Friday, January 11, 2013


Monday, November 20, 2012

I need to make a slight correction.  I wrote in my last post that we stayed in Santa Rosa the third night, actually we didn’t.  That is one of the problems with writing nearly two months later about a trip.  Once we returned to the camper we had lunch and moved on to Albuquerque, NM to camp for night #3 and #4 at the EnchantedTrails Campground  on the western side of Albuquerque.

The following posts are going to be a little longer than usual because there is so much to see and do in the Albuquerque area. 

We have stayed at this campground twice before and have always had a good level site, clean restrooms, and the lovely ladies who run the campground are a delight.  It also doesn’t hurt that their rates fall well within our shoestring budget.  A 30 amp campsite, which is what we use, is listed as $30 per night, but they offer various discounts that bring it down to even lower.  I believe we paid $26 per night, but I can’t swear to it.

We had drove straight through from Santa Rosa, drinking lots of water as we did.  So I had to make a “mad dash” while Gary checked us in. 

Once again our campsite was very close to the registration area, which has a small gift shop, a swimming pool and pool table at it.  The site was level and clean, as well as well lit at night for easy maneuvering around the camper after dark.  This was handy as we pulled in just before dark and it took a bit to set-up for the planned two day stay.

One of the things I love about this campground is the old cars and campers that are part of the permanent set-up.  Although the owners do take at least one of the duos out at least once a year for a rally. 

Located on Route 66 seeing these campers and cars of the by gone era is a delight and reminds me of my childhood when both were of the norm to see. 

If you are traveling through and would like to visit this campground overnight, but do not have a camper this may be just perfect for you as they rent the campers out by the night  to many a weary traveler while you stay at the Enchanted Trails.

That first night we decided to just hang around camp and then the next day go to Camping World (which is next door to the campground) to just look around and drool at all the things we might purchase for the camper once we are debt free, then over to Old Town and maybe out to the Three Sisters Volcanos at the Petroglyph National Monument   We had already decided we would not go to Rinconada Canyon Petroglyphs part of the the Petroglyph National Park or the Kuana Pueblo at the Cornado State Monument  because we visited both of those while in Albuquerque in 2008.  Both were very interesting to visit so I will include info and photos about them in the blog posts that follow.

Day 4 dawned with us moving slowly and staying the camper until around 10:00 a.m. tidying up and just enjoying the luxury of moving slow. 

When we finally headed out for the day we went straight to Campingworld to oooh and ahhh over all the neat accessories they had.  I particularly liked the electric scooter that would fold up and attach to the fifth wheel while we traveled.  But right now it’s not in the budget so we laughed about how cute it was and how handy it would be to have in the future, but not right now. I also joked that if I had one I’d need a little pink bicycle bell on it to warn folks I was coming.   

We’d had a minor Murphy problem in the camper that was causing a spray nozzle in the camper bathroom to leak when the toilet was flushed so we looked around for a replacement nozzle, discovering it was a “parts department” part rather than a over the counter part in the store.  Generally when they say you “must get it in the parts department” instead of the general plumbing department dollar signs appear.  

Once told where it was located we discussed the true need for the part and what could be substituted for it.  We opted to go to Wal-Mart and check for the availability of it there before purchasing it at Camping World.

We left the store without purchasing a thing—thus staying on or below our $500 extra expenditure budget and headed on toward Old Town

Old Town is a historic district in Albuquerque that is mainly an artisian area now.  We spent most of a day there in November 2008 and really loved visiting the museums and shops of the area, then finished up the day eating at one of the numerous restaurants before heading back to the camper once all the Christmas lights had been turned on.  This had been our plan once again.

However, in 2008 the parking was free, now the only free parking had a 2 hour limit and  on the outer edge of the area near the Felipe de Neri Church the rest of the parking was a bit of a walk from the actual center of Old Town plus it cost $3-$8 to park.  With the $3 parking being the furthest out, and quite frankly the less secure or well maintained lots.  Despite this they were completely full as were the $5 lots.  Only the $8 lots remained with a few parking vacancies and they were still a several block hike to get into Old Town proper.

As we drove slowly through the area we saw that many of the boutiques had changed strictly over to clothing rather than a large range of crafts as it had been before. Neither of us is a clothes shopper.  There were also fewer restaurants.  This combined with the cold north wind that was blowing quickly dulled our enthusiasm for visiting the area, that and it irks me to have to pay to shop.  Which is basically what paying for parking is.  We were also in the big dually truck and many of the pay parking lots were down narrow one way alleys into tight parking lots that would have been hard to negotiate without banging up the truck.  We also noticed that other than the big decorated tree there were little to no Christmas decorations up.

So we drove through a couple of times looking for any shops I might want to pop out and look at while dh rotated the blocks and found none.  We discussed visiting the Felipe de Neri Church again as we had in 2008, but by then I was pretty disgruntled about the unavailability of easy to navigate parking and the fees I suggested we just look at our photos from the previous trip and move on to a new activity. 

Let me add at this point that the Old Town is definitely worth at least one visit if you are in the area.  I just simply was not in the mood to deal with the crowds and such that day.  I have included photos of the church and the Old Town area from 2008 for your pleasure and to remind me of how pretty the area really is.

From there we went to the Wal-Mart just off of I-40 in Albuquerque to purchase a few perishable groceries we were running low on and to look for the plumbing fixture we needed.  We found both with ease and the nozzle there was less than $3, we were definitely glad we waited on the purchase.  Over the years we have found that many a home type fixture can be used in a camper at a much cheaper price than purchasing a similar item at a camper parts store.  This item happened to be an exact duplicate which allowed the replacement to be an under five minute job.
I noticed while we were there that this particular Wal-Mart has a vision center in it.  Since my glasses were all cattywampas from being bumped earlier in the trip I popped in there to get a free adjustment too.  The young lady fixed the problem in less than five minutes and had my glasses fitting better than this pair had ever fit before. 

Then it was straight back to the camper for lunch.  As we traveled there I admired the “artwork” on the overpasses and sound barriers once again as I had in 2008.  While these are now common place in many a big city in 2008 they were a novelty to us and we took several photos. 

A quick lunch after putting up the groceries and doing the nozzle repair then it was time to head out again.  See “Part #2” for our further adventures in Albuquerque, NM.

Jan who loves visiting Albuquerque when she is away from OK

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Monday, Nov. 19, 2012

We decided to stay an extra night at Santa Rosa, New Mexico and explore the area a bit. We had picked up a travel brochure at the New Mexico border for Santa Rosa, it talked about  a sink hole filled with clear blue water, pueblo ruins at Puerto de Luna, an old cemetery , all with glossy photos that made it all seem really nice and something we’d want to see.  The price was well within our budget as well, it was all free! 

So locking up the camper we headed out to find all these wonderful sites.

Our first stop was Blue Hole, it was beautifully maintained.  Blue Hole is one of 7 sink holes in the area.  This one is set up for swimming and scuba diving.  The water stays 62 degrees year round and is 81 feet deep.  It has a rich history of mammouths, outlaws, being a fish hatchery at one time and much more.  Right now it is best known for its scuba diving.
Completely land locked it is considered one of the best dive spots around.  at the depth of 81 feet the bell shaped sink hole  empties out into an underground river it provides a challenge for many a diver annually. 

Gary was a scuba enthusiast when we met and often talks about getting re-certified.  If he did this would definitely be a place he'd visit.
When he was scuba diving and snorkeling on a regular basis one of his favorite spots was Oklahoma's own Blue Hole in Mayes County, near Salina, OK.

While the one in Oklahoma is more of a family type old fashioned swimming hole the one at  Santa Rosa, New Mexico has been built up more to make it even more invitiing to visitors from all over the world. They have constructed a stationary diving board made of concrete for those who want to enter the cold water that way.  They also had a game of some sort set-up permanently (see photo) for those who wanted to scuba and go deep into the sink hole.

There are covered pavilions for picnicking and public restrooms there as well.  It would be a nice place to go on a hot summer day I am certain.  It definitely lived up to our expectations from the brochure.

 Next we decided to go see the old mission church, cemetery and pueblo remains at Puerto de Luna. Talk about false advertising!!! Seriously, the brochure makes it seem the old mission church was at the remains of an old pueblo building and that the cemetery was there as well.  That all had been well preserved for historical reasons.   NOPE!  While the old mission church was in Puerto de Luna   the 1800’s cemetery had been moved to Santa Rosa.  We had actually passed it on the way out of town and not noticed it.

The Puerto de Luna turned out to be in a very economically depressed town a few miles outside of Santa Rosa and only a few pueblo buildings remained scattered between junked out abandoned vehicles.  We were sorely disappointed.

I am certain that we are probably very spoiled to going to historical sites like Jamestown, where everything has either been cleaned up nicely, or reconstructed, but somehow an 1800’s pueblo building remains with a junked out Volkswagon Jesus bus  practically leaning against one of the stone walls was a bit unappealing to us.

However, the ride to and from Puerto De Luna was very beautiful as we wound through the rugged terrain. It was on this drive we first started seeing what would turn out to be numerous falling rock signs along our travels.

We stopped at the edge of Santa Rosa to take photos of the old mission building and cemetery (the one of moved fame) on the way back to town.  It was picturesque and I was hoping to get some shots good enough to use on some cards for Webfoot Tub Designs cards. 

As I walked around the cemetery snapping photos I gradually felt an almost stinging  sensation on the soles of my feet.  By the time I left the cemetery I was hobbling pretty slowly as the slight stinging had turned to actual PAIN! 

Once I got back to the truck I stood outside of it while Gary gingerly climbed out of the truck, where he had been waiting,  and came around to rescue me. He was walking carefully to avoid the same fate I was suffering.

I was wearing old Crocs that had definitely seen better days and they had taken it upon themselves to gather a new sole and sides of solid goat heads. Or that is at least what we call them in Oklahoma.  They are horrendous stickers with very sharp thorns all the way around.  These had been buried in the grass all around the graves and I hadn’t seen them before it was too late.

As I slid out of the now unwearable shoes and climbed into the truck Gary collected them and spent considerable time scraping the two shoes together to remove as many of the goat head stickers as he could from the shoes without getting stuck or getting any in his Crocs.

Once he had gotten all he could loose from my shoes he placed them in the back floorboard and I rode the rest of the day sans shoes. Luckily I had brought several pairs of shoes on the trip, I just needed to get back to the camper to get a pair,  and knew I could take time later using tweezers to pull the remaining barbs out of my shoes.

Once back into Santa Rosa completely we went to get fuel, it was back down under $4, so I was a happy camper.  While driving there we saw a very unique type of plane practicing taking off and landing at the small Santa Rosa airport.

It was a CV-22 Osprey.  For those of you that have never seen one of these it is built to do vertical take-offs like a helicopter, but it is actually an airplane and flies like one once it is airborne.  We watched it do several take offs and landings and just as we were finishing up watching it I happened to look out to I-40 to see the Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile headed toward Albuquerque, NM.  It was moving too fast for us to get a photo of it, but it was still fun to see.  This is only the second time we’ve ever seen the actual vehicle in real life.  We had hoped to see it again to get a photo, but we didn’t.
I would have loved to have caught up with it at whatever appearance it was headed for to see it both inside and out.  As explained in the hyperlink here: Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile they carry the hot dog theme throughout the vehicle and it would have been fun to have got to tour it.  Oh well, maybe next time.

After our adventures for the day we went back to the camper, after all most places have a “No shirt, no SHOES,” signs up these days and I really didn’t want to walk in shoes still filled with barbs.

Once back to the camper Gary brought out another pair of slip on shoes for me and I went in to fix Sausage and Peppers for dinner.

We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and preparing for the next day’s departure.

Jan who says that despite the stickers and the disappointment about the ruins it was a very good day away from OK.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Day two was uneventful as we traveled from Oklahoma, and across the panhandle of Texas into New Mexico. Since we had traveled this route many times before we decided we’d start our visiting sites later in the trip, and just get closer to Las Vegas the first two days.

One thing we did notice was at the Texas border I-40 turned into 75 mph and someone forgot to tell the wildlife that it had.

We crossed into Texas in the early morning and the amount of road kill was tremendous, so if you happen to be traveling that way during wildlife moving hours be sure and be aware of this so you don’t get unwanted hood ornaments for your vehicle. Some of the victims of the fast moving vehicles were very large deer.

Speaking of wildlife during our trip we saw many different animal crossing signs Some of which were, deer (pretty standard here in Oklahoma), elk, cougar and cow.  We also saw falling rock signs different from the ones we’d previously seen

Signs that should have been shown, because of what we saw on the roads included wild boar, raccoon, and porcupine.   Highway 40 seemed to be really hard on wild life.

Now on to a better subject, well sort of, the trip budget.  We left with a budget of $50 a night for lodging with us paying for 21 days of lodging—not including the nights the company had paid for at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for us, fuel for $4.00 per gallon for a roughly 2,500 mile round trip and then an additional $500 for miscellaneous things and then we had a $1,000 emergency fund for just in case, back at home, that could be transferred to the travel account easily and quickly. After all Murphy dearly loves us.

When calculating the fuel budget we figured 2500 for the round trip including side trips.  We also calculated we would average approximately 7 mpg because of pulling the fifth wheel and with all the mountains we would climb.

The grand total for this trip therefore would be $3,000 give or take. Plus the $1,000 emergency fund.  Our goal was to come in as far under budget as possible, partly because of all the Murphy snafus we’d had before we left, and partly because we are tightwads that want to travel and get debt free at the same time.  I know this budget sounds extremely high for someone on the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover plan, but please remember that the company was paying nearly $500 of our fuel costs, plus there would be two weeks at around $100 a week that dh would not be paying for fuel to drive to work, so that is $700 total of our fuel budget that was not above our normal costs. Plus we were planning a three week trip.

So far at this point we were doing pretty well we had found fuel each time we filled up at under $4 until we had to purchase fuel right after lunch and had to pay $4.04 a gallon, and with boondocking that first night we were $50 ahead on campground fees.  This, in our book was a very good thing.  By the end of day two were were $112.30 under budget.  Things were looking good in spite of that $4.04 per gallon fill-up on our 33 gallon tank!

As we drove through Groom, Texas we smiled at the Leaning WaterTower and nodded our approval at the Giant Cross, both of which are on Route 66 but can be seen from I-40.

We made it to Santa Rosa, New Mexico before dark to pull into the Santa Rosa Campground.  We stayed here on our previous trip and knew exactly what to expect.  We were not disappointed.  It is a plain Jane campground with all level pull-thru spots and full hook-ups.  AT $28 per night they were well within our budget. 

When we were there in 2008 they had just re-opened their restaurant for business and we’d had a very good meal there at a reasonable price.  We contemplated doing the same thing as we drove there, but as I checked in I found out that the restaurant was closed on Sunday’s.  Since we weren’t certain if we’d stay an extra night or not I picked up a copy of their menu and quickly decided that their prices had gone up. A few samples of the menu prices are : Chicken Fried Steak—8 oz $10.95; Fried Chicken—Breast, Leg and Thigh $11.95, BBQ Beef Brisket $11.95.

While we opted to not dine, with them and instead cook one of the numerous meals I had packed, we did opt to use their showers instead of the one in the camper.  They were clean and well maintained with plenty of fast hot water, but the shower stalls were actually smaller than the one in my camper. 

If you are traveling with a person that needs a handicapped shower or toilet stall, this campground does not have one that we saw. In fact if memory serves me right there was no wheel chair access to get into the women’s restroom at all, due to a step down to the entry door.

As a person of shorter height, I also had a problem with having to stand with my broad backside pressed against the cold wall to keep from being hit square in the face by the fixed shower head spray. 

So if you are planning on showering small children there be aware that they will probably be hit full force in the face while trying to rinse off. 

Our dinner cooked camper meal for that night was Stir FriedChicken, rice and egg rolls.

Oh I nearly forgot, we saw the cutest thing while we were flying down the highway and unfortunately I didn’t have the camera ready so I didn’t get a photo.

Traveling on old Route 66, parallel to route I-40, was a gentleman riding a bicycle that was pulling several little red wagons full of his belongings. Each wagon was linked to the one in front of it and the front one of course was hooked to the back of his bike.  The cute part was what he had on the wagons.  It was one of those large yellow and black truck banners that said “OVER SIZED LOAD”.  Gotta love the fellow’s sense of humor, considering the load was plenty long enough for the sign to be stretched out in full.  You also have to admire the leg muscles he had to have had to be pulling that load up the hill as he rode!

Jan who was glad for her hot shower on day two while away from OK.