Blue Mesa Recreation Ranch

27 05 2020

Blue Mesa Recreation Ranch

After Alamosa we’re headed to Blue Mesa Recreation Ranch, a private membership only campground nestled in a canyon overlooking Blue Mesa reservoir, the largest empound on the Gunnison River. With over 250 sites, PARK MAP this campground offers a bit of everything:  Cottages, Cabins, Tent sites, Premier sites, a playground offering shuffleboard, horseshoes, mini-golf a fishing pond and even a tranquil adults only area with a pool and hot tub.  Internal roadways are paved, with wide graveled sites.  Sites offer a cement slab with a picnic table and surrounding sage brush to provide a bit of privacy.

Blue Mesa Recreation Ranch

We’re parked in site 374, high along the northern edge of the ranch with great views over the lower sites and beyond to Blue Mesa.  Nearly all sites are very long back-in’s, with all utilities at the rear.  This configuration makes good sense from a construction standpoint, but generally takes extra lengths of all connectors.  Running along this same utility corridor, WiFi access points are mounted on posts above every 10th site or so. With both excellent signal and speed this WiFi network had no problem handling an IP phone and Roku streaming TV.  This is a nice resort, we’ll be back!

Blue Mesa Recreation Ranch

Blue Mesa Recreation Ranch





Alamosa KOA

26 05 2020

Island Acres, James M Robb – Colorado River State Park

With friends returning from a month on the Oregon coast, others that are picking up their trailer from winter storage in SW Utah, and a few more “locals”, the Grand Mesa area of western Colorado looks like an ideal meeting point.  We’re bound for Island Acres, a section of the James M Robb – Colorado River State Park.

Enroute to Grand Junction and on a fairly quick overnight, we caught up with friend that are now the owners of the KOA in Alamosa, CO.  We last visited this park in 2015 on our way to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  Just a few miles east of Alamosa, the park offers nearly 270 degree views of beautiful Colorado mountain peaks. With nearby Blanca Peak on the southern stretch of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east and north, and the rugged San Juan Mountains to the west – the views are spectacular!  Especially from the parks premium end sites.  We’re parked at #24, centered in the park, complete with a fire ring and picnic table and even a couple of shade trees.  The full hook-up sites offer conveniently placed water, sewer portal and electrical.  The free WiFi runs along just fine even for Roku TV streaming!  An in-progress expansion include 14 new sites including 5 patio sites.  Things look great Les & Deb, thanks for hosting us for a quick overnight!





Back Home!

11 05 2020

After departing Van Horn we were back at Boot Hill RV in Alamogordo for 4 nights.  It was just about 8 weeks since we were last at Boot Hill – how the world has changed in those 8 weeks!  From Alamogordo we’re headed home, after 1 quick overnight in Santa Fe.

It’s been over 4 years since we were last at Santa Fe Skies.  Continued upgrades along with the growth of shrubs and trees is turning this into a very nice park.  We’re in site “Daylilly 7”, one of the back-in sites that provides views to the west and north across the city of Santa Fe.  Santa Fe Skies has done one of the best job of pandemic changes.  From their website we first placed a reservation request.  The response from this request was a confirmation along with an optional “Cancel my Reservation” link.  On the morning of our arrival, an Online Payment email with a “Pay Now” link was received.  Once paid, we received an Online Check-in email complete with site assignment, directions to the park, a park map and the “handy handout” with pertinent information such as WiFi password, park rules and local restaurants.

Santa Fe Skies RV Park, Santa Fe, NM

Speaking of WiFi – back in 2010 this park provided stream-able WiFi – a huge accomplishment 10 years ago!  Then, just 4 years ago the same WiFi system barely provided browsing connections.  Their website notes major upgrades since our last visit. While the signal is a bit weak along this side of the park, once connected we noted stream-able speeds again.  And, there’s now an option to have a hardwired connection in Daylilly sites 1-10 and Yucca 5-14.

Santa Fe Skies, Santa Fe, NM

 

After the quick overnight in Santa Fe, we’re on the final leg of this 100 night trip.  We’ve traveled nearly 4000 miles and stayed in 27 campgrounds, RV parks and even a beautiful driveway.  We’ve had great times at spring baseball games in Phoenix,  explored over the border in Mexico, spent wonderful time with friends & family, and then, on the second half of the trip, learned how to fold no-sew masks, create a bleach sanitizing solution and have been virtually locked-down in near total isolation on South Padre Island.  Truly a trip of contrasts!  Our “home county”, Huerfano, is still tightly locked down – so no travel plans at this point until things ease up a bit.  Stay safe, wash your hands and be healthy!

Spring Road Trip, 2020





Into West Texas

5 05 2020

Canyons RV Park, Sanderson, TX

Departing Uvalde, we’re headed to Sanderson, TX and Canyon RV Park. We’ve traveled through Sanderson several times on our way in or out of Big Bend National Park. In the past we’re always decided that Canyon RV wasn’t for us. Located between the highway and railroad tracks, the park looked old and rundown and received fairly bad reviews. But, hoping for the best, we decide we’ll try it, or – if things don’t look good, continue to Ft. Stockton.

On a weather note, somewhere between Uvalde and Sanderson we cross through the “dry line”. Humidity this morning in Uvalde was 100%, this afternoon in Sanderson it’s 20%!

The Texas Dry Line

Pulling into Canyon RV, we’re surprised by the bad reviews and what we remember as a “do not stop” park. Sites are wide, level and graveled. Several of these sites have large pine trees on opposite sides providing some welcome shade from the late afternoon sun. Concrete utilities islands are designed for 50A usage on one side and 30A usage on the other side in “back to back” configurations. However, the park isn’t nearly full enough to require any back to back parking and in fact, we’re the only overnight guest. There are another half-dozen or so longer term residents including a FEMA team working onsite. Rates are $30, cash or check only, and deposited in the “Piggy” mailbox. We didn’t try it, but reports are that the new fiber install in town has boosted WiFi to stream-able speeds. New owners are making tremendous headway in changing this to a great stopover park for Big Bend visitors or those escaping the heat of the Texas Hill country or the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Thanks Kevin, we’ll be back!

Departing Sanderson, the original plan was to head north on 285 to join I-10 at Ft. Stockton for an overnight in Van Horn. However, we decide on the much more scenic drive across highway 90 through Marathon, Alpine and Marfa. RVTripWizard.com notes a low tunnel on the west side of Marfa at 13’11”. Arriving at the railroad bridge, the signs note only a 13’7” clearance, making it way too close to what we believe is a 13’6” trailer. After a bit of careful backup work, and directing blocked traffic around us, we head back into Marfa determined to find an alternate route. As it turns out, there is an easy route to avoid this low bridge. Approaching from the east, turn south on 11th street to Murphy Ave west. Follow Murphy to the West Mosley Loop and rejoin the highway just beyond the low bridge. Voila, problem solved!

Alpine, TX

In Van Horn, we’re parked at the familiar Van Horn (former KOA) park in site E8. From here we’re headed to Alamogordo, more from there…

Van Horn RV Park





Departing South Texas

2 05 2020

With temperatures (and humidity) beginning to get way too far into the uncomfortable range, it’s time to head north!  As is normal, we’ll plan to stay as close to the Rio Grande as possible to avoid those nasty spring storms that can bring tornadoes and hail to northern parts of Texas.  In verifying availability at parks on our route home, we find that about 50% are still closed or not accepting overnight guests due to county or state regulations related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Our first night will be at Mustang Hollow Campground on Lake Corpus Christi.  This former KOA has an “upper” and a “lower” lakeside section.  We’re initially assigned site D7 in the lower section.  Set among mesquite trees, the parks internal roads need both grading and widening.  Especially the lower roads!  After being escorted to our site through rough and low-clearance roads, we attempt for nearly 30 minutes to get into the site.  To start, or escort climbs up on the trailer roof and proceeds to cut down a half dozen fairly large limbs.  This site has a steep downhill grade to it, and a large drainage gully on the right site.  Even after many attempts, we can’t get anywhere close to being able to level the trailer.  And, as we move around in the site, more of the low hanging limbs are poking at the front cap, roof and awnings.  Eventually the escort gives up, calls the office and arranges for us to move to site A18 in the upper section.  After another harrowing trip back up through the ruts and trees, we are shown into a level, well trimmed site right next to the swimming pool.  Whew…what an experience.  Never again will we accept a “lower” site!

Mustang Hollow Campground, Mathis, TX

Mustang Hollow Campground, Mathis, TX

Mustang Hollow Campground, site A18

After Lake Corpus Christi we’re headed to Uvalde and Quail Springs RV Park.  Quail Springs is on Main Street in central Uvalde occupying an oasis of huge old oak trees.  The 80+ site park appears to be mostly long term Winter Texans or even longer term residents. We’re parked in a pull-through site #153 which provides full hookups with 50A service, cable TV, a small cement pad and picnic table.  Back-in sites #148-#164 would offer the most privacy and most are shaded.  We liked Quail Springs and would probably stay here again.

Quail Springs RV Park, site #153

Quail Springs RV Park, Uvalde, TX





Back to Harlingen

28 04 2020

We’ve moved back into Tropic Winds RV Resort our stop-over for at least a few days when departing South Padre and before continuing the trip north.  Arriving on Saturday, we know the office won’t be open on the weekend.  However, first thing on Monday we call to pay our bill for 7 nights.  The response is surprising… “you can’t stay here”! For some unknown reason, after allowing us to stay 25 days earlier, and as Texas and Cameron County begin to relax stay-at-home and isolation guidelines, Encore Resorts has shut down all of their parks to new reservations and arrivals.

Encore owns the RV Resort market in much of the Rio Grande Valley, however we had no problem finding several smaller, private parks that were open and welcoming new guests.  By late on Monday we’ve moved across town to Sundance RV Village, a small park of 80 sites, a spotlessly clean (and open) laundry room and free & fast WiFi.  We’re parked in site #44, a mid-park site with a large shade tree directly overhead.  The rate at Sundance is $20/night for weekly visits ($46/night at Encore Resorts), there are no resort fees and the WiFi which runs along at about 20Mb is free (compared to daily Tango Internet fees at Encore Resorts)  We like it here – and may be back next year!

Sundance RV Village, Site #44

Sundance RV Village, Harlingen, TX





A Quiet South Padre Island

1 04 2020

We’ve just spent 5 nights at Tropic Winds RV Resort in Harlingen.  This is always a resupply stop before moving out to the Island, and our visit this year is no different, just a bit more constrained with only essential businesses available.  Encore Resorts (owners of Tropic Winds) has made what appears to be an easy versus practical decision to close all indoor facilities including their laundry rooms along with all pools and hot tubs.  However, they won’t budge on charging the daily resort fee – even with no resort facilities available!

Arriving at Isla Blanca park on South Padre Island on April 1st, the first impression is that things are pretty “normal”. Social distancing and masks are required at the check-in office.  But, in the park, with about 150 rigs, it’s pretty typical of this winter to summer cross-over period.  After years of visits to Isla Blanca, we’ve finally managed to snag one of the coveted “S” sites.  These 20 sites next to the El Cristo de los Pescadore, “Christ of the Fishermen” statue provide full hookups including 50A service and some of the best ship channel views in the park.  Some of these sites have extended patios and end-site #23 even has a beautiful cactus garden!

Brownsville Ship Channel & “Cristo” statue

Isla Blanca Site S23

The brand new beach pavilions that were completed since we stayed last year are shuttered, as are all other park facilities except the shower houses.  With no day use access, the beaches and boardwalks are eerily quiet – it’s rare that you see more than 2 or 3 others on the entire Isla Blanca beach.  These closures are even more obvious as we enter Holy Week leading up to Easter on April 12th.  Usually a very busy time everywhere on South Padre Island, the beaches are empty as is the main town.

Isla Blanca Boardwalk

Isla Blanca Amphitheater

In early April, Cameron County is observing state mandates for closure of most except non-essential businesses.  About 50% of the Padre restaurants are providing some type of curb-side food service.  We’re able to take advantage of a few favorites including South Padre Island Brewing and Painted Marlin.  And, we took advantage of the very clean and quiet laundry facilities at Bluewater Laundromat.

Bluewater Laundromat, South Padre Island

With our prime location, we’re hopeful of watching a SpaceX test rocket fire across the ship channel at Boca Chica.  However, on April 3rd, Starship SN3 is completely destroyed during cryogenic proof testing. Beach and road closures for April 6th-8th which were expected for the 150 meter “hop” test were cancelled pending the delivery of SN4.  Darn…maybe next year!

By late April, we’ve decided that we’re ready for a change of scenery and want to spend time with family back in Harlingen before returning home.  We set April 25th as our departure date. Coincidentally, Cameron County announces they are going to start relaxing beach and park access on that same date.  So, with restrictions being lifted, this seems like an excellent time to depart the quiet, seemingly safe haven of our small island community. The plan is to spend about a week back in Harlingen…more from there…

 





By the River Campground, Kerrville, TX

25 03 2020

By the River Campground, Kerrville, TX

We’re parked in site #44 at By the River Campground in Kerrville, TX.  We’ve explored several RV park options around Kerrville and always end up back here. Site #42 is the last site along the non-riverside row and is probably the best in the park.  We’re just 2 sites over from there and enjoy some of the same good river views.  However,  #44 is a Water/Electric crossover site meaning the water and electric must be threaded under the rig and connected on the “wrong” side.  Nearly every other site along this row is a cross-over which would be perfect if you had friends in the next site and wanted to share a common area by parking 1 rig backward and 1 rig forward.

Arriving on March 19th, this is the first place we’ve seen Corona Virus precautions.  The office is locked, payment is taken by phone the day before arrival and the map and campground navigation is left in an envelope at the gate.  None of the last 3 places (Alamogordo on March 14th, Van Horn on March 17th or Ft. Stockton on March 18th) have any front-desk precautions in place.  Employees are requiring guests at the front desks and freely sharing conversation, credit cards and signature pens.  Only at Ft. Stockton did we see a glimmer of precaution used when the on-site restaurant dining room was closed on the day we left.

However, Kerrville is a much different place.  Store shelves are barren of even some of the basics, eggs, milk, many meats and of course the ever-empty paper and cleaner/hand sanitizer aisles.  On Friday we enjoy the patio at the Wild Ass Hey Barn (a favorite located next to the RV park) on their last day of operation. On Saturday March 19th we joined friends at Mamacita’s  on their last day before going “Take Out Only”.  Needless to say, precautions continued to ramp-up in this fairly isolated Hill Country town.  By the time we left on March 26th, all restaurants that were still open had moved to deliver or take away only, non-essential businesses had been shut, store inventories were becoming a bit better and traffic around town was quiet.

As lock-down orders went into place across Texas county by county, we weighed the options of curtailing or continuing our trip.  But, the ultimate goal was to meet family in Harlingen and then move out to South Padre Island for the month of April. Our hope was that the small island community would be a more pleasant and ultimately safer environment to ride out this storm.  We were in nearly daily contact with Cameron County park officials who continued to assure us that our reservation would be honored and their outdoor beach and boardwalk facilities were open to campground residents.

After a week in Kerrville with great friends, it was sad to depart, knowing that they were headed home to the north and that we had made the commitment to continue south toward South Padre island.  After a quick one-night stop at Lake Corpus Christi State Park we’ll arrive in Harlingen.  More from there…





Across Southern New Mexico & West Texas

15 03 2020

Our View at the KOA, Las Cruces, NM

From Bisbee the original plan was to make a stop in Deming, NM.  We enjoyed staying at Rock Hound State Park outside of Deming in 2016. However, after a fairly early departure from Bisbee, we’re in Deming by around 2PM, and make the decision to continue another hour to Las Cruces, home of one of our favorite KOA’s.  We end up in interior site #55 which works just fine for an overnight stay.

From Las Cruces, it’s a short trip over to Alamogordo, where we’ll spend 3 nights at Boot Hill RV Resort.  From Alamogordo we make an overnight stop at Van Horn RV Park and another overnight at Ft. Stockton RV Park.

Boot Hill RV Resort, Alamogordo, NM

Van Horn RV Park, Van Horn, TX

After this quick transit of New Mexico and West Texas, we’re planning a week long stay in the Texas Hill country, at one of our favorite RV parks, By The River.  More from Kerrville…





Queen Mine RV Park, Bisbee, AZ

11 03 2020

The Quarry Bisbee

Bisbee is THE small city to see in Arizona, so says Trip Advisor and Frommers.  So, instead of heading directly east as normal, we’ve detoured south from Tucson, through Tombstone and are parked in site #5 at the Queen Mine RV Park in Bisbee, just a little over 7 miles north of the Mexican border.

The 25 sites of Queen Mine RV are laid out in a circle, 1 through about 8 are up against a hillside, the next 8 or so overlook the huge Lavender Pit and the remaining sites overlook Old Bisbee.  The driveway to the campground is steep, but didn’t require any special maneuvering for jacks or truck clearance.  An approach from the west on highway 80 is best for taller rigs.  Coming in from the east will require a transit of a the 13’5” Main Street underpass, or a U-turn past the Main Street exit allowing an approach from the west.  Departures to either direction avoid the underpass.

Queen Mine RV Park, Bisbee, AZ

Our $35/night rate included 30Amp electric, water, sewer, WiFi and cable TV.  All sites are capable of satellite reception so we didn’t try the cable TV.  We did use the park WiFi – sometime with good success, sometimes with poor.  The T-Mobile signal was weak, but provided enough hotspot service to satisfy light browsing and email.

Queen Mine RV Park, Bisbee, AZ

Bisbee itself is very reminiscent of one of the old Colorado mining cities such as Cripple Creek.  Built along the hills & gulches above the open pit copper mines, early stories tell of frequent flooding, inadequate sewage facilities, garbage in the streets and over 50 saloons, gambling halls and of course houses of prostitution.  In addition, the huge smelting operations completely de-forested the nearby hillsides which were soon covered in iron-colored tailings from the many mines in the areas.  It must have been a horrific sight!

Lavender Pit next to Old Bisbee, AZ – Google Earth

Today, Old Bisbee boasts hundreds of carefully renovated buildings, a thriving art/music/hospitality scene, wonderful summertime festivals and a cool, mountain location. With an amazing number of dining options, we opted for The Quarry Bisbee on Brewery Ave.  Within a 5 or 10 minute walk of the RV park, the Quarry provides great comfort plates such as meatloaf, chicken pot pie, patty melts and of course big juicy burgers.  We enjoyed our night out and will probably return for another visit to explore more of Bisbee.  From here we’re headed into New Mexico – more from along I-10.