Along Chalk Creek

30 09 2012
Chalk Creek #20

Chalk Creek #20

We’re about half-way home from Taos and have stopped at Chalk Creek Campground just south of Buena Vista. Situated right along highway 285, the park is split into two parts, the “upper” and “lower” campgrounds. In the upper campground there are about 30 full hookup sites. There is virtually no vegetation and little privacy on the upper campground, most sites are level gravel pull-throughs with a picnic table and fire ring. The 28 electric only sites in the lower campground are set in a large grove of cottonwood trees along Chalk Creek. There are also 12 tent sites which range from a shared meadow area to a few that have creek access.

We’re parked in site #20, a premium site for creek access complete with a picnic table and fire pit. There are only 4 other RV’s in the lower campground, but with all sites full, there would be considerable less space and privacy. While we didn’t use any of the other facilities, the camp store provides necessities such as ice and firewood, there is a highly rated shower house, a recreation and video game room and a playground. There is full strength T-Mobile service, but weak Verizon broadband coverage. The WiFi is complimentary and seems to work well for online browsing however Hulu viewing was problematic, requiring frequent pauses to buffer. With just a short overnight stay, we didn’t take advantage of many of the amenities, but agreed that Chalk Creek is a possibility for early next spring or again late in the fall.

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Biking the Gorge

29 09 2012
Rio Grande Gorge

Rio Grande Gorge

After a beautiful New Mexico sunset, dinner and relaxing on our shared patio, it’s a quiet evening under the clear, starry Taos sky.  Today we’re headed to the Rio Grande Gorge for a bike ride along the western rim.  About 12 miles west of Taos is one of the largest suspension bridges in the nation spanning the Rio Grande river.  The bike path runs south from the gorge rest area along the western rim.  The trail starts as a single gravel track from the rest area, then joins with a rough jeep trail providing double paths in some areas.  There’s not much elevation change along the rim, but there are some technically challenging areas with fields of volcanic rock and gravel.  A mile or so from the bridge, the path is close enough to the rim for great views back to the bridge and down the gorge to the south. The trail continues for about 8 miles, we managed 6 of those for a total ride of about 12.

On the way back to Taos we stopped at the newly opened Taos Mesa Brewing  for a sampling of all 12 beers on tap.   All selections are from New Mexico, 3 brewed onsite at Taos Mesa and the remainder from Santa Fe Brewery, Chama River Brewing, La Cumbre Brewing, Marble Brewing and Abbey Brewing.  We also enjoyed snacking on the excellent green chili and corn fritters with specialty dipping sauces.  After leaving the brewery we drove up to the Taos Ski area to look around before returning to the RV Park.  We were once again treated to a gorgeous sunset and a cool, clear starry sky.  Tomorrow we’ll pack-up and move about 4 hours north and closer to home.  We plan to be at Chalk Creek RV park south of Buena Vista in time to catch at least part of the Denver Bronco game.  More from there…

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Good Morning from Taos

29 09 2012
Taos Valley RV Park

Taos Valley RV Park

After departing Lathrup State Park, we enjoyed a beautiful trip over La Veta pass and into northern New Mexico. The fall colors are at their peak at the higher elevations with brilliant yellows and gold of the aspen mixed with the burnt orange of the scrub oak and pinon pine. We’re staying at the Taos Valley RV Park for the next 3 nights. The park is the nearest to downtown Taos, affording a long walk or a comfortable bike ride into the main plaza area. Situated on the southern edge of Taos, the park offers about 90 sites accommodating everything from the largest trailers and coaches to smaller tent sites with unique A-frame picnic table covers. All of the RV sites offer water and electric and about half offer full hookups (water, electric and sewer) Most of the sites are fairly level gravel back-in or pull-through, but some of the full hookup sites have concrete pads. We’re on sites #54 & #55. As with many of the sites, these are “door to door” sites – we’re headed south, our neighbors are headed north. When you are traveling with friends this makes a pleasant shared enclosed area. However, as noted on some other blogs, this can be a bit too close for comfort with strangers. (or, you won’t be strangers for long!)

Historic Taos Plaza

Historic Taos Plaza

We’re headed to “downtown” Taos today. The historic plaza and main tourist area is about 3 miles away by bike-friendly back streets. Most of the trip is along Gusdorf Road which is parallel to the main highway Paseo del Pueblo. After finding a bike rack to lock our bikes to, we explore the shops around the main plaza area and those along Bent Street. Our final stop of the day is at the Adobe Bar at the Taos Inn. Here we enjoy some fresh margaritas, beers and snacks before pedaling back to the RV park. It’s been a fun day exploring the backstreets and alleys of old Taos. Tomorrow we’re headed to the Rio Grande Gorge for more biking.

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Along the Sanfa Fe Trail

26 09 2012
Lathrup State Park #83

Lathrup State Park #83

We’re back at Lathrup State Park outside Walsenburg in southern Colorado. We last visited Lathrup in late April. And, we’re in familiar site #83 on the D loop, a fairly level pull-through that offers electricity, great privacy and near-by access to water. Just a short distance way are the flush toilets and pay showers that are available in each of the loops.

As before, we’re not able to find any TV stations, but the Verizon broadband signal is strong and fairly fast. This is just a quick overnight stop enroute to Taos, NM. Tomorrow morning we’ll work for a few hours, pack up and continue west over La Veta pass and then turn south at Ft. Garland into northern New Mexico. More from Taos.

 





Leaf Peeping at Jefferson Lake

15 09 2012
Jefferson Creek Campground

Jefferson Creek Campground

Long before the new Wildcat 5th wheel came into the picture, we’d planned a weekend at Jefferson Lake between Kenosha Pass and South Park. We had explored the campgrounds and picked best sites when we were camping at Kenosha Pass in late July. Jefferson Lake is classified as a special use area and as such, it not covered by either State or Federal park passes. There is a $5 day use fee at the main entrance gate – camping fees are paid online or with the camp host/pay station. We’re at the Jefferson Creek campground, closest to the lake after Lodge pole and Aspen campgrounds. We’re in site #9. Originally selected for the truck camper, this back-in site has plenty of room for the 5th wheel. We’re traveling with friends who are in a spacious pull-through site #12. There is one hand pump water faucet in the campground, but unfortunately the handle has been broken off. There are also clean vault toilets and each campsite has a picnic table and campfire ring. With no fire bans statewide, we enjoy two evening of roaring campfires. The campground is relatively full this weekend, even with overnight temps approaching the low 30’s.

Passing through this campground from the south to north, the Jefferson Lake trail continues to a easy walking loop around the lake. A quarter mile or so south you intersect the Colorado Trail. Turning east the Colorado Trail extends over Kenosha Pass. To the west the Colorado Trail continues to Georgia Pass. We didn’t bring mountain bikes this weekend, but we hike a mile or so up the western portion of the trail. All around the campground the aspen leaves are glowing yellow and orange. In fact, several of the high, wind-blown ridges are already bare of leaves. This is a great time of year to be in the high country – beautiful foliage views, cool and dry weather and generally quiet campgrounds.





Back to Lake Glendo

7 09 2012
Lake Glendo, WY

Lake Glendo, WY

Our last night before arriving at home with the new Wildcat is in one of our favorite camping locations in Wyoming, Lake Glendo.  Located just east of I-25 at mile marker 111, Glendo State Park offers beautiful lake vistas from the Two Moon campground on the southern shore.  We’ve camped at many of the sites in Two Moon, but none as many times as this beautiful cliff-side site on the small loop.  The site is short, with a slight downhill grade and a picnic table and fire ring.  We’ve been here with the boat, the truck camper and now the new 5th wheel.  It’s tight in the new trailer, but after a bit of expert backing and maneuvering, we manged to get parked, and fairly level without the need to unhitch.  This will be a short overnight, we’ll be in Ft. Collins for lunch tomorrow and home by early afternoon.

Lake Glendo, WY

Lake Glendo, WY

As is typical, this time of year brings very low water levels on the lake.  Many of the boat ramps are already closed for the season including the ramp at Hall’s Marina.  With about 200 sites in Two Moons, and only a handful of campers on this Friday night, we feel like we have the place nearly to ourselves.  With good cellular coverage we’re able to catch up on email and work for a couple of hours before relaxing on the cliff.  Sunset is spectacular, partially because of the smoke from the many forest fires burning across northern Wyoming and southern Montana.

Lake Glendo, WY

Lake Glendo, WY

After a quick stop at the free RV dump at the park headquarters we’re headed south by 10AM for the final leg of the trip. This has been an amazing journey.  Just 9 days ago we were in Spokane, WA taking delivery of the new Forest River Wildcat 241RLX.  The new “fiver” has handled well, is very comfortable and has many things for us to learn and explore.  The next camping trip is at Jefferson Lake, west of Denver in 2 weeks – more from there!





Greetings from Billings, MT

5 09 2012
Billings, MT - KOA

Billings, MT – KOA

We’re parked at the Billings, KOA, the worlds first KOA, nestled along the Yellowstone River south of the city. In comparison to other modern parks, this is a very large campground. With over 150 RV sites,11 Kamp Kabins, a game room, mini-golf course, pool, hot tub, gift and supplies shop this is the park that started it all.  Opened in 1962, the owners of this camp ground went on to create the Kampground of America (KOA) franchise concept and now with over 450 parks in the US has become a standard of family camping.

The Billings location is set in a large cottonwood grove with plenty of pull through sites, some back-in sites and large tent sites.  Facilities run all the way from water only to water/electric up to full hookups.  Many of the sites are along the river, and a few backup to a pond on the property.  The priciest sites ($60+/night) offer full hookups and a small patio area complete with patio swing, fire pit, upgraded picnic table and umbrella.  More modest water/electric sites are in the $35-$40/night range.

Billings, MT - KOA

Billings, MT – KOA

There are two shower/bath houses.  The showers next to the main office/store are tiny, but offer glass shower doors, a nice change from the typical clingy shower curtain. For the most part these areas are clean – but there needs to be a real deep cleaning to remedy things such as a filthy ceiling fan.  Overall this is a great park, plenty of grassy areas, lots of tall shade trees and many diversions. Complimentary good WiFi was available, and both T-Mobile and Verizon had good coverage.