Our Travel Blog

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Driving Miss Donna - what does this mean? Whenever I want to go somewhere, if Don is home he will usually drive. He always says he is driving miss Donna! This blog is for our travels, usually with our truck and fifth wheel trailer, but sometimes in our other wheels. When we are not vacationing check in for updates, although less frequent, about our life at home and our wonderful family:)

Friday, March 30, 2018

Elephant Butte Lake State Park

Here’s another thing about some New Mexico State Parks – they have Wi-Fi! When we’re at home we seldom think about phone data, and I am sure when Americans are at home they don’t either. But put either of us across our borders and the struggle is real. So whether it’s to read emails, Facebook, do some work or just browse, free Wi-Fi in the campground is an absolute bonus! We have a Wi-Fire USB booster that was put to use, and all was well. Through the progression of new computers, etc. we did have to call on the data storage of Ivan to send us the correct files to work the booster (thanks Ivan), but after that it was smooth surfing.

Anyhow – back to the trip. Ken and Brenda have had a few minor challenges with their RV – the switch for the rear jacks, the awning motor and as they arrived at Elephant Butte, the sewer cable for the black water tank. Now anyone who knows Don knows these items are just challenges meant to be dealt with. The awning motor seemed like a do at home by a professional, but the other two were somewhat easy fixes. Find the sewer cable, replace it. Find a new switch – replace it. Both of these required visiting local stores searching for the items. Brenda found a mobile RV repair shop who had the sewer piece, and Don and Ken replaced it. Unfortunately no one stocked the switch, so it was 2-1 for the RV at this time.

The Smiths treated us to dinner one evening at the Truth or Consequences Brewing Co., as a thank you to Don for persevering through the repairs. The food was ordered form a food truck outside, and the brew was delicious. Since that day I have been on the hunt for a pineapple cider.

We also visited the museum in town. Now here is something you may not know – I don’t care for museums. I’m not sure where this stems from, but I would rather do many other things, including nothing. There have been exceptions such as the McMinnville Museum, which even then I didn’t go through the whole thing, but overall I am not an enthusiast. I’m sure if Don wrote this blog the stories would be different. But it’s kind of my blog. LOL

Our last adventure while staying here was a drive north to lunch in Socorro. Along the way we took a side road that led us through San Antonio. It is amazing how many town sin New Mexico have the same name as larger towns in other states, San Antonio being one of them. Las Vegas comes to mind as well.

Although San Antonio wasn’t highlighted on any maps or guides, it is quite the little community, and full of indications of a past life.

Here are a few of my favorite old buildings along the way. Just imagine…


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Rock Hound State Park

I seem to be on a bit of a blogging bump. I can’t even think of snazzy titles for our travels, so I am going to stick with the names of the state parks we stay in through our New Mexico travels.

We have touched the northern part of New Mexico when we visited Taos a few years ago, in fact before I had Facebook or a blog, but this year we will attempt to say we’ve been though it all.

Hence our first stop was Rock Hound State Park near Deming. New Mexico State Parks have a few things going for them. One they are cheap – starting at $10 for un-serviced, all sites come with water, and power sites are $14. Now whether you are staying in cold weather or hot, the power is a nice touch. Secondly, only a handful of sites at every park is reservable. If you are form Alberta you know the frustration of deciding to go camping and all the parks are reserved. The benefit to this NM system is if you have a non-reservable site and decide to stay, you can, extending that into as long as 14 nights. Although I am too cheap to pay $35-40 for an RV “park”, I am not too proud to say I like power in extreme temperatures.

Upon our arrival there were no campsites available, but we were able to park in the overflow for $8, and hope for the best the next day. Sounded good to us, so we picked a side of the road and set up. It turned out to be an enjoyable evening with other couples in the same area, over a propane “fire pit” and a few beverages shared.

The next day while Ken and Brenda stayed at the campsite, hoping to scope out a couple of emptying sites, Dona nd I drove up the road to City of Rocks State Park to see if there was any availability. The short answer is no. But we are so glad we visited that park. As odd as the sites were, the park truly is a cool spot to be. The rocks rise like buildings form a flat plain, and the sites are entrenched amongst that. There are few sites that would accommodate out size of RV effortlessly and without extensive levelling, but the scenery may well be worth it.

As we returned to Rock Hound, the other Smiths confirmed 2 sites had opened up, and our search was able to conclude. We moved to the new sites and settled in.

You know Don and I can’t say no to a good road trip, so the next day we headed up to explore Silver City. Our travel is spurred by reading other bloggers and Instagram stories of RV’ers. It gives you ideas of places to go and honest real person overviews and recommendations.

We spent 7 nights here, and filled our time with local exploring, driving to see sights and small towns, a vigorous hike at near by Spring Canyon State Park, a visit to a winery, and campfires and shared beverages.

Remember to click on the photos if you want a closer look.

A great start to our New Mexico vacation!


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Good Food & Good Friends

Just a short update on what happens after Vegas!
Our intention was to get to New Mexico and explore the state parks. But first we wanted to get out of the city and start relaxing.
Last year when I was back in Canada for my mom’s death, Don and the other Smiths stayed at West Pinal Park outside of Stanfield. It is a great overnight location right off Hwy 8 & 84, and at $10 a night a good price.
As soon as we confirmed that was our destination, I let Ron and Bev know where we were and asked if they may be able to meet somewhere for dinner. In most people’s estimation their winter home is quite a way from where we were, but in true spirit of friendship they agreed to meet us at ….BOSTON PIZZA! That’s a traditional meeting spot for the Smiths and Edmunds.  LOL In the USA it is called Boston’s, but the menu and branding are the same, with some location differences in the food.
We had a long visit over drinks and dinner, and hopefully will catch up once more before we all head home.
Some day we will have to stay at West Pinal longer, but for now adios!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Viva Las Vegas

Well I must say the Smiths took Vegas by storm  LOL Not really but we did have a great time, albeit we stayed in a full service crowded RV park. That was quite the adjustment after the solitude of The Pads.
Two things were to take place in Vegas – we were meeting up with Ken and Brenda for some travels together, and also for the weekend Clifford and Cheryl were in town.
We were booked in at Sam’s Town KOA for 3 nights, and when we phoned to confirm our site and see if they could try to have Ken and Brenda somewhat close to us, we were told they had a special where you stay for 3 nights, get the 4th free. I had visions of laundry so that sounded like a good plan, hence we arrived on Thursday. Too bad for the laundry, visions of Fremont Street took over, and we went there for the evening.
The next day back on schedule doing laundry, then awaiting Ken and Brenda’s arrival. We visited a bit, went to Costco, then walked across to the casino for dinner.
Clifford and Cheryl arrived in town about 9:30 and we picked them up at the airport. The fun thing about that was Clifford didn’t know we were joining them for the weekend, and the surprise was worth it! Cheryl had this in the works since January and I think she was glad to no longer have to hide the plans. We had purchased Reba and Brooks & Dunn tickets months ago, and Clifford kept wanting to buy them. Anyhow, we drove them to their hotel, stopped for a night cap, and made plans for the next day.
On Saturday Brenda and I got up early and took a transit bus to the outlet mall. Although we didn’t seem to shop hard and strong, it was still noon before we were ready to call our ride. Back to the trailers to change then downtown to meet Clifford and Cheryl. We met for an early dinner then off to Caesar's Palace for the big show. It was a fantastic concert. Two and a half straight hours of singing, no washroom breaks.  Haha And because we had not had quite enough fun – off to Fremont Street again. Since it was St Patrick’s Day of course there were some low key shenanigans.
Today was a quieter day. We did join the other Smiths for an early dinner, then back to the trailers for a quiet evening.
Tomorrow we are up and at it on the road to a state park in New Mexico called Rock Hound. We weren’t able to make reservations so fingers crossed!
Take care

Friday, March 16, 2018

Death Valley National Park

We stayed at The Pads for 7 nights. What a great location choice to explore the park!
Although extreme winds kept us form doing more than one actual hike, we did get in some great walks everyday, and truly travelled every road available in the park. This is the second largest national park, the largest being Denali.
Our hike started at Zabriskie Point and travelled along the Badlands Loop. This day was hot and dry in the gulch, and although there was some wind up top, in that valley it was hot and dry. But we were prepared with lunch and water aplenty. The sign in the photo says Golden Canyon Trailhead, but we hiked the Badlands Loop.
We spent all our days driving and exploring and as I said taking the touristy walks when the opportunity arose.
One interesting spot was the Borax Mines. Yes indeed, Borax, the staple in all the kids homemade slime recipes that are so popular right now. I grew up with Borax in the house, as I am sure many people did. It is quite the story to see unfold, from the early days of the mine to it’s closure.
There is a natural bridge walk in this park as well, but not anywhere near as astounding as in Natural Bridges in Utah. It was a steep but short walk, and offered a great place for a picnic lunch.
I threw in a photo below of the Trona Pinnacles as well, which we saw on a drive outside the park.
The boardwalk photo is the Saltcreek Trail. We were expecting a hike and as you can see it was an easy walk. LOL The fish in the picture are called Pupfish.
The multi colored rock photo is a drive thorough Artist’s Palette. It was hard to capture the brilliance of all the different colors, especially the green rocks.
Our last walk was though Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the US at 282 feet below sea level. Look carefully in the last photo and you will see the Sea Level sign high above the parking lot.
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Overall our stay here was relaxing despite the wind warnings, and having The Pads as our excellent boondocking base made it perfect.  Although large in land mass this park is small in activities and we really wouldn't see a reason to visit a second time, we are glad we came and saw. The scenery was breathtaking, and we never tire of exploring different mountain ranges and little towns.
We are on our way to Las Vegas for some city life and a concert. I’ll catch up with you later.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Pads…

And Death Valley National Park

We were looking for somewhere different but kind of in the same area, meaning within an hour or two of Las Vegas but somewhere we haven’t explored. Don suggested Death Valley and after checking some other traveler's blogs and posts and Campendium for a place to park, I agreed. Actually it would take a lot for me to disagree with Don’s choices. He, on the other hand, has numerous reasons to question my choices. Actually it is not my choice but rather the time of year that I am usually off with. For example I really wanted to visit Sun Valley, Idaho. Don’t do it in the fall.  LOL

Anyhow, back to this story.

Both Don and I had read about a boondocking place called The Pads, just on the south park border, nestled against the Funeral Mountains. We parked the trailer for one night at Tecopa Hot Springs Campground and used the opportunity to scout some areas. We knew we found a winner with The Pads. Access to the park was within miles, access to the camping area was within feet of pavement, etc. There was one downfall that seems hard to escape when boondocking and that was phone service. I know some boondockers will not stop if they don’t have service, but it isn’t all that bad being disconnected for a while. A short drive in either direction and we could be connected, so we agreed to stay there.

I need to back up one stop and talk about Tecopa Hot Springs Campground. I’m not sure why but I found this place a shining example of WHERE NOT TO GO!! I had called ahead, asking if we needed reservations and some general questions about the park. I guess I did not ask do you have potable water, do you have phone service, do you have any attractive features that make me want to be there. LOL I honestly think this was the saddest campground in all our travels. It was plain ugly, with the only positive there were power hook ups. There was a dump station but no potable water. Actually no potable water in the whole area!! Not one reviewer said anything of the sort, nor did the campground manager I spoke with, even when we arrived and discussed staying a week. It might be beneficial and great customer service to say “remember to fil with water, this area has none”. Although one might wonder why the other two RV parks in the area were able to have full service? Again though, they were not able to fill us at even a cost. Oh and the hot springs? Dark little “houses” with pools that were separated for men and women. So indoors by yourself with other women. And according to the cleanliness of the other facilities, I think not. No thanks! Can you tell I do not want to go back? LOL

Okay I have that off my chest so let’s go back to The Pads. There are a few theories out there on what this is. A park built for mining staff is the consistent and seemingly correct one. There are 58 concrete pads as I show below, with most of the service pipes intact, and in some cases other concrete pads that appear to have been sheds. Of course things are starting to overgrow, but it is actually a very clean area. Most of the other RV’s here when we were (varied form 4-6) used the pads as their parking place, but we used it as our patio. The pads were generally 10x50’ and in great condition. There was an area with three sewage lagoons as well. At one time according to some “locals” there was also a community hall, tennis courts and pool. That is evidenced in the Google photo Don found at the end of these photos. It shows quite well the area and every rectangle you see is a pad!

I can’t determine who actually owns the land, some say the mining company still, others say it is BLM, and no one seems to mind the boondockers. And in all fairness, it is far nicer than a lot of campgrounds!

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I will tell you about exploring the actual national park another day, maybe when we are actually done our tour of it.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

How Many Favorites Can We Have?

It turns out quite a few…
Again, before we had Campendium, we had Ivan. a seasoned boondocker whose opinion we could always trust on sites to stay at. Nevada Telephone Cove is one of those amazing finds, tucked along the Davis Dam just outside of Laughlin. Although the road appears intimidating to some, it is well maintained. Pulling the rig down takes about 20 minutes and what you are rewarded with is worth it many times over.
Lakefront property? Yes please! No charge with washrooms and garbage disposal? You bet! As you can see from the photo, this is a well kept secret and not too busy with RV's.
telephone cove overhead
The weather here was way better temperature wise, but still windy. In fact so windy that BBQing was challenging and solar panels had to be anchored. Wind is seeming to be a common denominator this trip thus far.
Telephone Cove was our stop for over a week. I had mentioned a Co-op conference I was flying to – this is where Don and Ivan would stay while I was away. It is just over an hour to the Vegas airport, and with Laughlin and Bullhead City so close it is easy to shop, have a happy hour away form home, do laundry etc.
Although I enjoyed the conference, I was abhorred to have to deal with winter storms and snow. LOL It made the temperatures and sunshine that much more appreciated, and I found myself forgiving the wind when it wasn’t plastering cold snow against your face!
Don and Ivan had some challenges while I was gone. You can read about Ivan’s mechanical repairs on his blog. Don discovered the solar wasn’t working well, and the end result was a new controller. He makes these things seem easy peasy, but we met some new travelers just getting into the solar world, and I realized not everyone has the type of interest and hence knowledge Don has in this area.
Gilles and Celeste  and Mitch and Anika were a pleasure to meet. We shared some stories and life’s adventures over a few happy hours, and exchanged emails and contacts. Don helped Mitch get his new solar working, and after sharing some spare parts and such, thy were up and running.
This is one of the best parts of travelling, meeting folks from everywhere that also enjoy the lifestyle we’ve chosen. I regret not getting a photo of our happy hour evening when we all hid from the wind inside our trailer.
We are parting roads with Ivan for now. Sometimes we will meet again unplanned along the way, but for now it’s goodbye.
We are headed to Death Valley National Park just across the border in California, so when we have Wi-Fi I will update you on that phase of the adventure!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Boondocking at it’s Finest

That would be Stewart's Point near Overton Nevada. If I’ve told you too many stories about this place oh well. Prior to the water levels in Lake Mead receding to a point of shutting down resorts, boat launches and facilities, there were plans for an upscale lake community called Stewart’s Point. I am not going into a bunch of logistics because I cannot find what I feel are reliable documents to support the facts, but I do know that people built homes and cottages at this lake area and it is has since been shut down, or perhaps other then the zealous firsts, never came to fruition at all. There are about 15 properties left, and all appear to have residents by the activity noted.
The area we camp on is shown as Lake Mead on the GPS, but from the growth and roads, it is obvious there has been no water at this level for years. The launch site and beach just north of us, Overton Beach, has been closed since we first started trekking down here, although the first year you could drive to the launch, but since then it has been barricaded off. If you are interested spend some Google time on the area and Lake Mead itself, to gain an understanding.
The town of Overton looks small at first, but the service area is quite large, and the shops and stores have done an excellent job of maintaining a community.
There are several boondocking locations in this area. Poverty flats is closer to Overton and a very busy area. We don’t mind neighbors although some boondockers do, but what we prefer about Stewart’s Point is the water view. Seeing water when in a desert like area is refreshing. If you want to use an app to locate basically any type of camping facility from boondocking to extravagant costly RV parks, Campendium is fabulous!
We are also very close to Valley of Fire park, renowned for it’s bright red rock. The photos below are just a tease of what you actually see. This is a picnic and small hike area on the road to Las Vegas and not part of the Valley of Fire, but rather the first outcrops of the red rock. I don’t have any photos of Valley of Fire this year, but Imagine nothing but the red rock and blue sky for miles.
I was reading through posts on Instagram and made a comment on someone who was near Valley of Fire. That comment received a follower, and a new Facebook page for me to follow – RV to Freedom. AND! we met the people connected to it. They posted on my comment and said they were at Stewart's Point as well and when the sun rose look to the north. There they were parked down the road from us.
Now back to the best topic around, the weather. Again it was horrid. This is usually where we end up getting our first sun burns, sunscreen or not. No worries this year. It was so cold and windy we just bundled up in our trailer and kept thinking how it had to get better! The view was lovely and quite deceiving. We have excellent phone service here though, and Ivan graciously shred his unlimited Wi-Fi. And again, other than wanting to walk around a bit and get some exercise, the weather wasn’t preventing that much from happening, as nothing much “happens” any way.  LOL
We made a trip to Vegas for some supplies - a stop at Costco and Target because why not.
We also went to Las Vegas Wetlands Trail for a hike. Umm, poor hike. First no wetlands really, and poorly marked trail. But at least we stretched our legs and had a bit of sunshine. The pictures may look better than my description.
After a week here we agreed it was time to move on. Our next stop – another magical boondocking spot, this one by Laughlin. Stay tuned.