Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cochiti Lake Campground, New Mexico



We are spending the week at Cochiti Lake COE Campground, about 30 miles from Santa Fe and 45 miles from Albuquerque. We found a nice site high on a hill in the Juniper Loop, which has electric for $10/night with the Senior Pass.

Our view.


Cochiti Lake


We spent all day yesterday in Albuquerque car shopping and I think we have decided go with a 2011 AWD Subaru Forester, with only 14,000 miles. It was funny in that we tried to deal on 3 different vehicles and all 3 salesmen let us walk. Made for easy decision making on our part. We really did like the ‘11 Forester best of all and even went back late yesterday afternoon to talk to them once more, but they said they were at their rock bottom low price. So I think Jim has decided to go back tomorrow and ask if they would throw in a few things like floor mats, mudguards, etc, and we will be happy with the deal. I know Box Canyon Mark thinks we need a 4 wheel drive, but they weigh more than we want to tow, and I hate riding on roads where you NEED 4 wheel drive, anyway.

Now we have to get the SMI brake system off the car, get it installed on the new vehicle, and get a base plate mounted so we can tow it. Hope we can get all this done within the next week.

When we got home last evening we took a walk around the park although the threat of thunderstorms was looming over us. It made for a beautiful sunset and moonrise. And even a partial rainbow.





Today we had to clear our heads from a day of car dealing, so we went for a hike. We just keep finding more places in New Mexico to wow us, but I’ll save that for next time….

Friday, September 28, 2012

Buffalo Thunder Casino, Santa Fe, NM



We’ve spent the past 2 nights in the RV parking lot at Buffalo Thunder Casino, 14 miles north of Santa Fe. The lot is adjacent to the golf course behind the casino and Hilton Hotel, so it’s well off the highway and very quiet. The only problem is it’s pretty sloped, so getting level was a bit tricky.

We were really impressed with the lobby and hallways of the hotel, which display local Native American artwork: pottery, paintings and sculptures. It’s like being in an art museum and very tastefully done.

Our first night here, we went into Santa Fe to have dinner with Bernie and Martha, another Lazy Daze couple we met when we were here 2 years ago. They just moved into an apartment downtown, so we parked in their lot and walked the 3 blocks to the Plaza for dinner at the Marble Brewery Tap Room/Rooftop Pizza. It was a very enjoyable evening.

Yesterday we went back to town for some shopping and a haircut. Later we took a walk on the 2.5 mile paved walking loop that skirts the north side of the golf course. They have quite a nice piece of property.



Today we moved on to Cochiti Lake. We could barely get an internet connection yesterday, so Jim spent the morning on the phone with Millenicom trying to figure out the problem. They determined it had to be a problem with the data card, so they were going to send us a new one. Now that we’re at Cochiti Lake, we have the fastest connection we’ve had in a long time, so he called and told them to hold off sending a new one for now. It’s all a big mystery to me.

Jim has us lined up to go to Albuquerque tomorrow to look at a couple of vehicles. We would love to find something with higher clearance before we get to Big Bend in October. I truly hate car shopping. Well, not the actual shopping itself but  the negotiating part, and I know I’m not the only one.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Last Days at Wild Rivers



Mother Nature put on quite a show for us the past couple days. We experienced a mixture of blue sky, dark clouds, thunder, impressive lightning, gusty winds, rain, hail, fog, 3 different rainbows, 2 of which were double, and a dusting of snow on the nearby mountains. The rim of the Rio Grande Gorge was a great vantage point to watch the changing weather.

In between we managed to take another hike down to the rocky Rio Grande.




One last bike ride, dodging the migrating tarantulas all over the road.


Ominous looking clouds with just enough sun shining through. Does seeing two double rainbows in two days bring good luck?



This is a beautiful place.



One thing I failed to mention. We do have an internet connection here but it is very slow. It took over 30 minutes to post this, due to the photos, of course, but at  times we have barely been able to read our email. We’re not complaining, though.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Down Into the Gorge and Up Into the Aspens



We did end up changing sites, and are now sitting on the edge of the Rio Grande Gorge. Our endless backyard.



We hiked La Junta trail 1.2 miles down to the confluence of the Red River and the Rio Grande. To avoid the heat of the sun we didn’t go until 5 so the lighting wasn’t the greatest for pictures. From the switchbacks we could see the confluence with the trail running in between.



There is a walk-in campsite on each river, with a covered picnic shelter and table, and even an outhouse. What a great spot to spend the night, being lulled to sleep by the sound of rushing water.



At the confluence we climbed down some rocks to get to the water. Here is the photographer before he put the camera back in his pocket and proceeded to slip off the rocks. He only went in up to his knees, but as I looked over I saw his sunglasses fall off into the river. Amazingly he blindly felt around and managed to retrieve them intact without even a scratch. Good thing it was shallow right there.


And here he is a few minutes later wringing out his socks before the trudge back up.


Besides the steep switchbacks, there are several flights of stairs thrown in for fun. It was a good hike.


At our first site here in Wild Rivers, we had a view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where we could see the yellows and golds of the aspens at the higher elevations. I asked the camp hosts if there was an easy way to get there, and they told us about Cabreto Canyon Rd, or Forest Service Rd 134, which would take us to Midnight Meadow, at 10,500’, right up into the aspens. They are rebuilding the dam at Cabreto Lake, so they told us Sunday would be a good day to drive up there to avoid the construction traffic. About 10 or 12 miles of road would be dirt, but they thought a car could make it fine.

They were right, it was passable in Debbie’s Scion, but she had to be careful in places where rocks had slid down the mountain onto the road. This boulder was the worst.


Both times we’ve been to Colorado, we left the state just before the leaves really began to turn, so we were happy to be able to see the fall colors in New Mexico. It was a lovely drive.



At Midnight Meadows the road becomes a single lane and much rougher so we decided to stop for a hike before turning around. There was supposed to be a hiking trail which we were unable to locate, so we just walked up the 4WD road. It was cool and breezy and we soaked in the colors and sounds of the leaves rustling. That was in between huffing and puffing our way up higher and higher.


On the way back we stopped to check out these extreme homes we spotted along the creek.


The sign says Welcome To Casa De Cajones. Cute.


And this caboose is right next door. Would love to see what they look like inside.


Debbie has been bringing Elliot along and he’s become a really good hiker, but that fresh air sure does make a boy tired.


We’ll be here a couple more days and then plan to stop in Santa Fe. Trader Joe’s and Rooftop Pizzeria are calling us…

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wild Rivers Recreation Area, Questa, NM



While staying at Columbine Campground near Red River, NM in June, we took a day trip to Wild Rivers Recreation Area. We had planned on staying here, but it was close to 90 degrees and the biting no-see-um bugs were out in force. We decided to stop on our way back through New Mexico, a wise decision. September is a much better time to be here. We’ve had sunny skies, upper 70’s for the highs and mid 40’s for the lows the past 2 days.

This is BLM land, with 5 very small campgrounds (only 22 sites total) and we are in Little Arsenic. Maybe half the sites are suitable for RVs. The BLM website doesn’t give a length limit, but the spot we are in could easily hold a 40’ rig, but most are shorter. Each campground has a couple sites right on the rim of either the Rio Grande or Red River gorges, in fact Debbie is in one of them, but the other was taken so we opted for a view of the mountains. We may move to the other rim site tomorrow when the people there leave, but we have such a nice private spot we might just stay put.

We love being back in wide open spaces with low vegetation.



We are paying $3.50/night with the senior pass. No hookups, of course, but there is a water spigot by the outhouse and trash dumpsters. This is another very remote area, 15 miles from Questa, but believe me, there is no reason to go there unless you desperately need to shop at Family Dollar. For anything else, Taos is “only” about a 40 mile drive.

This is another great place for biking. Yesterday we rode 13 miles around the park on the paved road and on part of the 6 mile gravel/dirt loop trail that connects all the campgrounds. We only saw a few cars and one other cyclist.


We stopped to look over the rim at the Rio Grande, 800’ down the gorge. Quite impressive.




There are 22 miles of trails, which ought to keep us busy. We plan to hike down to the river today. And if you’re into backpacking, you can also camp down there.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

We Haven’t Seen Any Herons



But we’ve seen plenty of deer, some turkeys, and a bird tree here at Heron Lake State Park.


Probably ravens, but without binoculars it was hard to see what they were. We’ve passed by here several times on our bikes and they are always in that same tree.


The nice thing about this place is it is very remote, so there isn’t much reason to go anywhere outside of the park, except for the 17 mile trip to Chama for groceries and laundry.

There are about 15 miles of trails, which can be accessed right from the campgrounds, and miles of road to ride bikes. We’ve taken a couple 12-15 mile rides and were only passed by a few cars. The last time we rode our bikes was in July in Ouray, so this has been a nice change from hiking. And the scenery is lovely.



A couple of other fulltime Lazy Daze people are here. We met Andrea at Rockhound State Park in Deming, NM back in the spring. She is working her way to the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque like we are. She listened to a singer/songwriter, Jim Harlan, Saturday afternoon at a local coffee shop, who happened to be camped here at Heron Lake. He offered to play a little music at his campsite Saturday night so I went over to listen. The sky was clear and full of stars, a perfect evening to sit around a fire and listen to acoustic guitar and vocals.

Also here is Ken, who started fulltiming in the fall of 2008 like we did. He is a great photographer, and also has a blog, These Are The Voyages,  where you can see his photos. Unfortunately because of Blogger’s way of compressing photos, his images look so much better when you see them on his computer. He got Jim all fired up about getting a better camera one of these days.

Of course we have also done some hiking, to the lake from our site, along the trails from the campground, and yesterday Ken took us on a hike up a hill for some views above the Rio Chama.





We’ve also managed to do some serious cleaning and rearranging of cabinets inside the RV, and cleaned the car both inside and out. After our summer in Colorado we are seriously looking at trading in the car for a higher clearance vehicle. Since we’ll be near Taos/Santa Fe/Albuquerque for the next new weeks, we decided to get the car looking half way decent in case we find something there and want to work out a trade. Other than all the rock chips from being towed, we were surprised at how good the car actually looks when you wash and polish it!