Friday, June 16, 2017

Back to Villanueva

After Santa Fe, we returned to Villanueva State Park for a week.  Despite the lack of phone or Internet service, we really like it there.   It’s located in a scenic canyon along the Pecos River.
This time we were lucky and grabbed site #1 right at the entrance.  It was perfect for us.  We had full sun on the solar panels until mid-afternoon when the trees gave us shade for the hottest part of the day.  It was also far away from those smelly campfires.

 We felt really lucky to be there when they were having a raptor demonstration.  These birds were all found wounded and cannot be released back into the wild.  You can see this magnificent great horned owl lost an eye.

The red-tailed hawk looks fine in this picture, but he is also missing an eye.

The turkey vulture is not actually a raptor.  She just enjoys the attention.  Her problem is obvious.

The talk had a huge turnout.  It was heart-warming to see all the interest, especially how attentive all the young children were.

One day we hiked up to a historic spot with signs of long ago New Mexicans.  There was supposed to be an defined area where they had winnowed their grain.  It was certainly a windy place, but the only unnatural spot we found looked more like a corral.

It sure is a pretty view though.

This guy was guarding the place.

Just look at the length of his tail!

Back down at the river, we followed the Pecos upstream to the edge of the park.

Another day we visited Pecos National Historic Park which consists of two very different sections.  First is the Pecos Pueblo.  Established in the mid-1300s, the pueblo survived the Spaniards, well-meaning missionaries, famine, disease, and raids by Apache and Comanche, but in 1838, the last few inhabitants left.  We toured this section previously, here, but we stopped at the visitor center for information.  The money for the visitor center was donated by screen star Greer Garson and it’s beautiful.

Our goal for the day was to see the site of the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass.  In the early part of the war, the Confederacy tried to seize control of the Southwest.  In March of 1862, the opposing troops met at Glorieta Pass.  At the end of the 3-day battle, the Confederates held the field.  But because of a daring raid by Major John Chivington and guided by Lt. Col. Manuel Chaves of the New Mexico volunteers, the Confederate supply wagons were destroyed and their horses and mules were stampeded.  This forced the Confederates to withdraw and ended their southwest initiative.

I was  pretty disappointed by the 2-mile hike around the battlefield which looked like this.

During my last visit to Pennsylvania, my father, my daughters, and I visited Gettysburg.  Although I am still majorly bummed that the Electric Map is gone, I was impressed that they are trying to restore the landscape to what it was during the battle.  You can now stand atop Little Round Top and get a good view of the battlefield.  To be fair, I realize that Gettysburg battlefield gets millions of visitors each year, while Glorieta probably numbers in the hundreds.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Back into New Mexico

With the intention of fully utilizing the state parks pass, we returned to New Mexico after the graduation excitement.  However our first two stops in the state have been previous favorite boondocking spots rather than parks.

Our first stop was a spot in the national forest that we found several years ago.  It’s just far enough off US 285 to be quiet and hidden.

We were surprised to find another RVer there when we arrived, although he was just packing up to leave.  Ron walked over to say hi.  The poor man is suffering from PTSD and feels more comfortable in the wide open spaces.  So sad.
After setting up, we noticed a lot of activity out our rear window.  Two bluebirds were building a nest in a tree cavity.  It seemed they were afraid of being ousted because one would guard the hole,

Until the other returned with some nesting material.

We stayed two nights in our peaceful spot, but had quite a mechanical scare when we hitched up to leave.  We backed into the fifth wheel as usual, but when the jaws closed around the pin, the handle didn’t snap back into the locked position.  And no matter what we did (back the truck, lower or lift the fifth wheel), that handle didn’t move.  And we also couldn’t disconnect to start over.  I was panicking.  But Ron very calmly got his tools and started poking around under the hitch until the handle suddenly popped into place.  What a guy!  The next day, he called the hitch manufacturer and the tech support guy said we probably didn’t have enough weight on it.  That makes no sense to me, especially since he had Ron pop it by pushing on the open jaws and it latched fine.  With NO weight on the hitch.  We’ll see if it keeps acting up, but at least Ron can fix it.

Once the hitch was securely locked into place, we moved on to the Santa Fe Elks lodge.  It’s just a parking spot on their dirt lot, but what a perfect location only 2 miles from the downtown area.

We got our big city fix with laundry, grocery shopping, Sams Club, a breakfast and dinner out, and we got some extra keys made for the truck and RV.  Today we finally did a short hike in the foothills.

The Santa Fe Foothill Trail System includes 34 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails.  We only did about 2 miles of that, but couldn’t believe how nice the trail was.  At each intersection, indicated by a number on the map, was a trail map,

And signs to point you to the next number.  I don’t think you could get lost if you tried.

The trail had great views of Santa Fe.  Although it is the state capital, they have building regulations to help it retain a small town feeling.  You can see there are no tall buildings.

And no matter how large the house, it must conform to the southwest color scheme and style. 

We saw this pretty cactus blooming.  The flower looks like the claret cup that we have in Arizona, but the rest of the plant looks completely different.

This horned lizard stayed still right along the trail.  I guess he thought we couldn’t see him.  Maybe he was correct because I managed to chop off the top of his head in the picture.  But I’m posting it anyway. 

Back at the trail head, we noticed someone had spruced up the parking lot.  I just love the color of this iris. 

And what a cool wood carving!  Only in Santa Fe would a piece of art survive in a parking lot.

Tomorrow we're moving back to Villanueva State Park for several days.  Despite the fact that the road in is rather frightening and, once there, there is no phone or internet, we really liked it when we visited about a month ago.

Sunday, June 4, 2017


Leaving Denver, we had our usual debate on which route to take.   Although we really like the views going southwest on US 285, Ron thought it would be rather cold.  But I wanted to return to my favorite town of Salida.  We compromised by taking I 25 south to Pueblo, then US 50 west to Salida.  It was a little longer, but US 50 between Canon City and Salida is one of the prettiest drives anywhere.  You might notice less in-transit pictures this year because I’m doing more of the driving, and that was the case during this scenic 50 miles along the Arkansas River.  Although pictures don’t really do it justice, you can see some from last year by clicking here.

We picked our spot at the free BLM campground just east of Salida, aptly named Salida East.  We met friends of Ron’s for lunch, attended a free Bluegrass concert, shopped, hiked, and ate – the usual.

There’s a hike we enjoy that begins near the campground.  It climbs up the foothills with lovely views of the mountains across the valley, 

And the town of Salida.

The funny thing is that I always forget how much it does climb,

But the scenery is so worth it.

Another day we walked around in the cute downtown area and watched these paddle boarders playing on the rapids.  And here I thought paddle board were for calm water.

Right across from the campground is a BBQ restaurant and small motorcycle museum. 

The motorcycles take up half of the dining room floor,

These lovely ladies are keeping an eye on things.

I was surprised to read this sign claiming the presence of an historical motorcycle. 

And here it is.

I remain skeptical about the authenticity.  How the heck would it end up in tiny Salida?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Family Pics

Our purpose for risking cold and snow by traveling to Denver area in May was twofold.  As I already covered in the previous post, Ron’s oldest grandchild, Adam, was graduating from high school and we would never miss celebrating the occasion with him.  But as an added bonus, little Harper was graduating from pre-K.  My first reaction was one of disbelief that there would be an actual ceremony for that.  But did you know that they get tested for kindergarten now?  Besides there’s nothing cuter than a bunch of 4- and 5-year-olds in cap and gown.

Harper got the award for Best Attitude.  He doesn’t look too enthusiastic here . . .

But he certainly has a great attitude when it comes to cake!  Here he’s joined by his little sister Elsie (with the chocolate mouth), and cousins Shannon and Adam.

Now for the pictures for the relatives.  Here’s Graduate Harper with Elsie and parents Kelli and Sean. 

And a picture from Adam’s graduation with Shannon and parents Kim and Tom.

During Adam’s graduation party we managed to get Ron with son Jim and daughters Kim and Kelli.

And Ron with all his family.

Adam brought his cap and gown to Harper’s graduation so we could get this very special picture of the two of them.  How cute is that?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Crazy Weather

We arrived in Denver area in mid-May for Ron’s grandsons’ graduations – Adam’s from high school and Harper’s from pre-K.  We always try to stay in beautiful Bear Creek Lake Regional Park, mostly for the location which is convenient to his daughters, but it’s actually pretty reasonable too.  This is about the only place we make reservations and we waited too long to do it.  We reserved one site for Sunday through Friday and another for the following Sunday through Friday.  The weekend was booked and we thought we’d park in daughter Kelli’s driveway for two nights.

After enjoying a wonderful reunion dinner at daughter Kim’s house our first night, we met Kelli, Harper and Elsie at the park the next day.  We enjoyed the multi-use path around the lake with 5-year-old Harper on his cool bike . . .

And 2 ½-year-old Elsie on her scooter.  ( Elsie will emphatically tell you that she’s 2 ½, not 2.)

The next day we walked 4 miles around Bear Creek Lake Park. 

Some of our route was along Bear Creek with the birds singing their little hearts out.

But some was across open meadows, where we saw these snakes whom we suspect were engaging in an x-rated activity.  We’re thinking they’re bull snakes. 

I’ll zoom in so you can see the love bite he is giving his sweetheart.

Adam’s graduation was scheduled to take place at beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheatre, but the morning of the big event, we awoke to white stuff.

We went to Kelli’s house where it changed to pretty big flakes.

Ron worked on Kelli's ‘honey do’ list with assistance from Harper.  Harper brought his own safety glasses, flashlight, and pliers.

Although the snow and freezing weather were predicted for days, Adam’s school seemed to be surprised by it and scrambled to move the commencement inside the school.  Of course this meant less tickets were available and we would miss his big event.  We were impressed to hear from Kim that the graduation would be streamed live on the school’s website.  We were not as impressed with the camera operator.

I did a couple of screen captures of the feed .  Here’s Adam walking across the stage to accept his diploma.  Not too bad for a screenshot. 

And here he is with the principal.  Really,  the camera operator couldn't aim a little higher?
 By the next morning, all the snow was melted on the grass, but Green Mountain across the way might have to change its name.