Days 294 to 328 – Kicking Around New Mexico and Colorado

New Mexico…
Bernardo, NM, is 50 miles south of Albuquerque on I-25, and is the home of the Kiva RV Park and Horse Motel, which caters to seasonal senior travelers (B&B) and travelers with any matter of furry pets (me). We were there on Easter Sunday and guess what???  The “town” was shut down!  So there wasn’t much to do, and considering my past experiences at horse motels, I wasn’t especially anxious to walk around the RV Park (there were no horses there anyway).

On to Roswell, NM and the Bottomless Lakes State Park for 4 nights. The weather was bright, sunny, and warm, the sunsets were beautiful, the spring flowers were blooming, and the smaller bottomless “lakes” were a strange shade of green; ergo, I was not allowed to go swimming.  B&B went ATVing on nearby Haystack Mountain and came back raving about the scenery. I don’t understand – all deserts look the same to me!

ATVing on Haystack Mountain 

Bottomless Lakes State Park 


Las Vegas, NM.  Do you believe it, no Casinos. No water either. Apparently people are leaving the area quicker than you can say “Buster, No!” because everything is drying up.  Too bad because B&B were interested in some local real estate (a unique round stone house with land and trees), but you can’t live without water!

Raton Pass, on the border of New Mexico and Colorado, “was one of the most important, yet treacherous, segments of the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail.”  The pass cuts through the snow-capped Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the 7,881-foot summit is accessible via I-25.  An overnight at the Raton Pass Camp & Café (off I-25 in Raton Pass) provided us with the incredible views of both the southern tip of the Colorado Rockies and the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains – views that were once only afforded to travelers of the Santa Fe Trail.  It was nice and cold there, too.

Colorado…
Five days in Canon City, the county seat of Fremont County, Colorado.  Do you recognize the name Fremont?  The boss’s ancestor, John C. Fremont (the Pathfinder) was evidently big up here – all kinds of things named after him.  Home base in Canon (pronounced canyon) City was the expensive but very nice Mountain View RV Resort where it snowed and rained so hard one night that the Enterprise sunk down into the softened ground and had to be braced up and re-leveled.  What fun…  While there, we all drove out to the Royal Gorge Bridge Park, but we didn’t walk out onto the Suspension Bridge or take the Tram over the Royal Gorge (even though I was technically allowed to do both) – I guess B&B thought that I might be afraid, duh… it’s Mr. Big that is afraid of heights!  The weather was mostly cold and snowy, but that didn’t stop B&B from taking a 2-hour scenic ride on the historic Royal Gorge Route Railroad (which transits the Royal Gorge along what is considered to be the most famed portion of the former Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad).  I was left behind, but they did bring me back doggie bags packed with leftovers from their Prime Rib dinners.  Oh, and the Boss had so much to eat and drink that she couldn’t move for about 16 hours.

Mountain View RV Resort 

Royal Gorge Park 

Royal Gorge Train

One last lovely day at the Conejos River Campground in Antonito, CO (where we have stayed before) and we headed back to New Mexico, first stop being the quaint southwestern town of Taos.

Back to New Mexico…
The Monte Bello RV Park is our go-to campground in Taos, NM.  It has great views, great walking trails, great sunsets and it’s close to town, the mountains, and the Rio Grande Gorge.  It’s also close to D.H. Lawrence’s ranch;
“The D.H. Lawrence Ranch, also known as the Kiowa Ranch, is located in San Cristobal, New Mexico, approximately 20 miles north of Taos. Situated on Lobo Mountain and comprising 160 acres, it is located at 8,500 feet. Under the 1955 Last Will and Testament of D.H. Lawrence’s widow Frieda, it was entrusted to the University of New Mexico for the purpose of creating a public memorial to the world-renowned writer” (the Boss likes his poem “Piano”), but we didn’t make it there – all our time was devoted to ATVing on the Cebolla Mesa (in the Carson National Forest), Doing the Enchanted Circle (a tour around the Taos Ski Valley that includes the towns of Angle Fire, Eagle Nest, Questa, and Red River – where we had lunch at the only Bar in town) and having lunch on the patio of our favorite Bench Street Cafe on historic Bent Street in the heart of Taos.

at Montebello RV

on the Cebolla Mesa 

Santa Fe, NM at Santa Fe Skies RV – the weather was COLD, but however much I liked it, B&B didn’t.  They mostly huddled together inside while I kept guard outside, but on one warmer, sunny day we drove into Old Town Santa Fe for trinket shopping (old books, spices, and a Russian Doll) and, always my favorite, a delicious sidewalk lunch.

To Albuquerque, NM for RV maintenance and groceries.  Our plan had been to stay at the American RV Park for 5 nights and 4 full days, relaxing while the Enterprise went in for a regular 15,000 mile servicing.  Well, 7 nights (4 at a pet-friendly La Quinta Hotel), six days, and 8K dollars later we were off to Kirkland, NM for an abbreviated stay of 1 night.  What happened? you ask.  During the scheduled servicing, it was determined (by our good friends at Statkus Engines in Albuquerque) that the fuel pump was leaking.  Ok, so the radiator had to be taken out to replace the fuel pump – 12 hours labor.  Then, once the radiator was out it was determined that the engine’s cooling fan assembly was also leaking.  Special orders and overnight shipping were required as was our temporary removal to the La Quinta.  It was horrible there!  The window would not open (I actually thought the window was a French door, like at home, and kept trying to go out through it) and the rugs smelled!  Oh, how I yearned for the MotorHome.  To make it even worse, the nice lady at Statkus Engines warned us that our ATV (and maybe even the truck) were subject to being stolen out from under our noses – while we slept – at the La Quinta where we were holed up.  Thank goodness she allowed us to unload and store the ATV in her garage lot!

The Boss took no pictures in Albuquerque, she was way too anxious.

The drive to Kirkland, NM was quite picturesque (even I sat in front and looked out the window) but very long, passing through at least 5 Indian Reservations, and when we finally arrived at the Homestead RV Park we were all bone tired (but not too tired for a bone, ha-ha)!

Along the Way

We were up for another really long drive (367 miles, 8 hours) the next day but were all happy to be “fixed” and on our way to Bryce Canyon, Utah.
Adios, Mi Amigos!

Days 271 to 294 – Early Spring in Arizona

Six days in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Lake Mohave, AZ at the Willow Beach Marina and RV Park – what a great campground, desert-mountain scenic and right on the Colorado River!  Three days of ATVing (to the river near Lake Mohave, to the Mesa View, and to Horse Thief Canyon), one day of river rafting (with Black Canyon River Tours – from the Hoover Dam downstream to Willow Beach), and three days of relaxing for B&B.  For me, two days of swimming in the cold, crystal clear Colorado.  Despite the fact that it got up to 91 in the baking sun and winds picked up at 3PM, I loved it!

Willow Beach RV Park

Willow Beach to Lake Mohave

to Horse Thief Canyon

Colorado River Rafting

 

We got lucky!  Our first day in Kingman, AZ was sunny and relatively warm, so B&B took the Black Dog up to the Hualapai Mountain ATV Trails for a great ride (lots of streams and rocks).  Their plan was to go back the next day, but the weather changed – cold, overcast, windy, damp, and snowy for the next two days.  C’est La Vie (I speak and understand many languages)!  The Blake Ranch RV Park was OK for me; a good-sized dog park, some trees, and plenty of places to walk and sniff.

Hualapai Mountain ATV Trails

 

More ATVing at the Alto Pits in Prescott, AZ where the actual trails are restricted to ATVs 50” or less in width.  Well, Mr. Big decided to buy the Black Dog (a Polaris RZR 900) because it is only 50” wide and (theoretically)  would therefore be able to go on (the many) width-restricted trails.  Surprise – it’s 50” at the bottom, but the addition of the roof adds about 4” to the width at the top.  Needless to say, they had issues – and on one tight trail the roof smashed into the same tree twice – going in and going out!  The poor Black Dog is no longer new and shiny!  The Fairgrounds RV Park was not for me, but it was the only place around.  I did however really enjoy our walk around the town square (and the stop for lunch) in Historical Prescott.  The Boss is weird – all the quaint jewelry stores with unique, southwestern earrings and bracelets and she buys MORE books (and not even new ones).  Mr. Big says that I am just like her, but I’ld go for the glitter!

the Alto Pits

 

Camp Verde, AZ at Distant Drums RV Resort.  “Who designs these places?” Mr. Big asks.  Once again our site is sloped to the extent that our back wheels are off the ground – NFG!   However, two days of ATVing on various Camp Verde Trails and two days of visiting the nearby National Monuments at Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot (both ancient indian cliff-dwelling sites) almost made up for a crummy site.  I say almost because although the ATV trails took B&B through the beautiful desert-in-bloom, one trail also had several cattle gates that were very short and high-domed; ultimately the Black Dog got stuck on one and the skid plate was ripped halfway off!  What a drag (hah hah)!  No more ATving for a while….

Pretty Flowers and Killer Cattle Gates on the Camp Verde Trails

Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot National Monuments

 

In Williams, AZ we stayed the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park.  While B&B took the train (on the luxury dome car) to the Grand Canyon, I was bathed in luxury at the Dog Hotel!  It was wonderful!  Apparently the food and drinks served on the train and lunch at the El Tovar were excellent, because the Boss didn’t need to eat for a whole day afterwards (and she passed out for two hours when they returned).  She did have the energy to complain about the weather on the South Rim – mostly cloudy and on the chilly side.

the Grand Canyon Railway and South Rim

 

Our final stop in Arizona (for a while) was Springerville – at the Casa Malpais RV Park – where it was all about Atving in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest.  The Boss was disappointed in the Maverick ATV TrailPowell Mountain Loop; incredibly dusty, not very scenic, all torn up from some kind of construction, and not challenging.  The Saffel Canyon OHV Area was, on the other hand, great fun – until Mr. Big tried to drive on a snow-covered trail.  The day was warm and sunny and the snow was mostly gone, but on this one section of the trail it was an 18” wet-pack and the Black Dog got hung up (wheels 6” off the ground) half way through!  Out came the shovel, but it would have taken hours to shovel free, so out came the winch.  Luckily, Mr. Big had an extra 25’ tow-rope and he was able to find a tree within range on which to hook up, and they were able to pull themselves out.  After turning around, the Boss found a way back through the trees that circumvented the snow-covered trail, but she took a huge slow-motion fall on a slippery log.  Why doesn’t this sound like so much fun to me???  They were both laughing when they got home, so I guess all is well.

Saffel Mountain OHV

Next it’s back to New Mexico!  Summer is coming and I think it will be a hot one, so stay cool!  Your friend, Buster.

 

Day 271 – Three months spent cruising the southwest, tying to keep warm!

New Mexico…

Las Cruces, NM (aka the “city of crosses”) seems bigger and better each time we visit, and we always stay at the KOA on the hill because the “view” sites do offer great views at sunrise and sunset, and I really like the dog park.  This year B&B discovered the very-close-by old town of Mesilla where they shopped like tourists and had a delicious lunch at the renowned La Posta restaurant. We didn’t stay too long as the Boss was frothing at the bit to get to Rodeo and set up her telescope.

The drive south from Interstate 10 to Rodeo, NM was very scenic and interesting; lots of beautiful snow-capped mountains and Border Patrol Agents.  We were stopped, but not boarded – Mr. Big’s charm must have been very convincing!   Our go-to place in Rodeo is Rusty’s RV Park where birders and astronomers (even very amateur ones, like the Boss) are catered to.  We were assigned a site where three-quarters of the night sky, west to south, was visible for viewing (the Chiricahua Mountains blocked out the southwestern horizon).  The Boss was in heaven; a neighboring night-sky enthusiast gave her some tips about aligning her telescope (a Celestron Nexstar 6SE) and would stroll over every now and then to see how she was doing.  While she spent her nights touring the Solar System and beyond, he spent his imaging deep-sky objects (and most of his days processing the photos).  Her new buddy agreed that “we” needed a bigger telescope and he also debunked the theory that the Boss’s telescope mount would not support her camera!  Now she’s looking to buy the essentials to start taking pictures through her telescope – thanks, pal.  On our next to last night, while Mr. Big slept in his nice warm bed, the Boss and I got up at about 3am and went out into the freezing dark to see Jupiter and its moons.  She claims it was awesome – I slept through it all!  On those days when we were not too tired (from all the nighttime activities) we drove into the mountains, looked at some real estate for sale, had lunch at our favorite Portal Café (in nearby Portal, AZ), and visited the Chiricahua Museum.  All three of us like it here very much!

Arizona…

Back in Arizona we stopped at the Valley of the Sun RV Resort in Marana, AZ to do some ATVing.  Well, it was evidently worth the stop as B&B spent two days at the Charouleau Gap on trails that challenged Mr. Big’s driving skills – the Boss is still talking about “the wall”.

Next was a week back in Apache Junction, AZ at the KOA.  While there, the Boss met up with her long-lost cousin, Christian Benton, and his lovely family and also with fellow Pot-Holers Marcus and Joan Mundt.  We took the truck up into the Tonto National Forest and followed the Apache Trail to Lake Roosevelt (great scenery mostly spoiled by high-tension wires), and on another day B&B atv’ed the Four Peaks Trail System.  In neighboring Mesa, AZ the Boss was thrilled to see a school named after John C. Fremont, the “Pathfinder” (and Governor of Arizona from 1878 to 1881) and husband to her 2nd cousin 5X removed, Jesse Ann Benton (daughter of Senator Thomas Hart Benton) – I’m beginning to think she is related to everyone!

Several years ago we had driven through Wickenburg, AZ and thought that it was a nice western town, so we decided to stop there for a week –  especially since there was plenty of ATVing in the surrounding BLM lands.  We stayed at the Horspitality Horse Boarding and RV Park and had a grand old time.  I loved all the smells and all the horses, and I must say that they all liked me.  Access to the ATV trails was right out the back gate, behind a training ring, so B&B went out at least three times.  The best ride was with a group of 10 – they went out to the “China Wall”, a 30-mile ride that took about 3 hours.  It was on this ride that Mr. Big decided to have the suspension on the Black Dog adjusted (to make it ride higher off the ground) – they almost didn’t make it over some really big rocks!

On our one day in Salome, AZ (at the Black Rock RV Village), B&B took the ATV out into the Eagle Tail Wilderness to see an old mine.  They never did make it to the mine, but they did stumble upon a magnificent Big Horn Sheep, standing atop his mountain.  Wish I had been there, I would have shown him who’s King!

California…

Needles, CA… Hmm, a pirate’s cove on the Colorado River?  Very strange, but we had fun.  Our site in Pirate Cove Resort was on a peninsula in the river; a sandy, shady enclave shared with two other motorhomes. I got to frolic in the water and the grownups got to go ATVing on the Resort’s designated trails.

We had the Calico Ghost Town RV Park in Yermo, CA to ourselves.  After pulling into our site, setting up, and having lunch, Mr. Big began to read the literature we were given – only to find out that we were not to wash with, wash our dishes or clothes with, brush our teeth with, or drink – the water!  No wonder no one else was there!  I didn’t die, but I was sure was worried.  Thank goodness we had a full tank of our own fresh water and plenty of bottled water to drink.  That same afternoon, I had to go to the Vet – my paws were hurting like crazy – so we drove to nearby Barstow, CA to the Isa Companion Animal Clinic, a practice owned and operated by a harried-looking Cuban man, Dr. Haroon, DMV.  He and his staff took very good care of me (although I couldn’t understand a word anyone was saying) and sent me home with a bandaged back right paw, antibiotics, steroid pills, a paw-bathing solution, a spray for my paws, an anti-bacterial cream for my pads, and a cone on my head!  All this (for 12 days) because I picked up an infection in my paws in Wickenburg, AZ – no more horses for me!!!  The next day, while I was sleeping, B&B hit the Calico Ghost Town OHV Trail to Mule Canyon. An enjoyable ride, they said – like being on the surface of the moon.

Nevada…

Next was three days of much needed R&R at the Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort in Las Vegas, NV and then on to the Preferred RV Resort in Pahrump, NV where, on their first ATV snow adventure (navigating Wheeler’s Pass), the Black Dog suffers a hole in its radiator.  B&B hiked about two miles back to the main drag where, luck of the Irish, a white pickup was just passing by.  Hitching a ride back (five miles) to the loading zone where our truck was parked they lucked out again when a couple, in their ATV, agreed to follow B&B back to the abandoned Black Dog and tow it out to the main drag.  At that point, all that was left to do was to get the ATV up onto our truck – thank goodness for the winch and superior load-up skills of the Boss!

Gee, no ATVing in Amargosa Valley, NV!  So we day-tripped to Death Valley (where it was 91 degrees – 20 degrees hotter than anywhere else!) on one day and Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge on another. It was pleasant enough where we stayed, at the Longstreet Casino and RV Park (five miles from the California border) – the Casino food was good – but I need some green grass!

Death Valley

Ash Meadows

Back to Las Vegas, NV to get the ATV repaired.  This time we stayed at the Hitching Post RV Park, across town from where we were last.  The lure of the Casinos eventually got to the Boss, but she managed to walk away a few dollars ahead, so everyone was happy.  I hate Las Vegas!

Well, back to my nap – hope you enjoy my ramblings!

Your friend, Buster.

Day 210 – Adios Texas

We left Port Aransas in the cold, dense fog, passed through Castroville where it was sweating hot, spent two nights on the Rio Frio River in Concan, where it was freezing cold, and finally emerged in Del Rio, where it was 80°, sunny, and clear. I emerged with an infection in both ears, caused by perpetual moisture! Fourteen days of washes and ointments and pills – yech!  The only redeeming factor was the wonderful staff at the Del Rio Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital; they were all very friendly and gave me lots of love (and treats). In Del Rio the Boss spilled a glass of red wine on her laptop, rendering it in operable – the way she cried and moaned you would think it was her whose ears were aching; what a baby! I know she hates sharing Mr. Big’s laptop, but he has warned her many times about the dangers of drinking and computing…

We spent an overnight at the picturesque Marathon Motel and RV Park in Marathon where the grounds were interesting and the sunset was incredible (actually, I am color blind so I only know this because of the oohs and aahs) then ambled down to the Rio Grande Village RV Park for a week in Big Bend National Park.

at the Marathon Motel…

Big Bend is home to magnificent vistas, rugged mountains, extraordinary rock formations, hiking-trails galore, and the Rio-Grande River (which serves as a natural boundary with Mexico). On our first night B&B (in search of a sunset) took a hike on the nature trail that looped around the adjacent primitive campground – leaving me (thank the dog gods) behind in the air-conditioned Enterprise. The next day we spent six hours on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, making all the requisite stops for photo-ops and scenic wonders. I had a good time but was exhausted by the time we got home. I also was allowed to make the trips to Boquillas Canyon (where we saw banditos making illegal-to-buy trinkets on the Mexico side of the Rio Grande), the Hot Springs, and Dagger Flats. All in all, B&B liked Big Bend – especially the sunrises, rainbows, sunsets, and moonrises.

In Big Bend National Park…

dscn9932

 

On the Nature Walk

the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Boquillas Canyon and the Hot Springs

Dagger Flat Auto Trail

Early Morning, Rainbows, Sunset, and Moonrises