Posts Tagged Desert

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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Anarchy in the desert of Borrego Springs CA

Full moon over Borrego Springs

Full moon over Borrego Springs

We’ve met tons of new people in the desert at Borrego Springs.

Most RV’ers are drawn to this area to spend winter for the plentiful sunshine, be-still-my-heart 70+ degree January temps and thousands of acres of free camping. Our nearest neighbor is a football field away, yet walk by your neighbor’s camp and you will be greeted with a hearty hello!

We’ve been invited to an outdoor movie/meet-up with a large group of full time, location independent 30-40 something road warriors who have bucked the system and work from their Airstreams, vintage bus or motorhome. Conversations usually revolve around connectivity, data plans, drones, instagram hash tags, is whiskey spelled with an “E” or without, local brews, holding tank management and local farmers market.

This is a group of hipsters for sure and Jeff and I went from being some of the youngest in this desert community to being the oldest. But that hasn’t kept us from being invited to the afternoon happy hours, taco tuesdays, nightly bonfires or karaoke night.

Various jobs amongst the tribe include a composor/musician, web and app developers, writers, investment trader, road schoolers, photographer and professional bloggers. It was an inspiration to meet everyone living their version of “the dream” right from their 80-360 square feet of what they call home.

The blog and instagram roll of our group is:

AirstreamLifeAluminarium@asolojourner@dreaknufken,

@journeywithhappiness@kmpuccio@malimish_airstream@russhaynie,

Rolling Recess@sethkhughesTehcnomadia@theroamingpint,

The Scenic Route@toddmbToSimplify@upintheairstreamVanTramp, Wheelingit

One evening kicked off with what the group dubbed, “Soup Anarchy”. Everyone brought an ingredient or can of soup and we dumped it all in one pot…like a Hairy Buffalo, but with soup instead of booze. No rules, just wild, throw-caution-to-the-wind, dump what pleases you, into the pot. Ok. There may have been some booze slipped it somewhere because…it is soup anarchy after all!

It was BYOBS (Bring your own bowl and spoon) and set up a chair for a soup anarchy inspired movie. The selection of movie was picked from films that had to do with soup, anarchy or RV’s. We ended up with “The Adventures of Power” which by the way had nothing to do with anarchy or soup. It did have a split second flash of a vintage bus, and that was good enough for us. It was a quirky, hilarious, sweet movie about a guy named Power who tries winning an air drum competition. Yes, it really was as awful as it sounds. But the film was made memorable by a funky group of RV’ers watching a movie on the side of a vintage bus in the desert. How cool is that?

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Borrego Springs has been a memorable stay and a place to come back to for sure, especially if there is an opportunity to see our new community of friends.

We plan on being here for another week before heading back to Quartzsite to the largest gathering of RV’ers in the country. So we may have more to report on Borrego Springs before we go.

Stay tuned!

Can a movie be awful and awesome at the same time?

Can a movie be awful and awesome at the same time?

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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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Trailer Trash Meets the Spa

Sams Family Spa & RV Resort

Sams Family Spa & RV Resort

We have been hanging out in Desert Hot Springs, CA at the Sam’s Family Spa Hot Water Resort. Sounds pretty fancy. But the reality is it’s an “older” RV and mobile home park…with hot spring pools.

We came here to visit our full time RV superheros, Wheelingit and Technomadia, who have a steaming spa induced gravitational pull to this area about this time every year. And now that we have experienced this place for ourselves, we may find ourselves doing the same.

Sam’s Family Spa Hot Water Resort was built in 1971 on over 50 acres with underground hot mineral water springs. The therapeutic pools are naturally heated by hot mineral water pumped from three underground wells, which are constantly flowing through the pools.

Hot springs spas...yes please!

Hot springs spas…yes please!

It is a pricy place, but the $50/night camping fee includes endless use of the outdoor hot spring fed spas, large heated outdoor swimming pool, steam room and sauna. And if you stay 6 nights you get the 7th night free, stay a month and it is $525 plus electricity. Everything is a bit tired here, but the super nice staff, the spotless grounds AND the spas more than make up for it.

It is an ideal location for everyplace that either starts or ends with a Spring, Palm or Dessert all with the backdrop of snow topped Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains.

Outstanding view

Palm trees and snow capped mountains…oh my!

Our intent was to stay for two nights, collect our mail from the Post Office and move on. But the two-day delivery turned into seven and it was necessary to soak in the hot springs wait for things to arrive. Hey, you do what ya gotta do!

There are tons of things to do and see here. There is endless hiking just outside the resort and Joshua Tree National Park is just around the corner. You can also take a tram to an alpine forest, do a driving tour of celebrity homes in Palm Springs and ATV to your hearts content.

Thousand Palms, Joshua Tree National Park

Thousand Palms, Joshua Tree National Park

Located within Joshua Tree is Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve. This preserve is a little grove of palms, an oasis, in the middle of the desert that is watered by underground springs and shallow ponds. We walked the trails through the ancient palms smack dab on the San Andreas Fault. It was a sight to behold and free to boot!

We’ve met some interesting and wonderful people here in our short 7 day stay.

Our first night in the spas we met a very intoxicated Californian who had a habit of asking very philosophical questions unrelated to any other conversation happening at the time. And just as anyone would begin to answer he would submerge himself underwater for about a minute. We all wished he would stay under so we could have a normal conversation.

Giant Palms

Giant Palms

We met John and his wife emigrated from Romania during the height of Jewish persecution. He plays hymns on his saxophone every morning outside under the pavilion as praise to God in gratitude. They sent us off with a wonderful prayer from Numbers 6:24-26.

We also met Dave, a recently retired commercial photographer. He and his wife just sold everything in Pennsylvania 3 months ago and bought a Class A motorhome, their first RV ever. They are at the tail end of a cross country journey to see their kids on the West coast for Christmas. He is still learning how to maneuver 40’ of home into small RV spots and admits he still doesn’t know how to work half the buttons in it.

Well, we have stocked up at Walmart and are heading to Borrego Springs next, a winter hotspot for boondockers from Canada and the US.

Until next time…go out and play!

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The Beauty of the Dessert Is Cast Low

Nothing to see here folks

Nothing to see here folks

Jeff and I have been on the road now for 4 months. We tend to gravitate towards trees, hills or mountains and higher altitudes so that we have natural air conditioning to keep us comfortable.

But as November comes into view and talk of a Polar Vortex descending out of Alaska, we made a run for the flats of the Arizona desert.

 

Jeff adding a bit of color to a sea of brown

Jeff adding a bit of color to a sea of brown

But after the first evening at Lake Pleasant, AZ, what I discovered was that the real beauty of the dessert is found in the sunrises and sunsets as the sun casts low on the horizon.

Hills and mountains begin to glow red, pink , orange and purple and cacti cast dark humanlike shadows. The sky is big and unobstructed and the complete darkness allows you to see galaxies beyond. Throw in a yipping coyote for good measure and you have the making of an incredible, surprising western experience.

Oh yes…the dessert. I am now a huge fan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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