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Rich Z's Blatherings Since Connie and I have retired the SerpenCo business, topics here will focus on topics of a more personal and general nature.

Plans subject to change without notice
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Old 06-18-2019, 02:31 PM   #1
Rich Z
Cool Plans subject to change without notice

Before Connie and I retired, we talked a LOT about taking a long trip out west to see the rugged mountains and desert terrain that southwest USA had to offer. But darn it seems like things always came up to push that trip into "maybe next year" status. Closest we got was almost 3 years ago when I ordered a Jeep Wrangler from a dealer in Houston, TX, with the intention of renting a car to drive from Florida to Houston, pick up the Jeep there, and then continue on to points unknown, but further west until we felt like turning around to head back home. That all fell apart when that Jeep got stuck in a rail yard in Houston for over three weeks, and I finally got fed up enough over it to cancel the order. I did find a similar Jeep from a dealer in south Georgia, but by that time the thoughts of our trip out west pretty much went out the window. In hindsight, maybe it was just an omen.

Then another attempt just this past May when Connie and I had made arrangements to hook up with a guided tour outfit ( and go to SW Colorado. Well let me back up a bit. We originally had planned on making that trip back in the Fall, but when I checked out the area, I discovered that Colorado has having severe problems with forest fires. So that seemed to put a damper on that idea, and we changed the trip timing to last month (May) instead. The plan had been to leave REAL early (like a couple of weeks early) and drive through southern Texas, maybe even Big Bend, and then angle northward to be in Colorado to meet up with our scheduled tour. No sense getting into all the details of "why" but we wound up cancelling out the trip altogether. Which actually turned out to be a good thing, since I checked the weather radar for that week in southwestern Colorado and they had rain and snow the entire time we would have been out there. With highs just barely getting to 50 degrees, suffice it to say it would not have been a fun trip in the mountains.

So Connie, remaining somewhat hopeful we could actually take that trip out west, has been browsing websites and subsequently came upon this one recently:

Yeah, the guy is writing about an incident 15 years ago, I believe. But do you think things are any better NOW? Perhaps even worse with all the contention going on concerning illegal immigration? The thought crosses my mind that there are an awful lot of desperate people coming across the border into the USA, and quite likely the concentration of them would likely be higher the closer to the border we would happen to be. How smart would it be of us just driving around lonely and pretty much deserted roads in Big Bend right now? Heck the reason we got the Jeep was to go a bit offroad with it, but would that really be smart to do being out in the middle of nowhere with REAL desperadoes roaming around? Seems to be much of that area is without cell coverage too, so calling for help would be "iffy" at best.

I dunno, but I'm thinking we just might have missed the boat on our planned trip out west. Yeah, I know, both Connie and I have CCW permits which are reciprocal in the states we would be in (except on Indian land, and that is another big can of worms), but what sort of international incident would that spark if we actually had to defend ourselves with deadly force? What a grand trip that would be winding up in jail during an investigation concerning justifiable homicide as a result of a (hopefully) legally legitimate defensive action! At the very least, we would be stuck where ever we were during any sort of investigation, hoping we don't have to deal with some off the charts district attorney trying to get his or her name in the news media defending the poor "undocumented aliens". Truth be known, the best defense is to just avoid an area or situation where you actually may need to defend yourself in the first place. Seems that prudence dictates that this might be the wisest path to take for the foreseeable future.

So has much of the west moved into a status of being a total "bad lands" concerning visitors and vacationers? Has the "wild west" just become a whole lot wilder? More "wild" than I certainly want to experience? Or am I just being overly cautious to the point of being silly about it?

Yeah, I know, not everyone coming across the border illegally has intentions of continuing illegal activities, particularly violent ones, upon the natives of the land they are invading. But my personal opinion is that since they have already displayed an obvious flaunting of the laws of the USA by crossing over the border illegally, where exactly will they now draw the line? Obviously in their mind they have decided that the ends of getting to the USA by hook or by crook are justified by the means of whatever it takes to get here. Might be paranoia on my part, but I sure as heck don't want to wind up as some statistic just because I was at the wrong place at the wrong time and became some illegal immigrants means to their "end" of getting transportation and money.

So for now, I think shelving any ideas of going into southwest USA is prudent. That being said, Connie and I actually got our passports a year or two ago, so maybe we need to consider something quite different from our original plans. Not sure yet what exactly that might be, but surely there is some sort of PLAN B that would be worthwhile for us to consider. Connie actually mentioned that she would like to go to New Zealand. So who knows? The window for us to take a once in a lifetime trip is not as wide as it used to be. We are at the age where we are likely one bad news trip to the doctor's office puts an end to any thought of traveling.

Anyway, just thinking out loud. Connie forwarded the link to that article mentioned about, and it just got me thinking, I guess. Maybe I should start drinking alcohol so I won't think so much.
Old 06-18-2019, 07:54 PM   #2
I just got back from my third annual New Moon In June night road herping trip to Big Bend. It was awesome as usual. The people in that area are very nice. I have never felt threatened in any way. The scariest thing is the thought of having an accident (slip and break a bone or heart attack kind of accident). The lack of cell service and the great distances between towns makes timely "rescue" iffy. I've lived in several big cities in some very rough areas and I feel safer in the BB area by far. Normal common sense seems to be more than sufficient to keep yourself safe.
I sing Big Bend National Park's praises to anyone who will listen, and some that try to run away. lol I highly recommend a trip to the area. Not just for the herps either. There are astrophotography groups there every time I visit. You can see the Milky Way with your naked eye it is so dark there. The geology, flora and fossils are abundant and amazing. Who would think that a desert could be so interesting?
Don't be disillusioned by a few bad stories. Enjoy your retirement.

Old 06-18-2019, 09:29 PM   #3
Frank Pinello
I just got back from the Grand Canyon last week and it was great. I can't even describe what it was like standing at the rim surrounded by the vastness of the view, the colors, breezes, no humidity and lots of sun. Tons of wild life too. I have to go back again while I'm relatively young and float along the Colorado river. Even my two "face in the cell phone" 12 year old twin boys were awe-struck.
Even after looking at photos of the Grand Canyon for years,
I never seen anything like it when I saw it in person.

Stop finding excuses not to go and just do it.

I agree, most of these imigration stories are over blown trying to convey a political narrative.
Old 06-19-2019, 02:26 AM   #4
Rich Z
Yeah, it has become pretty tough to figure out the truth among all of the lies and propaganda these days, hasn't it?

For all I know, there may not even BE a Mexico. Heck, I've never been there myself, so how do I really know? I remember years ago flying into Los Angeles, and when I got off of the plane, I saw the sign on the airport, and I remember thinking, "Well, there really IS a Los Angeles, after all."
Old 06-23-2019, 10:22 AM   #5
I think the safe thing to do is visit, or stay, in areas frequented by the public and that has park rangers or security available. Don't go sightseeing off the beaten track or bad things can and do happen. Read the police blotter online for the area you want to visit and you will see what has been going on there.
Old 06-23-2019, 12:51 PM   #6
Rich Z
But the entire reason I would want to take the Jeep out west is exactly because I WANT to get off of the beaten path and away from the public. Which is exactly the point I tried to make. That appears to no longer be an option without incurring some risk. So why bother going out there if I would have to worry about such things? Yeah, I know there is always, and always has been, risk in such things, but it just seems that things have recently gotten substantially worse.

Yeah, maybe I am being overly cautious about this, but personally, I think it would be stupid of me to be oblivious of, or just ignore the heightened potential of, the risk of conflict that seems to exist today in that area near our southern border. Desperate people do desperate things. Seems to me that there are very few people more desperate than those willing to violate another country's law in order to get into this country illegally. They literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain, apparently, by doing whatever it takes to succeed in their efforts. Just not the kind of perilous environment I want to subject Connie nor myself to.

Old 06-23-2019, 01:30 PM   #7
The older we get the more cautious we become. The things we did in our youth, most of us anyway, we would never think of doing now. My brother was married to a Mexican woman and they had a hacienda in northern Mexico. The whole hacienda was surrounded by a tall wall with glass shards embedded in the concrete along the top. His inlaws and other family members all had similar homes. Most carried guns, including my brother, and had to be aware of kidnappers. The women only went to town with a bodyguard. So much for being safe.

One of my employees wanted to see the southern states in his motorhome, so he and his wife drove all over eventually heading to a lot he owned in Las Vegas. He was driving in Arizona when a Camaro pulled up alongside and the passenger had what looked like a .357 magnum pointed at him. The guy yelled for him to pull over or he would kill him. He refused to pull over but slowed down until more traffic caught up with them and the guys took off. Their license plate was covered in dust so could not be read. The police told them they were very lucky that they didn't pull over.
Old 06-24-2019, 12:34 AM   #8
I have spent a great deal of time in Southern Utah - Moab, Arches and Zion and they're spectacular!! I have also been to Anza Borrego and Joshua Tree National park in So Cal and they're equally as stunning. Now I live in the Pacific Northwest and if you guys get this far North, the Canadians are fabulous, if somewhat apologetic, people. Seriously though, you both are always welcome in our home should you make your way here.

Old 06-24-2019, 12:00 PM   #9
Rich Z
Originally Posted by SnakeCreations View Post
I have spent a great deal of time in Southern Utah - Moab, Arches and Zion and they're spectacular!! I have also been to Anza Borrego and Joshua Tree National park in So Cal and they're equally as stunning. Now I live in the Pacific Northwest and if you guys get this far North, the Canadians are fabulous, if somewhat apologetic, people. Seriously though, you both are always welcome in our home should you make your way here.

Thanks for the offer, Tonya. Connie and I had talked about trying to find a train ride up to Alaska (and back). Would be nice to find something like that leaving out of Tallahassee, or nearby, but I guess they will normally run out of Seattle or maybe even Canada. We might need to talk to a travel agency, as sometimes just trying to plan something like this plumb wears us out. Just planning on getting to the starting point is a job in itself.

Recently I was toying with the idea of getting a small motor home to tow the Jeep with or some popup travel trailer that could be towed behind the Jeep, but that turned out to be it's own sizeable can of worms. It was giving me a headache, so I just shelved that idea.

I'm not sure what is worse. Under thinking or over thinking something.
Old 06-26-2019, 09:53 AM   #10
Sitting in Tallahassee isn't going to quench your desire to see some special places with Connie. Why not find another couple, or a few friends who would love to go on an adventure? My sister-in-law had a German exchange student staying with her for a while. The girl mentioned that she and another young girl were going on an adventure to Vietnam, renting scooters and traveling from the Saigon area to Ho Chi Minh City. I thought they were out of their minds and had my sister-in-law contact her parents. But the parents said it was something she wanted to do, so they financed the trip. The girls went and had a great time. Now I heard her brother and another friend are flying to South America and buying a used car and driving it to Canada. Good luck with that plan.

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