Northern Arizona

1 10 2021

We’re off to northern Arizona!

First stop, Blue Spruce RV park in Bayfield, CO near Vallicito Lake.  We’ve been to Blue Spruce before, and this time we’re parked in site #37.  This fairly tight back-in site provides full hookups.  There’s no cell signal that finds its way back into this valley, but the park has fairly reliable WiFi that provides streamable speeds.  We found no clear path for DISH satellite, the trees are too thick and tall.  However, it’s not about being in the camper. We’re here to see friends new home build that is going very well.  They are living in their RV near the property and the house is close to being dried in.  In addition to dinner and a tour at the new house, we enjoyed an early evening dinner at The Weminuche Woodfire Grill, a small café near the lake.

Blue Spruce RV Park, Bayfield, CO

After the trees and shade at Blue Spruce, we’re parked in arid, dusty Gallup, NM at the USA RV Park.  We’ve been at USA before – and it’s still just a basic urban park.  If anything, the trains are more frequent and there’s more truck traffic along I-40. This is certainly just an overnight stop that provides flat, level spaces, full hookups and reliable WiFi – along with some good restaurants, a Walmart and a nice Safeway. Based on recommendations from a neighboring site, we’d like to try the restaurant at the Hotel el Rancho on our next visit to Gallup.

El Rancho Hotel, Gallup New Mexico

From Gallup it’s a little over an hour west to Holbrook along I-40, then southwest toward Heber, AZ and a bit beyond to Forest Lakes.  While Phoenix is still logging 100+ temps, we’re going to be “on the rim”.  This huge cliff runs nearly all the way across northern Arizona, with an average elevation of 7000 feet.  (as compared to 1080’ for Phoenix).  The Mogollon Rim (pronounced “Muggy-own”) runs from Yavapai County near Prescot all the way to New Mexico and is the southern boundary of the Colorado Plateau.

The Mogollon Rim of Northern Arizona

Forest Lakes, as the name would imply, is much different than the desert of Phoenix.  Tall, Ponderosa Pine trees dominate with smaller undergrowth of cedar and some scrub brush.  In fact, this Coconino National Forest boasts the largest stand of Ponderosa Pine trees in the world!

The Mogollon Rim of Northern Arizona

We’re parked in the side-yard of good friends from Apache Junction that we met several years ago at Cheyenne Frontier Days.  We enjoyed one evening around the firepit before monsoon-like rains arrived dropping temperatures into the 40’s and 50’s.  However, we still enjoyed great tours, fun Sunday football and terrific food!  Thanks for a great time D&J!  We’ll see you next spring!

Double D Bar & Grill – Tonto Village, Arizona

Returning to I-40, we’ll spend one night at Blue Spruce RV Park in Grants and one night at Taos Valley RV in Taos, NM.  We’ve never stayed at Grants before – and probably don’t need to again.  It’s even nosier than Gallup!  The quiet, pleasant surroundings at Taos are well appreciated!

Blue Spruce RV, Grants, NM

From Taos we’re headed home.  We have one more, very short, trip to Circle the Wagons on the calendar.  After that, it’ll be a wrap – and time to winterize.  Including next weekend we will spend 166 nights in the camper, have traveled about 8500 miles and enjoyed at great season of time on the road.

We’re already scheduled to depart in mid-January for the spring road trip, this time including Lake Havasu, Yuma and the Houston area. Stay tuned…and Happy Fall, and Happy Holidays!  Safe Travels to everyone!





Fall Camping at Hecla Junction

18 09 2021

We’re back at one of our favorites, Hecla Junction, one of the campgrounds that make up the Arkansas River Headwaters State Park.  Our site, 1101, provides a long level back-in, beautiful views of the Arkansas River, a firepit and a nice gravel tent site.  This site is optimal for backing out of the park if you suspect the low crossings could cause clearance issues.  Site #1102 is the same – however neither of these sites offer any shade.  For early afternoon shade site 1103 & 1104 would be the best.

Hecla Junction

The aspen are just starting to turn over Ponca Pass, with a few showing their colors here along the river.  Our days are spent exploring Buena Vista and Salida – and evenings around the campfire.  We enjoy food and beers at both EddyLine Brewery in Buena Vista and The Boathouse in Salida.

Eddyline Brewery, Buena Vista, CO

On a technology note, friends tried out a weBoost Drive Reach RV ($500) cellular booster in Site 1102.  Using a Verizon phone hotspot, they achieved about 8Mb down and .5Mb up. And were able to share the signal with several of our devices from 1 site away. This is quite impressive, none of our cell phones, T-Mobile or Verizon, have enough signal to even send text messages!

This is likely one of our last Colorado trips for the season.  Next up, is a trip to northern Arizona.  More from there…





Cheyenne Frontier Days 2021

30 07 2021

Blake Shelton with John King

 

It’s back – after being cancelled last year due to the pandemic, the “Daddy Of ‘Em All” is back for a full 10 day run opening on the 23rd of July!  As in years past, we enjoyed the company of friends at AB Camping, our “go-to” RV park when in southern Wyoming.

We’ll see 4 shows this year starting with Maren Morris & Brett Young on Wednesday, followed by Kane Brown & Restless Road, Thomas Rhett & Rhett Adkins and wrapped up by Blake Sheldon & John King on Saturday.

We also attended 2 days of rodeo, and enjoyed the midway and the Buckin’ A Saloon.

Another great time, thanks Marc & Jane!

CFD Rodeo





The Montana Loop – Headed Home

28 06 2021

From Sheridan it’s a rather long day (for us) to Cheyenne.  We’re parked at a familiar park, AB Camping on College Drive on the south side of town.  This is where we hang out each July for Frontier Days.  We’re here only 1 night, and enjoy the great BBQ café in the park.  Thanks Marc & Jane – we’ll see you in a few weeks.

Colorado Rockies Opening Day 2.0

From Cheyenne we’re headed to Denver to catch the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.  Today, July 28th is designated “Opening Day 2.0” as Coors field eliminated Covid restrictions and for the first time in over a year, allow 100% capacity at the ball park.  While it’s busy, all seats are not full – and we enjoy a perfect weather afternoon with the Rockies winning over the Pirates.  (We later learned that 32,000 fans enjoyed this game, so the stadium was 64% full)

In Denver we’re parked in site 9 at Chatfield State Park.  Again, it’s just a quick overnight and tomorrow we’ll be home.  It’s been a great trip.  We’ve covered nearly 2000 miles over 20 nights in 11 parks.  We’re home for 3 weeks before heading north again to Cheyenne Frontier days.  More from Cheyenne!





The Montana Loop – 2 KOA’s

25 06 2021

Livingston KOA Site Map

We’re parked at site #39 at the Livingston (Montana) KOA.  We’re here for an impromptu family reunion, with other family members in site #38, Cabins K13 & K21.  We also have other family members at two private AirBnB type residences.  Our sites are part of brand new upgraded deluxe patio sites.  #38, 39 & 41 will provide 3 sites, each with a large patio, a firepit and very nice patio furniture.  These 3 sites share a common area between them, thus making them perfect for groups traveling together.  The “outside” sites, #37, 40 & 41 would make great overflow sites for a larger group.  Or, since configured back-to-back, allow plenty of privacy if not part of the group.  The only down side to these new sites is a lack of shade.  All of the large trees were removed to make room for these 6 sites.  Other very nice sites are along the river, #58-#61 and these offer better shade.  Overall the park is in great shape, the staff is friendly and attentive.  We’d come back!

The 5 days in southern Montana are busy and a bit of a blur.  Some of the group spends time touring Yellowstone.  Others hit the golf links, some go horse back riding and some of us tour around Gardiner, the northern entrance to Yellowstone.  Needless to say, at the end of June, the area is very busy with RV and other Yellowstone visitors. We also spend an afternoon at the OTO Dude Ranch near Gardiner.

Sheridan KOA Site Map

After our stay in Livingston, we’re headed to Sheridan, WY and yet another KOA.  We’re parked in site #A25, on the far south side of the park.  Sites A21-A26 are tight, both in terms of nearby trees and actual site width.  Even though this is pull through site, trees at both ends make entry difficult.  We’re advised we should probably plan to back-in.  And, these sites are the closest to I-90, a very busy trucking corridor running from Seattle on the west to Boston on the east.

However, we’re happy to have this site.  Due to a big veterans rally in Sheridan, everything is sold out.  We initially were reserved for a dry-camping, “overflow” site in the tent section.  Fortunately with a cancellation we ended up grabbing this full hookup site.  With temps pushing triple digits, it’s great to have both AC’s running which helps drown out the traffic noise.

After a quick overnight in Livingston, we’re headed to Cheyenne, WY.  More from there…





The Montana Loop – Across Wyoming

18 06 2021

After departing Yampa River SP, we head almost directly north to our first stop for 1 night at Western Hills RV in Rawlins, WY.  The park is well laid out, mostly gravel, with nice facilities and a pleasant and accommodating staff.  They moved my reservation when I apparently selected the wrong day on their reservation system with no “change” fees.  However, we ended up in an “electric only” site.  Water is $3 and dump is $3 for these sites. WiFi (from site #60) runs along at nearly 30Mb down and 6Mb up.

While in Rawlins we selected the #1 Mexican Food restaurant according to Yelp, Rose’s Lariat.  A true diner, Rose’s offers great food at reasonable prices.

Western Hills RV, Rawlins, WY

From Rawlins we’re headed to Thermopolis and the Eagle RV Park.  It’s a beautiful drive through the Wind River Canyon before arriving here.  We’re parked in site #13, a very shady and large end site.  We last visited Eagle RV back in 2013 and had a wonderful stay.  We’re happy to report the staff and services are still great.  We’d come back!

Eagle RV, Cody, WY Site #13

After 2 nights in Thermopolis, we’re off to Absaroka Bay RV in Cody, WY.  We tried to get into Buffalo Bill State Park – but evidently sites here are very busy due to it’s location next to Yellowstone.  Absaroka Bay is well maintained, but wow – the sites are tight!  Not just side to side, but also front to back.  With nearly all pull-throughs, the narrow roadways mean parking tow vehicles across the front of the sites which can present an arrival or departure challenge.  During our 2 night stay in Cody, we explored Buffalo Bill SP and enjoyed fine beers and food at Pat O’Hara Brewing Company.

Absaroka Bay RV in Cody, WY

Buffalo Bill State Park Site #4

 

From here, we’re headed to Livingston, MT for 5 nights – more from Montana!





The Montana Loop – Yampa River SP

13 06 2021

From Carbondale we’re headed to Yampa River State Park near Hayden, CO.  Similar to the Carbondale KOA, this campground occupies a green cottonwood grove along the Yampa River and highway 40.  This main campground is one of 13 public access locations managed by the State Park system stretching between Hayden and the Dinosaur National Monument​ near the Utah border.

We’re parked at site #29, a long back-in site that offers no shade except for a covered picnic table.  With temperatures pushing up toward 100, we’re thankful for the 50A service on this site.  Water is available at the dump station and scattered throughout the campsite.

Few of the sites offer much in the way of shade, but all are well spaced, and large enough for even the largest rigs.  We’d return to Yampa River again.





The Montana Loop – Carbondale/Crystal River KOA

11 06 2021

We’re parked in the KOA campground near Carbondale, CO along the beautiful Crystal River.  This park occupies a green oasis between Carbondale and historic Redstone along highway 133.  Along with friends, we’re in sites #12 & 13, in an awning to awning configuration.  These premium sites offer 50A electric service, water, and cement pads along with metal tables and chairs.

This location is a bit too far out of Carbondale for much on the cellular network, and unfortunately the campground WiFi is finicky at best.  But, it’s a fun area to explore – we’d probably come back.

Carbondale KOA Patio River Front Deluxe Site

Carbondale KOA Site Map





The Montana Loop – Salida, CO

10 06 2021

We’ve combined two trips, one with friends in Carbondale, CO and a second for a family reunion in Livingston, MT.  This “loop” will take us north through western Colorado and Wyoming, followed by a return along the front range on I-25.

Our first night is in Salida, CO at Wilderness Expedition/Riverside RV Park.  We could concur that this is an “interesting” place as other reviewers have noted.  Our first encounter is:

“You’re going into site #4?…oh wow, that’s going to be tight!”

To which I respond with – “your website says that site can handle a 45 foot trailer, I’m 35 foot. “

“OK, well, you can try it – but I also have pull-throughs if you want one”

After circling the campground, the “backing assistant” takes over with his directions, the first of which puts a tree limb up against the side of the trailer.  He insists that we continue forward, pushing the limb tighter.  When I take over, and reverse course to get further away from the tree, he exclaims “OK guys…it’s all yours, Good Luck” and walks away.  Probably for the best.  We get repositioned, and make the back-in to site #4 in one attempt. Of course, all the time with an audience of 4 or 5 people standing around the check-in picnic table.

Riverside RV, Salida, CO site #4

As far as facilities – site #4 is 30Amp, without a circuit breaker.  The water pressure is adequate.  None of the sites offer sewer, longer stays allow the use of a “honey wagon”.  The park WiFi, provided by Spectrum Internet, runs along about 3Mb, but appears to have ports blocked that prohibit the most popular streaming apps.  Hulu and Netflix failed while 9News and Amazon Prime worked OK.  The site itself is adequate for a 35’ trailer, but parking the tow vehicle was a challenge.  And, we had to trim a few tree limbs before we could extend the dining room slide.  All in all, this park is OK, it provides a convenient location for services in Salida, and given a better site selection, we might stay here again.





The Road Home

2 05 2021

Our first stop is a favorite, By the River RV in Kerrville.  The Texas Hill country is green and lush this time of year, and even a few bluebonnets linger in the wetter areas.  On Monday, May 3rd, Kerrville posts a record high temperature of 96 degrees.  Whew, we’re glad we picked a 50Amp site!

Guadalupe River at By the River RV Park

By the River, site #54

While in Kerrville, we take a drive out to Kerrville-Schreiner Park, a city-owned park with RV facilities on the southeast side of the city.  The park offers lots of shady sites, and both partial and full hookup 30 & 50 amp sites.  However, many of the sites are very near the Bandera Highway (173) and overall are in need of some TLC.  Cracked pavement, low tree limbs and rusted electrical boxes indicate this park has long deferred maintenance that needs to be accomplished.  Overall, By the River is a much nicer setting.

Kerrville-Schreiner Park

From Kerrville we’re 1 night at San Angelo State Park.  As in past visits, we’re parked in site #19, a very large back-in with good views of the lake and a couple nice big shade trees.  Services here include 30/50A, water, a covered picnic table, fire ring and grill. This spot overlooks what used to be a fairly busy boat ramp.  However, with Fisher Reservoir levels dropping below 10% full – there is no boating traffic present during our stay.

San Angelo State Park, site #19

In Lubbock, we’re in a new park, the Retreat RV Resort, located at the SW corner of I-27 and the 289 loop.  This former mobile home park has been completely refurbished, new concrete roadways, parking pads and patios at each site.  All sites are back-in (except 2 pull-throughs) and provide 30/50A service, water and a sewer port.  We’re parked in Spruce #6, the last row furthest from I-27.  The former mobile home park had beautiful, mature trees that have been kept in the new park with some careful and creative placement of sites, a pool area and a playground.  These trees and grassy areas are best to the front of the property and by the time you get back to Spruce, the trees are small and sparce.  If you are looking for shade, sites along Cedar, Fig and Hickory would be best.  If you like full sun – Pecan, Redwood and Spruce are best.  Most sites are East/West orientation.  If you prefer a North or South site, you’ll need to move to the perimeter sites along Ash (back-in to North) or Walnut (back-in to South).  Overall, this is a good value for $42 (plus $6.00 in mysterious fees).  A bit tricky to find, the entrance is on the I-27 south-bound frontage road.  Approaching from the south, take 84th Street, over to Avenue P, then onto the loop 289 frontage road.

Retreat RV Resort, Lubbock, TX

From Lubbock, we’re headed to Clayton Lake State Park. The State Park is about 12 miles off of the main highway in Clayton.  Upon arrival, our campsite is plenty long enough,  but access is via a very short culvert.  Without much maneuvering room, we find the only way to access the site is to back-in to this pull-through site.  However, checking our cell phones, we find virtually no network access.  This won’t do.  With site access issues and no cellular coverage (and no park WiFi) we abandon our site and head back into town.  The best option appears to be the Clayton RV Park, a former KOA with plenty of sites available tonight.  So, for a total of $29 here and $18 at the state park, we’ll pay $47 for our last night on the road.

Clayton RV Park

On Friday, May 7th we cross over Raton Pass and into southern Colorado.  We’ve been on the road a total of 112 nights and covered almost 4000 miles from southern Colorado to south Arizona and far south Texas.  We’ve visited 22 different RV parks, managed to get our Covid vaccines at CVS Pharmacies in Alice, TX and Brownsville, TX and had a wonderful time with friends and family.

Next up is a “first of summer” trip to Lake Pueblo State Park followed by a 20 night trip starting in Carbondale, CO and including Livingston, MT and Sheridan, WY.  More from there…