friendly. Lakewood is a very small town. It seems to consist of a Post Office that is mostly supported by Escapees at The Ranch, and a Baptist Church. Lakewood is about half way between Carlsbad and Artesia.

On Friday after we picked up our mail, we went to Carlsbad Caverns. Since it was somewhat late in the day, we decided to make the most of the time we had so we took the elevator down 750 feet into the earth to the Big Room. WOW. It is impressive. You walk around the perimeter of the room, that's a 1 mile walk all in the same underground room. That's big.

On Saturday we drove up to Roswell to go to the UFO Museum. The Museum is free and is interesting. This is mostly based on the Roswell Incident in the late 1940s. The Roswell incident is where a farmer found in one of his pastures what appeared to be a crash site. He notified the local sheriff who notified the local Army Air Force bomber group (this was prior to the Air Force becoming a separate service). The military closed off the area of the crash site and picked up all the residue. The first government press release claimed they had found the remains of an unknown flying disc. Later, the government recended that press release and claimed the remains were a weather balloon. There are lots of stories about this incident. What really happened there? Who knows. The museum was interesting but the information was not presented well. What happened in Roswell? Who knows? What are we talking about? Unidentified Flying Objects, also known as flying saucers, and Extraterrestrial Beings or Aliens (remember the movie ET).

We spent Sunday cleaning up the RV and taking care of bills, the mail, and our photo album. We should explain our photo album. We take lots of pictures with our digital camera. We organize the photos by location and date. Then we put the pictures into a word processing document. There are usually six photos per page with captions. We print out those pages, put them in plastic sheet protectors, and store them in a loose leaf notebook. We also include copies of the Where are we? Emails. Sometimes we include other things like post cards, dinner menus, or other momentos. We discovered Sunday that we had totally filled our three inch think binder and needed to start a new one. After a quick visit to Walmart, we're ready to start on our second binder. We took the time to do a driving tour drive through Carlsbad and took pictures of the Pecos River and a natural springs that feeds this river.

On Sunday, St. Patrick's Day, we had a delicious dinner at the Ranch. The menu was Corn Beef, Cabbage, Potatoes, Carrots, Cold Slaw, and Biscuits. It was fabulously Delicious! Larry and I volunteered to help clean up. Well, guess what? Who can you guess was on the entire clean up crew? There were 4 of us: Adrienne washed; Larry rinsed and sanitized in Clorox water; another volunteer dried the pots and pans; and finally still another volunteer put the pots and pans away. We had fun and felt very good to take part.

Now, has anyone guessed where we are? We are again in Las Cruces New Mexico. We have an instant phone hook up at our site so doing the EMail thing is easy. We also needed to get the oil changed in the RV and they also do that here. It really makes it convenient.

The Brauers
Havin' fun

Subj:  58. Where are we?
Date:  Wednesday, March 20, 2002 5:46:04 PM

We left Las Cruces this morning and headed west. We drove quite a bit today, in fact it was more then we usually drive in a day. Normally we don't drive more than about 200 miles but today we drove almost 350 miles. We are now in another Escapees Park in an agricultural area that has expanded into a very diversified area. This town was named for some Hohokam Indian Ruins about 20 miles northwest of here. Tomorrow we hope to visit the ruins.

We enjoyed Las Cruces. If you remember, we were there in December toured the area. This time we stayed at a different RV Park. The original plan was to get the oil changed in the RV at the dealer a block away. However, when we discovered the RV Park had a service bay, we decided to have the oil changed at the park. It was also considerably less expensive to have it done in the park than going to a dealer.

Our biggest question when we arrived in Las Cruces was when we would eat at La Posta, a great Mexican Restaurant. Would it be Monday night, Tuesday night, or both. We discovered that the Restaurant was closed on Monday night so that answered our question.

One of the nice things about the two RV parks we've stayed at in Las Cruces is that they both had instant telephone hookups at the site. That gave us an opportunity to do a little bit of web surfing and to order a couple of books from The books are both about traveling to Alaska which is our next big trip that will start in a month or so.

Where are we? We are in Casa Grande Arizona.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun

Subj:  59. Where are we?
Date:  Friday, March 22, 2002 2:44:25 PM

We left Casa Grande Arizona this morning and headed east on I-8. While we're still in Arizona, we are very close to the California border and, for that matter, the Mexican border as well. We are in an area that Father Eusebio Francisco Kino recognized as the gateway to California. About 100 years later, Father Francisco Garces founded two missions here. The settlement ceased to exist after an uprising of the Yuma Indians. Fifty years later it was rediscovered by Kit Carson and finally became a permanent settlement during the California gold rush.

Yesterday we visited the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. Casa Grande is a four story building, 60 feet long, that was built by the Hohokam Indians prior to 1350 AD (yes, that's not a typo, it was built more than 650 years ago)! Archeologists refer to these people as the "First Masters of the American Desert." Their origins lay with the hunter-gatherers who lived in Arizona for several thousand years.  By 300 AD a distinct Hohokam culture was in place. They lived in permanent settlements, made pottery, farmed the land with corn, cotton, and other vegetables, and traded. The Hohokam, however, tamed the Gila and Salt rivers with irrigation canals for their crops.

Since Larry has several English peers who always commented that American History was interesting but everything was fairly current (typically within the last 200 to 300 years), it was nice to find traces of culture that go back thousands of years.

Where are we? We are at the KOFA RV Park in Yuma Arizona. It's a very nice park in the desert and the people seem to be very friendly. But then it's an Escapees Park and the friendliness seems to be the norm at Escapee Parks. By the way, the name KOFA comes from someone who was called the "King OF Arizona."

The Brauers
Havin' Fun
in Yuma Arizona

Subj:  60. Where are we?
Date:  Sunday, March 24, 2002 5:34:20 PM

We left Yuma this morning and first headed west on I-8 to El Centro. In El Centro we started north on CA 111, around the East side of the Salton Sea to Indio. Then we headed west again on I-10 to San Bernardino, then north on I-15. We are now located in what is probably a high desert bedroom community for San Bernardino and other cities west of Los Angeles. The only thing we really know about this area is that it was the home for Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and their museum is here.

We had fun in Yuma. The Escapee park we stayed in was about 5 miles out of town and, like most Escapees Park, the people were very friendly. On Saturday they had a pancake breakfast. Normally it costs all of $1.00 per person, but since this was the last pancake breakfast of the season, and they had cleared enough money to show a profit, it was free. It's hard to beat that.

We called a retired Marine that Larry knew from China Lake. For all you China Lakers that know Gunner Bill Porter, he's doing well, has grown a full beard, and he and his wife spend about half the year traveling in their fifth wheel. It was great to see Gunner Porter and his wife, Barbara.

We visited two State Parks in Yuma. The first was the Yuma Territorial Prison State Park. It was a prison from 1876 until 1909 and most of it was built by the prisoners! For a number of reasons, only parts of the prison are still standing but it was interesting. Many of the crimes committed by the inmates were trivial in today's society but some of them were serious. The crimes ranged from murder to polygamy, with grand larceny being the most common. It was closed because of over crowding and the prisoners were moved to Florence, near Casa Grande. The Yuma Union High School occupied the buildings from 1910 to 1914. The High School nickname is the Yuma Criminals or Crims.

We also quickly visited the Yuma Crossing Historic State Park. Many years ago, before the Colorado River was dammed, Southern California was isolated from the East by the Colorado River. Steam ships actually navigated the Colorado River from the Gulf of California to points well north of Yuma. The Army, needing to provide supplies for it's troops in Arizona, established a US Army Quartermaster Depot there and stored and distributed supplies to military posts throughout the West. In 1877 the Southern Pacific Railroad reached Yuma and ended the need for the Depot.

OK, where are we now? We are in Victorville California. We'll be here for a few days before we head back up to Inyokern.

There have been a couple of interesting things we've noticed during our travels. The most expensive gasoline we've seen in 14 states is in California. The least expensive was in Georgia with Florida being very close to Georgia prices. Disregarding tourist areas like Key West, campground prices are quite reasonable in most places, with California being the highest. Another interesting observation is that all the states we traveled through have a State Visitor Information Center shortly after you enter the state on an Interstate Highway, except California. All California seems to have are Agricultural Inspection Stations, but no Visitor Centers. The best thing about being back in California is that we get to see our kids, grandkids, and friends.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun
Back in California

Subj:  61. Where are we?
Date:  Wednesday, March 27, 2002 9:16:50 AM

Since we've already written about Inyokern and the Indian Wells Valley, and the three grandkids that live in the Valley have already seen us, we won't bore you with a description of where we are. After all, we are back in Inyokern for a bit.

We will be taking two of our grandkids to Phoenix for about a week, then back to Inyokern, then to LA to see two more grandkids, then back to Inyokern. Finally, we are getting ready for the ultimate RV road trip, to Alaska!!

The Brauers
Havin' Fun
Where ever we are?