Sunday, September 27, 2015

Santa Fe and our 2nd month on the road.

One final selling point? The small picturesque town of Bayfield. Barely a mile from the campground has a Brewery with some nice beer. Visit the Bottom Shelf Brewery if you’re in town. The Oatmeal Stout is nice and the Red excellent.

So suddenly we are at the end of our second month on the road.
Funny but we can hardly remember the first one!

We left Durango and headed for Santa Fe where we had arranged to meet up with Scott and Suzanne. We bumped into Scott at a seminar during Escapades in Tucson. They were at about the same stage of planning that we were, they had a rig and were getting ready to sort out and sell the house. They beat us to it on the house sale and they have been zooming around visiting relatives etc. since.

We were all so excited about our adventures that we hardly stopped talking from early afternoon when we got together until after dinner at a local restaurant (and brewery of course). You don’t always have new people to talk to on the road and when you do it all comes pouring out. We found we have several things in common apart from the RV and it was a very pleasant evening.

On the way to Santa Fe we decided to stop in Chama NM at an RV park close to the scenic Railroad there. The park was OK and we had a very nice site on the river. Unlike the United Campground in Durango the train didn’t run right thru the campground. It ran directly across the river! 

Still the sound of a steam whistle is musical anytime you hear it (Except of course when you are trying to sleep). Unfortunately the weather turned bad and it rained hard most of the day and part of the following morning as we headed for Santa Fe. I discovered we have a leak in the roof over the bathroom so that’s another job when we have time. I did fix the cable TV connection and replace the sewer hose end connection however so I still deserve a gold star on my chart.

Our purpose for coming to Santa Fe was to meet up with Scott and Suzanne and we all stayed at the Ranchero Santa Fe RV Park. Quite a letdown after the last few parks. No streams, trains or Alpacas. Just gravel and very tight spaces, but talking to our new “old friends” has been good and taking pictures of the adobe buildings, markets and squares in Santa Fe has given me the urge to get settled somewhere and paint again.

Interior of the oldest house in the USA

While wandering the Plaza Santa Fe we found the Thunderbird Bar and Grille on a balcony overlooking the Plaza. 

Nice food and good beer. A couple at the next table asked us where we were from and we soon got into a great conversation with Ed and Joan who are long term RV’ers. More new friends! We swapped contact info and we’ll get together again before we leave the area.

It’s funny how you meet people. We were shopping and heard a very English voice explaining to his companion that people didn’t speak proper English here. I commented that we did, and we were immediately engrossed in a fascinating discussion with Roy and Ray about how we all got to the US, the things we missed and the things we loved about the US. We blocked the aisle in the market for a good half hour, then driving away they came alongside in their car and honked the horn! 

Waiting for Scott and Suzanne near the Rail Yards Plaza we got into conversation with Mike who was fascinated by our full time adventure and another half hour flew by.

In light of the election fever that's building in the US I have to relate this Rt 66 story. Apparently Rt 66 used to come right thru Santa Fe but in 1936 a group of Santa Fe citizens got together to oppose the current Governor in the forthcoming election. They did a great job and the Governor lost his seat. In revenge he rapidly set construction crews to work to bypass Santa Fe and build a shortcut around the city that knocked 90 miles off the route. Even when the new governor took power he was unable to stop the construction due to bad weather and by the time he could do anything the road was open and being used!

For you Western movie fans Santa Fe is where the Santa Fe and Old Pecos trails meet.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Walmarts and driving for a couple of days thru Rock Springs WY and Craig CO heading towards Pagosa Springs where we spent a pleasant vacation a few years back.

The questions people ask are quite funny to us. The concept of not having a house to go back to baffles a lot of people

Here’s some questions and our answers to them.

Where do you live?
We live wherever the RV is parked. We sold everything and we are just having fun

Where are you going?
We aren’t going ANYWHERE, and we don’t have to be there anytime soon. So if we find somewhere we like, we’ll stop there. If we are somewhere we don’t like, we’ll leave.

How do you get your mail?
We try to discourage paper mail and try to use e-mail wherever possible. We have a mail forwarding service and all the paper mail goes there. We find a Post Office along the way and have our mail forwarded there, General Delivery. When we get to the town we stop at the Post Office and pick it up. It may be weeks before we get mail but that’s OK by us.

Won’t you be cold in that RV in the winter?
No. We’ll drive it to someplace that’s warm.
This week we’ve been applying the “Goldilocks Principle”. That’s where you move your RV until it’s “Not too hot and not too cold” Just like the Fairy Tale!
The nights were getting too cold in Yellowstone so we moved south about 500 miles and now the weather is “Just right” 70’s daytime and upper 40’s at night. If it gets colder here we’ll move again, provided we’ve seen and done everything we want to here.

We’re proud members of the “Elks”.

Elks are a benevolent organization supporting local and national charities, with Lodges across the country. The Elks organization isn’t some secret society, there’s no secret handshake or mystic ceremonies. If you are a US citizen in good standing and believe in God you can join.

Some Lodges have RV parking for members. This is really good for several reasons.
1 There’s a welcoming place to go to, you feel at home as soon as you arrive
2, Lodges are generally in populated areas so if you want to spend time visiting a city then the Lodge is close to the city center unlike the average RV park.
3. Your fellow Elks know all the good places to see and things to do and gladly share that knowledge.

So now when we refer to the Elks in our blog you know what we’re talking about
You can see the roof of our RV to the left of the Elk's Lodge roof.

We stopped at the Grand Junction CO Elks Lodge. We stopped there because we like to cut our travel time down into reasonable chunks and 150 miles a day meant Grand Junction was going to be a good break. We’d never heard of Grand Junction before. As far as we know it’s not famous for anything. We’ve never heard people say “You have to visit here”.

It has been a pleasant surprise then to find that the city has a pleasant Main Street. four breweries, an awesome National Monument, very reasonable gas prices, good shopping, good restaurants, two car museums, an Air and Space museum, a Western Museum and a whole lot more.

It would be fair to say that we LIKE Grand Junction and I expect we’ll be back.

We had planned to drive to Silverton or perhaps Durango depending how I felt. The road is known as “The Million Dollar Highway” and it was worth every penny. It climbed from 4500’ to 11000’ with corners as slow as 10mph and 8 % grades up and down. It was magnificent scenery made breathtaking by the fall colors at altitude that wrapped around the mountains.

In the end we made it to Durango but had a struggle finding somewhere to stay.

Turned out there was an art festival on the weekend we arrived. The only campground we could find close to town was the “United Campground” which was expensive and rundown. Handy for the center of Durango however and we did a little exploring. We were here several years ago. The big attraction is the Durango - Silverton Railroad. A steam train ride thru the mountains. It’s a “Must Do" trip if you’re here, and funnily enough it runs right thru our campground! Not just alongside but right thru the middle. You get to enjoy the train whistle four times a day.

We weren’t happy with that park and spent a day getting caught up on business things and finding another park. We found one 20 miles away on the other side of Durango in Bayfield CO.

The Bayfield Riverside RV Park was everything the other park wasn’t. Well maintained, clean, quiet and outstanding beautiful, in fact we believe this is the prettiest campground we’ve ever been to ever. Same price as the other one but with cable TV, and instead of a railroad running thru it this one has a privately stocked trout stream! 

Because it’s private you can fish there without a license. It’s what’s called “Catch and Release”, you can’t keep any fish you catch. You have to release them unharmed. 

Not a problem for me, if you don’t catch anything you don’t have to release them!!

Oh and they have this character there. Al the Alpaca.

One final selling point? The small picturesque town of Bayfield. Barely a mile from the campground has a Brewery with some nice beer. Visit the Bottom Shelf Brewery if you’re in town. The Oatmeal Stout is nice and the Red excellent.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Yellowstone and beyond

I spent a pleasant morning practicing fly casting and throwing knots in my line in midair. Novice fly fishermen will know the feeling of frustration,

We stayed in Aspen Acres for almost a week thinking that the area would be full due to the Labor Day weekend but this was a good time to be here as most of the crowds were gone already. 

Aspen although pretty was too far away from everything and needed a 100 mile round trip just to get to the parks. We managed a trip to Jackson WY but it’s a big time tourist trap and we weren’t impressed. We tried for a spot in the park but they could only get us in for 1 day.

Using our resources we searched “” and found a recommended park closer to Yellowstone. That came with a bigger price tag but cut down the 100 mile round trip to about 50 miles. We moved to Red Rock RV Park about 5 miles off Rt20 and close to Henry’s Lake in Island Park.

They fussed over us like mother hens when we arrived and they had found us the best spot in the park with a tremendous view of the hills. They even laid on a perfect sunset for us! 

First though they warned us that a bear had been in the park a couple of days previously and had got into the trash. All bear safety was thoroughly discussed! Something you forget living in the city.

We were parked next to Jim and Marilyn and their lovely friendly lab Cody. It ws such a pleasure to come back each evening and have neighbors to chat with about the day and find out how Cody was doing with his training (He’s a rescue dog but so friendly).

Sometime in the last week I had managed to lose the keys to the rig. Luckily we have a spare set but we had to go to West Yellowstone MT for shopping and got a new set of keys cut while we were there.

Of course having got them cut I found the originals 2 days later!

Our last day was an easy one. A 60 mile trip into the park to see Old Faithful. It turned into so much more with lot of wildlife and side trips to some amazing geysers. We really had a good day out and I was even inspired to pick up my sketch book and start drawing the mountains behind the park.

An overnighter in Walmart near Pocatella ID and a trip to the local Brew Pub got us involved in a fascinating talk with a young couple who were travelling in an old ambulance with 2 Honda Trail 90 motorcycles. They called themselves Campbulance and were planning dropping the Ambulance at their relatives place then riding the 2 tiny Hondas to Tierra Del Fuego the southernmost tip off South America!! Oh yes, they didn’t have licenses to ride them yet!!
Their main worry? People kept telling them that Mexico was too dangerous and they shouldn’t go!

Walmarts and driving for a couple of days thru Rock Springs WY and Craig CO heading towards Pagosa Springs where we spent a pleasant vaction a few years back.

We also saw a post on the Escapees forum from a couple we met at Escapade in Tuscon earlier this year who are heading north into Colorado as we are heading south. Maybe we can hook up with them as we pass.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

To Yellowstone

After sitting talking about places and things all afternoon they took us to their favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner. That dream came true TWICE this week.

Our 2 weeks in Rapid City have been great, we’ve met lots of new RV’ing friends and explored the area, yet it still left us with a desire to come back for more. And we got in some valuable darts practice for when we get to Casa Grande in December!

On the way to Yellowstone we stopped at the Walmarts in Sheriden (I wonder if it’s named after Mrs Bucket’s Sheriden?) and Cody.

WY14 from Sheriden is a super twisty road that climbs 5000 feet in 1 shot. We were down to 25 mph in places but luckily we didn’t have a long line of traffic behind, probably due to being mid-week and September. The Shell Falls were a welcome break.

If you’re in Cody then THE thing there is the Buffalo Bill Cody center. We found its layout confusing but the exhibits were diverse and appealing. We looked at an art exhibit put on for the benefit of the museum. All extremely high quality work and it will be auctioned off at the end of the show. They say last year they raise $1,000,000 and I can believe it. I liked their firearms gallery too which had guns from ancient to modern.

The Buffalo Bill exhibit itself to me was a little phony. The exhibits were genuine but the man was mainly an invention of “Penny Westerns” and circus performances.

We drove to and through Yellowstone to get to Ashland Idaho. Some of the people we met in Rapid City told us it was great, in an Aspen grove and with the Teton’s as a view.

They didn’t mention it was right in the middle of nowhere!

Middle of nowhere can be pleasant though, we’ve been relaxing. I did some more sketching inspired by the view of the Grand Tetons from just over the brow of the hill from our campsite. 

The lady in the office recommended driving about 20 miles to the Mesa Falls and Lower Mesa Falls. I’m glad she did they are really beautiful in a deep gorge. The main falls are like a miniature American Falls if you’ve ever been to Niagara.

This campground is about 90 miles from the heart of Yellowstone so we’ve decided to move to another place about 20 miles from the park and spend a couple of days deep in the Yellowstone experience then drive south through Grand Teton NP and stop somewhere around Jackson.

It feels strange to be thinking of where we want to go next. Up till now we’ve been going to Rapid City or here. Now we have until the end of October to get to Austin and we can go any direction we want.

Barbara suggested I might want to try fishing as Henry’s Fork of the Snake River is a famous trout fishery and I took the trouble to dig out my dusty fishing gear. 
A sign of just how long it’s been since I did any was the Maryland fishing regulation book in the bottom off my tackle box dated 1998!!! 

The local fly fishing supply store provided a license and some likely fishing spots. Turns out that there is some prime fishing just down river from the Mesa Falls.

It soon became really obvious that it had indeed been 17 years since my last angling experience! At the river road there were lots of drift boats being put into the water with guides at the oars and paying guests doing the fishing. I idly asked the price of a day out. $500!! 

I spent a pleasant morning practicing fly casting and throwing knots in my line in mid air. Novice fly fishermen will know the feeling of frustration.