The End of the Spring Trip 2016

3 05 2016
Lathrup State Park site #32

Lathrup State Park site #32

We’re parked at site #32 at Lathrup State Park, one of our favorite back-in sites on the A loop.  The view of the snow covered Spanish Peaks is extraordinary.  The series of winter storms that have tracked their way across Colorado the last 10 days or so have left beautiful snowy peaks that nearly surround us, and a fair amount of snow in shady places all around the park.  Roads up from Conchas were dry, including the nearly 8000 foot Raton Pass.

Raton Pass

Raton Pass

We’ll spend 2 nights here, hoping to let the remaining snow melt at home, before the final leg of our Spring Trip.  We will have spent 68 nights in the new Rockwood 5th wheel, covered about 4500 route miles along with another 600 or so sightseeing miles. We’ve explored areas just across the state line in California all the way to the southern tip of Texas – with beautiful places in Arizona and New Mexico in between.  We slowed the trip down this year, enjoying extended time in Yuma, Kerrville, Roswell (unexpectedly) and South Padre Island.  Some of our favorite places included Lost Dutchman State Park outside of Phoenix and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona.  We enjoyed the company of great friends and family all along the way.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

But, the summer is just beginning and we’ll be back on the road in less than 2 weeks to Pueblo State Park, and then our “summer kick-off” trip when we’ll return to Lake Conchas over Memorial Day weekend.  More as summer starts…





A Weekend at Lake Conchas

2 05 2016
Lake Conchas, "Out the Rear Window"

Lake Conchas, “Out the Rear Window” site #19

With winter storms still complicating our return to Colorado, on Saturday we opted to move a bit further north to Lake Conchas near Tucumcari, NM.  We spent time at Lake Conchas last year waiting out storms along the front range, and decided it would be a good spot for that again this year.  Arriving on Saturday afternoon, sunny skies and warm temperature slowly  gave way to a cold, windy drizzle that lasted through Sunday evening.  But, temps weren’t all that much warmer in Roswell, so at least we’re another 200 miles closer to home.

We’re parked in site #19, a cliff-side site that enjoys a beautiful view of the lake and northern skies.  There’s virtually no over-the-air TV at Conchas, so one of our first tasks on arrival was to set-up the DirecTV satellite.  Utilizing a free 30 day demo of HBO we enjoyed a very relaxing rainy weekend of movies.

After 2 nights at Conchas, Monday morning dawns as a beautiful sunny, wind-free day.  Just the right kind of day to continue our trek north.  From here we’re bound for Lathrup State Park right outside of Walsenburg..  More from there…





Excitement at Bottomless Lakes

29 04 2016
Bottomless Lakes State Park fire

Bottomless Lakes State Park “Overflow Fire”

We’re now on our 5th day at Bottomless Lakes State Park.  After arriving on Sunday, we’ve watched several winter storm systems move across our northward path and through the Denver area.  With temperatures here in the upper 70 and low 80’s, we’re not anxious to proceed north into snow and cold.

Late yesterday afternoon a brush fire erupted very near the State Park.  Fanned by winds gusting to 25MPH, it was a bit too reminiscent of some of the smokey Spring times we’ve had in the foothills of Colorado.  After burning over 100 acres and belching smoke into the sky for most of the afternoon, NM state and BLM personal had the blaze under control by dusk.

Campers at northern campgrounds were asked to evacuate, but here at Lea Lake the rangers explained there was not an imminent threat due to wind direction and an expansive wetland area between us and the fire.  They also insured us that if it became necessary, we’d have plenty of time to pack up.  Fortunately the winds died down just before sunset and we enjoyed a pleasant, calm, evacuation-free evening.

Bottomless_Lakes_Fire





Bottomless Lakes State Park, Roswell, NM

25 04 2016
Bottomless Lakes SP Site #11

Bottomless Lakes SP Site #11

In a long driving day, we’ve departed Texas and re-entered the Mountain Time Zone.  The original plan called for an overnight in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  But, as appears common, winds were expected to be gusting to about 50 MPH through that region, so we opted to detour to the east, away from the mountains.  Unfortunately that means a transit of US 285 from Pecos to Carlsbad.  After having traveled south along this route last year, we knew this to be one of the roughest sections of road we’ve driven.  With heavy truck traffic rumbling through, even on a Sunday, the road is heaving and crumbling everywhere.  It’s 85 miles of truck bouncing, cupboard jarring, teeth gritting travel.  And, combined with about a 20 MPH side wind, the day wasn’t a pleasant journey – making it all that much nicer when we arrived at Bottomless Lakes State Park outside of Roswell, NM.

Turning east at Roswell it’s tough to imagine anything with trees and water across the seemingly endless plains stretching to the east.  But, just 5 miles off the main road is Bottomless Lakes State Park – a natural oasis around a handful of small lakes in the Pecos River valley.  Not truly bottomless, the lakes were formed similarly to Carlsbad Caverns when limestone eroded to create massive underground caves.  But, here – the cave ceilings eventually collapsed, filled with water and created the nine lakes that vary in depth from 18 to 90 feet.

Bottom Lakes SP, Lea Lake

Bottom Lakes SP, Lea Lake

We’re parked at Lea Lake Campground, 32 campsites at the southern end of the park, near the beach, volleyball and group pavilion.  The sites here are spacious, level and most offer water and electric.  6 of the sites also have sewer ports.  12 sites are available for online reservations at reserveamerica and the remaining 17 RV sites (and 3 tent sites) are walk-up only for $14/night.  We’re in site #11, a walk-up site at the far end of one of the loops offering nice privacy and even some shade from a few small trees to each side of the RV.  There’s a concrete covered patio with a picnic table and clean, graveled pad.  For some of the lowest per night costs,  New Mexico does a great job with the maintenance of their state parks.  We have good T-Mobile access here, and even a fairly good free park WiFi available.  And, there are 10 or 12 over-the-air TV channels from Albuquerque.





Mile High Chili Cookoff, Davis Mountains State Park

23 04 2016
MacMillien RV Park, Ft. Davis, TX

MacMillen RV Park, Ft. Davis, TX

What, a mile high event that’s not in Denver?  We were surprised to read about this event when attempting to reserve a site at Davis Mountains State Park near Ft. Davis, TX.  Boasting  an elevation of between 5000 and 6000 feet, Davis Mountains SP indeed can host “mile high” competitions.  With 27 chili cooks, this CASI suctioned event judges chili, beans and salsa.  And, with complimentary park admission and a $4 donation to friends-of-the park, it’s a great afternoon out for everyone.  We enjoyed talking with the cooks, learned a bit about how a good cook could eventually be invited to the Terlingua International Chili Championship and of course tasting many of the chilis.

Mile High Chili Cookoff, Davis Mountains SP

Mile High Chili Cookoff, Davis Mountains SP

Mile High Chili Cookoff, Davis Mountains SP

Mile High Chili Cookoff, Davis Mountains SP

With all sites in Davis reserved for chili cooks, we opted to try MacMillen RV Park south of Ft. Davis.  We’re in site #25,  about the center of this 30 site park.  The sites are long, spacious and level – providing 50A power, water and sewer plus about 12 analog channels of cable TV.  Many of the central sites have a picnic table and a small tree in between you and your neighbor. Facilities have long deferred maintenance, the laundry room is down to a single washer and dryer – the shower rooms each have rattling fans and flaking paint.  A former patio area is now deep in weeds.  It’s unfortunate that these types of properties are let go – but maybe there’s enough profit at $30/night to keep visitors around long enough to break even.  Or, maybe there’s a complete lack of use of these type of facilities with fully contained RV’s, so it’s just not worth the investment.  Whatever the reason, this park is on par with the others in Ft. Davis and enjoys a quiet, peaceful setting on the outskirts of town.  We’re planning to attend a Star Party at McDonald Observatory tonight, then continue north toward Carlsbad, NM tomorrow.  More from there…

MacMillien RV Park, Ft. Davis, TX

MacMillen RV Park, Ft. Davis, TX





Hidden Valley RV Park, Del Rio, TX

22 04 2016
Hidden Valley RV Park

Hidden Valley RV Park – site #65

Consulting rvparkreviews.com (one of our most used travel websites) we find there are two RV parks in Del Rio with Excellent ratings, Broke Mill RV Park where we’ve stayed several times and Hidden Valley RV Park.  Hoping for a bit quieter setting than we had at Broke Mill about 30 days ago, we opt for Hidden Valley.  Located on the south side of Del Rio, initial impressions from blog posters is that this place may be difficult to find.  We’ve talked with the owner and have explicit directions to the park.  Arriving via highway 277 to what eventually becomes Margarita Ave, we exit just before the overpass at Ogden Street.  (if you miss this exit, just take the next left on Gibbs Street – then another left on Veterans Blvd to intersect E Garfield)

Hidden Valley RV Park

Hidden Valley RV Park

At the stop sign, we’re waived on by someone in a small blue car parked on the side of the road.  After making the left on Ogden, the same car is pulled over in front of us – it’s Janet Casey, owner of Hidden Valley.  She says she was just out running errands, but we suspect she was waiting to escort us into the park.  Directions from here are easy, continue west on Ogden, bear left on Gibson, turn left on Main Street then bear right on Bolner Lane.  The park is literally at the end of Bolner Lane.  Once south of Main St. our 13+ foot clearance requirement took a bit of tree limb avoidance swerving – Del Rio need to do some tree trimming!

Hidden Valley RV Park

Hidden Valley RV Park

The RV sites are set in what appears more like a city park or orchard than an RV Park.  We’re used to very limited vegetation and dry conditions in this part of Texas.  Hidden Valley is green, lush and shady.  In fact, after backing into very deep site #65, we find it almost too dark with shade – but comfortable in the 85+ degrees of muggy heat.  Facilities are limited here, a small wash room and social room is the only public area available.  If you are in need of bath house type facilities, you won’t find them here.  Sites include 50/30/20 amp new power pedestals, new high pressure water taps, a conveniently located dump port and about 100 channels of cable TV.

Our departure this morning took one around-the block maneuver to find the way out of town – we somehow managed to miss Pecan Street (parallel to Main Street which is one-way south).  Little did we know it’s actually signed as Hudson Dr.  To avoid the hassle, reverse your course along Bolner, jog slightly right at Nicholson, then immediately left on Pecan/Hudson.  Pecan will take you back to your right turn on Garfield.  From Garfield you can continue north via 297/Veterans Blvd or east via 90 (on Gibbs)

Over-all ratings of this park is very good.  Is it worth the extra city driving?  Maybe not for just a single night, but definitely for a multi-day stay.  From here we’re headed to Ft. Davis, TX.  More from there…





Lake Casa Blanca State Park, Laredo, TX

21 04 2016
Lake Casa Blanca SP, Site 116

Lake Casa Blanca SP, Site 116

Good Morning from Laredo.

After departing Harlingen at about 11AM yesterday, we’re unhitched and set-up at this favorite State Park by about 3:30PM.  This very urban park is a convenient stopping point when traveling to or from the upper Rio Grande valley.  We’re parked in back-in site #116; #112 would be another good back-in site with a bit wider driveway, possibly no need to un-hitch, and a clearer view across the lake.

This was just a quick overnight – today we’ll pack up and continue along the Rio Grande to Del Rio.  More from there…

Lake Casa Blanca SP, Site 112

Lake Casa Blanca SP, Site 112

Lake Casa Blanca SP

Lake Casa Blanca SP