Friday, October 31, 2014

10/31/14 Driving like I don't know where I'm going.....

I had one helluva time getting up. What else is new. All those years of working nights, I blamed my schedule on the fact that I sleep late. Apparently not, as I haven't worked a night shift in almost 6 months, and I still happily sleep till 10am if undisturbed.  When I finally did get up and showered, I started thinking about making some curry for the road. I bought an electric burner for times when I had electric,and bought that stupid Wonderbag last winter. So I got my pot, threw in a packet of Kitchens of India Chicken Curry Paste, a can of coconut milk, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1.5 cans garbazos, 1/2 package frozen peas, 1 package of cauliflower (thawed) and 1/2 a box of mushrooms. I had to add some broth too. I put that on the hot plate, using the cast iron disk, and waited for it to boil. It took a while. Once it boiled I let it simmer for 10 min. I had put some bubble wrap in the bottom of my wonderbag as it seemed a lot of heat loss was coming out the bottom. I then put in a thick cotton dish towel. Then my round cork trivet. I took the pot off the burner, grabbed the cast iron disk with my potholder, & put it in on top of the cork trivet. Then put the pot on top of that, clamped the lid down, & wrapped the ends of the dish towel over it. I then put the topper for the wonderbag on top & cinched the bag up as tight as possible, and stuck it in the shower.  That was 12:45pm.  I expected a fairly short driving day as I still didn't feel like driving and came very close to spending another night. I kinda thought I might end up in Bernalillo again. But once I got to driving I felt better.

I stopped at the dam to get some pics of the Rio Grande and marvel at the big earthen dam.  It's pretty impressive. Then I got gas before I got on 25, and what a dog & pony show that was. Cars lined up everywhere. I pulled in behind a big 5th wheel who was blocking both pumps while he was in the store. I was thinking bad thoughts about him until he left and I was able to pull up.....only to find all the card readers were out. So that's why it was such a debacle, and he wasn't just being a twit.

I passed through Bernalillo and set the GPS for Chaco Historical Park. I didn't think I'd make it before dark but figured I'd give it a shot. As I headed north on 550, I saw a sign for Jemez Springs and Jemez Red Rocks. Well, that sounded good so I turned up that road. I immediately started getting a feeling that I didn't want to go that way. A few miles up the road I did see some stunning red rocks, and a visitor center. The guy there told me the road from Jemez Springs to Cuba was passable and I could get back on 550 there. It looked and sounded good on paper. I made it about another 4 or 5 miles and a warning voice in my head just kept saying "turn around" "You do NOT want to go this way". I finally did just that. I have no idea why I felt so ill at ease, it was a fine paved road at that point, but I just wanted out of there.  At this point I definitely wasn't making Chaco before dark. The GPS said 6:45. I figured I'd find somewhere to stop, or maybe even take a chance and head to Chaco anyway since it shouldn't be PITCH black yet. (It was.)

I didn't see anywhere appealing to stop, and as I approached the turn for Chaco there was a giant thunderstorm over there, pouring and flashing. That put the kibosh on that, as all the guidebooks said don't even THINK of going there if it's wet. So I said, well, I might be able to make the parking area at the De Na Zin trailhead before it's pitch black. Then I'll be set up for a morning hike. I never saw the turn. (It's not in the gps, of course.) Now I was pissed, it's getting pretty dark, it's windy, & there's t-storms all around. I pulled over & consulted my Days End Directory & saw there was a free BLM cg about 5 miles up the road, then about another 6 miles on a 'good' gravel road. I decided to go for it. I saw the turnoff, but the first mile of the road was anything but good. Washboard from hell. Fortunately after that it smoothed out and was awesome. I was blazing along at 35 mph. :-) From what I could see, I was driving through some spectacular scenery. So that made me happy.  I finally got to the cg, and the first site I passed was open and just a little bigger than me. I went around the loop and didn't see any other ones I was sure I could fit in. There was a big 5th wheel parked at the top of the hill. They waved, wondering what dumbass was trying to find a site in the dark.  I went back to that first site and started to back in. The backup camera doesn't work in the dark and there were steep drop offs on both sides of the road and all around the site. So I was in & out of the rig about 15 times walking back to see where I was going.  I backed up as far from the road as I could and tried to level it. The rear needed to come up but the jacks didn't seem to be doing much. I got out to see what was up, and it turned out I was back so far that the jacks were dangling in thin air. Sigh..... I pulled forward, since after all, I didn't think there'd be a ton of traffic on that road, and was able to level it out. Normally I might not bother for one night, but the altitude has had the fridge struggling enough that I don't want to stress it any more.  I was starving at that point and got out my curry. The pot was still hot, with the food at 133 deg.  I fired up the gen to nuke a bag of rice and it promptly died. That never happened before. I started it again & let it warm up a bit and it worked tho it sounded unhappy. I really need to change the oil in that thing.

The wind was howling, and soon after I got parked the skies opened up. I hoped the rain wouldn't be enough to screw up the road. But it was a pleasant night, despite the wind & rain it stayed fairly warm, and being so isolated meant I left my windowshades up, which I enjoy.

Cochiti Lake Dam & boat ramp
10/31/2014 2:07:26 PM

Boat ramp
10/31/2014 2:08:01 PM

10/31/2014 2:15:05 PM

10/31/2014 2:15:13 PM

10/31/2014 2:16:09 PM

10/31/2014 2:31:06 PM

Rio Grande
10/31/2014 2:31:47 PM

Dam spillway
10/31/2014 2:32:24 PM

Jemez Red Rocks
10/31/2014 3:58:28 PM

10/31/2014 4:42:52 PM

Thursday, October 30, 2014

10/30/14 Cochiti Lake

Today turned into a do-nothing day. I got up late and truly did not feel like driving anywhere. So I decided I didn't have to. I knew my site had not been reserved for the night as it didn't have a tag on it. Around 1pm I noticed a truck & TT making the rounds of the loop. When they went by for the 3rd time I grabbed my map and went out to talk to them. I showed them the map I had gotten with the spots highlighted that hadn't been reserved for a couple nights and told them to look for cards on the poles. It's really kinda silly that check in time is 2 but no one is in the office till 3. ?? :-( I told the gal that when I went down to pay for another night. She agreed but said suggestions seemed to fall on deaf ears. Anyway, it was a quiet day. I watched a few folks who couldn't back up their 5th wheels put on a show, and felt a little bad for having a pull-through. But that's the site they recommended to me when I checked in, and I have to say, it was nice not having to back into a site in the dark. So I didn't feel too bad. I enjoyed a nice salad of Costco shrimp & cherry tomatos for lunch, yummy! Then for dinner I nuked a bag of baby red potatoes and enjoyed them with butter and garlic salt. Also yummy.


10/30/2014 2:38:02 PM

10/30/2014 2:40:13 PM

10/30/2014 2:47:42 PM

How not to back that thang up.
10/30/2014 3:50:43 PM

View from my site
10/30/2014 3:59:02 PM

10/29/14 Tent Rocks Nat'l Monument

Today was the kind of day I dreamed of when I first thought of the great road trip. I got up with the idea that I was continuing north to Chaco Canyon and then on to Shiprock. As I sat in the driver's seat looking at the map, I noticed Tent Rocks Nat'l Monument was not THAT far away. I remember being told on my last trip I should have gone there. I thought about it for a minute and said, why not? And programmed in the GPS. Wow, what a day! I hiked about 5 miles, spent about 5 hours, took almost 500 pics, and changed lenses and cameras about 50 times. What a great place!

Trying out the new Olympus OM-D 1 And 8mm fisheye at Tent Rocks Nat'l Monument
10/29/2014 1:41:15 PM

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10/29/2014 1:53:47 PM

10/29/2014 1:55:18 PM

Slot canyon at Tent Rocks
10/29/2014 1:59:31 PM

10/29/2014 2:00:51 PM

Tent Rock Nat'l Monument
10/29/2014 2:39:19 PM

10/29/2014 3:13:08 PM

Tent Rock Nat'l Monument
10/29/2014 3:52:19 PM

Moonrise over Tent Rock Nat'l Monument
10/29/2014 4:39:33 PM

The Lovers. Tent Rock Nat'l Monument shot in infrared.
10/29/2014 6:53:31 PM

I have a lot more pics from this place, but will upload them as a separate album when I get to some wifi. I really had a great day here. Unplanned and unexpected.....that's what I need more of.

I asked at the entrance booth if there was dispersed camping nearby. I thought not but it doesn't hurt to ask. There isn't, but he directed me to a nice campground run by the Corp of Engineers, Cochiti Lake Recreation area. $12 for dry, $20 for w/e. Good news was, with my annual National Parks pass that fee was halved. Nice!!  The only real gripe I have about this place is the hours the office is staffed. I screwed up and told her the wrong site # when I checked in. This morning, after a welcome shower, I went up to tell them to find the office closed. They're open 7am-9am, then 3pm to 7pm. Check-in/out time is 2pm. What's wrong with this picture? I guess if you decide you want to stay another night, you'd better know by 9am.  It's no biggie, there's no one scheduled for this site tonight, and it's not like they could show up at the office & be given it. But not being open for check-in/check-out time.....never seen that before.  I might try to stay another night. I don't really feel like driving. Or not. we'll see after a second cup of coffee.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

10/28/14 Albuquerque

First thing in the AM I headed back to Coco Bean to get an Americano to go this time. :-) I then went to Gonzales Woodworks to get my tabletop. It was done and it damn sure isn't breaking again. He clamped and glued it, then attached two braces of angle iron. Total came to $60. Yeah, I might have paid only a bit more for a new one but where would I find the exact fit. I had no complaints. especially done in such a rush.

I set off for ABQ.  Looking at Gas Buddy it looked like exit 102, Acoma Travel center, had the cheapest gas at $2.72. As I approached the exit I had some deja vu......didn't this place suck in Dec? As soon as I exited I realized, yes, this was the sucky gas station I stopped at on that trip too. Roundabouts and weird turns everywhere. :-/.  It took a while but I finally got gas, and remembered to put gas in the gas can too.

Back on the highway, I set my sights on the UPS store on Ellison Dr in ABQ. I had called in the am asking if it was ok that I had had my amazon packages shipped to their store. When I signed up for a UPS Premium MyChoice membership at $40, I understood part of what I was paying for was the right to send packages to any UPS store. Someone else had told me I was wrong in this and there was a chance they'd refuse the package. I wanted to make sure before I went all that way. The guy on the phone said no problem. Phew. It took a little over an hour to get there but it was a bear to find. I parked in front of a Barnes and Noble bookstore. I haven't seen one in years.  I walked to the UPS store, and a pleasant lady gave me one of my three packages. She said it was no problem shipping there and just tell them I was a premium MyChoice member when I picked stuff up. I went back to B&N to kill time until the other 2 packages showed up. I almost spent tons of $$. I didn't realize how much I missed bookstores. I got the text that my UPS package had been delivered and headed back there. Well, what a difference a shift change makes! Gone was the nice lady and in her place was a harpy who yelled at me, told me not to ship there, charged me $10 to ransom my stuff, and told me at one point, "I don't work for UPS. These stores are franchises. You paid UPS not me." when I asked what I had paid $40 membership fee for. And that right there is bullshit. If you want to put a company name on your store (UPS) then you need to at least pretend you are part of that company. When I called UPS to complain they weren't too impressed by that remark either. Whatever.....I'm done with that outfit and I certainly won't be paying that $40 again.

Next on the agenda was Costco. Went from the world of suck customer service to excellent CS. I bought a new Toshiba laptop. The Envy (and trust me, don't envy anyone with an HP computer...this is my third dud) ate one HD before I left and was bluescreening and giving HD errors with a new HD so I couldn't trust it. I guess it's some motherboard problem. looks like a nice machine and I love Costco's 90 day return policy on computers. The first Envy I got failed near the end of the 90 days and my error then was in not just getting a refund instead of an exchange. Never again on HP either.

Next up was Petsmart. I needed stuff for the composting toilet. I wanted to try pine pellets instead of coco coir. Smallest bag I could get was 14lbs.....I was really hoping for a five pounder. Oh well. I did find space for it, and it was only $6 so if I don't like it it's not a tragedy if I toss it.

By this time it was dark. I had thought about going to a park by Camping World and shopping there in the AM but I was kinda done with all that. I had passed a Cracker Barrel right when I got off 40 and considered going there. It was 24 mi rt backtracking tho and I wasn't sure I wanted pancakes that bad. I looked at some resources and saw Santa Ana Star Casino about 20 min north and on the way so decided to go there.  Well of course when I got there they no longer allow rv parking. The security gal told me they send rvers to the Warrior Gas Station but there's a lot of noisy trucks there. I must have looked unenthused as she told me I could stay in their lot tonight since it was so late. (7:15pm :-)  So that was good. I wandered into the casino and had green chile stew & fries. It was pretty good. One thing I'd never seen before was that they had free beverage stations around. Coffee, soda, iced tea etc. I had a hot chocolate.

Back to the RV I messed around with the new laptop & wifi antenna for a bit. Now it's about time to test out the new tabletop/bed. Sweet dreams.....

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10/27/14 Grants NM

I had a hard time getting to sleep last night, and a harder one getting up. I wasn't sure if I wanted to head towards ABQ today or what.

On a whim I looked up "woodworker" near Grants on the off chance someone could fix my busted tabletop. What are the odds, right??? Well lo and behold, there IS a custom woodworker in Grants! I headed over there to find he was in ABQ for the day but should be back around 3. I wasn't sure if I wanted to wait...after all there was no guarantee he could or would fix it. I pulled up a wifi finder app I'd downloaded a few days ago and saw a coffeehouse not far away. Coffee Sounded fabulous so I headed over to the Coco Bean. It didn't look like much from the outside but I got an Americano in the biggest mug I'd ever seen and the wifi was fast. Yay!! I spent the next four hours there, surfing and occasionally getting a drink and eventually a panini. I asked the girl once about halfway through if I was ok to stay and she said "Stay as long as you like, it's no problem". Since I was the only one in there most of the time I guess she was happy for company. A little after 3 I took my split tabletop to Gonzales Woodworks and he said no problem and it would be done tomorrow. Yay!!

 After that I thought I might head to the Blue Spruce RV park I had passed a few days ago. I thought I'd like a real shower, and I hadn't driven much or connected the solar panels so thought plugging in might be nice too. About halfway there i saw a neat park with a kind of Route 66 memorial, so I parked and took a pic and walked around a little. I wandered into the Chamber of Commerce and had a nice chat with the gal there, who told me Tinaja Express just up the street had great green chile stew. I walked over to there to check it out and decided I'd come back after I checked in to the RV park. At that point I realized my credit card was no longer in my pocket. Awesome.

 I retraced my steps to the visitor center, checked all through the rv...nothing. The last place I remembered having it was at the woodworking shop. I had made sure it was in my pocket in case they wanted payment up front. I drove back there, and there it was, in the parking lot. Sheesh. So glad I found it, did NOT need that hassle!!!! At that point I went back to Tinaja for my stew. While I was there I read the reviews on the rv park and it wasn't promising. One shower for all the women and sucky wifi that no one could connect to. Why pay for that? I thought I knew where I could park and leech off a hotel wifi. I'd stayed at the hotel before so maybe it's not even leeching. :-) That did work out, thankfully, as I still had some pics to upload. I got the couch open and bedding all set up. It's not *quite* as comfy as the dinette bed is, but I'm very glad I have a second bed. Hopefully it's actually done tomorrow. I have packages being delivered in ABQ I have to pick up...

10/27/2014 11:06:35 AM

A little Route 66 ambiance. It's hard to imagine what this place was like when all these hotels and shops were thriving.
10/27/2014 11:15:50 AM

At the Coco Bean

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Monday, October 27, 2014

10/25/14 Howl-o-Ween at Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary

What a full and amazing day. I have videos to post but have spent an entire day in an internet cafe already so need to do it later.

I went outside with my coffee and caught a glimpse of a wolf (probably Flurry) getting his morning walk.

Leyton explaining the pumpkin toss procedure. #wswscontest #wswshowloween

One of the New Guinea Singing Dogs enjoying the pumpkin treat. #wswscontest #wswshowloween

Zoerro wants his pumpkin and he wants it NOW! #wswscontest #wswshowloween

I believe this is Lucian #wswscontest #wswshowloween

Happiness is a meat-stuffed pumpkin. #wswscontest #wswshowloween

#wswscontest #wswshowloween

One of the Malamutes enjoying their treat. #wswscontest #wswshowloween

#wswscontest #wswshowloween

#wswscontest #wswshowloween

Leyton explaining more about the enclosures. #wswscontest #wswshowloween

#wswscontest #wswshowloween

A little blurrier than I would like, but I really like d it so posting anyway. #wswscontest #wswshowloween

#wswscontest #wswshowloween

#wswscontest #wswshowloween

Angel the coyote is an omnivore so she enjoyed the pumpkin as well as the meat. #wswscontest #wswshowloween

#wswscontest #wswshowloween

Dinner rush at the Cafe #wswscontest #wswshowloween

Leyton and Flurry #wswscontest #wswshowloween

"Pumpkins!! I like pumpkins!!!" #wswscontest #wswshowloween

"Well shoot. There's no meat in these." #wswscontest #wswshowloween

#wswscontest #wswshowloween

Bonfire. #wswscontest #wswshowloween