Thursday, January 26, 2023

Going Down the Rabbit Hole

 Our morning routine is pretty much the same whether we are on the road or at home. We wake up, turn on the news for background noise to see whose closet the FBI is raiding today and start reading blogs while sipping on our morning beverages (coffee for Barb, Mountain Dew for me). Basically multitasking, to see what is going on in the world via T.V. and text at the same time. After catching up with our blogger friends we will often “go down the rabbit hole” so to speak. After reading the blog of someone I know, I will go down to the comments section and click on a commenter that I do not know. More often than not, commenters have their own blogs. I will then read their blog and again click on a commentor on that blog that I do not know and carry on further down the rabbit hole. Depending on what we have going on that day this could go on for about an hour with twists and turns and tunnels through blogs that I have never read before.

While most of the blogs we read are RV related in nature, going down these rabbit holes have led us to some blogs that we would have never otherwise found or read. Some are quite interesting, and we have made some new virtual friends we would have never met. One from Prince Edward Island is not only interesting but also helped us out a lot last summer. We have found others we enjoy from Fargo, New Jersey and even as far away as New Zealand! There is something about getting a peek into someone else’s life that is interesting. I am not going to name names as I don’t know if they would want me to but give it a try some time, you never know where that path will lead you.

The other rabbit hole we went down this week was similar but different all at the same time. Still the same twists and turns down paths that we did not know what lay around the corner but not in the virtual world this time. The other day, our friends Dale and Ruth had posted on Facebook that they stopped by Colossal Caves just outside of Tucson. Colossal Caves was not even on our radar but after seeing their post and having left Santa Fe a day early, we had time to kill so we stopped by to see the caves.

We wanted to do something a little different than the basic tour so Barb read the different options to me. Let me stop here and confess that I am a little claustrophobic. Okay, maybe more than a little. I can thank my older siblings for this as they used to smother me with a blanket when I was younger until I freaked out. On a scale of 1-10 I would say I am a 7 on the claustrophobic scale. I can take a lot of things but there are some that I start to freak out. I have never totally freaked out as an adult, but I have come close a few times. The most recent when I was taking off a jacket and the zipper stuck. I tried and tried. Then Barb tried but we could not get the jacket off. Then I started to freak out and needed to get the jacket off and I mean NOW! I tore it off my body like a sweatshirt and threw it across the room. The worst I’ve had was an MRI tube where I started hyperventilating but somehow managed to calm myself down and get through it.

I can do, and enjoy caves, but not tight confined spaces. So, when Barb was reading me the description for the “Ladder Tour” which required scrambling on your hands and knees and skinnying through crevices I was a little more than hesitant. But I said I would give it a try. 

We arrived at the Visitors Center, got checked in and got fitted for a helmet with headlamp. 

At the appointed time, down the rabbit hole we went! Our tour guide, Dalton was awesome! With only 4 in our tour, we were able to ask lots of questions and take our time.

Lots of formations, lots of history, lots of twists and turns. You could get totally lost down there. When we got to the tunnels and crevices, I sent Barb in first.

The hands and knees stuff were not too bad as they were not very long, but a couple of the crevices where you had to go sideways and suck in your gut for several yards started to get to me. “You can do it, you can do it” I kept telling myself. I started to hyperventilate a couple times, but I made it and once through the crevice I was fine.

Same with the ladder portions. Most were no problem at all, but a couple were a little tighter and you had to squeeze through them. 

At the lowest point of our tour, we came across come barrels of water that were apparently put there in the 1950's to be used in case of a nuclear war. 

Thankfully, I made it through without crying like a little girl. There is another tour that Barb wants to do called the Explorers Tour that requires you to belly crawl through holes and tunnels. That is a hard no, more like a hell no! 

In the end I totally loved the Ladder Tour and would do it again.

What other fun did we have this week? Well, we stopped by Chiricahua National Monument and explored the peaks and valleys of the area.

There was one pet friendly hike, so we took that one first. As we were starting, there was a hell of a racket coming from a tree not too far off, so we went to investigate. There were a dozen Coati running up and down and all around these trees. We have never seen these raccoon-like creatures before and here there were a dozen or more! They were tearing the bark off a dead tree; I think trying to get to the bugs and grubs under the bark.

We watched them for about 10 minutes before moving on.

After that hike we went and checked into our site at Bonita Campground before exploring the peaks. Vehicles over 24’ are not allowed up the peak road so we took off our luggage rack and carried up the road.

More incredible views and vistas along the way.

Once we were at the top, we put the girls in back and went hiking.

Another very cool area, well worth the stop!

The next day we carried on towards Casa Grande where we stopped by the Casa Grande Ruins. We took the ranger led guided tour there. Interesting, but having just been to the Gila Dwellings, it paled in comparison.

Somewhere along the way, Wilcox I think, we stopped by to see Rex Allen. The Singing Cowboy who starred in many a western back in the day. 

Our adventure for this week ended with a stop by the Silverado Campground in Eloy to see our friends Dave and Leslie. We met these Albertans several years ago in Quartzsite and not seen them since they stopped by our place in South Dakota several years ago. 

We spent the first afternoon catching up over a fantastic supper Leslie prepared and more than a few cocktails. 
The next day we went on a 3 1/2 mile hike through the Casa Grande Mountains. A pretty easy but scenic trail.
One cool thing they showed us was the neighborhood that is being built using 3D printers. They have a huge printer set up that lays out the exterior walls of the house. 

Each layer of the house is about 2" thick. 
Once that is done, they put a traditional roof on it and stucco the outside over the plastic and paint it. In the picture below you can see one house that has been stuccoed and another painted. 
All too soon it was time to move on to our next adventure, so back down the rabbit hole we go. Who knows where the next tunnel will take us!

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Albuquerque and Beyond!

We skidded into Albuquerque on two wheels leaving a path of death and destruction in our wake. No literally, well maybe not destruction but definitely death. You ever have one of those moments when a bird or an animal dodges in front of your vehicle and you think to yourself “I hope that guy made it”? Well, sadly, this meadowlark did not make it. Poor guy.

We had one mission when we got to Albuquerque, score on some Crystal Blue. Those of you who are Breaking Bad fans know exactly what I am talking about. Albuquerque is the home of Walter White, Jessie, Saul Goodman and Gus Fring. Breaking Bad is one of the best dark (dramas?) ever and it was filmed right here in Albuquerque! So, we set out to see if we could score some of the infamous 'Blue'.

Our first stop was Walt’s house. Although Walt is dead, maybe Skyler can point us in the right direction. According to the show, it should be at 308 Negra Arroya Lane. Well, they must have moved some streets around as we did not find that address, but we did find the house! A quick internet search will tell you the real address of the house along with many of the other filming sites for the show. There was a note in the site we read asking you to leave the residents alone. It even stated that more than once, someone has thrown a pizza on the roof!

Apparently, they must have a lot of people looking for the same thing as there was a fence, gate and signs asking people to basically leave them alone. Seriously, what do they expect, they bought the house of basically the most famous meth manufacturer in the world.

With no luck there we went to find Saul. Surely, he would know where we could score. If memory served me correctly, his office was in a nail salon…… Found it! Unfortunately, it was boarded up and no one there to help us.

Undaunted we carried on to the car wash. You know, the one Walt and Skyler bought to launder all their money? Well, we found it, but it was sold, and the new owner had no idea where I could find some ‘Blue’.

As we were leaving the car wash area, we spotted this in someone's driveway.

Now I cannot say for sure if this is the RV as I could not see the door with the telltale bullet holes but I do not think it was a coincidence!

By now the dogs were ready for a walk so we went to a nearby park. The park, like most businesses in the area was closed. It looks like the meth problem has really taken its toll on this area of Albuquerque. But we parked the truck outside the gates and walked the dogs in where we found this….

There was really a lot more than this. There had to be a dozen syringes and two crack pipes (and a bunch of other stuff) in an area that was very recently vacated. My first guess that Dino was in the area, but I looked around and did not see anyone in an EZ Lift chair. If it was him, he obviously left the area.

Where to next? How about Los Pollos Hermanos the fast-food place where Gus had his office? It too had been sold and changed names.

I had one last place I could look. Certainly, Wendy would know we could get some. We headed over to the Crossroads Motel that she frequented. It was exactly how it was portrayed in the show. Run down, beat up, seedy and weedy. As we pulled into the parking lot, I found the song ‘Windy’ on Pandora and cranked it up hoping she would show up, but she was a no show. She must have been "busy" somewhere else.

So, we were not able to score, but we did see some interesting sights. Not your typical tour of Albuquerque, but being such big fans of the series, we found it entertaining. 

So, what else did we do in Albuquerque you ask? Well, we went to the Petroglyph National Monument. Although we had just seen some petroglyphs a few days before, we wanted to see some more (and Barb wanted to get her Passport stamped). We went to the Piedras Marcadas Canyon area which is dog friendly and walked the 1.5-mile loop which contains hundreds of petroglyphs.

It is believed that the majority of the petroglyphs were created from 1300-1680. Very interesting. 

Was this really a means of honoring Gods or communicating to others or was it some bored kids in the 1200's doing rock graffiti? We may never know. 

The hike and entire area did not disappoint. We saw dozens and dozens of petroglyphs throughout the area and one wily coyote who was eyeing up Zoey like she was a tasty morsel.

Having worked up an appetite, we headed to our Harvest Host location for the night.  Starr Brothers Brewery has a nice gravel lot that would accommodate a dozen rigs or so. We were one of 3 to stay there that night. Their slogan should be 'Come for the beer, stay for the food' as both were delicious! If you stop there, get the truffle fries, trust me. 

The next day we rode the Sandia Peak Tram to the top. The elevation went from around 6,000' to just over 10,000'. At $24/person it was well worth it. The views were incredible! If you look closely at the bottom left picture, you can see the shadow of the tram in the bottom left corner.

New Mexico has a very interesting State Flag and here is a tidbit of information that we had not known before.

Another 'Must stop at' in Albuquerque is Amy's Donuts. A definite top 10 in all the donut places we have stopped at in our travels. 

So, what do the girls do all day when we are exploring? They spend the day in the camper snuggled up in their beds or on our bed. The first time we left them we came back, and poor Zoe Belle was shivering. So, from then on, we left the heat on for them. 

Albuquerque has been on our list for several years now and was very interesting. We had wanted to get to a few other places like the rattlesnake museum, but they were only open on the weekends. There were some nice parts, and some very run down parts. Hundreds and hundreds of homeless, many with obvious mental health issues. Signs of drug abuse were everywhere as we saw them walking the streets, panhandling, ranting or huddled in ball trying to keep warm in the freezing cold. Many of the businesses were boarded up and closed. Those that were open had bars and gates on their doors and windows. I do not know what the answer is but what we are doing now is not working. Really sad. 

The next day we carried on south looking for some warmer weather. We did not find it. What we found was, snow, snow and more snow. At first it was just flurries, then it got progressively worse until the road was covered entirely. 
We followed NM 117 up, down and around mountains. Another very desolate route. Had we broke down, Zoey would have been fat and plump having eaten our bodies before anyone found us. 

We did have portions of the route that were snow free and very cool though. The first was La Ventana Arch. I believe it was John and Pam's blog that alerted us to this attraction. The next was this bull statue in Quemado that Barb had to stop and take a picture of. 

Our destination that day was Catwalk Recreation Area. We saw this gem on Steve and Debbie's blog most recently. It is a hiking trail with a series of catwalks attached to the side of a rock face right over the river. Although dogs are allowed on this hike, I knew Dakota would not have been a fan of the open grates.  

We got to one spot where the river was flowing over the trail. We stood there for a few minutes contemplating whether to turn around or walk through getting our shoes soaked. We did neither, we took our shoes and socks off and waded through. It was beyond cold. By the time we got to the other side our toes were stinging like someone was poking needles in them! As luck would have it, the trail was closed 100 yards later due to a rockslide, so we had to turn around, and do it all over again! 

Selfie Time!
We spent the night a few miles down the road at the Aldo Leopold Scenic Picnic Area. We were all alone, it was peaceful and very dark!
The landscape was dotted with these trees. Anyone have an idea what kind they are?

The next day was a day that Barb and I have been looking forward to for a long time. We have seen this site in numerous blogs and every time we see it, we want to go there. Well, it finally happened!

The Gila Cliff Dwellings are 44 miles outside of Silver City. But those 44 miles takes you 1 1/2 - 2 hours with twists and turns and ups and downs and all arounds. A very pretty road but you cannot be in a hurry and if you are not a fan of roads with steep drop offs with no guard rails mere feet away, you might want to think twice. 
These are the first dwellings that we've been to that we could actually hike up into themselves. 

It is believed that they were inhabited from around 1200-1300AD.

Sorry for the picture overload but this place is so cool I could not help it. 

While we were exploring the dwellings, we got to talking to another couple that were in there. Ken and Donna (Roadtrippin' Roadlovers) are also parttime truck camper explorers based out of Michigan. We have been to many of the same places and some that one of us have yet to get to. We compared notes and experiences. A very nice couple. Feel free to follow along on their adventures using the link above. 
Their rig is very identifiable so if you see this setup going down the road tell them Jim and Barb say hi!

Tomorrow, we leave New Mexico crossing over into Arizona where more adventures await us. For those of you in Q, we will be stopping by Total Wine and More in Tucson on or around the 28th (arriving in Q on 2/8). If you want us to pick you up anything, contact us via email, text or messenger.