Superstition

Sitting in Kanab post-vacation we were contemplating what we should do with our final weekend in the area. “You want to go to the grand canyon?”, Kendra asked. I had never been so, hell yeah.

I love that our lifestyle affords amazing experiences all the time.

The Grand Canyon

We came in on the last day much of the North rim would be open and found it to be fairly devoid of other humans. There were some around, but I imagine far less than the chaos of the main season. I thought the north rim was the perfect rustic experience. Many travelers I follow have harsh opinions of it, but the old heavy log cabins and rough trails were amazing.

Sedona

We had boondocked near Sedona a few years back, but this time we nestled right into Sedona proper. The views were to die for, and being able to walk out for a coffee or dinner is something I have always loved. If I designed a city it would have parking lots on the outside, because nothing but emergency vehicles and public transportation would be allowed inside city limits.

The red rocks of this area really speak to my wife. I saw her smile more times in our two weeks here than any other two weeks I can remember. I was able to hit a great hiking path, without hopping in the car, after each workday. On the weekend we did an amazing hike to Subway cave, and we celebrated my birthday. I would definitely recommend Sedona as a spot to visit.

Superstition Mountains

By the time we pulled out of Sedona the days were getting colder and we were running the heat each night. We headed south to Pheonix for warmer weather and settled into the Lost Dutchman campground. Behind us are breathtaking views of the Superstition Mountains and in front a decent view of Pheonix.

Again I had amazing hiking right out my front door. Kendra purposely plans our locations to allow that. An hour, or so, of exercise after the workday does my mental health wonders. I hate driving to get to and from an exercise walk, so I very much appreciate that this has become part of her planning.

When we arrived I stared in wonder at the mountains and told myself I was climbing them. We did the research, prepared, and yesterday headed out early to accomplish just that. It was less than six miles round trip, so I felt pretty set as we headed out. I really need to stop underestimating the difficulty of hikes. Seriously, this is the second time in the last year I’ve vastly underprepared.

Half of the hike was spent on slopes steep enough that you had to grab handholds on the rock. Two sections were just a vertical climb. It was technically and physically the most challenging hike I have taken, probably ever. A good pair of climbing gloves, an ace bandage, and more snacks are going to become standard gear in my pack. I’d rather carry a little extra unneeded gear than find myself with sore hands and an empty belly at the end of the day.

The experience was outstanding. Certainly, a top-five peaks experience, and I highly recommend it.

May peace find you.

The Grand Staircase

Welcome to the blog post formerly known as When a Nomad Vacations. I think my wife described it best in a Facebook post. She said, “So we did this crazy thing… we met up with 2 dear friends from Ohio and for two weeks we decided to cram as many stops as we could throughout the stunning Colorado Plateau of S Utah and N Arizona.”

I took four vacation days and four weekend days and went out most evenings after work, so this particular entry feels overwhelming. We literally have hundreds of photos, of some of the most amazing sites on the planet. I am making efforts to keep it brief, but it will be challenging. Organizing in chronological order.

Escalante Petrified Forest

For the first part of the adventure, we stayed at a state park just outside of Escalante Utah. It had a lovely hike attached, and on any normal week, I would have been out every day after work enjoying it. We arrived a day before our friends, so I managed to hike it that one day.

Red Canyon

The day our friends arrived we still got out early for a short hike. Everything we did was beautiful, and this hike was one of our first where we could really take in the red rocks and amazing formations. Also amazing engineering.

Pink Ledges

Okay, we actually got in two short hikes before they arrived. It was so much beauty in so little time that not everything made it into long-term memory.

Mossy Cave

Three hikes, but that is all I promise. This one was fascinating because some of the original settlers spent years digging a channel through the mountains to bring water to a nearby town. The extra water in an area that is typically very dry made for some interesting differences.

Bryce Canyon

Now we are getting into the real gems. Our friends arrived, we managed to find parking at the lodge, and we hiked down into the canyon on the very last day it was open. The next day it snowed and they don’t let people hike down into the canyon with snow on the ground.

It was breathtakingly beautiful, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. I seriously have over a hundred photos from that day, but here is a small selection of my favorites.

Sunset Point

After the Bryce Canyon hike, we drove around to a few viewing areas. This was my favorite of those.

Monument Valley

I have fond memories of watching John Wayne movies with my parents. The Duke was probably my father’s favorite actor. Monument Valley was John Wayne’s favorite place and is depicted in many movies and on the cover of a lot of western novels. We did one of the tours that allowed us to get further into the valley than you can go on your own. Was one of my favorite of the days. It resides on the Navajo Nation Reservation, which is bigger than West Virginia, and rich with history in addition to beauty.

White Pocket

Probably everyone knows about the famous “Wave” thanks to a Microsoft image and a frenzy of “Influencers” going. It is so crowded now that you lottery into it. Lesser known, but with the same beauty is White Pocket. We took another guided tour and were so glad we did as our guide knew this area well and took us into the amazing beauty we would have missed on our own.

Antelope Canyon

This is the one really overrun tour we took. There are other slot canyons you can take tours of and I recommend going beyond this famous one. It is bumper-to-bumper tour groups going through in a rushed fashion preventing many of the photos I wanted from being taken as there were a bunch of people standing in the shot I wanted. Still beautiful, but too crowded for my taste.

Zion

My first time into Utah we passed through Zion and took one short hike. I have wanted to return ever since. The parking was crowded, but there is so much to see, the trails were still very enjoyable. We did three of the hikes, and I am looking forward to returning here to do more. I’d like to get waders and get deep into some of the canyons.

Again I have over a hundred pictures taken, but I lack the equipment and skill to capture the majesty of Zion. It is a special place to spend a day hiking.

Boondocking on the other Side

Our adventures wrapped up in Page Arizona, which has bad internet. I don’t mean my three cell carriers didn’t do well, I mean the entire town and every wifi in it was terrible. I think all the internet came in via satellite. We left two days early and parked on BLM land where we had excellent internet and step view.

May peace find you.

Neither Here, Nor There

As nomads, we strive to go from place we want to be, to place we want to be. That likely goes without saying. Some of the time those places are just too far apart to make it in a single weekend, so we are forced to stay in between for my work week.

Sometimes these in between places are absolutely amazing and we enjoy them greatly. This wasn’t one of those times.

Kendra has a double black belt in trip planning, but no one is perfect. We had a wonderful experience staying at an Olive farm in California a couple years ago, so when she sad we were staying at an Elderberry farm for a week I felt pretty positive about it. Unfortunately the Elderberry farm turned out to be someone’s front yard that they opened up for boondocking so they could meet their proselytizing quota without putting much effort into it.

It was a neighborhood of people who wanted to pretend they were ranchers and turned their few acres of land into a facsimile of ranches. So, lots of fly’s from farm animals kept in too little space, a strong smell of shit, and a very awkward place to crash. We did stay one night, but then spent the remainder of the week in Delta, Utah. Also not a grand place, but a definite upgrade.

The “Elderberry” farm with a handful of tiny elderberry bushes planted in a bad location for berries.

Devils Den Trail

During the week we went out one evening and found a lovely hike. We saw a storm blowing in and turned back just short of the peak. That was sad, but the right decision as we got home to a torrential downpour with heavy winds and a couple open windows on Torta. Luckily the rain had less than a minute to get inside before we charged in soaking wet to close them.

Out My Front Door

When I finish my work day, the first thing I like to do is go out and walk for a few miles. It is my way of relaxing and letting go of the work stress. Chimacum spoiled me with three parks and a monument all in easy walking distance. Delta provided a farm field I did laps around. However, the lack of interesting views gave me an insight.

Many times I have seen tumbleweeds blowing in the desert, but never before had I realized what plant became tumbleweeds. They were growing thick around the field and I did three laps before I finally realized what I was seeing. So below you will find the lifecycle of the common tumbleweed…. I think. My speculation is that they grow near water sources and when that dries up the plant dries up, breaks off in the wind and blows dropping seeds hoping to find another scarce water source. Purely my own speculation.

Single Image Teaser for next Blog

May peace find you

Chomping at the Bit

On our last weekend at home base, we have accomplished our entire wish list, and are excited for the adventures ahead. We love the area, but our home has wheels for a reason.

Last year, when I had my surgery, I began exercising with a one-hundred yard walk on which I needed to stop and rest. I set Mount Townsend as a goal for myself this year. A little over eight miles round trip with over three-thousand feet of elevation gain. It was a challenging and delightful hike.

Mount Townsend

I arrived at first light, was first one heading up, and had about fifteen minutes of the peak all to myself before the masses began arriving. It is blissfully far from civilization. You begin along a small stream that you can hear but not see, then work your way up through the trees with only an occasional plane in the distance to remind you people exist. Next year I might go up and spend the night, so I can see the sunrise from the top.

Lower Big Quilcene

As part of my training to be ready for the big hike, Kendra and I did seven miles in the same national forest. The Lower Big Quilcene is a lovely hike, easy to get to, and mostly flat.

The Rest of the Story

We really packed our time here with tasks, goals, and fun. We did a lot with Tortuga. We cleaned all the fans, as in took them apart and deep cleaned them. Changed out the kitchen faucet for one that is superior in every way. Painted the rims a lovely matching shade. The one picture below doesn’t do it justice, but as we get into more photogenic situations that will really pop I think. We also did a handful of small repairs like our refrigerator door, and front door. Toss in a full clothing shuffle from our storage unit so we are ready for the winter ahead as well.

Kendra squeezed in as many Zumba classes as she could. I learned to row and got out on the water as much as I could. Among all this we also celebrated our sixteen wedding anniversary at a lovely restaurant named Molly Ward.

The State of the Pets

Shanti really loves it here as she has a doggy daycare that she loves, and the park has a dog park so she gets a ton of socialization and ball. Plus she lays outside under the rig on her bed a lot to people watch. Cali isn’t as big a fan. She does spend a lot of time outside. but it is a combination of a little boring and a little scary for her. We have begun giving her walks, which she took to with fervor. She will come meow at us to take her walking. A lot.

Cali and Shanti Conversations #5

Cali: Walker, Cali Walker
Shanti: Oh for the love of Woof, would you give it a break. Going for a walk is not that big a deal.
Cali: Chuck Norris wishes he was me.
Shanti: And you shouldn’t ding dong ditch.
Cali: What?
Shanti: It is rude to come to the door, meow like you want in, then take off as soon as someone comes.
Cali: I don’t understand this word … rude? What does this mean?
Shanti: Remember when you were sleeping on the footstool and I stepped on you getting up? That was rude.
Cali: You are a clumsy dog, and I am a marvel of nature. I am not “rude”.
Shanti: More like a freak of nature.
Cali: One must train the servants, they are not very bright.
Shanti: I don’t think pissing them off is the route to go.
Cali: Yours is what is called a “Moo” point. It is like the opinion of a cow and matters not.
Shanti: I’m not the one likely to get sprayed with water, so knock yourself out.

May peace find you.

Home Base

Our time exploring is always wonderful, but it is also good to sit still and get some maintenance done. While we only spend three or four months a year here, Chimacum Washington is where we call home. We will remain here until October when we head out for more adventures.

We were invaded by sand and dust at a couple locations, my front door is broken again, rims need cleaned and painted, and we have never liked our kitchen faucet. I’ve already torn apart all three fans, including the fantastic ceiling fan, cleaned and lubricated them all, the part for the front door is in the mail, and the new faucet is in the car awaiting install this weekend.

Fun Stuff

It isn’t all chores though. Still plenty of fun to be had around here. A delightful hike available just outside my front door, free live music every Thursday night on the water, great places to eat and have a beer, rowing classes, Zumba classes, and much much more.

Cali and Shanti Conversations #4

Cali: It isn’t fair!
Shanti: What isn’t fair?
Cali: What isn’t fair, are you kidding me? We are in a gravel parking lot instead of a desert, it is cool instead of hot, I should have meals prepared by a top rated Michelin chef instead of goop from a can, and you get to go for long walks and I don’t!
Shanti: You spend most of your day outside, you almost caught a bird, and you get canned food twice a day. CANNED food. TWICE a day!
Cali: Yeah, lets talk about that bird. I had it! It was cornered under the car and I was unceremoniously pulled inside before I could behead and drop it by the door for the larder. Also, you set your bar far too low for food. I saw you eat rabbit poop. *blech*
Shanti: I love it here. Lot’s of dogs with a socializing space, good walking, good sleeping, lot’s of rabbits, and best of all, no moving!
Cali: I am going to aggressively clean you next time you fall asleep.
Shanti: *sigh*

Sisters

Until next blog

Yet ahead we have a concert in Seattle, a ten mile mountain hike, and much more music, drinking, Zumba, and rowing.

May peace find you.

Feels Like Coming Home

Traveling is mega fun, but when we pulled into the Snoqualmie pass for our first night back in Washington it was amazing. We were in a dirty little parking lot that took fifteen minutes of trash cleanup before I would let the pets out, but it was cool, had huge trees, and mountains in every direction. An area of the world that makes you feel this good should really be your home.

Concrete Washington

We have three days of work on the engine of Tortuga in a couple weeks, so we camped near that instead of racing all the way back to our home area of Port Townsend. This is a heavy logging area with a disturbing amount of poverty and high prices, but also absolutely gorgeous. We had two amazing hikes and a third scheduled for today which was postponed for weather affording me the opportunity to catch up on blogging.

Sauk Mountain

One day after work Kendra hauled me out for a hike. Typically an after work hike is pretty easy, but this four and a half miles was steep and rocky. I should have prepared better. Was wearing standard walking shoes, had no pack, and brought no water. In the future I will happily turn up over prepared rather than under.

The forest service road to the parking lot was even tough. Our CRV doesn’t have a lot of clearance and we dragged a couple times. Had to stop as we left to let the brake system cool off too. Well worth it for the views though. If you are in the area I highly recommend the hike, and a Jeep to get to it.

As I headed back down the mountain I disturbed this grouse couple and their pet chipmunk.

Diablo Lake

Another evening after work we headed to the North Cascade National Park for a hike. This one I was well prepared for, but it was much easier than Sauk Mountain. The entire area is breathtaking. Every turn of the trail exposes a new and surprising view of the many surrounding mountains. Of the five National Parks/Monuments we visited on this trip, North Cascade is probably my favorite. Will need to return here to do more exploring!

May peace find you.

Trapped in Mordor

While I have not seen two little people fighting over a gold ring, Ogden Utah has so much smoke the sun looks very wrong, and the temperatures are in triple digits. Much like Mordor, not a place I want to be.

We spent last week at Juniper Campground outside of Park City Utah and it was also hot. We don’t like it hot. Our house is too small to sit inside all day. We were supposed to be headed north and up out of this horrible heat wave, but coming down the mountain we blew a rear tire. Since we have four rear tires that wasn’t a big deal safety wise, but it is a big deal otherwise.

We have set up camp at an RV Park here in Ogden, found a delightful pub for lunch, and Kendra will get us into a Les Schwab this week for all new rubber. We had an appointment already scheduled for new tires this upcoming Friday, just a few hundred miles further than we can limp with a flat.

Juniper Campground

While it was hot it was also pretty. There was a great hiking trail right outside my front door and I took advantage of that three times. Twice I tried to wait until the heat of the day had passed and do an evening walk, as I much prefer my exercise at that time of day. The temperature didn’t get the memo that it was supposed to go down in the evening. From just under a hundred to just over ninety is an improvement, but not what I had hoped. I found myself darting from shade to shade. Well, the pace I used was more aptly described as plodding, but I did target the next shade aggressively.

On my first hike I took photo’s, as is my usual pattern. About a half mile in I see someone put up a lovely sheet metal buffalo statue up in the trees and snagged a photo. A few hundred yards further on I spot an elk in the trees. As I take some pictures I realize he is standing very still, I imagine he thinks I haven’t spotted him. I fire up the video and walk in slowly waiting for him to run away. As I get to within twenty yards I am thinking this guy really needs to downgrade his opinion of his hiding skills. As I get closer yet I finally realize this is just another statue.

Along the way I see many more statues including black bear, cougar, deer, and more elk. Finally I get to a sign that reads 3D Archery Range. Sure enough on the way back I get in even closer and I see the statues are targets. Super cool feature that I saw people enjoying on Saturday morning. I’d have loved such a course when I still shot bow.

Cali and Shanti conversations #2

Cali: This is bullshit!
Shanti: What do you mean?
Cali: This place is crowded, my leash is six feet long, and it is so hot even I don’t want to go outside! That’s what I mean.
Shanti: It isn’t so bad. There is a lovely dog park with lots of grass to roll in and it was only an hour drive to get here. We didn’t even go airborne this time.
Cali: You were cowering in front of the passenger seat on the way here.
Shanti: I wasn’t cowering, I was choosing a safe location to travel.
Cali: I saw you quivering like a leaf when I woke up and went to pee.
Shanti: *GLARE* This is why nobody likes you.
Cali: I’m going to ask to go out again. Maybe we moved.
Shanti: We haven’t moved.
Cali: “OUT! OUT! OUT! OUT!”
Kendra: *Opens door*
Cali: Shit….still the same location and still fucking hot. Not going out.

May peace find you.

Rock and Roll

Hot Springs

In our time rolling through the Rockies, we were lucky enough to have friends come to visit us. I took a couple of vacation days and, combined with the holiday, we managed to pack in a lot of adventure. I caught a cold that made me miserable for about a week, but the only adventure I missed was a drive to the top of Mount Evans. A significant part of our fun was enjoying three hot springs. That may sound odd considering the heat “bubble” most of the country was suffering under, but at nine thousand feet we had comfortable days and nights cold enough to need the heater. Plus, we love very little in life more than soaking in hot water.

Our first soak was Iron Mountain Hot Springs, an amazing place with many pools, a view of the Colorado River, and gorgeous red mountains. So strikingly red it is truly shocking I was too lazy to take a photo, yet here I am nailing it. We happened to be camping on the other side of Glenwood canyon from Iron Mountain and with the years of drought that canyon had severe wildfires last year. It is still incredibly gorgeous and an engineering marvel, but with recent rains, it is now getting frequent mudslides that can cause long closures of Interstate 70 through the canyon.

We slipped through shortly after they cleared a slide and enjoyed our day of soaking and a lovely Thai dinner. Home we go, only to find the cool rain we enjoyed while soaking caused a new mudslide. Google maps had us driving almost four hours to get home, but Apple had a route that was just over two hours. Off we headed onto roads that were narrow with crumbling edges, long drops, and heavy traffic of other Apple maps users. It was such a rugged route Google didn’t even think it was a road. Our friend Steve did a great job of navigating the dangerous route, but it was a real clench your buttocks ride. We got through that section just before dark and felt for the many people we passed just starting into it as darkness descended. There were trailers and RV’s that had no idea what lay ahead. If this happens to you, go the other way.

News story photo of one of the mud slides

Our second soak was Strawberry Hot Springs. A bit of history on this; for months my calendar every morning said “Strawberry Hot Springs”. Apparently, they open up the reservation system at random intervals announced on Twitter so my wife checked every day like it was tickets to Comic-Con. Well worth the effort I think. It is nestled down into a valley with views to die for and a stream running through it. The hot water trickles down from one side of the valley traveling from pool to pool until it mixes with the stream in a large swimming area that is cool, but not mountain stream cool because of the hot water. This is definitely on my top three list for hot springs. You can rent an adorable tiny wagon and spend the night. If you are in the area celebrating, I think this would be absolutely divine. In fact, this is a possible twenty-year anniversary spot for us.

Our final soak was Sulfur Hot Springs and it was also very nice but, as the name may indicate, it was sulfurious. A huge number of pools with varying temperatures and mineral content including two pools with magnesium so potent the water was opaque. Those pools were the strongest of smells and Kendra and I spent time in both these covered gems. I kid you not, the next morning when I dropped the kids off at the pool it smelled exactly like those magnesium pools. The lack of photos is really chapping my ass, but I’ll blame it on my cold and hope I don’t do it again.

Rocky Mountain National Park

O…M…G! My favorite National Park to date. There was a lot of burn damage, including the ranger station at the entrance, but it was absolutely gorgeous. This is a must-visit location as no picture could possibly do it justice. I was still not recovered enough to hike, but the views from the car and pullouts were breathtaking. Within a mile of the entrance, I saw my very first moose in the wild. I have spent many weeks, miles from civilization looking for a wild moose with no joy, then I see two in a single drive through this treasure.

Moose recorded with monocular and phone camera. My first effort with the monocular, but I will improve.

Utah

Vacation over and back to the same old grind of going from beautiful place to beautiful place. It is a tough life, but someone has to do it.

Monday was an abnormally long travel day. We started very early to slip through Glenwood canyon before the rains and spent over eight hours traveling. Vail pass had construction and twice had signs that read “Extreme Bump”. I slowed to thirty-five miles an hour and would have gone five if I didn’t think someone might rear-end me. They were not exaggerating on those bumps.

We are now settled into the shade of Junipers near a lake outside of Park City, Utah. I’ve only gone on two short walks with the dog, but I can already tell I like it. A bit dusty, and hotter, but a lot more oxygen than we had last week.

Cali and Shanti conversations #1

Shanti: That was bullshit. All those people came to visit me and I was tied far from them denying them the joy of me.
Cali: Uh huh, sure.
Shanti: You saw the looks they gave me! They obviously came to enjoy me, not the parental unit. Those two are more boring than watching paint dry.
Cali: I’m pretty sure they mostly wanted to pet me. I thought I might need a restraining order against the ginger.
Shanti: *glare*
Cali: We have loose dry soil and trees!
Shanti: What are you so happy about? We just spent the entire day in that death trap on wheels. I swear to Dog we caught air in Vail pass. We are lucky to be alive.
Cali: Bitch, please. I took a nap in our air-conditioned home and we were here. The servants even let us out immediately. It is warm and dry and delightful.
Shanti: I hate you just a little bit.
Cali: Magpie!
Shanti: Magpie?!

May peace find you.

Silver and Gold

Denver Colorado

We pulled into Denver to visit old friends and be near an airport so I could return to Ohio for a visit. It had been far too long since I had seen my parents and Ohio friends. That isn’t a Tortalog story, but it was absolutely wonderful to hug them all again.

We were excited to be at a campground right in the city after so long in very remote locations. Kendra knew it might be hot and planned ahead to get us a plug-in so we could run the air. It should surprise no one that Kendra has epic planning skills. It was very hot and the air came on before noon every day even though we had a decent amount of shade.

All the visiting was great, and we had a couple of very nice meals, but overall Denver is not a city I would recommend. The traffic is horrible, the roads are bad, public transportation is practically non-existent, and the air quality is so poor the mountains looked like an abstract painting. Not sure what they did with all the pot money, but they did not use it to fill potholes. We spent an entire week in Denver and apparently, nothing inspired either of us to take a photo as we have none. Pictured below is the amazing whiskey tasting my most excellent Ohio friends had for my visit. I miss you guys already.

Golden Colorado

A short drive from Denver is the adorable college town of Golden. The town is centered around a small river that is used recreationally by tubers and kayakers. The only time I walked without seeing someone enjoying the water was the before sunrise dog walks. I tried out the tubing scene with some friends and it was an experience. Not sure how many rapids I went through, but I know I lost it on three of them getting thoroughly dunked in icy mountain water. It was fun, and I plan to do it again when we return.

I loved that the entire city was walkable. Great paths, great sidewalks, and really great beer. On a lark, I ordered a peanut butter stout. Belching Beaver is my new favorite beer. It was available on tap at multiple locations and if you see it I highly recommend trying it. My picture says it is from Canada, but I think that someone at the bar was confused by the CA of California. I will be watching for this everywhere I go now.

Silverthorne

We headed back into the mountains to beat the heat. This was a weak of record temps over a large part of the nation. Northern cities, like Portland and Seattle, are getting temps of well over 100 F. At over 9.1k feet, we are enjoying comfortable 60-degree weather with nights cool enough to run the furnace. Having a house with wheels has many benefits.

We’ve had a lot of amazing views in our travels, but our current camp site is possibly the best. At least top three. As I sit typing I can see out our window to a lovely lake backset by snow capped mountains. I managed to catch a cold now that I am not as diligent about my mask, and am so sad as I desperately want to get out and hike. This is another must return to location. I may hit urgent care tomorrow as there is no way I am leaving here without a little hiking.

May peace find you.

Badass Travelers

Many years ago, before working from the road was on my radar, I saw a picture from an airport that stuck with me. It was a picture of one of those overhead banners like you will see at a festival and it read, “No one in their right mind comes to Helsinki in the winter. Except you, you badass. Welcome!” For some reason it really stuck with me and I thought to myself, I want to be a badass traveler.

I think Kendra and I have accomplished that. We aren’t going into extreme environments, but we are moving freely around disconnected from “the grid”. Our last plug in was a month ago and the only reason we had it was to resolve an issue with the battery monitor system. We had a couple very stormy and cloudy days where we ran our generator exactly twenty five minutes, just long enough for Kendra to make a baked potato in the toaster oven. Other than that solar has covered all our work and cooking needs. On sunny days we generate far more power than we use. Eventually our black tank drives us back to society for a dump, but we have gone twelve days out and think we could make it fourteen if we played our cards right.

Heron Lake New Mexico

New Mexico has a reputation for being poor and rundown. We have certainly seen some of that, and you should avoid driving through the reservation land in an RV as the roads are in pretty bad shape. Even so, I have very much enjoyed the state. Heron Lake was just gorgeous with great hiking and the rangers and hosts were all very pleasant and seemed happy to be there. Also it was very cheap per night, which a Ranger pointed out when I mentioned we were headed toward Colorado to keep ahead of the summer heat.

We pulled in on Memorial Day weekend, and it was fairly crowded, but we got the best spot on the lake by luck of someone cancelling. By Tuesday it had cleared out and we had the entire campground to ourselves. I find it a bit crazy that no one but us used that amazing park for four nights. On Friday night just two other campers came in. This is my vote for most underutilized camp in the country. The lake water is lowering as it suffers years of drought, but there is far more here than just the lake.

It was over seven thousand feet up and we both felt that thinner oxygen a bit, but got in great workouts. Probably my favorite workout hikes I have done to date. We are definitely going to return another year.

Eleven Mile Lake Colorado

Insanely gorgeous is the best description I can give. At 8.7k feet we had views of snow covered mountains and hills that looked like the shire across the lake. The site itself had big stones, and our cat was in heaven. We couldn’t hardly get her to come in for meals.

On the downside, the services were raggedy as hell. The state invested in very nice signs that read “Road Damage”, and boy was there. We have gone into distributed camping that was in better condition. The showers didn’t always have hot water, and if you put in quarters for a cold shower that was tough luck, no refunds. All the rangers seemed lazy and like they didn’t want to be there. There was no actual hiking to be found, so my walks were mostly on roads. While it was some of the best views we have seen, it was an overall disappointment and I don’t think we will return. Additionally, my lungs got tired and I didn’t sleep well. I woke up feeling like I couldn’t breath. I am sure I would eventually adapt, but I didn’t in the week we stayed.

Next week we travel to Denver to visit with old friends. The forecast shows temperatures in the nineties, which is sad as we will be at a park with plugins and need to run our air. We’ve been spoiled by lovely weather and sleeping with the windows open.

May peace find you.