Southern New Mexico, Then to Texas

From Albuquerque we headed south on I-25 to Truth or Consequences and Elephant Butte Lake State Park.  I didn’t get to leave until mid-afternoon, after finishing my realignment job at Statkus Engine.  It’s a good 150 miles to Elephant Butte, and I was stopping in Socorro to do laundry.  We got to T or C just after dark, so I just popped in to the Walmart right off I-25 and parked for the night.  My New Mexico State Parks annual pass had expired and I needed to buy a new one, which I could do at the park entrance in the morning.  It’s really the best deal in the country.  Out-of-state residents pay $225 for the pass (NM residents pay even less), which cuts $10 off of the nightly the rate.  Developed sites are $10, so they become free; electric sites, normally $14, are $4 with the pass.  Can’t beat it with a stick!  It would pay for itself before I left the state, and I knew we would be traveling to NM again in 2014.

Anyway, I wanted to get to Elephant Butte as soon as possible.  Christine and Carol were there and our friend Roxanne was there, but planned to leave within a day or so.  I had last camped with Roxi in the Coconino NF near Flagstaff, when she and Annie were there in the Duck and hadn’t seen her for a year.  So we headed over to the main part of the park and met up with the gals at the Desert Cove Campground.  The next day, Saturday, Christine drove us to Truth or Consequences to the farmer’s market.  Carol had a booth set up to sell the napkin sets and potholders that she makes.  Afterwards we met at the Passion Pie Cafe for breakfast with Roxi and Sue.  Sue is in the Women Go Solo Yahoo group that we are all on, but I hadn’t met her yet.  Great coffee, great breakfast, and great gabbing.  Always fun to hang with the gal pals.

Carol at TorC farmer's market

Carol at TorC farmer’s market

Just a few yards over from the Passion Pie stood this piece of street art.  Truth or Consequences is a funky town.

Street Art

Street Art in T or C

On Monday we moved over to the South Monticello Point campground (nicknamed “SoMoPo” by Roxi), on the far north part of the park.  The sites are nicer, a little bit further apart and with a view of (what’s left of) the lake.  Andy arrived from Bisbee that afternoon, then Chris arrived on Tuesday.  He had gotten a draw for an elk hunt in the Jemez, then spent some additional time in Santa Fe, so I hadn’t seen him in 3 weeks.  We all got sites together on one loop of the campground (it’s not as packed as the campgrounds closer to town.)

All of us at South Monticello Campground

All of us at South Monticello Campground (Chris, me, Christine (with Roxi’s “Spud”) and Andy behind the bushes on the right)

Nice sites at SoMoPo

Nice sites at SoMoPo

Carol had stayed back at the Lion’s Beach campground, closer to town.  But she came by for a lady’s luncheon that Christine had arranged to welcome Andy.  This is (l-r) Chris, Andy, me and Carol.  Roxi must have been taking the picture. (I stole it from Christine’s Facebook page. Actually, I just noticed it has Good Luck Duck in the corner, so she had gotten it from Roxi.)

Lady's Lunch

Lady’s Lunch

Anyway, around this time I was having trouble with my TV reception.  It had worked fine in Albuquerque.  But the TV towers for all of central NM are on Sandia Peak, right above the casino.  Getting reception there is easy.  Chris brought the TV from his RV over to see if it was a TV thing, but no, didn’t work.  Next, I took a long cable wire and ran it directly off the top of my antenna, in through the window, and to the TV.  That worked.  So, it was a wire problem.  Turns out the connection going into the RV at the base of the antenna was fried.  I guess I had been picking up channels from the TV itself, without the roof antenna.  I hopped on the scooter and cruised into T or C, got new connections and tools and replaced the fried pieces.  Easy-peasy.

Saturday we all (Andy, Roxanne and I) piled into Christine’s RV and headed to town for the farmer’s market and then met Sue at the Passion Pie Cafe again.

Passion Pie Gals

Passion Pie Gals (Sue, me, Chris, Roxi and Andy)

On the 30th Riley and I moved down to Caballo Lake State Park, which was almost full.  (I guess there was some flooding near T or C and it flowed down to Caballo, but not into Elephant Butte Lake.)

Caballo Lake

Caballo Lake

Chris stayed a couple extra days at South Monticello.  He had just bought a new kayak in Elephant Butte and wanted to spend time on the lake fishing with it. Christine and Andy would follow in a few days.  Roxi was heading northwest to her property.  She had just bought a parcel of land with an unfinished cabin on it.  She’d been planning to visit it and start making plans, but had stayed several extra days in the T or C area with us.  I was glad to be able to spend some time hanging out with her.

Last year I spent time with my buds at the Riverside campground below the dam, so this time I wanted to spend time up at the main campground. The Caballo sites are OK, but they have a very nice enclosure for the picnic table, with a carport!

Caballo has a little carport for your scooter!

Caballo site with a parking spot for my scooter!

There is really nothing near Caballo.   I was having a new iPad delivered to the park, then planned to move along to Leasburg Dam State Park, just north of Las Cruces.  Christine and Andy had spend a few days at Caballo, but had moved on to Deming and we planned to meet up again at Leasburg.  Chris was going to head back north on the way to Phoenix for Thanksgiving.  Before leaving, Chris and I worked on practicing loading and unloading my scooter.  He spotted me while I worked the scooter several times, eventually I got better at it. Now I can load it as well as unload it by myself (as long as I’m on flat ground).  I really wanted to be able to put it on and off by myself.  I came close to dropping it at Sandia when loading it by myself and sometimes it scares me.  So practicing with Chris was important for me.

On the 5th Riley and I headed down I-25, stopping in Hatch for a few groceries, then to Leasburg.  They have a lovely Visitor Center building:

New Mexico architecture at Leasburg Dam State Park Visitor Center

New Mexico architecture at Leasburg Dam State Park Visitor Center

Which is more handsome?  Riley or the door?

Nice door at the Leasburg Visitor Center

Nice door at the Leasburg Visitor Center

I scooted in to Las Cruces on Wednesday for the mid-week farmer’s market.  It’s good – a couple of blocks downtown, a mix of food and crafts.  On Saturday Christine, Andy and I went downtown to the farmer’s market, which is just huge on Saturdays.  Then it’s about 8 blocks long, plenty of food, and a LOT of arts and crafts.  After the market we went to the theater to see “Gravity” in 3D.  Great movie, especially in 3D.

Downtown Las Cruces with Christine and Edna, and Andy with Nell and Riley

Downtown Las Cruces with Christine and Edna, and Andy with Nell and Riley

Leasburg site (and another scooter-port)

Leasburg site and sunset (and another scooter-port)

White Sands National Monument is not far from Las Cruces, so on Tuesday 11/12 we packed our lunches, piled in Christine’s Toyota, and headed over.  The visitor center is right at the entrance, so we checked that out.  We each wanted a t-shirt, and when we decided to buy the same shirt, we had to dork it up and put them on for a picture.

At White Sands

At White Sands

Here is where we stopped for lunch.

Lunch Spot

Lunch Spot

It was nice to have one more outing with the girls before leaving. When we got back to the park I got busy packing up, since we were heading back to Texas in the morning. I was able to load the scooter by myself, no one else was around.  Yay!  The next morning I dumped the tanks on the way out and headed south to pick up I-10 to cross west Texas.  We made it to Fort Stockton by late afternoon, so just pulled into a corner of the Walmart parking lot for the night.  Close to the highway, but quiet.  That’s a good overnight spot!  The 2-day trip was pretty uneventful and I stopped near the end for an oil change and inspection.  Back in Denver in July, when I registered my new rig, I found out it would have to be inspected within 3 days of entering Texas.  So got it done and out of the way.  All told, I was on the road for just over 10 months and 6,800 miles.  I can’t even count all the new friends I made.  What a great trip!

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Albuquerque and the Balloon Fiesta

Last year I skipped the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  I was in New Mexico, at Bluewater State Park, but hadn’t made camping reservations with the Lazy Daze group, so skipped the area.  When it was over I went to Elephant Butte State Park, where I camped with Christine and Andy, then to Caballo Lake State Park, and had a great time with CB, Randy, Tish, Carol, Myrna, Laurie and Christine.  (Really, it’s Chris, “Vermont Chris” as we call her, but I will call her Christine to differentiate from Chris of my recent posts.)  Last year they had all spent a couple of weeks at Sandia Casino and Resort watching the balloons for free!  The casino lets RV’ers camp there and it’s on a hill not far from the balloon park, so they could see the balloons from there.  After hearing what a great time they had, I made it part of my travel plans.

Anyway, I got to the casino late in the afternoon on October 1st, after having my scooter service done in Santa Fe.  I wanted to get there well ahead of the Fiesta start date of Oct. 5th, since I had heard the place fills up and wanted to be able to get a spot near my friends.  Carol and Christine were already there when I arrived and I was able to get a spot nearby. A security truck was making patrols through the parking lot, registering rigs and passing out a welcome letter.  I got my window sticker and info on services at the casino and hotel. They really treat RV’ers well at Sandia.  Of course, they rely on a certain percentage of the visitors leaving some of their cash in the casino, so it’s a win-win.

Sunset over Sandia Peak

My spot at sunset

Right away I met Pat and Buddy, friends that Carol had made there last year.  Super fantastic folks.  We all made plans to go to the buffet for lunch the next day.  It’s $5 on Wednesdays for seniors (anyone over 50) with a casino player’s card, so I made sure to get my card right away.  And what a fantastic buffet they have.  Wow!  We all loved it.

I was able to get the scooter unloaded off of the carrier by myself.  Making progress with that.  Gravity is my friend, so it’s easier to get it down than loading it up, but my goal is to be able to load and unload by myself.  Anyway, we all hung out and visited for a few days, ran errands, etc.  I wish I had been able to take a picture of all of the rigs parked at Sandia.  There must have been a few hundred. It was PACKED!

On Saturday the 5th I woke around 3:00 AM when I started hearing helicopters overhead.  I looked out the hatch above my bed, but didn’t see anything.  Eventually I got up a little before dawn to see the balloons going up.  The helicopters and small planes would fly around every morning during Fiesta.  I got used to it and it didn’t wake me up later on.  There were so many balloons, I couldn’t believe how many there were.

Balloons - Day 1

Balloons – Day 1

Balloons over the Arroyo

Balloons over the Arroyo

The arroyo (in the photo above) between the golf course and our parking lot was a great spot for playing with the dogs.  We weren’t allowed on the golf course, but at about 6:00 PM Christine and I would take Riley and her dog Edna down to the arroyo and let them chase balls and run off some energy.  We had a morning walk area on the other side of the parking lot to a natural area were the dogs could sniff and wander.  Sandia was a nice area for dogs, and there were lots of other dogs for Riley to meet.  He loves making new friends!

I hadn’t made reservations with the Lazy Daze group, but when we were camped at Abiquiu with John and Linda (organizer for the group at BF), she mentioned there were a couple of unexpected cancellations and might be spaces available if I wanted to come over for a couple of days. The Lazy Daze group was at the Balloon Fiesta Park RV camping site, down close to where the balloons take off. So, I arranged to move over for Wednesday-Friday.  There weren’t any balloons on Thursday morning due to weather. I woke Friday late, about 7AM, and opened the hatch above my bed to see the balloons all over above our site.  I quickly got dressed and headed out with my camera.

Balloons over the Lazy Daze site

Balloons over the Lazy Daze site

Wow!  Many cool balloons

Wow! Many cool balloons

There was something about the weather that morning and the balloons were coming back down very quickly.  Especially the large special shape balloons.  Some of them were landing very close to us.

Balloons Landing

Balloons Landing

Caution - cow crossing

Need one of those ‘caution – cow crossing’ signs right about here

I ended up staying an extra day, until Saturday.  On Friday evening I went with Jimbo, Kathy and her brother to the “Glowdeo”.  Just after sunset the balloons stay on the ground, the pilots fire up the gas and they light up.  Very cool, but it was too dark already to get good pictures.  Jimbo got better pictures earlier in the week.

Glow1

At the Glowdeo

On Saturday morning I got up early, early, like 5:00 AM early.  I wanted to go to the field to wander amongst the balloons as they are inflated and take off.  What a sight!  It was cool being down in the middle of several balloons being filled with hot air, and all the people down there doing the same thing. I could not believe how many people were there.  It wasn’t even light yet and there were masses of people.  Tons of people had made a real effort to be vertical well before dawn.  Amazing.  It was nice to be able to walk to the field.  The traffic on the way to the park was terrible!

Arrival

Approaching the early balloons

Amongst

In the middle of the balloons

Excited riders.  It costs a few hundred dollars to ride, but look how happy they are!

Excited riders. It costs a few hundred dollars to ride, but look how happy they are!

The take-off coordinators are called Zebras, since they wear black and white outfits.  Their job is to coordinate the departures and control the crowds.  They clear a cone-shaped area, based on wind direction, where the balloon is expected to travel as it rises.  Some of these folks are dressed more elaborately than others.  I tried to get a picture of this guy with a zebra shirt, zebra jacket and large zebra hat.  He was the best dressed.  Zebras move fast and this was the best picture I was able to get:

Zebras

Zebras

I also visited the midway, which was huge.  Lots of food and stuff for sale, which I didn’t need, but I got an official 2013 Balloon Fiesta pin.

Later that day I turtled up and moved back to Sandia, stopping at the Giant Conoco station on Alameda that has a free dump station.  Things were winding down at the casino.  A lot of RVs had headed out already.  It was a lot less packed than the prior weekend.  All of my friends were still there, but were each leaving within the next few days.  I was planning to stay a while more, since I had an appointment on Thursday at an Albuquerque Ford shop, Statkus Engines.  I was having an alignment problem and Statkus is known to be a good shop. Over the next few days I got some shopping and errands done (stocked up at Trader Joe’s) and finally did some gambling in the casino.  I didn’t hit big, but turned the $25 free-play money they give into $25 in my pocket.  It was super windy one day and that evening we had a weird super-glowy sunset.  Like something out of an alien movie.

Crazy Albuquerque Sunset

Crazy Albuquerque Sunset

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Scootin’ Around Santa Fe

Of course, I’m behind again.  Always behind on my blogging – sorry!  Anyway, Riley and I headed out from Abiquiu on Friday, Sept. 27th, to spend a few days in Santa Fe.  Our Lazy Daze friends were stopping there on the way to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, and I was able to tag along.  Several of them are members of the Elks lodge, which has parking for RV’ers in their back lot.  I was allowed as their guest.  On Friday night we enjoyed the steak and lobster dinner the lodge puts on.  Then, on Saturday morning, we went out to eat at The Pantry.  Great spot for breakfast.  Next we hit the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market.  It’s huge, with lots of vendors, partly outside and partly inside a large building in the “Railyard” area of Santa Fe.

Unfortunately, there was another camper with a loud generator running well into the night.  So, my friends decided to head on to Albuquerque on Saturday when we got back from the market.  I had to stay, since my scooter service appointment was set for Tuesday, 10/1.  So, I just hung out at the Elks, hoping they wouldn’t kick me out since my friends had left.  They didn’t, and their site was great – on the edge of town where the commercial businesses end and it’s mostly residential.  So, it was quiet (I wasn’t next to the generator guy), but an easy scoot to run errands and do some sightseeing.

Nice quiet site at the elks

Nice quiet site at the edge of town at the Elks

Chris didn’t stay at the Elks.  He had gotten to town a few days earlier and set up at Hyde Memorial State Park.  He needed to sort through some stuff in storage and get set up for a hunting trip.  Part of the preparation was getting his other vehicle, a Trooper, set up as a hunting camper.  It was stored at his friend Iska’s, who lives well out of town and has lots of room.  We planned to ride out there on Saturday afternoon, then he would drive the Trooper and I would drive his truck back to his hunting buddy Jack’s place.  (He planned to leave his Lazy Daze and truck at Jack’s while they were away hunting for 10 days).   I had met Iska when Chris and I were in Santa Fe in June, so was looking forward to visiting with her and her boyfriend Larry again.  She has a huge garden that was going to seed and we got to pick all we wanted – tomatoes, blackberries, mint, kale, basil, and other stuff I can’t even remember.  It was a nice visit, and Larry mentioned a bookbinding exhibit going on at the capitol. I added that to my sightseeing plans on Monday.

Monday morning I scooted into the downtown area, stopping at Capitol Coffee, then to the New Mexico capitol building across the street.  Here is my new favorite thing, motorcycle/scooter parking right up front:

Scooter parking at the capitol

Scooter parking at the capitol

The capitol building is really beautiful and the exhibit was fantastic.  The books were more artistic than the more practical notebooks and journals that I make, but I got some new ideas and learned of one technique that I hadn’t even heard of before.

Bookbinding Exhibit

Bookbinding Exhibit

Books and boxes

Handmade books and slipcases

This was an accordion book laid flat that displayed Thoreau quotes which I really liked:

Thoreau Book

Thoreau Book

The  lady at the capitol visitor center said I should go upstairs and see the art in the Office of the Governor.  She was right, very interesting art of all kinds.

Governor's Office

Governor’s Office

This one took up almost a whole wall.  It's so lifelike in person.

This one is huge. It’s beautiful and so lifelike in person.

After the capitol I headed over to the plaza area, finding a parking spot in front of a coffee shop.  The barrista came running out gushing over my scooter.  I told her how I traveled in an RV with the scooter on the back, which she hoped to do someday, so we talked for a while.  Then I checked out the plaza area.

Museum adjacent to the plaza.  I love the architecture of Santa Fe.

Museum adjacent to the plaza. I love the architecture of Santa Fe.

Here is the plaza.  In the background is the Palace of the Governors, the oldest building in the US.  It’s where Native Americans sell handmade items on the sidewalk outside.

Plaza

The Plaza

Another view of the plaza

Another view of the plaza.  By the way, don’t call it a “square”, you will be corrected.  🙂

It was so great to be able to go wherever I wanted while in Santa Fe.  That was the point of getting the scooter – I wanted to have my own mobility.  Now I don’t have to rely on Chris or others to drive me around, and I don’t have to always take my rig when I need to go someplace or do some sightseeing.  Chris came by on Monday evening and helped me to get the scooter back on the carrier (I’m working on learning to do it myself), then we went out for dinner.  On Tuesday morning I drove over to Centaur Scooters and got my initial 200 mile service done.  All went well, they said the scooter looked good, and I was able to get on the road, arriving at Sandia Casino in Albuquerque before sunset.  The plan was to hang with my friends at Sandia, see the balloons from there, then try to visit with the Lazy Daze folks at Balloon Fiesta Park at some point.  I’ll try to write about that ASAP, as soon as I get through the 300 pictures I took and find a few good ones for a post.

A Week at Abiquiu

After getting my scooter fixed in Santa Fe we headed north to Abiquiu Reservoir where we were meeting several Lazy Daze friends at the Corps of Engineers campground for a week – 9/20-9/27.  We had Lazy Daze folks John/Linda, Frank/Cookie, Roger, Jim, Ed/Carol, and Ken.  Also, John and Linda’s neighbors Owen and Carol are with us in their Airstream. Chris stopped at Elk Creek on the Conejos River to fish after Salida, arriving on Sunday.  Most everyone is on the way to Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta in October.  Linda is the organizer for the Lazy Daze group (40 rigs!!) meeting at the fiesta.

Abiquiu Site

Abiquiu Site

Each morning we would walk around the campground loops.  Roger is an avid walker, and Linda, Ed, Chris and I would walk with him (and dogs Riley, Sadie, and Gopher).  Morning around the lake is just beautiful.

Sunrise

Just after sunrise

Most evenings we would meet for “Happy Hour” at 4:30 with snacks. One night Roger made ribs for dinner and we all brought sides/desserts.  They were so good, having smoked all day.  The guys (and their dogs) were all available to help Roger put the ribs on the Traeger barbeque:

Guys and Ribs

Ed, Frank (with Buddy), Roger, John (and Sadie), Owen (behind John) and Jim (with Chica)

On another night Owen and Carol made a big pot of chili in a dutch oven over a wood fire at their campsite.  Really delicious, also having cooked all day.

Chili Night

Chili Night

Last night Ken made a Caesar salad.  Plus, he demonstrated how to make it, in a wooden bowl with proper ingredients.  It was fantastic.  I doubt I will be able to have a salad with bottled Caesar dressing anymore.  But, now I know how to make one from scratch in about 10 minutes.  Yay!

Ken's Caesar Salad

Ken’s Caesar Salad

Internet signal is a bit sketchy at the campground, so one day I rode into the town of Abiquiu with Linda to go to the library.  It’s in an old plaza with this lovely adobe church:

Abiquiu Church

St. Thomas Church

I got to ride my scooter around a bit.  It was handy to use to carry my dish from my site up the hill for dinners/happy hours.  Also, I rode around on the nearby roads and checked out the river downstream from the dam.

Abiquiu Reservoir

Abiquiu Reservoir from Hwy 96 overlook

Dam and Power Plant

Dam and Power Plant.  Hwy 96 is above and you can see the road down to the river zig-zag down the dam.

The cliffs along the river downstream are really pretty.

Chama River

Chama River downstream.  Not running too fast, but kind of murky for fishing.

It sure was fun spending a week with friends (and making new ones).  We are heading out tomorrow to Santa Fe for a few days before Albuquerque.  Frank and Cookie, Ed and Carol, and Chris have headed down there already.  I hear gas is just over $3.00 in Santa Fe (under $3 in Albuquerque).  Can’t wait – my last fill up was $3.74 in Poncha Springs, CO.  That’s almost to California prices!

After getting my scooter’s first service done in Santa Fe on Oct. 1st, Riley and I will go to Sandia Casino in Albuquerque.  There we’ll meet Chris from Vermont (Christine) and Carol, who we camped with last fall.  They watched the Balloon Fiesta from Sandia last year with Randy, Laurie, CB, Tish and others but I missed it.  So, I planned to do that this year.  Unfortunately, CB is in Myrtle Beach, and Randy and Laurie are in Arizona.  But, I’m sure Christine, Carol and I will have fun and meet some new folks.  Looking forward to it!

Salida, CO and an Update

First an update – I’m in Santa Fe, NM for some warranty work on the scooter.  It wouldn’t start one day, and rather than drive over to Sportique in Colorado Springs I got an appointment at Centaur Scooters in Santa Fe.  We were already heading to New Mexico to meet some Lazy Daze folks at Abiquiu Reservoir on Sept. 20th, then to Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta in Oct.  I just had to do a little side trip before getting to Abiquiu.  Good news – the problem was a failure by the starter solenoid and was fixed less than 2 hours after I dropped it off yesterday.  They diagnosed it quickly and had a solenoid available to use.  Also, they filed the warranty claim so I wasn’t out of pocket anything and was able to load up the scooter and be on my way.  Sometimes you get an early failure on a part, so I’m not worried about the scooter.  I really liked Centaur when Chris and I visited in June.  We had stopped in there to look at scooters and see about putting a rack on my prior rig (which ended up not being possible).  It seemed like a great mom and pop shop, well stocked and well run.  They sure did well to get me on my way with no delay.  So, I have scheduled my initial 200 mile service with them, before heading down to Albuquerque on Oct. 1st.

Anyway, after Leadville we moved down to Salida.  We had stopped in there for a week or so back in late June, early July.  There is a free BLM boondocking spot just east of town, on the Arkansas River.  Leadville was nice and cool (highs were in the high 60’s, low 70’s), but really cloudy and rainy.  My 85 watt solar panel couldn’t keep my batteries charged with just an hour or so of sunshine per day.  So, Salida seemed like a good next stop, usually sunny, hopefully not too warm at 7,000 feet, plus we had enjoyed it before.   Salida has a Walmart, dump station/water at the Chamber of Commerce and a decent laundromat.  I utilized all of them on the way to the campsite, that way I would be set and not need to move for 10 days.

Salida Campsite

Salida Campsite.  The Arkansas River is right behind our rigs.

Arkansas River at Salida East

Chris had fun fly-fishing in the Arkansas River near our site.

Chris and I unloaded the scooter that afternoon.  I was really excited to have it at this spot, since the town is cool (cute with a funky vibe) and just a couple of miles away.  The next day (9/6) I made a quick trip in to get something at the True Value hardware store.  The next morning was Saturday and I was looking forward to scooting to the Farmer’s Market and the big Fiber Fest (yarn and roving, spinning and weaving, etc.) in Riverside Park.  Unfortunately, the scooter wouldn’t start even though it ran fine the day before.  Everything worked except the starter button.  We checked the battery, fuses, whatever else we could see, but couldn’t find the problem.  I was quite bummed.

Then, I turned on the water heater and it wouldn’t start.  What is up with these failures?!?  I checked it all over, researched online for possible answers, cleaned the connections, etc.  When nothing worked we took the circuit board off of Chris’ unit (same Atwood model) and hooked it up to mine.  It fired right up.  So, it seems I needed a new board.  The RV dealer in nearby Poncha Springs quoted $323 for a new one, but I ordered one from Amazon for $124.  I had it sent to PakMail in Salida – they do package acceptance for $5.  (Some mail can come general delivery to the post office for free, but Amazon usually ships UPS or FedEx, which can’t go to the post office.)

Later in the day I rode into town with Chris in his truck.  We really liked Cafe Dawn downtown and went several times while in Salida.  Afterwards we drove by the park and Fiber Fest was still going on.  It was much bigger than I expected, lots of booths.  There was some really nice yarn, fiber art, felted hats, lots of interesting stuff.  I kept thinking how much our friend Melinda (who is on her way to Balloon Fiesta after summer in Alaska) would have loved it.  I meant to get a picture, but failed.  Here’s a shot I took of our favorite coffee place on July 4th:

Cafe Dawn

Cafe Dawn

Next on my failure tour, the batteries didn’t seem to be holding a charge, even though we had more sunny days in Salida.  Checking the cells with a hydrometer showed the batteries were only 50% charged.  I called my Dad and also my friend CB for advice.   They are both smart engineers and had good info, things to check/do.  Also, I spoke to AM Solar, the servicer for my solar controller.  I decided to check into the RV park next door and plug in for a day or 2 and get up to 100%.  After 2 days one battery was up to 75% and one was still barely above 50%.  There must be something wrong with them.  I had just gotten them at the end of August in Steamboat Springs, so I swung by Napa after leaving the RV park and explained the situation.  They had to order a set that would arrive the next morning as they didn’t keep the 6 volts in stock.  I asked them to put a slow charge on them and I would come by in the afternoon when ready (something I should have thought to do with the Steamboat Napa).  I picked them up Friday, the 13th, and this set seems to be doing fine.

While at the Salida spot Chris and I took the opportunity to wash and wax our rigs.  It takes a while using just buckets of water.  The wax didn’t seem to do well on the silver/grey paint on the part I waxed, leaving swirly streaks where I applied it.  Figures, everything that could go wrong was going wrong lately.  Now I had ruined part of my paint. Terrific.  I read online that 3M makes a restorer for heavily oxidized paints and was able to pick some up at Napa.  Haven’t had a chance to try it yet.  Hopefully it will work OK to restore the silver.  Chris’ rig looks really good all washed and waxed, though.

When I got back to the campsite after leaving the RV park I found that my friend Carol, who I had met in Caballo Lake last year, was camping near us.  I didn’t remember that she was from the Salida area.  She makes really beautiful sets of cloth napkins and potholders and had a booth at the farmer’s markets at Salida.  I drove in to town on Saturday to do the market and run errands. It had been raining for a few days and more was forecast, but it turned out to be a really nice morning, great for the vendors.  I hoped to get some cranberry/almond/cinnamon swirl bread at the baker’s booth.  I had gotten some in July and had lusted for more ever since.  Luckily they had some and I’ve been enjoying it for breakfast.  If you ever get to the Salida farmer’s market look for it, it’s fantastic.

Salida Farmer's Market

Lovely day at the Salida Farmer’s Market

Carol at the Farmer's Market

Carol (on the right) at the Farmer’s Market with her beautiful napkins and potholders.

I really liked Salida.  It’s a good size, has a nice Safeway and a Walmart, walkable area downtown with parks and residential nearby, renovation of historic buildings downtown, etc.  As I said, it’s got a funky vibe.  There are a lot of cool refurbished vintage bicycles that people ride around town (didn’t get a pic), they have thrift shops with names like “Free The Monkey” and “Wanderlust Road”, and houses of different eras are intermingled, like Victorian next to a mid-century craftsman, next to adobe… I loved looking at the houses as we drove into town:

Salida Houses

Salida Houses

Salida House

Salida Houses

Salida’s a town that I could live in, but it’s been ‘discovered’ and real estate seems to be  pretty expensive.  Well, it’s a nice place to visit for now.

House

The little house in the middle with the for sale sign was about $300k!

Just before leaving we had more Lazy Dazers roll in.  John and Linda (and Sadie), who stopped to see us at Rabbit Ears Pass, stopped by on the way to Abiquiu from their home in Colorado Springs.  Also, Frank and Cookie, who I had briefly met in Quartzsite, were traveling with them, so we had 4 Lazy Dazes at the campsite for the night.  It was great to have a visit with them, and we all went out to Amica’s Pizza for dinner.  Great pizza and company, a terrific evening.  Can’t wait to spend time with them and a whole bunch of Lazy Dazers in Abiquiu over the next several days.

Hanging out with Cookie, John and Linda (and Riley and Sadie)

Hanging out with Cookie, John and Linda (and Riley and Sadie)

I think/hope the troubles I have had recently are done.  Sometimes trouble comes in waves.  Hopefully it all doesn’t sound like too much of a bummer.  These things happen, sometimes all at once.  Just the normal life of an RV’er.  It’s all probably less than when I had a house to take care of – when the A/C went out a few times (replacing the whole HVAC was fun), sections of fence falling over in storms, having to fix sprinkler heads, replacing the roof, etc.  You have a moment of upset, breathe, figure it out, maybe replace some piece of equipment, and move on.  Literally – you move on to some new piece of real estate that offers stunning mountain views, or forests, or lakes and rivers.  You move to where the weather is nice and the town is interesting.  It’s all good, and I’m loving it.  🙂