Our RV Travels
I didn't want to be spooky, but sometimes it happens. On Halloween 2012, I retired. In January 2013, Judy also decided to retire and gave notice to her company. We bought an RV with the intention of spending at least two years traveling in it full-time. We want to see some of the beautiful scenery this country has to offer. We also plan on exploring our interests in historic forts, natural arches, archaeology, and birds. These are our RV and travel stories. They are in reverse chronological order, of course.
© Copyright 2013,2014 by Jay H. Wilbur, All Rights Reserved.
ARCHIVE: Year 1 (2013)
May 25: Bosque Birding
After quenching our thirst for RV travel in Colorado and Utah, we decided to head back to Las Cruces. On the way, we spent most of Memorial Day weekend at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico. The birding was some of the best we've ever experienced. Our species tally for Saturday was 66, a personal high. I even got a couple of good photos!
Tomorrow we'll be back at our second home in Trails West. But our son, Peter, has announced his engagement to his girlfriend, Cheyenne, and our daughter, Emily, has completed her Master's degree at UMass and is moving back to Dallas. Sounds like a trip to Texas is in our near future. Who knows, we might even stop in at our main residence there.
May 20: Blanding, Utah
Leaving Cortez, we made the short drive over to Blanding, Utah and camped at the Blue Mountain RV Park south of the town. Our first order of business was to check on our land near Blanding. Fortunately, we found it just the way we had last seen it, about five years ago. The only change was that the Jeep track that provided some access had completely eroded away. This was not a problem for us since we were expecting to have to engineer a new road anyway before we could get the Sunseeker onto on our land to camp there.
Over the next ten days, we visited some of the area's museums, natural arches, and Ancestral Puebloan ruins and artwork. The hike to the "Procession" panel, an amazing petroglyph at the apex of the Comb Ridge, was one of the best we've ever done. We also explored some of the Jeep roads and trails surrounding Blanding. Of course, we birded along the way. At the end of some of the longer days, we headed to one of our all-time favorite watering spots, the Blanding A&W Root Beer stand.
During our stay, the weather was cooler and windier than we had expected for mid to late May. Indeed, the wind was strong enough the day we left that we decided to stop early. We wound up pulling into the same RV camp in Cortez we stayed at earlier in May. That gave us an excuse to spend another day in Mesa Verde National Park. Glad we did. I finally mustered the gumption to get up the 30-foot ladder that is a prerequisite to visiting Balcony House.
Mayday and Cinco de Mayo: Cortez, Colorado
May definitely came in like a lion in New Mexico this year. We were forced to stop for three days in Albuquerque because of strong winds. When they finally calmed to 20 mph, we broke camp and headed west on I40. Since we had missed the NABS rally, there was no longer any reason to rush to Utah, so we decided to spend a week in Cortez, CO. We pulled the Sunseeker into Sundance RV Campground in the middle of town. Although this facility was not inexpensive, the weekly rate was reasonable and we found it to be one of the nicest commercial campgrounds we've stayed at so far in our RVing experience.
While in Cortez, we visited the fairly new Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, the significantly 'renovated' Mesa Verde National Park, the historic town of Telluride, and some of the more remote back country of the San Juan National Forest.
April 24: Percha Dam
In early April, we decided to spend the month of May on the road. We wanted to participate in The Natural Arch and Bridge Society's Spring Rally held the first few days of May in Utah. We then planned on staying in the Four Corners area for the rest of the month, visiting some of the attractions there as well as checking on our land near Blanding, Utah. So, we serviced the Sunseeker, stocked her up, and, on April 24, set up camp at Percha Dam State Park, just south of Truth or Consequences, NM.
This first stop on our itinerary served several purposes. We had signed up for a birding class during the month of April and its last field trip was at Percha on April 26. Camping there let us check out our RV not too far from Las Cruces. If we had a problem, we could easily return. In the event, the Sunseeker performed beautifully. We not only joined the birding class field trip, we began our trip to Utah 70 miles closer than if we had started from Las Cruces.
Unfortunately, heading north from Percha, we ran into very strong Spring winds. As we passed through the town of Socorro, NM, wind speeds were 35 to 40 mph along I25, with gusts up to 60 mph. Driving the RV with the jeep in tow became excessively stressful, if not downright unsafe. We decided to make an early stop for the day at a camp just west of Albuquerque.
The winds did not let up for three days, so we decided to stay put. Although we were sad to miss the NABS rally, our compensation was to experience more of Albuquerque than we had been able to previously. Visiting Old Town was a first for us. We enjoyed the plaza and ate at an amazing French restaurant, La Crepe Michel. We also got to bird at the Rio Grande Nature Center and visit Petroglyphs National Monument.
February 16: Santa Fe
Over Valentine's Day weekend we were able to visit Santa Fe with our good friends Stacey and Rick, who joined us from the Bay Area. Mostly, we enjoyed several of the venues the city is famous for, like the plaza and the Georgia O'Keefe museum. We also ate at great restaurants and did lots of gallery hopping. Finally, we got in a little birding and made a side trip to nearby Tent Rocks National Monument.
January 31: Realignment
2014 began with a pretty big change to our plans for how to spend the year, at least the first several months of it. Late last year, we fell in love with Las Cruces, New Mexico, after spending a couple of weeks there. It is a vibrant, small, and affordable city set in one of the most scenic landscapes in the country. Then in mid-November, while camping near Austin, an opportunity arose we could not pass up. A manufactured house in a development we looked at and really liked came on the market. By Thanksgiving, our purchase offer had been accepted and our focus changed from traveling to establishing a second home and a new base from which to explore the West.
After closing on the house in early December, and getting it ready to live in, we retraced a portion of our travels of last year. First, we rushed to Vestal, New York, to spend Christmas with Judy's dad, brother, and daughter. Then we raced ahead of a major storm to visit Judy's son in Oklahoma City. Next, back to Austin to spend some time with my mom, sons, and siblings. Finally, one month after leaving Las Cruces, we returned to our new house there, again just avoiding horrific winter weather on our route.
Whew! What a whirlwind. We've definitely earned a short respite from traveling. So, instead, we've spent alot of time getting to know our new second home and exploring the many interesting venues in south central New Mexico and extreme west Texas. There certainly are some pretty neat birds here. Nevertheless, the bug continues to call. We've already scheduled a short trip to Santa Fe for next month.