Monument Valley Tribal Park, UT

The Old West

Heading northwest I decide to stop at Monument Valley, UT.  What a beautiful place!!!  It reminds me of cowboy movies and the old west.  It is nothing like I had ever seen before.  I was disappointed that I could not use my geezer card for free entrance to the park, but it is not really a National Park but a Navajo National Tribal Park.  The fee was only $5 so couldn’t really complain given the spectacular view I was to see.

You can camp on a primitive camp site for $10 per night with no hook-ups.  It is on a bluff overlooking all the fabulous scenery.  Here are a couple of views of my newest back yard today.  Whoa Nelly!!!!

Big bucks for tours!

I checked out the Visitor’s Center and it was very nice and educational about the area as well.  The balcony offers you a great panorama of the valley and looks down on the road used for the tour.  I signed up for one night’s stay in the primitive camping area and asked about the canyon tours.  She couldn’t give me any information because the tours were run by private companies.  I then went down to the tour booth and the girl there was very helpful in explaining the costs and what you see.  It is $65 for the normal tour that lasts about 1 1/2 hours and $75 for the extended tour that takes you farther into the canyon and lasts for 2 1/2 hours.  She did mention that they had improved the road and that I could probably drive the tour in my RV.  Since it was late I decided to put off taking the tour.  More on that later.

I went back to The Breeze where I enjoyed a glass of wine while taking in the fabulous scenery.  I even got a few pics of the sunset.

Rain, rain go away!!!

The next day I checked the weather forecast which didn’t look too good.  They were predicting isolated thunder storms throughout the day.  I looked out and there were lots of storm clouds but it looked like they were passing over.

I am ready to spend the BIG BUCKS on the tour..or am I?

After talking to a group of Australians camped nearby I decided not to drive The Breeze on the free Self Guided Tour of the Canyon.  They said the route was quite bumpy so by then I had decided to fork over the $75 (OUCH!) and take the 2 1/2 hour tour.  I went over to sign up but found out they wouldn’t accept credit cards.  WHAT!! The lady yesterday was taking them!  They did tell me there was another tour group that would accept credit cards but weren’t sure when they were going to be there.  FORGET IT!!  I decided that I will definitely  be back in this area and would take the tour then.

Decided on the FREEBIE Wildcat Trail hike instead..

In the meantime I had decided I would take the Wildcat Trail.  It is a 3.3 mile trail that circles the West Mitten Butte.  The best part of it was that it is FREE!  There were just a few clouds in the sky so I decided it would be a great way to spend the day.  The following are a few pics of the trail.

The West Mitten Butte.

The Merrick Butte.

The East Mitten Butte.

The backside of the West Mitten Butte.

Caught in a thunder-storm.  YIKES!!

As you can see from the last pic, the clouds are starting to come my way.  OH NO!!  I have at least a mile to go.  I could see rain way off in the distance.  Then I heard huge claps of thunder and even saw lightning.  I then started to put my legs in gear trying to make it back before the storm caught up with me.  I wasn’t too worried about getting wet but the lightning scared the HEEBIE JEEBIES out of me.  When I heard a clap of thunder I would kneel to the ground hoping the lightning wouldn’t come anywhere near me.  I must have been a sight for sore eyes.  The bummer was that the most difficult part of the trail lay ahead of me as I had to hike uphill to get back to The Breeze.  I finally made it although I was quite wet at the end.  Here are a couple of pics taken during and after the storm.

I was even treated to a beautiful rainbow over the Sentinel Mesa.

After drying off I decided that was enough Monument Valley for me and decided to hit the road where I traveled to Page, AZ.  Only one more stop after this and I will be in Fernley, NV.  Monument Valley is a beautiful place and is like the true southwest.  Just like it was portrayed in so many westerns.

Canyon de Chelly

Headed to Canyon de Chelly

I am now headed northeast and my next stop was Canyon de Chelly National Monument.  What a fantastic place!  Canyon de Chelly (pronounced d’Shay) is located within the Navajo Reservation.  I stayed at Cottonwood Campground, which is a free campground, just after you enter the park.  It is a nice campground but doesn’t have any hook-ups.  I found a nice site that gave me lots of light for my solar panels.

White House Trail

If you want to hike or go on tours you must obtain a permit or a guide.  I chose to take the White House Trail hike.  It is a self-guided tour and you are on your own.

The White House Trail decends 500 feet to the canyon floor.  This is a pic of the White House Ruins from the top of the canyon.

  I also did a close up so you can see it better.

This is a couple of pics of the trail.  Not bad going down but tough going back up.

Now I am at the bottom of the canyon.  The scenery is beautiful.

White House Ruins

Once you reach the bottom it is just a short hike over to the ruins.  It is named the White House Ruins because a long wall in the upper dwelling is covered with white plaster.  These cave dwellings were created centuries ago by the Anasazis which were predecessors of today’s Pueblo and Hopi Indians.  Today the Navajo call this area home and many live in the canyon.

Sliding House Ruins

After I managed to crawl out of the canyon (UGH!) I drove to the the Sliding House Overlook.  Here are a couple of picks of that area.

Spider Rock

The last area I visited was the Spider Rock.  It rises 800 feet from the canyon floor and is very spectacular.

I only spent two days at Canyon De Chelly but it is a place I would love to return and spend more time.  I didn’t get to view the North Rim so there is still plenty to see.

Getting Ready for Winter in Northern Nevada

Extend-A-Stay

I moved from Deming, NM up to the Enchanted Trails RV Park just west of Albuquerque, NM on I 40.  The main reason I stopped there was to get an Extend-A-Stay propane connection installed.  I wanted to be able to hook-up my propane barbeque and also be able to attach an extra propane bottle (5 or 10 gallon) to give me more propane in the winter months.  I will especially need it this winter when I am workamping at Amazon which is in Fernley, NV.  It has been known to snow there but I am sure it will be rather cold.

I always go to R&L Enterprises that is located within the park at Enchanted Trails RV Park.  Ask for Randy and you will get someone who not only knows all about propane but doesn’t charge much for his labor.  He only charged me $20 to install all the parts and I had the gas lines made to my specs.  He is located in the trailer on the right as you enter the Enchanted Trails RV Park.  This is a couple of pics of the installed parts.  It is the gold tee.

Barbeque Hook-up

I can now hook up a external propane tank and I can also run my barbeque directly off of it, thus elemenating the need to purchase the small propane tanks I was presently using.  This shows the barbeque already hooked up to the propane tank.  Those propane tanks cost about $5.12 for two tanks and they did not last very long.

Pelonis Heater – Model HF-0003

On the way to Albuquerque I stopped at the Ace Hardware Store in Socorro, NM where I purchased 2 Pelonis Electric Heaters Model HF-0003.  They are on sale for $12.99 thru Oct 30.  They are very portable and extremely easy to operate.  I heard about these thru the lifewithalazydazerv yahoo group.   At $12.99 each I decided to purchase 2 of them as I will be in cold weather this winter as I previously mentioned.  I will place one in the front of the rig and one in the rear.  It has 3 power settings of 600, 900, 1500 watts.  There is also a fan setting that runs with the heat off.  This heater has a thermostat control knob which can be adjusted anywhere from minimum to maximum.  I tested mine on the 900 watts setting with about medium heat.  It takes about 8 amps for that setting.  I was amazed at the amount of heat it produces.  It almost got too hot.  The nice thing is that it is extremely quiet.  Here is a pic of one.

Although I am not looking forward to cold weather I feel I am prepared for it and hopefully will be very comfortable inside my home on wheels no matter what the temperature is outside.

Taking Care of Business at Low-Hi RV Park

Moving north to Deming, NM

I moved on to Low-Hi RV Park in Deming, NM in order to get a few things done.  This is the LOW (Loners on Wheels) headquarters and I haved stayed here many times.  Since I am a LOW member it only costs me $10 per night for electric/water.  No too shabby !!!!!

Things to do but nothing got done…

I will be here for 5 nights.  I got up Monday and headed to downtown Deming to get a haircut.  I struck out there as it was closed on Monday.  Then I was out of checks so went into Wells Fargo to get just a few until my check order catches up with me.  The “Occupy” people were picketing the bank.  I felt bad even going in there, but they have all my money for now.  The lady who waited on me said they come 3 checks to a sheet and they cost $1 each.  You have got to be kidding!!!!  I turned around and walked out and decided I would use me debit card instead.  These “Occupy” people have the right idea.  The big banks are ripping off the little guy!

Nothing accomplished today but stopped at the grocery store for a few items including desert for the pot luck tonight.  Monday is always pot luck night at the Low-Hi and you better bring an empty stomach.  There is way too much food for any one person can eat.  And so gooood too.

Tried to get into the 6:00pm card game but it was filled up so watched “Dancing with the Stars with Harry and Peter.  I hadn’t seen it for some time so wasn’t familiar with any of the dancers.

Finally got a haircut

Tuesday I got up, made breakfast and headed down to the barber once again.  Frank’s Barber Shop is a small shop that has been there long before the 70′s.  Fernando took it over from his father Frank and told me how it was back in the hippy days of the 70′s when no one cut their hair.  I usually go there everytime I am in Deming and need a hair cut.  He really cut it short, but at least it will take a while to grown out again.

Finished up dental work

Drove down to Palomas, Mexico for my last visit with my dentist for a while.  I got my permanent crown and then she cleaned my teeth.  The total cost of the crown was $180 and another $30 for the cleaning.  I go to the American Dental Care just in back of the Pink Store and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

North to Albuquerque

I really enjoyed spending a few days at the Low-Hi RV Park and caught up with many old friends and met a few new friends as well.  It is a great central location for traveling in the Southwest.  Tomorrow I head up to Albuquerque where I will have a valve put on my propane tank that will allow me to add an additional tank.  Then I have a few days to get up to Fernley, NV where I will be workamping at Amazon’s warehouse.

Back On The Road Again

Back in the saddle again..

I was parked at the Balloon Fiesta for 10 days.  It was wonderful, but it is always good to be back on the road.  I am headed south to meet up with the Escapees Chapter 21 Rally in Columbus, NM.  I attended it for the first time last year and became a member of their Chapter.  Since then I have also attended their winter rally in Parker, AZ.  They are really a fun bunch of people.

Stopover at Elephant Butte

My first stop was going to be Elephant Butte State Park for one night.  It is about half way between Albuquerque and Columbus.  This is one of my favorite New Mexico state parks.  I also met Annie and Rick down their who are headed to Deming.  They had me over for a delicious dinner and we sat and talked at their campfire for many hours.  It is always a great time when you can spend it with good friends.  Thanks so much Annie and Rick for everything.  In the morning we said our goodbyes.  We will be getting back together in Quartzsite, AZ in January.

I first met Annie and Rick at the Balloon Fiesta last year and we have seen each other several times since then.  That is what I love most about the fulltime RV lifestyle.  You meet really great people and then connect with them again and again at other places.  This happens a lot of the time with many different friends.  It is always so much fun comparing notes on where each other has been and what we have done between our meetings.

Elephant Butte is looking very different then when I was last there.  Much of the water has gone away from the point at South Monticello campgrounds.  You can really see the results of the terrible draught that has hit southern New Mexico.  Here is a pic of our campsites right on a bluff overlooking the Rio Grande at sunrise.  Annie and Rick’s rig is on the left with mine on the right.

Finally meeting RVSue and Crew

While there I had read RVSue and Crew’s blog and Sue had mentioned that she had been staying at Elephant Butte as well only in a different campground.  I thought I would make an attempt at locating her and the crew on my way out of the area.  I figured that I could easily spot her Casita and the PTV(Perfect Tow Vehicle).  I managed to drive thru all the electric sites available near the marina.  I was just about ready to give up, thinking she may have moved down the road, when I finally spotted them in the last electric site area.

If any of you have been following either her blog or mine you probably know that I am usually about 1-2 days behind her.  She started out in the northern New Mexico state parks and made her way south, just as I did.  In meeting her it was like we were old friends even though we had never met.  Plus I got to meet Spike and Bridget her 2 rat terriers who were very friendly to me.

I did get a picture of her with her crew, but she asked that I not post it so I will abide by her wishes.  Next time we meet Sue I want a picture!

I did take several pics of the marina area at Elephant Butte.

Tooth problems…

Then it was on to Columbus for the Chapter 21 Rally, where I stayed at Poncho Villa SP.  I had already made an appointment with my dentist Dr. Karla.  When visiting my family last August, I had chipped a back tooth and was afraid I would lose the entire tooth causing a lot of pain.  I was very careful eating on one side.  Dr Karla examined my tooth and came to the conclusion that the tooth was still entact, but I would need a crown.  I walked across the border and she prepped my tooth for the crown and then gave me a temporary tooth.  I am to return in a week for the permanent tooth and to also have my teeth cleaned.

Chapter 21 Breakfast and Meeting

Chapter 21 conducted their business meeting shortly after breakfast and then held a raffle.  I won Microsoft Streets and Trips 2011 and a bottle of Chardonnay.  Not too shabby!!!!

Crossing the border

Today a group of us walked across the border to go to the Pink Store for dinner and shopping.  I have been there before and always enjoy the food and the great margaritas.  Today when we got to the border the kids had just gotten off their school buses.  They were really cute and all around us.

Meeting a new friend

Dan came to the rally to get ideas about what rig to buy and how people lived the fulltiming lifestyle.  He didn’t own an RV yet but was planning to purchase in the next couple of months.  I showed him my rv and several others showed them theirs so he had lots of ideas.  He and I went on a walk from the Pink Store to the park in Palomas, Mexico.

Shopping and Dining at The Pink Store

Today was our day to meet at The Pink Store and get our fill of shopping and dining.  The food was delicious and we all had a great time as you can tell from the following pics.

A mariachi band entertained us while we were dining.  The food was great and everyone enjoyed themselves.  It was the perfect ending to a great rally.

I will probably travel up to Deming, NM for a few days until I return to the dentist for my crown and cleaning next week.  Maybe I can find some friends up at the Low-Hi RV park where all the singles meet.

Exciting Final Days of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Bad weather finally turned good!

We  got some unexpected bad weather this week that really put a damper on flying the balloons.  I had gotten up early on Tuesday and enjoyed the balloons lifting off from the field across from the RV’s which I mentioned in my last blog post.  However the balloons did not fly from then until Saturday morning.  We had a lot of rain and high winds that prevented them from taking off.  Saturday was very cold and there was even snow on the Sandia Mountains as you can see from this pic.

New World Record!

Saturday morning there were 384 balloons that ascended in one hour.  That is a new world’s record.  It is amazing.  That takes a lot of work both for the balloon pilots and the zebras (balloon referees).  It is a huge accomplishment.

I love the Glowdeo!!

Saturday night was the last Glowdeo of the fiesta.  So I had to go.  It was also one of the busiest nights of the entire fiesta.  There were people everywhere. Once it got dark many people seemed to migrate onto the field where the balloons are tethered.  It was a madhouse out there, but something I would never miss.  When the balloons started glowing it was just like I was a kid again.

Sunday morning – Looks like a close landing…

Sunday was the final day and the mass acension was fabulous.  There were balloons everywhere in the sky.  Then all of a sudden the Phillips 66 balloon started to descend very close to where we were standing.  My rig (The Breeze) was right in front of us and the balloon started coming down closer and closer to The Breeze.  Check out these pics.

Landed right in front of The Breeze!

Then it landed in the road right in front of The Breeze.  It was so thrilling and everyone was so excited.  The chase crew was right there to help with the descent.  They started to bring the balloon down right in the area to the left of The Breeze.  I couldn’t believe it.  Then the balloon actually came down right on top of The Breeze.  Can you believe it?

I couldn’t believe it.  Everyone in our group was very excited.  I could never have even imagined this no matter how hard I tried.

Our Lazy Daze group helps out Phillips 66

Everyone started to help out the Phillips 66 crew.  The balloon had to be rolled up and stuffed into a huge bag.  Here is a picture of everyone lending a hand.

Annie helped stuff the balloon in the bag…

Annie even did her part by helping to stuff the balloon in the bag.  Great job Annie!

This was the greatest ending to a wonderful balloon fiesta.  Everyone had a super good time.  Thanks go out to John and Linda for making this such a fun time.  Now the talk is about meeting at Quartzsite this January.  Roger Nickey is organizing our get together and many people are already planning on attending.  Check out the lifewithalazydazerv yahoo group for more details.

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta – Days 4-5

Up close to the balloons

I decided to go across the street and watch the balloons take off from the field.  You can get up close to all the balloons and thousands of people are everywhere on the field.  It is very exciting to be there in person.  Besides the balloons, you also get to see what they call the “Zebras”.  They are the folks who originally dressed in referee costumes and actually direct the balloons and tell them when they can take off.  They also keep the crowd away from the takeoff zone of the balloons.  Some of them are very colorful and  go to extremes with their costumes as you can see from this pic.

First balloon of the day

They send up several balloons which are called the Dawn Patrol.  They usually go up about 6:00 when it is still dark.  The glow of these balloons are really neat.  About 7:00 they send up the first balloon with the “Stars and Stripes” hanging from it.  They also have someone sing our National Anthem.  It is very emotional.  Today the first balloon that went up was called the “Dream Weaver” from Albuquerque, NM.

Thanks Millie for all the great comments!

While on the field I took many pictures.  This is one for my favorite friend Millie who you may have seen her many comments on my blog.  She works at State Farm and is very near retirement.

Thanks Terry for watching my money!

Then I can’t forget my financial broker Terry who works for Wells Fargo Advisors.  My 401K may not be going up, but the Wells Fargo balloon did a pretty good job of climbing.

The next couple of pics shows the balloons preparing for the “Mass Accension”.

Then I took a few pics of individual balloons.  This is Skywalker from Ridgeway, CO

Here we have Kachina from Witchita Falls, TX.

And finally one of my favorites Lindy from Saint Louis, MO.

Breakfast at the Mule Barn

On the following day I went to breakfast with Steve, Annie and Rick at Murphy’s Mule Barn.  The place is not much to look at but if you are looking for good food at great prices that is definetely the place to go.

North to Alaska!!

At 12:00 we all got together for a talk about traveling to Alaska.  Linda and Carole headed up the group but there were several others who have already been there and much was learned about what to expect, the pros and cons, where to camp, and what to see.  It was very interesting and it has me thinking about heading north.  Thanks Linda and Carole you really have me thinking of making a trip to Alaska.  Now I just have to save my $$$$$.

Mike and Lisa’s Barbeque.  Umm Good!!!

We had a 4:30pm pot luck dinner/cocktail hour and Mike and Lisa Sylvester supplied the delicious barbeque.  Then Mike gave a great talk all about RV refrigerators and water heaters.  He gave us a lot of great tips on keeping those appliances going and what to do if we have problems.  Thanks Mike and Lisa for a great time!!!