Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch

Next day we went to Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu. THis was the area that Georgia O'Keefe sepnt her summers painting some of her world famous works. In 1949 she moved permanently to Ghost Ranch and stayed until 1984 when she moved to Santa Fe due to health issues. She died in 1986 at the age of 99. When we left Ghost Ranch we drove north to Abiquiu to check out the reservior there as a potential next stop on our way to South Fork, CO. We also went a bit further north to a Carson National Forest stop called Echo Amphitheater as another potential stopping point when traveling north.
Dinner was at Milagro 139 in the Santa Fe Plaza. We shared 2 different appetizers as a dinner. First their trio, scallop ceviche in a tequila-lime marinate, beef tartare with a serrano-soy glaze and tuna tartare with a sesame glaze. The second appetizer was a San Francisco sampler with a combination of braised short reibs, calamario frio, camerones con tocino and chile en nogada. We throughly enjoyed this meal. Definitely a winner. It started raining as we left. That night got another thunder, lightning show.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Santa Fe

Santa Fe, NM is one of our favorite places to stop. In fact we have added this area to our list of potential places to have a home base down the road sometime. We had reservations for the July 4th holiday so we would be assured a place at the inn so to speak during those periods when every camping site is taken. We arrived 5 days early though. Some of this was because we had been having zero connection at Conchas Lake and Palo Duro. Since Joe teleworks he can not be unconnected for very long. On Saturday we visted the Pecos National Historial Park. It is only about 20 minutes from where we are staying in Santa Fe, which is Rancheros de Santa Fe. We still are amazed at the history of our land, the good, the bad and the ugly. For linner, we went to the Plaza to Blue Corn Restaurant. Nikki had Green Chili Stew, a meal sized bowl of tender pork simmered wtih green chile, potatoes and posole served with a flour tortilla and sopaipilla. Joe had Ensalada Tostada, tortilla shell filled with pinto beans and beef, layered with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream and guacamole and side of salsa. Nikki's was excellent and Joe's just so so.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Conchas Lake

Left Palo Duro headed toward Santa Fe with intention of finding a spot at a higher elevation which would be cooler and preferably by water. We landed at Conchas Lake and stayed in a Corp of Engineering campground. Our daily fee with our America Beautiful Senior Pass is a whopping $2.50. This campground has seen better days. It had been run by a concessionaiare which according to our campground host, had run it into the ground. What a shame on many levels. The current political winds have been shouting that the government can not do anything right, only private enterprise and capitalism. Our host said the Corp is looking to transfer this campground to the state but the campground needs more than 4 million in infrastructure repairs due to concessionaires handling of our land. So the concessionaire makes their profits and leaves us the landowners holding the bag. Sounds familiar, doesn't it. The lake here is down over 30 feet. On a political side note we have been noticing the affects of the "non-existent" climate change from California through AZ, NM and Texas. It is criminal that we have elected officials that put their political ideaology above our future welfare. Anyway, politics aside, we still had a nice view and did enjoy our two day stay.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Texas Grand Canyon

We arrived at our destination just south of Amarillo, Palo Duro State Park, the second largest canyon in the US. Most of the campsites are just above the canyon floor. Unfortunatey we are unable to get any cell phone reception even with our amplifier on. During or first night we had a big thunder and lightning storm. Much different than our little California ones. In the morning the road out was closed due to mud slides over the road way. When we originally arrived, we saw signs in abut 5 or 6 places noting they are subject to flash flooding and that is where the mud and water needed to be cleared out. As we had our Jeep we were going out anyway and luckily a ranger there was in front of us and opened the gate for us. He could see we weren't having any problems. Just got the Jeep pretty muddy. See one of pictures attached. We went 49 miles north of Amarillo to see Lake Meredith National Recreation Area. The droughts of the southwest have definitely had an impact on the lake levels. This lake is at 8% of its capacity.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Stop over on way to Amarillo TX

Left at 2:00 PM headed for Amarillo with a stop over at Sunset Park, another Passport America park. We have now paid for our Passport America 3 year membership with the savings to date. PA has restrictions but if you are fulltiming it is part of your tool kit to reduce expenses. Sunset is just a stopping point on 287 but they also offer free laundry so this turns out to be a very inexpensive stop. The hosts were very nice as well. The wife who is originally from Germany gave me some basil she was growing and told me some stories on their campground hosting experiences. They are in their 70's I think and met in Germany after the war. He was an American solider and they fell in love and came to America to live and have been married for 50 years.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Livingston TX

Made the drive to Escapees Rainbow Park, Livingston, TX with the intentions of becoming residents of Texas. The next morning we went to the national headquarters and signed up for the Escapees Mail Forwarding program which gave us our address requirements. Nikki then contacted her former employer, Epicor Software on our address and required paperwork for Healthcare under Cobra. This started a flurry of emails to get this straighten out. During this time, we studied for the Texas drivers test. During our studies we discovered that we are really being tested for a CDL(commerical) license with some exclusions for recreation vehicle only. While there was nothing really restrictive we were concerned that something might pop up that would invalidate getting that Texas license. At that point, we would have already gotten vehicle tags, registered to vote and turned in everything Californian, no turning back easily. California looks at motorhome driving a little differently than Texas. At this point, we do not want to down a road we are not 100% sure. Nikki would like more driving experience before having to take the driving test as well.
On the weekend we went to Village Creek State Park to paddle part of the Village Creek. It is part of an extensive canoe paddling trail system by the Texas Park System. We only have good comments about the Texas Park System. It appears that Texas is heads and shoulders about California's Park system which we are familiar with. So hung around Livingston until some UPS packages arrived 6-22 and then went on our way.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Kerrville ,Texas

After a night stop over at another Passport America roadside campground near Ballmorea, TX we arrived at By the River Campground in Kerrville, Texas in the Hill Country. Very pretty with lots of trees which was a nice change from the drive across the West Texas landscape which doesn't have much scenery. By the River Campground is right on the Guadalupe River. It was so peaceful with just the sounds of the birds during the day and crickets and other creatures at night. While here, we paddled two sections of the Guadalupe, one being right from the campground itself. The campground also sells their specialty homemade tamales. They sell them by the dozen for $8.50. They are cigar sized tamales and excellent.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Stop in New Mexico

Next stop was a Passport America campground in Los Cruces, NM. In October 2009 we stayed at Sunny Acres so we decided to try a different one, Coachlight RV Park. Well not to much to the Park but it was cheap. That night we went to dinner at the Double Eagle Restarunt in the Historic Old Mesilla district. The meal was excellent. The restaurant has witness to many colorful and historical events, including the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago - which ended the Mexican-American War in 1848, the negotiation of the Gadsden purchase in 1854, Confederate Army occupation in 1861 and the incarceration and trial of Billy the Kid in 1881. The town itself is nice for browsing with many shops and restaurants.
We noticed that our tires really looked too bad to continue, so decided to get new ones. We knew new tires were in our future, but had hoped for another year before our little incident. Being Sunday our options were the big box only stores. Most stores closed on Sunday and a majority on Saturday as wee. We finally went with tires at WalMart, Uniroyal Liberator A/T. My preference would have been Goodyear Wranglers but no longer made in my size and next larger would have needed a lift kit. Price was right, much cheaper than what we thought we would have to pay. As soon as the tires were mounted, we hit the road for Texas.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oops and It Factor

Last night we decided that we had made a good jump to make it to Roper Lake, AZ near Safford. We took off and had driven about 70 to 90 miles when a car cam up blinking their lights and honking the horn. Nikki pulled the motorhome to an off ramp and we got out to see what was up. The driver came up and said our front weheels on the Jeep were not tracking with the motorhome. I knew immediately what the mistake I had made was. The previous night I had left the Jeep hooked up to the motorhome and turned off the ACC on the steering column and locked it up for the night. When we left in the morning I had not unlocked the steering column. Well upon inspection it appeared I had only trashed the one front tire really bad. By the way, we owe a great big thanks for the motorist who stopped us. He really saved us as we think it was just a matter of time before the tire blew and we could have been in really big trouble. Anyway, we changed the tire with the spare. It was only 102 degrees out. We must have each drank 2 bottles of water changing that tire. We then made our way to Lake Roper. What a find. We were hoping for some view of the water but never dreamed we would be right across the road from the Lake. See pictures taken from our site below. We stayed 3 days and could have stayed longer. We took out kayaks all three days. Not a hugh lake but a nice and pretty paddle.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Memories of Data Shakes

We drove east with the intention of staying at Escapees Park in Yuma. By the time we got to the park the gates were closed, no hugs tonight. We continued east until dark and stayed at another Passport America Campground at Dateland, AZ. They advertised making some of the best datehakes around. Well before calling it a night, we got a couple of those best advertised shakes. Nikki and I fondly remember going to the Date Shake on Pacific Coast Highway between Corona Del Mar and Laguna Beach back in the 60's. This was one of our cheap date places, no pun implied. Well those shakes from Dateland, AZ sort of ruined our memories of the earlier time. They were not that good and way overpriced. The campground was one small step up from the rest stops but sad as it was the rest stops in California and Arizona are closing or being closed. I wonder where the gas taxes and federally matching dollars used to pay for those stops went to.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Driving School

We had reservations for 3 nights at Circle RV (Passport America Camground) in El Cajon, the recommended park by RV Driving School. Well the spot the park gave us was probably one of the tightest in the park with all the trees. We received comments from people staying in the park that they were surprised about the site selected by the park because of the size of our motorhome and having 4 slides. In the back of our minds we were wondering if this was part of the driving school instructions. Our instructor was also a little taken back by the site selection. Driving school was all behind the weheel instruction. This was probably one of the best decisions we made in taking this course. I am not known for my patience and Nikki would probably have murdered me in my sleep if I was teaching her. Nikki drove 70 to 80% of the time which was very appropriate. Our instructor was excellent and really gave Nikki a tremendous amount of instruction and confidence. Driving was done around and in downtown El Cajon. It included backing up into campsites, up and down hills, and freeway driving. From this point forward she just needs to put time in to gain practical experience. The problem will probably come that I enjoy driving and have traditionally done 90% of the drvin. I must learn to turn over some of the time to Nikki. After our final day of instructions we decided to get out of town so we burned our 3rd night and hit the road. I highly recommend anyone who drives an RV to take a driving course. It does not matter how many years you have been driving, you will learn something which can only enhance your rving experience along with making it safer.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Adventure Begins

Well we have arrived at our first stop since Nikki has retired yesterday. For those of you who don't know, we have been planning this for a number of years. We actually sold our house in Irvine, Ca 2 years ago and moved into our motorhome full time. We stayed at Newport Dunes RV Resort which not far from our workplaces. Now Nikki is retired and I am working part time on the road. Our first stop on this new adventure is Silver Strand State Beach in Coronado, California near San Diego. We have a beach front spot with the front window opening to the ocean and our slide Arizona type room(big bay windows)also oepn to the ocean. This is what we had in mind when we think of beach RVing. We are going to hang out here for 4 days then move inland for our 2 days of RV Driving School. For those of you who do not know about California State Parks during the high season of holidays and Memorial Day to Labor Day reservations are normally necessary well in advance and the costs have escalated in the last 12 months. We are doing our part for the state budget. $50 per night, no hook ups, no dump site and parked cheek to cheek. The weather the first day was perfect and then remainder of the 3 days was typical Southern California June Gloom. Chris and Karol came down for a last visit on Saturday before our departure for El Cajon. We mostly just took it easy these days, just walking on the beach and bike riding in the area. They have nice bike trails that go all the way into town.