Monday, August 28, 2017

SUMMER 2017 END OF TRIP SUMMARY

As I sit at home listening to the wind and rain from Hurricane Henry I recall some of the highlights of our trip and want to document some of the statistics resulting from our travels.

We left home May 24 as the temp. was approaching the Mid-90's heading to an area we enjoyed during last years travels. . . . The Badlands, Black Hills, Deadwood, Sturgis, Devils Tower, Little Big Horn and other related battlefields. Higher in elevation, these areas were much cooler and we really enjoyed the refuge from the heat we'd left behind.

We stopped at Lewis and Clark Caverns on the way to our annual Nevada BBQ then went down through Idaho to Nevada. We visited old friends for the 4th of July in Gardnerville, then moved onto Oregon for another reunion and spending about a month at some of our favorite haunts in the Cascades, including North Davis Creek, John Day, and the Wallowa Lake.

We had a great time camping with our Oregon friends at "Tailgate Training Camp" in the Ochocho's. After Wallowa Lake we moved on to Park City, Utah to visit a relative, then on to Flaming Gorge, Utah and across Colorado (Leadville) and towards home through New Mexico.

We returned home to Texas with the temp still in the mid 90's. . . just as if we'd never left, except we missed all those 100+ degree days!

Looking back over the summer, our favorite camping site was huge, grassy space we had in Clyde Holiday State Park in Oregon and least favorite was the steep, dry weedy site in Jordenelle State Park in Utah. The State Park was fine but our particular spot was not. The slope was so severe we could barely get in and out the door.

Our favorite historical visit was Little Big Horn and the best overall vista's were at Flaming Gorge, though Wallowa Lake and Leadville were right up there. We were gone 91 days, but nothing we couldn't cope with as few places offer the humidity we have in Texas.

And now for the statistics: We traveled 7884 miles. We spent $1860 for camping fees and $2015 for fuel for at total of $3876. For the entire trip we averaged $43 per day. I don't keep track of food as we eat about the same as we do at home.

Comparisons to previous years - When we started our summer travels in 2010 (six trips over the last seven years) we had no problem finding camping spaces and only needed reservations on holiday weekends. During this last trip we usually had to make reservations for the high tourist areas months in advance and other area's weeks in advance.

Fuel prices are down, more boomers are on the road, and I think their is less foreign travel, which has increased competition for space and has certainly increased crowding and traffic in high-interest areas.

State Park Campground prices are up. Several State Park systems are now charging day use fees on top of the campground fee's and along with reservation fees some parks are approaching the $40 per night range. New Mexico is the best deal for State Parks. $14.OO a night for water and electric. Of course, for us the Federal Campgrounds are the best deal due to the 50% discount for the senior pass. These are boondocking sites, so no services, but often very scenic.

Recreation management companies now handle the camping services for many state and federal lands, and they seem to be free to add extra charges if they see fit, so read the entrance boards carefully. We stayed at a forest service campground in the Black Hills that charged $2.00 extra per day per dog. No extra services for dogs were provided - as in no off leash area or anything else, but all the usual "no dogs here" restrictions were in place.

Who knows where our travels will take us this next year. We enjoy our home on wheels and after reviewing a lot of other rigs and floorplans on the market we've evaluated our trailer and future travel plans we are going to stick with the travel trailer and truck we have. You know what they say, if it isn't broke, don't fix it!

 We are happy to be home and look forward to spending time with family. We REALLY missed the grandsons and look forward to upcoming visits by friends and family to Texas. There's lots of exploring to do here!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Homeward bound

Sunday, August 20

Storrie Lake State Park - Named for the man who began building the dam here. He had an agricultural project in mind, which never panned out, but it makes a nice fishing and boating lake. It's a nice campground, unusual in that there's a lot of boondocking area right around the shore of the lake. If we'd know that we probably wouldn't have reserved a full service site. No complaints with the site we have though.

All the standard camping sites have nice little adobe style shelters which cover the picnic tables and have a half wall on the back side, so the wind is pretty well contained while you still have light and can view the lake.

There's plenty of room to walk dogs in the meadow or on the road, as well as water to play in, in the lake or above the lake in the Gallinas River, which isn't a very big river, at least currently. We had a nice romp in it yesterday.

It rained softly all night, which finally used up some of the heavy cloud cover and, now, on Monday, we can actually see the sky!

We off now to our next camp, and a quilt shop along the way!

Monday, August 21

We made it into Las Vegas (New Mexico) just as Thread Bear was opening. There's a fairly large parking lot nearby, and since we were so early there was room for Hubby to park the rig in the lot. It was a productive stop! Beautiful fabrics in this shop, and unique.
Many I've never seen before and may not again, so I bough two pieces I just couldn't resist, and a license plate of course!
Another of those" long term" projects is a "postcard" wall hanging, so I bought a Las Cruces fabric postcard for that. We were there in the past, and I hadn't seen one of these. The postcard project is still percolating in my little pea brain and probably will for some time.

The shopping done we headed south through the flattest land we've seen since Nebraska. The shifting clouds were about the only scenery. We stopped in Ft. Sumner (Billy the Kid Territory) to see if we could view the partial (in this area) eclipse, but the clouds were too heavy.  Our stop for the night is Oasis State Park.

We've been here several times before, and it's a good stop for the dogs as I can take them over the sand dunes at the edge of camp into a dry lake bed and let them run.


And run they did. The ran, and hunted, and chased each other, and ran some more. I gave them water twice in the 30 minutes or so we were on the lake bed, but it took them another 30 minutes back in camp to stop panting.

We have a nice pull through site (#23) right near the beginning of the trail that goes over the dunes, and several shade trees, so we're set for the evening. Our evening entertainment is the ever-changing sunset. Pinks and blazing gold all around. We may have missed the eclipse, but this makes up for it!


Previous posts on our two previous visits to this park can be found here , and they include details about several of the local museums and other points of interest, or you can click on "New Mexico" in the Topics section in the lower right hand column of the page and find more past posts.

A few more photos here

Tomorrow we're off to San Angelo, Texas!!!


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Trinidad, on the Santa Fe Trail - Where Cultures Meet

Friday, August 19
It was 34 degrees when we woke up this morning - better than yesterday's 29 but still a might chilly for August. We packed up quickly (moving keeps you warm!) and were on the road by 9:00, our destination is Trinidad State Park.

What a beautiful drive from Molly Brown campground. We soon left the pine forest behind and found ourselves in lush range land, with ranches and rolling pastures dotted with cattle. That terrain evolved into sage and juniper, high desert, then the trees grew bigger and we were in forest again.
All of it beautiful, with interesting mountains in the distance. As we drew closer to Trinidad the rock grew redder, a nice contrast to the cloudy sky.

We were setting up in Trinidad State Park by around 3 P.M. and it was in the mid 80's. Siesta inspiring for all concerned!

After dinner an evening stroll around the immediate portions of the campground was very enjoyable, as we are still high enough that the evenings cool off quickly.

This is a very nice park, with several access points on the water for fishing and boating. We're staying in Carpios Ridge Campground, which has nicely graveled sites, most fairly level, some with a view of the lake, but there's no swimming for human or canine unless you can find one of the little muddy fingers of the lake.

In most places the shore is too steep to make swimming practical.  Boating, water skiing, fishing, hiking, etc. are all accommodated, so, sorry pups, maybe at the next stop! They've done a fairly nice job of spacing sites around the loops, but of all the campgrounds we've stayed in on this trip, other than Prineville this is probably the least private site we've had. There are a few trails around the edges so at least we have interesting walking spaces.

There are interpretive kiosks all around the park.
One, near the amphitheater, features a horno, a primitive oven used by Native Americans as well as the Hispanic settlers in the early days.
Other information kiosks tell of various aspects Spanish/Mexican colonial era, the pioneers, and the Native Americans in the area.


Saturday

Today is work day, and a bit of touring. Laundry first, before the two campground machines  fill up! and then a little time in town.

Trinidad isn't a huge town, the current population is a little over 9,000, but you can tell by the historic downtown area that it was once a very prosperous and bustling city. They are working at bringing back the historic section, with art galleries, restaurants and other interesting shops, but there are many vacant spaces and buildings in desperate need of restoration.
The Bloom Mansion

Originally a coal mining and shipping center, Trinidad had a bustling economy until the mining slowed down. The Wikipedia article on Trinidad has some very interesting information on the town and is defiantly worth the read, especially the section titled "Recent".

We had noticed signs for the Santa Fe Trail museum when we passed through town on our way to the campground, so decided that would make a good destination for the day. It's a good thing there was plenty of on-street parking, as the dark clouds decided to open up just as we arrived in town. Pounding rain, the kind that happens when the air is warm and the clouds are so full they just can't hold any more. Yes, we have an umbrella, and yes, it was safely tucked away in the trailer.

We dashed to the museum, shaking off the water like wet dogs, and of course, the rain quit shortly thereafter. The Santa Fe Trail museum takes up an entire block and is a combination of homes, gardens and traditional museum displays.

The two restored homes in the complex can be toured with a guide, for a small fee, but the remainder of the complex is accessible for no charge. It's a pleasant place to wander the gardens (when it's not raining) and in fact the entire neighborhood is interesting, with historic buildings all around.

Among the museum displays we ran into a new term that, surprisingly, we had not encountered before........."Hispano" Though the word is Spanish in origin, it's meaning when used in English was established for census purposes in the 1930's.  Hispano refers to individuals of Spanish Colonial ancestry who have lived here for generations and maintained that culture. They did not cross a border to move to the area, the border was drawn around them. In Texas the term Tejano has a similar meaning for individuals of Mexican ancestry and cultural identity.

Fort Wooten is very close to the museum and immediately caught our eye as it's military design contrasts with the many Victorian era homes in the area.

It was originally design as a military memorial and home for community veterans groups, but never saw use for that purpose. It's now home to the social service agency. The gate to the courtyard is locked, but it's good to know the building is in use as that will help prevent vandalism and deterioration.

In the afternoon I explored one of the trails that leads down to the edge of the water. I didn't make it all the way, as when I turned around and looked at the trail I reminded myself that what goes down must go back up again! Watch reminded me too.
I have to go back up?
Why did we come down?

The trail is rough and fairly steep, but also provides an opportunity for some close up inspection of the geology here.

There's a fairly noticeable of (low grade) coal running along the side of the trail, and the red and buff colored sandstone layers sparkle like glitter in the sun, the result of a high mica content.

There's a lot to explore in Trinidad, more museums and shops, and there are some amazing sculptures along the main street.

We've enjoyed the relatively cool weather this altitude offers, so we'll be back!

Sunday
Time to pack up and head for New Mexico.

If the sunrise this morning is an omen, it's going to be a good day!

More photos here