Smile…

Easter BunnyWishing you all a very special weekend……

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10 inches ?

So what did you think this post was going to be about?  Snow, of course!  Ten inches of white powder.

Pueblo West

The sky over the Pueblo State Park – building into a snowstorm – photo taken several  hours before the first snowflake – you can see and FEEL the weather approaching

Since my return to Colorado, I’ve attempted to visit my daughter.  She lives two hours to the north in Denver.   I’ve already canceled on her the past two weekends and there was no way I was going to cancel again.  Nope, come hell or high water I was bound and determined to spend the weekend with my very much missed daughter.Colorado

Thursday was sunny and cool.  Friday the weather forecast called for cold and snow …. snow again?  I can certainly feel it in the air.  I bundle up, pack warm clothes, winter boots, and the snow scraper for my truck.  I leave earlier than intended for the drive north.  I’m concerned about the weather over Monument Hill.  This is a stretch of road on Interstate 25 at an elevation of 7,300 feet and known for inclement weather.  I want to be on the other side of Monument Hill before the snow starts flying.Colorado

After killing a little time wandering around some stores in Denver, I meet daughter after work for dinner.  We spend the rest of the evening at her place visiting and catching up.  Saturday morning we awake to a blanket of snow…..10 inches worth.

snow

Me on the deck at my daughters condo – 10 plus inches of snow and still coming down

Hmmm, the plan was to do a little shopping today.  Daughter needs a few items for work, but the roads are snow packed and icy.  We decide its best to stay in and opt for a few cooking lessons…..me the teacher and daughter the student.

One of my favorite, quick ‘go to’ recipes is Shrimp Linguine.  Our family really enjoys this dish and Ashton wants to learn how to make it.  We start by shelling the shrimp….a first for Ashton.  She’s grossed out and I’m entertained.shrimp linguine

I sit at the table giving direction while sipping a glass of white wine.  Hey, I could get used to this.  Ashton did a great job and lunch was really yummy.  Click here for the recipe to Shrimp Linguine.  Next she makes guacamole followed by a batch of breakfast burritos.  The burritos go into the freezer ready for her to pull one out each morning for a great breakfast on the go.

2:00 in the afternoon rolls around and these shopping Diva’s decide a little snow isn’t going to stop them from a visit to DSW.  Shoes anyone?

DSW Shoes

Flip flops in 10 inches of snow? Obviously this store is as ready for summer as are we!

First I get on the CDOT website (Colorado Dept. of Transportation).  I’m able to click on a camera and see a live shot of a given road and location.  I use this a lot when we travel with the RV.  Although the roads are snow-covered, they have been plowed.  We pop my little red truck into 4 wheel drive and head out on a shopping mission.

We practically have the stores to ourselves.  Notice any other shoppers in my photos?  I won’t lie, driving was a little dicey, but we had a great time….  then again, Ashton and I always do.  After a productive day of cooking and shopping, we spend the night watching old episodes of True Blood.  More yummy delight!

Sunday I arrive home minutes before the wind and more snow begin whipping up. Yippie 😦   Really?  This is getting old!

Denver

at my daughters place

Acknowledgements & Sharing

Now that we are comfortably parked at our sticks n bricks home in Southern Colorado, it’s time to catch up on things.  Time to catch up on paperwork, yard work, and blogging business….. the latter being the most fun. So does it feel good to be ‘home’?  All I can say right now is “No” and change is in the air……Quail

While we were on our little four-month adventure some fellow bloggers nominated me for awards, and as most of you know, my internet data and connections were presenting quite the challenge during our travels.  Thus, acknowledging the awards had to be put on the back burner.  In all truthfulness, I had contemplated not participating.

However after giving it further thought, I acknowledge the interaction with fellow bloggers is a major component to my blogging enjoyment  That said, how could I not do a post about fellow bloggers.  That is after all what these awards are all about….. sharing.  Sharing with one another blogs with similar interests, blogs that inspire us with words or photos, blogs that transport us to another country, blogs that take us on an adventure.  So share, I shall……liebster blog award

Back in December, Kathy at Hiking to Healthy nominated me for the Liebster Award.  Kathy is not only brave to share her tale of weight loss, but her information on hiking trails in the Denver area is a very useful tool.  Her information is detailed, helpful, and informative, but what I really enjoy is her honesty; whether it’s the altitude, weather, or a head cold, she’ll share her challenges.  I look forward to hearing about her accomplishing a Fourteener…..

blog awardNEXT:  Rene over at Craves Adventure tagged me for a series of Travel Confessions.  Hmmm, the rules include tweeting.  I don’t tweet, so count me out.  I could share some confessions anyway, but that would require me to think way too much and it would also make this post longer than any of us would like.  So I’ll just say thank you Rene and encourage you to check out her blog.  Who knows, you might find her writing as thought-provoking as I do.

NEXT:  Karen at The Earth Beneath My Feet nominated me for the “Shine On” award.  And guess what’s so cool about this award?  I don’t have to answer any questions.  The rules; nominate eight blogs that………                                                                                  “Shine, make you feel good and are inspiring to the reader”.

blog award

Initially I thought this would be super easy….. pick eight blogs that make me feel good.  Gosh, I follow lots of blogs that I can’t wait to read.  How do I choose?  Do I nominate bloggers whom I know don’t participate in the awards even though they rank high on my list?  Do I nominate blogs that I’ve nominated in the past?  Decisions, decisions!!!  Yep, this was tough.  I decided to go with blogs I recently started following.  Check’m out……

I still have a bunch of others I hope to share with you.  Blogs that I find fun, inspiring, and make me smile, but it’ll have to wait for another post.  However, since this blog post is all about sharing, I do feel compelled to list a few additional blogs.

These blogs are not hosted on WordPress and thus are not eligible for the awards.  Too bad……….    they are still worth checking out!

  • Rick and JoAnne’s RV Travels   We were meandering around Arizona the same
  • Metamorphosis Road                  time as these two couples.  Although we didn’t meet in person then, I’m hoping once they hit Colorado (they’re following our footsteps) that will change and we’ll exchange travel tales over a glass of wine.
  • CR8ING the Life  This gutsy couple having never RV’d, sold everything and went full-time.  They share the good, the bad, and the ugly of the RV lifestyle.
  • Live Work Dream  This is one of the first blogs I started following.  Rene and Jim post a lot of great info on living the RV lifestyle.  I also had the pleasure of meeting Rene while we were camped in Quartzsite.
  • It’s a Cozy Life  I just started following this couples journey.  Adventure awaits! (she just changed over to WordPress)
  • Adventures of a 50 Year Old  We spent New Year’s Eve visiting and sharing a bottle of wine while camped at Cave Creek Reg Park.  Small world…we had been following each others blogs and there we were camped next door to each other!
  • Life in a Canned Ham  These were our neighbors in Quartzsite.  Drinks, food, and Bocce Ball…..need I say more 🙂
  • Cave Dwellings  Small world, indeed.  Donna somehow found my blog and we’ve been commenting ever since.  She and Al knew each other in high school.  Donna still lives in that small town in Illinois and she and her hubby try and get out in the 5th wheel as much as possible.  Ah….there’s always more to a story, isn’t there?

I hope you enjoy meeting some of my blogging buddies, and I look forward to you sharing some of yours.  Happy Trails…….

RVing

Monument Valley

Art and Soul of Santa Fe

Canyon Road…. the “art and soul of Santa Fe“.   This iconic road was a dirt trail for almost 250 years.  Today it is home to more than 100 of the world’s finest art galleries.  As Al and I stroll this mile-long road, we take in the historic architecture.

Santa Fe

A Gallery on Canyon Road

Canyon Road is narrow and quickly turns into a “one way only”.  Each building is different and home to a unique artist.  Some galleries display art in the front yards.  It’s a cold, February day and there’s almost no traffic.  Al and I feel as if we’re walking in a residential neighborhood, but the “open” signs and business names displayed say otherwise.

Santa Fe

A Gallery on Canyon Road, Santa Fe

Santa Fe

A Gallery and art studio on Canyon Road

The narrow road, the old buildings, the history, and a strong Spanish influence conjures up memories of New Orleans; so alike, yet so different.  However, Santa Fe also has the artistic, metaphysical aspects of Sedona.  Yes, Santa Fe is a little New Orleans and a little Sedona with a flair all its own.

Santa Fe

‘Art’ displayed – Canyon Road, Santa Fe

Santa Fe

Canyon Road – Gallery

Santa Fe, New Mexico, is well-known for delicious restaurants with world-renowned chefs.  Al read an article about the Compound Restaurant and wants to give it a try.  I have a taste for some spicy  “New Mexican” food, but there’s always tomorrow.  The Compound Restaurant is located in what once was a “house” as are the majority of businesses on Canyon Road.  The southwest interior is cozy and warm….very welcome on this cold winter day.  The menu is definitely gourmet.  Al orders a chicken snitzel topped with a light lemon sauce and capers.  Me?  Well, remember when I said I had a taste for some traditional Santa Fe cuisine?  I just couldn’t find anything on the menu that piqued my appetite and therefore I order a burger with some yummy guacamole on the side.  Delicious it was.

But…….the best was the butter.  Nope, I’m not usually a fan of butter.  No Paula Deen here.  Al on the other hand…..he likes a little bread with his butter.  He and Paula would get along great.  I would normally pass on the bread and butter before a meal, but I’m hungry.  After all, we’ve walked around Santa Fe for the past three hours in temps barely reaching 40 degrees.

Santa Fe

The most wonderful butter in the world, Compound Restaurant, Santa Fe

I go in for a small sample of bread with whipped butter……OMG……I have to contain myself from acting like Meg Ryan during her cafe moment in the movie When Harry met Sally.  Al dives in……again, OMG….  “No hon, please don’t moan”.  Al and I devour the bread and butter in a rather pornographic way, refraining from making sounds of ecstasy and licking our fingers in public.  The waiter asks if we would like more.  In unison and rather abruptly we respond, “NO, but thank you”.  We agree, we could’ve made a meal on the bread and butter alone.

Feeling rather satisfied :-), Al and I are ready to explore more sites.  When we step outside, we are greeted by a nasty cold wind.  That iffy weather, is no longer iffy.  The weather has arrived in a full frontal assault.  Its time for Plan B; we stay in the truck and drive around making notes for another day.Santa Fe

We return to the RV around three in the afternoon and discuss activities for the next day.  Mother Nature has not been very amenable these past few weeks in regards to our excursions.  We come up with a Plan A and a Plan B and decide to make a final decision in the morning.

Morning arrives and Plan B it is.  With trepidation, we pack up and roll out-of-town about 9:30 in the morning.  No Santa Fe vittles for me today.  Those blustery winds that blew through Santa Fe, brought snow and ice further to the north and over Raton Pass.  The weather forecast for the next five days shows a series of storms with high winds passing through.  We have a small window of opportunity to embark on the four-hour drive home.

By the time we hit Raton Pass, the sun has melted any remnants of snow and ice on the road.  We’ve learned from experience to drive passes during the middle of the day, when the sun has had a chance to warm the road.  We picked a great day to head home.  Perfect weather and little traffic.  BUT, sure wish we were still out there gallivanting around the country…..in time my dear, in time!

A Melding of Cultures

Santa FeAl and I manage to tear ourselves away from the Loretto Chapel to explore more of this historic town known as Santa Fe.  Santa Fe, New Mexico, is known as the highest and oldest capital city in the United States.  It offers 360-degree mountain views, over 300 days of sunshine a year, and some of the cleanest air in the country.

This 400 year old city is full of history and culture and offers something for just about everyone…. from a history buff, to an art lover, cultural explorer, outdoor adventurer, and even shopper.Santa Fe

The city’s architecture was of particular interest to me.   You won’t find any modern high rises in this town.  The Paleo-Indians were the original settlers of the area and the architects of adobe structures and the pueblo style that defines Santa Fe’s distinctive look.  Santa Fe continues to build homes that blend with the lay of the land in both color and style.

Santa Fe

The homes built in this subdivision blend in with the landscape – unobtrusive

San Miguel Mission

San Miguel Mission

Spanish explorers in search of gold made their way to the area in the early 1600’s.  A strong presence of Catholicism can be felt throughout the city.  Old San Miguel Mission is regarded as the oldest church in the United States, built between 1610 and 1626.  Al and I walk up to the altar.  The altar has a wooden floor and wooden steps leading up to it.  On the floor of the altar is a series of “windows”.  As we glance down, we view the original stone steps from the 1600’s.  Wow….if walls floors could talk!

Right next door to the San Miguel Mission is “The Oldest House in the USA” dating back to 1200 AD.  It is said to be built on part of a foundation of an ancient Indian Pueblo.  In the 1500’s the Spanish moved in and added rooms.  When the Anglos arrived, more changes were made.  Up until the 1920’s the Oldest House was continually occupied by people representing all the cultures of Santa Fe.  Local folklore abounds with stories of murderous witches and ghosts….I personally, felt no presence of these shadowy inhabitants.

As Al and I continue our stroll around Santa Fe, we come upon the Capitol Building.  No gold domed building here.  In keeping with the Pueblo / Santa Fe style, there is a sleek contemporary yet earthy feel to this building.  We explore the interior and watch a live session of the New Mexico State Senate in action.

That made us hungry……Santa Fe is well-known for its cuisine; a unique blend of three cultures – Native American, Spanish, and Anglo.  Al read about a restaurant located on Canyon Road and since I wanted to walk the “art and soul of Santa Fe“….we’re off in search of some fine cuisine.  Canyon Road is home to more than 100 of the world’s finest art galleries housed in buildings well over a century old.  Once again, I find myself intrigued with the architecture.

I’ll share more of Canyon Road and our lunch in my next post.  Just thinking about it has made me hungry!

FYI….in any of the photo galleries, if you click on a photo, it’ll pop up in larger format!

Historic Santa Fe

As we leave Elephant Butte Lake State Park, there is little evidence of the driving wind and snow from the day before.  We wait until 9:30 a.m. before hitting the road.  We want to make sure any snow and ice further to the north has had an opportunity to melt.  Near as we can tell, Elephant Butte received a fraction of snow fall in comparison to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Seems like we were at the southern end of this massive storm reaching north into Colorado and Wyoming.

Elephant Butte

A last farewell on our drive out of Elephant Butte State Park

After two hours of travel, we pass through Albuquerque, New Mexico, and past the Sandia Casino.  With as many times as we travel between our home in Colorado and our son’s home in Arizona, the Sandia Casino is usually a favorite overnight boondock spot for us.  During this trip, we’ll just wave as we pass.  The Sandia Casino has a huge parking lot dedicated for RV’s….no trucks.  The casino offers a couple of good restaurants, nice bar, RV parking next to the golf course, and a beautiful view of Sandia Peak.  Feeling lazy?  There’s even a shuttle bus roaming the parking lot.

Sandia Casino

Sandia Casino, Albuquerque, New Mexico – great for an overnight

Santa Fe

On Interstate 25 approaching Santa Fe

We continue our drive north of Albuquerque.  After an hour, we arrive in Santa Fe.  We pull into the Santa Fe Skies RV Park and are assigned a nice pull-thru site.  There’s barely a hand full of us camped here, and I appreciate management spreading us out so none of us are in the same row – no neighbors.  The park is very conveniently located; just one mile off Interstate 25 and close to just about everything.  Even though they offer FULL hook-ups year round, we just hook up to electric.  We have plenty of water in our holding tank that we’ll use.  I’ll have to do another post on our winter camping routine.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe Skies RV Park

After a quick-lunch, Al and I head back over to the office to scour the racks of literature and brochures on the Santa Fe area.  With an arm full of propaganda we return to the rig and make a plan for the following day.  The weather forecast is iffy….oh, joy!  So I want to make sure we prioritize.Loretto Chapel

If there is only one thing I am able to see during this stay in Santa Fe, it is the Loretto Chapel.  I’ve seen this Chapel featured on numerous TV shows over the years.  I believe it’s the former “homebuilder” in me that puts this particular Chapel at the top of my list.

Loretto Chapel

Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Loretto Chapel is formerly a Roman Catholic church, but today functions as a museum and wedding chapel.  The chapel’s “miraculous” spiral staircase is an architectural wonder; its construction is the subject of a lot of speculation.  Two mysteries surround the spiral staircase in the Loretto Chapel; the identity of its builder and the physics of its construction.

Al and I were both moved by this visit.  The craftsmanship and spirit are beyond words.  We were fortunate to have visited this amazing structure with very few other visitors.  We found it simply breathtaking; the marble altar, the stained glass, the statues, the overall structure, and then of course the staircase…..stunning!

If we weren’t able to see anything else that day, Al and I would have been just fine.  But alas, the weather held out just long enough for us to see a few more sites…..

For now I’ll leave you with more images of the Loretto Chapel.  Click on any photo to view a slide show in a larger format.

Snow…..again?

The snow started blowing late Monday afternoon here in southern Colorado.  By Tuesday morning we awoke to a blanket of white.  With a chuckle I say to Al, “Looks like Tucson”.  That snowstorm in Tucson, Arizona, was a rare sight to behold, and I responded to the Tucson snow like an exuberant child.

Snow in Colorado?  Well, that’s to be expected.  As is the ten degree temperature at 7:00 a.m.  Therefore, I do NOT respond with any exuberance.  I ponder….”why aren’t we still in Arizona hiking and photographing the blooming desert?”  Oh those darn responsibilities and obligations.  At least this Colorado snowstorm blew through southern Colorado quick and by Tuesday afternoon the snow was gone.

RVing

a snow covered Pikes Peak can be seen from our deck

RV

Our RV & Truck covered in snow sitting on the side of our house

Our departure from Tucson took us on a five-hour drive to Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico.  We paid careful attention to the weather forecast before hitting the road, in particular to the wind speeds.  Interstate 10 can get dicey with high winds that are known to cause brown out conditions.  We picked a beautiful day for travel and our drive was uneventful and pleasant.

Interstate 10

Bear gets a walk at a rest stop west of the New Mexico border

Elephant Butte

Elephant Butte Lake State Park

We arrive in the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico and stop at Walmart to stock up with groceries before heading to the state park entrance.  We know inclement weather is in the forecast and we want to be well stocked and prepared. We’ve driven past Elephant Butte Lake State Park numerous times over the years, but this was our first stop and layover.Elephant Butte

Elephant Butte

South Monticello Campground

Nina over at Wheeling It piqued my interest with her rave review of this State Park.  I also had the pleasure of meeting Nina and Paul while camped at Quartzsite and we discussed some of the must see sites in this part of New Mexico.  Boy, that “must see” list has a funny way of getting longer.  I never realized how much there is to see and do in New Mexico.

Elephant Butte

Elephant Butte Lake State Park – Site 34

After checking out the campgrounds near the town of Truth or Consequences, we take the ten-mile twisty, curvy Rock Canyon Road to the Monticello area and quickly settle into site #34.  At this time of year, the lake level is very low, its also still winter, thus camping at the northern part of the lake is less popular….right up our alley.  As usual, Nina was spot on with this recommendation.  We much preferred this campground over the ones closer to town.Elephant Butte

The bath house is heated, clean, and the showers provide plenty of hot water, which Al and I take full advantage of.  The views are vast.  The hiking and biking endless…. providing you don’t encounter a driving snowstorm like we did.  Yep, snow again.  We enjoy plenty of heat, food, and  drink as we watch the weather roll in, then out.  Internet service is good, allowing Al and I to keep tabs on the weather forecast.Elephant ButteElephant Butte

The original plan was to hang out here for a few days exploring the surrounding area.  Ah….Mother Nature has other plans with a series of storms intermixed with high wind warnings in the forecast.  We opt for Plan B:  After a two night stay at Elephant Butte, we’ll depart for Santa Fe.Elephant ButteElephant Butte

Initially I was somewhat disappointed with the early departure.  However,  I’d rather be safe than sorry and roll with the weather.  Elephant Butte Lake State Park is an easy eight-hour drive south from Pueblo, Colorado.  Thus, we can return to the area when the weather is more amenable and explore that list of places I wanted to see.  I’ll admit, I was pretty eager to get to Santa Fe anyway. Elephant ButteElephant ButteElephant Butte

Next stop…..Santa Fe, New Mexico!

More on the Saguaro

A week ago we left Tucson and took a five-hour drive to Elephant Butte State Park in New Mexico.  We stayed two nights then headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico for another two night stay.  We are now resting in Southern Colorado.  Although its sunny, its cold, and I long to be back among my beloved saguaro cacti.Saguaro

Mind you, our four-month trip meandering around Arizona was abundant with inclement and unusual weather.  The rare snowstorm in Tucson was stunning.  This Colorado gal is used to snow, but seeing the saguaro and the desert topped with snow was a special sight to behold.Tucson Tucson

I would have enjoyed it even more if I had brought the proper attire along.  Who would have thought I could have used my snow pants in Tucson, Arizona?

Gilbert Ray Campground

Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson

Gilbert Ray Campground

Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson,  Arizona

I’ve talked before how the desert appears to come alive after a rainfall.  This was very true the day after the snowstorm.  During a heavy rain, or in this case….snow, a saguaro cactus will absorb as much water as its root system allows.  To accommodate a potentially large influx of water, the pleats of a saguaro expand like an accordion.  I was fascinated with the plump texture of the saguaro after the snowfall.  You can literally see the water trapped below the skin’s surface.

Tucson

The pleats are plump with moisture

Because the majority of a saguaro is made up of water, an adult plant may weigh as much as six tons or more.  This tremendous weight is supported by a circular skeleton of inter-connected, woody ribs.  The number of ribs inside the plant correspond to the number of pleats on the outside of the plant.

Saguaro

the skeleton of a saguaro

Saguaro cacti are host to a great variety of animals.  The gilded flicker and Gila woodpecker excavate nest cavities inside the saguaro’s pulpy flesh.

saguaro

Gila Woodpecker

saguaro

nest cavity

Gila Woodpecker

Gila Woodpecker

Large birds like hawks also use the saguaro for nesting and hunting platforms.  Their stick nests are constructed among the arms of a large saguaro.  In mid summer, the saguaro cacti provides a source of food for animals with its ripening fruit.  Jackrabbits, Javelinas, Mule Deer and other animals will eat the saguaro’s flesh during dry summer months, providing these animals with a water source.

Desert Museum

A sleeping Javelina – Desert Museum

No trip to Tucson would be complete without a visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  This 21 acre parcel of Sonoran Desert is a fusion of; zoo, garden, museum, and aquarium.  Visitors will walk away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the remarkable ecosystem of the Sonoran Desert region.

Desert Museum

Owl – Raptors in Flight show at the Desert Museum

The “Raptor Free Flight” was highly recommended by LuAnn of Paint Your Landscape and it did not disappoint.  Birds soar completely untethered and fly close overhead…. what a unique experience

Desert Museum

Falcon in flight

Desert Museum

Hummingbird

The Hummingbird Aviary alone was worth admission.  A volunteer, otherwise known as a Docent, was passionate about these little beauties.  She pointed out the tiny nests and shared details on their habitat.  Al had one flutter within inches of his face.  It was tough pulling ourselves away.

Desert Museum

Arizona – Sonora Desert Museum

We spent almost three hours strolling the Desert Museum and would definitely return.  Our time in Tucson was way too short and Al and I promise each other a longer stay next winter.Tucson