Wednesday, April 22, 2015



15 Apr

After spending the night at a Home Depot parking lot we hit the road and headed south on our way to warmer weather to Fort Bliss FAMCAMP in El Paso, TX.  We were going to stay 5 night, but when they said if we stay 6 nights the 7th night is free, I thought where else could I spend $19 and get two night of camping, so we are staying a week. The main base is only a few miles away and a MUST see. There is not a lot on our list, but I'm sure we can find stuff to do. If not, we'll just hang out and recharge our batteries for the week ahead. Shower houses are clean, big and private. Wi-fi is free, but can only access it from the clubhouse. The clubhouse is open 24 hr with a gym on one side and a kitchen on the other. Why not use a full size kitchen just have to clean up after yourself. 

16 Apr
Hiromi is feeling a bit under the weather, so we are taking it slow today. We only did shopping at Fort Bliss commissary For this week's groceries.

17 Apr
White Sands NM

Only 1 ½ hours away, we drove to White Sands NM in New Mexico. We took 54 North and then 70 West. For the military readers, there is Holloman AFB FAMCAP just 7 miles away. It's very interesting on how mother nature created these white sand dunes in the middle of desert like surroundings. Rain storms and flash floods wash these minerals from the surrounding mountain rang and form lakes. When the New Mexico heat dries up these lakes the minerals forms rocks and break apart with the high hard winds moving these minerals across the desert. White Sands NM is constantly reshaping it's dunes. When you visit White Sands, bring your sunglasses as the sun reflects off the sand like snow. Also, bring a sled (or buy one in the gift shop) to ride the dunes.

18 Apr
Chamizal National Memorial

Only 5 miles away and the furthest point South of El Paso you can go before crossing the boarder into Mexico is Chamizal N MEM. The Rio Grande was the border between the US and Mexico but as the river shifted the boarder became disputed between the two Countries. Back in 1962 during the missile crises President JF Kennedy wanted to ensure the border was secure. After his assassination in 1963 President LB Johnson continued the efforts to secure the border.  The US gave about 400 acres while Mexico gave about 150 acres. The new cemented channel of the Rio Grande was built. The resident and communities who lived on these lands their Country was responsible to pay and relocate their people. The Chamizal Convention was signed in January 1964 and the ceremony held on 25 September 1964. After a century-long boarder despite, both side agreed on peacefully settlement. Most of the land US received was turned into a park for everyone to enjoy. There is a year round schedule of events with American and Mexican cultural.       

 Boarder crossing next to the N MEM

We are only 20 miles away from the New Mexico state boarder where there is a Texas welcome center; we needed a Texas road map and other travel books for more ideas so we made the drive to pick them up.

 Hiromi found a Carl's Jr coupon for two burgers, fries, drink & cookie for $5.99 and there was a Carl's Jr close to the welcome center so we stopped to eat lunch. We are sure the workers had no idea about the coupon as they gave us the large burgers and we paid $5.25 for our meal. The burger was almost the same size as Hiromi's face and the cookie was as big as her palm.

19 Apr
Downtown El Paso

We wanted to see downtown El Paso, but when we arrived it was dead and everything was closed. These might have been because it was a Sunday. I went to Chihuahuas stadium to get my ticket for Tuesdays game, but the box office was closed as there was no home game on Sunday.

We walked into the convention center because of the USBC open championships. As we walked in all we could hear was the sounds of balls knocking down pins. As we walked out, there was a few guys looking for extra bowlers for their team. I suck at bowling and told them I don't bowl. If you want to sub get to El Paso you may walk out as a champion. This open run now thru July... what are you waiting for?

Again, to my military reader; if you are ever in El Paso you MUST stop at Ft Bliss. Along with the exchange and commissary there is a full outside shopping mall HERE. Just to name a few of the stores Under Armor, Denny's, Dollar Tree, Texas Roadhouse, Buffalo Wild Wings, a 10 screen movie theater and a lot more. There is so much, you will never have to leave base. Where was this mall when I was active duty?

We stop at the movie theater and watch Fast and Furious 7. Tickets was only $5.75 for military. Trying not to give away any spoilers, but at the end of the movie the tribute to Paul Walker was tear dropping.  

20 Apr

I searched the BBB for baseball card shops in El Paso. There was no phone numbers, just addresses so I drove to the locations. The first three shops are no longer open. I stopped and called it the day. I will just have to wait until the next big city.

Not much more going on except for relaxing and enjoying our down time in the AC with temps in the low 80's.

21 Apr
El Paso Chihuahuas

Last full day in El Paso and it's dedicated to laundry, groceries and night baseball game at El Paso Chihuahuas.

El Paso Chihuahuas is the AAA team for the San Diego Padres taking on Sacramento River Cats affiliates of the San Francisco Giants.  My luck of getting a baseball ran dry tonight. I knew I could not get one every game. I did come close a few times but the number of fan in the stadium was larger than the last two games. For a AAA team Southwest University Park is the perfect mix of a high level team while keeping the game close to the fans as a minor league team do. There is a double level above home plate seats and a little off down the first and third base lines. For a downtown stadium it fits perfectly within its surroundings. Over the right field wall is the main street and there is a three story building that are luxury suits along with a giant LED scoreboard to stop balls from leaving the park and landing on the main street. The home team bullpen is along the third base line, while the visitors bullpen is out in right field on field level of one of the three story buildings. The is a viewing fence like they have in San Francisco, near the entrance and visitor bullpen.

The Chihuahuas played ... you guess it "Who let the dogs out" as the team took the field. Some of the unique food ideas was that the nachos was placed in a dog bowl (you have to see the picture, it's a pretty good idea). I added the Chihuahuas mini bat and 2014 Inaugural Season team set to go a long with the dog bowl and ice cream mini helmet.

On 22 September (my birthday) the Triple A Championship game between the Pacific League Champs and.the International League Champs will play at Southwest University Park. The 2015 Championship trophy is on display so fan can tough and take pictures with it all season long.

I finally saw the home team pull out a win and won 7-1.

Up Next?

Off the grid for the next five days while we explore Big Bend NP. Back to civilization around the 26th or 27th when we arrive at Lackland AFB in San Antonio.  

Thursday, April 16, 2015



13 Apr

Where did you guess we are with my clues of Cadillac's and 72oz steaks, if you guessed Amarillo, TX you are correct. When planing this road trip these were a throw in. If we were ever close to Texas Panhandle and Route 66 (I 40) Cadillac Ranch was a must stop for me. I don't remember how many times I have seen or heard of this as a child, and lately reading in blogs every few months it was an inch I just had to scratch.  For Hiromi she LOVES food and The Big Texan Steak Ranch is a must, even if she can only eat an 8oz steak. With the two sites only 15 minutes apart from each other, it was a no brainier that these two stops made it on our 2015 road trip.    

Cadillac Ranch is an historical roadside attraction or art work to others along Route 66. It was created in 1974 by a group of artiest from San Francisco calling themselves Ant Farm. Their silent partner whose land they use was Stanley Marsh 3 (1938-2014). Be sure to bring your spray paint and leave your mark. Or pick up a half used can off the ground like I did. Because, Cadillac Ranch is art work its meaning may differ between different people. But, one thing is clear a picture paints a thousand words.

During our research of finding a place to stay for the night we decided on Amarillo Ranch RV Park. They have an indoor pool and spa. However, it only during office hours. The pool is deep at 10 feet. There is even free donuts and coffee in the morning. Large and clean shower house. Our stay almost felt like a chain hotel.

With us only staying one night we were looking for a pull-through sites so we do not have to unhook the car and an easy way to get to The Big Texan Ranch. Come to find out that The Big Texan Ranch has a free shuttle to pick up and drop off us at our RV front door. We were thinking a white airport shuttle type van, instead it was a limousine.

I ordered the 16oz steak and Hiromi ordered the 8oz steak. What goes good with a steak? Beer! I had my first beer in 40 months. We sat by the grill and watch as our steaks got cooked. If you come hungry, you can try the 72oz steak dinner. If you can finish in one hour the meal is free. If not it will set you back $72. There were two guys trying when we arrived and both failed. However, the world record was set by Molly Schuyler 26 May 2014 4 minutes 58 seconds for one meal. That was not enough she set the record for two meals on the same sitting at 14 minutes 57 seconds. I found the video on youtube HERE if you want to watch the 15 minute video.

World Record
2 guys try but fail
First beer in 40 months and got 
photobombed by the guy in the back ... WTF

 Before mine
 Before her's
 After both

 The closest I'll get to holding a snake

I asked for a pull-through site and the office said it is. Must be a Texas pull-through. Double click the picture to enlarge and see the route we had to take to get out. Remember I could not reverse with my toll-dolly hooked up. 

14 Apr
Midland Rock Hounds are the AA affiliate of the Oakland A's and play in the Texas League.

I called and checked on open sites at the campground, but they were booked full. I called the Midland Rock Hounds and asked the price for parking a RV. The lady replied, "parking is free". We headed to Midland and arrived at 2:00pm. Four and half hours early and a prime parking stop in the back.

 I got our tickets (2 for 1 night) and took pictures of the back office where the 2014 Texas League Trophy was displayed. The Championship pennant was hanging inside the batting cage where I would have to wait until the stadium open to get to take that picture. You can see the bating cages from the concourse (something I have not seen at any other park). With four hours to wast we ate and took a nap before the game started. I could not rest long as sounds of music played in the stadium speakers as the teams took batting practice. I could not enter the gates for batting practice, but I could stand outside the fence and see where the ball landed.

The stadium opens 30 minutes before first pitch. This is odd as most stadiums open one to one and a half hours before first pitch. Needless to say I was first in line. In front of the stadium is a large rock. The rock was found under the playing field when construing the stadium. Fans are encouraged to touch the rock while walking in the stadium for guaranteed fun and good times at the ball park.

The gates opened and I was off to where I saw batting practice homeruns landed. Season ticket holders or staff must have found them, because they were gone when I arrived. I walked around the stadium like always to get the view of the field from different angles. There is a kids corner and it's free. There is also a train the drives around the concourse for kids to ride (not sure the price).  There is a water sprinkler in center field.  I assume it's for hot Texas nights so kids can run threw it to keep cool, but for tonight it was just for show. As the sunset, there was different color lights in the water. A bit of a tricky corners for the right and left fielders. The bullpen are along the outfield wall and part of it goes into the outfield. There is a fence, so I'm assuming if a ball is hit in the bullpens it a homerun. Unfortunately, I can not be for sure as no one hit a ball there. By the time I finished walking around the stadium, the starting lineup and National Anthem was being played. Because we parked the RV in the parking lot Hiromi showed up just as the game was starting.

As I was walking around the stadium I happened to find a ball that someone missed. My first Texas League ball. Our seats was right behind first base. In the second inning the kid next to us was on the scoreboard so we were looking at him, then out of nowhere a ball flies by our head. The third baseman over threw the first baseman and the ball landed in the stands next to us. I threw the ball back and asked for it when they were done warming up. He kept his word and that was ball number two. After the 7th the center fielder caught the last out and ran back to the dugout. I stood up and asked for the ball and he threw it to me. Ball number three.

Look at the view from our seats
and ticket was only $4.50... what a deal
3 baseball night 

The Rock Hounds played hard, but came up short losing 6-4 and the Arkansas Travelers remaining undefeated at 6-0.  For a team who are defending Texas League Champs, the crowed was small. Official attendance 2,717 ... no way! Tickets sold maybe. People in the stands, maybe 200 if they are lucky. How else would have gotten three balls, just look at all the fans around me.

What's next?
El Paso, TX