MARCH to MAY 2009

In early March we left Desert Breeze and continued our rv adventures at Picacho Peak State Park for a few nights. It was lovely there, with lupines and California poppies blooming, but the big display of wildflowers did not happen in that part of the desert this year. There just wasn’t enough rain over the winter.

We took a hike halfway up Hunter Trail one morning. This is a very steep trail with wire railing in several places so you can haul yourself up. It is lots of fun and great exercise, and we both ended with stiff necks from looking up all the time.

Hedgehog Cactus in Bloom - Arizona WildflowersHedgehog Cactus in Bloom in the Tonto National Forest

We took walks in the evenings to watch the sun go down, and again early in the morning to watch the jackrabbits racing through the cactus and the sun’s rays lighting up the spines on the cholla.

It is so quiet in the park, though there is the constant hum of cars on I-10 below, and at least a dozen trains go by in a 24-hour period, each one blowing its mournful whistle. There was an incredibly wonderful feeling of being in the perfect place at the perfect time.

From Picacho, we took our rv adventures to Tucson, about 60 miles away, and camped out at the Desert Diamond Casino for awhile, then Casino del Sol for another while, with occasional overnights at RV parks to dump our holding tanks and take a good shower.

We visited the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum again, toured art galleries, and met with our friends Tom and Myra a couple of times. We took a tour and hiked in Sabino Canyon, which has a creek running through it, and lots of green trees.

We spent my birthday enjoying the art in Tubac, while we stayed at a nearby RV park in Amado. Robert decided to leave his Tioga there for a few weeks, so we re-organized our belongings a bit and headed back to Tucson in Mehitabel. We both won some money at the casinos – surprise!

Roosevelt Lake in Tonto National ForesstRoosevelt Lake in Tonto National Forest

Toward the end of March, we drove to Roosevelt Lake in Tonto Nat’l Forest to join a group of RVers (the WINs, which stands for Wandering Individuals Network) for a 10-day rv adventure.

This rv adventure was held in an absolutely beautiful area, the campground sitting on a hill above the lake, with the Superstition Mountains at our back. There is drinking water available in the campground to fill up the water tank, and there are showers available, but no electric.

We discovered that the inverter for my solar panel (the item that changes the electrical current from DC to AC and makes the electrical outlets work) was kaput. Robert did all kinds of things to try to fix it with no luck. The company was willing to send another, but I would have to have it shipped to the RV camp in Deming, NM, so until we got back there, we would run the generator when we needed electricity. Just a minor glitch on our rv adventures.

We had a great time with the WINs. They are a very active group, and many of them carry kayaks or canoes on their rigs. We each got to borrow one for a tryout one morning, and I think there may be a kayak in my future rv adventures.

Bighorn Sheep in Tonto National ForestBighorn Sheep on the Apache Trail

Another day we joined several other cars and drove the Apache Trail (Hwy 88), an unpaved road, narrow and steep, that winds along the Salt River to Tortilla Flat. There we had lunch and danced to the Tortilla Flat Band. We saw a herd of Bighorn Sheep right beside the road on our drive.

Another day, we followed a line of cars on a drive to Four Peaks. Apache Trail was a tough trip; this one was worse, one lane, gravel or sand, very steep, and frequently nothing but a big drop on both sides of the road. I chickened out about halfway to the top, so we turned around and came back. We saw lots of pretty wildflowers and blooming cacti.

Robert and I took a walk down through a ravine toward the lake one morning and saw several javelina - one of them leapt across the trail just 15’ ahead of me! Luckily, they weren’t interested in coming after us.

While at the campground, I discovered that mice had gotten into the under-seat compartment where I keep Bijou’s food. This was an rv adventure I hadn't prepared for! We set a trap, baited it with peanut butter, and over the next few days caught four mice. Two people in the group had had expensive engine repairs after storing their RVs for awhile in this part of the country – pack rats evidently love electrical wires!

468x60 Full Color Enjoy the Journey

On April 6, we left Roosevelt Lake and drove through Devil’s Canyon to Apache Junction where we stayed one night at an RV park. Onward the next day to a park in N. Phoenix, and the following day to Sedona, where I had a coupon for three free nights at an RV resort.

Three Nuns - Sedona, AZThe Three Nuns - Sedona, AZ

We had to give up a couple of hours to listen to the dog and pony show for the timeshare, but the rest of the time we explored the beautiful town, took lots of pictures of the red rock formations, and drove out to Jerome to visit some of the galleries. The last night there in Sedona was cold, rainy and windy. On the drive back to Phoenix the next day, we saw that the higher mountains had gotten some snow.

We stayed two nights at a Wal-Mart in the Phoenix area. I wanted to visit the Desert Botanical Garden, as there was a Chihuly exhibit going on, so we went tearing around, sort of in a circle, trying to find our way to the Garden with our little abbreviated map of Phoenix. We finally found it, only to discover the exhibit was sold out. It’s probably a good idea to book these things in advance when you're planning your rv adventures.

Back in Tucson, I drove Robert down to Amado to pick up his RV, and in mid-April the two rigs headed off to LOW-Hi Ranch in Deming, NM, where my new inverter was waiting. Robert got it installed and working, and we shipped the faulty one back.

Really enjoyed reading this book and can't wait to explore the places he writes about.

RV Adventures in Northern New Mexico

It was windy and dusty (as usual) in Deming, so a week later, we headed out of there, and set off to visit a few of the state parks. I bought an annual pass ($225), so for the next 12 months, I would be able to stay in any of the NM state parks for no charge (or $4/night if I wanted electric).

We spent two nights at Caballo Lake SP near Truth or Consequences, then on to Manzano Mountains State Park near Albuquerque for two nights, then off to Santa Fe where we camped at the almost new Buffalo Thunder Casino for about 10  days.

Camel Rock - Santa Fe, NMCamel Rock - Santa Fe, NM

While we were staying in Santa Fe, we drove the Low Road along the Rio Grande up to Taos, spent a couple of hours wandering the town, then headed out to Rio Grande Gorge, doubled back and took the High Road back to Santa Fe through Carson National Forest. We also drove out to Los Alamos and Bandelier National Monument, spent an afternoon at the Indian Market in Santa Fe, splurged on fresh Alaskan halibut from Whole Foods for a scrumptious dinner one night, and drove out along the Chama River to Abiquiu and Georgia O'Keefe's Ghost Ranch where we walked the labyrinth.

One day we visited the nearby Wildlife Center, the only licensed wildlife vet in NM. While there we saw, up close and personal, pygmy owls, eastern screech owls, a peregrine falcon, bobcats, and foxes – all of them having been treated for injuries that kept them from being returned to the wild.

This is a wonderful part of NM and we plan to return: for more rv adventures in Taos (you really need at least a week); another visit to Los Alamos (where did they set off the bomb?); and to spend a few days camping at Bandelier.

The scenery is incredible, the higher peaks in the Sangre de Cristo  mountains all dusted with snow, the cliffs on the way to Los Alamos and the Jemez Mts. riddled with holes from gases escaping as the rocks and ash cooled after two major volcanic eruptions millions of years ago.

Frugal Shunpikers Guides to RV Boondocking - If you love boondocking, you'll find these books invaluable. There are two new ones that cover California. Definitely check them out! 

On May 4, we drove to Las Vegas, NM, to Storrie Lake State Park, and discovered my car battery was dead as a doornail, the second time that’s happened on our rv adventures. Robert cleaned it up, added water to the cells, tightened things and we jump started it. It seemed fine, but the next morning it was totally dead again, so we jumped it again and took it to Wal-Mart to get a new battery. It was very windy while we were at Storrie Lake – I watched windsurfers flying across the lake, looking like one-winged butterflies.

On the 6th, we drove 222 miles to Pueblo, CO, and on the 7th, another 212 to Cheyenne, WY. Once we were into CO, there was a definite division in the landscape – all the mountains topped with snow to the west of us and the beginning of the Great Plains to our east, pale ochre fields stretching up and away to meet the sky, with very little vegetation tall enough to obstruct the view.

On May 8th we took US-85 sort of diagonally across SE Wyoming. The land is mostly flat initially, its unremarkable appearance giving lie to the savage wind beating at us from the west. Young tumbleweeds scurried and bounced across the highway in front of me, their more mature counterparts pressed against the fence to my right. Fat-bellied cumulus clouds filled the sky, the dark flat lines of their bottoms near the horizon to our north blurred and bled into gauzy veils of gray and white. When we arrived at BJ’s RV park in Lusk,WY, we were surprised to find those veils of moisture contained a mixture of rain, snow and sleet. Fortunately, none of it lasted too long.

Sea Eagle SE-370 Pro Inflatable Sport Kayaks 

Some friends of mine had one of these - it was terrific!

On the 9th, we crossed into South Dakota and the Black Hills and settled again at Hart Ranch in Rapid City. We saw lots of antelope on the way – one of them even raced along the road beside me for a bit.

The leaves were just opening out on the trees there and the weather couldn’t make up its mind what season it was. We experienced the first really hot day, about 85 deg., but there was a nice breeze (there’s always a “nice breeze” here, a few days ago we had gusts to 60mph), so it’s not too uncomfortable.

We would be here until early June, then set off to MN to see Robert’s kids and do some fishing. In late July, we would start our  trek toward New England and my family and rv adventures along the East Coast. Our plans are engraved in sand these days – a lot depends on the weather.

Buffalo Thunder Resort - Santa Fe, NMBuffalo Thunder Casino

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