Back to Hecla Junction

23 08 2018


Our cruise to Norway was the maiden voyage of the new Azamara Persuit.  In a very unique celebration at the port of Haugesund, Norway the Pursuit met her “big” sister, the Azamara Journey.

Azamara Sister’s Meet

After returning from London, we’ve spent 7 nights at Circle the Wagons in La Veta before a long weekend at Hecla Junction, one of our favorite campsites in the Arkansas River valley.  Located just a few miles north of Salida, Hecla is one of the put-in/pull-out sites when rafting the Arkansas.

Hecla Junction, Arkansas Headwaters State Park

It’s been 2 years since we were last at Hecla, and it’s great to be back!  We’re in Site #4, a riverside site, a large back-in, with a lower firepit, picnic table and tent area.  There are no facilities at Hecla except pit toilets – no water, no electric, not even any trash service.  And, no internet access.  A very weak Verizon signal finds it’s way back into the river canyon, but not enough for much but short text messages.

On Friday we spent a few hours catching up on email and phone calls while parked under the shade of the trees in the Buena Vista city park with good T-Mobile coverage.  On Saturday we returned to Buena Vista to visit a favorite, Eddyline Brewery for a few excellent beers and lunch.

After Hecla, we’re back to Circle the Wagons through Labor Day weekend before embarking on a week long circuit of Northern New Mexico starting at Taos.  More from there…

Hecla Junction, Arkansas Headwaters State Park

Hecla Junction, Arkansas Headwaters State Park



Cheyenne Frontier Days, 2018

20 07 2018

Welcome to Cheyenne and the 122nd edition of the “Daddy of ‘em All”, Cheyenne Frontier Days.  Just as last year, we’re parked at AB Camping for the full 10 day run of CFD.  We’ll attend 5 concerts this year, starting with Cole Swindell on Saturday night, followed by The Charlie Daniel’s Band, Eric Church, Toby Keith and Dierks Bentley to wrap things up on the following Saturday.  We’re also hoping to see the Air Force Thunderbirds that were rained out last year, attend a Pancake Breakfast, eat some carnival food on the mid-way, drink a cold beer (or two) at the Buckin’ A Saloon and see more of Cheyenne and surrounding areas.  We are also looking forward to a VIP Chuckwagon experience where we’ll enjoy an authentic chuckwagon style dinner.

Cheyenne Frontier Nights

5 Days of Concerts

Air Force Thunderbirds

Air Force Thunderbirds

On Tuesday we decided to check out Curt Gowdy State Park about 25 miles west of Cheyenne.  About 7 different camping areas are set around Granite Springs Reservoir.  Many of the entrances and exits into the camping areas are steep and narrow – and not all of the sites will accommodate much more than a tent.  Pick your site carefully!  Continuing west to I-80, we stopped at Vedauwoo Campground in the Medicine Bow National Forest.  28 sites set among pine trees and rock outcroppings make for some attractive spots.  Several non-operational water taps and vault toilets are about all provided in this primitive area.  But, it’s close to I-80 and would easily provide a nice overnight spot on the way across southern Wyoming.

Vedauwoo Campground, site #9

Vedauwoo Campground

Vedauwoo Campground, site #2

After Cheyenne, we’re off to Chatfield for a quick overnight, then back to Walsenburg to drop the trailer off before a flight to London.  More after our return from London and a Norwegian Fjords cruise aboard the Azamara Pursuit…

On to Northern Colorado

19 07 2018

After departing 2 nights early from La Veta due to the Spring Fire, we spent those nights at the KOA in Colorado City.  This is a nice park, with lots of amenities-  pool, hot tub, snack bar, mini golf, a nice community pavilion, a dog park and more.  During check in we were told that since we were 30 minutes early we’d have to pay an early check-in fee of $10.  We opted to just stay parked in their driveway for 30 minutes.  However, we were blocking traffic for other check-ins and they waived the fee and showed us to our site.  Of course all of the “great staff” reviews for this KOA drift away when you’re asked to pay $10 extra – for a site that is already available!  Seems like poor way to start off a client relationship.

Colorado City / South Pueblo KOA

The sites in our row were tight.  The neighbors sewer port was nearly under our street-side slide.  It appeared that some of these narrow sites had been created by adding a second power and water connection to existing utilities and doubling up in a back-to-back configuration.  But, there are some nice sites – our recommendation – pick carefully.  And, the facilities are in good shape and the WiFi adequate for email and web browsing. Overall, not a bad experience, but it started off a bit rocky!

Colorado City / South Pueblo KOA

From Colorado City/Pueblo we spent two nights at Chatfield State Park before moving to Boyd Lake State Park near Loveland for the July 4th weekend. Sites at both State Parks are spacious with full hookups at Chatfield and electric with shared water at Boyd Lake.  Both are urban parks, with Chatfield just south of Denver and Boyd Lake just east of Loveland.  As expected, all facilities were packed for the mid-week holiday.

Boyd Lake, Site #7 (in backward)

After leaving Boyd we spent a week in site #143 at Riverview RV Park on the west side of Loveland, just at the entrance to the Big Thompson canyon. Set in a large grove of cottonwood trees and on the edge of the Big Thompson river, the park offers some beautiful back-in sites at the river’s edge.  Other parts of the park offer an interesting mix of overnight RV, long term RVs, rental cabins and a few tiny homes.  This is one of the only parks in Colorado that welcomes tiny homes.  Even with a lot of deferred maintenance, this park is quiet, provides the necessary amenities including streamable WiFi.  Some of the best river sites include: 24, 35, 155, 160 – pick your site carefully!

From Loveland we made the relatively short trip up to Ft. Collins returning to the Lakeside KOA for 5 nights.  Just as on our last visit, we’re parked in a back-in site on the east side of the park. Spacious, quiet and clean!  This KOA has undoubtedly one of the largest and nicest laundry rooms we’ve ever used.  And, all the amenities that you’d expect of a KOA Holiday, mini golf, bumper boats, paddle boats, an inflatable slide and bouncy pillow and more.  On the downside, we noted several sites that need trees trimmed.  Our picnic table was warped and peeling red paint.  The WiFi, provided by TengoInternet, is unusable.  But our T-Mobile Hot Spot worked fine.

Next up, our favorite RV park in Cheyenne, AB Camping for Frontier Days. More from there…


The Spring Fire

12 07 2018

Spring Creek Fire, June 27th

On Wednesday June 27th, in what probably seemed like an innocuous  event, reports say that a man started a campfire in the forest outside of the town of Ft. Garland, Colorado.  Over 15 weeks without rain, strong SW winds, and other “ripe” conditions, that campfire blew up into what would become the 3rd largest wildfire in Colorado history torching over 108,000 acres of forest.

Spring Creek Fire, June 28th

We were staying in La Veta at Circle the Wagons RV Park and after a short walk to town noticed the small plume of smoke on Wednesday afternoon.  The fire exploded the following day and by 10PM the entire Cuchara Valley had been evacuated, and La Veta was on pre-evacuation status.  By Friday morning the fire had consumed over 40,000 acres and was under the control of Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Black.  With the unknown evacuation status of La Veta, we decided to move the trailer further north, out of the evacuation zone so that we don’t get “locked out” if the fire should move east.

Sunset from Circle the Wagons , La Veta


By Saturday, as the fire continued to grow and began moving north of the assumed containment of Highway 160, a second command team was added, Team Blue.  By July 3rd,  being called the “two headed monster”, the fire is well established north of Highway 160 and had consumed upwards of 80,000 acres.  Weather continued to play a factor but Team Black was finally making some headway on south-eastern containment lines.  However, the fire has already destroyed over 100 homes in Forbes Park, a forested subdivision on the south west side of La Veta Pass.  With weather finally improving, the fire’s last major push occurred on July 5th when it expanded to over 100,000 acres.  In the north, Team Blue is finally able to place containment lines that keeps the fire from spreading east of country road 520 and north of highway 69 protecting the Navajo Ranch and Major’s Ranch subdivisions.  By July 10th, with containment at nearly 100% for the south section, the Village of Cuchara is safe and Team Black is on their way home.  By July 16th Team Blue is on their way home with 91% containment and total acres at 108,405.  All evacuations are lifted.  In all, 140 homes were destroyed and 120 damaged.

We still haven’t been back to Circle the Wagons.  But, we’re sure the scars on Mt. Mestas and Mt Silver are severe, but we still have the gorgeous Spanish Peaks, the fun town of La Veta and our new favorite hang-out, the Dog Bar in Cuchara.  And, we’re hopeful that there’s no place much safer from Colorado wildfires than on the back side of a burn scar.

Silver Mountain Burns

Happy Summer Solstice!

21 06 2018

Winter’s Last Blast, May 2nd, 2018

Here we are more than half way through June – and not an entry in the blog since the end of April upon our return to Colorado! Well, things have gotten a bit crazy. Some background…

Over the past few years we had decided we were ready to relocate to an area with more summer and less winter than afforded by our location at 9000 feet outside of Denver. We’d looked at homes and land options in several locations west of San Antonio in the Texas hill country. We’d also investigated options near cities around New Mexico and Arizona. After returning from the Spring Road Trip last year, we decided to investigate land in the Lathrup State Park / Spanish Peaks area. In July of 2017 we purchased a 6+ acre building site between Walsenburg and La Veta and started interviewing home builders. We selected a company in Pueblo to work with us on a custom home design and build. Expecting this design work to be completed and ground breaking to be in early May, we turned to the sale of the current home in the foothills outside of Denver. After selecting a realtor to assist…we begin planning the Spring Road Trip leaving the sale of the house until after our return…

However, just before our departure we had agreed to place the house on the market in early April with a move-out no earlier than the end of May. Then, somewhere along the way we agreed to list the property even earlier, in late March. So by the time we arrived back in late April, the sales process was well underway with a signed contract, completed inspections and the new buyers had their financing arranged. After more than 2 months away, the daunting reality of moving set in. And, as the design process on the custom home elongated, it began to look like the reality of ground breaking in May, or even June was doubtful.

An Early Rendition of the New House

So, here we are well into summer and we are “homeless”, living in the RV. All of our stuff is in a storage unit in Pueblo and we’ve only gotten as far as a driveway, the “guest” RV pad, 50/30/20 amp RV power and a septic system on the new southern Colorado property. We have a finalized the floor plan, are close on a budget and hope to have permitting and HOA approval completed by the end of June. Whew…it takes a long time to design a custom home!

Circle The Wagons – Snow on West Peak, May, 2018

As for the “homeless” living. We’ve spent a few nights on the new property. But, with the cellular signal just a bit better than non-existent, we can only slowly limp along on interest access. So, our new home-away-from-home has become Circle the Wagons RV Park in La Veta. We had a great stay at Circle the Wagons last October and decided to return for longer-term this year. In addition we’ve spent time at Lathrup State Park near Walsenburg, Chatfield State Park outside of Denver, the Glenwood Springs KOA (actually located in Silt) and at Peak One on Lake Dillon for the annual Frisco BBQ challenge.

Silt KOA – New Riverside Patio/Gazebo sites

Peak One Campground Site #15

Frisco BBQ Cookoff, 2018

In 2 weeks we’ll return to Northern Colorado to Boyd Lake, Riverside RV Park in Loveland and the Ft. Collins KOA before Cheyenne Frontier Days kicks off on July 20th. After CFD we’ll be back in Southern Colorado except for a quick trip to one of our favorite fall campgrounds, Hecla Junction on the Arkansas River north of Salida. Hopefully by then we’ll have some good news on the groundbreaking and house building progress!

And, on to Colorado

27 04 2018

Ft. Stockton RV Park

From Del Rio, our travels are a bit more quick paced as we settle into single nights across west Texas and eastern New Mexico.  Our first night is at Ft. Stockton RV park where we spent a night on the way south.  Then we’re off to Artesia RV park, located about half-way between Carlsbad and Roswell, NM.

With first hand knowledge of the terrible section of highway 285 between Pecos and Carlsbad, we reroute north to Hobbs, over to Lovington and across to Artesia.  This route is better, but there are still plenty of oil or natural gas rigs running around. In fact, we’re amazed with the number of pumping rigs along highway 82 east of Artesia.  This must be one of the highest concentrations of rigs in the Permian Basin.  You can literally see hundreds of rigs and 4 or 5 burning flares from anywhere you look along the highway.

Hundreds of Drilling Operations east of Artesia

Arriving in Artesia, we find a pleasant oasis of green grass and tall trees surrounding the “overnight” section of the park.  More long-term RV’s are relegated to what looks more like a gravel parking lot.

Artesia RV Park, Artesia, NM

From Artesia we spend one night at the Las Vegas, NM KOA and then make the relatively quick transit over Raton Pass into Colorado.  Our last night of the 2018 Spring Road Trip is spent at Lathrup State Park outside of Walsenburg, one of our favorite parks in the Colorado system.  We’ve spent 71 nights at 25 resorts and parks, and traveled about 4000 miles.  Once again a great time, of course spent with great friends and family along the way. Happy Spring!

Back to the Rio Grande River!

22 04 2018

Utopia, TX

Instead of the “GPS route” south from Bandera to Hondo, which we’ve already traveled 3 times this spring, we opt to check out Ranch Road 470 from Bandera to Utopia. Route 470 is a beautiful scenic drive through this quiet section of the Texas Hill country.  While it might not be optimal for longer towing combinations, we found the route was fine.  With some great vistas out across the Hill Country, this sometimes narrow, winding road runs from just west of Bandera, out to Tarpley, home of the famous Mac & Ernie’s Roadside Eatery.  This unique diner was been featured in the Premier episode of Diner’s, Drive-Ins and Dives, Food Network’s On the Road and Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel.  Next time we MUST stop!

Mac & Ernie’s Roadside Eatery

From Tarplay we continued west to Utopia then turned south on highway 187 for a relatively quick trip south to Sabinal to join  highway 90.  Just as the hills begin outside of San Antonio, they end abruptly just north of Sabinal when you drive out on to the wide horizons of the south Texas plains.  Overall, we think this is a better drive, the roads are just as good and more scenic than highway 173 south from Bandera.

Our annual South Texas travels have yet to take us through Uvalde, TX – but we found the town very pleasant.  It’s clean, there’s appears to be a nice RV park right in the middle of town (Quail Springs RV Park) and a new Walmart and a very impressive HEB on the east side of town. Continuing west on I-90, it’s about another hour over to Del Rio where we’ll be spending the next two nights at the familiar Broke Mill RV park just north of town.  We’ve been here numerous times – their good WiFi, clean laundry facilities (still at $1.25/wash) and spacious sites keep bringing us back.  But, the road noise seems worse this year as Del Rio continues to expand the use of the 277/377 bypass roads.

Broke Mill RV Park, Del Rio, TX

From Del Rio we’re going to continue mostly parallel to the Rio Grande as far as Sanderson where we’ll turn north on 285 toward I-10 and Ft. Stockton.  More from there…