Monday, February 24, 2014

Part 1 of Spring Habitat Travels 2014

Baker City to Las Cruces

Monday, February 24
Baker City, OR to Brigham City, UT
410 miles

     We are off again!!  After a whirlwind 10 days home between our trip to Hawaii and now, we are all packed up in the Jay Feather (the BIG trailer.... or as Scott Cloverdale of CHRPA said, 'our gigantic behemoth of a motor home'!) and on our way south to pound some nails and slop some paint!  
      We had a little snowfall on Saturday night, but by this morning all was melted and it was a beautiful sunny drive down I-84!  Rick drove to Caldwell for our first tank of gas for the day and some expensive Flying J coffee!  I drove through Boise and all the way to Jerome (near Twin Falls) where we stopped at another Flying J for more gas (but at a cheaper price!)  Lunch was at a rest stop just before Jerome where we grabbed some crackers, cheese sticks, and a little fruit.  Rick took us the final 160 miles on in to Brigham City, where we are camped at Golden Spike RV Park.  We have almost camped here several others times, but have always changed our plans!  It is a nice park!  
     I felt much more comfortable driving today with the Feather, but the test will be how comfortable I am on the two lane highways!  I still can't see squat - just a couple car lengths back on either side, so you have no idea what is behind you on the road.  Huge trucks come out of nowhere to pass!  
     Beautiful sunset to the west while Rick and I walked five laps around the park to stretch our legs after the drive.  Leftover soup for dinner (from the huge batches I made last weekend) and we walked over to the Old Grist Mill Bakery near the park to grab a loaf of 'sourdough spinach feta' bread.  
     Snow on all the peaks of Southeast Idaho as we crossed Sweetzer Pass and into Utah.  Beautiful!  
     All five of my pictures today were taken with our new Smartphone - and as soon as I logged both laptop and phone in to wifi, the pictures sync'd over to the laptop.  Nice!  Thank you Jed for setting up that dropbox!  

Utah Mountains near Snowville

Tuesday, February 25
Brigham City to Green River, UT
236 miles (yeah, easy day!)  

     Nothing like getting back on the road and into our cozy little back bed of the trailer on a cold evening!  Temps were down around freezing last night, so not TOO bad!  Rick had hooked everything up at the RV park just to make sure it was in good shape after the winter and then we disconnected before night just in case it hit below freezing.  We have done the same tonight with a forecast down in the mid twenties here in Green River.  It is clear outside right now!  
 On our way slowly today, as we don't want to hit the Salt Lake City morning traffic - part of the reason we only have 240 miles planned for the day.  So it is 9am by the time we pull out of Brigham City, having gassed up, coffeed up, etc!  
     The next two plus hours are filled with moderate traffic (always trucks, however!); the usual narrow lanes of I-15 as it winds through SLC, and GORGEOUS mountain vistas!!  A little haze in a few places, but overall, blue skies and white mountains!  Too bad SLC is so big and trapped between lake and peaks - the views on a good day are amazing (as you gaze OVER the oil refineries, gravel pits, and rock crushers!)  I forgot how great the mountain ranges are to the west - first on the penninsula forming Willard Bay and Bear River Bay, and then west of Toelle and Provo.  All in all, as smooth a drive through Salt Lake City as possible.   

     We stop in Spanish Forks to gas up again (so much for driving 400 miles at a whack as in the Prius and still not on empty!) and then head through the narrow cleft in the mountains (and the wind farm that sits right there picking up the canyon breezes!) on Route 6 over Soldier Summit and into Helper and Price.  We have never taken the big trailer over this route, but it cuts 75 miles off the trip to leave the Interstate at this point.  And Hondi pulls just fine up the grade and down the steeper east side.  
Wind farm on Route 6

     More and more snow as we near the summit and!  The snow is all on the west side of each ridge!  
Nearing Soldier Summit
     We stop at a city park in Wellington, a very small energy/mining town east of Price.  Not much there, but the park was nice (although the restrooms were closed.)  Grabbed a little lunch and then push on to Green River, just 60 miles on down the road.  
     We made our reservations with Shady Acres RV Park on the internet.  Good thing I made a copy of my reservation!  The main owner was called away on an emergency and the gal in charge didn't really have a clue what was going on.  Net result - two trips to the office at the little store next door, a switch of sites, and we find we have winter rates for winter service - no water.  There is one pump 'on' for you to fill your tank, but we didn't want to do that with the forecast.  So we drain the black tank, and then just set up with no water connection.  The change in sites was for one right across from the bathhouse!  
It's a little lonely at the park - I think
there are 4 rigs here! 
   So...we are all set up and ready to relax by 3 pm!  The sun is warm and feels GOOD!  We don our shorts and sit outside for the next hour or more, drawing, puzzling, etc.  

     Before dinner I walked a couple BIG laps around the park (over 100 sites and I figured it was nearly a .4 mile loop); dinner of leftover soup from last week; and a quiet evening of cable TV (more Big Bang Theory!), reading, journaling, etc.  Tomorrow will be our longest day into Albuquerque.  Rick's mom is expecting us for dinner!  

Looks a little like the Elkhorns, doesn't it?

Wednesday, February 26
Green River UT to Albuquerque NM
445 Miles

     Another beautiful day to travel.  It is cool and crisp outside packing up in Green River, but a blue sky with a few puffy white clouds!  We are on our way by 7:45, having gassed up with our campground credit and coffee'd up with a 2 for 1 deal also.  I am driving first today, so Rick is on 'camera duty' going through Moab, etc.  (And he does well with the responsibility!)  
     I always enjoy driving through this corner of Utah - there is a beautiful mix of high snowy peaks and red rock canyons, mesas, and sagebrush/juniper plateaus.  The early morning sun strikes the cliffs with a warm glow.  I drive 100 miles down to Monticello, UT, where Rick takes over as we grab a fresh coffee at the gas station.  
Southern part of Moab Mountains
 Into Colorado, as we continue listening to a book on tape - a CIA terrorist story that has us both wrapped up in the saga.  We stop briefly to gas up in Cortez, at $3.34 the most costly stop of the trip.  Rick continues to drive the next 125 desolate miles down through the Indian reservation to Gallup, and we finish the book in the middle of this section.  

     Today is classic Georgia O'Keefe skies in New Mexico: deep blue and white clouds.  
NW corner of New Mexico

     Quick stop just east of Gallup at the Pilot to gas up and grab some lunch.  We are back on I40 and I drive 100 miles just to the west side of Albuquerque - Rick can take us into Mom's!!  I didn't want to tackle Wyoming Avenue just yet!  I am feeling a little more comfortable with this trailer, but still very conscious that it is WIDER than the truck! 
     We arrive in Albuquerque around 4:15p, beating the commuter traffic!  Park the truck and trailer in the little corner parking area next to Three Fountains - only one other RV and a utility trailer parked there.  Unload necessary items (including the freezer and fridge since the trailer will not be plugged in and we don't want to use up our propane) and then lock everything up tight!  
     Evening out at Village Inn with its Pie Day Wednesday (free pie with every entree!) I save mine for tomorrow AFTER I weigh in at Weight Watchers in the morning!  

Near Arches NP as you drop down into Moab
THURSDAY and FRIDAY, Feb. 27 and 28
Mom time in Albuquerque.....

Pile of bags finished for Chemo Kits
     The past two days have been rather relaxing, just hanging out with Mom while fixing a few small things for her.  
     Thursday morning I walked over to WW to get that 'out of the weigh' and then worked to stitch up 11 of the Chemo Kit bags to send up to the church in BC.  I had cut them out Wednesday evening.  Had to make an extra trip over to Wal-Mart to purchase more Heat 'n Bond, but otherwise Mom's machine plowed through them pretty quickly....ok - about 3 hours worth! 
     Rick took long walks both mornings...I managed my exercise walking down to the trailer and back, Jo'Anns and Walmart!  (Oh and ALWAYS using the back staircase instead of the elevator to come back up!) 
     Thursday night Mom made a ham loaf and we ate up our broccoli and asparagus with it.  We watched a little TV.  After Mom went to bed, Rick stayed up to watch the UCLA-Oregon Basketball game and I talked with Jed, who was in the middle of a power outage!  (He said I was lucky cause the lights came on while we were talking!)  
Spires of the Old Town mission

     Friday we had an outing!!!  We drove down to Old Town and poked around the shops for a couple hours.  The old mission church that anchors the Old Town plaza square was gorgeous in the clear blue skies!!  Plus the same pan flute musician was playing in the courtyard where we enjoyed lunch a couple years ago (or was that just last year??)  Mom found a Celtic shop where she was able to purchase a long desired Celtic cross necklace.  A couple gifts and t-shirt purchases, but mostly exploration. 
Enjoying the sunshine
and music

     I also mailed the package to the church from the little post office next to the square (I think it is there mostly to ship purchases people make!)  I had gone dumpster diving at Mom's complex for a box and the best I could find was a pizza box (ironically in the bin marked 'no pizza boxes!')  The PO worker laughed at my box and helped me cross out some of the lettering.  She was most helpful!  But the bags are on their way!
     Enroute home from Old Town we stopped at a Lowe's and picked up a few pansies and to pot on her deck.  A little touch of spring!!  
     We met Rachael and Patty at Papa Felipe's for dinner.  Always good - their sopapillas are huge and delicious.  (And definitely on the WW menu!)  I shall dine on my leftovers for breakfast before we leave Saturday morning!  Randy was still out of town for work - he is scheduled to fly in Saturday evening so we won't see him this trip!
Rachael and Patty!
Mom did ask Rick and me to hang the tile that Luke sent her from the Holy Land on the wall, so we got it mounted and hung.  I even loaded a 'Level Tool' app to my new phone to help us out!  (OK...confession.  Rick had it all mounted by the time I got the app loaded, but I'll have it for NEXT time!) 

     Early evening to bed on Thursday! We were all tired!  
Holy Land tile

The picture at right is for you, Luke!  See what is now mounted on Grandma's living room wall!  She says thank you again!
Saturday-Sunday, March 1-2
Albuquerque to Las Cruces, NM
229 miles
Easy route down I-25

      It is a windy and sunny/cloudy day in New Mexico!  A storm is brewing and everyone seems to be desperately hoping for a good rainfall!  We enjoy a relatively leisurely morning, and by 10:45 we are ready to say goodbye to Mom and hit the road south to Socorro. 
      We get around 7 miles to the gallon heading down to Socorro!  What a head wind!  The clouds and skies are beautiful, the sun ducking in and out, but the wind, and the dust from it, is intense! 
Stormy skies as Jed picks
us up at RV park
We check in to Casey’s Socorro RV Park, one of only two choices in town!  Nobody is in the office, so we pick out a spot with full hookups, pay our $28, and give Jed a call!  So we don’t have to unhitch, Jed is our wheels for the afternoon! 
Rick and Jed in 'jeep'!
      We head down to Old Town Socorro and the Plaza area.  Basically ALL the stores are closed – things don’t really hop apparently in downtown Socorro on the weekends!  A new addition to the town plaza impressed us.  It is a Veteran’s Memorial space, still incomplete, but the children’s playground was awesome.  A military theme with cammo tarps, etc., airplanes, jeeps.  We talked with one of the city planners who stopped to talk with us.  A quick walk down to San Miguel’s Church, a historic but still active parish. 
San Miguel Mission - the south wall
dates back to 1598!
We took a little side trip east of town to the Rio Grande.  It is running muddy right now, and the trees were FILLED with mistletoe!   
At the Rio Grande
      Then Jed took us to The Bodega for dinner.  He said it was a good place for innovative burgers, but both Rick and I wondered when we first walked in.  Candlelight, white tablecloths, black cloth napkins….pretty classy!  But….the burgers were excellent!  Rick had a wild game burger – combination of deer, elk, moose, wild boar, etc.  I had a black bean/portobella mushroom burger, and Jed something else with waffle sweet tater fries!  A good meal!  The place wasn’t busy so we took our time talking. 
We found daffodils in
     Quick stop at Wal-Mart to pick up a few breakfast items as we are going to entertain Jed for breakfast at the trailer!  Then over to Jed’s house to watch the movie, Now You Seen’Em, on his ‘big screen’.  Literally BIG – Jed has the movie on his laptop and shows it through a projector, something like a 6’ by 15’ wide screen theater!  A fun movie! 
Jed hands Rick a printed copy of
his ALMOST finished dissertation!
  The wind finally has died down somewhat for the evening.  Jed takes us ‘home’ around 10:15 and says he will return in the morning.  We checked out the distance to walk to the Presby church to attend the 9am service, but it seems a little far, so…..don’t think that is going to happen in the morning! 
     And….it didn’t!  I spent the morning time coloring in some of the prayer mandalas I had already drawn.  Jed showed up at the trailer at 11 and we ate egg burritos and some of the blueberry coffee cake that Rick picked up last night.  Jed helps us pack up and shortly after noon we are on our way south the final 140 miles to Las Cruces. 
     We did hear a little rain fall during the night.  No evidence of it this morning, however!
     The wind isn’t quite so strong and has turned a little more westernly.  Rick says it is a little better than Saturday!  Big puffy clouds, blue skies, and distance mountain ranges, some of which have a dusting of snow.  I am excited to see the Organ Mts. as we near Cruces, but they are snow free.  L 
     We pull into our Habitat ‘campground’ right around 2:30 pm and Dyana quickly announces we are in our corner spot – it is a good ‘fit’ for our little trailer. 

     Rest of afternoon getting settled, grocery shopping at Albertsons, laundry, phone calls, etc.!!!  It is going to be down in the 30’s tonight, but then warming up to mid 70’s during the day all week.  Should be good!  
The Organ Mountains welcome us back to Las Cruces!!

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