Monthly Archives: May 2013

Day 13 Pueblo (Dust Bowl), Colorado

Dust Bowl in the 1930s

Dust Bowl in the 1930s

We’re trapped like rats in this rectangular, well-appointed box today. The winds today are a consistent 35 MPH with gusts up to 61 MPH and we cannot even go out the door. I recently watched Ken Burns’ “The Dust Bowl” about the mid-west in “dirty thirties”. They said that some women committed suicide because they were so frustrated by the dirt in everything: house, clothes, food, mouth and nose. The flour-like dust is blowing in every crack and leaving a mess inside. Ok, it’s not exactly like the photo, but it gives me a tiny idea of what it was like. I’m not suicidal…yet! The winds are rocking the rig and it is really noisy. We did have one total brown out and I thought the rig was going over. Ralph assures me that it won’t tip over 22,000 pounds, but I know he’s lied to me before (for my own good, of course). Ha! Ha!

This was on the table next to the window.

This was on the table next to the window.

We need to do laundry and cannot walk the block over to the facilities. We had plans to go out and do some things in Pueblo today but, that’s not happening either. We wouldn’t dare get on the M/C with these winds. It’s times like these that a car would really come in handy. So here we are vacuuming, snacking, vacuuming, watching what little TV we get here, vacuuming, napping, vacuuming, blogging…

If you don’t hear from us soon, check Lake Pueblo for a 33 foot Allegro.

Finally was able to venture outside at 8:00 pm to do the laundry. Weather.com says the winds will only be around 10 MPH tomorrow. I sure hope that’s true.

Laters…

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Day 12 Pueblo, CO

Made it into Colorado today and most of the drive there was on a scenic route with only the last 40 miles on the highway. A nice change! Made a stop at the local Walmart Superstore for some supplies and then on to our destination, Pueblo Lake State Park. We have a site where we’re overlooking the lake. This is Colorado’s newest state park so all the facilities are nice. Now if they could only do something to stop the constant wind that would be great. By 4:00 the wind was buzzing at 20-25mph. I guess I shouldn’t complain as the forecast for tomorrow is gusts up to 35mph. The park has installed wind shelters over all the picnic tables so I’m guessing this wind situation isn’t a one time occurrence. We didn’t do any exploring today, so not much to say about the park, we’ll check it out tomorrow. Having Italian for dinner, pasta with meat sauce. Good thing we ate before the Red Wing game was over as my Red Wings lost game 7 in overtime.

Ralph

We have great connectivity here -four bars on both AT&T and Verizon. That makes it so much easier for me to do my UC Davis online classes. I’m teaching while traveling. So if you need to phone us for any reason, now would be the time. The winds are preventing us from traveling to far on the bike so we are going into Pueblo tomorrow to the Riverwalk along the Arkansas River and check it out and the Steelworks Museum of Industry and Culture (right up Ralph’s alley). Tomorrow the winds will only be around 20 mph and we’ll head out on the bike.

Rochelle

Simple Simon found his spot on the dash with a lake view.

It's a tuff job...but, someone's got to do it.

It’s a tuff job…but, someone’s got to do it.

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Day 11 Motorcycle Ride in the Pilar, New Mexico Area

Today we took a M/C ride in the area east of our campsite. Got a few miles from camp and had to change route in order avoid two miles of rocky, dirt road. Remember the dirt road in an earlier post? Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt! We did end up on a dirt road after all on the way Ghost Ranch. The host at Ghost Ranch told us how she had been on that two mile stretch of rocky, dirt road and almost didn’t make it IN A CAR! So glad we didn’t try. It is very twisty and rocky with no guard rails. We would really have gotten ourselves into trouble on that one. So we turned around and headed in another direction.

Our first stop was Abiquiu (A-bi-kew) Lake, a reservoir of water for Albuquerque. There is camping and day use at the lake. We packed a picnic lunch and ate it at a picnic table overlooking the lake. The US Army Corps of Engineers runs this flood control reservoir in Northern New Mexico and the locals call it Tierra Encantada – The Land of Enchantment. Today, the terrain and cultural mix varies only slightly from what the early inhabitants experienced.

Abiquiu Lake

Abiquiu Lake


Then back on the bike and a few miles up the road we stopped at the Ghost Ranch. Now this was a very interesting place. Ghost Ranch is part of Piedra Lumbre (Spanish, “Shining Rock”), a 1766 land grant to Pedro Martin Serrano from Charles III of Spain. Arthur Newton Pack, the co-founder of the American Nature Association and one-time editor of its Nature magazine bought Ghost Ranch in 1936, and donated it to the Presbyterian Church in 1955. Ghost Ranch is the subject of many landscapes by the American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, who maintained a summer home there in 1934, then her permanent residence nearby in Abiquiu, New Mexico.

200 million years ago Ghost Ranch and the American Southwest were located close to the equator, and had a warm, monsoon-like climate with heavy seasonal precipitation.(Certainly not like that now!) Ghost Ranch includes a famous paleontological site preserving Triassic dinosaurs. Fossil bones were found here as early as 1885. In 1947 the paleontologist Edwin H. Colbert documented the discovery of over a thousand well-preserved fossilized skeletons of a small Triassic dinosaur called Coelophysis (Seel-oh-FY-sis) in a quarry here. Ghost Ranch is known worldwide as one of the richest dinosaur quarries. (Thanks Wiki) We looked through a microscope at small bone fossils. The piece of quarry that was in the museum had hundreds of fossilized bones in it. They have also discovered other types of dinosaurs in the area. They think the reason for so many bones in one area is due to a flash flood and mud slides that killed and buried many, many dinosaurs at one time. The place is a paleontologist’s wet dream!

Closer examination

Closer examination

Coelophysis all put together

Coelophysis all put together

This area is also full of red rocks like the Sedona area. Absolutely beautiful!

Red, red wine....no....rocks.

Red, red wine….no….rocks.

More red rocks

More red rocks


Then we returned “home” and started packing up. We are leaving in the morning for the 175 miles ride up to Pueblo, Colorado.

Goodbye New Mexico…it was great getting to know you.
Colorful Colorado…here we come.
Laters…

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Day 10 Still in Pilar, New Mexico

Ahhhh…a day of doing not much of anything. Vacationing is exhausting! I slept in until 9:30 and then had a relaxing day of hanging at the campsite.

We took a hike along a ridge above the Rio Grande River and stopped by the campground down from us. We noticed the Campground Host had Michigan plates on his vehicles. He was outside so we asked him where he’s from. Kalamazoo! He left seven years ago and has been traveling from place to place. He’s been the host here at Rio Bravo for the last three years, full time. He must really love it here!

The ground is VERY dry here, but we did manage to see a few cactus flowers. It’s also a surprise to see them amongst the dryness. It was a pleasant hike and got us off our butts for a change. We’ve been riding the bicycles a little too.

Soooo dry!

Soooo dry!

Flowering cactus

Flowering cactus

This was our first time camping at a BLM campground and the hosts Pat and Caroline from Texas, made it a wonderful experience. They are here for five months and in exchange for hosting (and cleaning the facilities) they get a free site. I’m telling you those bathrooms and vault toilets were so clean you could eat off them. They were also very helpful in recommending places to go and routes to take. They certainly set the bar high and I hope other BLM sites are just as nice.

I’ve written about the poor connectivity in the campground. But that wasn’t going to stop Ralph from listening to the Red Wings. I have a Verizon Hotspot with an external antenna that Ralph connected to the top of the back ladder. So this puts the antennae at roof height. With it there we get at most two bars. Ralph thought that if it was higher we could get a better signal and he could listen to the game on SiriusXM radio via the internet. So he took the window cleaning extension handle and attached the external antenna to the top of the handle and attached the handle to the top of the ladder. Now the antenna is 5 feet higher. Unfortunately it didn’t help much. Once in a while it shows three bars, but mostly just two. He called SiriusXM to renew his subscription (he has satellite radio on the motorcycle) and added internet listening. He was able to listen to most of the game before the Hotspot went dead.

Now that’s a fan!!!

Going to get that Red Wings game whatever it takes!

Going to get that Red Wings game whatever it takes!

We’re going to take a ride tomorrow and see more of the area and then leave our happy little home here at Orilla Verde (we’ve been here seven days) and head to Pueblo, Colorado. We are only 44 miles from the Colorado boarder.

Laters…

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Days 8 and 9 Visiting Friends in Albuquerque

Saturday we rented a car in Taos for the ride down to Albuquerque to visit my former brother-in-law and his family, Dennis, Rhonda, Brian and Daveena, and their children and grandchildren. I haven’t seen them in eight years. The last time was in Idaho Falls for Auntie Cheryl’s (as Stephanie and the kids called her) funeral. It just didn’t seem right without her. We caught up and all went to Sadie’s, an Albuquerque landmark restaurant for dinner. Had some great New Mexico food. Came home and played 31. We Michiganders love our cards, don’t cha know? Sure hope its not another eight years before we see each other again. The Johnson clan was my family for over 20 years and I’m so grateful that they are still in my life. What a great family. Love you all.

Dennis has had several RVs with the last one being a 42 foot diesel pusher. Now that’s a rig. He did some work camping for three years. Work camping means you get a spot to park for about 15 to 20 hours of work at the campground. We talked a lot about his adventures on the road.

Sunday headed back “home” to the Taos area. Stopped in Santa Fe for breakfast. Blue corn flower pancakes with pinon (pine) nuts and orange butter and cinnamon syrup… Yummmmm. Then back in the car and another 60 miles back home.

We’ll just relax the rest of the day…we need it!

Thanks Dennis for having us and thanks Rhonda for giving up your bedroom.

Laters…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dennis and his new great- grand-daughter

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Dennis advising us on the route for our next leg of the trip

Dennis advising us on the route for our next leg of the trip

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Day 7 Albuquerque to Pilar, NM

We travelled north from Albuquerque on the Turquoise Trail up to a BLM campground at Pilar AZ. We are on the Rio Grande River about 16 miles south of Taos. We will ride into Taos tomorrow and hang out.

We covered about 100 miles of scenic road in about three hours. That’s our shortest driving day. We will be here seven days in this campground with only nine sites. We have 50 amp electricity (we can run both air conditioners if necessary) and water which is very rare for a BLM campground. You cannot make reservations for this campground: first come, first served so we came up a day early to make sure we were able to get a spot. And its a good thing we did because the spots were all taken by 4:00 because of the Memorial Day weekend coming up. Its exactly what we envisioned for our camping, not the RV parking lots we’ve been in thus far. Now we will get to relax a little and tour this beautiful area on the bike. No packing up every day or few days, which is more work than I envisioned.

Our AT&T cell phones don’t work at all here. We will have to make calls when we go into Taos. My Verizon Hotspot has two bars and is very slow, but its working a little (which is more than I can say for us).

Got the ribs on the barbe, the Boneshakers on the boombox, the Captain and diet on my side table, a soft breeze blowing, temperature in the high 70s and living the dream. Oh yeah and Ralph’s feeling groovy.

Laters….

Rochelle and Ralph

Our camping site at Pilar, NM

Our camping site at Pilar, NM

Canyon view

Canyon view

This is how we roll.

This is how we roll.

Chillaxin

Chillaxin

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Day 6 Williams, AZ to Albuquerque, NM

Travel day today. We left Williams at 7:20 am and arrived at Leisure Mountain RV Park about 8 miles east of Albuquerque. It was about 350 miles and Ralph drove the entire time again. I’m getting the feeling that he doesn’t want me to drive. What do you think?

Our day was fairly uneventful except for the humming bird that came in through an open window. I was able to guide him out through the same window. The rig next door has a feeder and there are three humming birds hanging out there. I tried to get Simon to look out the window for some entertainment, but he was having nothing to do with it. He spent the entire eight hours we were on road in his new favorite hiding place under the sofa. No food, water, or litter box for eight hours. Probably awake the whole time too. Wonder if he’ll ever get comfortable while we are underway. We are doing what we can to keep the little guy happy. We do enjoy having him with us.

Ralph entertaining Simon  with a shadow puppet

Ralph entertaining Simon with a shadow puppet

Simon loves our bed as much as we do.

Simon loves our bed as much as we do.

We’ll be headed about 100 miles north of here tomorrow to camp at a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campground in the Orilla Verde Recreation Area. They only have about 14 sites along the Rio Grande River. We will have water and electricity which is very unusual for a BLM campground. It is very close to Taos and we’ll be exploring the area on the MC. We will stay here seven nights and then we’ll head to Colorado. I understand that connectivity can be an issue in this area, so I may not be able to post for a while. We’ll see.

My former brother-in-law and his family will come up from Albuquerque to visit us at the campground. I haven’t seen them for eight years and I am really looking forward to it. Dennis and his family lived in San Jose when I moved to California and I spent many weekends at their home. Can’t wait…

Laters…

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Day 5 Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

Finally! I’ve been waiting 43 years to get here. Let me explain…when I was 19 my friend Kathy Chalmers and I left Detroit in a VW Bug on a road trip to see the USA. We headed west on Hwy 80 and camped near Omaha the first night. We woke up in the middle of the night to a serious rain storm, a completely soaked tent, soakedsleeping bags and suitcases. To make matters worse, the wind had snapped a tent pole and the tent was coming down on us. That was the beginning of our misadventures on that trip. There were many more but I’ll cut to the reason we didn’t make it to the Grand Canyon. We were touring Arches National Park near Moab, Utah and it was 110 degrees. The Bug didn’t have air conditioning and we had a cooler in the back seat with food in it. We ended up eating the food that evening and woke up in the middle of the night feeling terrible. We ended up in the emergency room in Moab with food poisoning. Then we rented a motel room and stayed for three days to recover. We decided we better head north in search of cooler weather and did not go to the Grand Canyon as planned. I’ve wanted to go there ever since that trip.

What can you say about the Grand Canyon? Grand doesn’t begin to describe it. It actually didn’t look real to me. Looked like a photograph or like I was in the Truman Show. It was so beautiful and just reinforces how awesome Mother Earth is and the power of water. The canyon wouldn’t be there without the Colorado River. The weather was in the 60s and perfect for walking along the south ridge of the canyon. Later when we work our way back west, we will visit the north rim.

While in Sedona we learned that one proof of a energy vortex is the way the bark on a tree grows in a spiral pattern…twisted around the tree. Well wouldn’t you know it we came across a tree on the Ridge Trail at the Grand Canyon. Ralph said, “I knew that was B.S.”. I think he may be right!

Ralph and the twisted bark tree

Ralph and the twisted bark tree

Our friend’s John and Jan were with us for a few hours before heading north to Page. It was nice to be able to spend a couple of days with them.

John, Jan, Ralph, Rochelle

John, Jan, Ralph, Rochelle

While we were walking around we heard many different languages from foreign tourists. It’s wonderful to have travelers from other countries coming here and spending money. We certainly spend enough in their countries.

That's us

That’s us

When we returned home from the Canyon (about a 60 mile ride) we passed six or seven mule deer feeding just a few feet off the road. Ralph made sure he didn’t experience any “de je vue” deer encounters and passes them quietly! When we got back we did laundry and packed up for the next leg to Albuquerque 350 miles east of Williams.

Out on the edge...as usual

Out on the edge…as usual

Grand Canyon.

Check.

Still living the dream.

Laters …

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Day 4 Sedona, AZ

IMG_2397

It was a chilly MC (motorcycle) ride from Williams to Sedona, about 60 miles. Much warmer in Sedona because it sits in a protected canyon. We took 89A into the canyon and it was a beautiful ride into the red rock area that surrounds Sedona. I couldn’t believe I was actually there. A photo just doesn’t capture the awesomeness of the scenery. I watched the movie Sedona before we left for our trip. If you want to see what the Sedona area looks like, the aerial shots in this movie give you a bird’s eye view of this stunning landscape. We didn’t spend much time in town: went to the Visitor Center for information and had lunch at a local diner, Café Jose. Ralph planned a loop though the area that took us along the Red Rock Loop and Scenic Highway, back roads in the Coconino Forest, past Stoneman Lake (which is completely dry), Mormon Lake and Lake Mary (which are both very low for this time of the year). Then back through Flagstaff (or as the locals say “Flag and back to Williams. A wonderful ride through the red rocks and pine forests of Northern Arizona. Very, very different than the desert areas of Phoenix and Scottsdale. We ended up on a dirt road for eight miles (not intentional) on the way to Lake Mary. The bikes and all of us were covered in red dust and it was somewhat bumpy. And by the way, we weren’t on dirt bikes! The guys did a great job getting us down this road safely. Ralph and John both ride Honda VTX1800s. Great bikes. Ralph has 150,000 miles on his 2002 and it runs and looks brand new. Of course he’s had four paint jobs on that baby. He made it very comfortable for me to ride on the back. I’m glad we didn’t bring my bike. It’s much easier for me to enjoy the view and take photos from the back. It’s a blessing that the trailer can only fit one bike.

We stopped in many places along the Red Rock Loop to observe and take photos. We went to Bell Rock a noted vortex area. IMG_2445 Sedona has long been known as a spiritual power center because of the vortexes of subtle energy located in the area. These vortexes are swirling centers of subtle energy coming out from the surface of the earth. This energy is not exactly electricity or magnetism, although it does leave a slight measurable residual magnetism in the places where it is strongest. We chose not to climb Bell Rock due to time constraints. There are a lot of Elk in the area we had to drive through to get home and we wanted to be past that area before dusk. As Ralph can tell you from personal experience hitting a deer is not a fun experience.

The town of Sedona itself is a “girlfriend trip”. Spas, unique shops, great restaurants, art galleries…things girls like to do. I will be back to experience that in the future with some girlfriends. Anyone up for that? Just let me know and we’ll plan a trip.

We were all pretty tired when we arrived back in Williams. After showers to remove all the red dust we grilled Hebrew National hotdogs in our little garage (trailer). It was so windy AGAIN that Ralph couldn’t keep the grill going outside. So he just wheeled it into the trailer. Brilliant! We ended up having microwave S’mores. Don’t laugh! We decided they are even better than campfire S’mores.

Sedona.

Check.

Great day livin’ the dream.

Off to the Grand Canyon.

Laters…

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Day 3 Williams, AZ

It’s 50 freakin’ degrees in the MH this morning! The elevation is around 6800 feet here. In Sacramento the elevation is around 200 feet. What a difference 6600 feet make! In spite of the temperature, we three were snug as bugs in a rug under the down comforter in bed. (reference Day 2 post under sleeping arrangements.) Thank goodness the little furnace in works great. Within about 15 minutes the temperature was up to a balmy 63. Well…it felt balmy compared to 50.

Our friends John and Jan are joining us here in Williams today. They rode here on John’s motorcycle and took three days. We’ll have a couple days together and they will move on down the road as they only have 10 days to travel. We will be travelling for 30-45 days.

It was a quiet day just hanging at the campground. Ralph wanted to watch the Red Wings and relax. John and Jan pulled in around noon and came over for lunch. They are staying at a bed and breakfast in downtown Williams. They joined use for dinner and we played a couple rounds of 31.

Tomorrow we’re going to Sedona and spend the day riding, hiking, eating and drinking…not necessarily in that order. I’ve wanted to see Sedona for many years. We are going to visit the vortex area and see if I can get some of my energy back!

Laters…

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