Monday, July 4, 2011

Mammoth gets back home

July 3

We got up early, loaded and pulled out about 9AM MST. We headed to Amarillo via Santa Fe. The views were very hazy, hard to even see the mountains, due to smoke from the wildfires in the area. We drove past Echo amphitheater, a natural amphitheatre located about 17 miles west of Abiquiú and about 4 miles from Ghost Ranch, home and famous subject of Georgia O'Keefe's artworks.

We were making much better time going "down-hill" and with the wind to Amarillo! We arrived around 6:40PM and went to eat with family. My cousin and his girlfriend also dropped by. While we were saying our goodbyes, a thunderstorm was trying to move in! This was an answered prayer for that area of Texas: They should have 9" of rain by this time, and have had less than 3" since the first of the year. 

July 4

This morning was cloudy, making it slightly cool in Amarillo, more like we remember from past visits. We got up and going quickly, ate a great breakfast with the family and headed out. The trip back home was 8.5 hours, peaceful and uneventful. We stopped 3 times (once at the really nice state-run rest area), and only fueled up once between Amarillo and home.

We drove out of the helpful cloud-cover about Quannah. Once we arrived home, it was ONLY 104 degrees. We unloaded the trailer, took a break, then took her back to storage.

Until next time! 

...and Happy 4th of July!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Riding the Cumbres & Toltec

July 2

Today we got up and had breakfast then prepared for our train ride on the Cumbres & Toltec Narrow Gauge Railroad from Chama, NM to Antonito, CO.
We got to the depot about 20 minutes early, so we were able to take a bunch of photos of the train before we started. 

We were in the first car after the tender. We got rolling at 10AM, and headed to Osier for lunch. We passed over the new Lobato tressel, which was damaged by fire a year ago and has just been completed.

We saw a deer and an elk herd! FINALLY, I saw some. Pics are very far away, but I have some!

At lunch in Osier, we had a great meal (broke our diet, but it was worth it) of Turkey, dressing, green beans, and dessert of our choice. We got some more great pics.

After lunch we continued on to Antonito, through the gorge and two tunnels.

Once we arrived in Antonito, we then rode the bus back to Chama.
When we got back to the RV park, our new friends in the Landmark were gone and there was a Heartland Sundance in its place! We visited with them for a minute, but we were tired and hungry.

After a dinner of leftovers, we took a few more pics... finally got one of the fox (posted on the previous blog post). The neighbors said they saw two, so it must be a family.

I sorted photos while Tony relaxed, and we enjoyed our last night here. We head back to Amarillo tomorrow.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Exploring Vallecito and Traveling to Chama

June 30 - July 1

Thursday we decided to go explore Vallecito Reservoir, about 25 miles northeast of Durango. This is a fairly small lake, the reservoir has a maximum surface area of 2,720 acres. An additional 961 acres of lands are available for recreation. It is a beautiful setting in the middle of the mountains. They have had some wildfire damage to areas very near the park, but the area around the lake is still pristine and wooded.

It is special to me, because I remember as a child, going to Vallecito Resort (RV Park) to stay with my grandparents in their travel trailer. My grandparents were avid rv'ers in their retirement years, as members of Good Sams and their local chapter in the Lubbock area, the Prairie Dog Good Sams.

The Vallecito Resort is still there. We drove through it and noticed there were many older trailers that had been made into permanent residences, by having pitched roofs, porches, skirting and landscaping added around them.  The park felt small and cramped for the large rigs in it. The roads are hard to recognize as it seems trailers are just all over the place... not really in rows like most parks. A banner on the sign said "Under New Management". We hope it will get some more TLC.

We also drove around part of the lake, and found another RV park, Blue Spruce RV Park. We liked it much better. It was well organized, and the whole park it full of pines... But they don't seem to be in the way. The sites were large and well placed. We would definitely consider staying here sometime.

We did some more shopping, stopped at Tarpley RV in Durango to look at their parts department, and had some wonderful Low carb spaghetti for dinner!

July 1

Today we loaded up and headed to Sky Mountain RV Park in Chama, NM. We had a fairly easy drive, but noticed there were a TON of RVs on the road. I think we saw more RVs/trailers/5vers than any other vehicles! We stopped in Pagosa Springs for a quick bite. As we drove south, we could also see the smoke from the Las Conchas Fire near Los Alamos.

We almost missed our turn for the RV park, even with the GPS we overshot the entrance. Tony pulled over to a large shoulder quickly, and we were able to back up about 50 feet and pull in safely. 

I had originally reserved a pull-though site, but the RV park called two weeks ago and asked if we could move to a back-in site, to accommodate another guest wanting to stay a month. I told them they'd have to help us get parked, but OK. Well, Bill was great. He took over and parked us perfectly, in a very narrow, very short site. We never would have gotten it in there!

As Bill was parking us, right next door was a nice new Landmark Grand Canyon! They invited us to come by and visit... The Motorcoach next to them were friends, as well. Turns out they are from Grand Saline and Fate, both less than an hour from Terrell! We got settled in, then went to Chama to pick up our train tickets for tomorrow.

As we got to the station, we watched a steam engine moving around the railcars to prepare them for tomorrow. It was facinating to watch such a powerful engine working so slowly and precisely. After we picked up the tickets, we did a little shopping around the area, then went back to the park for dinner (leftover spaghetti).

After dinner, we joined our neighbors. We visited for about an hour until the evening air turned chilly and the mosquitos started getting determined. The Landmark is headed home tomorrow, so glad we got to visit and invite them to the Heartland Owners' Club, online forum and the Texas HOC rally. 

Before settling in and before it got dark, we went for a walk around the park. It looked entirely full, with mostly big rigs and 5vers. This is a great park, lots of really good spots surrounded by trees. Our site, though not perfect, has a great perk: It backs onto a large field, with a few really old cottonwood trees. There are also some very large old logs, that have been there a long time. In those logs, there is apparently a fox den! The fox has appeared, standing or sitting on the logs, observing the area. We are about 60 feet away, with barbed wire fence between us, so I guess the fox feels like we are not a threat. 

Now the pics are in!