Archive for September, 2011

Driving the Turquoise Trail to Albuquerque

September 30, 2011 - 5:38 pm No Comments

This morning we left Santa Fe early, stopped by Walmart to pick up a few items, picked up coffee at McDonald’s, and hit the road by 8:00 a.m.   The Turquoise Trail starts right outside Santa Fe so it didn’t take long for us to start the drive.

The name (Turquoise Trail) comes from the blue-green turquoise first mined by the early Pueblo people, an agrarian based society dwelling along the Rio Grande as early as 900 A.D.   The stone has become nationally recognized as a precious stone to be set in silver and gold.  The drive was very pretty—it was very dramatic scenery.   Very dry landscape, low sagebrush or scrub brush, everything is the same color—tan.   The houses are mostly in the adobe style and the color of the adobe is the same as the landscape so the houses blend right into the side of the hills.

We stopped in the little village of Madrid and walked around visiting the shops.   I did go into one shop that was full of turquoise and other gems from the area.    The owner explained the history of the gems and it was very interesting.   I didn’t buy a single thing for myself, but I did find a couple of things for others.   Many of the shops were funky little originals, owned and operated by the artist.

Madrid (the main village on the Trail) sits midway along The Turquoise Trail and has a colorful history, beginning in the early 1800’s when squatters arrived and mined the area.   At its peak the town produced 250,000 tons of coal a year and boasted a population exceeding Albuquerque.  Madrid is probably best known for its annual Christmas lighting display, which began in the 1920s.  New Mexican families from many miles away made the long trek to see the elaborate displays of lights and nativity scenes. Since the electric plant was owned by the town’s coal company, Madrid had the luxury of unlimited electricity for the displays.   Trans World Airways—later known as TWA—diverted nighttime flights over Madrid to allow passengers to see the spectacle.

When the coal market collapsed, so did Madrid’s infrastructure. Eventually the final town’s residents moved away and Madrid became a ghost town. In 1954 the Wall Street Journal listed the entire town for sale for $250,000. By the 1960’s and 70’s an array of artists, crafts people and renegades rediscovered Madrid. Eventually the town’s abandoned Victorian homes and clapboard storefronts were sold and new populations began to form in the town. Today Madrid pioneers make up about 400 residents—local artists, craftspeople, gallery owners and business commuters to Santa Fe. The Holiday lighting display is back and shops, food establishments and lodging facilities operate year-round.

We found the American RV Park, west of Albuquerque, around mid-day.   What a great park it is!!!   We are so impressed with the organization of checking everyone in.   The park is huge, and we enjoyed watching rigs pulling in all afternoon.    Rigs of all shapes and sizes!  The park workers had a table set up outside the office area so when you pulled in, there were helpers in golf carts to guide you to your site as soon as you checked in.  They had your package all ready to go—no waiting.

We’ve met some nice folks here–we’re all excited about the fiesta tomorrow morning.   Our bus to the Fiesta (I’ve been using the word “festival” but the locals call the balloon event a “fiesta”) will leave promptly at 5:30 a.m. in the morning.   The RV Park has four school buses to take us to the fiesta and back to the park.    We will be back in the park by mid-morning.   Can’t wait to show you photos of the events.   The weather forecast is perfect for the “ascension” of the balloons first thing in the morning.   Stay tuned!    Bonnie

I LOVE Santa Fe

September 29, 2011 - 2:49 pm No Comments

I didn’t take my camera to the Plaza today and I should have.   We hopped on the shuttle this morning for one last time.    Today happened to be an open market on the Plaza held by The Native American Artists Association.    Many native americans bring their wares (mostly jewelry) and sell them.    Because they belong to this association, they have strict guidelines about their jewelry.   They have to use sterling silver or copper or other pure metal, they mark each of their pieces with their initials and follow other guidelines.   Talk about jewelry overload!!!!   Each native american spread their wares on the sidewalk  in little blocks of space and you are encouraged to pick the items up and try them on.   They tell you the story of their jewelry making.    Many intricate bracelets, earrings, rings, etc. to peruse.

Now you’re wondering what I bought?     I found a beautiful sterling silver ring with an amber stone, a pair of sterling silver earrings with turquoise stones, and another sterling silver ring with a pink stone (can’t remember the name of the stone).   I tried on several bracelets but didn’t find one that called my name.   But the market atmosphere was so much fun!!!   Tourists from all over were looking, trying on, and purchasing their products.   We really like to purchase products when we know the artist and this was certainly the day to do that.

We had lunch at a nice little restaurant on the Plaza, but rather than another mexican meal, we opted for a lunch of tuna salad and cup of soup.   Both were excellent and we really enjoyed it.

After lunch we strolled the Plaza and heard some beautiful music coming from the square.    It was heavenly.    As we looked around we saw a man in a wheelchair and he had a huge harp in front of him.   He was the most gifted musician I’ve ever heard.   He played jazz and classical music and people were just mesmerized.    It would be interesting to know his story, because on the one hand he appeared to be down on his luck, but on the other hand he was so obviously talented!!!

The Plaza was filled with all sorts of individuals.   Lots of tourists,  but also lots of “individuals” who looked different from us.   Riding the shuttle in Santa Fe is an experience in itself.    Both days this week we were joined on the shuttle by a gentleman who is homeless, or at least down on his luck.    He also is an alcoholic, but not a loud and ugly one.    The first day he got on the shuttle with us, he asked where we were from, what did we do for a living before retirement; he was very respectful.    He shook our hands before getting off the shuttle.    Today on our way home from the Plaza, he got on the shuttle once again.   He took one look at us and said “hey, I met you yesterday, you’re an engineer and you’re from Tennessee”.   He chatted a little and mentioned that he already had a buzzon  and he told us how much beer he already had today.   He mentioned something about a lost love affair and how we looked like we had been together a long time.  Yup, we said, 40 years.   He shook our hands once again before getting off and said he was pleased to have met us.

You just never know how lucky you are until you are reminded in some tangible way.   We had a restful afternoon and we’re getting the rig ready to leave in the morning for Albuquerque.   We will drive the Turquoise Trail (uh oh) from Santa Fe to Albuquerque  before settling in our campground in Albuquerque.  Greg says that’s going to be 62 miles of opportunity to find more jewelry.   LOL

Stay tuned.  Bonnie

A Day in Trailer Ranch RV Park

September 28, 2011 - 4:57 pm 2 Comments

This is an interesting RV park.   It’s sort of a love/hate relationship for us.    We LOVE the location and the setting.   We DO NOT like the fact that they cram us in here like a bunch of sardines.   On the plus side, however, being in such close quarters tends to encourage meeting your neighbors (since you are practically sleeping with them anyway).   We’ve met some great people and everyone has an interesting story.   The major topic of conversation this week is  the balloon festival starting this weekend in Albuquerque.   Where are you staying?    What days are you going to the festival?   Have you ever been there before?   Should we take folding chairs?

Today we did laundry and enjoyed our chairs outside.    The weather is absolutely perfect for being outside.    We had new neighbors move in today on both sides of us—-one couple is from Oregon and the other is from British Columbia.   Everyone is going over to Albuquerque on Friday.   The park is totally full.

This evening we walked to an Olive Garden restaurant near us.   We had a wonderful meal and to top it off we shared a dessert.    Good thing we had to walk both there and back.

Tomorrow we will hop on the shuttle for the Plaza to do a little more shopping.    Then off to Albuquerque on Friday.

Stay tuned.  Bonnie




A Quiet Day in Santa Fe

September 27, 2011 - 4:03 pm 1 Comment

We slept well and the weather was the most moderate we’ve had on this trip.    I don’t think our heat came on once last night.   We slept under blankets, but it was very pleasant.

After breakfast this morning we took the shuttle to The Plaza in Santa Fe.   This is the old town shopping district.    We had a lot of fun walking around.    There is so much jewelry, silver and turquoise, that it was overwhelming.    I bought a hand tooled leather purse for myself and tried to talk Greg into buying a belt.   He found one he liked but of course they didn’t have his size.    He’s not much of a shopper.

We had lunch at Tia Sophia—-a restaurant on the Plaza that the locals say is the best.   We had a great lunch—the best Mexican food we’ve had since we’ve been on this trip.   I had a tostado and Greg had a burrito.   A New Mexico specialty, sopapilla, was a tasty treat.   It is a fried bread that puffs up and you eat it hot with honey and cinnamon sugar.   It is rather chewy but oh, my, was it a treat.   All the better Mexican restaurants here serve it.

We came home in the afternoon and had a brief rain.   We’ve enjoyed seeing the rigs come and go today.   Lots of them are HUGE.

We’ll piddle again tomorrow, maybe do some laundry, etc.

Stay tuned.  Bonnie


Scenes from today’s drive to Santa Fe, New Mexico

September 26, 2011 - 4:51 pm 1 Comment

When we awoke this morning the temperature was 31 degrees!!!  It was the coldest morning we’ve had yet!    We had a quick continental breakfast at the campground in Eagle Nest before heading out toward Santa Fe.   Our drive today was a little less than 100 miles so we had an easy morning.    The landscape in northern New Mexico is very stark and dramatic.   We saw many abandoned farmhouses, rusted equipment, and signs of a bad economy.

We drove through Taos, which we visited in 2009, and made our way down to Santa Fe by lunchtime.   We enjoyed this same park in 2009 and this year the park is just about full.   A lot of folks here are waiting to drive down to Albuquerque for the balloon festival this coming weekend.      We saw another View down the street so we took a walk after lunch to check it out.  No one home during the middle of the day but I’m sure we’ll meet them soon.   We did meet a couple across the street from us who lives in “The Villages” near Orlando Florida.    The folks next to us are “full timers”.

We spent the afternoon getting settled, reading, and people watching.  Tomorrow we’ll take the city shuttle to “old town” and have lunch while we are out.

Stay tuned.   Bonnie

Hello from Eagle Nest, New Mexico

September 25, 2011 - 2:27 pm 1 Comment

We had a great night’s sleep last night.   The park was very quiet and the temperatures were more moderate than we’ve had in the past couple of weeks.    This morning we actually started the day with shorts on, because the temperature was already 70 degrees.   The high today was around 80 degrees, but the air is so dry, you don’t feel warm.  Just as we were leaving the RV park, a couple of deer came right across the road in front of us.

We drove the Highway of Legends this morning, and what a beautiful drive it was.    Along this stretch of two-lane highway, you can view unusual volcanic formations radiating outward from the Spanish Peaks. The highway rises to Cuchara Pass on the shoulder of the Spanish Peaks. The Tarahumare Indians held these summits as sacred and believed that all life on earth originated from the area. Below the pass is the glorious Cuchara Valley, a hidden wonderland even most Coloradoans have failed to notice.

There are many ranches along this stretch of highway with interesting names:   Dakota Wall Ranch, Yellow Pines Ranch, Cuchara Pass Ranch, Whiskey Creek Ranch, etc.    Seemingly, in the middle of nowhere, we came upon the Monument Lake which glistened in the sun and was a beautiful blue color.   The lake’s name came from a rock formation that once stood in its center, 15 feet above water. The formation was said to represent two Indian Chiefs.

When we entered New Mexico, we soon started driving The Santa Fe Trail.  It was a 19th-century transportation route through central North America that connected Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico.   Pioneered in 1822 by William Becknell, it served as a vital commercial and military highway until the introduction of the railroad to Santa Fe in 1880. At first an international trade route between the United States and Mexico,  it was the 1846 U.S. invasion route of New Mexico during the Mexican American War.  A highway route that roughly follows the trail’s path through the entire length of Kansas, the southeast corner of Colorado, and northern New Mexico has been designated as the Santa Fe Trail National Scenic Byway.

We stopped in Eagle Nest, New Mexico, for the evening.   When I first saw the park I thought it would be a bust.   But it’s a great little park which has great views of the mountains.    The folks who own the park have a funky little store full of navajo jewelry (I’ve already hit my limit for this trip) and all sorts of stuff.   We have full services, and in the morning, they offer a complimentary continental breakfast.   So we’ll join the other travelers before we hit the road.

Tomorrow we’ll drive to Santa Fe, which is 98 miles from Eagle Nest.   We’ll be in Santa Fe most of next week before we drive over to Albuquerque for the Hot Air Balloon Festival.   We will stay in the same RV park we visited a couple of years ago because we enjoyed it very much.  It’s an “over 55” park, and no, it’s not a nudist colony.   It’s on the shuttle route for old town Santa Fe and I will enjoy shopping there next week.

Stay tuned.   Bonnie



Enjoying the fall colors on San Juan Mountain

September 24, 2011 - 3:13 pm No Comments

We left Pagosa Springs this morning around 9:00 a.m.   We had a chilly night but the day warmed up to the high 70’s.   We drove 150 miles today to La Veta, Colorado.   The drive over was just beautiful and we had our first day of driving through spectacular fall colors.   We drove through the San Juan Mountain range the entire way over, driving over the Wolf Creek Pass at 8,000 ft.   Most of the trees are evergreens interspersed with dramatic yellow aspens.   There aren’t an array of colors like we have in eastern Tennessee but the yellow is absolutely breathtaking.   We crossed the Continental Divide and enjoyed the Rio Grande National Forest.

We stopped around mid-day in Alamosa, Colorado, a nice little town with a beautiful backdrop of the mountains.  We did some grocery shopping at Walmart, and then stopped for lunch at Arby’s.    While driving through the middle of town, we found a farmer’s market on the “square”, so we stopped for that as well.   I bought some beautiful corn and tomatoes.  The growing season in Colorado is much later than ours, so there are lots of fresh vegetables.    Greg laughed as we got back to the RV after shopping—he says I like nothing better than a good old fashioned farmer’s market.   Well, it’s true.  I love driving through the small towns and enjoying what each one has to offer.   We stopped at a little store that advertised honey grown in the mountains, and we bought a couple of jars.

We drove over the La Veta Pass and found our campground around mid-afternoon.   It’s a very simple little place with a backdrop of those gorgeous mountains.   We are actually in a valley surrounded by them.   The temperature is in the 70’s with a cool breeze blowing.  If you are in the sun, shorts feel fine—but if you are in the shade, get ready for long pants and jackets.

Tomorrow we will mosey another 100 miles or so for our first night in New Mexico.   The area is called Eagle Nest.   We will drive the Highway of Legends to get there.   The lore of this area is vivid, swirling in the spiritual myths of the American Indians and the history of their clashes with Spanish explorers.  Like much of Colorado, where the promises of fortune led, trouble followed and tales of outlaws “settling their differences” are common.  The Highway of Legends is an 82 mile route between La Veta and Trinidad, Colorado, just before the New Mexico border.   Scenery is supposed to be spectacular with small villages along the way.

Oh!   We had a great skype visit with Allan and family.  Olivia saw us on the screen and I’m sure she was puzzled as to why BeBe and Poppy were in that little box.   She grinned and grinned and waved at us.   Grayson grinned too, and put his little thumb in his mouth.  They are so precious.

Stay tuned.  Bonnie

Restful Day in Pagosa Springs

September 23, 2011 - 1:57 pm 1 Comment

It was chilly last night but we slept well.   We had a nice leisurely breakfast (bacon and eggs) and tidied up a bit before heading out for a morning of walking around town.  Pagosa Springs is small but the setting is just beautiful, with a creek flowing right down the middle of town.   We walked across the bridge from the springs side of town to the main street and took the photos you see today.    The weather is perfect, cool and crisp and warming to around 72 degrees for the high of the day.

We made our way back to our RV and sat outside reading for a while before lunch.   After lunch, we went back over to the hot springs to soak for about an hour.   The rest of the day was spent reading and relaxing.   OK, dozing, but I hate to keep saying it!!   LOL

We’ll drive eastward tomorrow to La Veta, Colorado, one of our last stops in Colorado before heading down to New Mexico.   Stay tuned.   Bonnie

Healing Waters of Pagosa Springs Colorado

September 22, 2011 - 4:34 pm 2 Comments

We enjoyed our visit to Durango and our RV park, especially watching the train come and go every morning and evening.   We drove only 60 miles today over to Pagosa Springs.   This town is known for it’s hot natural springs.

The Ute (pronounced yout) Indians believed the hot springs were a gift from the Great Spirit as a result of a legendary incident.   A plague fell upon the Utes, and their medicine men failed to end the death and devastation.  As a last resort, they built a gigantic fire to send a message to their God for help. They danced and prayed around the fire all night and collapsed in exhaustion and slept til morning.  When they awoke they discovered that where the fire had burned, there now appeared a pool of boiling water.  Whatever the story, in the late 1800’s several bath houses were constructed, and a town grew around the hot springs.  The hot mineral water remains to this day and continues to hold an aura of mystique to those who attest to its healing and therapeutic value.  The water analysis of the springs includes:  silica, iron and alumina oxides, lime, magnesia, chloride, bicarbonate, sulfate (you can smell it but not terrible), and sodium oxide.  There is no radio-activity.

I really stumbled on this spa as a place that also has RV sites.    So I reserved it for one night.  This spa looks like a compound of sorts.  There are only 5 RV sites, and there are hotel rooms arranged in a square.   There is one big pool, and one hot tub, and two springs separated for men and women –both have sauna rooms.    We got settled into our site and had lunch, then got ready to go to the pools.   Luckily we brought our bathing suits, never dreaming we would use them on this trip.   The pool has a constant temperature of 92 degrees and the separated pools have higher temperatures of over 100 degrees.   We swam in the pool this afternoon and when we got out of the pool, we dried quickly in the low humidity.   The air feels cool, but the water is extremely warm.    We enjoyed the pool so much we decided to stay for a second night.

This evening we walked into town for dinner at the Taquila Restaurant.    The city layout is very scenic with the springs in the middle of town and the stores all around the different springs.   Our spa is small compared to the biggest one in town, which is across the street from us.    There is a creek running through the middle of town with walkways all around it.   This is a very easy town to walk in.   I’ll take some photos tomorrow to show the layout of the town and the springs.  It’s just beautiful.   Stay tuned.  Bonnie

Lazy Day in the Campground

September 21, 2011 - 4:06 pm No Comments

We had a good night’s sleep and decided to enjoy the day in the campground before leaving for Pagosa Springs.   After breakfast, we caught the shuttle into town specifically to go to the post office.   We mailed a package to Allan and Catherine filled with goodies for the babies.   Then we boarded the shuttle to go right back to the campground.   No shopping today, as I overdid it a little yesterday.    We did our laundry and then settled in our campsite for the rest of the day.

After lunch we enjoyed an afternoon of reading, dozing, and people watching.  It’s always interesting to see the rigs coming and going and where they are from.    The weather is absolutely perfect.  Cool and dry.

Tomorrow we will drive 60 miles over to Pagosa Springs.  This area is famous for it’s hot springs.   I found a “healing waters” resort where we will stay the evening and enjoy the hot springs.

Stay tuned.   Bonnie

2008 - 2010