Wednesday, March 23, 2016

New Mexico - first stop

Las Cruces

February 15, 2016 found us on the road again, this time into a new state. Las Cruces, NM was our destination. The drive was through mostly flat land until we got a little closer to Las Cruces and then we started seeing some mountains off in the distance. As usual when driving through the desert there is always a risk of dust storms, but this was the first time we saw these warning signs.
Should you really be driving a vehicle if you
need to be told to not stop in the driving lanes? 

We played tourists along the way and stopped at Bowlin's Trading Post in Butterfield. A huge store filled with every tourist chachke you can think of.

We stayed at the Sunny Acres RV Parkit has about 100 sites, well maintained, most of the campers are there for at least a month or more, many of them were from Canada escaping Winter. Sites were a little narrow but long enough for our RV, tow-dolly and parking the car. They had a nice dog park, even had toys for the dogs to play with. Mielikki made some new friends each day, and we got to compare travels stories with other RV'ers.
We were very excited that New Mexico's Peter Toth Indian was in Las Cruces. We missed the ones in Oregon and California, so we were happy to have found one again. This is the 54th statue on the Trail of the Whispering Giants, it was sculpted in 1986. It is titled Dineh, which means human in Navajo and Apache. He stands 20-feet tall and is carved from a pine tree. 
The Rio Grande River runs through Las Cruces, or used to anyways. It is completely dry now. 

El Paso, TX is about an hour south. Unfortunately everything we looked up to do had reviews that talked about the bad neighborhood and warned about going there, and other places were not open on the day we went. We did drive through most of the city and there were some places that looked a little on the rough side.
Hwy 375 is just north of the city and takes you through the Franklin Mountain Range. There is an overlook you can stop at that gives you a beautiful view of the city. The highway takes you to the eastern side of the town, with more views of the valley.

While driving through town we came across Fred Wilson Ave, don't think Nancy's dad was ever in El Paso, but who knows!

AK Enterprises which claims to be the biggest antique store in the Southwest, is right off of Hwy 10 on the north end of town. It is easy to believe their claim as the biggest, this place was huge. You have to be careful pulling into the lot that you don't run into something. Every spot is covered with items. Inside there are two stories waiting to be explored. We had great fun wandering through and looking at all the crazy stuff. 

They have everything including lots of kitchen sinks and an airplane! 

Statues every where and of everything. 

Funny and crazy objects and some creepy ones. Les thought he found a biking helmet, but it was just a little small. 

Outside there is a large round brick building that we thought was a storage shed. Only to discover it is a fish tank with very large fish in it. 

White Sands National Memorial Park was recommended to us by one of the dog owners we met in the dog park. 
Wow, what an incredible place. It is in the Tularosa Basin, a mountain-ringed valley at the northern end of the Chilhuahuan Desert.
As you are driving to it, you are in flat land with sage brush and cactus, then you start to see small rolling hills, a little lighter in color but still covered in sage brush and then the hills start getting bigger and bigger with fewer and fewer sage brush.
Then you see the dunes! It was breathtaking and you know why they are considered one of the world's great natural wonders. The giant wave-like dunes cover 275 square miles of desert and create the largest gypsum dune field in the world. 

Only a few species of plants can grow fast enough to survive the ever changing landscape, as the dunes are constantly changing due to the wind. Several types of small animals have evolved white coloration to camouflage themselves, bleached lizards being one of them. 

There is a really nice information center and gift shop.You can purchase a snow disk to sled down the dunes, we didn't realize it when we were in there or we would have gotten one. Watching people do it looked like it was a ton of fun. 

They use snow plows to clear the
road of sand
The entrance road leads you to the center of the park and loops back around. There are parking places along the way where you can get out and walk the dunes, and picnic areas with wind and sun shelters. 
She need a bath after this - brushing just didn't cut it! 

They have marked trails you can hike, or you can head off on your own which is what we did. It was like we had the whole place to ourselves. Mielikki had a blast running up and down the dunes. 

Once again there are not enough words to describe this place. Standing on top of a dune, you look out and see nothing but pristine white sand and mountains in the distance. The ripples reminded us of the beach, except these are caused by wind and not water. 

This is a rare form of sand. The common mineral gypsum is rarely found as sand because it is soluble in water. Rain and snow in the mountains dissolve gypsum from the rocks and carry it into the Tularosa Basin. Usually rivers would then carry it out to sea, but no rivers drain from the basin. The water, with the gypsum and other sediments is trapped here. As the water evaporates, gypsum is left behind. In some areas it is deposited in selenite form, freezing and thawing and wetting and drying break down the selenite into sand-size particles that are moved by the wind. Some of the surfaces where we walked were crusty bubble shapes, you can actually break off a piece and pick it up before it crumbles. 
The White Sands Park is in the White Sands Missile Range, which is an open air test range that covers 3,200 sq. miles and is in five different counties in New Mexico. No missiles were tested the day we were there, but when it happens it disrupts traffic a bit. 

From there we went to the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site. There are two trails, both fairly steep and rocky. You can't take dogs on either one but luckily there was a carport we were able to park under and the temps were cool. We took a quick 10 minute run up one of the trails. It is stated that there are more than 21,000 glyphs in this location.We did not see anywhere near that many, but we didn't do the whole site. The ones we saw were pretty cool. 

The views from the trail and the parking lot were beautiful. 

A few miles away is the Valley of Fires Recreation Area. Approximately 5,000 years ago, Little Black Peak erupted and flowed 44 miles into the Tularosa Basin spreading molten rock. The resulting lava flow is four to six miles wide, 160 feet thick and covers 125 sq. miles. This flow is considered to be one of the youngest lava flows in the continental U.S. 
There is a paved, fully accessible trail that takes you out into the lava field and you can get a guide brochure that explains things along the trail. 

We did find some roadside oddities in our travels.

A crazy metal road runner in Alamogordo and also a giant pistachio. 

In Las Cruces, there is a horse on a pole, we don't really know why he's there.

In Tularosa we found an "Apple-oosa" that has objects hidden in the painting on it.

Visiting the aliens in Roswell next. 

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way
~ Using your noodle!
Pool noodles have found their way into many DIY projects. We learned this tip from another camper. Cut a pool noodle in half, then make slices on one side of it that your windshield wipers will fit into. By covering your wiper blades while parked, it helps to protect the rubber from sun exposer. We used 4" noodles and found it would be best to use 1-1/2 or 2" ones.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Arizona - 3rd stop and final stop


Said our good-byes to Chuck and Gina on the morning of February 11, 2016. Sad to leave but time to move on. We headed to Wilcox, AZ. The start of the trip was delayed a little as once again the RV didn't want to start, a quick jump from our car saved us from calling roadside assistance. The drive was once again a mixture of flat land, rolling hills and then interesting boulders that reminded us of Joshua Tree National Park.

Fort Wilcox RV Park is where we called home for a few days. Small park but well maintained. Sites are long but a little close together. 
They have a small rec room with a TV and the laundry and bathrooms were very clean. The best part of staying here is that you get homemade waffles every morning. Linda, the owner also makes pies every day to sell. We of course had to support her business, her blueberry and cherry pies are very good.
Wilcox is a very small town, that at one point was thriving but not so much now. Their claim to fame is that it is the home town of Rex Allen (1920-1989), known as the Arizona Cowboy. He narrated many Disney nature films, and starred in many Western movies and was one of the last singing cowboys. 

Chiricahua (Cheer-i-cow-a) National Monument, established in 1924 was one of our hiking destinations. Unfortunately the main road through the park was closed for repairs, but we did get to see some of the pinnacles and rock formations. The Chiricahua Apache called this area the Land of Standing Up Rocks and it is the perfect description. Like many of the other places we have visited, these pinnacles were formed from volcanic activity. 
We then took the scenic route to Tombstone. When we first pulled into town we were a little disappointed but then we discovered we were on the wrong road - the main attraction is a couple blocks over from Highway 80. What a fun place, while exploring the shops, or enjoying a cold beer you will likely pass by Wyatt Earp or be sitting next to Doc Holiday. 
It is set up like an old west town, with saloons, hotels and stores. The "locals" are dressed in period costumes and of course there are gunfights every hour. The shoot out at the O.K. Corral is one of them. The Silver Mine that dates back to 1878 offers underground mine tours. 

The drive home took us through Benson, a large town where we assume everyone in the area goes to shop. We liked their water tower. 

Fort Bowie was built in 1862, after two battles with the Cochise's Apache, to protect The Apache Pass, which separates the Chiricahua and Dos Cabezas Mountains. Because of the springs located here it was used by emigrants, prospectors and soldiers. We headed there thinking we would see an old fort and then head on our way. Once again we were wrong! To get to the fort, or actually the ruins of the fort you have to hike a mile and a half in. So we hiked. 
Nice trail, a mixture of flat areas and hills, some of the trees and plants are marked along the way. 
Mining Cabin ruins - you really need to be careful when playing with dynamite
You pass the ruins of old buildings that were here over the course of time. 
Stage coach ruins

There is an old cemetery about half way to the fort and there are also information boards along the way explaining the history of the area. 
Soap Yucca Tree

It's hard to imagine what it must have been like for the early settlers coming across this barren land, and nice to know that our car was waiting for us at the end or our hike. 

Once you pass the Apache Spring you know you are almost there. There is an Apache Camp set up just before you get to the spring. 

The fort ruins consist of parts of the stone and brick walls that made up the complex. There is a ranger station/visitor center at the site with lots of information and artifacts. 

The mile and a half hike back takes you up to the top of a ridge, a little strenuous but the views are well worth the effort. You can look down on the fort from the first turn on the trail. 
Lots of cactus and we kept coming across piles of animal scat, don't know who left it behind but they walk this trail often.

You can see out over the valley and out to the surrounding mountains. 

On our last night we once again were treated to a beautiful desert sunset. 

Next, we head to New Mexico.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way
~ Traveling with a dog. 
We can't imagine traveling without Mielikki, and we have found that most everyone else has a dog or two. There are a few ways to help keep them safe and keep your sanity.

1. Keeping her safe. When we stop the RV, she is more than ready to get out the door, can't blame her but it's not safe for her to just jump out. We put her leash on her before opening the door and make her sit and stay while we go out. Doing this each time has trained her to stay at the top of the step til we call her out. Even if she forgets and rushes out the door she is attached to her leash and can't go far. 
2. Park rules. Make sure you know the rules of the park you are staying in. Always keep your dog on a leash and ALWAYS clean up after them. We have a small plastic container that hooks to the handle of the leash to hold poop bags so we are never without them. 
3. Proper paperwork. We carry a copy of her vaccination records in our car so no matter where we are we can show that she is up to date on her shots. 
4. Keep her brushed. Mielikki sheds very little but there is still some hair and whatever else she has picked up while outside. By brushing her daily, outside when possible, we keep down on hair shedding, we are able to watch for any ticks that have attached themselves to her and gotten rid of any burrs or other debris that is in her hair. Keeping all of that outside helps to keep the RV cleaner. 
5. Keeping the RV clean. Aside from brushing her, we keep a fabric cover on our couch and chair. Yes, we have spoiled her and let her on both. The covers are easy to wash and keep the upholstery clean. We vacuum at least twice a week, daily when in a place that is sandy. Fortunately Airedales are not a breed that has a regular odor problem, but she does like to roll in God-knows what on a walk now and then. Baking soda sprinkled on the carpet and then vacuumed up usually does the trick. 
6. Staying home alone. Not one of her favorite things to do, but we just can't take her everywhere and home alone is better than left in a hot car. We keep all the blinds drawn, this not only keeps the RV warmer or cooler, it keeps her from seeing outside. The heat or AC is left on so she is comfortable. If neither heat or AC is needed we leave the ceiling vent fans running, this keeps air circulating plus is a nice sound barrier. If there is a lot of outside noise we will leave a radio on to help block it. Her water and food are always out. When we have neighbors close by we ask if she was barking or whining and usually the answer is no. We come home and find her sleeping on the couch. 
7. Grooming or Daycare. If the breed needs regular grooming ask at the camp office if they can recommend someone or check with the local chamber of commerce. Grooming can be a great way to leave your dog someplace for 3 or 4 hours to be pampered while you do non-dog friendly site seeing. Doggie daycare is another option to leaving them home alone. We used one in Wisconsin when we attended a wedding and knew we would be gone to long to leave her. Again, ask for recommendations and check reviews. We have found that some attractions have a kennel on site, so call and ask before heading out. 
8. Keeping calm. Our dog like many is very skittish, she is afraid of just about everything including her shadow. Providing a place they feel safe in is important. Mielikki has a few places she goes to when frightened, the soft carpet in the bathroom, or on the floor at the end of our bed. She's not a fan of when the RV moves, hence trying to escape when we stop. We place a padded carpet in front of Nancy's seat and she will curl up there or more times than not she is on Nancy's lap. If having your dog on your lap is not your idea of fun, try using Rescue Remedy, a homeopathic, natural way to ease stress. You can find it on-line or at most pet supply stores.