Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Maiden Voyage

The account of flying to the Left Coast, picking up our new Lazy Daze and taking seven weeks to get her back to Alabama.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Our flight from Birmingham to Las Vegas was uneventful as was the car rental, but would not recommend a Dodge Charger. One of the reasons we flew to Las Vegas instead of Los Angeles was because it is a direct flight. The other reason was so we could have a good meal. We ate at Fellini’s (as always, delicious) and we were asleep at 7:00 PDT. We have been waking up around 4:30 – 5:00 at home and our bodies did not adjust to the time change so we were awake at 3:00. We got up and drove to Arizona Charlie’s for breakfast. I love having eggs, hash browns, sourdough toast, and grilled steak, cooked just right, for $2.99 The coffee was $3.50. We left for California at 6:30.

Thursday, September 13, 2007
We arrived at 10:15 for our 12:30 appointment. We wandered around looking at all the Lazy Dazes then went to a good Mexican Restaurant for lunch. After at 2½ hour walk thru, we then had to do the paperwork. Honestly, I signed more papers than when we bought our house. Then it was on to the hard work – unpacking the 12 boxes that we had shipped. I was told we had not shipped the most, but were in the top 1% - well you should be in the top 1% in something! That was WORK and it was hot! They close at 4:15, so we had to stop.

We checked in to our hotel, which as okay – 60’s California decor. There were no restaurants around that appealed to us, so we found La Cita that we had really enjoyed on our first trip. Dinner was excellent.

Friday, September 14, 2007
Once again we were awake at 4:00 and had to kill 3½ hours before the driver picked us up to continue unpacking. A couple from Indiana, Dan & Barbara, had decided to buy a LD and said they wanted one like ours, so I got to show it off. We were driven to Ehrenberg, AZ for official delivery, because we did not want to pay the 8½% California sales tax. Then it was time for us to take over, Koko is now ours. Don drove the first hour on a very nice straight two lane road. I drove the next hour on a hilly curvy two lane road. But now we both feel comfortable with her. It’s like driving the van, just longer and a little wider. We spent the first night at Blake Ranch RV Park in Kingman, AZ.

Saturday, September 15, 2007
We drove to Winslow, AZ to stay at Homolovi Ruins State Park in Winslow, AZ (thank you Terry and Betty) and try to continue to get organized. The 3 miles road into the park was a great road except for the trenches that are cut into the pavement about every 100 yards. They are about 6” across and 4” deep. Leaving the next morning, we thought we should see the Indian Ruins, but the trenches were worst, so we turned around and headed to New Mexico. We don’t know why they are there, but it certainly does reduce speed.

Sunday, September 16, 2007
This morning, we stopped at Painted Desert/Petrified Forest and spent about an hour. This is a “must do” on another trip and we will even stay at the Homolovi Ruins SP, especially since it’s the only campground around. We arrived at High Desert RV Park for installation of solar panels. We also will meet Frank with our Jeep, named Pelli, and get more boxes to unpack. A very special thanks to Frank for driving our Jeep to Albuquerque. We think we will be organized by the time we leave there Thursday. Dan & Rene Lindstrom were there ahead of us in their new Casita. They had a popup and we are both still marveling at stopping for the evening and there is no set up to do.

We are very pleased with Koko and feel at home, but we still have a lot to learn because it is so different than the Trail Manor. When we arrived the first night, we were tired and all we had to do was park, connect the water and electric. It’s not perfect, but nothing is, and I don’t think we could have bought anything else that we would like half as much.

Monday, September 17, 2007
We stayed around the campground organizing the LD this morning. Around 11:00 Frank Wolcott arrived with our Jeep, Pelli. What a wonderful friend he is, driving our Jeep from Birmingham to Albuquerque and he had a friend he got to visit also. We then went to Camping World to make an appointment to have the tow bar brackets installed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Mike (The RV Guy) and Lisa Sylvester arrived to start installation of the solar panels and Don worked some on the LD and I just sat and read all day. In the afternoon, we drove to Costco for a few things and then to Whole Foods where we bought some special treats, one was Roquefort cheese (thank you Monica and Chad). We are still organizing the LD. I had to take everything out of a couple of cabinets during the installation and that gave me a chance to redo them, so that really worked out well.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007
We arrived at Camping World at 8:00 and left the Jeep. Since we are still waking up so early, an 8:00 appointment was no problem. Mike & Lisa came back to install the surge guard and I did laundry and read. Then Don & Mike worked on getting the lights installed for towing.

Thursday, September 20, 2007
Some days you just get lucky and this was our lucky day. We hooked up the Jeep to the LD for our first towing experience. A man behind us had been watching the work for 2 days and came over and asked if we had ever towed a car before. We said no and he asked if we would mind if he could give us some suggestions. It was a great help and we really did appreciate it.

We drove to Manzano Mountain State Park without any problems. We are to visit Kate & Terry, LDer’s that we met on our Spring Catcus trip. They had saved a site for us. This is a wonderful campground, only 16 sites and then another 16 in the group area. We gave our second tour of Koko to Gary & Shelley, who are looking for a C Class RV. We have things organized and are really beginning to feel at home. Set up in the cg is so easy and we are extremely pleased.

Friday, September 21, 2007
We piddled and lazed around. This was our first off-day since we left. Nothing was scheduled, nothing that we had to do. We finally got a nap.

Saturday, September 22, 2007
We drove the Jeep up to the lookout on Capilla Peak. This was the first time we have the Jeep off road for any distance. Dorothy enjoyed driving on the rock and dirt road. The summit is 9,350, about 2,100 above the CG. The lookout affords a 360 view. The Forest Service has one of the preeminent CG’s we have seen on one shoulder of the peak. About 8 sites, and most have log ramadas on concrete pads that over look the valley below. Are you listening Terry? The road is “one lane”, so taking the wide LD on the road would not work if we met oncoming vehicle.

There are so many places we want to go in NM, I doubt we will be get to Utah this trip. That now seems to be over-reaching. One thing we like about NM is that there are fewer people.

Sunday, September 23, 2007
We drove south to see two of the Pueblo communities. At Gran Quivira, the hillside is covered in dwellings, mostly intact, except for the roofs. The women handled all the building. Guess they were pretty good masons. It’s the largest of the three Salinas Pueblos. They were setting up to have a wedding in the mission church, which is pretty cool. The brinks here are red. The other one, Quarai, is obviously smaller and the bricks are gray, but it is still a large and quite unique.

Monday, September 24, 2007
We broke camp and drove two hours north to Cochiti Lake. This is close to Tent Rocks and gives us easy access to Santa Fe. The price is right too, $6 including electric .One of the advantages of being 62+ is the “Golden Age” pass that allows you ½ off on all camping and free admittance to all National Parks.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007
We are enjoying NM. We have been here for 10 days and we may stay here until? We had said we would be back by Halloween, but for sure before Thanksgiving. We drove into Santa Fe this morning and got the lay of the city. I had not loaded Santa Fe maps into Glenda the GPS, so finding things was a problem I did not want to deal with. We looked at the art in the state capitol. Imagine a state building chock-a-block full of art. We had lunch at a local high rated Mexican restaurant. It was OK, but the margaritas were loaded with tequila. We got high on one. That ended touring. We stopped at Lowe's and walked around to sober up, before getting on I25 to come back to the CG.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Today we drove to see a local geologic formation known as Tent Rocks. I tripped over this place somewhere on the web this summer. A fellow had posted a picture of it, so I Googled the name and found the location. Coronado had a more difficult time, lacking the www. Tent Rocks has always been here, but only in 2000 did the BLM put up signage, build a trail, etc. Now, it quite popular being located near two cities.

We hiked the 3mile RT trail through a first-rate and accessible slot canyon, then up the hillside to a excellent overlook. Perhaps the pictures will give you an idea of the place.

We saw signage for Dixon’s Apple Farm, so we drove up the canyon to sample them. It’s three miles on a gravel road. We had not noticed much traffic, until we got on the gravel and over a dozen cars passed us coming out. The parking lot was full and folks were hauling apples out in wheel barrows about as fast as the trucks were bringing them in from the fields. We got bag of Champaign apples. About 50 for $14. They are tasty and we will be eating them for as long as they last.

Thursday, September 27, 2007
For years, people have asked us if we have been to Santa Fe. The answer was always, we tend to avoid cities. That answer still stands, but we have been to Santa Fe. It’s like New Orleans or Boston, confusing to get around and no on-street parking. Private lots get $20 a day. It is crammed with art galleries, selling attractive items for a king’s ransom.

We wanted to see Georgia O’Keefe’s exhibit. So does everyone else! The exhibit was disappointing to us, as they do have much of her work. We did enjoy the many quotes of hers that were painted on the walls and the documentary movie was interesting.

We had lunch at a trendy tapas place, La Boca. Then checked out two galleries Dorothy wanted to investigate. I felt very poor seeing the almost concealed price tags

Friday, September 28, 2007
We got off early for a change this morning, at 8. We were the first to the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks trailhead. We wanted to take the Cave loop that we did not feel like doing Wednesday. It is a smooth gravel trail that goes up a moderate grade. It got Dorothy huffing and puffing real quick. After the cave loop, we could not resist going back to the slot canyon. So we had a 2 mile RT hike. We then drove another 3 miles to a newly completed overlook dedicated to veterans, especially the local tribe of Cochiti Indians. The view was of another canyon of tent rocks, which look more like teepees to us. This may be one of our top five places to visit, definitely top ten.

We both like the “softness” of the landscape in central New Mexico. Utah is great, but there is an edge, a sharpness to the terrain. The weather here has been delightful. Low’s 60’s at 7am, warming quickly as the sun rises. We have had a nice breeze most of the time.

Saturday, September 29, 2007
Today has been maintenance day. Sometimes, you just have to do housekeeping. We have had delightful weather all week. Betty was finally able to connect with us on the phone this afternoon. They are over in Utah at Canyonland. She said it was blowing 50 there. About an hour later, the wind picked up here. Gusting to 30 I suspect. I don’t think we should take any more phone calls from them.

Sunday, September 30, 2007
Moving Day. We drove for almost two hours from Cochiti Lake around to the other side of the mountain. We are now in a picturesque red canyon, in a Forest Service CG, Vista Linda. We are about 5,700 feet so it will be a little cooler than at Cochiti Lake, but much warmer than at the Forest Service CG’s north of here in the mountains. It’s 5pm now and I am comfortable in shorts in the shade. Life is good!

Our site is next to the Jimez River, creek actually, but it babbles and makes the Cottonwood trees lush green. This is the sort of place we bought the LD for. It’s dry camping and we have sun to keep the batteries charged. The price? $5 and we have an asphalt pad.

We arrived before noon and the small CG had five sites open. The site we took is, to our way of thinking, the best one. For our Sunday drive, we took Highway 4 into Los Alamos and when we got back, we found there are only four others in the CG. Looks like it will be a good week.

Monday, October 01, 2007
We drove up to see Fenton Lake SP. Not much to see there. We were sleepy when we got back after lunch and took a nap. By then it was really overcast so we rear, then started to drizzle and we watched some TV. We had never seen HD TV before. It’s great and the range is further than an analog signal.

We are the only ones left in the CG.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007
We drove the 50-minute mountain road to Los Alamos to see the Bradbury Science Museum. It’s free. Well actually it is done by USC which has held the contract for Los Alamos since day 1. So thanks to all the tax payers for our free visit. It was worth it. Even Dorothy enjoyed it and I had no clue she was into physics.

On the way back to the CG, we detoured to Bandolier NM. It’s OK, but we are both up to our necks in native culture. I mean how many ruins can you see and still get excited? It’s like driving the through the berbs looking at houses. There are ruins all over the southwest.

Four other rigs came in while we were gone, but we are in the back by ourselves.

Tilapia sandwiches tonight.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007
This morning we drove down Hwy 485 to a rock canyon with stone tunnels. If you can’t tell, we love canyons. This was quite scenic, high cliff walls and a babbling stream. While at one pull off we chatted with a Marine father/Air Force son, who were spending the day together on their Harleys. Son graduates from ROTC soon and then leaves as a second Lieutenant for pilot training.

We left there and then drove back up Hwy 4 once again, and hiked the East Fork trail. It was a mostly level easy walking except we had to ford the stream on stepping stones., 3 easy bridges, then a tree over the stream that had been flatten on the top and had a hand rail, one-fourth of which was extremely rickety. After about a mile we turned around because the next crossing was a log that had no safety features. If I had the agility and dexterity of Patrick Swayze and Linda Gray in “Dirty Dancing”, I would have attempted it. But, I decided that I could break bones by falling, which I felt sure that I would do. But, it was a good two mile hike and we needed the exercise.

The two solar panels fully recharge our batteries in 4 hours of sun. The sun does not get into this canyon until after 10 and the batteries are charged before 2.

Thursday, October 04, 2007
Today is moving day and we moved to Riana Campground on Lake Abiquiu. It’s a Corps of Engineer lake and they are usually pretty good. This one is no exception. The sites are level and well spaced so you don’t see anyone else from your site. We have a picturesque view of the lake and the surrounding red rock hills.

We needed some milk so we drove eight miles south to the Village of Abiquiu. It was established in 1730 We saw a sign pointed to the library, so up the dirt road we go to a plaza that consists of a mission, artist studios, a bona fide bar, a several houses (one of which was the home of Georgia O’Keefe from 1949 until her death), and the library. Imagine our surprise to find wi-fi with excellent speed.

Friday, October 05, 2007
We decided to sightsee and scout other places to stay. We drove north toward Chama and stopped at El Vado Lake State Park and Herron Lake State Park. It is getting late in the year for campers because the CGs were just about empty. We won’t have trouble finding a good campsite. Since we were only a few miles from Chama, we decided to visit there. We had such good memories from our visit in 1994. The town hasn’t changed too much, but there are three large realty offices now and our favorite restaurant, Viva Vera’s, closed last year.

Saturday, October 06, 2007
What a great day! We paddled about three miles and the weather was perfect. It felt good to be back in the kayak. Later in the afternoon, we went to Espanola where they have a Wal-Mart. (For those of you that don’t camp, shopping at Wal-Mart is a “must do” about every 10 days!). We’re not sure where we are going next, but know that it won’t be in a large town, so we needed to stock up on supplies. With the new rig, I sometimes get carried away and buy too much, but luckily, we do have enough storage for everything.

We left Espanola in a pleasant temperature for the 30-odd mile drive back to the CG. After a few miles, the wind was really buffeting the Jeep. When we opened the Jeep door, the air was damn cold and we were in shorts. I changed clothes before hauling the grocery sacks into LD.

There are wind warnings on the lake tonight and it is blowing like stink (sailing term). I am so thankful that we aren’t in the popup!

Sunday, October 07, 2007
The wind laid down during the night, but the 7am temperature is 37. That is 10 degrees below our previous morning low two weeks ago. We are going to get a weather report before we go north and up another thousand feet.

We met our neighbors, Ted & Jamie from NE Georgia and enjoyed sitting around the campfire chatting with them – really good people and we invited them over for cocktails that afternoon. They are leaving Monday morning.

After lunch we headed for the Village to check emails and as we were driving out, a LD drove in. After weather report, we decided to spend Monday night here also and leave Tuesday when it starts warming up. As soon as we got back, we drove to their site to chat. They are Paul & Chris from Texas that fulltime.

At cocktail time, Ted, Jamie, Frank & Chris came over and we sat around our campfire and enjoyed visiting. We enjoyed showing off Koko and, of course, they were all impressed. Life in retirement is good.

Monday, October 08, 2007
We had a lazy morning. After it warmed up a bit we scoured the hillside for rocks. We found a few decent pieces of agate.

After lunch, we went down and visited with Frank & Chris in their 30 foot Lazy Daze. We came back and did a few chores, had dinner and went back to see Frank & Chris. Rough day!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007
The temperature is back in the comfortable range, short sleeves, so we drove north through the Rio Grande canyon to the Wild River NRA. The elevation is about 7,700. This is a fairly new facility and is BLM managed. There are four small CG’s here, all with fresh gravel and large Ramada’s. The views are good, nothing but horizon with pinion pines and junipers. To the east are the Sangre de Cristo mountains. We are the only ones here.

Our site, 26, is next to one of the trails to bottom of the river gorge. The Rio Bravo is on the east side of the mesa and the Rio Grande on the other side.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007
The day dawned sunny. The Woods left homeward bound at 9. The overcast came a few minutes later. There was light rain by 11. It amazes us the power they have over the weather. But, this time they are excused, as Terry found 12volts in the fuse panel, so now the toad brakes work again. Besides, most of the rain never made it to ground and the clouds were gone in an hour.

After lunch, we hiked into the gorge. About the half-way point, I decided we should abort and see if we could make it back up, the 300-odd nearly vertical feet. We were huffing and puffing shortly and took breaks every other switchback. There were 19 switchbacks. Darn glad we did not attempt the entire decent.

Thursday, October 11, 2007
We drove two hours north to the Great Sands Dunes NP in southern Colorado. The dunes are more magnificent than we recalled. The CG is one of the better to be found in national parks. It’s enchanting to me. The dunes for a vista and the numerous Pinyon Pines in the CG. We may have the largest and most scenic site. Large sites are scarce. We drove around both loops twice until we settled on the perfect one, #60.

Friday, October 12, 2007
We got off early and drove 90-odd miles west into the San Juan Mountains. I needed to get a bite of the big mountains. We went up Wolf Creek Pass and then took the dirt road to the top, 11,787 feet, at Lobo Overlook. The 360-degree view of the surrounding peaks was worth the drive. I am not sure, but this may be the highest we have driven – ever.

Saturday, October 13, 2007
We slept until 8! Then we lazed around and finally had breakfast. I drove the LD forward 50 feet to fill the fresh water tank so we could have showers. By 11:30 we got in the Jeep and drove the 4WD trail to the Point of No Return, where 4WD is required. We saw several 4WD vehicles parked there and no one around. Were they hiking, primitive camping or what? I decided we should walk the road to the Sand Pit and see what the road condition was like. After walking a half-mile we finally saw two 4WD and they went through the sand just fine, so we huffed and puffed back to the Point of No Return, dropped the air pressure to 18 pounds and drove about 5 miles through some deep and fine sand with no problems.

Sunday, October 14, 2007
Rain/snow was predicted and snow it did, I saw over two dozen flakes. We drove east and south to near Raton, NM to Sugarite Canyon SP. We had to cross a 9,400 foot pass on the way and that’s well over our limit to tow, so I drove the LD and Dorothy followed in the Jeep for about 20 miles. That was last high pass the LD will see this trip.

This is an OK CG, the fall foliage is still good and we are sure it was excellent two weeks back. There are still insolated groves of Aspens in near peak foliage. They are like light beacons.

Monday, October 15, 2007
It was nice to have electricity last night as it was near freezing. By noon, it was 62. We drove west to Cimarron Canyon, a treat for the eyes. We have pretty much covered the area north of Santa Fe, except for Vidal Valle. We saw a sign to it this morning.. It’s up a long dirt road on a high mesa. I think it would be a great place in the Summer. Next time.

Tomorrow, we are going to wash clothes and go to the library for wifi. Tuesday we are going to head home. It will take us about a week. We had thought about dropping down to I10 and stopping to see some friends and relatives, but we can not reach two of them and one will not be home. So we are going to go home on I20 this time. It means going through Dallas, but it will be a change from I40.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007
This was maintenance day. As we were getting ready to leave a couple in a beat up old car pulled in around 9:30 and they just didn’t seem like campers. We were a little concerned and so was another camper. We went to the Park Rangers office to voice our concerns, but we were told they were campers and that they would check on them. Turns out they were campers and all was well. Just goes to show that appearances aren’t everything. While I was doing laundry in Raton, Don went to an auto parts store to make a couple of purchases. Back at the camper (or home as we sometimes refer to it), we continued doing chores.

We looked in the Mobil Travel Book and decided to try a local restaurant, Pappas Sweet Shoppe Restaurant for dinner. We each had a 10 oz rib eye that was absolutely delicious and we ate every bite. We had a pleasant chat with the owner – we enjoy the local restaurants and avoid chains that you can get anywhere.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007
We are now officially headed home. After a five hour drive, we are at Lake Meredith NRA a little north of Amarillo, TX. The things we like about this campsite: sites are level, they sit on a bluff overlooking the lake and it’s free. The drawback is that there is a front moving through, so it’s blowing like stink. But, the temperature is delightful, we sat outside in short sleeves and had cocktails. Of course, we did have to fight the flies for the drinks, but we won. We also have cell phone coverage here and it’s been a long time since we have had coverage at our site.

We left Raton at over 6,000 feet and it’s all downhill from here. An hour after we left, the land became flat and we were down to about 3,500 feet.

Thursday, October 18, 2007
A two hour drive got us to Palo Duro Canyon just south of Amarillo. As canyons go, this is a good one. It is not as dramatic or deep as those found further west, but worth the visit. We could only stay one night as some big deal marathon had the place booked for the weekend.

Friday, October 19, 2007
A long six hour drive got us south of Abilene to Abilene SP. The destination had two goals, to get close to Perines Steak House and I20. Not many people would drive six hours to eat steak in Buffalo Gap, Texas, but we have.

We ate out last night at The BBQ Barn, one of those places found in small town Texas. All locals, hats nailed walls, pool table, low budget tables and decent BBQ, especially, the sausage. Dorothy was ravenous.

The temperature was hot when we arrived, so I put on shorts. After dinner, I planed to sit out and drink, but instead I turned on the TV and watched some mindless Friday TV and stayed sober.

Saturday, October 20, 2007
We shopped six stores in Abilene looking for things for Koko. We found a basket to hold napkins, plus a travel iron and a toaster. Personalizing Koko will have to wait.

For dinner, we went to Perines Steak House and had the 16 oz rib eye. It was good, but pricey. We shared their famous bread pudding for dessert, made with Jack Daniel’s sauce and pecans; it was very rich. Without drinks, the tab was $75.

Sunday, October 21, 2007
We drove 3.5 hours to outside of Ft. Worth. The winds were strong most of the day, so getting into a safe harbor was most welcome. We are at a COE CG, called Holiday Park on Lake Benbrook. A great facility and it’s only $10 a night. This will become a stop every time we use I20.

Monday, October 22, 2007
We tried to get a wire cable at Camping World, no joy. We did find a few useful things for Koko at The Container Store. The rain held off today, so we will continue east in the morning. A little over 12 hours driving time from here. We expect to be home Friday in four jumps, Shreveport, Vicksburg, Montgomery and then Golf Dr.

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