Friday, March 15, 2013

Big Sky heads East

Next on our agenda, as we headed into the Sunrise, heading for home with several stops in between.

The bad thing about heading East is that you are driving into the Sunrise every day, which can make travel tiring, but it's okay.  We left Las Vegas on October 23, stopped off in Gallup for a quick overnight as we headed for Albuquerque to spend 4 days with Mr. C's Dad and Step-Mom.

We stopped for the night and refueling in Gallup, NM.  We stayed at an okay RV park called, USA RV Park  It was a pretty simple, not many frills RV park and was great for over nighting, with one exception.  Although the park map makes it look like a great easy in and out RV park (all pull-thru sites) in actuality the "roads" between the rows of RVs were very narrow and on a curve, making it very tight to get a 40 ft 5th wheel parked.  The sites themselves were also rather narrow with many obstacles.  We tried it a couple times, Mr. C finally decided to try coming in from a different angle and pulled out and went around the block to try again.  Even then, we had trouble getting it in and with our neighbor's truck parked on the off-side of his 5th wheel (where we were trying to pull in) we just couldn't fit it in.  I finally asked our neighbor if it would be possible for him to move his truck until we got parked and he was more than happy to do so and even helped us wiggle into our site.
After a long day of driving, though, it didn't make us very happy campers, LOL.  It was an okay campground, there was a small swimming pool, a small playground, a cookout area and small laundry and restrooms, so it had the basic amenities, but we were just there over night and really weren't very impressed. In fact, we were so unimpressed, we didn't take a single picture, which is unheard of for me.

We saw lots of things, places, we'd like to visit someday, along the way, but found Gallup itself to be rather depressing overall.  We did have an absolutely fantastically beautiful sunset that night, but of course didn't have our camera with us that time, LOL.  So, we slept and got up the next morning and headed further East, back to Albuquerque.  There was lots of pretty scenery and there were some interesting rock formations between Las Vegas and Albuquerque, so come along for the ride:

 So we had a pretty uneventful drive to Albuquerque.

Had some great times and visiting with Mr. C's folks:
While we were in Albuquerque, we stayed at Balloon View RV Park, although we weren't totally thrilled with it last time around.  We also visited 4 other RV parks.  The KOA was totally out of the question.  We had trouble finding it and getting to it, and could barely maneuver our truck alone around it, we felt there would be no way we could comfortably manage with the Big Sky.

We also checked out:  American RV Park, High Desert RV Park, and Enchanted Trails RV Park.  All three of these parks are on the West side of town, actually OUTSIDE the west side of town.  They were all nicely set up, some much nicer than the others:  American RV Park was very nicely set up and had good amenities.  Enchanted Trails was a very basic dirt/sand and scrub Park.  High Desert was nicely set up, small, with no amenities other than the basic bath house, laundry etc.  However, for our purposes, the folks live on the North East side of Albuquerque, so the travel time and the traffic etc. just didn't make it worth our while to stay at any of these three parks.  so we returned to Balloon View.  We had a much better site this time, though, as it was level.  In fact, they told us which ones were available and let us just go pick our own and call and let them know which one we were in.  There were very few traveling RVers there this time, just the people who appear to live there full-time.  It was quiet and peaceful and since we weren't there to be entertained at the RV Park, it suited our purposes (and the price was right).

Most days we spent at the folks, but we did take one side trip while there.  We visited the Petroglyph National Monument.  Although we have been to Albuquerque several times, we have usually had family dues and didn't have much time to see anything else.  This was a very nice park with some nice hiking trails.  After visiting the Visitor's Center and talking with the Ranger, we chose the Rinconada Canyon Trail which is a 2.2 (that's 2 point 2, not 22) mile round trip, unpaved trail, which follows the escarpment's base.  Yes, I managed to walk a full 2.2 mile unpaved trail.  There were moments I had my doubts, but we made it (or rather I made it, there was no doubt of Mr. C's ability).   The beginning of the trail was very difficult as it is all dry sand and you sink and slip and slide in the sand as you are walking, but once you get near the actual cliffs (where the petroglyphs are located) it gets a bit more solid.
The petroglyphs are not right on the trail, some you can easily see from the trail, but others you have to do a bit of rock climbing to see them.

We only saw 2 "wild life" items during the hike and neither of them were snakes (much to Mr. C's dismay, he LOVES snakes, off ALL kinds).   The first critter we saw was this:  

We got quite a few photos of the petroglyphs, but it was very sad to see that people have defaced so many of the rocks and petroglyphs that it's hard to determine if what you are looking at is an original Petroglyph or somebody's graffiti.  Although I suppose in 500 years, said graffiti will be the "new petroglyphs".  What a depressing thought, LOL.

We also saw this critter, although from a distance, thought it was another petroglyph:

The walk back to the car was away from the edge of the cliffs and across the flat desert floor and seemed to go on and on.  I sure would have hated to be "lost in the desert" hundreds of years ago with no sign of where I was going.  It was rather overwhelming.

That night there was the most unbelievable full moon.  The October Full Moon is called the Hunter's Moon. I'm sure my photo does not do it justice, but it was lovely.

There was one fun thing we saw while we were in Albuquerque.  One afternoon, we went to Golden Corral for a late lunch/early dinner (actually, we go to Golden Corral, quite often, it is our favorite place to eat as we can get what we feel like having and the food is almost always top notch).

We were sitting in the truck waiting for the folks to show up to join us and I looked up and on the curb in front of us saw a bird.  It was all fluffed up (it was windy and chilly) and I asked Mr. C, what is that?  Is that an owl?  From

the angle we were looking at it and without my glasses, I couldn't see tail or head, it just looked like a little brown bird all hunched in on itself.

Mr. C says, "No, honey, I think that's your Road Runner".  I have never seen a Road Runner for real nor up close.  There was a large semi sitting between us and the Road Runner, but I got out of the truck and began a slow creep up on this poor bird to try to get it's picture.

We played quite a bit of hide and seek as he ducked behind bushes and the air conditioner and I was behind the truck.  The truck driver probably wondered what on earth I was doing, LOL, but I didn't care.

At one point I was only about 8 feet from the Road Runner and here are the pictures I took before he found a place he could sneak under the fence and glide away down to the driveway below our parking lot.
I never knew they had that little blue spot by their eyes nor that they had turquoise inner tail feathers.  He was so pretty and it was such fun.    

This is where he was finally able to slip under the fence and get away.

So that was a real highlight for me to not only see a Road Runner, but to be able to get some fairly good up close pictures of one.

It was soon time for us to move on down the road towards home, but we had some plans before the final drive home.  We stopped one night back at Fort Amarillo RV Resort in Amarillo, TX.  We stayed there on our way out and would have gladly stayed there several days if we had unlimited time.  It was a very nicely set up RV park, easy in and easy out, mostly pull-thru sites.  Our only problem was we got in late (we knew we would).  When we picked up our paperwork (the office was closed, but we had reservations and they had our paperwork out on the board) and drove to our site, somebody had their Conversion Van sitting in it.  There were no lights on so we didn't feel right knocking on their door.  We called the after hours number and the guy was shocked, but said they had another one open to try this one.  Fortunately, as previously stated, it's a very nicely set up park and even with our 40 ft monster behind us we weren't too concerned about making a round or two of the park.  He sent us to another site that people were just pulling into, so he directed us to another one.  We were on the phone with him the whole time and yes, I suppose it would have been better business for him to actually come out and take care of the problem (not a clue where he was located, though), as in theory they should have had the conversion van move since they had no clue it was even there.  My guess was they got a free night out of the deal.  But eventually, he got us into a spot, we ate, went to bed, and got up early the next morning to hit the road again.

We were heading for Tulsa to pick up a couple cats.  A million years ago (at least it seems that long, but was actually only about 20) we used to breed Ragamuffin Cats.  Ragamuffin cats are the sweetest most laid back cats you will ever want to meet.  They are medium to long haired cats with very easy care coats.  They will let almost anyone pick them up and will just hand limp in your arms, hence their name.  Fast forward to the present.  Our own home has been without any Ragamuffins for many years (we've had other cats, but not Ragamuffins).  My sister still had one, a 19 year old male of our breeding.  He had passed over the Rainbow Bridge a couple of months before our trip.  We were all so sad at no longer having any Ragamuffins in the family that we started a search for another one.  We finally found a breeder in Tulsa, OK.  Once we got there, we found ourselves basically doing a cat rescue mission.  I was hoping to get a kitten, but it didn't work out that way (the kitten had died, should have been a red flag), so we accepted 2 older retired breeders.
Our new Blue Mink Cat Cuddles (which she does not do).
My sister's new cat Peaches who quickly had a name change to Patches.
It's a long story and I won't go into details except to say doing business with this woman was a BIG mistake.  So we stopped for one night in Tulsa, OK.  We stayed at the Warrior RV Park.  This was a nice older park, but it was not designed with the monster RVs of today.  They managed to squeeze us into a site with their help.  This was a very basic overnighter type of campground.  Many permanent RV's on site with a few open sites for "campers".

I know, many people probably wonder what is wrong with us that we don't stop at Walmart or a truck stop or whatever for over nighters, but we haven't yet convinced ourselves to do so.  So we picked up a cat for ourselves and one for my sister.  

We knew we still had a week on the road, but the cats quickly settled in:

No, I did not force them to be together on my lap, Snuffles was already up there and Peaches jumped up and decided he needed a cuddle, too.

So, that's the end of this saga, tomorrow we head for a week at Branson, MO and what a great weekend that turned out to be.

Hope to see you back soon.  Smiles, Sue C

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