"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Girls Day Santa Fe

Mission Church Pecos National Historic park
Tuesday I headed up to Santa Fe for a girls day. I met with Trudy, her mother-in-law Janet and two sisters-in law, Denise and Sue at the Plaza. They had been shopping for a couple hours already and had a few cool finds. I love to browse and look but living in a small space makes you really think through any purchase and I didn’t find anything I couldn’t live without. I love the looking and I really appreciate great art work and there is plenty of it in Santa Fe. We ate at a little restaurant there that I can’t remember the name of but I had a great soup and sandwich combo.
Me & Trudy!
After lunch they decided to check out a national park just east of Santa Fe on I-25 (it is actually I-25 North but the interstate takes an easterly jog here). The park is the Pecos National Historic Park. It was already 3 o’clock when we arrived so we didn’t have lots of time but there was a 1.25 mi. trail that took you around the Pecos ruins, just enough time for that. We watched the film at the visitors center that gave us an overview. It covered the ancient peoples that lived here, the Pecos Indians that eventually inhabited this area and what happened to the Indians once the Spanish arrived. There are the ruins of both the dwelling of the Indians, a couple kivas, and the church that was built here - twice. The original church was burned in an uprising and then rebuilt when the Spanish returned. You can see why this site was chosen by the Indians as it sits on a hill that makes it easy to see anyone coming from any direction. It also makes for a very scenic view. I enjoyed this hike and learning the history makes it even better. 
Trudy enters the Kiva

We headed back to Santa Fe and the loft condo Trudy and Sue had found for their visit. It was a very nice open loft with 2 queen beds and 3 futons so plenty of room. The guy they rented from had brought them enchiladas from Maria’s, a local restaurant. They had a couple the night before but there was plenty for dinner this evening. A decision was made to walk to Maria’s and have a margarita, go across the street to the Whole Foods Market for a couple of extras to go with the enchiladas. Maria’s was packed, no room at the bar but they said we could get a margarita and sit in their waiting area to drink them. After working our way to the bar and finally getting an order in, not an easy task we sat and enjoyed a fairly good margarita (my DH makes a better one). After that it was to the store and back to the condo. Those enchiladas were the best I have had out West so if you are ever in Santa Fe check out Maria’s but be warned they are spicy - spicy good! The rest of the evening was just girls talk and it was delightful. I have really missed Trudy and I love her family so this was a special treat.
View from top of trail

Happy Trails........

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


We have arrived and are just kickin' back. Would love to tell you all the wonderful things we've done but we really haven't done anything yet. I am headed up to Santa Fe without John today. My best friend Trudy is up there with her mother-in-law and sister-in-laws on a girls trip. John was invited too but he didn't feel right being the only guy on a girls only trip. I am looking forward to it. Will probably spend the night and come back tomorrow morning. Then we will do a couple things here in Albuquerque. 

Happy trails........

Saturday, March 26, 2011


When we first arrived in the desert we stayed at Brantley Lake, another of the NM State parks. It was there that John spotted his first roadrunner. I was inside the rig at the time,  wouldn’t you know. Well since then I have kept my eye out for a roadrunner and we haven’t seen one since until today. We were out walking the campground loop and I heard what sounded like a loud dove, not quite like a dove but very similar and I spotted a bird on top of a picnic table shelter. It certainly wasn’t a dove. The closer we got the more apparent it became that it was a roadrunner and the sound was definitely coming from him. Of course I didn’t have my camera but we still had another loop to do so I picked up the camera and crossed my fingers that he would still be there. Sure enough he was still hanging out on top of the shelter. I first took a photos from a ways out in case he took off and then just kept taking them as we got closer. I was surprised how close we got before he took off. The lens I have definitely helped in getting some fun photos.
We leave tomorrow morning so I wanted to get this posted. Two posts in one day, that is a record for me. Tomorrow will be a day off.
I posted the question from yesterday’s post on Facebook too. Here are a couple fun names of towns, Dahr NE and Toad Suck AR. I’m sure there are more out there, feel free to share.

Happy Trails........

Hawks, Hiking and Towns with Strange Names

Straight ahead is the campground

The wide open spaces
I love this park! I think it rates up there as one of my favorites from our year of full time RVing. Went for a long hike on Thursday. I took the trail I mentioned that we biked on and went out about a mile and a half. It was a great day, with a gentle breeze and not too hot. John was back at the trailer getting his workout in so I was off on my own. You can see forever on this trail and what is most impressive is there are no utility poles to break up your view. I took a couple photos of the trail for you to see.

On this walk and a couple others we had a chance to watch these hawks. We aren’t sure but it looks to be a Harris Hawk. Most of the time we have seen them in pairs which fits with this type since they are cooperative hunters. Not completely sure on the ID but never the less they are impressive to watch. We have hawks back in Iowa but most of the time I see them they are planted on a fence post or utility pole. These spent a lot of time soaring and we watched two that were on a hunt.
Yesterday was a grocery day so we headed to Wally world in Truth or Consequences. I chuckle whenever I hear the name of this town. A local church used the saying on their marquee on the way into town. It said “Tell the Truth or bear the Consequences”.  Some towns definitely have interesting names. In Iowa not far of I-80 is a town named What Cheer. I’m sure you have all passed by some towns with interesting names so what is your favorite?
We are headed north to Albuquerque tomorrow. The wind isn’t suppose to pick up until afternoon so we are going to try to get a fairly early start. That is not easy to do for old folks who have become use to sleeping in. I’ve never been a morning person so getting up for commitment is the only time I get up early. Uggh, I’ll have to hear that darned alarm clock tomorrow. This summer if I work in the clinic that alarm is going to be a rude awakening. I know, I can hear the violins playing a woeful tune in the background.
Happy Trails........

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Perfect Day

Another look at Elephant Butte, panorama created in Photoshop Elements
Yesterday was just about a perfect day. The winds died down to a calm. The temps were probably around 70. First we got on the bikes and road down to the boat ramp to check out the lake. There were about a dozen trucks with boat trailers parked. You could see quite a few people out fishing.  A great day to fish. Also a great day to bike. We took the road out to the entrance and then came back and as we entered the campground we found a trail we hadn’t noticed. It was kind of a packed dirt so we decided to ride on it. It stayed a packed surface for about 3/4 mile and then became a more graveled trail. We kept going for awhile but it was tricky. We have hybrid bikes so they are good on a packed surface but on the gravel you really needed a mountain bike.  Still we got in about 6 miles all together.  We haven’t been on our bikes as much as we should be so it is a delight to get back to that.
The middle of the day we simply sat outside enjoying the sun and warmth. John read and I worked on my cross stitch. It was so relaxing and with a view like we have sometimes I felt like I needed to pinch myself. Is this real, do we really get to do this? I told John this and he offered to pinch me. :)
As evening came on John noticed that the lake was now like glass. There was still time to take the kayak out. So we grabbed what we needed and headed to the boat ramp. Now there wasn’t a vehicle in sight and not a boat within view. It took us a little to remember how to get it inflated and ready but soon we were out on the lake. There are some ducks on the lake that are new to us I would have taken a photo but I forgot the dry bag so no camera. In a way that was ok because I just relaxed. We paddled for awhile and then just floated. The only thing you could hear were the birds, the water and the fish that were jumping. I think the fisherman went home too early as there were fish, big fish, jumping all over. It was wonderful.
Back at the trailer we had dinner and then topped off the evening with a fire. I checked with the campground host about fire restrictions. He said there weren’t any at the moment in the park. The winds were still very light so this might be our only opportunity and if you know me, you know I love a fire. There is just something primal and fascinating for me. I’m not sure I can even explain it. I told John today reminded me of the line from the movie “Groundhog Day” when Bill Murray’s character finally gets it right he says, “It’s the perfect ending to the perfect day”. That’s how I felt. Before we went in the trailer we stood and enjoyed gazing at the amazing night sky. Yea, just about a perfect day.
Followers John and Carol asked how I got the photo in the South Monticello Campground post across the top. I have worked with Photoshop Elements for a lot of years and one of the cool features it has is Photomerge Panorama. You open the photos you took in succession, in this case I took 6 photos to get the panorama, it automatically knits them together and then you crop it to the photo you want.  I took that and when I imported it to the blog I chose extra-large for the size. I was surprised it fit as nicely as it did. I am really enjoying doing the panoramas. I did one at Kolob Cayon in Zion National Park that also turned out well . If you need more detailed instruction feel free to email me. :)
Now a question. What would your perfect day be like?
Happy Trails...........

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Coronado's Treasure

Texas Canyon

One of the fun things about staying at the Diamond J in Tucson is getting to know Doc Justin (Neil Justin). The “Doc” is because he has PhDs in both Archeology and Biology, an interesting combination. He also was the head of one of the departments at Arizona University in Tucson. He is a true teacher and loves to share his knowledge with anyone and it is always interesting.

Those are some big rocks!
On one Saturday evening he hosted a bonfire for everyone. Sitting around the bonfire he shared with everyone the history of the Tucson area. When I say shared the history I mean going back millions of years. When he got to the exploration of the area by Coronado in the 1540s, he explained that they brought with them all sorts of armor and weaponry but as they crossed the desert they decided to leave these things behind. His theory is that they hid it expecting to return and pick it up. Well Coronado never did make it back through this area so the thought is that the “treasure” is still out there hidden away in the desert. Doc’s theory is that they hid it in Texas Canyon where there are lots of big rocks that could have been moved around to hide it. He has done lots of exploring that area and has yet to find the treasure but he still believes it is there. So if there are any treasure hunters out there just talk to Doc and he will give you his take on it.
Texas Canyon

As we were driving on !-10 to get to New Mexico you drive through Texas Canyon. In fact there is a rest stop there. We couldn’t resist so we stopped to take a couple photos of the rocks in this canyon. Yep, I can see that this would be a good hiding place. Treasure anyone?

I did want to answer a question Evelyn had on the New Mexico Parks that others might wonder about. The day use fees in both NM parks we have stayed in are waived if you are camping. We found that true at Roper Lake State park in Arizona. Also while in Nevada we went to Valley of Fire State Park we paid the day fee to get in but the guy at the gate said if you were camping they also waive the day use fee. I don't know about California as we were at a COE park there. Hope that helps.

Happy trails.........

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

South Monticello Campground

View from reserved loop at South Monticello campground, Elephant Butte State Park
Our site

The wind finally died down very early in the morning. Today was an absolutely beautiful day. We went for a good walk this morning and then while John was doing his resistance training I continued to walk and took photos of the campground (needed to wait my turn with the weights). We are at the South Monticello campground which is about 8 miles north of Elephant Butte. This was the campground that everyone we talked to recommended here at the park. The sites are large with good distance between them. Our site looks out toward the lake and is also right across from the shower house. When we don’t have full hook ups we tend to use the shower house at least part of the time. The shower house is clean and the showers are large. We talked about having a fire tonight but the winds kicked up again around 5 so not a wise thing to do. I did go out and check on fire restrictions and there didn’t seem to be any but wind like this is always a sign that we heed. 

The view from our patio
The weatherman just said tomorrow is suppose to be great with only light wind. If that turns out to be true we may take our Sea Eagle kayak out on the lake. I do really like being out in a park setting again. It is quiet and a beautiful setting. I especially love the New Mexico parks. This is our second one; we stayed at Brantley Lake on our way out west and it also is a great park. They are a true bargin too. They charge $14 a night for water and electric. Can’t beat that. So if you visit New Mexico I highly recommend these parks.

Happy Trails..........

Monday, March 21, 2011


Super Moon Friday night in Tucson

Well our time in Tucson finally came to a close. Not without some fun and good byes. On Thursday we took Bill and Charlene, who are staying in Desert Trails next door and are also Excel owners, to Tiny’s to introduce them to the steer burger. It happened to also be St. Paddy’s day and true to John’s Irish heritage we made sure we were in green. We had so much fun we came back to the trailer and brought out the lawn chairs to continue the fun. Bill and Charlene are from the Farmington NM area and were a great addition to our little Excel owners group. They will be in Tucson for awhile yet and we wish them well. They came back over Saturday evening to say goodbye. 
Thursday is also the day a dove decided she was going to nest on our hitch. When we noticed it we moved it before they had much done hoping they would nest elsewhere but that was not to be. Friday morning the nest was back and now there were eggs in the nest.  This made me sad because we knew we have to move it.  So Sunday we thought when we hitched up she would take off and we could move it but this momma dove  did not want to move. She stayed on that nest while we got everything ready, even when we raised the rig to meet the truck and still on it when we actually hitched up. John finally went and put gloves on and had to shoo her off the nest and move the nest or she would have been coming down the road with us. In retrospect we should have put something on the hitch so she couldn’t nest there.
Dove on our hitch

Once hitched up we said our goodbyes to Ralph and Cheryl and John and Terri. It certainly was fun staying somewhere with other Excel owners. We learned lots of things and made new friends that we hope to see down the road.
Sunday we took off for Elephant Butte State Park in New Mexico. We have heard very good things about this park and I was looking forward to getting back to a park vs RV resort atmosphere. The challenge was staying ahead of the wind they were predicting. We drove to Deming on Sunday, the wind was fine. There is a stretch on I-10 that they warn you about the dust storms and remind you not to stop in the lanes even if it is zero visibility. Not a problem on Sunday. Today we headed out by 9am (early for us) and only had to drive about 100 miles. The wind was not too bad until just after we arrived. As we were setting up you could tell the big wind had finally arrived. Got here and set up just in time. Now we are sitting inside and the winds are about 30-40mph. The trailer is really rocking. I think this is the strongest sustained winds we have been in. Good thing it is sunny; this would be bad with rain. Winds are supposed to die down this evening and then it still might be breezy but not like today. 
This is a beautiful park and our site is awesome. Nice view of the lake and it was a pull-thru so we didn’t even have to go through the backing up drill. Nice to be on the road again, but we did love our stay at Justin’s Diamond J in Tucson and would recommend it to anyone staying in Tucson. We will get some photos tomorrow after the wind calms down.

Happy Tails...............

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rillito Bike Trail

Ralph & Cheryl, John & Terri, Y & Rick,  John
I haven’t written much lately as we haven’t done much lately. I think we are resting up before we get on the move once again. Our plan is to leave this Sunday, however the wind may make us stay put an extra day. We have a stretch of I-10 to travel that is very susceptible to wind and dust and we want to travel safely so we will wait until this weekend to decide. We do have one of our Excel friends moving on tomorrow. Rick and Y are headed to Texas so tonight the Excel group met at Chillis’ for dinner to send them off. We wish them safe travels.
On Monday John and I dusted off the bikes and headed to one of the bike trails here in Tucson. We chose a parking area that was right across the street from a Trader Joe’s so we could double up with a grocery day. As you have all noticed the price of fuel has really jumped up in the last few weeks so we try to combine trips if we can. The last time we fueled up diesel was $3.45 a gallon. We paid over $200 and the tanks (we have 2) weren’t quite full. The best price we have seen this week is $3.85. Good thing we won’t need as much when we fill up prior to leaving.
Rillito River
The Rillito Bike Trail is about 11.5 miles long if it is completely open. We biked from Trader Joe’s to the east end of the trail which was about 5 miles so got in about a 10 mile ride. Since our behinds haven’t been on the bikes lately that was just enough without being too sore the next day. This is a very nice paved trail and you can tell it gets used a lot. It basically follows the Rillito River. Now for all our friends back in the Midwest I took a photo of the “river”. You can tell that water runs through here sometimes but it is completely dry now. Met a fellow who moved here from Minnesota that says he has been here when it floods. I’m sure he is right but it is kind of hard to picture right now.
I’ll leave you another spectacular sunset. They have been just amazing lately and now it is warm enough to just sit and watch the sun go down (don’t even need a jacket). The moon has been particularly bright lately too. Saturday night is suppose to be the full moon so I think I will set the tripod up with my long lens and see what kind of photos I can get.

Happy trails........................

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"New" friends

Cactus finch
Just a short post. Yesterday we drove to Casa Grande to meet a fellow blogger that I have been following for a while. They are parked in Goodyear AZ so this was an in the middle place to meet. I think for me one of the joys of this lifestyle are the people we meet. We meet plenty in the campgrounds and resorts we stay at but also those we have met online through blogs we sometimes get to meet face to face. In the title I put new in quotation marks because though this was our first meeting I felt like I knew Loralie and Lee before this through reading their blog. It makes it easy to sit and chat because we each have some knowledge of the others lives and RVing already makes for a common bond. 
This couple also live in an Excel and have the same floor plan as we do, even the same length so we talked a lot about the different rigs. We also found common ground through talking about our families. These are great people and we hope to see them again some day out on the road. 
If you ever find you are parked in the same area as we are or if you are still in a sticks and bricks in an area we are traveling to let us know, we'd love to meet you.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Desert sunset

Sunsets are often beautiful but we have really come to an appreciation of the desert sunsets here in the southwest. I think I will just let the photos speak for themselves.

Happy Trails........................................

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Planes, Planes, Planes

That is a lot of planes and it is a small sample of the Boneyard

I think the longer we stay in one place the lazier I have gotten about blogging. We have another couple weeks before we head out so don’t be surprised by the intermittent posts. We have been doing things and we we still have places to go and things to see here in Tucson.
A-10 taking off from the Air Force Base
Today I met Sandy(Mothership RV), a fellow blogger that I had noticed was staying in our park. She actually found us because of our flamingo. He does kind of stand out and he is on a stick. (he-he) It was nice to meet her and talk about this full timing lifestyle. We also talked about how nice it is to meet fellow bloggers face to face. Its like you already know each other a little and you know you have things in common, and you can stay in touch through the blogs.
Inside Hanger 3
Super Guppy, isn't that a strange design?
On Tuesday we headed to the Pima Air and Space Museum. All I can say is wow, I’ve never seen so many planes. The museum has planes from all eras and we went on a walking tour through Hangers 3 and 4 that houses the bombers. It was fascinating and our guide was very knowledgeable.  Then we headed to the Space hanger, that chronicles all our exploits in space, from the race to the moon to our exploration of our solar system. I think we both felt you could spend hours in this exhibit. We had to cut that short because we had signed up for a tour of the Boneyard. This is at the Davis Monthan Air Force Base that is just  across the street. This is a bus tour, you never get to exit the bus, but amazing to see. This is where planes are sent to be stored for future use or to be parted out. I don’t think I have ever seen so many planes. What was good to see is that even when planes are no longer flyable they are recycled. First all the useful parts are taken for repairs or sold to others who can use them and when they get all the parts out  they will salvage the metal. If you go the museum I think the Boneyard tour is definitely worth the price.
A Mig at the Museum
Today was a workout and then kick back day. John got all our tax stuff sent to our tax guy. He had been putting that off but felt good that it was finally done. Tomorrow we are headed to Sabino Canyon. I am looking forward to that.

Another view of the Boneyard

Happy trails........