Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Through New Mexico

We're on a tight schedule now and moving quickly.  I have one more picture of the Rio Grande Gorge taken on our way out of Rio Grande Del Norte NM.  The river is much closer to the mesa top at this point.

We made quick overnight stops in Santa Fe, where we went to dinner with a couple of WIN friends, and Albuquerque, where we went to breakfast with friends of Ron's and bought gas for $1.99.  After driving right by the turn, we finally made it to Joe Skeen BLM campground on the east side of El Malpais NM.

When Ron broke out kippers for his lunch, I sent him out to the nice covered picnic table.  Phew!

The Sandstone Bluffs Overlook is pretty spectacular with views of the 3000-5000 year-old lava flow and cinder cones in the distance.

The bluffs

Ron the explorer.

360 degree view.

We also stopped to see La Ventana Natural Arch, billed as one of New Mexico's largest natural arches.  What does that mean?  What are the measurements?  It was pretty impressive though.

Tonight we're in Show Low, Arizona, parked in Ted and Mary Ellen's front yard.  We really enjoyed catching up with them and some other old friends in the area.  We'll be back home in Mesa tomorrow, so if you're throwing a party in our house, be sure to clean up before we arrive.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A New National Monument

On our way out of Colorado, we passed a sign warning of a horse crossing.  Really?  But to my surprise, there they were.

However, in reference to my title, Ron and I noticed a new national monument on the map and just had to see it.  Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico was established in 2013.  The 242,455 acre monument includes two BLM recreation areas, and sections of the Rio Grande and the Red River, each of which are designated as a Wild and Scenic River.

We stayed on the mesa between the two rivers.  There are several campgrounds on the rim, each with just a few really nice sites.  Here's our table.

And our view over the edge into the Rio Grande Gorge.

Oh, look, somebody left us a maze for entertainment.

The view out the front of the RV includes the mesa with mountains in the distance.  The Red River Gorge lies between.

What a beautiful spot!

The next day we hiked to the point of the mesa which overlooks the confluence of the two rivers.

Although it's hard to see even with a zoomed view, the Red River comes in on the lower left to join the Rio Grande on the right.

There are three different trails down to the river including one at this point.  Ron and I don't like hikes that end with a big uphill climb, especially at 7500 feet, so we didn't go down very far.

We also stopped at a couple of overlooks.  This one was on the Rio Grande side.

And this was the Red River side.

We were very impressed with this monument and plan to return another year.  The pictures certainly don't do it justice.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Our day had a promising beginning.  On our way south out of town, we had a lovely view of the mountains to the west.

We drove over Poncha Pass, hoping to see golden aspen trees.  But they were just pale green.

But I did notice some in the side mirror and quickly stuck the camera outside for a shot.

Throughout the rest of our trip, we battled strong winds out of the southwest.  When we arrived at Walmart in Alamosa, we were gobsmacked to see the solar panels had lifted themselves during the drive.

Ron had invented the system to enable the panels to be lifted from the ground, but it was not supposed to do it on its own.  Yikes!

One piece of the aluminum framework had bent and it took both of us to bend it back.  Ron temporarily tied it down with wire and will work on it in Mesa this winter.

For those incredibly handy people out there who are wondering about this system, he used pneumatic struts to raise it and gate latches to lock it down.  Here's a picture of the aluminum framework without the panels.  He still can't understand how the gate latch came open.

(That's our neighbor's house with the rooftop solar, not ours.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Sassy Salida

Okay, I was just looking for an alliteration for the title.  As I've said many times before, I love Salida. Downtown is a fun and active place.

And the beautiful Arkansas River provides entertainment for rafting and kayaking.

But what I like best is how the town is surrounded by mountains with numerous trails.  Although we stick with hiking, many of the trails allow biking, horseback riding, and dirt bikes.

Having said that, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that we only did one hike in the week we were there. Maybe we were just worn out from all those family activities.

We hiked a loop of the Methodist Mountain trail system with Jim and Gayle who were parked on BLM land west of town.  If you read their blog, you know their hiking is way out of our league, but hopefully our scintillating company made up for the lack of distance.  

Cool view, huh?

We rewarded ourselves with lunch at Amicas, a very popular micro brewery with excellent pizza.  Ron and I also had root beer floats.  Yum!

Salida hosts many festivals and special events including the Fabric Festival that was being held while we were in town.  The entire process was represented from finished items,

To skeins of yarns in numerous colors,

And even the raw materials to spin your own.  It doesn't get any rawer than this.

I just kept thinking that my cousin Terry would love it.

On our last day in town, we caught up with friends of Ron's who had just returned from a trip.  Russ and Linda have a gorgeous house in Salida with the most beautiful yard.  

Even a waterfall.

They're very happy living in my perfect town.

BTW, they told us that Amicas used to be a mortuary and the brewing area was the embalming room.  LOL

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Leaving Denver

We decided to take scenic US 285 out of Denver this year.  It's one of my favorite drives over the Rockies.  I have a lot of pictures out the windows.  Luckily Ron had just cleaned the windshield.

It's a steady climb beginning with the foothills.

We followed the North Fork of the South Platte River  (now, that's a confusing name.)

And went over a couple of passes.

After the second pass, the road takes you 'down' to 9500 feet and into South Park. Surrounded by mountains, South Park is a 1000 square-mile grassland basin.  It just strikes me as very unusual.

We stopped for the night in a lovely pull-off about 1/4 mile off the road.

The next day we continued on US 285 over a lower pass

And down into the Arkansas River Valley (in the distance.)

We settled for several days in Salida, one of my favorite towns, at 7000 feet.  We usually stay on BLM land in the hills to the west of town, but this time we joined Nancy, Randy, and Jeanne in the free BLM campground just east of town.  (Sorry, no pictures of them, but you can link to their blogs.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


After posting about our stay in the Denver area, I thought of a few more things to share.  First of all, lest you think we totally ignored the two older grandchildren, we also spent some time with them.

Adam is a junior in high school and plays on the varsity soccer team.   We attended two of his games while we were there,  It's so interesting to see how the boys have improved over the years.  It seems like just yesterday when they were randomly kicking the ball all over the field.  Now they have controlled passes and goals that are the result of planning instead of just luck.  Adam also has his own lawn cutting business and works hard to earn spending money which is even more important now that he's driving.

We also got to watch one of Shannon's gymnastics practices.  I am always amazed by her ability, especially since I could never do any of that.  She seems to be a natural and makes it look so easy.  At 13, she hasn't gone through her growth spurt yet and I wonder if that will make it more difficult for her.  She's also into volleyball, but we didn't get to see that.

When we moved into our space at Bear Creek Lake Park, Ron immediately went to work.  He noticed a tree sprouting and, noting the lack of trees in the campground, decided to help it along.  He erected a stake to keep the groundskeepers from running over it and asked future campers to water it.

As he was digging the hole for the post, the campground host came by.  I wondered if he would be upset, but seemed fine with what Ron was doing.  We'll see how the tree fares the next time we stay there.

And we had an adventure with the photo booth at the wedding reception.  I  had never seen that before but the guests were encouraged to utilize it and make a memory page for the bride and groom.  Ron and I were just totally lost which resulted in this mess.

In our defense, you had to look up at the camera while the computer screen below did a countdown.  How is that possible?  However all the other photo strips that we saw were perfect, so obviously we are just hopeless.  (BTW, we didn't purposely duck out of the last one.  We really thought it had taken all four.)

Everybody knows that kids say the cutest things, so I have one story to share about Harper.  At 3 1/2, he had his first half-day at pre-school while we were there, so I asked him what he had learned.  I expected a quiet "Nothing" or "I don't know."  But Harper surprised me by stating very definitely, "I have NO idea!"

Monday, September 7, 2015

Family Time

For the past eight days, we've been in the Denver area spending time with Ron's family.  Most of the time we stayed in Bear Creek Lake Park, a lovely place with widely-spaced, electric sites for $20 a night ($19 for us old people.)  In true Colorado fashion, the clouds rolled in most afternoons.

We timed our visit to coincide with three major events.  The first was Ron's youngest granddaughter's first birthday.  Elsie was pretty good at opening our present, but big brother Harper was happy to give his expert help.

She seemed to immediately love her princess car, but she wasn't too sure about me.

Later the same day, Harper brought out his car which Ron gave him 2 1/2 years ago for his first birthday and he and Elsie rode together.  Too cute.

The second event was a wedding - one of Ron's grandnieces Amber.  Here's some of Ron's family in the lobby of the reception location.

In the back row are son-in-law Tom, daughter Kim, grandson Adam (who shot up about nine inches since a year ago), son Jim, Ron, and me, with sweet granddaughter Shannon in the front.

Although Elsie stayed home with a babysitter, Harper attended with his mom and dad, Kelli and Sean.

Harper was such a good boy during the Catholic Mass and ceremony.  His parents were very proud of him.

The ceremony and reception were lovely.  Amber and Drayton are a perfect match in so many ways.

Interesting fact - The happy couple met when they became ballroom dance partners and were Teenage World Ballroom Dance Champions.  As you can imagine, we were treated to the best 'first dance' ever!

The final event was little Elsie's blowout birthday party, a few days after her actual birthday.  She's getting four teeth all at once and wasn't as friendly as I understand she normally is.

Here she is in her party duds, still giving me that look.

She was pretty happy as long as Mommy or Daddy were near.

Princess Elsie wasn't too happy about that party hat.  Look at the fabulous cupcake dress that Auntie Kim and cousin Shannon made for her.

Did somebody say 'cake'?

It looks like both Harper and Elsie are anticipating something tasty.

Harper really is a good big brother.  Here he was giving her a kiss, although she looks unsure of his intentions.

Harper and his friend Logan were very helpful opening Elsie's presents.

After Harper and Logan bashed the heck out of the pinata, it was discovered that the kids just had to pull those ribbons and the bottom came open.

One last picture of some of Ron's family - daughter Kelli (holding granddog Lucy,) son Jim, Ron, son-in-law Sean holding granddaughter Elsie, and, of course, grandson Harper in front.

We've had a wonderful time here.  In fact, it seems strange to be leaving tomorrow.  We'll certainly miss them all.