Friday, November 26, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving - Santa Fe to Tucson

 Weatherwise it's been a roller-coaster couple of days.

We'd been spending the last week in Las Cruces, NM at the Hacienda RV Resort.
As RV Parks go - its not bad - we don't stay here often but it was conveniently located and
only about 30 minutes from the License Bureau in El Paso for me to renew my CDL.

I did that last week and we hung around for the rest of the week mostly chilling, but also
a bit of touring here and there, and a touch of maintenance on the bus in my energetic moments.

One small job was reconditioning my headlights.
The headlights on the Bus are actually from a Honda Odyssey and the outer cover was
starting to get very discolored and crazed from the suns UV.

The good people at Consumer Reports suggested the Sylvania Restoration Kit so that is
what I purchased.    About an hour and a half later & some light elbow grease and my headlights now
look brand new.

Major accomplishments now behind us, it was time to move on to some nicer territory, and
more to our normal preferencres.

We headed west on I-10 about 70 miles down the road to Deming, NM.
Our destination for Weds thru Friday nights was Rockhound State Park.

A cold front was starting to push down from the north and some interesting cloud formations
and rain showers were encountered along the way.

Rain showers on I-10 West New Mexico

At Rockhound we are perched on the side of the mountains overlooking Deming.

Site 14  at Rockhound State Park with Deming visible in the distance

30amp and water with a dump on site.
We had plenty of water onboard so we only hooked up the electric.

Weds night it rained and the temp dropped to about 31°
On Thanksgiving morning there was a dusting of snow on the peaks not far above us.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with the Yule Log burning on the TV.

And Thanksgiving night were treated to a pretty nice sunset to cap off the day.

Today - our last day at Rockhound was a day to do some scouting.
There is a state park about 40 miles north of here - City of Rocks - that we have stayed
at twice.   Once in the Montana, and once in the DogHouse.

We've only stayed a night each time and since it is such a unique place, we've always promised 
ourselves that we would come for longer.   I wanted to stay there this time, but only am
familiar with a few sites that were already reserved, so this was a opportunity to drive up
and make a list of which sites would be ok for a PartyBus sized vehicle.

City of Rocks State Park from a distance

There are a few pull-thru spots in the front of the park that have electric, but
most of the sites, and especially the good ones, are all boondocking - many are
unlevel and only suitable for small units.

One of the Bus suitable campsites

The rock formations occupy the center of the campground with the access road and
campsites scattered about the perimeter.

Winding thru the center of the rocks are walking trails.

Picnic table at another bus suitable campsite

I've made my list of suitable sites - its a short one - but hopefully next time we'll be able
to grab one and spend more time.

Well this post is a wrap for this short trip.

Tomorrow - Saturday - we are back on the road for the 4hr drive to Tucson.

On Monday our adopted 6 kids are arriving and we need to be there to greet them.

We'll hang in Tucson for about a month and then in January we'll finally be back to our
Covid interrupted normal wintertime festivities.   Our friends from far and wide will
be reconvening in the desert for a winter of fun and frolic.

Then in April we'll be headed east to the Queen Mary2 and summer in the British Isles.

(PS  our adopted 6 kids are Saguaro Cactus)

We've been on an Adopt a Saguaro waiting list for almost 2 years and finally our
number came up and we chose our babies before we left for this trip.

When developers clear the desert for new Subdivisions, the program tries to intervene
and find homes for the grand plants.... The King of the Desert
We were fortunate to grab 6 beauties and cant wait to welcome them to their new home!

From all of us to all of you....
Gobble Gobble.   Happy Thanksgiving!

See ya soon!

Monday, November 15, 2021

Las Vegas to Santa Fe, NM

Greetings everyone!
 Since our last post we have left Death Valley, traveled about 750 miles, and visited 3 more places
as we wind our way about the beautiful great southwest.

The trip map below shows an overview of our route:

1.  Furnace Creek CG Death Valley National Park
2.  Las Vegas, Nv
3. Homolovi State Park, Winslow, Az
4.  Santa Fe, Nm

Our first stop for 8 nights was the beautiful and exclusive Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort.
The resort is limited to Class A motorhomes and they reserve the right to deny entry
to any coaches not in good condition,

The lots are all privately owned and a management company rents out those lots whose
owners choose to do so when they are absent.

Constantly rated one of the nicest parks in the US, it's fairly pricey, but we love it here.
When you enter the gates, you would think you are at a tropical resort rather than in
the desert. 

The park includes 5 swimming pools with hot tubs.   One on each corner of the
resort, and one in the center of the resort by the clubhouse, pickleball etc.

We've stayed here perhaps a half dozen times, including one stay for over a month
when I needed emergency surgery on my knee.

We always choose one of the lots with a "buildout"
A tiki bar, fridge, barbecue, whatever.    Each owner does their lot a little bit differently.
We particularly enjoyed this one.

Lot 122 LVMR

The weather was perfect during the day with cool nights for sleeping.

Each day we would take the dogs around the park for a stroll.

Some of the other lots and sights about the park.

About the only downside is that with the lack of rain, and the big bus tires running
on the roads, they develop a film of "tire dust".   The dogs get filthy walking about the
park on the roadways.

Just look at Gracie's feet below!

A filthy Doodle

Not to worry however, one of the things we love about around here is that one of our
favorite Self-Serve Doodle Washes is located a few miles away.

The Barking Dogs Pet Store sells all sorts of high end dog foods plus has 4 excellent enclosed
wash stations where you can take a filthy Doodle, and turn it into a fluff ball.

The HydroSurge System injects the soap into the waterstream making wash day
a simple procedure.

Below Gracie is getting her workover.

Ready for a blow dry.

I've always dreamed one would grow up to become a nun!

Lucy looks on with suspicion knowing her turn is next.

And soon she's ready for the blow-dry too!

We bought them a couple of treats and in less than an hour we had both dogs clean
and fluff.   Ready for a haircut when I got them back to the Coach.

By the next day they were cut and clipped and good to go.

While in Vegas I decided to replace our TV over the windshield.
The existing TV was a 32" Panasonic, and while it still worked ok - it was not "Smart".
I wanted a bigger Smart TV to take advantage of the increased abilities.

The old Panasonic

I replaced it with a 40" Samsung.
The size is perfect for our viewing area and now we are
able to take advantage in the coach of our other services (HBO, Netflix, Prime, etc)
that we subscribe too at the house.

After 8 nights in Vegas (we never even made it to the Strip) we were back on the road
headed east towards Santa Fe.

On the way we stopped for 2 nights at Homolovi State Park just outside of
Winslow, Az.   We've been to this park a few times before.   Its a great place to
overnight if you are traveling along I-40, plus there is a great deal of Native American
history in the park.   At the sites of former settlements, it is very common to find
shards of ancient pottery just laying around.  
(Look but don't take)

Around 5,000' elevation, it was a bit cooler here - especially at night, but
with 50 amp service we were able to run the heat pumps and save on the propane.

Site 43 Homolovi SP

After 2 quick days at Homolovi - we hit the road again for another 5hrs and arrived in
Santa Fe, NM.
We are staying at The Santa Fe Skies RV Park.
Its a pretty nice place.  Nice views and decent sized spaces.
They had a nice (optional) no-contact check in process.
The day of arrival I received an email with a link to pay.  Once I paid I received my
site assignment, and never had to interact with anyone.
Easy Peezy!

The park is only about 15 min to downtown Santa Fe.
We have never been here and had been looking forward to our visit and we were
not disappointed.

Established by the Spanish in 1610, it had been inhabited by indigenous peoples for thousands
of years prior to this.   It became the territorial capital of the Spanish Colony until the US 
declared war on Spain in 1846.   Santa Fe and the surrounding territory of was ceded to
the US in 1848 in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago.

It has remained a capital since the 1600's making it the oldest state capital in the US.

The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in the distance, sits just outside
of the Santa Fe Square section of the historic downtown.

Next to the Basilica is a small park.
It was nice walking thru the park and shuffling our feet thru the fallen leaves - something
that we use to take for granted, but have not done for years.

Looking at the park in the middle of the square.
All around the park are shops and galleries.

Santa Fe has a vibrant artist community and is on the list of UNESCO's great art cities.

An art of a different kind - we have been treated to some nice New Mexico sunsets.

It's now Monday.
I dropped the pickup off at Capital Ford this morning to have the brakes looked at.
I think I have a warped rotor that will need to either be turned or replaced.

Our last full day here is Tuesday after which we drive a few hours south to Las Cruces.
Thursday I have an appointment in El Paso at Texas Dept of Public Safety
to renew my Class A CDL.    We'll stay in Las Cruces thru Thanksgiving and then
move on to the Deming, Nm area for a few days.

If I get the truck back tonight, perhaps tomorrow we'll return to downtown to
do some more explorations.   Today meanwhile we'll hang around the coach and
enjoy the view and relax.

Thanks for riding along!

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Death Valley Days

We've just concluded a visit 4-day visit to Death Valley National Park.

This was especially intersting as it was some new territory for Kate and I.
Our first visit here, we stayed in the centrally located (and aptly named) Furnace Creek Campground.
Our site had full hookup with 50 amp servicee.
We only used the electric hookup to run the AC.   The temps this time of year were
moderate - 80-90 during the day and cool at night.

Furnace Creek Campground Site 50

Our first days adventures took us from the campground south thru badwater basin down to the
salt flats.   In the basin you are at 282' below sea level - the lowest point in North America.

After the basin, we headed back north and drove the Artists drive, and then around
the other side of the Black Mountains and up to Dantes Lookout which is almost 5,500' above sea level
so looking down in to the basin we are almost 6,000' feet up.

Our map of day 1

On the salt flats in Badwater Basin

Kate poses in front of the elevation sign,

The salt looks like snow at times.
At other times it looks brown.

On the way to the Artist drive, we stopped at The Devils Golf Course.
A section of the basin where the salt grows into crystalized mounds.
As the mounds heat and cool, they make a strange almost metallic popping sound
as they expand and contract.

If you listen to the video below you can hear the popping sounds.

At the Devils Golf Course

Driving the Artists Drive Loop.
The variety of colors in the park was unexpected and amazing.
As we traveled about it became obvious why they named it the Artists Pallete.

Next was around to the other side of the Black Mountains and up to Dantes View.

Dantes View of Death Valley

Day 2

On day 2 we headed over to the ghost town of Rhyolite,
Then took a 25 mile dirt road over the the mountains and thru a canyon,
Then visited a moon crater.

Day 2 trip map

Born in 1904 in a gold rush, Rhyolite grew at breakneck speed and in just a few years
over 8,000 people lived here.   There was a train depot, banks, schools, running water and
electricity, and all the modern conveniences.

In 1910 the market collapsed and by 1916 the electric and water was turned off, the town
was deserted, and the buildings picked clean or relocated.

In just a dozen years the town was born, grew, exploded, and died.

Below - the Tom Kelly bottle house.
Built from over 50,000 beer bottles.

The skeleton of the school house

The bank building in 1906

The bank building in 2021
The town in 1908.
You can see the bank and school in the center background.

The train depot today

The train depot in 1908

It was one of the finest train depots in the state at the time.

By 1916 the town had been picked clean and moved elsewhere.

The boom and bust cycle in the old west was common, but nowhere was it so abrupt
and dramatic as in Rhyolite.

After our visit to Rhyolite I took the long way home on the Titus Canyon Road.
The road is a dirt back country road that is one-day due to the narrow lanes and
dangerous mountain switchbacks where passing would be extremely dangerous and
impossible at many places.

Red Mountain Pass - Titus Canyon Rd

The colors in the rock are varied and amazing.

About 20 miles into the ride, after crossing over the pass, you come to Titus Canyon.
The canyon at points is so narrow that it is barely wider than my truck.
Its important to check the weather ahead of time to make sure no rain (flash flooding) is
is in the forecast.

Some interesting patterns in the rock

After about 5 miles the sky brightens an you can see Death Valley starting to open up
in front (and below) you.

A short video of driving thru the canyon.

After the canyon, we came out onto the North Road.
We headed about 40 miles north to Ubehebe Crater.

The crater is about 1/2 mile across and 600' deep.
It was formed about 2,000 years ago when molten magma pushed towards the surface
and ran into an underground aquifer.   The magma caused the water to flash to steam
and cause a massive explosion that hurled all the material from the crater into the air
landing in the 6 square miles around the crater.

Day 3

Our last full day we decided to head over to the eastern side of the park, and actually leave the
park to visit an area which I have been interested in for many years.

Lying at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Alabama Hills are an area of
interesting rock formations.   They, and the mountain backdrop, has been the scene of countless

To get to the Alabama Hills, you must leave Death Valley,
Climb over the Paramint Mountains at 5,000'
Descend into Paramint Valley at 1,600'
Then climb over the next mountain range (name escapes me) another 5,000' pass
and down the other side.

On the way down the last mountain range the Sierra's come into view.

If you look at the picture below, you will see a road just to the left of the telephone pole,
zig zagging its way up the mountain.
That is Whitney Portal Road.
It takes you up to the Mount Whitney Trailhead and is also
where the Mountain Road scene was filmed in "The Long Long Trailer"

We visited Tuttle Creek BLM Campground.
Looks like what I expected.   Great views and very uncrowded.

Tuttle Creek BLM Campground view

Tuttle Creek BLM Campground view

Near the campground is the Alabama Hills, Movie Road area.
It is where most of the films were shot.
It was a big boondocking area but it seems as more and more use it - the less
areas are remaining left open for camping.

you can see the person below has a nice site among the rocks.

Great scenery for filming westerns.

Soon it was back to Furnace Creek.
Over and down, over and down the mountains and
90 min later we were back at the bus for our last night.

Finally our last sunrise in the campground.

Today we headed 100 miles east and are now living the large life in the lap of luxury.

One of our favorite places - The Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort will be our
home for the next 8 nights.
While here I'm going to install a 40" Samsung Smart TV over the cockpit
to replace the older 32"  "dumb" TV

All of this will be the subject of our next post, but for now
the Tiki Bar is lit up and its "Tiki Time!"

Party time at Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort

See ya down the road!