A Woman’s Prerogative

RVing in TexasAs a member of the softer gender, I feel it’s my right to change my mind…..you know, a woman’s prerogative so to speak.  And believe me when I say I have perfected the act of last-minute changes lately.

I’m normally a very decisive person who’s organized and enjoys planning.  However, after six months of living in the RV full-time I’ve learned the meaning of “RV time”……  Mañana!

Our reservation at the RV Park in Texas was scheduled to begin on January 5th and our paid stay at the RV Resort in Phoenix ended December 31st.  That gave us 5 days to travel 1,200 miles…..eezee peezee.  Last year had us doing 1,200 mile drives in one very long day.  Yep, as we were preparing for a full-time life in the RV, we found ourselves making trips either from Pueblo West, Colorado to Chicago or Pueblo West to Phoenix.  We would make these drives in one very long day. Exhausting!

It’s not our plan to travel that way ever again – I hope.  Now a days we enjoy meandering.  I love that sense of freedom to come and go at our leisure or on a whim.

As the end of December rolled around, I must have changed my mind half a dozen times as to when we were leaving Phoenix and where we would stop along the way.  Al would offer his input, but deferred to me for the final decision.  He’s pretty easy going as long as I don’t put us on a precarious route.  Christmas Eve I finally came up with a definitive plan; a plan that would end up changing several times.

woman's proragtive
A last minute decision to stop in Tucson.

Plan A – Day one; travel from Phoenix, Arizona to Deming, New Mexico with a stop for lunch in Tucson with Dave, a campground host we met at Ridgway State Park last summer.  The distance between Phoenix and Deming is around 330 miles and about a 5 hour drive.  Hmm, we weren’t sure we wanted to push quite that hard so when the email came in from Brenda, we were onto plan B.  Brenda and I knew each other only here in the blogosphere.  Via blog posts and a couple of emails, we realized our paths were bound to cross.

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on the move!

Plan B – a two-hour drive from Phoenix to Tucson would be perfect.  We called and made a reservation at Desert Trails RV Park in Tucson, Arizona.  It turned out not only were Brenda and Hector staying there but so was Dave….perfect.

The drive from Phoenix to Tucson went smoothly.  We set up camp then had a nice lunch and visit with Dave.  We know we’ll be seeing him again this summer in Colorado.

After working off some of those lunch calories by taking a stroll on one of the many hiking trails behind the RV Park, we headed over to Brenda and Hector’s RV for happy hour and dinner.  Dinner was delicious but not wanting to be out done, the four of us retreated to our RV for homemade pies and brownies – yes, all made by moi in my little easy bake RV oven.

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Hector & Brenda

Brenda and Hector had just traveled from the very direction we were going and they were heading in our former location.  The travel tales and swapping of notes continued well past our normal bedtime.  A few of their New Mexico stops piqued my interest even more than already piqued….which eventually lead to a change in our overnight site.

Even with some lost sleep, Al and I were anxious to hit the road the next morning. The plan was a three-hour drive to Deming.  We thought about overnighting for free at the rest area just west of Deming which we have done in the past, but it was too early in the day for that.  We were reminded of a SKP Park (Escapees RV Club) that we wanted to check out so that was our destination.  About thirty minutes before arriving in Deming, I changed my mind yet again.  I had a third idea……

It was early, the sun was shining, Al and I were feeling great….I’m in the mood for a little excursion and Al was in agreement.  When we arrived in the town of Deming, I had Al point the rig in a northerly direction.  This new destination would add about an hour to our travels; a half hour in each direction, but boy was it worth it.  That is if you like rocks.

City of Rocks
City of Rocks State Park

Meet City of Rocks State Park in New Mexico.  This was a fun little place to spend the night, and Al and I did not mind going out of our way to explore this unique state park.

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we are the 5th wheel – RV furthest to the right
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Our campsite at City of Rocks

Next post I’ll share the last-minute changes in Texas…

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This Class C found a great campsite to dry camp

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.

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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a snow covered Pikes Peak can be seen from our deck
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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!