Monday, April 22, 2019

22 April 2019 Amarillo, TX to Grapevine TX

We got on the road by 9:15 this morning. It was a 7 hour drive to Grapevine, mostly along US287. Were staying at The Vineyards RV Resort ($57 with GSC) in Grapevine. It’s the nicest RV park in the DFW area and we stayed here last June before we hit the road. It felt like coming home! We have a busy week ahead. David is working Tuesday and Wednesday. Both of us have Dentist/Doctor appointments while we are in town and we have friends and family to catch up with before we leave on Friday. 

20-21 April 2019 Return to Palo Duro

We thought we would get back down to Palo Duro Canyon State Park on Saturday for a hike. But when we remembered Saturday was National Parks day, given the popularity of Palo Duro, we figured it would be back, so we decided to go Sunday instead. After watching the Easter church service online, we headed down to Canyon for Mexican food Sunday and then on to the park. Being a small town, on Easter, not surprisingly, all the Mexican food restaurants were closed! But we found a cafĂ© that was open and we got lunch. When we got to the entrance for Palo Duro Canyon State Park, we realized we had forgotten something very important, the southwestern tradition of Easter Sunday Family Picnics!. The Park was packed with families having the Easter picnics. Fortunately, the trails we choose to hike were not too busy. We hiked the Paseo Del Rio and a portion of the Rojo Grande trail. Both of these follow the river in the bottom of the Canyon. It was about 2.5 miles total, being at the bottom of the canyon, it was hotter (95-100F) and since the trees had not bloomed out yet, it was very sunny. But it was a fun hike and it felt good to get out and stretch our legs. Critter sighting: A large Road Runner (but no coyote). 
Palo Duro Canyon

On the Trail

Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River at the bottom of the canyon

Cowboy Dugout from the Ranching period

Friday, April 19, 2019

19 April 2019 Capulin, NM to Amarillo, TX

We left Capulin, after saying good bye to our neighbors Deb and Bill, for Amarillo. It’s only a four hour drive, so we were not in a hurry. Were staying at Oasis RV Resort ($53.10 with GSC) west of town. This is our fourth time to stay here. It’s really easy to get to but far enough away from the freeway that there is not a lot of noise. Were only here for three nights as we work our way back to the DFW area. 

18 April 2019 Capulin Volcano National Monument

We waited until the afternoon to drive the short distance to Capulin Volcano NM to let it warm up a bit. The winds were blowing 10-15MPH, which made it a bit chilly. Leslie had been up late the night before, so David was trying to be quiet when he got up in the morning. But when I lit the stove for morning coffee, it went out indicating the propane tank had run out. So, when he went out to switch the tanks, he noticed a leak as he opened the value on the second tank. So he had to work on the leak. Unfortunately the propane tank is right under the bed. After getting it fixed, one of the other folks in the park had to stop by to talk about our rig and then our trucks (Ford verses GMC). As if that was not enough, as David sat down in the RV, the car alarm went off! Poor Leslie didn’t stand a chance of getting back to sleep! 

Around one, we went to the visitor center and collected our 32ndPassport Stamp. Our Americas Park pass had expired so we picked up another year pass and of course watched the park movie.

The land for Capulin Volcano NM was originally set aside in 1891 as the best example of a cinder cone volcano in the continental US. It was made a National Monument in 1916. The last tine it erupted was approximately 30,000 years ago. The area around the NM is very volcanic. All the peaks you can se nearby were older volcanoes (1-3 million years old). Scientists cannot explain why it is volcanic since it is not located on a plate boundary. They suspect it may be an old rift but are not certain. 

We took the park road to the top of the volcano and hiked the rim trail. The views were awesome! You could see forever! The lava flows, pressure ridges and vents were easy to see. In the distance we could see the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The trail was pretty steep but was paved all the way around. We then took the side trail down into the caldron. The wind was blowing 20-25 MPH and the temperatures were pretty chilly, so the wind chill was just barely tolerable.

After leaving the national monument, we drove over to Folsom. Folsom is known as the place where the oldest known indications of human habitation in North America were found in 1908. Several ancient bison bones with a fluted lance flint head embedded in them were found following a flash flood. This established that man had been present at least 8,000 earlier than had been previously believed. The town is now pretty run down. The Folsom Hotel, on the national register of historic places, looks like it is about to fall in on itself.  However, there is a “For Sale” sign in the window.  It definitely needs some serious love!  The storefronts in the downtown look like they have not been used for decades. 

We got back to the park after checking out the general store on the corner and found that we had neighbors from Oregon.  Deb and Bill were very interesting to talk to.  They began RVing full time about a year ago too.  We enjoyed their suggestions and all exchanged information.  They were really fun to visit with and we hope to stay in touch.
Entrance Sign

Caplin Volcano

Lava Fields and other Extinct Volcanoes in the foreground and the Snowy Rocky Mountains in the background

Older Volcanos nearby

Leslie walking through a Lava Field in the cone

Folsom Hotel

17 April 2019 Albuquerque to Capulin NM.

We left Albuquerque feeling like we had to get back on the road, even though it had only been 10 days. We like Albuquerque/Santa Fe and know we will be back many more times. We have driven I-25 between Santa Fe and Albuquerque enough times the last month that we are looking forward to leaving it behind. There were storms that came through early in the morning but cleared out before we got on the road. But as we got north of Las Vegas NM the storms closed back in. For the most part it was light rain, but we could see flashing lights ahead of us. As we came up over a rise, we could see it had sleeted heavily, which probably led to the five-car pileup, which fortunately ended up in the center median. So the road was clear for us. 

We arrived at Capulin ahead of the storms coming through town. There is not much to Capulin, a country store, the RV park and six blocks of mostly derelict buildings. The Capulin RV Park ($29 per night, no discount) was small, but well maintained. It’s basically a big gravel lot with utilities. The owners were really nice and helpful.  They even promoted a local rancher’s grass fed beef. We decided not to purchase ay since it was pretty expensive ($55.00 for 2 T-Bones, Yikes!).  The owner was positive we would love the product so he gave us a pound of ground beef to test. The water comes from an under ground aquifer. The owner explained that since the area was only cattle farms, (no farming, pesticides, or oil drilling) the aquifer was very clean. The water did taste really good.  WiFi was strong and reasonably fast. As for the taste test, we could tell the difference and the flavor was really nice.  As David said, it may not be a big enough difference to pay such a premium price.
Caplin RV Park

Monday, April 15, 2019

15 April 2019 Turquoise Trail

On one of our previous trips to Albuquerque, we had taken the Turquoise Trail (NM14) from I-40 to Santa Fe and we decided it would be a fun thing to do today. We stopped in Madrid and ate at the Mine Shaft Tavern before looking through some of the quirky shops. We took the road all the way up to Santa Fe and then turned around and took it back to I-40. The drive is very scenic and Madrid reminds us of Terlingua.On one of our previous trips to Albuquerque, we had taken the Turquoise Trail (NM14) from I-40 to Santa Fe and we decided it would be a fun thing to do today. We stopped in Madrid and ate at the Mine Shaft Tavern before looking through some of the quirky shops. We took the road all the way up to Santa Fe and then turned around and took it back to I-40. The drive is very scenic and Madrid reminds us of Terlingua.
Madrid Folk Art

14 April 2019 Sandia Cave

Leslie had been researching trails in the Sandia Mountains and found a short trail that leads to the Sandia Man Cave. The Sandia Man Cave, is an archaeological sitewithin Cibola National Forest. First discovered and excavated in the 1930s, the site exhibits evidence of human use from 9,000 to 11,000 years ago. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961.The Sandia Cave is located on a steep side wall of Las Huertas Canyon, on the north side of the Sandia Mountains. Some of the remains recovered in the cave include mammoth, mastodon, sloth, horses, and ancient camels, as well as many mammal and bird species that survived the end of the Pleistocene period.

We took NM145 nine miles where the pavement ended and an unimproved dirt road began. The first mile, the road was not to bad but the further we went the rougher the road became. Not a problem for our truck, but there were other folks on the road in vehicles without enough ground clearance (including a Minicooper). About two miles in we found the parking lot for the cave trail. There were quite a few people taking the trail. Its only a ½ mile walk one way, but you have to climb several steps of cement stairs, then transition along a narrow ledge cut in the cliff face (don’t look down!) where you come to a metal spiral staircase that climbs up to a metal platform outside the cave. When we got to the spiral staircase, we could see there were a lot of people in the cave, so we waited at the bottom until some of them had made their way down. The stairs and platform are metal grid so a lot of people were having issues with vertigo on them. We made our way up to the cave. There was evidence of numerous fires in the cave (It looked like someone had camped in it recently as well). It was a bit small, and the back of the cave leads into a complex of caves in the cliff, but the back of the cave was blocked by a rock wall to keep people out of the cave complex. Other than that, there was not much to see. After returning to the truck we decided to continue up the dirt road which was called the “Sandia Crest Scenic Byway”. We don’t know much about it being a byway, in fact it was pretty washed out and rutted, but it was scenic! As we climbed in altitude there was even snow on the edges of the road.
Scenery on the Cave Trail

The ledge to the bottom of the spiral staircase

The view down the staircase

Inside the Sandia Cave

Leslie in the cave mouth

David in the cave