Monday, July 14, 2014

Last Leg Home

Monday, July 14, 2014

Today we took our time getting up, but not too much time. We packed up and hit the road a little after 10. Thank goodness there was cloud-cover that made the prep not too hot. We were making good time and listening to music. Some interesting things seen along the way:

An ATM building on the shoulder… Apparently, the trailer it was riding had a blowout.

A dunking booth being towed… At first, I thought it was a badly loaded trailer of playground equipment, but once it passed us, I could tell what it was.

A pickup truck going in the opposing lanes went off the road and flipped several times. Here is a link to the story. I called 911 to report it.

Pic of the truck, from the news website.

We also saw very little rain, before reaching Denton. Apparently, in some areas we drove through, later in the day they saw severe storms with micro-burst winds in excess of 65mph!

We got home about 2:30, and got the trailer backed in on the first try. We hooked up the electric and got the A/C running, so it would be cooler later for unloading items.

We are glad to be home, but also unhappy we had to leave the great weather and fun times we were having in Colorado. I wish it could have been longer.

We now turn our sights onto our next adventure as we get ready to take Mammoth to Solid Rock RV Park at Lake Leon. She will be “home base” for us for a while, as Tony takes his new position in Cisco.

From Volcanos to Volcanic Heat

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Today,we got up early and got going. We were trying to coordinate eating lunch with relatives in Amarillo, but because of the time change, we knew we needed to get started quickly. We pulled out of the park about 7:45am (mountain time).

Eileen (on the sign) at Capulin RV Park, Capulin, NM

Eileen with Capulin Volcano in the background, visible from the RV Park.

We made good time and ended up going to my relative’s house for lunch, right at 12 noon (central time). It was about 90 degrees, but partly cloudy. We had a nice visit, and the kittles got to explore their house for a bit.

We pulled out about 1:30pm, on the road again. We stopped at the edge of town and fuelled up again, but only about half the big tank this time. Clouds were around for much of the drive, until we stopped at the big rest stop near Claude. Then it seemed we drove out of the clouds, and the temps started to climb. We made another stop along the way, at the Pecan Valley store in Chillecothe, to get some treats. By the time we got to Vernon, TX, our decided stop for the day, it was 102 degrees!

We stopped at one of our previous parks of choice, the Rocking A RV Park. They always seem to have sites available. It looks like a former KOA that has seen better days, but it is an easy in-and-out park close to the highway, and next to a WalMart, if you need anything. The lady that checked us in was very nice, and escorted us to our site. It didn’t take us long to get set up, but it took a little time to get the rig cooled down! We sat under the AC dump vent for a while to cool us off.

We then ate leftover lunch pizza that our relatives had sent along with us. It was a good, quick and easy meal. I worked on some work, and the blog for a while before hitting the hay. I know it wasn’t too long or hard a drive, but we are wiped out again. Tomorrow, we’ll head for home.

What a great trip, despite the hiccups along the way.

Limos, Passes and Volcanos, Oh My!

Saturday, July 12

We didn’t sleep very well last night, just because we were “outside” the RV Park in our minds. About 11:30pm, there was some yelling outside that woke me up. I woke up Tony and told him about the voices outside. We looked and saw a Limo unloading, and folks got into another vehicle and drove into the RV Park. Then, the Limo left. The RV Park has a gate that you must have a special key card to get in, so that’s probably why they had their vehicle outside the gate. No one bothered us, but it surprised us to hear all the ruckus. I think it put us both on edge for the rest of the evening, and we tossed and turned more.

At sunrise, we were both awake, so we got started prepping to leave about 6, and were pulling out about 7:10. We did not want to be a “problem” for anyone who discovered us that morning and didn’t know we had permission to be there.

We also did not have breakfast, since we normally microwave or cook something. With no power, we skipped our usual breakfast and decided to stop at the grocery store on the way into Breckenridge to get some more water and donuts to eat, instead. We pulled out on Hwy 9 out of Breckenridge, about 7:45, headed to Fairplay. This road goes up over Hoosier Pass, elevation 11,542 feet. The pass is located on the Continental Divide at the northern end of the Mosquito Range, in a gap between Mount Lincoln (west) and Hoosier Ridge (east). It sits on the boundary between Park (south) and Summit(north) counties. The road over the pass has a smooth approach on the south side but has several switchbacks on the north side with a grade of 8%.

Heading up, we encountered the switchbacks, but they were not too bad. We stopped at the top of the pass and took some pictures and let the truck rest a bit and check the wheel lugs for proper torque, before we headed down. Just as we arrived, a tall, slender man with a disheveled appearance and long beard arrived on foot, using a walking stick and carrying a backpack and bedroll. He said hello, and asked Tony how far it was to Breckenridge. Tony told him it was about 12 miles, but it was all downhill from here. The man said, “Good, I like it that way…” and kept walking. We were amused and intrigued by the whole encounter. I’m sure God’s hand was involved in it, but I bet will make more sense “down the road.”

Stopped for a breather at the top of Hoosier Pass

We continued down the pass to the town of Alma, and then Fairplay. We then turned on Hwy 24, to head to Colorado Springs, to join up with I-25 to head south. We saw lots of unique and beautiful scenery, crossing another pass, Wilkerson Pass at 9,504 ft, within the Pike National Forest.

We made our way through Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs, passing right by where we had stayed just a few weeks ago. We joined up with I-25, feeling we had made good time with this route. It was only 10:30am.

We continued on, and stopped for lunch about 11:30 at a rest stop. Tony made sandwiches and soon we were again on our way. We had to cross Raton Pass, from Colorado into New Mexico, to get to our final destination. We were now well-versed in mountain driving, so we didn’t have any issues with it this time – even though the temperatures were in the 90s for the area.

Once through the pass, we had just another 35 miles to get to Capulin. We pulled in about 2:15pm. While we were getting instructions from the owner, we learned he had family in Terrell long ago. He was very nice and friendly, and we had a nice chat. He led us to a nice shady spot, next to a Heartland Bighorn! We got unhooked and set up, and were pleasantly surprised that the temperature wasn’t too bad. There were some rain clouds nearby, which may have been helping the temps some with a cool breeze.

Capulin Volcano, off in the distance, as we drove down Hwy 84.

Our site. Trees helped keep it cool, and there was a Bighorn next door!

We decided to go ahead and go out to Capulin Volcano National Monument, before they closed the gate at 5:00. We drove 3 miles to the main visitor center, where we paid our entry fee and bought a souvenir, watched a short video, and received a map and some guidance from the park ranger.

Entrance to Capulin Volcano National Monument

We then got back in the truck and headed up the volcano road, 2 miles to the volcano visitor center. The views are amazing as you literally circle up the side of the “mountain.” We reached the volcano visitor center, and looked at our map. We decided to tackle the trail down into the volcanic cone. It was winding and steep going down, but well worth it. The view looking up to the rim was amazing, as was the volcanic terrain and scenery surrounding us. We then headed up, much more difficult, since we were at approximately 8000 ft!

Once we got back to the visitor area, we decided to attempt the rim hike. We didn’t get too far before we were out of breath, nearly out of water, and out of time. It was getting close to closing time. So, we headed back down. After a sleepless night, a long drive with 3 mountain passes, and a hike down to the bottom of the cone and back, we decided the rim will wait for another trip, when we have more time and energy.

The path down inside the cone of the Volcano. See Tony on the path?

Us at the bottom, the rim edge at the top of the pic.

Informational kiosk, showing how the volcano formed.

Lava rocks, and looking toward the rim.

Starting up the rim road, taking pictures

Us on the rim hike after about 15 minutes -- stopped at a bench to rest. Look at that view!

Look at that rim edge behind Tony!

Headed back down the rim hike trail.

Driving down the Park road that circles the Volcano. Look at the layers of activity!

Looking out there, we can BARELY SEE the RV Park down below.

We drove back to the park, but stopped across the street at the convenience store/gift shop. We saw lots of neat things, and picked up a shot glass for our collection. We headed back to the trailer for some leftovers for dinner. Tony waked around the park a little, and took Eileen’s picture. I took a shower before going to bed, and we hit the hay early. I think Tony was snoring before 9pm!

Tomorrow, we head towards Amarillo, and beyond. Not sure how far we’ll get.

No Go for Launch

Friday, July 11

Today, we got up fairly early and began the prep to leave. We had the rig hitched, and nearly ready to go. When I went to remove the chocks, I could not get either one on the off-door side to move. So, I had Tony pull forward a little more, which seemed to stress the wheel and I heard a thunk! sound. Tony immediately backed up, and I removed the remaining chock. When I examined the suspension, I noticed something amiss—sure enough, one of the shackles, (the metal bar that connects the equalizer to the leaf springs,) was broken! Bad news for us, as now, we are unable to get on our journey. We were sad, but not upset. Things happen when you own an RV. So, we set about finding out what we could do.

After calling the Park office, we found out we would indeed need to vacate our site, as there was “no room at the inn” for us any longer. They were fully booked. So, we cautiously pulled our trailer out of the site and out to the RV Park’s entry parking lot.

We also found out the nearest RV Mobile Tech would be $130 just to come out to look at the issue, and they did not stock those parts. (so, there would be additional time and $ to find and retrieve those parts.)

We did some more calling, and finally connected with a trailer axle repair service, and was able to locate the parts we needed, in Denver. We decided to make the trip ourselves, to keep costs down. Since the kitties were already “sleepy” and in their carrier, we decided to take them with us. We dropped the trailer and hit the road to Denver about 10:30. We stopped for lunch at a McDonalds along the way, and then found the shop, Jim’s Repair.

We quickly got the parts and headed back to Breckenridge, getting back about 3pm. Once there, we let the cats out in the rig, and called the Mobile RV Tech again. They said it would be late tonight or tomorrow about 9-10 before they could get there to do the work, so we were really in a quandary. The RV Park had previously stated we could not stay in their parking lot overnight. We decided to ask again, since the parts were in hand, but we were at the mercy of the Mobile Tech. Meanwhile, Dan had offered to help us with the repair if we wanted to tackle it ourselves.

We talked to the office personnel again, and it was not sounding good. They did give us some other RV Mobile Repair places to call, so I worked on trying those numbers. While I was calling, Ann dropped by our rig, and talked to Tony about letting Dan help us. We finally decided, this was our best option.

Dan and Ann came by with tools and umbrellas (it was sprinkling again), and Tony and Dan got to work. We discovered the new shackle was not quite the same size, but it would work to get us fixed for now. We bought two, which is what is needed for the one connection from the equalizer to the spring. Our Rieco Titan Ground Control system came in handy to lift the rig so the tire could be removed. Our two 12-ton bottle jacks were used for support of the frame, and to lift the axle for maneuvering purposes. The guys had to work to get the parts apart, but eventually, they succeeded. Ann and I shuttled tools to the guys from our respective collections. The guys noted that the shackles were indeed in need of replacement, as the holes were elongated and no longer round. That means all of them are probably due for replacement, but this will wait until we get home.

Caution, men at work

Gettin' 'er done!

This was the companion shackle to the one that broke. Those holes are supposed to be round!

The guys got the parts installed, and then Tony took it for a test tow around the parking lot. Looks like it will work just fine!

We are so blessed to have Dan and Ann there to help us out. This was not a repair we were equipped to do ourselves. Dan had knowledge and tools that helped out the process and made quick work of it. Once the work was done, it was nearly 6pm. Dan went to the office to see if he could persuade management to let us stay in the parking lot for the evening. He came back quickly, and apparently didn’t have to do any persuading. They manager had agreed to let us stay. YAY!

We then loaded up into Dan & Ann’s truck and headed out to eat at Windy City Pizza again. It was easy to get to and we got our food a little quicker this time. We ate a whole 16” pizza! We again had a great visit with them, then returned to the park. We will have to conserve battery power, and no running water (we did not have any in the fresh tank), but we’ll make it fine. The temps are dropping into the 50s at night, and we have two furry heaters to keep us warm.

We used our laptops to hook up to usb and charge our phones and surf a little before going to bed. Tomorrow, we plan to get up early and hit the road. Not too hard to do, as we don’t have to dump or unhook anything, and won’t get to take showers. We don’t even have all the slides out, just the living room and bedroom, so the cats don’t get somewhere they are not supposed to be.

Parking lot boondocking

Whew! What a day! At least the temperature was great, just 73 degrees today!

Visiting, Shopping and Getting Ready to Go

Thursday, July 10

Today, we had plans to get together with Dan and Ann one last time before we head out tomorrow. They picked us up about 11:15, and we headed to go eat at Red Robin, in Dillon. Dan had some coupons, so we saved some money. We all had a great meal and visiting. After lunch, we stopped at WalMart in Frisco to pick up a few things. When we got back to the RV Park, it was sprinkling pretty good, so we decided to part ways and maybe get together later to look at some of our trailer mods when it wasn’t raining.

We hung around the rig for a bit, then we decided in between showers to head down to downtown Breckenridge and do a little shopping. There are a few shops we like to visit, including one that sells local artist’s works, called Arts Alive.

We walked up and down the Main street, dodging raindrops occasionally. We found a few things we liked, and then headed back. Right next to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Breckenridge Associates Real Estate was hosting an outdoor concert by a Quintet from the National Repertory Orchestra, and they were very good. We stood and listened to a few pieces. Unfortunately it was still sprinkling, so we decided to head back rather than listen to more in the rain.

We then headed back to the rig, and had dinner. While we were relaxing (and the rain had stopped, the sun was shining again,) Dan and Ann dropped by. We visited some more, then Tony showed Dan and Ann some of the mods we had done. It was starting to get dark when they left. It was so nice to visit with them while we were here. They are a great couple.

We wrapped up the evening with prep-work for our departure tomorrow. We plan to go to Capulin, NM, to see Capulin Volcano National Monument. It’s about 5 hours from Breckenridge.

Kitties watch the Tiger Run Resort happenings.

We are sad our time is up in the wonderful COOL mountains.

Pics to come.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Best view EVER.

Wednesday, July 9

Today, we had to get up BRIGHT AND EARLY, to get going to Leadville. Our Leadville Colorado & Southern train ride was at 10am. Leadville is about 37 miles away. Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, this scenic train trip provides 2 ½ hours of sightseeing, relaxation and a little glimpse back in history. The train travels another 1,000 feet above the headwaters of the Arkansas River Valley. You will travel through pine forests, aspen groves and view high alpine meadows sprinkled with an array of colorful wildflowers.

We arrived about 9am, and took time to take some pictures of the train and its 1953 diesel engine as it pulled into the station and look around the gift shop. At 9:30, we were able to board and pick our seats. We again picked an open air type of railcar with a roof, to keep us out of the sun.

A few minutes after 10 (due to some late arrivals), we departed. As the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad travels north along the Arkansas River Valley, it raises up 1,000 feet off the valley floor so we had some spectacular views of Freemont Pass and the two tallest peaks in Colorado, Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert. The scenery was picture-perfect Colorado, with pine forests and apsen groves, snowy mountain vistas and steep rugged valleys. The route is a little over 9 miles, but at 11mph with a couple of stops, the trip feels much longer. We had a great view and took lots of pictures. We were glad we took our jackets, as it was only going to be 75 today. With the elevation and wind, we were comfortable.

Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert

Us enjoying the train ride

Groves of Aspen

What a view!

Huge pine trees of all types.

Looking back toward Leadville. The road is Hwy 24.

Looking away from Leadville up the valley.

The water tower.

Tony at our stop at the water tower.

At the stopping point of the water tower, we were able to show our SPECIAL tickets, to get to ride in the Engine CAB, for the ride back. We were very excited to get to do this! We moved on up to the cab, and were the only occupants besides Pat, our engineer. There was surprisingly a lot of room up there, including two little fold-out seats! He told us some about the train and himself, along the way. He was from a small town of less than 150 people, near Vail. It was his first year to engineer the train, though he had been working in transportation for other attractions in the area, previously. He was very personable, and we enjoyed the information as well as the ride.

Seated in the cab!

Opposite us in the cab, the engineer looks back toward the train.

Our view from our seats! The doorway to the catwalk is open.

Shortly after we were going, Pat said we could walk out on the front catwalk and view from there (as long as we held on!) Tony immediately went out and rode on the front nose of the engine, while I stayed in the cab most of the time. I ventured out one time, but man, even at 11mph, it was scary to me. I felt a little panicky and my eyes were watering, so I went back into the cab.

Great view!

Even better, Tony says!

Selfie on a moving train!

Me riding in the cab.


Quick, take the picture, I'm going back!

View of the mountains out the cab windows

Pat, our Engineer

The controls

Us with Pat!

We REALLY enjoyed this ride in the cab. We had the best view, EVER. It brings a whole different view to the scenery and the experience. If you’re a railfan and get the chance to do this, do not pass it up!

After we returned, we headed downtown to eat. We heard good things about the Golden Burro CafĂ©, so we decided to eat there. We had a bit of a wait to be seated, but the service was excellent. We got chicken-fried steaks, but they were just OK. We filled up though, and then went for a walk up and down the street. We could have spent more time looking at other attractions, such as Baby Doe’s Matchless Mine, and other mining interests, but we were tired from getting up early and the exciting train ride, so we headed home.

The Golden Burro

Downtown Leadville

More downtown Leadville

Beautiful flowers in the side yard of a home near where we parked.



A nap was first on the agenda when we returned. We then got up and I worked for a while, until dinner. We had leftover spaghetti for dinner, and I tried to catch up on the blog, while Tony enjoyed the cool outdoors.

Another great day in Colorado. Too bad our time here is soon up.