Sunday, October 22, 2017

October 23 - 29, 2017, NM, AZ

EThursday, October 26.  Back on Monday, we were looking at a 6-7 hour drive back to Mesa - a bit much when you are towing a trailer. So we decided to only go as far as Overgaard, just east of Payton. The RV park only had one site, so we parked mine and I stayed with Tom in his because he had the water/electric hookups.  

So on Tuesday morning, we only had a 3-hour drive back to Mesa - a beautiful drive that took us through the White Mountains, the Mogollon Rim country, Matzatzal mountains, several canyons, the Tonto National Forest and back to where Four Peaks and Red Mountain were in sight. Beautiful country and I enjoyed every mile of this part of the drive.

Back in Mesa, we parked at Tom's and began unloading. Yes, I am going to be staying with him and not with Arlene.  Over the past 2 months, we both realize that we really enjoy being together and we are going to see how things go for our relationship over the winter.  

Tom turned on water, plugged in the fridge and did all of that opening kind of stuff and I started to unload and haul stuff inside.  After a while, we checked the fridge and it was not getting cold, we checked later- same thing, guess it is dead.  Also, there is no hot water because the gas company has to turn it on and check for leaks.  So, we left his trailer parked in front and used that shower.  I took mine to the storage lot but left the food in the fridge, running on propane.  And we proceeded to clean and get the house in order.

Yesterday, after having coffee and good conversation with Arlene and Sharla, we went to Mesa TV and Appliance and Tom bought a new fridge (after a repair person told us that it couldn't be repaired - the condenser was shot.  This morning, we were up and about by 7:00, the new fridge was delivered by 8:30 and a  Mesa Gas employee showed up shortly after that.  Yay, there were no gas leaks, so there will be good, hot, showers tonight!

Saturday, October 28.  We're starting to feel a bit more settled, getting things sorted and put away, finding out our differences, preferences, and making Tom's house a home for the two of us.  We are making progress.


The Highlands Halloween Party was last night and we started off with pizza at Jan and Jim's with Connie, Kathy, and Jackie.  The party was lots of fun and I never did get around to getting a costume together.  Karens offered me a long skirt and hippie vest but it felt way too hot when I tried it on.  The band, The RVees was great, playing lots of fun dance tunes and I think I danced every one.  It was quite nice to have a guy to dance the slow ones with (smiley face).

Our HCC President, Dave, and his bride

   ??? And his dog, Boner, Loretta, Tom, Lois, Diane, ???, Marian

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

October 16 - 22, 2017, NM

Wednesday, October 18.  Monday was our day to get propane, fuel up the cars, take a trip to the Capulin Volcano National Monument, and go to the Colfax Tavern at Cold Beer, NM.

I spotted this guy as we were leaving the campsite.

The Capulin Volcano is about twenty miles east of Raton and was it cool!  We took the mile-long drive to the summit of the volcano, then hiked around the rim.  The views from up there were incredible!  

The Capulin Volcano began well over a million years ago, but its human history has been much more recent. Capulin has traditionally been a crossroads of human activity as diverse people and cultures traversed to and from the Great Plains. There is archaeological evidence that Paleoindians roamed this area in search of Pleistocene Bison as early as ten thousand years ago. Also, groups of Native Americans, such as the Jicarilla Apache and the Ute, used this region as hunting grounds until the arrival of the Spanish in 1541. Early explorers, in search of riches and regions to conquer paved the way for a greater influx of Europeans over the next 350 years.  In September 1821, William Becknell of Missouri blazed the Santa Fe Trail which was followed by countless others in search of profit.

The base of the volcano.

When we checked into the campground, the Colfax Tavern was highly recommended, so we headed there after touring the volcano, it is out in the middle of nowhere between Raton and Cimarron.  The sign on the back of the bar said, "not much happens here, but when it does, you wanna be here".  We talked with a friendly couple, had a beer and a good burger before heading back to our campsites - a few deer freaked me out along the edge of the road on the way back.

This place is so nice that we decided to add another day - to hang out and see more of the area.  So, on Tuesday, we stopped at a statue commemorating Charlton Heston (the head of the NRA for many years) and marking the place where the Santa Fe 

Trail crosses through the property.  As we were there, a friendly gentleman in a pickup truck stopped by and offered to take a photo of us and told us a bit of the history of the area.

The museum had a very nice collection of guns throughout our history.  I was fascinated by the story and exhibit of Ben Lilly, the last mountain man in the southwest.  He was known to fight off bear and cougar with a knife (the Lilly knife, made by himself).  While we were there, Tom bought some ammo and targets, and after seeing the museum, we headed out to the range and shot a few rounds, something I have not done for many, many years.  One of us got a bullseye but we didn't check in between shots - I like to think it was me, although I only got one other hit on the target.

Today, we headed out for a very scenic drive to Albuquerque, through the Cimmaron Canyon to Taos, then along the Rio Grande River toward Santa Fe and then got settled for the next two nights at one of my member parks, Hidden Valley Resort, east of Albuquerque.

Thursday, October 19.  Today was the day to visit the Georgia O'Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, an item that has been on my bucket list for a long time.  It seems that every time I go through here, I am heading to somewhere and don't ever stop. I'm happy that Tom was interested in seeing it and that we had the time to go there.  Originally, the plan was to stay closer to Santa Fe, but the prices were high and availability near there was low.

The museum exhibits were a chronological history of her life and career as an artist.  My takeaway was that she was a strong, independent, and talented woman and that art was part of her life from back in her youth.  In many periods of her life, she painted the same object at different times and under different lighting conditions, they all looked different.

After seeing the museum, we both decided we want to go visit Ghost Ranch some day, it's another hour to the north and would be a bit much for this trip.

We walked to the Plaza and looked at all of the Native American jewelry and trinkets.  I was hoping to see the woman, Rose, whom I purchased a pair of earrings from back in about 1995.  At one time, several years after that, I lost one of those earrings.  I still had her business card, so I wrote and sent the remaining earring back to her, asking if she could make a replacement.  A couple of months later, I received a tp roll in the mail, complete with 2 earrings and a note - thanking me for my business and no charge.  Unfortunately, I didn't see her there, after all, that was close to 30 years ago - time flies!

The route back to Hidden Valley RV was along the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway, a 50-mile route through the Sandia Mountains and the small towns of Cerrillos and Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid).  We stopped at the Mine Shaft Tavern for a beer and a bite to eat. I had a salad with roasted red peppers and onions, green chiles, feta cheese, and topped with the local version of Kobe Beef - it was Delicious!

Friday, October 20.  Hookup and move on day, with a destination of the USA RV Park in 

Gallup, NM - a very clean and neat park where we will stay and explore for the next couple of days.  After doing some laundry, we went to the office where they were selling pulled pork sandwiches and a bag of chips for $5.00 - they turned out to be very generous portions and quite tasty too.

Sunday, October 22.  Yesterday, we went for a drive on Historic Route 66 toward Grants and checked out Red Rock Park and Campground that was right in town near the convention center, about 4.5 miles east of Gallup.  It was a nice park, kind of dusty, with several RV sites and facilities.

We had considered a stop at Blue Water Lake State Park but at the last minute decided not to chance it because sites were available on a walk-in basis only, and there were only 2 full hookup sites and 8 water/electric sites.  Also, when Tom called yesterday, he was told that the dump station may not be available as they were having some water issues.  Still, we wanted to see what it was like and it is very pretty.  It was quite remote - 6 miles if you took the east entrance and 12 miles from the west entrance.  On the west side of the lake, there were rutted dirt roads and very primitive campsites.  The boat landing hasn't been used in years because the water was so low -he shore was probably 50 yards from where it should have been.

Back at our campsites, we sat at the picnic table and had a beer, then made chili cheese dogs for dinner.  It was predicted to go down to 21 degrees overnight, so we disconnected our water hoses, but then it only got down to 29 degrees.

Today was the day to clean, empty tanks, and organize to get ready for putting the trailers in storage.  It was a beautiful day for it.  Tom wanted to go into town to fill his truck up with gas, so I rode along and we stopped for a piece of apple pie at Cracker Barrel. It was tasty, but a bit under baked.

Another change in plans, we will only go as far as Overgaard tomorrow rather than drive the entire way back to Mesa - probably a 6-7 hour trek.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October 9 - 15, 2017, NE, KS, CO, NM

Tuesday, October 10.  I got ready for the day and hit the road with a destination of Grand Island, NE and the local KOA.  Before I got to the KOA, I did a search for hair salons, read a few reviews and walked into Linda's Salon.  I was so desperate for a haircut, I just couldn't wait any longer.  Jill had planned to give me a cut before I left their house, but kid stuff and work stuff just kept getting in the way.  So Kim gave me a decent haircut and I left there feeling much better.

I checked into the KOA and they put me in a tiny little site with a beautiful tree at the end of a road, right next to a corn field, all by myself.  It wasn't total seclusion because there were other RVs coming in through the day that were not far away.  The bath house was new and sparkling clean and the hot shower felt really good.  I had some dinner, walked Frisco and got ready for bed, then watched an episode of The Ranch before turning in.  The temps were supposed to drop to the mid thirties overnight but my little heater kept me toasty warm all night long.  It was 38 degrees when I woke up.  Brrrrr!

It was a slow start to the day and it was after 10:00 before I was on the road, but I had only 200 miles to get to Goodland, KS.  I'm glad that I didn't make a reservation because I got to thinking that my final destination (to meet up with Tom at his sister's house in Peyton, CO) was only another 150 miles from there.  Maybe I should just push on.  The deciding factor was arriving at Goodland before 1:30 in the afternoon and I was only looking at another 3 hours.  I texted Tom and he said I would be great if I arrived early and that there would be a parade waiting for me.  Whaaaat? And there he was, as I turned the corner, broomstick in hand, marching as if he was a baton twirler leading a parade.  I could do nothing but pull over, clap my hands and laugh, and offer him a ride.  What a goofball!

So here I am, parked and hooked up at Joyce and Burrall's Shady Acres, next to Tom's RV for the next few days.  We have full hookups and a view of the airport hangers and a sky full of planes taking off and flying over throughout the day.  We went to Colorado Springs to Rock Bottom Restaurant for dinner and I had a delicious burger and fries.

That's Lily in the photo, Frisco's new best friend.

Saturday, October 14. It was nice to wake up on Wednesday morning and not have to drive on again.  We didn't have much planned for the day, so took a couple of nice walks, hung out with Joyce, took a nap, and had a nice relaxing day.

Thursday was different.  We were headed for the Pike's Peak Cog Railway station in Manitou Springs by 10:00 so we could catch the noon train.  Got there a little early so we had some time to walk and window shop the main drag - it's a quaint little old downtown with several mineral spring fountains scattered along the main drag.

The train ride was very pleasant, it was a beautiful day and warm when we started out at the station at an elevation of about 6,000 feet but it got colder and colder as we went up the mountain to the summit at 14,100 feet.  There, it was 30 degrees with a chill factor of 15.  Needless to say, we didn't spend much time checking out the views, instead going indoors to shop and have a hot cup of coffee and a donut.  When we got back to Manitou Springs, we found a place to park and headed out for a bite to eat before going back to Joyce's.

Friday was spent just hanging around, going for walks, doing some car and camper cleanup, and making some plans for the next few days.

Today was grocery shopping day, as we needed supplies to make dinner for Joyce and Burrell tonight and to stock up on a few things that we might need for the next few days of travel before getting back to Mesa.  I decided to make Ben and Jill's pasta, Italian sausage, bread and wine.  Dinner was fun - we sat and talked the whole night, had lots of laughs, then went for a nice, long walk.

Sunday, October 15.  Its hookup and departure day but it was after 11:00 before we pulled out. We both wanted to flush out our tanks good and clean up before pulling out. We said our goodbyes and headed south on I-25 to the NRA Whittington Center just south of Raton, NM.

What a beautiful place this is - 33,000 acres, covers 52 square miles with elevations 6,300 - 8,400 feet.  The road to the campground passes several different shooting ranges (skeet, several types of rifle, high power, black powder, and several others) - all face a northern exposure so shooters never have the sun in their eyes.  The campgrounds and cabins are on the opposite side of the road.  The campsites are all full hookup pull-through sites with at least one PiƱon Pine tree on it.  Us and a few other RVs are the only ones here.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

October 2 - 8, 2017, MN, IA, NE, SD

Friday, October 6.  My last few days in Minnesota have flown by and I have managed to stay pretty busy. I've run errands, finishing up the last few things that I have had to get done and picking up a few things for Ben and Jill to help them out.  I made a pot of chili one day and some enchiladas another day, helped out around the house, and some walks to and from school and the bus stop.

Today, I finished making ghosts for the birthday party, little guys that will be hidden for a scavenger hunt.  Ben, Jill, and I came up with a spooky story that just old will read to the kids at the birthday party.  It's about a ghost family that lived in a haunted house and when the neighbor kids came over to play, they opened the door and a gust of wind  pulled the little ghosts out of the house.  Now, the kids at the party have to search for the little ghosts and return them to their haunted house (a playhouse that has been spooked out). 

I treated the family to pizza at Cafe Luce tonight, one of the few places that they have found that serve gluten free and prepare it in an area separate from the other pizza prep.  With their Celiac disease, just a small amount of wheat in their bodies can have an immediate physical effect on them (like feeling sick to their stomachs, diarrhea, and even can affect their behavior) and possibly a long-term effect too.  The adults had beers and the kids were well behaved and ate good.

Back home, we got busy with birthday party prep - Ben made cupcakes while Jill and I did the decorating.

Saturday, October 7.  Happy Birthday to my sweet little granddaughters, Camille and Norah.  I could hear them in their room at 6:00 this morning, singing happy birthday to each other and they were fired up throughout the day. Jill's parents and the guests showed up around 10:00 and the festivities began - decorating bats and black cats, painting a haunted house, face painting and a snack.  Then, while Jill read the story that led up to the scavenger hunt, Ben and I hid 20 little ghosts that had to be found and placed in the haunted house.  It was only free play for a short time before the parents showed up to take their kids home.

They opened their gifts, had some lunch and went for naps.  I hooked up the trailer and got it parked on the street - ready for tomorrow's departure.  Ben fixed a delicious flank steak stir fry for dinner.  What a busy and pleasant day it has been.

 Sunday, October 8. I left Minneapolis Sunday morning after having breakfast and saying my goodbyes to the family - not without tears on my part. I headed for Sioux City, IA where I spent the night at the KOA (it was actually in South Dakota but the address was Nebraska) right on the border of those three states.  It was a relaxing evening, although that didn't help me to get a good night's sleep.  I tossed and turned, the last time I looked at the clock, it was 2:30 and I was awake again at 8:00 - pretty typical for my first night of travel.