Monday, May 30, 2016

Colorado Rocky Mountain High...

We finally made to Colorado and I added another state to my map; that makes two this trip with more to come...I hope!

Campgrounds in Denver are few and far between. My first choice was Cherry Creek State Park but they were booked since our visit coincided with Memorial Day weekend. I felt lucky to get a reservation at The Prospect RV Park. Most of their sites are 30 amp and that's what I had reserved. When we arrived we were happy to learn that they had one of their three 50 amp sites open up and saved it for us...and it was a pull-thru! The campground is a typical urban park, sites are gravel and tight with little to no grass but they do have cement patios with picnic tables. Our site was an end site and gave us some extra room. The utilities were odd in that the electric and water for our site were on the passenger side but the sewer was on the driver's side where it's supposed to be. Our hoses and cords were long enough and we managed fine. The staff in the office were very nice and friendly.

Our reason for coming to Denver was to visit my sister Amy and niece Jill both of whom I hadn't seen in three years. We were able to spend plenty of time together, much of it over food - Carrabbas, The Summit House Grill and Tap, Saucey's Pizza and Amy's homemade lasagna! We did lots of talking and catching was a great visit.
One of Jack's six brothers, Randy, was living in Denver when he died...far too young at only thirty-eight. Since we were in Denver, we decided to find his grave site and visit. Seemed like a simple task but it took forty-five minutes to actually find him. The cemetery file was ambiguous as to his exact location but one of the staff searched with us until we found him. The visit meant a lot to Jack.

On the negative side of the trip...Jack had an accident. Fortunately it was more of a fender-bender and everyone is alright. The damage to the truck is small and Jack's already fixed some of it and will work on the rest once we settle somewhere for a while. The other car had a bit more damage and we're waiting to find out how big a hit our insurance will take. To make matters more complicated, our new insurance card was in our mail back in Wilmington so he had no proof of insurance, but a few phone calls to our agent took care of that. All that remains is the court date at the end of June. Once this holiday weekend is over Jack has to find out if he can pay the fine by mail. (Yes, he got a ticket...we all makes mistakes).

Meanwhile the truck was in need of an oil change so Jack made an appointment to have it changed and to have some things looked at since he'd recently felt like the truck wasn't running right and smelled a burning belt. Well, I don't know anything about mechanics but with the oil change and accompanying fluids and something about belts and tensioners and whatever the grand total was over $900!! Just when I was about to exhale! As Roseanne Rosannadanna said, "It's always something!"

So...four days in time visiting Amy and Jill, somber time visiting Randy, the hassles of a small accident and the pain of large vehicle repairs.

Before we knew it, it was time to leave...

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Stop in Raton, NM...

We left Santa Fe and headed for Denver with an overnight stop in Raton, NM, just a few miles from the Colorado border. We stayed at the Raton KOA, no frills just a level gravel pull-thru long enough to to leave the truck hooked up to the RV. When we checked in the camp hosts, Marilyn and Wendell, told us it was two-for-one at K-Bob's Steakhouse. I said we weren't planning to unhook but they said it was walking distance. I checked and it was just under a quarter mile...not far, though at 7000 feet with my altitude issues, it was far enough. We decided to go...who can pass up two dinners for the price of one!

We started out walking and saw Wendell and Marilyn in their truck. They stopped and asked if we were going to K-Bob's; when we said yes they said they were too and offered us a ride. When we reached K-Bob's they invited us to join then at dinner and we happily accepted.

The food was nothing to write home about (steaks were not included in the two-for-one) but the company was great! They are from Vermont and said this is their third time camp hosting in Raton. We talked all through dinner and for quite some time when we returned to the campground. Wendell and Jack finally drifted back to their respective RV's, had they not I think Marilyn and I might have talked much of the evening!

All in all, a routine overnight turned into a nice social evening. The next morning we crossed into Colorado and headed for Denver.

Santa Fe...

Our original plan had been to travel east through the northern part of the country...Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas etc...but our trip to see Jack's brother took us south so we started heading east on I-40. We've traveled the western portion of I-40 before but didn't veer off to visit Santa Fe, NM. This time we're headed to Denver and it was a perfect opportunity to visit Santa Fe.

There are four RV Parks in the area and only two are in town. We stayed at Los Suenos de Santa Fe. It's an urban campground with a desert landscape. Our gravel pull-thru was long although close to our neighbors. Unfortunately is was severely sloped which made it difficult to level our RV. It also had the 50 amp connection on the door side of our fifth wheel...right near the door. I had to be careful not to trip on the power cord going in and out. Was it awful? No, but I'll try another of the parks if we come this way again.

As it happens one of my Facebook friends was staying at the same park. We were arriving Saturday and they were leaving the next day so we made plans to meet for breakfast Sunday morning. We had a good time meeting Bobbie and Kurt and they introduced us to a great breakfast place right at the entrance of the RV Park, Chris' Cafe. We liked it so much we went back for breakfast the next morning!

We only had two days to spend in Santa Fe but we saw as much as we could. The Plaza and surrounding Old Town was fun and it just so happened there was a Lowrider Show at the Plaza on Sunday...lots of people and very cool cars (photos below). We tried The Plaza Cafe, a landmark since 1905, for dinner. Jack said his enchilada dinner singed his insides! I opted for some milder quesadillas. We also tried The Pantry, another landmark Santa Fe eatery since 1948. The burgers were like you get off the grill in your back yard and the curly fries delicious.

We really enjoyed Santa Fe and wish we'd had more time to explore. It was definitely worth the trip!

Click photos to enlarge

Photos of the The Plaza 

Santa Fe is home to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and to the Loretto Chapel and its mysterious staircase...all beautiful.

 St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral

Loretto Chapel and Staircase

The Legend of the Staircase 

When the Chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft twenty-two feet above and no room in the small chapel for a staircase. The Sisters of the Chapel prayed to Saint Joseph, Patron Saint of Carpenters, for a solution. On the ninth day of prayer a carpenter appeared looking for work. Months later, when the circular staircase was finished, the man disappeared with no pay or thanks. They searched for him and when they were unable to find him concluded he must have been St. Joseph himself, come in answer to their prayers.

The staircase is built in a double helix, using wooden pegs rather than nails, and has no visible means of support. The design was innovative for its time. It was originally built without a railing and was so steep it frightened the nuns who took to coming down on their hands and knees. The railing was added ten years later.

What ever the origin of the staircase, it is beautiful!

The Lowriders on the Plaza

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

On the Way to Santa Fe...

We have a reservation in Denver - not easy to come by around the Memorial Day weekend and I'd already changed it once - so we had a lot of miles to cover to make it in time. My sister Amy and my niece Jill live there and I haven't seen either of them in three years so we've all been looking forward to this visit.

We left Fresno on Tuesday and our first stop was Newberry Springs, CA. It's pretty much the only place to stop once you've passed Bakersfield and there's only one campground...the Newberry Mountain RV and Motel Park. We stopped here the last time we traveled this way and it works well for an overnight stop - wide open, level, gravel pull-thru sites with no need to unhitch the truck from the trailer, full hook ups including TV, and a very nice woman who runs it. My only complaint is the price has risen and is really too high for what you get but, it's the only game in a very tiny town (population 2500).

On the way to Newberry Springs we encountered a severe storm warning and hit some strong crosswinds so we decided to stop at Murray Family Farms, a cute roadside stop on Hwy 58. We fueled up and had lunch while we waited for the winds to die down a bit. 

Our next stop was Williams, AZ. We enjoyed a week here in 2014 seeing the Grand Canyon and other sights but this time it was just a two night rest stop. I wanted to stay at the Grand Canyon Railway Park since we really liked it in 2014, but it was booked so I called from the road and got a pull-thru site at the Canyon Motel and RV Park. It's got good space between the gravel sites but our site was so un-level we ended up with two tires a bit off the ground. They are a Passport America park but, unlike the Railway Park, they don't honor it on pull-thru sites. I wouldn't have minded if they'd said it on the PA website but it wasn't listed in the restrictions and was a disappointing surprise.

Needles, CA! We stayed there last fall and didn't expect to see it again but we needed fuel on our way to Williams and found ourselves smack in the middle of Needles. Right across the street from the gas station sat the Wagon Wheel Restaurant and we were hungry so we had breakfast for lunch. The omelets were good! We were glad we were just there for lunch, it was already 92 degrees and rising!

We rested up in Williams and moved on, next stop Gallup, NM and Mountain time. We actually crossed into the Mountain Time Zone when we hit Arizona but, since Arizona doesn't observe Daylight Saving Time, we didn't lose an hour until New Mexico. We stayed overnight a the USA RV Park - long, level pull-thrus and full hook ups including cable. They even offer a BBQ dinner and ice cream social for a reasonable cost but we were too tired to check it out. We'd stay there again.

Friday morning we set out for Santa Fe, NM. We didn't make it to Santa Fe when we went through Albuquerque in 2014 so were happy to finally have the chance to visit.