Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Carrizo Plains NM - 05/31/16 - Santa Margarita, CA

Tuesday – May 31, 2016
Carrizo Plains National Monument
Selby BLM Campground
Santa Margarita, California

Our travel from Barstow, California towards Cayucos, California on CA-58 was uneventful. When we reached Tehachapi, California (some miles east of Bakersfield) we were treated to magnificent views of the surrounding mountains. This is the Tehnachapi Summit, elevation 4064 feet. The summit is marked just east of the town. The eastbound descent is gradual and spread out over a great distance. The westbound descent from where the summit is marked begins with almost 3 miles of nearly flat road. At this point there are warning signs – "Trucks—steep grade and sharp curves ahead" and "Steep grade next 14 miles." The total descent is almost 22 miles in length, with 55-mph curves and 4% to 6% grades. Make sure you have good brakes traveling through this region of California!

Forty-three miles east of Santa Margarita on CA-58, we discovered free camping at the Selby BLM Campground located within the Carrizo Plains National Monument. This will be our home-base for two nights.

Three hundred years ago, California’s Central Valley was vast grassland where antelope and elk grazed and wildflowers swept the spring landscape. Today, amid urban and agriculture development, a remnant remains in the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

Carrizo Plain National Monument is one of the best kept secrets in California. Only a few hours from Los Angeles, (43 miles East of Santa Margarita on California Highway 58), the Carrizo Plain offers visitors a rare chance to be alone with nature. The plain is home to diverse communities of wildlife and plant species including several listed as threatened or endangered and is an area culturally important to Native Americans.

This remote monument, traversed by the San Andreas Fault, which has carved valleys, created and moved mountains, and yet up close, is seen in subtle alignment of ridges, ravines and normally dry ponds. Prominent features on the monument include the white alkali flats of Soda Lake, Painted Rock, vast open grasslands, and a broad plain rimmed by mountains. When conditions are right, numerous wildflowers can carpet the valley floor; although short lived it can be breathtaking.

Soda Lake, normally a dry lakebed, is one of the dominant geographic features of the Carrizo Plain. It is the largest remaining natural alkali wetland in southern California and the only closed basin within the coastal mountains. As its name suggests, Soda Lake concentrates salts as water evaporates, leaving white deposits of sulfates and carbonates that look like baking soda.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Travel Details:
Departed: Yermo, California
Departure Time: 9:55 A.M.
Arrived: Carrizo Plains National Monument
Arrival Time: 5:55 P.M.

Campground: Selby
Type: BLM
GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: N 35.12783
Longitude: W 119.84171
Elevation: 2547 Feet
Camping Fee: Free
Campsite: 13
Campsite Hookups: None
Campground Amenities: Water Spigots, Vault Toilets, Picnic Tables, Grills
Total Campsites: 13

Cellular Service: Verizon – No Service
Internet Service: Verizon Jetpack – No Service
Dish TV Satellite Service: Spotty Service

Total miles traveled today: 235
Route Traveled:
South on Interstate 15
West on California Highway 58
South on Soda Lake Road (15.5 miles)
West on Selby Road to Campground (4.5-mile gravel road)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Calico Ghost Town - 05/30/16 - Yermo, CA

Monday – May 30, 2016
Calico Ghost Town
Yermo, California

On an earlier trip in April 2016 through Barstow, California, we spotted a sign on Interstate 15 directing travelers to the Calico Ghost Town. We made a mental note to visit it on our return trip to Barstow in May 2016.

Calico is an old West mining town that has been around since1881 during the largest silver strike in California. With its 500 mines, Calico produced over $20 million in silver ore over a 12-year span. When silver lost its value in the mid-1890's, Calico lost its population. The miner's packed up, loaded their mules and moved away abandoning the town that once gave them a good living. It became a "ghost town."

Walter Knott purchased Calico in the 1950's architecturally restoring all but the five original buildings to look as they did in the 1880's. Calico received State Historical Landmark 782 and in 2005 was proclaimed by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to be California's Silver Rush Ghost Town.

Today Calico is part of the San Bernardino County Regional Parks system visited by people from around the country and all over the world. The park offers visitors an opportunity to share in its rich history and enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding desert environment. Along with its history and attractions, Calico Ghost Town has shops, restaurants and offers camping and outdoor recreation.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Travel Details:
Departed: Barstow, California
Departure Time: 10:15 A.M.
Arrived: Yermo, California
Arrival Time: 10:45 P.M.

Campground: Calico Ghost Town
Type: County Park
GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: N 34.94550
Longitude: W 116.86120
Elevation: 2249 Feet
Camping Fee: $35.00 ($30.00 for Senior’s 62+)
Campsite: E14
Campsite Hookups: Full Hookup, Electric Only, and No Hookup
Campground Amenities: Water Spigots, Flush Toilets, Free Showers, Dump
Total Campsites: 265

Cellular Service: Verizon – 3G-1 Bars
Internet Service: Verizon Jetpack – 5 Bars
Dish TV Satellite Service: Excellent Service

Total miles traveled today: 20
Route Traveled:
North on Interstate 15 to Exit 191 – Ghost Town Road
North on Ghost Town Road to Campground

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Barstow, CA - 05/29/16

Sunday – May 29, 2016
Outlets of Barstow
Barstow, California

We stopped in Barstow for the night. On a previous visit to Barstow, we inquired at the Visitor Center, located in the Outlet Mall, if overnight RV parking was permitted within the mall and we were told it was all right to do so. So we will spent the night here once again.

There is a large gravel area on the west side of Lenwood Road, east of the outlet mall, that is available for RV and truck parking. On this visit there were a few campers there, riding their dirt bikes and ATV’s throughout the area. The noise and dust kicked up by these off-road vehicles made for an easy decision to choose the quiet confines of the Outlet Mall parking lot.

Barstow is a city in San Bernardino County, California. The town is named after William Barstow Strong, former president of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The population was 22,639 at the 2010 census.

Barstow is located 55 miles north of San Bernardino, 62 miles from Baker, California and 111 miles from Primm, Nevada. Barstow is almost exactly midway between Los Angeles, California (130 miles) and Las Vegas, Nevada (125 miles).

Barstow is a major transportation center. Several major highways including Interstate 15, Interstate 40, California State Route 58, and U.S. Route 66 converge in the city. It is the site of a large rail classification yard, belonging to the BNSF Railway. The Union Pacific Railroad also runs through town using trackage rights on BNSF's main line to Daggett 10 miles east, from where it heads to Salt Lake City and the BNSF heads to Chicago.

Barstow is home to Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow and is the closest city to the Fort Irwin National Training Center.

Barstow is a weary traveler’s paradise. Numerous hotels, truck stops, fast food restaurants, and outlet mall shopping dominate this small town, surrounded by a desert environment.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Travel Details:
Departed: Flagstaff, Arizona
Departure Time: 8:35 A.M.
Arrived: Barstow, California
Arrival Time: 3:35 P.M.

Camping Site: Outlets of Barstow Parking Lot
Cellular Service: Verizon – 4G-2 Bars
Internet Service: Verizon Jetpack – 5 Bars
Dish TV Satellite Service: Excellent Service

Total miles traveled today: 379
Route Traveled:
West on Interstate 40
South on Interstate 15 to Exit 179 – Lenwood Road
South on Lenwood Road to Outlets of Barstow

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Twin Arrows Casino - 05/28/16 - Flagstaff, AZ

Saturday – May 28, 2016
Twin Arrows Casino Resort
Flagstaff, Arizona

We spent a wonderful two days exploring the Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Chinle, Arizona. Based on a spur-of-the-moment decision, this visit proved to be one of our most memorable adventures.

After a hearty breakfast at the Navajo Indian operated Denny’s in Chinle, we were off to explore new territory in Northern Arizona. Our Arizona Atlas showed Arizona Highway 264 as a scenic route. Even though this added considerable extra mileage to our route to Flagstaff, we could not resist the urge to explore scenic route 264. We were not disappointed!

Along route 264, the traveler is introduced to the Hopi Indian Tribe and their culture. Indian communities along this route are separated by Mesa’s. As you descend from atop one Mesa into a magnificent, panoramic view of an expansive valley, perhaps a thousand feet below, several miles ahead is the ascent onto the next Mesa.

Arizona Highway 264 ends at Tuba City, Arizona, where the traveler picks up U.S. Highway 160. This is an appropriate place to refuel, before continuing on your journey. We stopped for fuel at the TUUVI Travel Center. To my amazement, I spotted a sign there that advertised they had fresh made FryBread (two pieces for $6.00). Sharon made a dash inside and purchased two pieces. We washed them down with a caramel frappe from McDonalds. While we were in Chinle, we searched in vain for FryBread while on the Navajo Reservation. We finally found some while in the Hopi Indian Tribe section of Arizona. Life is good!

We made a stop at the Walmart in Flagstaff to pick up a prescription for Sharon. While traveling south on U. S. Highway 89, about fifteen miles north of Flagstaff, I spotted a sign for the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. They have a campground there, so we decided to go back north on U.S. Highway 89 and check it out. The campground was crowded, but there were still six campsites available. There was very little privacy between campsites, so we elected to exercise our Plan B – Twin Arrows Casino Resort. We were able to view the Sunset Crater Volcano… so that made the trip worthwhile.

Sunset Crater is a cinder cone and is the youngest in a string of volcanoes that is related to the nearby San Francisco Peaks. The date of the eruptions that formed the 1,120-foot high cone was initially derived from tree-ring dates, suggesting the eruption began between the growing seasons of A.D. 1064–1065. However, more recent geologic and archaeological evidence places the eruption around A.D. 1085. The largest vent of the eruption, Sunset Crater itself, was the source of the Bonito and Kana-a lava flows that extended about 1.6-miles northwest and 6 miiles northeast, respectively. Additional vents along a 6.2-mile fissure extending southeast produced small spatter ramparts and a 4 mile-long lava flow to the east. The Sunset Crater eruption produced a blanket of ash and lapilli covering an area of more than 810 square miles and forced the temporary abandonment of settlements of the local Sinagua people. The volcano has partially revegetated, with pines and wildflowers. Since the last eruption of the volcano is a recent occurrence, it is considered dormant by volcanologists. (credit: wikipedia)

We arrived at the Twin Arrows Casino Resort to find immense, separate parking areas for RV’s and Semi-Trucks. We secured a secluded spot in an area with other RV’s. This will be our home for the night. Did I mention… overnight parking is free, with 24-hour roaming security! Thank you Twin Arrows Casino Resorts!

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Travel Details:
Departed: Chinle, Arizona
Departure Time: 10:30 A.M.
Arrived: Flagstaff, Arizona
Arrival Time: 6:15 P.M.

Camping Site: Twin Arrows Casino Resort (I-40, Exit 219)
Cellular Service: Verizon – 4G-2 Bars
Internet Service: Verizon Jetpack – 5 Bars
Dish TV Satellite Service: Excellent Service

Total miles traveled today: 293
Route Traveled:
South on U.S. Highway 191
West on Arizona Highway 264
West on U.S. Highway 160
South on U.S. Highway 89
East on Interstate 40 to Exit 219

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Canyon de Chelly - 05/24/16 - Chinle, NM

Tuesday – May 24, 2016
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Chinle, New Mexico

This segment of our trip takes us to the Canyon de Chelly (pronounced "Shay"). The Cottonwood Campground, located on the Navajo Indian Reservation, will be our home-base while we explore this majestic canyon in northeastern Arizona.

Private vendors offer hiking, back-country camping, horseback, and 4-wheel-drive vehicle tours into the canyon with an authorized Navajo Indian guide. The White-House trail, a 2.5-mile round-trip trail, is the only place where a visitor can enter the canyon without a permit or an authorized Navajo guide.

People have lived in these canyons for nearly 5,000 years – longer than anyone has lived uninterrupted elsewhere on the Colorado Plateau. The first residents built no permanent homes, but remains of their campsites and images etched or painted on canyon walls tell their stories.

The Chronology of Human History at Canyon de Chelly:
Archaic 2500-200 BCE (Before Common Era)
The earliest people lived at seasonal campsites in rock shelters. Small mobile groups made hunting and gathering expeditions, covering familiar territory on the canyon floor and upland plateau.

Basketmaker 200 BCE-CE 750 (Common Era)
About 2,500 years ago a fundamental change occurred in how people lived here. Instead of relying on hunting and gathering, a group called Basketmaker, named because of their extraordinary weaving skills, learned how to farm. They farmed small fields of corn, squash and beans in corners of the canyons and on the mesas. These people became more sedentary and built communities of dispersed households, large granaries, and public structures.

Pueblo 750-1300
About 1,250 years ago the dispersed hamlets gave way to a new kind of settlement – the village. These people raised turkeys for food and grew cotton, a crop that led to new weaving technique.

The villages offered opportunities for social interaction, trade, and ceremony. These Puebloan people crafted beautiful pottery and created a landscape that was useful and spiritual.

Hopi 1300-1500
Puebloan life ended here about 700 years ago. Drought, desease, conflict, and possibly other factors led the people to leave the canyon. They moved south and west, establishing villages along the Little Colorado River and at the southern tip of the Black Mesa. In time, these people became the Hopi.

Navajo 1700-1863
The Navajo, an Athabaskan-speaking people, entered Canyon de Chelly about 400 years ago. They brought domesticated sheep and goats and a culture tempered by centuries of migration and adaptation. Canyon De Chelly was known throughout the region for its fine cornfields and peach orchards planted on the canyon floors.

Tranquility ended in the late 1700s as warfare erupted among the Navajo, other tribes, and Spanish colonists. The Navajo took refuge in Canyon De Chelly’s serpentine canyons, fortifying trails with stone walls, sheltered in rock alcoves, and stockpiled food and water. Spanish, Ute, and U.S. military parties breached these defenses, leaving death in their wake.

The Long Walk 1863-1868
In 1846, the U.S. Army subdued Mexican forces, claiming present-day Arizona and New Mexico as U.S. territory. For the next 17 years conflict among the Indian tribes continued, and so did military expeditions into Navajo territory. In the winter of 1864, U.S. military troops entered the eastern end of Canyon de Chelly and pushed the Navajo toward the canyon mouth. Resistance proved futile; most Navajo were captured or killed. A bitter, humiliating trial awaited those Navajo who survived the ordeal. Forced to march over 300 miles, called The Long Walk, to Fort Sumner in New Mexico territory, scores perished from thirst, hunger and fatigue. Their years of internment at Fort Sumner were no kinder. Poor food, inadequate shelter, and disease brutalized the survivors. In 1886, the U.S. government allowed the Navajo to return home to rebuild their lives.

Trading Days 1868-1925
The Navajo returned home to find their hogans, crops, and sheep gone. Food distribution centers like the one at Fort Defiance in Arizona territory, helped the Navajo recover. Trading posts became focal points for Navajo communities – places where people could exchange news, discuss problems, and trade their jewelry, rugs, and crafts for staples.

Canyon de Chelly, then and now, is the epicenter of Navajo culture. People who live here retain that spirit of their ancestors. Traditional beliefs are reflected in everyday life – in how Navajo care for their families, live-stock, and homes, and how plants are collected for ceremonial, medicinal, and traditional uses. Each person’s well being contributes to the health of the family and community. This perspective helped the Navajo people recover from the trauma of the Long Walk.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Travel Details:
Departed: Gallup, New Mexico
Departure Time: 09:45 A.M.
Arrived: Chinle, Arizona
Arrival Time: 12:30 P.M.

Campground: Cottonwood (5-Day Maximum Stay)
Type: Navajo Nation
GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: N 36.14917
Longitude: W 109.54127
Elevation: 5492 Feet
Camping Fee: $14.00 (Cash Only – No Checks or Credit Cards)
Campsite: 46
Campsite Hookups: None
Campground Amenities: Water Spigot, Flush Toilets, Dump
Total Campsites: 93

Cellular Service: Verizon – 3G-3 Bars
Internet Service: Verizon Jetpack – No Service
Dish TV Satellite Service: Excellent Service

Total miles traveled today: 94

Route Traveled:
North on NM Highway 491
West on NM / AZ Highway 294
North on AZ Highway 191 to Chinle, AZ

East on Navajo Route 7 to Visitor Center / Campground

Monday, May 23, 2016

Gallup, NM - 05/23/16

Monday – May 23, 2016
Gallup, New Mexico

We spent a delightful three days exploring Santa Fe, New Mexico. This segment of our trip will take us to Chinle, Arizona, with a stopover for the night in Gallup, New Mexico.

We settled in among ten other RV’s and a few semi-trucks at the 24-hour Walmart in Gallup, New Mexico. This Walmart has roving security. The west side of the parking lot is the preferred overnight spot for RV’s and semi-trucks.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Travel Details:
Departed: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Departure Time: 11:00 A.M.
Arrived: Gallup, New Mexico
Arrival Time: 5:00 P.M.
Camping Site: Walmart-24 Hour

Cellular Service: Verizon – 4G-4 Bars
Internet Service: Verizon Jetpack – 5 Bars
Dish TV Satellite Service: Excellent Service

Total miles traveled today: 207
Route Traveled:
South on Interstate 25
West on Interstate 40 to Gallup, NM

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Santa Fe, NM - 05/22/16

Sunday – May 22, 2016
Santa Fe, New Mexico

We have really enjoyed our multi-day visit exploring Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Friday morning was spent at the Santa Fe Library, Main Branch, accessing the free WiFi. This is an older library and we found some of the electrical outlets did not work. We spent the afternoon taking a driving tour of the downtown Plaza. During our tour we discovered The Chocolate Smith, specializing in Craft Chocolates.

We indulged our passion for chocolate and purchased the following chocolates:

  • Petite Dark Raspberry-Rich Chocolate Ganache’
  • Hand Dipped Dark Raspberry Chocolate
  • Dipped Ginger Sake Soaked Chocolate

Saturday morning was spent at the Santa Fe Library, La Farge Branch, accessing the free WiFi. This appears to be a newer library and better suited our creature comforts while accessing WiFi. We spent the afternoon doing a walking tour of the downtown Plaza.

Sunday morning we visited the Santa Fe Ski Area. The ski area is at an elevation of 10,300 feet, located eight miles from our campground, Black Canyon Campground, within the Santa Fe National Forest. There was still some snow remaining on some of the ski runs. One hearty, die-hard skier was hiking up the mountain, with skis strapped to his backpack, looking to make perhaps his final run for the season.

Sunday afternoon we visited the downtown Plaza. The Plaza was filled with visitors, enjoying the spectacle of a car show. On display were Classic Cars, Funny Cars, Muscle Cars and an awesome Custom Built Motorcycle.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Santa Fe NF - 05/19/16 - Santa Fe, NM

Thursday – May 19, 2016
Santa Fe National Forest
Black Canyon Campground
Santa Fe, New Mexico

We spent a delightful four days in Socorro and San Antonio, New Mexico, sampling the world’s best green chile cheeseburgers. It is time to move on to our next adventure.

This segment of our trip takes us to Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Capitol of New Mexico, to explore the historic culture this wonderful city has to offer. Santa Fe had a population of 69,204 in 2012. It’s renowned for its Pueblo-style architecture, the historic district’s crooked streets, it’s traditional Plaza, and as a creative arts hotbed.

Santa Fe (meaning "holy faith" in Spanish) is the capital of the state of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state. This area was occupied for at least several hundred years by indigenous peoples who built villages. The city of Santa Fe, founded by Spanish colonists in 1610, is known as the oldest state capital city in the United States and the oldest city in New Mexico. The city's full name when founded was La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís (The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi).

The area of Santa Fe was originally occupied by indigenous people. They built a number of Pueblo villages about 1050 to 1150. One of the earliest known settlements in what today is downtown Santa Fe came sometime after 900. A Native American group built a cluster of homes that centered around the site of today's Plaza and spread for half a mile to the south and west; the village was called Ogapoge. The people settled along the Santa Fe River for its water and transportation.

While visiting Santa Fe our home base will be the Black Canyon Campground in the Santa Fe National Forest, located about eight miles north of Santa Fe.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Travel Details:
Departed: Socorro, New Mexico
Departure Time: 11:15 A.M.
Arrived: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Arrival Time: 2:00 P.M.

Campground: Black Canyon
Type: National Forest
GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: N 35.72791
Longitude: W 105.83967
Elevation: 8,450 Feet
Camping Fee: $10.00 ($5.00 with Golden Age Passport)
Campsite: 31
Campsite Hookups: None
Campground Amenities: Water Spigots, Vault Toilets
Total Campsites: 36

Cellular Service: Verizon – No Service
Internet Service: Verizon Jetpack – No Service
Dish TV Satellite Service: No Service (dense tree coverage blocking satellites)

Total miles traveled today: 144
Route Traveled:
North on Interstate 25 to Exit 282 B-A
Bishops Lodge Road
Artist Road (NM-475 to Campground)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

San Antonio, NM - 05/18/16

Wednesday – May 18, 2016
San Antonio, New Mexico

In our ongoing quest to sample the finest green chile cheeseburgers New Mexico has to offer, we revisited the Owl Bar and Café on Monday and the Buckhorn Tavern on Tuesday. In 2014, the Food Network, aired a segment on establishments in New Mexico that serve up the very best green chile cheeseburgers in the state. The Owl Bar and Café, and the Buckhorn Tavern were two of the establishments profiled. Our first, very enjoyable, visit to each was in April 2015.

The Escondida Lake Park, where we are camped, is located eight miles north of San Antonio, New Mexico on Interstate 25. The campground provides a convenient location, while visiting San Antonio.

One might ask, what is so special about New Mexico green chile cheeseburgers? A key ingredient is the green chilies grown in Hatch, New Mexico that are used in the cheeseburgers. The quality of the green chilies are crucial, it makes all the difference in a green chile cheeseburger. A full-flavored, chopped hot green chile sits atop a hand-formed gnarled patty of crusty-fried beef topped with a slice of cheese that melts into the chile and the crevices of the hamburger. The chile's heat is complemented by the beef and balanced by the layer of creamy cheese on top. Now that’s a green chile cheeseburger!

On this visit to the two establishments, we gave first place to the Buckhorn Tavern for the best green chile cheeseburger. In April 2015, we gave first place to the Owl Bar and Café.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Socorro, NM - 05/15/16

Sunday – May 15, 2016
Socorro, New Mexico

We spent a delightful three days in Pie Town, New Mexico, sampling homemade pies from three of the four pie shops in town. Our limited stay here did not permit us time to sample the pies from the Pie Source Homestead Café. Alas, it is time to say adios, until our next visit to this wonderful town, sitting on the Continental Divide, at an elevation of 7800 feet.

This next segment of our adventure takes us to Socorro, New Mexico. The Escondida Lake Park will be our home base, while we sample the World’s best Green Chile Cheeseburgers in the nearby town of San Antonio, Mexico. New Mexico is renown for it’s superb green chile cheeseburgers.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Travel Details:
Departed: Pie Town, New Mexico
Departure Time: 8:40 A.M.
Arrived: Socorro, New Mexico
Arrival Time: 11:20 A.M.

Campground: Escondida Lake Park
Type: County
GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: N 34.12300
Longitude: W 106.88904
Elevation: 4,603
Camping Fee: $18,00
Campsite: 7
Campsite Hookups: Electric (30 amp), Water, Sewer
Campground Amenities: Restroom with flush toilets, playground, small fishing pond.
Total Campsites: 8

Cellular Service: Verizon – 4G 3 Bars
Internet Service: Verizon Jetpack – 5 Bars
Dish TV Satellite Service: Excellent

Total miles traveled today:
Route Traveled:
East on U.S. Highway 60
North on Interstate 25
North on New Mexico Highway 408
East on Escondida Lake Road to campground

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Pie Town, New Mexico - 05/12/16

Thursday – May 12, 2016
Pie Town, New Mexico

In April 2015, we visited Pie Town, New Mexico for the first time. It is a small town, probably less than a 1/4 mile in length, with a population of 153, located on the Continental Divide of New Mexico, at an elevation of 7800 feet. We learned about Pie Town while watching a segment on CBS News Sunday Morning that was broadcast on November 30, 2014. We really enjoyed our first visit to this, small, quaint, New Mexico town and put it on our list of places to revisit. So… here we are again! Let's have a slice, or two, of pie!!!

Our Home Base - Jackson Park Campground

Aerial View of Jackson Park Campground

Last year, three establishments served homemade pie: PIE-O-NEER, Pie Town Café and the Pie Source Homestead Café. On this visit to Pie Town, a fourth establishment, serving homemade pie, opened for business in June 2015: The Gatherin' Place for Pie -N- More.

The pie shops schedule their days and hours of operation to accommodate one another.
PIE-O-NEER: Thursday-Friday-Saturday / 11:30 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Pie Source: Monday through Thursday / 9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Pie Town Café: Sunday through Wednesday / 10:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M.
The Gatherin’ Place: Open 7 Days / 7:30 A.M. – 6:00 P.M.

The Pie Shops of Pie Town

Pie Town has a total of six business establishments: Four pie shops, the U.S. Post Office, and a home builder (Log, Stick & Steel). The town is 1.4 miles in length on U.S. Highway 60, measured between the Pie Town eastern and western sign posts.

Aerial View of Pie Town

Many families have been baking pies in Pie Town since the 1920’s. In 1995 the Knapp family, while traveling through New Mexico, happened upon Pie Town. They stopped at the local pie shop to get a piece of pie. Much to their dismay, the shop was closed with a sign on the door that read: "There used to be pie in Pie Town, but there ain't no more — FOR SALE."

Wendi Knapp and her mother had a rich tradition in pie making from their days of baking all kinds of pies at the Cozy Corner Café in Rochelle, Illinois. On November 11, 1995, the For Sale sign was gone and three generations of the Knapp family (Wendi, Kathy, Mary – mother, daughter, granddaughter) started baking pies in Pie Town. This was the genesis of the pie shop: PIE-O-NEER. It is located near Mile Marker 56 on the north side of U.S. Highway 60.

The saying "If You Build It, They Will Come" eventually came true. Word of mouth, a CBS News Sunday Morning broadcast, Albuquerque, NM news segments, and several Travel magazines, all featuring Pie Town, bring people from around the United States and the World to this unique piece of Americana. Every second Saturday in September, Pie Town hosts a Pie Festival. As many as 3,000 people attend this one-day event. Vehicles park on both sides of U.S. Highway 60, for a mile in each direction, according to one pie shop owner, and wait in long lines outside of each of the four pie shops for a slice of pie.

We look forward to an enjoyable multi-day event, sampling pies from each of the four establishments!

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Historic Buildings of Pie Town

Relics of Pie Town

Travel Details:
Departed: Holbrook, Arizona
Departure Time: 7:40 A.M.
Arrived: Pie Town, New Mexico
Arrival Time: 10:30 A.M.

Campground: Jackson Park
Type: County
GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: N 34.29755
Longitude: W 108.12993
Elevation: 7788 feet
Camping Fee: Free (3-night limit)
Campsite: GPS Coordinates
Campsite Hookups: None
Campground Amenities: Port-A-Potty Toilets, Trash Barrels, Water Spigot.
Total Campsites: Several unmarked campsites.

Cellular Service: Verizon - 3G, 2 Bars with Signal Booster
Internet Service: Verizon Jetpack – No Service Available
Dish TV Satellite Service: Excellent

Total miles traveled today: 138
Route Traveled:
East on U.S. Highways 180 / 191
East on U.S. Highway 60 to Pie Town, NM

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Painted Desert - 05/11/16 - Holbrook, AZ

Wednesday – May 11, 2016
Painted Desert
Holbrook, Arizona

We sent a delightful day on Tuesday exploring the Petrified Forest National Park. Today we explored the Painted Desert, which is part of the Petrified Forest National Park. The Petrified Forest National Park lies within an area south of Interstate 40. The Painted Desert lies within an area north of Interstate 40.

The Painted Desert is marked by mounds of colorful clays, statuesque hoodoos, and rippling sand dunes. Mostly dry streambeds scratch its surface, but buried in the rock is a world-class store of fossils dating to the Age of the Dinosaurs.

The Painted Desert is home to a fascinating variety of living animals and plants, some unique and all supremely adapted to the high grass and shrub desert. It is also home to the Hopi and Navajo people.

The Painted Desert remains a relatively unstudied and little known area. It is treated as a stepchild of the Great Basin, one of the four great Northern American drylands. Botantists consider the Painted Desert an outlier of the Great Basin because of the plant life they hold in common. Plants however, are few and far between here. Vegetation maps, officially show the Painted Desert as "barren land" because greenery conceals less than five percent of the surface. Shrubs only large enough to shade a jackrabbit, and grasses, make up most of the ground cover.

The Painted Desert is a veritable outdoor museum of fossilized treasures. Great stores of petrified wood have made it famous, and in places the ground is littered with chips of these 225 million-year-old trees glistening in the sunlight.

Within the Painted Desert resides the Painted Desert Inn. Built of petrified wood and other native stone was the vision of Herbert David Lore. Lore registered the inn with the land office in 1924, fulfilling his responsibilities under the Homesteading Act.

For almost twelve years, Lore operated the "Stone Tree House" as a tourist attraction. The Stone Tree House was an oasis in the Painted Desert. Visitors could eat meals in the lunchroom, purchase American Indian arts and crafts, and enjoy a cool drink in the downstairs taproom. Six small rooms were available for two to four dollars per night.

Unfortunately, the inn was built on a seam of bentonite clay. As the clay expanded and retracted in response to changes in moisture, the foundation of the inn shifted, resulting in cracks forming in the walls, with resultant water damage.

Petrified Forest National Monument purchased the Painted Desert Inn in 1936. In the 1930s the Desert Inn was redesigned to a Pueblo Revival Style construction, featuring stuccoed masonry, thick walls, earth tones, flat roofs, and projecting roof beams. During the 1930s, the civilian conservation core (CCC) rebuilt the inn to its present design.

The Painted Desert Inn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Petrified Forest - 05/10/16 - Holbrook, AZ

Tuesday – May 10, 2016
Petrified Forest National Park
Holbrook, Arizona

We spent a delightful, sunny day, with the temperature in the middle seventies, exploring the Petrified Forest National Park. Visitors to the park follow a 28-mile park road for an amazing journey; reminiscent of a landscape on another world.

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed legislation creating Petrified Forest National Monument. The monument became a national park in 1962.

Ancient Arizona was a hot, humid, lush green environment. During the Triassic Period, 225 million years ago, this was a tropical landscape with abundant vegetation. Early dinosaurs and reptiles roamed the area; fish, clams, snails, and crayfish moved through rivers; giant, 180-foot conifers reached to the skies.

Over the past 200 million years continents moved, regions uplifted, climate changed, and the river system, along with its plants and animals, was buried by layers of sediment. Wind and water have continually molded, sculpted, and peeled back these layers, providing a glimpse of the once tropical land that occupied this region of Arizona.

Petrified wood, remnants of a prehistoric forest, sparkle like precious gems in the sun, as they dominate the landscape in some regions of the Petrified Forest National Park. Colorful specimens, from small shards to massive trunks are strewn across the landscape. In some areas of the park, fossilized trunks are visible, in other areas they remain hidden, still buried under layers of soil and rock. As the trees died or were knocked down by wind or water, many were carried downstream and buried by layers of sediment. The sediment consisted of: silt, mud, sand, and volcanic ash, which protected them from decay. Mineral-laden ground water percolated through the layers, carrying silica from the volcanic ash and other trace minerals. The absorbent dead wood became saturated with these minerals. The silica, or quartz, crystals slowly bonded with the cells of the tree replicating the organic material in perfect detail. Eventually, silica replaced the wood material. The different minerals create the rainbow of colors seen in many specimens.

The Petrified Forest National Park protects hundreds of significant archeological sites. Humans have been living and working here for the past 13,000 years. The record of human occupation ranges from small single-room field houses to villages where hundreds of people lived. Phenomenal rock art sites are scattered throughout the park.

The Petrified Forest National Park is considered the world’s largest concentration of highly colored petrified wood.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Holbrook, AZ - 05/09/16

Monday – May 9, 2016
Holbrook, Arizona

We spent a delightful six days exploring Prescott, Arizona, while camped at the White Spar Campground in the Prescott National Forest. The weather was pleasant upon our arrival on Tuesday and remained so through Thursday. Sunny skies with temperatures in the seventies prevailed through Thursday, then a cold front entered the area on Friday, plummeting the temperature into the low sixties, with partly sunny skies. Saturday and Sunday were equally chilly, with overcast skies and intermittent rain showers. It is time to move on to northern Arizona where sunny skies and temperatures in the middle seventies await our arrival.

This segment of our trip takes us to Holbrook, Arizona. This will be our home base while we spend a few days at the Crystal Forest Campground, exploring the Petrified Forest National Park.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Travel Details:
Departed: Prescott, Arizona
Departure Time: 6:50 A.M.
Arrived: Holbrook, Arizona
Arrival Time: 12:20 P.M.

Campground: Crystal Forest Gift Shop
Type: Private
GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: N 34.792559
Longitude: W 109.890737

West Side of Road: $10.75
Campground Amenities: Electric, Picnic Tables
Our Campsite: 7
Campsites: 10

East Side of Road: Free
Campground Amenities: Picnic Tables Only
Campsites: 5
No Water, Trash Dumpsters or Sewer Dump at Either Campground

Cellular Service: Verizon - 4G, 3 Bars
Internet Service: Verizon Jetpack, 5 Bars
Dish TV Satellite Service: Excellent

Total miles traveled today: 208
Route Traveled:
East on Arizona Highway 69
North on Arizona Highway 169
North on Interstate 17
West on Interstate 40 to Holbrook (Exit 285)
East on U.S. Highway 180 to Petrified Forest Road

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Prescott, Arizona - 05/05/16

Thursday – May 5, 2016
Prescott, Arizona

We spent a delightful day touring Prescott. Since we arrived on Tuesday, 5/03/16, the weather has been delightful. We have enjoyed sunny days with temperatures in the middle seventies.

Prescott, Arizona was founded in 1864. The city was named after historian, William Hickling Prescott. The city is the county seat of Yavapai County. The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe reservation is located adjacent to and partially within the borders of Prescott. According to the 2010 United States Census Bureau, the population of the city is 39,843.

In 1864 Prescott was designated as the capital of the Arizona Territory. The Territorial Capital was moved to Tucson in 1867. Prescott again became the Territorial Capital in 1877, until Phoenix became the capital in 1889.

Prescott, together with other towns within Yavapai County, comprises a population of 211,073 as of the 2010 United States Census Bureau. This is the third largest metropolitan area in Arizona, after Phoenix (4.2 million) and Tucson (1 million).

Prescott has a large, beautiful town square, showcasing a historic courthouse in the middle of the square. A variety of shops, bars and restaurants reside within the Town Square. One of the streets on the square, Montezuma Street, has long been known as "Whisky Row" for the numerous saloons which one lined the street. On July 14, 1900, a disastrous fire started by a miner’s candle destroyed the four blocks around the square. Within a few days of the fire, new construction was underway in brick and masonry. Most of the buildings on Montezuma Street were rebuilt between the fall of 1900 and 1905, in the styles typical of early 20th century buildings.

Prescott’s cooler climate, at an elevation of 5,368 feet, is a popular destination for visitors from Phoenix, Tucson and other southern areas of Arizona during the summer months. They come to Prescott to escape the triple digit temperatures from their region during the summer months.

Prescott is a tourist friendly destination. There are lots of things to do: Hiking, Biking, Walking Tours, Shopping and Dining. There are weekly and ongoing events. Every weekend, cultural events are scheduled within the Courthouse Plaza. While we were there, the 30th Annual Prescott Fine Arts & Wine Festival was taking place.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Prescott National Forest - 05/03/16 - Prescott, AZ

Tuesday – May 3, 2016
Prescott National Forest
Prescott, Arizona

We spent a delightful seven days in Las Vegas and enjoyed our time sampling the cuisine from four restaurants featured on Diners, Drive In’s and Dives in March 2016. Now, it is time to move on to explore out other interesting places.

This segment of our adventure takes us to Prescott, Arizona. In a recent survey of the best cities to retire, Prescott was voted as number two on the list. While we are waiting for the weather to warm up in northern California, Oregon and Washington, we will check out Prescott.

Prescott is a small town with a population of 39,843, according to the 2010 Census. It is located in a mountainous region in central Arizona, at an elevation of 5,368 feet, somewhat surrounded by the Prescott National Forest.

We will spend six days exploring Prescott, while camped at the White Spar Campground in the Prescott National Forest.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Travel Details:

Departed: Boulder City, Nevada
Departure Time: 8:05 A.M.
Arrived: Prescott, Arizona
Arrival Time: 12:45 P.M.

Campground: White Spar
Type: National Forest
GPS Coordinates: Latitude: N 34.50900 Longitude: W 112.47700
Camping Fee: $14.00 (50% discount with Golden Age Passport)
Campsite: 12
Campsite Hookups: None
Campground Amenities: Vault Toilets, Trash Dumpster.
Free Dump Stations: Affinity RV Dealer in Prescott, Prescott Water Treatment Facility, Affinity RV Dealer in Prescott Valley
Total Campsites: 59

Cellular Service: Verizon - 4G, 3 Bars
Internet Service: Verizon Jetpack, 5 Bars
Dish TV Satellite Service: Excellent

Total miles traveled today: 227
Route Traveled:
South on U.S. Route 93
East on Interstate 40
South on Arizona Highway 89 to White Spar Campground

Monday, May 2, 2016

RoadKill Grill - 05/02/16 - Las Vegas, NV

Monday – May 2, 2016
RoadKill Grill
Las Vegas, Nevada

We saved John Mull’s RoadKill Grill for our final dining experience, before departing Las Vegas. When we viewed the segment on the RoadKill Grill, featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in March 2016, we were intrigued and looked forward to a visit to Las Vegas.

The RoadKill Grill cannot be categorized as a restaurant. There is no inside dining, all food is consumed on the outside, at picnic tables. But do not let that inhibit you from visiting this establishment. The BBQ is outstanding!!!

As you enter the RoadKill Grill, there is a narrow isle, you order the BBQ and sides on one side and order fresh cuts of Beef, Pork, Lamb, Rabbit, Buffalo Patties and Frog Legs on the other side of the isle.

I ordered the Brisket Dinner with sides of Mac & Cheese and Cole Slaw.

Sharon ordered the Pulled Pork Dinner with sides of Baked Beans and Cole Slaw.

Oh… did I mention we ordered a slab of BBQ Ribs to-go? Yep... we did!!!

The RoadKill Grill is located in a residential neighborhood. We were getting a bit concerned that our GPS coordinates were incorrect. We were being taken on a serpentine route through one residential neighborhood after another. But, in the end, our trusty GPS guided us directly to the RoadKill Grill. It was indeed, located within a residential neighborhood!

Across the street from the RoadKill Grill is a home with three horses, grazing in a very small grass yard. Adjacent to the grass yard is a small, circular, sand-based, exercise yard for the horses. It was interesting to see this scenario in a residential neighborhood.

The BBQ was outstanding! RoadKill Grill will definitely see us again on our future visits to Las Vegas.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.