It was mid August when Al and I were in dire need of a little down time. With obligations behind us, we were able to meander as our hearts desired. Just the way we like to roll.
After a four hour drive, we pulled into the Elks Lodge parking lot in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We found a nice grassy spot to set up camp for three nights. It’s easy to fall in love with Santa Fe, New Mexico.
It is such an eclectic mix of new and old offering a little something for everyone, not to mention a great farmer’s market. Ah, yes… worthy of its own post!
And although we loved our boondocking spot at the Elk’s Lodge, the real camping gem we discovered was forty miles down the road. At Cochiti Lake Campground we snagged a lovely pull-thru site with electric and water.
Loved the Cochiti Lake Campground – photo taken just before sites filled up and rain started
Each afternoon, a summer storm would roll through gracing me with an artistic show that only mother nature could create. During these storms, I would try to leave the RV door open or at least a window.
The smell of fresh rain in this arid high desert landscape was intoxicating and the vegetation and bunnies seemed to relish in the moisture. And once the storms passed, a rainbow would remind me to smile. Each afternoon as I sat in the comfort of the RV watching the show unfold, I was flooded with a mix of emotions; comfort, relaxed, awed, alive, lucky, life is good ….. and this is why we RV.
Cochiti Lake Campground
The ten days we spent here were just what we needed to relax and rejuvenate. Although the majority of the time was spent around camp, I did manage to venture into Santa Fe a few times and hiked at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument at every opportunity.
Hiking at Kasha-Katuwe NM left me feeling relaxed and renewed …. aaahhh! There’s something very special and spiritual about this place or maybe it was my timing.
We also managed to take in a quick visit to Bandelier National Monument. Fascinating place that we must return to! Unfortunately, weather forced us off the trail.
This area in New Mexico is definitely a place I look forward to returning to and as much as I was reluctant to leave, hitch itch set in and it was time to put the RV wheels in motion.
Our next stop was in Arizona at the Petrified Forest National Park. On the far south side of the National Park, just outside the park entrance, are a couple of gift shops. They allow free overnight camping. We stayed here last year for a quick overnight when we helped our daughter move from Denver to Phoenix.
Our free campsite near the Petrified Forest National Park – Crystal Forest Gift Shop
During this visit, I was able to linger and explore the park …. well kind of.
Retracing historic Route 66 – original telephone poles still stand. Quick photo before the bad storm hits.
The weather wasn’t necessarily all that agreeable and after I took a fair share of commemorative photos, the lightening and down pouring rain had me hightailing it back to the RV.
In between weather fronts, Al and I decided to hit the road bound for Williams, Arizona. Fortunately, the winds were short lived and the three hour drive was pretty uneventful.
While we were trying to back in to a site at Lake Kaibab National Forest, the camp host rolled up in his golf cart letting us know he just received a cancellation for a nice pull-thru site ….. sweet! My how those travel Gods continued to smile upon us.
Our peaceful campsite at Lake Kaibab National Forest Campground
my front yard – aaahhh, relaxing!
Williams, Arizona, is known as the gateway to the Grand Canyon, but the town has also done an amazing job of rebranding itself and playing up its Route 66 history. This is a fun little town worth spending an afternoon exploring. It’s also a great place to grab a bite to eat or a hotel room for a visit to the Grand Canyon since the national park is only an hour drive up the road.
Williams, Arizona – historic Route 66 is the theme around here – fun!
I had every intention of driving up to the Grand Canyon for a day of photography, but I managed to come down with a head cold and with the cool temps that are common in this part of Arizona at the end of August, I longed for some heat.
So down in elevation we went …. to the town of Cottonwood. Just east of town is a popular boondocking spot (free camping, no services). It’s amazing how drastic the change in weather can be a mere hour apart. In Flagstaff the weather temps barely hit 70 degrees Fahrenheit while in Cottonwood temperatures were well into the 90’s. The heat felt wonderful, although when it reached 104 inside the RV, even sick lil’ol me thought it was a tad too hot. However, between the RV sauna, chicken noodle soup, and a spicy Mexican meal at Javalina’s in Sedona, I started feeling better in short order.
Boondocking near Cottonwood, AZ. Sedona off in the distance.
Three days of boondocking in the desert heat had us moving on down to Prescott Valley in search of electric and air conditioning. We booked a month long stay at the Fairgrounds RV Park.
Fairgrounds RV Park, Prescott Valley, AZ. It was an ok place to park for the month of September.
On October 1st we returned to Phoenix, Arizona, our starting point back in April. We’ve been comfortably parked on the north side of the valley and visiting with friends and family regularly.
So now you’re all caught up on our summer journey. I’ll eventually write some posts and share a bunch more photos on the highlights of our summer stops. We truly had a fantastic six month adventure filled with lots of firsts and a few repeats.
Al, our daughter, our son and me. We’re able to spend the holidays together this year – happy dance!
For now, I’m off to finish up my Christmas shopping…..
Should I get this pressure cooker or would this drone be more fun? I like the idea of both, don’t you 😉 I ordered this T-shirt for my daughter!and several gift cards as stocking stuffers. Yep, I’m getting close to the end of my shopping and starting to wrap’m up. I’m a shopper and love this time of year 🙂 This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure can be found here.