Archive for category New Mexico

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2015

ABQ

Beautiful start to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

The internationally known Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has wrapped up and what a spectacular event it was!

The Balloon Fiesta is a bucket list item for a lot of folks. It’s  one of the most “hands on” events there is as you can be right on the field with Darth Vader, The Bumble Bees and the crowd favorite, Spider Pig.
Have questions about ballooning? Just walk up and ask the crew how things work while they are airing up. Or better yet, volunteer on a balloon crew and get free entrance for the week and possibly get a balloon ride as a thanks. Stand in one place too long and your liable to be bumped in the behind by a rapidly expanding balloon preparing to launch. Hear the Zebra’s whistle as the balloons take flight right over your head…by the hundreds! (550 of them to be exact)
Our camp site was in the General campground just south of the launch field. It was dry camping so no hookups for $30/night. What you lack in amenities is made up by the close proximity to Balloon Fiesta Park.
While thousands of others sat in traffic for hours we walked to the field in 15 minutes flat, 5 minutes if you catch a shuttle right from the campground.
However, the biggest bonus was being woken up to the whoosh of balloons firing right about the RV…for two hours straight. RIGHT OVER OUR HEADS! If we didn’t feel like going to the field in the morning we just waited for our whoosh alarm clock, made tea and headed to the lawn chairs right from our campsite.
Landings in the campground happened pretty much every day, so be prepared to set your coffee down and jump up to help.
Though we went to the Dawn Patrol a couple of mornings our very favorite event was the Glowdeo where the Special Shapes balloons were ignited after dark. Nothing is more magical than walking around the field being surrounded by glowing balloons. It’s enough to make grown adults feel like kids again. There is so much laughter and smiles at this event…it’s the happiest place on earth (Sorry Disney World).
Want more info on the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta? Check out RV buddy WheelingIt who did an amazing 4 part recap of the event, including some gorgeous pictures!
While we were at the Balloon Fiesta we were a part of the newly formed Xscapers RV club.
RV club, Escapees, was originally created to provide encouragement and resources for full time RV’ers. But as the Escapees population has aged and retired a resource for a younger crowd was needed. Thus, Xscapers has been created in order to appeal to a bit younger crowd who are still working on the road.
ABQ

A small group of Xscapers sharing dinner our last night in town

Xscapers came into being just this year and the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta was our very first “Convergence”. A convergence is a rally of sorts, but without all the fan-fair and stringent structure. Since most people in the group are still working, Xscapers intentionally do not schedule seminars/workshops during working hours. There were a few activities and happy hours scheduled through the week but not until late afternoons after working hours.
Other activities and socials organically formed, creating plenty of opportunity to get to know our group better. Drive Dive Devour hosted an impromptu, “How to make pizza on your grill”, The Roaming Pint set up a teekee bar complete with gas fire pit. We invited others for a hike in the Sandia Mountains and there was a bike ride to a bike-up coffee bar.
We made lots of new like-minded friends that we hope we run in to on our travels down the road.
Well, that’s it from Albuquerque.
Next stop…Flagstaff!
ABQ

Heading down the road to Flag!

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The B-line to Albuquerque

ABQ

Sunset from the road heading west

We made a B-line to Albuquerque to take in the splendor of the Balloon Fiesta and IT IS SPECTACULAR!

From Dumas Texas we made a 2 hour drive to Ute Lake State Park to camp for two nights. This is a dry, barrow campground overlooking the very nice Ute Lake. Evidently this is a great spot for birders and fisherman alike. The lake is shallow with a lot of reeds and grasses along the banks. What is brown and desolate by day turns to an incredible glow of oranges, yellows, blues, purples and pinks when the sun hangs low.

The sites are packed gravel, super long and have great separation. Each site has a covered patio with picnic table, fire pit, grill and lots and lots of goat head stickers. Sam enthusiastically jumped out of the camper ready to explore his new surroundings and was stopped in his tracks with paws full of stickers.

If it were not for the goat heads we would have stayed a bit longer. But after two days we decided to move on.

Our next stop was just 20 miles down the road in the little town of Tucumcari, New Mexico. Tucumcari mountain is an isolated mountain in a sea of brown dessert that was a landmark back in the 1800s for those traveling west from Arkansas to California.

We camped at the nastalgic Cactus RV Park, one of those original destinations back in the hay day of Route 66.

Tucumcari New Mexico

Tucumcari Mountain…a landmark for wary travelers heading West

Tucumcari banks on those who follow old Route 66 as a bucket list travel trip. Though the town is a bit weathered and tired, The Cactus RV park had charm. On one side of the unimpressive office is a vintage looking “motel” face with the look of old New Mexico brick and stucco with a courtyard RV parking lot of crushed gravel.
The sites are maticulously groomed with lovely shade trees on some of the sites. Though the sites are fairly close together the trees offer defined seperation, giving the impression of space. And for $24/night (includes tax) for full hook ups, you can’t beat the price. Don’t come here looking for amenities because you will not find them.
From their website, “This is a BASIC OVERNIGHT PARK with 30/50 AMP, working WIFI and CABLE TV, and easy PULL-THROUGH spaces.  This is a SATELLITE FRIENDLY RV Park. We are mostly an adult RV Park.  We do not have a pool, playground, game room, laundry, showers, or restrooms.  To those people who expect too much, we say that, “you have the pockets of a pauper and the expectations of a prince.”‘
Would I stay here again? Absolutely! It’s convenient to Hwy 40, clean and quiet. What more could you ask for an overnight stay.
After two nights it was time to make our last push to Albuquerque, arriving two days before the big kick off, on a Thursday.
We pulled in around 1:30pm at the “General” campground just south of Balloon Fiesta Park. There was no traffic on the highway nor pulling into the campground. Lots of folks were here already, but most would be pulling in Friday afternoon.
This is dry camping, so be sure to have empty holding tanks and all the water you can carry. The General campground does have a third party provider who will pump your tanks for $25 and fill you water for $25 if you need it.
ABQ

Sandra’s Mountains from our ABQ campsite

This will be our first boondock camping with the new rig which meant Jeff had to get to work at connecting the new solar panels to the batteries. Before we left Arkansas we had just enough time to mount the panels on the roof and put the batteries in their assigned compartments. But we had no time to connect anything. And, our solar controller was on the slow boat from china…so we didn’t even have all the parts.
Fortunately for us Technomadia had an extra solar controller that they let us borrow until ours arrives here in ABQ. So up on the roof Jeff went to connect the panels to the combiner box with the help of our ABQ neighbor who is an electrician with some really nice tools.
As of day 5 with no hook ups we are generating power, still show 95% full on our water, 0% on our gray and 10% on our black.
Boon docking life is good!
ABQ

Be sure to check your shoes. You never know what you will find in the desert!

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On The Road Again

St. Louis

St. Louis Arch

We’ve spent the last two weeks traveling out west and back again.

Our trip started with driving to St. Louis to drop Sammy-do off at my Mom’s for a little paw sitting. Sam loves going to his grandma’s because the food scoop overflows, the squirrels are plentiful in a fenced in back yard and the cute factor gains a little extra loving. We hate traveling without him, but it’s comforting to know he is being super spoiled while we are gone.

While we were in St. Louis Jeff and I decided to try something new. We took a running tour of downtown. After 3 hours and 6 miles I learned things about St. Louis that I never knew. We went with St. Louis Running Tour, THE ONLY running tour in St. Louis. Our tour guide Joe showed us iconic buildings like Union Station, The Arch and Cardinal Stadium. Joe also gave the behind the scenes facts and sometimes seedy drama that unfolds during the development of the new frontier.

It is a run and it is a tour so there are lots of stops to talk with bursts of running to the next destination. Our longest stretch of running was no more that ¼ mile, so if you do this thinking you are going to get your 4-6 mile solid run in, you won’t.

We didn’t take the tour for the run, but to learn & see more about the city that I grew up around…while getting a little low-key exercise. Definitely a very fun morning with Joe!

Hardware Show

The super awesome CFX refrigerator/freezer by Dometic

That afternoon we flew off to Las Vegas for the National Hardware Show. Dometic had a huge display of their new portable refrigerator/freezers (CFX) that run off of 12V, 24V or 120 and their super insulated coolers. They are great for tailgating, RV’ing and boating. We have a CFX frig/freezer that is the best! You can set it to freeze or refrigerate anywhere from 50 degrees down to -8 degrees. That’s a lot of frozen solid ice cream…on 12volts of power no less! It makes up for the small refrigerators that RV’s typically have.

Las Vegas is an interesting town and one that neither of us is particularly comfortable in. I recharge in tranquility and nature. So when you go out for a run at 5AM and the street department is already at work with jack hammers and the all night partiers are just reaching their peak volume, my soul is just piled on with more noise that I went out to decompress from. Throw in a couple of propositions from some ladies of the night (Jeff) and we were ready to get rolling.

From Las Vegas we drove the Dometic RV back to Elkhart Indiana. We were going to hit the central, most direct route through Colorado, but with forecasted snow in the mountains we redirected to the southern route. Our first stop was in Flagstaff where we drove though sleet, snow and rain.

Saturday morning we woke to 1” of snow. The sun popped out and we decided to wash the Vegas grime off our running shoes with a trail run before hitting the road. We stayed at the Flagstaff KOA and they have access to trails right out the back gate. It was a stunning 5-mile run as the sun filtered through the snow-covered foliage. Now this is what I’m talking about! Running through the woods fully alive…nothing is better for the soul. I love this KOA for its convenience to town, trails right out back and very little road noise.

Our other stops

Albuquerque, New Mexico– Long push day to the KOA. Very nice park with level sites, good spacing but very close to the highway. I was able to get a 3.5-mile walk in just within the park by making 3 loops. It was a big RV park! We met a group of French Canadians who where traveling together. One of them had a Heartland Edge, similar to our Ironman Can we just sold. We are hoping to come back here in October for the Xscapers very first Convergence at the Balloon Fiesta.

Amarillo TX

Oasis RV Park just down the road from the Cadillac Ranch

Amarillo, Texas-Oasis RV Resort. This was a really nice RV park as well. Very level and spacious sites with weight room, hot tub and pool. We didn’t use any of the amenities and reviews are mixed on this RV Park as it relates to smell. There are a couple of VERY LARGE cow farms nearby. So the prevailing winds has a directed correlation to the type of experience you will have here.

Luckily the temps were cold and the wind was blowing from the North, so we had no issues of smell.

Tulsa, Oklahoma-Long push day to KOA at Will Rogers horse racing track. This is mostly grass covered RV parking. A lot of the sites were flooded with the recent rains, so we were upgraded to a raised gravel site that backed right up to the horse track. We arrived at 4pm so we were able to catch the last 3 horse races.

It was entertaining as the horses made their 90-second run (if that) around the track, then a water truck and 3 tractors made their way around grading the course with diligence and speed. Their job took about 15 minutes that was repeated after each 90 second run. We found it quite humorous and had more fun watching the tractors than we did the horses. I know…we are strange that way.

We went out for a run the next morning at 6AM to soothing country music over the loud speakers while the horse trainers were already out running the horses. We definitely felt like we were back in our part of the country where people wave as they drive by. If you are from the country you know the wave…one or two fingers just barely lifted off the steering wheel just to give you a friendly hello.

Tulsa OK

Horse Races at the Will Rogers Downs KOA Park

St. Louis, Missouri-Long push day to Mom’s house. We got to see our fur baby and stayed two nights so that Jeff could put in a solid workday that didn’t involve the swerving and jostling that comes with driving a can of marbles down the road at 70 mph. It was hard to leave Sam again especially when he was lying in front of doors, at our feet and around our shoes to ensure that he is not left behind. 😦

Elkhart, Indiana-Long push day to our final destination, MasterTech RV. They are doing the work on our personal RV project. The slide on the Dometic RV decided to stop working in Albuquerque so MasterTech is going to work on it for us. And they provide free parking with electric hookups.

It’s been a long trip with a few memorable moments. Now that we are here in Elkhart we get to check on the progress on our personal RV project over the weekend. The water damage on our roof was much more extensive than we originally thought…but everything is fixable.

More on our project in the next post. Until then…get out and play!

Elkhart, IN

The new rolling crib will be good as new…we hope!

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Back to the land of trees

Arkansas

Home Sweet Home..briefly

We made our way back to Arkansas for a quick stop over. After mid west temps in the teens we are giddy with the idea of finishing our winter in sun kissed Florida and the desert bliss of Arizona. Despite a week of cold temps this has been one of most enjoyable winters ever!

KOA Tucson AZ

Lazydays KOA, Tucson AZ

Our fast track from Quartzsite to Arkansas was a trip back to the land of trees with market stops (part of the job) at KOA’s along the way. Jeff and I are partial to wide open spaces and prefer camping in boondock obscurity. But when we are on a mission to get to one destination to another in lightening speed (over 2000 miles in 5 days) we usually do quick overnights at KOA’s.

KOA has had a bad wrap for a lot of years due to run down, cramped accommodations. Yet the organization is making a valiant effort to improve their image/brand. They have a ways to go, but two of our four stops were impressive enough to see that the brand renewal is gaining some traction.

Our first stop was the Tucson/Lazydays KOA. What a fabulous RV park! Clean spacious sites, an event center, pool & spa and sparkling laundry room. And even more thrilling was that Airstream was having their AlumaFiesta onsite while we were there.

A couple hundred shiny bullets both new & vintage were a sight to behold. And since Lazydays RV  had their ribbon cutting of their new Airstream showroom and gift shop, shopping for key chains, coffee mugs and 2015 models fresh off the runway were available for purchase.

Airstreamers are a loyal bunch. We were surprised by the number of folks who trade up or down frequently all the while never straying from their beloved brand.

I have to confess that we have heard from non-airstreamers that Airstream owners are clickish and a particular engineer type (don’t shoot the messenger…my dad was an engineer), but our experience in the desert of Borego Springs and at this event proved that they couldn’t be a more welcoming and warm bunch…just like the rest of us RV’ers.
And after invitations to tour several feet of sparkle and shimmer, we are finding ourselves drawn to the quality and modern design of Airstream. Could there be a silver bullet in our future? You will just have to wait and see. Who doesn’t like a little sparkle? 😉
We rolled down the road to KOA’s in Lordsburg, NM, then to Abilene,Tx where the accommodations were of the typical old school setup. Abilene being the nicer of the two. Then again, we drove 10 hours that day. A moldy foam cushion under a bridge would have sounded heavenly!
KOA Durant OK

Choctaw RV Park, Durant OK

Our last stop was in Durant, Oklahoma at the Choctaw Casino/KOA about 1 1/2 hour north of Dallas.  This KOA is owned by the Choctaw Indian Reservation with an associated Casino. It’s a newer campground with event center, pool, laundry AND the most beautiful bathrooms/shower facility we have ever seen. Charlie and his wife manage the place as if it were their own. They know their business and pride themselves on cleanliness and upkeep. The grounds are laid out around a pond with each site being nicely spaced, level, paved with a bit of separation by hedges on each site. They even have round covered picnic tables for each RV.

It’s hard to imagine that Durant OK would be a destination in such a small town, but with the Casino offering free shuttle pick up right from your site and big buffets we could see this place being a nice weekend get-a-way or for stay-cations.
As I type this I am flying to Tampa where I will meet up with Jeff for a sales conference before picking up a Class C show vehicle. We are transporting “Ms. Piggy” to Phoenix for the Good Sams Rally in two weeks and then to Tucson for the Escapees Escapade in March. If you are in the area stop by and look us up! We love to meet you and hear your RV story.

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A Remarkable 2014

New Years morning surprise...snow!

New Years morning surprise…snow!

It’s New Years Day here in Borrego Springs, CA and we woke to spectacular scene in the desert…SNOW! What a beautiful sight to help summarize a beautiful year.

Jeff and I celebrated our 20th anniversary in January. His fun-loving, try anything once attitude takes us on many crazy adventures…usually things that scare the crap out of me. But I have never regretted any of our experiences and my life is so much more full because of the one I love. (I really like this guy!)

March we headed off to Guatemala for 3 weeks on a service trip. We visited some remarkable teens trying to improve their lives by learning English…their ticket out of poverty. Even with so little, even with so much daily effort to live day-to-day, they persevere and overcome obstacles just so they can get an education. Their montra…”It is difficult but not impossible”. One of those students, Miguel, was chosen for a Walton International Scholarship to John Brown University in NW Arkansas…his dream! And one more highlight from our trip. Roasting marshmallows on an active volcano!

Spring and early summer brought lots of triathlon, ½ marathons and trail runs.

May Jeff made a last-minute trip to Red Bluff CA to help his Mom move out of her home after it sold. Finding out she could no longer live alone, the family made the decision to move her to Arkansas in August. This ended up being a great move and his Mom is very happy to be near 3 of her 5 kids.

July we headed off in our camper for RAGRAI for our second year. This is a week-long bike ride across the state of Iowa. This trip kicked off a 2 month road trip that took us from Iowa to Louisville, KY, Salt Lake City, Redmond OR, Henry IL, Hershey PA, Elkhart IN and back to Louisville. The highlight of the trip was camping in the Black Hills of S. Dakota and seeing Mount Rushmore.

Back home in September for two weeks we reloaded and left for an EPIC adventure to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim (Deb) and rim to rim to rim (Jeff) in October. But not before we stopped over at the magical Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. We crossed off two bucket list items on this trip.

We boondocked in Flagstaff before and after the Epic GC hike for some high altitude training before heading into Sedona for spectacular red rock scenery, hiking and a hot air balloon invasion. Those Canadians sure know how to make a grand entrance!

After Sedona we headed down to Tempe AZ where we driveway camped leading up to the Arizona Ironman competition. Jeff did a great job in the competition and finished under 12 hours. I on the other hand (besides being an Ironsherpa )surfed the net, took naps and ate ice cream during that 12 hour period. Spectating is tough stuff people!

 

After Ironman was a trip back to Arkansas for business and plans to head to our next destination….Yuma AZ. Yuma is a mecca for Snow Birds with over 32,000 RV sites. 80% of those are filled with Canadians who stay for 5-6 months out of the year. We crossed over the border into Mexico for a few hours. Just long enough to check out the vibrant pharmaceutical & dental scene (300+ Dental offices) and have lunch. If you are looking for cheap implants, crowns, cleanings or Viagra this is the place to go!

 

"The Crack" Lake Havasu City AZ

“The Crack” Lake Havasu City AZ

 

We headed north from there with a brief stop over in Quartzsite before coming to a stop in Lake Havasu City AZ for the lighted boat Christmas parade. We boondocked in a couple of different locations and hiked our first slot canyons.

December we moseyed over to Desert Hot Springs RV Family Spa and lazed around the mineral spas until we were completed pickled and hiked the Thousand Palm Oasis. We met up with some full time RV bloggers and online mentors.

 

 

 

After a week of spas we headed down to Borrego Springs CA to celebrate Christmas and New Years in the fabulous desert and hooked up with friends Stephen and Denise. We met them last year while camping in Colorado. They taught us how to play pickle ball, invited us to their RV park potluck for Christmas AND had us over to watch the Razorbacks take down Texas in the Texas Bowl. Go hawgs!

 

Closest thing to a Christmas tree in the desert.

Closest thing to a Christmas tree in the desert.

It is hard to imagine that we have done so much when the year has flown by so fast. We already have some plans made through March 2015 and we hope that you come along for the ride. Our next destination? The big Quartzsite RV and rock show in January. Stay tuned!

 

 

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