Sunday, January 5, 2014

The final leg to HOME.

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

This morning, the kitties were brave enough to explore a little before breakfast. We enjoyed some more visiting with our family, and then about 10:30AM we hit the road. We thought about getting the Mammoth washed at the Blue Beacon, but the waiting line was 4 or more trucks deep, and we didn't want to wait.

Somewhere, we knew we had to make a stop to dump our tanks... we decided to leave Durango with them partially full, since it would slow us down from getting out of town quickly. (We knew the trip home would be mostly above freezing, so no worries there.) Unfortunately, we had a difficult time finding a dump station! I used an app to locate rest areas with dump stations or fuel stations that had those facilities. We stopped at least 2 places along the way that ended up not having a dump station, which slowed our progress a little.

We finally found a rest stop near Iowa Park that had a dump station! It didn't take too long to dump, but it was windy, and the wind chill was cutting -- especially when we weren't really dressed for it.

The big tank fuel pump was still going a little slow yesterday and today, but the last two fill-ups, when the temp was above 50, the pump seemed to run just fine!! We'll have to do a little more investigating to find out what was giving us problems. We were never in danger of running out of fuel. We just ran it for about 20 minutes each time we got to a quarter tank in the truck, and would get from 1/4 to 3/4 filled.

We ended up getting home about 7PM. It was 62 degrees and pleasant! So we unloaded a lot of the trailer, but not all. We decided to just relax for the evening. The kitties, whom had slept all day, began to run around and play.

All-in-all, a VERY good trip. We're tired, but grateful to have had great weather and no major incidents.

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Technically not the trip anymore, but figured I'd follow up with the final tidbits...

We woke up this morning to a stiff 20mph north wind, and temps in the 30's! We got the trailer backed into the driveway, and worked to get it re-winterized. The wind chill made it feel about 22! We'll get it completely unloaded over the week, hopefully when it's warmer!! Tonight should be in the teens. Wow, just like Durango!

Texas Bound Mammoth

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Tony set our clocks to Texas time last night, so we would start to get adjusted. We went to bed about 10PM Texas time, and got up about 6AM Texas time. We got the rig ready to go, and pulled out about 8:15 Texas time.

Goodbye, Westerly RV Park!

We drove to Aztec, NM and stopped to refuel our propane and the big tank, before hitting the road again. We had a fairly uneventful drive through Albuquerque and on to Amarillo.

Unique scenery driving through New Mexico

Unusual clouds in a beautiful clear blue sky. It looks like an eagle!

Back to Texas!

Outside of Amarillo, windmills off in the distance.

We arrived right around 7PM. We put the kitties in our relatives laundry room, while we went to eat at our favorite Mexican Restaurant in Amarillo, Leal's. I love their avocado enchiladas, with hatch chili queso sauce on top. YUM!

We exchanged a few Christmas gifts.and enjoyed visiting, until it got late and we ran out of energy. We head home tomorrow.

Last Day of SKI FUN

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Last night, the furnace stopped working sometime in the middle of the night. Tony discovered it on a bathroom visit. The Thermostat said it was 53 degrees in the coach, and the furnace would not click on, so he went outside to check on the tank. It seemed to be getting low, so he went ahead and switched the changeover valve to the other (full) tank. Voila, we had heat again! Unfortunately, now both of us were awake at 2:30am, and now aware that the furnace may or may not  be on the fritz, so we didn't go back to sleep easily. The furnace ran fine the rest of the night, but both of us were more tired than usual in the morning. We decided to go a half-day in the afternoon to ski, rather than attempt to get going this morning.

The train went by at 10:35, as usual, so Tony took Eileen's picture:

Eileen at Westerly RV Park, Durango, CO

We started getting the rig ready to go, by packing up non-essential items and stowing things for travel. It's amazing how spread out and homey the place gets when we are in one spot for a while!

After lunch we headed to the slopes. Tony led the way to the backside, and we had a great time skiing Chet's, Sally's Run, Vincents, Legends, Where, and others. We skied over 8 miles, with a top speed just over 30mph.

The tower at the base area
Prepping to ski 

After we got home from skiing, we hooked up the truck to the trailer. We had dinner and then worked to get the coach ready to go as best we could. After working to get most things stored, we both sat on the loveseat to watch some TV. Soon, we were joined by kitties!! This was a rare site, both cats sitting ON US. Usually Mambo likes a lap, and Tango sits nearby. He's not much of a lap cat.

Two snoozing lap cats!

We should not have too much to do in the morning. We want to get on the road fairly early, so we can go out to eat with family in Amarillo.

Happy Anniversary, Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Today was our 21st wedding anniversary. We didn't have anything special planned... Being on this great trip was the best present we could give each other!

 Since we were pretty tired from yesterday, we didn't do a whole lot. We talked about going skiing, but we were just not able to get going. Tony dumped the tanks and filled the water, and we enjoyed doing not much. Tony worked on wireless network some more, and we watched a movie, The Lone Ranger.

Tomorrow is our last full day here, so we'll probably go skiing one last time.

Cliff Dwellings and Mexican Food

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Today, we decided to head to Mesa Verde National Park, located about 50 miles west of Durango. Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to 1300. Today the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States. We had read on their website that many of the cliff dwellings were closed, but they did offer a tour of Spruce Tree House. We left about 10:45 and took a lunch with us. The drive to the park entrance was very easy and relaxing, with snow remaining on many of the shady sides of the cliffs and mountain sides.

Driving to Mesa Verde

We arrived and headed to the brand new visitor and research center, located at the entrance to Mesa Verde. This was a really nice facility, costing 12.1 million back in 2011. We walked around inside, made a small purchase in the store, and picked up a map. The Ranger said that there were not guided tours today, only self-guided, so we didn't feel rushed to get to the ruin site, as we first thought.

(photo by NPS)

The entrance

Scale model of rhe Mesa Verde area

We drove the 20 miles into the park. We had been here in the Summer of 2011, and there were areas that had obviously burned recently. Well, the park is in recovery from fires in many places, but it is still a very surreal and beautiful place. It still amazes me!

Beautiful Mesa Verde

We arrived at the museum and visitor center near the Spruce Treehouse, and decided it would be best to eat our lunch before we headed to the cliff dwelling. The Spruce Treehouse tour requires a 100ft (30m) descent and ascent on a winding path, with a total walking distance of a 1/2-mile round trip. Rangers are on-site to answer questions. The temperatures were in the 40s, but with the sun out, it felt much warmer. We started down the trail, and quickly realized it was going to be a little challenging. It was very steep!

We made it down to the cliff dwellings, and enjoyed exploring and hearing about them from the Ranger. I even got to hold some shards of pottery from the ruins! Tony climbed the ladder into a kiva, a room used for religious rituals. The ruins are really intriguing.

Spruce Treehouse.  Somehow, we have to get down there!

Hiking the path...
Making our way down...

Almost there!

Tony in Spruce Treehouse

View of the cliff overhang

Spruce Treehouse cliff dwellings

An excavated Kiva

Tony going into a Kiva

Inside the Kiva

Erika looking at pottery with the Ranger

The "penthouse"?

After we viewed this cliff dwelling, we headed back up the switch-backing path to the surface. We had to stop a few times, as we'd get a little winded in the high altitude. We made it out, and then toured the museum. Many display cases with artifacts and dioramas explain the Puebloan culture during the time the cliff dwellings were in use.

We then headed through more of the park, on the Mesa Top Loop Road, where there are pull-outs for viewing additional cliff dwellings from afar. Here is a pic of Tower House Cliff Dwelling.

We finally decided we were worn out and needed to head home about 4:30. The sun was beginning to get low in the sky, and it was getting colder. We made it back to Durango, just as the sun was setting. We decided we were in the mood for some Mexican food. We haven't had good luck with Mexican Food in Colorado, but we decided to try Tequilas. We found a place about a block away to park. Right as we were getting out of the truck, the Durango & Silverton train was coming back through town. I took a video, but I'm having an issue getting it to upload to the blog. I will continue to work on it.

We had fajitas for two, and there was plenty, it could have been fajitas for three! We enjoyed our meal, and while we were eating, a man dressed as "santa claus" came walking through the restaurant ringing a bell, and proclaiming, "Happy New Year!" Everyone cheered and clapped for him! After dinner, we headed back to the trailer.

We were both pretty tired from our exploring and hiking Mesa Verde. We ended up heading to bed about 9:30pm. About 12:01, we were awoken by someone in the trailer park blasting a hand-held air horn, like you often hear at a sporting event or high school graduation. LOL!  We immediately thought of our friend Jay, whom has a powerful train/air horn in his truck and is known for blasting it when he is at a Rally.

Happy New Year, everyone!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

More skiing!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Today, we took a leisurely morning, then headed to the mountain after lunch for some more skiing. The temperature was a little colder today, maybe just the wind. but it felt markedly colder. Our legs were not as fresh, and they fussed a little more this day. 

We again got lost heading to the "backside", so we decided to just ski the front. There are plenty of good blues there, and again, overall, it wasn't too crowded!

Here's some pics:

Us with the base area waaayy down in the background

DMR base area with mountain backdrop

Me with the DMR tower in the background

After skiing, we returned home and Tony cooked spaghetti, using the italian sausage we bought at James Ranch last week. James Ranch is a local ranch that sells products from their farm direct to the public, so it's always fresh. In the winter, they are only open one day a week!

We had a wonderful meal!

After dinner, we watched "Gatsby", which Tony had rented. We were trying out our new "network", and it had some issues, but we enjoyed the movie.

Wise Men and Slow Pokes

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Today, we got up and headed back to First United Methodist Church of Durango, for traditional services, at 11am. We had no trouble finding a seat this time. FUMC has 4 services... One Saturday evening, and three on Sunday morning.

The message was delivered by a guest speaker, but it was a good one, reminding us about the lives of the wise men -- seeking truth, traveling great distances to find it, and, once found, turning from their previous lives to proclaim the good news henceforth.

After service, we headed back downtown to our favorite pizza place, DSP. The worker recognized us from our visit a week before! Turns out he was from Richardson, TX originally. We had the same thing again. After lunch, we did some more shopping around downtown, shops we didn't make it to earlier. It was a nice, sunny day, and it was pleasant to be out.

More exploring downtown Main Street, Durango.

We also went to CityMarket, the local grocery chain. They had quite a variety, for such a small store. We decided to pick up some sweet rolls, which we had been craving, and some bread. We also drove by Chapman Hill, which is an area of the town where the shady side of a mesa has been turned into a skiing area. It's run by the city, and they have snowmaking capabilities. They have 2 rope tow lifts, to pull you to the top, or you can "let go" anywhere along the way. There were quite a few folks skiing and/or learning to ski, around the bottom.

After our wanderings, we came home and worked some more on our internal network, trying to get everything to talk to each other and get on the internet, using my Mifi Liberate. We didn't have success as we had hoped, but found some other solutions for the time being.

Sunday evening, we watched our Dallas "Cowpokes" play for a chance at the NFL playoffs, without their quarterback, Tony Romo, who was injured and underwent back surgery this week. Unfortunately, it ended like many of the games we've watched this season...They had the game in hand, only to let it slip away with mistakes. They had the chance to come back and win, only to throw an interception. 8-8 for the third year in a row. I think I'm ready to root for the Denver Broncos now!

Farmington Visit

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

Today we got up and decided to head to Farmington, NM. We had received a nice gift from my cousin, and we needed to find a protective case to carry/protect it. We also wanted to look at an Apple Airport (router), to facilitate an in-coach network for our devices. I had a coupon for Staples to get 10% off, and some rewards dollars to use, so that's why we headed to Farmington... They had a Staples, where Durango does not.

About 10:35, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge train comes by, just across the highway from the RV park. It blows its horn very loud, and it really freaks the cats out!

About 11, we headed to a few places nearby, Honeyville and James Ranch, for some local specialties, and then headed to Farmington after lunch. We stopped at Best Buy as well, as we had seen some cases online there we might like. We ended up getting the case and router at Staples. We then headed over to an RV dealer, to look at their parts department. I found a replacement plastic strap for the one that broke on our sliding bathroom door this trip, and we found a quick-connect blow-out connector that will facilitate the winterizing process when we use the air compressor to blow out the lines.

Farmington is a busy town of about 45,000! They had a Mall, and an airport, and many other large-town amenities. We ended up driving through Farmington from one side to the other, including through their downtown. It reminded us of Roswell's downtown, with some of the same era buildings.

Here's a neat pic of a closed sign shop and downtown Farmington.

We ended up eating dinner in Farmington at the Golden Corral. They were busy, but we had a good meal. We then headed home and Tony worked on setting up some of the devices on the new internal network., while I worked on the blog.

As usual, we don't always do "exciting" things on our trip. This is more like a typical Saturday at home!