Gila National Forest, New Mexico: 4/2 – 4/4/19

On April 2, we left Aguirre Spring Campground and headed west on 70 to 10W to 180W to 61N to 35N to Gila National Forest.  It was amazing to see the desert view suddenly change to tall evergreen trees.

6DACE7C1-BE50-4F17-970E-8E323C897499We found Upper End Campground by Lake Roberts and set up camp.  There were six sites available and only two were taken –  one by the cranky Camp Host and the other by a trailer that left for good the following morning.  It was plenty shaded and a short walk to the lake.

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B882E481-44B7-442D-863D-D04CDD33BA0FThere was a trail leading out of the campground and out to the lake.  Apparently, it contains Trophy Bass.  Not sure what that is.

I think that Scott wished he had a fishing pole?

D8053A47-BCB6-485B-8E6D-0198B78978EEI was happy just hanging out on the dock.  We keep saying that we are going to get ourselves some water toys, i.e. a kayak and a standup paddle board.  It was a wee bit chilly today to swim, but it would have been nice to hang out on the water.

671165F4-2039-4262-AE66-7D28628F169BWe continued on to see just how far the path would take us.

5AE2F650-BFE9-496F-82FD-CC1FC1AA92EEWe saw one man fishing alone across the lake.  Other than that, we didn’t see any other people.  It was quite peaceful and we enjoyed the solitude.  We eventually turned around and Scott put up the hammock so that we could bask in the warmth of the sun.

On the way out the next morning, we stopped to take a look at Lake Roberts from a different vantage point.  On the map below, you can see where the Uper End Campground is located relative to Lake Roberts.

02043EB8-8705-434E-8CEA-3C90E107F32EBelow is a photo of the lake from State Road 35.

8A7C74CA-6D3E-4EA6-9E4B-43CCCAB32411We continued on for about an hour to Gila Cliff Dwellings.

BFC8F8ED-3FBF-4C62-853A-79C48BDC8AB9In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt established Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument as the only place in the National Park Service that interprets and preserves part of the Mogollon Culture history. The Mogollon people called this place their home over 700 years ago.  They were able to survive for a time because they had access to water from the Gila River.  It was so totally cool roaming thru the remains.  Let me take you on our tour.  First, we crossed over the Gila River on a bridge that was built for the purpose of tourism.

 

84708F9C-4777-41D8-9364-0FFC20EC92A7The one-mile trail is unpaved, steep in some places, and uneven.  We were walking in the footsteps of the Mogollon people who called this place home.  There was another couple ahead of us, so we took each other’s picture with the cave opening in the background.  We will soon be walking into those dark cave openings.

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31A8BF39-09FA-4532-9D54-B50D1113EC2FWe had to climb up a ladder to enter the cavern.  Archaeologists think that occupants may have climbed a ladder up onto the wooden balcony to enter the door.

86380192-358A-4CC4-8F3C-7B12DFC10B93I took a picture of Scott standing just at the top of these stairs.  It wasn’t as dark inside as it appears in this photo.

3E965D34-EC8C-4C6F-B8E0-447E37313C69We walked around and peered over walls to peek into the many separate rooms.  It is believed that the smaller rooms were for storage, the large, open space was likely an enclosed living space, and the fire pit represents a cooking area.

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DF6CAA33-AC08-466C-BEFF-393D3B52D6A2On the way back down, there was evidence of a fire-burned hillside regenerating grasses, flowers and shrubs.

38ABCAC7-A714-4C5A-BB24-DA5AD85AB1F4This was my favorite National Monuments that we have visited so far.  I was amazed at how cool it was inside the cave to protect you from the sun’s heat.  In the cold, wintery months, it provided a warm shelter.

Not far from the monument, we found Gila Hot Springs.

C1CCEDBE-B68E-4383-BC65-53F2C2339BE1It is a family-run goat farm with three separate hot springs to bask in.  We were not able to drive to the hot springs pools as the road was blocked by a work truck.  So, we parked the truck, grabbed our bags, and headed down the dirt road.  We passed a small corral of horses and hundreds of goats!

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E9D0DFF8-20CF-4D15-9C2B-447B23721189When we got to the pools, one was closed off, the second was occupied by four adults, and the third pool had one woman who seemed to be meditating.  We changed into our bathing suits in the makeshift bathroom/changing room and joined the two couples who were regulars at this spa.  Berta and Mick have been living in New Mexico for 30+ years and their dear friends, Rhonda and Rick, were visiting with the intent of moving there.  They were all super friendly, and we enjoyed hanging out and relaxing.  Here is the pool that was initially closed.  It is furnished with overhead sun protection.

E9FB3439-7D5A-4C24-AD5D-9C55207A1F5CWe enjoyed the center pool with our new friends, who took a picture of us together.

6DE88BDA-DFFA-415A-BE89-7D16AEEC4418Across from the pools is the Gila River.  That water was extremely cold.

9631AA96-7BB6-4F1E-9025-1D13A018804AHere are the girls, Rhonda (left) and Berta (right).

973137A6-FE8C-42E8-AA1A-C048883BEF00They left just before us, and we are hopeful that our paths will cross again.  They offered us a ride back to our truck, but we actually enjoyed the walk.  Upon leaving the spa area, we noticed the following sign.

E4C5D317-2381-43F6-9908-D6D285F16077As we passed the goats, a momma and her hungry kid stopped close to the road.  I just had to record what we saw.  So special!

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Just before we arrived back at our campsite, we decided to stop at the Lake Roberts General Store.  We parked the truck and walked up to the front porch.  It was only then that we realized that it was closed for the season.  We are not sure if it is closed for good or just closed for the season.  They need to take down those beer signs!

2E524FB9-69DC-48DB-BC4B-19A8F84B6BEFThe next morning we awoke to a morning temperature outside of 23 degrees and 41 degrees in the trailer.  COLD!!!!!  I never expected the weather in New Mexico to be this chilly.  We left our Lake Roberts Campsite and headed to a KOA in Holbrook.  Our next stop is Arizona.  Goodbye for now to the “Land of Enchantment.”

Texas and New Mexico: 3/30 – 4/1/19

We said goodbye to the Guadalupe Mountain and headed west towards El Paso.  The scenery was barren, flat at times, and unfortunately littered in some places.

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B2388792-B30D-4234-9CA5-7CF67A2D836AThis made my heart sad.  We passed areas where old shacks were dilapidated.  I couldn’t bring myself to take pictures of what I saw.  I am guessing that at one time, people were able to call this area their home, but obviously they had moved on.  As we got closer to Las Cruces and El Paso, I realized that this is where they may have moved on to.

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d5b7f942-9fde-4c94-8ed8-82948486d780.jpegWe found a RV park just outside of El Paso off the main highway in a town called Canutillo.

01DBF18D-4DBE-40C0-985D-A784ECFEC016

8439489D-E5E7-444E-A813-479207C80550

FD913AD8-CA80-4E60-92ED-8A133E92B86BOur neighbor Matt, had a puppy named Crazy.  He was soooooo adorable!  The paws on this ten-week old pit were massive.

E90D5C21-CC0B-485A-9E30-AAC76D3C7AA5We only stayed for one night.  The next day we were back on the road heading north into New Mexico, yet again.

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34C14E79-6F9D-4F06-B395-3347A1508DEFOur next destination was Gila National Forest.  On the way, Scott wanted to stop by Fort Bliss Military Reservation in Oro Grande where he had his desert training back in the early 1980’s.

2CEA9A90-CEDA-4345-B8B7-962FE52722D8We were able to get on to the access road and saw this very welcoming sign.

083C939A-91E9-4D5D-81D6-6642FABF5E99Scott was trying to remember what it looked like 35 years ago when he was last here.  There had obviously been some changes.  The following sign looks weathered and outdated.

5745A0A3-2846-4CDC-BA09-EB6940922832We reached a point where we could no longer gain access and turned around.  Now, we would have to travel the long way to get to Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.  It really wasn’t too far out of the way.  Before we knew it, we had arrived at our next campsite.

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5786DDE2-F16F-4B94-B272-CA2B57BCFD4BWhen we woke up the following morning on April 1st, it was 31 degrees outside and 41 degrees inside the trailer.  We are talking COLD!!  We got up and hiked Pine Tree Trail Loop, a 4.2 mile easy trek.

CDEB2FC9-8D04-4669-9F76-7347AC914035

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59433E98-60CF-44BD-B0F4-01EE638F4801We haven’t seen many streams in New Mexico while hiking, instead we will often see a wash, where water will only travel when it is raining.  All of a sudden, I was mesmerized by the sound of running water.

Later that day, we drove to White Sands National Monument.

E15ED858-B73F-4170-A63E-B3CA77E81642We’ve made it a practice to stop in the Visitor’s Center first to watch an introductory movie and get a National Park Service brochure.  This complex was designed in Pueblo Revival style during the Great Depression of 1930’s.

1C35C0E8-CA7D-4973-8555-275818690787The Why of White Sands:  “When the Permian Sea retreated millions of years ago, it left behind deep layers of gypsum.  Mountains rose and carried the gypsum high.  Later, water from melting glaciers dissolved the mineral and returned it to the basin.  Today, rain and snow continue the process.  For thousands of years, wind and sun have separated the water from shallow lakes from the gypsum and formed selenite crystals.  Wind and water break down the crystals making them smaller and smaller until they are sand.  Steady, strong southwest winds keep gypsum sand moving, piling it up and pushing dunes into various shapes and sizes.”  We started on the one-mile loop Dunes Life Nature Trail.

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6C7A6282-24DF-41D9-9598-05AC418FBC2DWe decided to do a little advertising and wrote our blog in the sand.  I wonder how many new followers we will get?

 

A023F6A4-0D9E-4DCE-9BCB-45336611A655Signs of spring?

 

F8F41C35-3FD9-4EC6-A640-345775668C85We got back into the car and drove to the end of Dunes Drive.  As you drive down the sandy road, it almost looks like a snow-covered road.

FF1FC54B-83E9-47D6-AB3F-D49C8D8223CEAlong the way were various hikes, straight out and back, with lengths of 2.3 – 8.0 miles, as well as shaded picnic areas.  But where is the water?

CDA5F56D-48EA-4962-81E5-394DFA1CBB50We left White Sands and headed on 70W back to our campsite.  There were fields of beautiful, yellow flowers which brought such vivid color to the barren landscape.

675736D2-4DA3-4454-BEE7-40A184BB4434Scott needed to get up close and personal.

C111D946-D858-4CE4-886F-54EF2854E318Simply stunning!

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Guadalupe Mountains, Texas: 3/28 – 3/30/19

If you look on a map of Southwestern United States, New Mexico, Texas, and the country of Mexico are nestled together in the farthest, west section of the state of Texas.  This where you will find El Paso, a very populated and modernized city.  Haven flown to Texas many times to visit my best friend in Keller, Texas,  I never thought I would be in this part of the state.  I find myself intrigued by the fact that we are so close to Mexico.  My mind keeps taking me to thoughts of a border wall.  Crazy, right?

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Guadalupe National Park is located just east of El Paso, Texas, and directly south of Carlsbad Canyons in New Mexico.  The drive from Carlsbad to Guadalupe was only about a 45 minute ride away.  From about 20 minutes away, you could see El Capitan (far left) and Guadalupe Peak (to the right of Capitan) in the distance.

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690F1BAE-22C1-41C9-8356-16E4E3F09F69We parked the trailer in the Pine Springs Trailhead parking lot for $15 per night.  There were already quite a few RV’s parked there with only a few empty spaces.  Nobody was around except for the workmen using heavy equipment not far from us.  They were obviously doing work that was needed, but the noise really shot right through you.  It was a beautiful, warm sunny day and we wanted to get away from the man-made noise.  It was after 3:00 p.m. but we ventured out anyway on a short 4.2 mile round trip hike on Devil’s Hall.  At this trailhead, there are four different hikes that you can choose from.

2433940D-01EA-45A5-BE27-12696ACF13EBGuadalupe Peak Trail is what brought us to this National Park, but due to the time, we chose to hike Devil’s Hall Trail today.  On the way up, we turned around to capture a picture of our campsite.

957FB260-3D6D-482F-9D20-7F5CA7D0042DDevil’s Trail was rated a moderate hike, but it was really easy.  Most of the terrain looks like the image below.

9FED78B6-E4CE-483F-9B52-0B3EABB33DDCAt the one mile mark, you drop into the wash (a dry streambed that only gets water when it rains), and the walking becomes more fun as you have to navigate over large boulders.  Just below reaching Devil’s Hall, you have to climb a 15-foot wall to gain access to the hall.

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2A497E72-F53D-4D65-A1C3-500A7B7D0418At the end of the “hall”, there was a slight drop off.  I was startled by a family of three that were quietly sitting off to the left enjoying their solitude.  They told us that we could not hike any further as sensitive species grow beyond that point.  She had read in a pamphlet that the park didn’t want anyone hiking up there during this time of year.  We chatted for a little while, and then we retreated back to camp.

The next morning we got started early on the 8.4 mile hike to Guadalupe Peak at 8,751’ with a 3,000’ elevation gain.  We were excited to catch the beautiful sunrise.

986A8A23-4414-443E-800F-F31AD1EE104CIt wasn’t long before the morning light was upon us.

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941AC3F7-782E-447E-B4A1-428102BD664FAlthough the sun was shining, it was extremely windy.  The wind kept the temperature down.  The higher we ascended, the windier it became.  Long pants would have been a smarter choice for today, but we did have extra top layers – including our hoods which were up most of the time.

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1E2E3388-C695-4CBE-A605-622325B993FEShortly before you reach the peak, you have to cross over a small bridge.  The long drop below reminded me of the Titantic.

67A194F0-C6C2-418A-BB18-E31453177501Less than three hours from the start, we arrived at Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in the state of Texas.

82A6DB60-B5E1-4F58-8AB1-910B71A30974At some mountain peaks, there is a register book so that you can record your name and the date of your hike.  Here I am filling out the necessary information.

252B4145-1AF5-4FAB-96E9-4E32CA8D7541Enjoying the view.

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FCD66F14-4EF0-451B-8C03-EC3B35E7DEC0In the picture above, I am looking down at El Capitan.  Thank you, Scott, for modeling.

818264E5-C4E3-4A9A-858E-E028CD7FEDE0It was way too cold and windy to stay at the peak for long, so we quickly began our descent.  Here is another view of the trail and the parking lot below.

CC08BECE-CEC9-474B-B146-A5CEADF0B66COn our way out of Guadalupe National Park, we stopped about four miles down the road to capture a picture of El Capitan from another angle.  From this vantage point, it looks taller than Guadalupe Peak, but it is not.  As you can see, the wind is still howling.

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Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM: 3/25 – 3/28/19

Before we left Texas Monday morning, we had to make an unplanned stop to see Dr. Cerone, my friend Jack’s dentist.  On Friday while I was flossing my teeth, a three-year old crown popped out of my mouth.  It was too late on Friday to get an appointment and there were no weekend hours.  It wasn’t an emergency as I had no pain.  You may think why am I sharing this on my blog.  I am sharing it because life happens on the road, too.  I am not particularly fond of finding a doctor/dentist while traveling around the country.  It helps if someone has been recommended, and in this case Dr. Cerone was.  The office was located in Southlake, Texas.  Southlake is a rich, beautiful area with many mansions lining the country road.  The employees and the dentist were first class.  If I lived in Texas, he would be my new dentist.  I should have taken some pictures of the area, but this was my only photo today.

D597078C-E2E4-4BE6-99D9-E1DBC2A6CE0EWe headed back to Fort Worth to get our trailer and then proceeded northwest on ___. We stopped in Abilene for the night.  The drive to reach our next destination, Carlsbad Caverns, was too far to make today.  Besides, we don’t like setting up in the dark if we don’t have to.  We found a quiet, free spot to park overnight at Seabee Park in Abilene.

076E0249-980B-455F-8A8B-F479E1173A60To the left was the wetlands/marsh inlet section of Lake Fort Phantom Hill.

1EC5F499-B747-416D-A67D-1E1A0EB840C5I wouldn’t do my yoga outside because of all the ant hills.  This is just a small section that I photographed.  They were all over the place!!  I don’t like ants sharing my yoga mat.

f3db9ebf-46c4-4a0c-8501-753fffedbb31-e1554004638972.jpegTuesday, March 26, was a long day of driving in the car.  We headed west and passed Carlsbad Caverns National Park, our destination, so that we could boondock at Chosa Campghrounds which was located outside of the national park and White City, NM.

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3D48C24C-8F19-451C-91ED-E151495BC2B0Scott captured a beautiful sunrise from our parking spot that morning.

D99DE8B9-D59E-41BC-8643-ED3DC9D24A1BShortly after, we drove the truck 30 minutes to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  There was a group of seven young people just ahead of us so we got a rare non-selfie shot of us at this landmark.

BD7B1874-F216-41E2-9351-B82F8118A688When we got to the Visitor’s Center, we were only able to get on one guided tour to the King’s Palace that began at 1:15 p.m.  All the other guided tours were booked way in advance, so we took what we could get.  Scott caught me busy in the museum.

3CFF73A1-E7B7-4EE5-B8CB-60640B9393BCAs you walk away from the Visitor’s Center and down the path to enter the Bat Cave, there are beautiful cacti surrounding the walkway.

We started on a self-guided tour of the Big Room, an 800 foot descent from the top of the Bat Cave.  Here is Scott walking ahead of me so that I could provide some depth perception.  He is standing in the amphitheater where you can watch the bats fly out at nighttime.  The dark hole behind him dead center is this species entrance/exit.

6AC6FBF1-577C-4129-BFE3-F2F70529FB5FThis entrance is closed from to spectators from March to October due to bat migration from Mexico.  Many people come at nighttime to sit and wait for the creatures to come out by the thousands.  It was March 27, and the entrance was still accessible.  Lucky us!  Scott got a closer look of the Bat Cave opening with his camera.

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5DF5E576-A77A-4418-BC73-E672081F15F4Since I was ahead of Scott, I was able to get a shot of him not far from the opening.  The picture is dark, but get ready because caves are DARK.

64BA5D7D-9971-4F44-80DC-978976EB7530About 300 steps further down into the cave, I stopped to take a short video clip of the sounds I could hear.  Listen and see what you think it is.

If you guessed bats, you are wrong.  They are swallows and they stay close to the opening, whereas the bats will go deeper into the cave.  We continued on and saw this sign. Remember the TV show?

FDCC0BB5-AC5A-45AC-B705-4842614D3AB9Many of the formations inside the cave were named based upon what people thought they saw.  Below is the Whale’s Mouth and the Lion’s Tail.

The cave is illuminated with many spotlights that shine on the walls of the cave.  Here are a great shot that Scott took with his camera.  It really captures the essence of raw stalagmites (come up from the floor), stalactites (come down from the ceiling), columns (go from top to bottom) and the draperies (which look exactly like their name).

77C2D57D-3797-434B-BEE9-55F7FC8ADA73At one point, we saw an original replica of a ladder that was once use to climb down and back up the cavern.  No thanks.

43D8EF61-8312-41EB-92EB-FCAB9B46FD36After our self-guided tour, we took the elevator back up to the top and had lunch in the Visitor Center’s restaurant.  Then, we walked around for a while to warm up before the next descent into the chilly, dark cave.  It wasn’t long before we had to meet our tour guide at the bottom of the cave to begin the guided tour of King’s Palace.  Our tour guide, Daniel, suggested that everyone use the restroom before the two hour tour began.  Who would imagine a fully modern bathroom in a cave 800 feet under the ground.

CD99401D-44F3-4F29-BA0B-582048E49244In order to see the King’s Palace, you have to be with a guide.  The entrance way is locked to any self-guided tourists.  Scott didn’t take any pictures during this tour, and mine are quite dark.  All I can tell you is that he had the forty of us sit along a stone bench inside the King’s Quarters and he turned off all the lights.  Amazingly, we were all as quiet as mice for the approximate 60 seconds of darkness.  I could hear the slow drip, drip of water close by.  It was eeiry and cool at the same time.  Daniel is standing before us in the next picture just before he turned the lights out.

 

C6006BE6-B40A-4E34-9D77-51CE226269C9When the tour ending, we could either take the elevator back up 80 stories or take the same path on foot back up through the Big Room.  What would you have chosen?

B5FA7482-2B67-47EF-AEF9-4030D787C2C0When we got back to the top, we saw a few young girls in the museum by a cavern replica telling us that their dad was able to fit through the small opening.  Scott is such a good sport.

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Texas: 3/19 – 3/25/19

 
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Nice sign!  We traveled north on 25 to 285S to 40E to 287S into Childress, Texas.  We had been in the car long enough and knew we wouldn’t make it all the way to Fort Worth today.  We found a free spot for the night at Childress Fairgrounds in Texas.

37A6510A-B41B-4831-9ADC-D92E2BF78807There was a ball field close by where a girls softball team was going on.  We actually watched it for a little bit.  Behind us in the background was a man made lake.

BCCB0DF2-9908-4CE2-8666-9211F48B2F3CI wanted to take a walk around the lake after we got settled, but it was way too buggy by the water for me!  Instead we walked three blocks to the main road and had dinner at a Texas BBQ joint.   The next morning the bugs were not around, so we took a walk around the lake before leaving.  It was very peaceful.

6DF4A8D7-0955-4D11-88A8-41D3B2AA7691The next morning, we were back on 287S heading to Fort Worth.  We had to postpone our November trip to Texas to visit with my best friend’s family since that is when Scott went to stay with his dad and I went home to Jersey to stay with my mom for six weeks.  Now, we were finally able to spend some time with some of my favorite peeps.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Sharon’s second grandson, Elijah.  The last time I had seen him was shortly after his birth.  He will be two on Cinco de Mayo!

We previously booked a full hook up site at Eagle RV Resort in Fort Worth about 30 minutes from our friends in Keller, Texas.

99702B54-5A64-4519-9BA9-5C8F0005B702The RV Park had a lot of people who lived there year round rather than just short term renters passing through like us.  The restroom was a bit run down, but the owners were very friendly and hospitable.

486B8D05-F5A6-488B-895C-BACC2FFE9CFBLook at the pretty road leading up to this park.

3b1d3c62-7630-4b95-a520-5c4353a8555a.jpegThe next morning the temperature was in the low 70’s.  It was great to finally put on a pair of shorts!!  We decided to take the truck and find a place to go for a hike.  We drove a short distance to Marion Sansom Park, and walked to a dam at the edge of the park.  We even saw signs of spring!

Later that day, we met Jake and Priscilla, her dad, and Daniel at The Eagle’s Nest for dinner.  It is a huge sports bar with tons of televisions.  We caught the First Round of March Madness.  My team, Villanova, won!!  The next day, Kate had us all over for dinner.  The entire gang stopped by.  It was so good to see everyone again!  Elijah was not too sure what to make of me, but there is still time to become besties!

The next morning we got together with Sharon’s dear friends, Debi and Susan, at Debi’s beautiful home.  Debi insisted on having breakfast for us.  It was like going to brunch!

B4E7A90F-E2FA-4F68-A099-84A3E0CDD180 I got to meet her daughter, Melissa, and her precious little boy, Wilson.  I tried to get them to all look at me at the same time and say cheese.  I tried.

6357CDEC-9220-46F9-AE77-2DAC8E1E6815Seconds later they were off and running.   Below is a typical look that Elijah gives me when I try to pick him up.  I think he is telling me that he will stick with mom for now.

02CDC92A-7191-4848-BC82-965B9B426A7BAfter breakfast, I went back to Kate’s house and Elijah was beginning to accept the fact that I was going to be hanging around for awhile.  He is so stinkin’ cute!!

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340E14DF-93B3-4B07-A739-11FCCC1B98F7On Saturday afternoon, Michael had his first flag football game.  We were able to get a quick photo together.  He is very fast and easily grabs the opponent’s flags.

258CFF4F-7746-4708-855E-FCD03226748DThat evening, Scott and I went to Jack’s gig at the Pour Shack.  This was the place that they had a Memorial Jam in Sharon’s honor last year.  It’s an outdoor/indoor venue and this stage is located outside.  I took this video and when Jack saw it, he said he couldn’t hear the harmonica that he was playing.  I could.  You decide.  He is on the far right.

On Sunday, Vicky and Michael drove out to Fort Worth to see our home on wheels.  Then, we went to the Fort Worth Nature Refuge and took a short hike.

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33854B4B-7B3D-43CC-BA65-7A37678759B1That evening, we all met up for one last dinner together.

DA382692-93EC-47A5-8FDD-D7FE9E355DEBIt was wonderful to see y’all.  Till next time.

 

 

 

 

 

New Mexico: 3/16 – 3/19/19

We headed south/southeast on Hwy 9 to Hwy 50 and landed at a KOA campsite in Pueblo, CO, for the night.

6FA3D5C0-415C-4968-926C-961CEB409F69We had trouble with the motorized tongue jack our last morning in Breck, and then again when we got to Pueblos.  It jacked down on our arrival, but he couldn’t get it back up the next morning.  Scott had to get the trailer hooked up to the truck tow manually, and we knew that when we got to Santa Fe, he would have to see about replacing it.

Driving down the open road of Hwy 25 South, the view was mostly brown fields housing antelopes, cows, and horses.  I took some pictures but you can’t really make out what I was seeing from the truck window.  Any remnants of snow quickly disappeared while the temperature rose.  We crossed over the border into New Mexico (I missed the Welcome sign), and within a few hours we had made it to our home in Santa Fe for the next two nights.

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F45093FA-47C3-4643-981E-B997AA855279Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, I just HAD TO HAVE corn beef and cabbage. We found a pub, Second Street Brewery, that had the food AND entertainment.

 

The only problem was that they did NOT serve Irish Soda Bread.  I made Scott stop at Whole Foods on the way home so that I could purchase a loaf.  To close out our evening, we enjoyed my favorite St. Patrick’s Day beverage, a Green Goddess, while we finished off the Irish Soda Bread.  Yes, we ate the whole thing.

5CE2CE35-CDD6-4EBF-A48D-C20D971E8243The following day, we both agreed that we needed to move our bodies.  It had been quite some time since we had been on a hike together, and we needed to detox our bodies from yesterday’s festivities.  Scott had to work on the truck first to replace the tongue jack, so I did laundry and started this blog.  By early afternoon, we took off on an eight-mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 1,821’ adjacent to St. John’s College.

98E93C74-17D7-4019-89CD-113EF6897508St. John’s Santa Fe campus is located at the foot of Monte Sol, on the eastern edge of Santa Fe, at 7,300’.   It is known for its distinctive curriculum centered on reading and discussing the Great Books of Western Civilization. I didn’t realize that St. John’s has no religious affiliation, yet it is called St. John’s.  We began at St. John’s College Trailhead (see bottom of map) and continued on the Atalaya Trail to the peak.

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1EA22CA6-C7F6-4F5B-96D9-8791BAC3DF93About an hour into the hike, we came across this option.

600783B0-1540-4515-AD6B-865E2461F484We chose the Steeper Route and soon needed to don our micro spikes.  Close to the summit, we stopped to take in the view of the Capital City of Santa Fe.

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024277A4-6BC7-4316-A1E9-87A6B3694AD0Scott soon identified the “peak” at 9,121’, and I asked him to pose for me.

2DA2C731-CDA3-442B-8A49-E44049707751On the way back down, we decided to take the Easier Route to see what we had missed.

3B1C09B6-6F13-4028-AD3D-73A2122E42B7As we neared the end of the our four-hour hike, I wondered if the running water was just from the melting snow.

5D73200E-0B8A-4BFB-AE2D-BB0C1DC303C3Our plan was to leave Santa Fe early the following day.  Check out time was 12:00 noon. We got the trailer ready to go and left with just the truck to head into the historical part of town.  I really wanted to see St. Francis of Assisi Church. We had to wait over an hour since it didn’t open up to the public until 9:30 a.m.  It was only 8:30.  Someone was impatient.

B4EEF9FD-F433-48BF-AF89-610DEFAC0625So, we walked around a little bit and I took some more pictures.  Here is the Santa Fe Inn and Spa at Loretto.  Too bad that we didn’t go in for a massage.  Don’t you love the adobe structure?

3A553E5B-CD5F-4E2B-8481-BED331B163CANext to the Spa was the Loretto Chapel with the Miraculous Stairway.

CCCEA47F-A415-4D5F-ADC0-65B578E9315DOn the tree in the background are rosary beads hung on the branches.  Here is a closer look.

036FFC17-A76A-482D-971C-BA259C1A3F07We still had some time to kill, so we stopped for a coffee at a local coffee shop.  It was pretty chilly this morning.

F5CC7A7A-6B29-4AC0-AEF5-94C02F3EE1BEYes, I got the special, Mexican Mocha…sweet!!

7E581644-6CB3-4446-A09A-73E7FE332C4BIt was almost 9:30 so we headed back to the church.  On the way we passed a parking garage.  Yes, a beautiful parking garage.  I thought it was an apartment.  Go figure.

B6A7B3D1-68D6-4276-8748-14934C19B7BFThe church was right around the corner from this parking garage.  Below you can see the side view of The Cathedral Basillica of St. Francis of Assisi as Scott approaches it ahead of me.

 

934CF838-EB84-4702-89D9-EC1B45E1A45EThe front of the church was adorned with a statues…

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…and a labyrinth.  I walked it and counted all 700 stones while we waited earlier this morning.  Sorry, no picture available.  Scott was walking around somewhere while I was deep into counting.

0B8AB6EC-C0AF-4D08-9832-E67B791D5393Inside the church were beautiful columns, stained glass windows, and a very simple yet elegant altar.

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91DD746A-8AD0-4575-AE7F-154D942FB109The church was on a quiet street, and behind the church to the right was a Stations of the Cross Prayer Garden.

 

Here are photos from two of the stations.  It was quite moving for me.  They were a little scary looking but obviously it took a long time for someone to carve these figures with such detail.

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DC49919F-4787-4ED8-8F45-D46879358E6FScott caught me deep in thought as I stared at the statue.

13FFB14B-58A0-4C0D-923C-980E3148DC54We returned to the RV park and hooked up the trailer.  It was time to say goodbye to New Mexico for now.

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Breckenridge, CO: March 2019

The first of March began with a winter storm.  There had been only a few inches/dusting during our first two weeks here in Breckenridge.  We were very excited as skiing in powder has become our favorite skiing condition!  Here we are in the truck on our way to the gondola for a day of powder skiing.

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We got to the parking lot and Scott realized that he had forgotten his goggles.  We are now one for one on forgetting essential ski equipment.  The snow fell at a constant rate, which quickly changed the surface conditions from hard, packed powder to soft, deep mounds of white snow.  At the summit, visibility was minimal, and it was difficult to get your bearings with everything being so white.  So, we chose to ski lower down so that we could better navigate the varying terrain.  On our last run, I tweaked my left knee (AGAIN).  Is there such a thing as too much powder???  I do not really know how I fell, but there I was covered in snow.  Neither one of us took out our phone today to take pictures.  There was just too much snow.

The snow forecasts are varying and not always accurate.  It was predicted to snow all day Saturday, March 2, but there were breaks during the day when the snow stopped and the sun tried to peak out.  We decided to not ski with the crowds today, and Scott took this opportunity to clean off the top of the trailer.

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This view quickly changed by the next morning.  It snowed heavily all night long, and Breck recorded the overnight total to be 13”, but I think it was more.  Now look at our driveway.

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We were so excited about skiing in powder again, that we made record time getting on the road to the mountain.

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The snow was still falling steadily as we drove up Highway 9 towards Beaver Run parking lot.  Our goal today was to be one of the first riders on the chairlift.

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We were actually one of the last vehicles to get into Beaver Run Parking lot.  It was jammed packed.  Unfortunately, it was slow going at first.  We took the Quicksilver Chair to the Falcon Chair to ski Peak 10.  The lift had stopped running, leaving hundreds of skiers on a non-moving line.  We decided not to wait it out, and made our way to the Peak 8 SuperConnect.  We started on Callies Alley and Scott wanted to video me skiing.  So impressive!  Make sure you watch it until the end.

 

 

Scott and I did our best to find lifts with short lines that were running.  I had been wanting to ski Tiger, a double black run on Peak 8, but was waiting for powder conditions.  Today was the day!  Scott did not like it as much as I did.  He lost one ski close to the top and had to walk uphill, which was not an easy task.  We will wait until tomorrow to try this run again.  Time to head back to Peak 9.

The C Lift (a double chair on Peak 9) doesn’t operate during the week, so we spent some time there today enjoying trails that we couldn’t get to without a working chairlift during the weekdays.

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I took the opporutnity to video Scott coming down Peerless, a black diamond run.

 

This was the BEST ski day yet!  There was little wind today and we never got cold (until I filmed this video).  And, it never stopped snowing!  On our last run, Scott wanted to try following me with his camera rolling.  I didn’t follow directions very well.

 

Time to call it a day.  It was still snowing at the base of the mountain.

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It snowed all night but the sun came out Monday morning.  We lasted about two hours until I realized that the deep powder and my sore knee were not a good match.  If I don’t rest it, I may not be able to enjoy skiing with our friends that arrive this weekend.

We drove to Estes Park on March 5 to visit with Mama and to help her with a few projects around the house.  They have also had quite a bit of snow in the past few weeks.  There was a lot of snow to be shoveled around the property as well as on the top deck.   Mama was happy to have the company and we were glad to be able to help out.  Mama was sharing old photos with us, and I just had to post this one.  Papa was a very handsome man in his day, and there is something special about the old black and white photos that were slightly color enhanced.

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The following day was Papa’s birthday.  We went out to lunch in his honor, and we even shared a piece of his favorite cake, chocolate-chocolate.  Ok, so I ate most of it only because Scott and Mama didn’t want much.  On our way out, we drove to the trailhead for Long’s Peak, where we got married back on 7/7/14.  Maybe we will hike it again on our 10th anniversary.

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The snow has not let up much.  On Thursday, March 7, we awoke to yet more snow.  This is a peek from our RV door.   You can see the height of the snow on the roof of our shed, and the pile up of shoveled snow separating us from our neighbor, Steve.

 

I took the following video Thursday morning as the snow started to fall again.

 

Breckenridge Ski Resort reported a total of 30” over the last two days.  There were several avalanches on I-70 and Hwy 91.  Fortunately, no one has been injured but the avalanche warning is at High/Extreme.  Parts of I-70 were closed until they cleaned up the mess.  Loveland Pass as well as Hoosier Pass were both closed for safety reasons.  A-Basin Ski Mountain was closed for two days due to “too much snow” coupled with the danger of avalanches.  I can’t believe that we are NOT skiing!  I have to rest my knee if I want to ski with our friends next week, our last week in Breck.  It snowed all day Thursday, and we woke up Friday morning to another 13”.

Friday morning, the sun decided to come out and melt some of the snow away (ha-ha, not very much).  Scott finally had the chance to work on the truck.  He wanted to make a sliding storage drawer in the bed just like he had made in the Tacoma.  Here he is at the beginning of his project.

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About an hour later, it looked like this.

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Then, you will never guess what happened.  It started to snow.  The forecast was for rain to begin around 1:00 p.m. and change over to snow by 4:00 p.m.  We never did get any rain.  It started as a wet snow.  This project was put on hold until warmer, dryer weather returns. The snow bank in our driveway is now taller than 5’4” me.

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That evening we headed over to The Brown and Fox’s Den to see Terry and Art’s son, Matt, play the bass with his band, Tula.  I can’t remember when I went out at 9:30 p.m. to see a band start playing at 10:15 p.m.  We didn’t leave until after midnight, well past our bedtime.

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In the video below, Matt is in the center with the white guitar.  Check out the guy dancing in front of my camera at the end of the video.  LOL

 

On Saturday, the sun came out again and Scott was able to just about finish his project on the truck.  When we get to a warmer climate, he will add dividers to the drawer to tidy up the storage area.  For now, he will just load our supplies in as neatly as he can.

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We were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our friends, Brendan and Denise, for a week of skiing.  It is hard to believe that today is the start of our last week here in Breck.  They got in late afternoon, and we joined them at Terry and Art’s condo for dinner.  After Scott shoveled out the back deck, Brendan took his post at the grill.

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It wasn’t long before another friend came along to entertain us.

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Art and Terry were not skiing this trip so the next few days it was just Brendan, Denise, Scott and I out on the slopes.  We had a mixture of weather conditions this week, including a “bomb cyclone” that hit the Denver area midweek.  Here are Denise and I just before we took the Imperial Chair up to the summit.  As you can see, it was snowing!

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Later that afternoon, we took the only group selfie.  It as pretty cold all day, and nobody really wanted to stop to take their camera out.  At this point, the sun had come out again but it was still pretty chilly.

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Overnight, another winter storm warning went into effect.  On our way to the mountain Wednesday morning, I snapped a picture of Hwy 9, which was snow covered.

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It snowed all day and all night.   Route 70 was closed at various locations due to avalanches.  Parts of Colorado experienced a bomb cyclone, a powerful late winter storm picking hurricane-force winds and blizzards.  We were very lucky to be near the Ski Resort and not have to worry about getting anywhere.  Friends and family members reached out to us to make sure that we were okay.  We really had no idea how serious the storm actually was.  We were just psyched to be getting some more powder!  The snow did come to an end after dumping another 14” on the mountain.  Apparently, Summit County got over six feet of snow since March began, and it is not over yet.

On Thursday, Scott decided to get some things done on the truck/trailer for our departure Friday morning.  So, it was just Brendan, Denise and I out on the slopes again.  After we finished skiing, Art and Terry picked the three of us up and we drove to Tiger Run so that they could see our home on wheels.   Scott had a busy day shoveling more snow off the top of the trailer.  Here is a view from that standpoint.

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Here are the girls trying to hide behind the unending snow piled up behind the trailer.

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Scott welcomed us all in for a little hot buttered rum and hot apple cider, which is incredibly warming  after a cold day on the slopes.

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Fortunately, Scott found six cups to share our hot beverage treat.  We were all able to fit inside and enjoy some hot toddies.

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Afterwards, we went back to Art and Terry’s condo for some hot tub relaxation and another delicious dinner.  It was too difficult to get everyone in a group shot, so we split up the boys and the girls.

 

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Given the cold weather and large amount of snow, Scott decided to extend our stay in Tiger Run one more day.  The forecast called for the sun to finally come out for a few days which would help melt some snow on the roads for our exit.

On Friday, March 15, Terry and Art had a flight out of Denver, and Brendan, Denise and I went for one last day of skiing in Breckenridge.  This was a bonus for me since we were supposed to be leaving this morning.  We had hoped to ski at some of the other Epic Pass resorts, but the weather this past week made it difficult given the crazy, snowy weather.  It didn’t matter because we LOVE Breckenridge!  We started on the Colorado Chair on Peak 8 and made our way to a spot where Scott and I had gone mountain biking last summer.  Here is a look at the two very different seasons.

 

Today we spent some time skiing on Peak 6.  It’s summit offers a different view of the majestic mountainside.  And, just look at that bluebird sky!  Most of this peak is exposed which makes it susceptible to high winds, and it is often closed.  We had one of the best runs of the entire week, but the freezing cold winds made us savor that one run and make our way onto another peak.

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Finally, the day had come for us to pack up and leave.  Although the sun was shining brightly this morning, we awoke to a temperature of zero degrees at 7:00 a.m.  It was two degrees by 8:30.  Time to break out the hairdryer to warm things up under the trailer.  All went well until we went to put the slide in.  I heard a terrible scraping noise, and Scott quickly told me to STOP!  This is what the top left of the slide looked like outside.  That baby was NOT sliding in.

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Of course, I started thinking that we would be stuck here in Breck since you cannot legally drive on the road with the slide sticking out.  Since we first got the trailer, Scott noticed a small crack beginning to form just underneath the lower right side of the slide.  He said that the crack has gradually been expanding.

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Scott was able to get the slide in and a maintenance check is in our future.  I must say that we did pretty good having spent 30 days and nights in below freezing, single digit temperatures most evenings.  Take the very cold weather, coupled with over six feet of snow in 2 weeks, I’d say that our winter ski bum excursion was a success!  The pictures below show our site on the day we arrived on February 13th compared to our last day on March 16th.  When we arrived, there was a few feet of snow and even more by the time we left.

 

 

 

Now we are heading south to warmer climate.  Goodbye, Tiger Run.  It’s been a great ride.

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