October 28, 2004

Albuquerque, NM

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 6:52 pm by diandy2004

Well, Andy has been asking for “the desert” again (meaning warmth and sunshine) and we’re definitely here. Red rock, buttes, canyons, and cactus. We’ve had sunshine, but not necessarily warm weather (nights are going to the 30’s still).

Jim and Chris arrived shortly after we did.  We had them over to our RV for dinner – they are our first dinner guests!  It was great to see them and incredible that this is the third time since buying our RV that we’ve crossed paths with them. We just spent the night catching up and comparing our trips and the such.  It’s nice to meet up with friends on the road.  We were glad that they were able to detour slightly on their trip from Santa Fe to Roswell to spend one night with us here in Albuquerque.

Our First Dinner Guests

We had more good news! We talked with a Ford dealer who could finally get the recall repairs done. Ahh, nothing too imperative – just that the RV can catch on fire even when it’s not being operated.  We’ve been trying since Washington to have this done, but none of the dealers had the right parts til now.  So we decided stay another day or more so we could take the rig in for the new parts for the anti-lock braking system.

On October 27th we drove our RV to Bob Turner Country Ford and had to wait a whopping 12 minutes for them to make the recall repairs to our ABS. We spent more time trying to find a dealer who had the time or parts than it took these guys to fix the darn thing. But thanks to their speedy work we arrived at our next RV Park in Tijeras (east side of Albuquerque) by ten o’clock a.m.. We were lucky to be in such a dark area to enjoy the lunar eclipse.

Lunar Eclipse

We spent the next day playing around in the Sandia Mountains. We hiked the Embudo Trail in the morning and the Pino Trail in the afternoon. We were “taste-testing” the different areas of the Cibola Nat’l Forest. Both trails were nice with a combination of desert plants, oak trees, pinon pines, and rocky cliffs or large jumbled boulders. Both trails also went up…as in uphill, increase in elevation, up around 7,000 ft elevation. The elevation was bothering us here – rapid heart rate, tiredness, etc. Even though we’ve been at high elevations, we’ve also been along the coast for so long now I think our bodies re-adapted. We would’ve loved to have taken the Tramway to the top of the mountain and hiked down, but the Tram was closed for repairs the week we were there (of course).

Snake Sunning Himself

Overlooking Albuquerque

Hiking Embudo Trail

On the Pino Trail

** There are more pictures on our Web Albums – just click on any of these pictures and scroll to see others.

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October 25, 2004

The Drive from Oregon to New Mexico

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 7:25 pm by diandy2004

You’re reading it right…we’re in New Mexico. We’ve spent the last 5 of 6 days driving 1400 miles from Oregon to get past mountain ranges and snow. Don’t get us wrong, we love playing in the white stuff, just not driving in it – especially in an RV.

Some of the highlights (g00d and bad) of our road trip included:

* Mt Shasta:  while driving south through northern California we came around a bend and saw a “mountain in the road”.  I assumed it was Mt Shasta, but we could only see the base under the clouds.  Then we realized it was “Black Butte”… after seeing all 14,162′ of Mt Shasta further down the road.

Black Butte

Black Butte

Mt Shasta

Mt Shasta

* Diane went for a run in Bakersfield after driving 305 miles.  It was necessary for me to get out after driving for that long, but running along pesticide-tainted cotton fields was not good for the lungs.  I don’t recommend it!

* After three days of towing Ele, we started to worry about her batteries.  So we purposefully detached before reaching our destination in hopes of recharging her batteries.

* Park Moabi in Needles, CA:  Getting charged a fee just for having kayaks on the roof of our car.  This was a one-night stopover arriving just before sunset with no time for fun…what a rip!

It probably would've been a pretty paddle, though...

It probably would've been a pretty paddle, though...

* Wind Farms – awesome.  This one was near Needles, CA:

Wind Farms

Wind Farms

* Gas prices finally dropped below $2 after leaving the state of California.  We’re almost back to our budgeted gas prices!

* We got to see one of the most unique home-made hippie mobiles – – a combination bus & VW van.  And, it’s name was “Spirit”!

Hippie Mobile

Hippie Mobile

* More snow in Flagstaff:

Near Flagstaff

Near Flagstaff

We also got to see signs of the bad weather in the different areas and states: snow, standing water in the desert, and flowing muddy water in the desert.

In Holbrook, AZ we took one day off from driving (the RV, that is) and played in the Petrified Forest Nat’l Park. Spent most of the day driving through the park and taking short walks to check out the stone trees and painted desert. It was quite amazing to see the colors that iron and manganese creates in the petrified wood and the clay dunes. I still love the purples and blues the most. Erosion continues to alter the landscape and bring more and more petrified logs to the surface. It’s a good thing more wood is being exposed considering a lot of the petrified wood has been stolen over the years.

* Our final highlight was to talk with Jim and Chris (Geeks On Tour) and learned they were driving from Santa Fe to Roswell.  They’ll detour to Albuquerque to visit with us.  What fun!

March 14, 2004

Deming, NM – Rockhounding

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 7:34 pm by diandy2004

Deming, NM is very popular for rock-hounding.  This is a fancy term for looking at rocks.  But the geology since west Texas has been beautiful.  The color variations and formations have been fascinating.  Coming from limestone-country, I guess it doesn’t take much to impress us.  But the rocks are pink, purple, red, green, beige, yellow, etc.  And all combinations thereof.  So we went hiking at Rockhound State Park and hoped to find something of interest (not too heavy or large, though!) – perhaps a fossil or a geode.  We did find lots of pretty rocks, petrified wood which you could still identify the bark and rings, wildflowers in bloom, and we saw Ibex (a large persian goat with antlers that curve over their back).  All in all, a very good day.

Andy the Rockhound

Andy the Rockhound

Heart-shaped Cactus

Heart-shaped Cactus

During our hike around the park we tried to find as many different shaped cacti as we could find – heart, mitten, Mickey Mouse, etc. It was a twist on the treasure hunt, but was quite fun.

Bloomin' Cacti

Bloomin' Cacti

Rockhound State Park has a nice RV campground.  We’ll have to remember this for the future since most of the private ones in Deming are on the highway.

March 12, 2004

New Mexico – Snow, Caverns, and Sand Dunes

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 5:15 am by diandy2004

Our first activity after arriving in Carlsbad, believe it or not, was not the Caverns, but to drive back into Texas to hike in the Guadalupe Mountains.  We hiked in Dog Canyon, which was more remote and generally used for backcountry hiking.  We were surprised to find snow on the ground!  We hiked the Lost Peak Trail/Tejas Trail.  It was beautiful with lots of conifers and canyon views.  The rangers were two of the friendliest Park Rangers – well, they are either naturally friendly, or maybe they were just bored and lonely since this section of the park doesn’t see a constant stream of visitors.

Diane hiking Dog Canyon

Diane hiking Dog Canyon

We also visited Carlsbad Caverns, of course.  The caverns are huge.  Which was part of the beauty and part of the drawback.  Formations were so far away you couldn’t see detail, but the size of the caverns was awe-inspiring in itself.  We chose to do the Natural Caverns Entrance and the Big Room.  Carlsbad has “backcountry” caves, but it sounded as if most only have vertical entries.  If we ever get into serious caving, it would be interesting to come back and try those.

Leaving Carlsbad, we drove through a town called Cloudcroft.  As the name suggests it was a summit pass.  The elevation at the pass was 8,650 and we had a 6% grade with turns to maneuver.  We’ll be confident RV drivers in no time with these types of challenges.  We could start seeing White Sands NM in the distance once we crested the summit.  At first you couldn’t tell what the “white area” was – clouds? beach?  White Sands was much larger than we anticipated.

We rented sledding saucers at the visitor’s center and went sand-sledding.  I think it’s the best way to experience White Sands.  We spent hours playing.  Crawling back up the slope of the dunes though was a killer.  Remember sledding as a kid (or even skiing)?  2 seconds down, 10 minutes to get back up.  Same thing.  At least we had one good day at White Sands, because then it rained for 2 days.  Yes, it rained in the desert.

Sand Sledding in White Sands

Sand Sledding in White Sands

Andy Sledding the Dunes

Andy Sledding the Dunes

White Sand and Blue Sky

White Sand and Blue Sky

The other thing we enjoyed about White Sands was stargazing.  We’d sit out at night and enjoy the immensity and brightness of them all.

Some more of our “Firsts” (not mentioned in the posts):  Dirt Devils; using public restrooms to conserve on water; having to drive around to find a spot with cellphone service; having to worry about layers of clothes for constantly changing temperatures.