Posts Tagged With: New Mexico

Boondocking at the City of Rocks

Well we finally did it! We bought a generator and tried boondocking for the first time. Boondocking or dry camping is camping with no hookups, meaning no electricity, no water and no sewer. We have done no sewer many times, and even went without water a couple of times where we just had to fill our water tank before we got to the campsite, but this was the first time camping without electric. We quickly learned what we could and could not do with the generator. For instance, we learned we can’t use the A/C at all, and we can use the microwave oven briefly (like maybe 30 seconds). The coffee maker works, but you can hear the strain on the generator. Most campgrounds don’t want you running a generator all night, and we wouldn’t really want to run it that long anyway, so the nights are very dark and quiet.

All in all our first attempt at boondocking went very well. We had beautiful weather, and we couldn’t have picked a better place to try this out.


Campsite among the rocks.

One of the benefits of boondocking is being able to camp in some pretty amazing spots out in the middle of nowhere.

City of Rocks State Park is in Faywood, New Mexico. We stayed at this park a couple of years ago in an electric and water hookup site, but these sites tucked in among the rocks are so much better! At night the skies were so dark we were able to see so many stars!

We had an interesting experience when we first pulled up to our site. A minivan was already parked there. I figured someone just stopped for a few minutes to take pictures or something so I got out of the truck to let them know we needed to pull into that site. The guy that was already there barely spoke English so I had a hard time communicating with him, but he basically said he was staying in that site and we were welcome to join him if we wanted to. Okay, that’s never happened before. This site was a reservation only site and I knew we had reserved it and there weren’t really that many sites in the park that we could fit in with our big rig. So I called the Visitor Center where I had just checked in and let the ranger know about this awkward situation. She sent some park rangers out to deal with it. They let us know that the guy just didn’t understand he couldn’t take reserved sites, so he went to find another one. Still, it made us feel really uncomfortable because it was like we had him kicked out of that spot, but what else were we supposed to do? He was only in a minivan and could basically fit in any site, and we didn’t really have any other options.

After that uncomfortable start, it took us FOREVER to get leveled in this site because it was on a slope. Finally we got set up and learned how to use the generator. Then we had a nice surprise! Our good friends from Ditching Suburbia just happened to be passing through this area on their way back to Texas and stopped in to spend the night with us.


Hanging out with Mike & Crissa Boyink of Ditching Suburbia

We enjoyed beautiful sunsets and wide open spaces at this campground.




Our campsite had a cute little nook tucked in the rocks with a picnic table and fire pit.



Fat Cat liked climbing on the rocks.



This park has a whole bunch of rocks to climb on, it’s like a playground of rocks!











Our campsite is way back there in a cluster of rocks

City of Rocks was such a fun place to try out our first time dry camping. Now I guess we’ll have to get more adventurous and seek out some free BLM lands to camp on.

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Cochiti Lake Recreation Area

While visiting northern New Mexico we stayed at Cochiti Lake Recreation Area.  This has got to be the most beautiful site we have ever had.  I could never get tired of these views!





The morning after we got there we woke up to a very cold morning and an amazing view of snow-covered mountains off in the distance.


I was super excited to find out that the Boyink family of Ditching Suburbia was staying at the same campground for the first few days we were there.  I have been following their blog since before we “ditched suburbia”.  What a treat to have the chance to meet them in person and get to know them better.


Just before we took this picture with them, we got to admire this awesome rainbow.



There was so much to see and do in this area, and no way to see and do it all in the time we were there.  I guess we’ll just have to come back again someday.

While there we did make it to several fun places including Tent Rocks National Monument, Santa Fe, and the Turquoise Trail.  They all have their own blog posts.

We also met up with some other Fulltime Families in the area for a couple of roadschooling field trips.  It’s always fun to find out there are other FtF’s nearby.  We went to the ABQ BioPark Zoo in Albuquerque.





And the Explora Science Center also in Albuquerque.





I sure will miss the spectacular view at this campsite, but at least I know we’re moving on to more spectacular views.  I love this nomadic life and the constantly changing scenery!


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Tent Rocks National Monument

Tent Rocks in Cochiti, New Mexico is one of the coolest places we have hiked.  It almost ranks up there with Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon, a couple of our favorites from last year.  Beautiful views, rock climbing and a slot canyon all add up to awesomeness!





We had never hiked through a slot canyon before.  A slot canyon is a narrow passageway between tall cliffs and rocks.  You have to be very careful not to hike through those when there is any chance of rain because flash flooding has been known to occur in these narrows and hikers have unfortunately been trapped and killed in places like this when that happens.  We hiked here on a day with no rain in the forecast.






The view from the top was incredible!  My pictures really don’t do it justice.




Jesse is trying to stuff a pine cone in a hole in the rock and Jake is just looking silly.




This park is pretty small and the hike only takes about an hour or two.  There is also no Junior Ranger program or Visitor Center here.

For such a small park, it really was an incredible hike! I love being back out west where we can hike in places with views unlike anything I have ever seen.

Categories: National Parks, New Mexico | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Drive Down the Turquoise Trail

We drove along the scenic Turquoise Trail between Santa Fe and Albuquerque.  There are a few cute towns with shops and places worth stopping for a visit.

Our first stop was in the town of Cerrillos.  There wasn’t much going on in this town, but we did find a gift shop with a petting zoo that the boys loved.


Jesse really didn’t like the animals slobbering on his hands.


Jake didn’t mind.




Then we stopped in the town of Madrid which had a lot more going on.  This town was a little crowded and it was harder to find a parking spot for the big truck.

There was a cute little spot called Connie’s Photo Park where we took lots of these types of pictures.








There were lots of cute gift shops like this one.


And we stopped at Jezebel’s old fashioned Soda Fountain for some milk shakes.  Yummy!


We continued down the trail to the drive up to Sandia Crest.  Tinkertown was a cute museum that we stopped at along the way.  This is a collector’s paradise.





I think that Mark Twain might have liked our traveling lifestyle based on this quote.



We made it up to Sandia Crest which is more than 10,000 feet above sea level.  It was freezing cold up there so we didn’t stay long.  We were all wearing shorts because it was in the 70’s down in Albuquerque, but in the 40’s up on this mountain.



The most exciting part of the day for the kids was finding snow up on the mountain.  They only wished they had worn warmer clothes and shoes so they could have played in it longer.




And the least exciting part of the day was a flat tire on the truck.  My goodness it seems we have been keeping the tire companies in business lately!  And Chris has become quite the expert at changing tires.


At the end of the trail we got to Albuquerque where we rode on the portion of historic Route 66 called the Musical Highway.  For about 1 mile you can hear the song America the Beautiful playing as you drive along the road.  I really didn’t believe we would hear anything, but we did and we could hear it very clearly.  It was so cool!

We had planned to visit Old Town Albuquerque but the flat tire put a wrench in those plans.  Once we were fixed up and back on the road we were all ready to find some dinner and then head home for the night.

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Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is a very interesting and cultural town.  I loved the look of all the little adobe houses and buildings.


We parked at the visitor center that had plenty of space for a big truck.  Then we walked around and looked at some of the interesting sights.  First we saw the oldest church building in the USA.



Then we visited the Loretto Chapel with the Miraculous Stairway.


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The story behind this staircase is that the when the chapel was built in 1873, no access had been provided to the choir loft 20 feet above the chapel floor.  The Sisters used the chapel daily for Mass but were unable to use the choir loft.  Legend has it that the Sisters asked local carpenters to build a staircase, but none of them had the skill to build a circular staircase, and the chapel is too small for a standard staircase.  So the Sisters prayed for 9 days straight to St. Joseph.  On the 9th day a gray haired, bearded carpenter with a donkey came to the chapel and built the staircase. The reason they call it miraculous is because it was constructed without the use of nails or a center support.  The railing was added later in 1887.  The carpenter who built the staircase needed total privacy and locked himself in the chapel for 3 months.  When he was finished he was gone, so nobody knows his identity.  But the staircase is truly a work of art.

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We took a break for lunch and had the best pizza at Upper Crust Pizza on the Old Santa Fe Trail. Yum!!

Next we visited the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.


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Then we walked down Canyon Road where there are several art galleries.





Santa Fe is beautiful and I’m glad we had the chance to visit it.  We usually steer clear of cities due to difficulty finding places to park a big truck and we are not exactly fans of large crowds.  Crowds and traffic come with big cities so we usually avoid them, but this was a fun city to visit and on a Saturday it wasn’t that crowded at all.

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My New Favorite State is Colorado

After leaving Bryce Canyon, we had planned to stay at Lake Powell for a week.  Lake Powell is in both Utah and Arizona.  We stayed on the Arizona side at the Wahweap Campground.  Lake Powell is so beautiful and the water is so incredibly blue!  Unfortunately it was over 100 degrees when we were there so we only stayed for 3 days.  I hear all the time about how the heat in Arizona is a “dry heat”.  I don’t care what they call it, when the temps get over 100, it is pretty darn hot.  And in an RV it seems worse because during the heat of the day, even running two A/C’s, we just can’t keep it cool.  There are many interesting places to visit at Lake Powell including Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and the dam and hanging gardens at Glen Canyon.  We are planning to come back out west next year and definitely want to return to Lake Powell to see all those places we missed this time because it was just too hot.




After Chris & I were finished working each day this is what we were doing.  That lake water felt heavenly after melting in the heat of the RV all day.


Since we decided to cut this trip short, we moved on to Colorado.  I absolutely love Colorado!  It is incredibly beautiful and the weather is fabulous!  Of course I may not think so in the winter, but it was wonderful in the summer.  On our way there we made a stop at Four Corners Monument.  This is the spot where the four states of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado meet.  It was pretty cool to be able to be in all 4 states at one time.





In Colorado we visited the super cute town of Telluride.  We took some advice from Trip Advisor and parked at the parking garage in Mountain Village.  The parking garage was plenty big enough for our dually truck and only costs $7 for the day.  From the parking garage you can ride the free gondola into Mountain Village where there are lots of shops, restaurants and lodging.  Mountain Village is at the bottom of a mountain biking trail (it’s a ski area in the winter time).  People were riding their bikes down the mountain and then they hook their bikes to the gondola to ride back up the mountain.  I definitely want to come back with bikes and do that someday.  That looked like so much fun!

When the bikers get off the gondola at the top of the mountain, you can get off and take some pictures and walk some trails.  Then you can get back on the gondola and continue down into Telluride.  I wanted to do a 5 mile hike to Bear Creek Falls so we didn’t do any extra hikes near the bike trails.  The hike to the falls was a strenuous 2.5 mile hike up the mountain, then an easy 2.5 miles back down.  When we were almost to the falls we heard thunder and it started drizzling, but we were determined to get there after having already walked most of the way.  At one point Jake got really tired and said he needed to stop and rest.  Just before we stopped to rest we finally saw the falls which gave us that extra energy we needed to make it the rest of the way.  It was cold and drizzling a little, but still worth the hike to see it.

View from the gondola ride.


View from the top of the mountain where the mountain bikers start.



View from the gondola on the way down to Telluride.


The cute little town of Telluride.



At the start of our hike we had no idea how hard it would be.  I mean it’s only 5 miles round trip, right?  How hard can that be?


Views from our hike up to Bear Creek Falls.  It’s still a nice sunny day.





It’s getting cloudy and we’re starting to hear thunder, but we’re not stopping now!



Time for a rest.


We made it, the beautiful falls!




View looking back down.


Resting on the way back down.


I loved Telluride and definitely would like to go back there again for mountain biking in the summer and snow skiing in the winter.

The next day we visited Mesa Verde National Park.  This park has lots of cliff dwellings where Native Americans lived a few hundred years ago.  It was really cool to see their homes, walk through the rooms and imagine what it must have been like living there.






Junior Rangers with a Big Ranger.



Hiking down to another cliff dwelling.








Mesa Verde has many vista points where you can see the other 3 states of the Four Corners.


Earning another Junior Ranger badge.  We just love the Junior Ranger program.  Jake and Jesse are learning so much of our nation’s history doing these programs.  This is Roadschooling at it’s best!


We stayed at Mesa Verde RV Park right across the street from the national park.  The views from our campsite were amazing and the weather was perfect!




One thing I really wanted to do while we were in Colorado is ride an alpine slide.  My parents took my sister and me to some alpine slides in New England when we were kids.  It was so much fun and I would love to take our kids to one.  Durango Mountain Village has an alpine slide, so Chris took an afternoon off work so we could go.  Unfortunately we got there and found out they changed their summertime hours and are now only open on weekends.  We were so disappointed!  Thanks to another Fulltime Family blog though I found out there is an alpine slide in Gatlinburg, TN and we are planning to go there later this year, so hopefully we’ll get another chance at the alpine slide thing.  🙂

We only just scratched the surface of visiting Colorado, visiting just the southwestern portion of the state.  And if we were not on our way to the Fulltime Families “Not Back to School Roadschool” rally in Missouri, we would have stayed longer.  There is so much more to see and Lord willing, we will be back for a much longer stay someday.

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White Sands National Monument

While visiting Las Cruces, NM we went to visit White Sands National Monument for a day.  It was an amazing thing to see!  I felt like we were back in Florida at the beach with all the sand dunes, but there was no ocean.  Just sand, and lots of it.  The sand is so white that it looks like snow and you can even go sledding on it.  So that’s what we did.  We spent the day sledding in shorts, how strange is that?  And what made it even better was spending the day here with another Fulltime Family.

This is our truck driving through the snow sand.  I even saw tractors that plow these roads.













The FtF mascot Rambler got to go for a few sled rides…



Beautiful white sand for miles and miles…







The beautiful Reyes family, we love them!


Chris teaching the roadschool lesson for the day…


Getting the Junior Ranger badges…


New vests to display all the Junior Ranger badges they are earning…


Back at the campsite in Las Cruces wearing their new badges…


We have been blessed to be able to spend a week with the Reyes family.  We had so much fun with them at Carlsbad Caverns that they joined us for a couple of nights at the RV park in Las Cruces.  And since that wasn’t enough we joined them at City of Rocks State Park for a couple of nights.  We went our separate ways this morning, but we hope to meet up with them again someday soon.  But before leaving Michele gave me a wonderful gift, the picture below that she took of our RV under a sky full of stars…


Categories: National Parks, New Mexico | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

I am currently blogging at 62 MPH.  Driving days are good days to get caught up on stuff like this.

We visited Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico yesterday and it was awesome!  We hiked the natural trail down into the cave and hiked all the trails underground and then rode up the elevator.  It was really cool to see stores, a restroom and an elevator underground!  The caves are home to a lot of bats, but unfortunately we were there a week too early for the evening show of bat flights out of the cave that I heard was really cool to watch.


Entrance to the cave:




It’s hard to get good pictures in a cave, but a few of them came out okay.


Doing some roadschooling, learning about stalactites and stalagmites:













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Jake and Jesse earning their Junior Ranger badges:



One of the best parts about our visit was we got to enjoy it with another Fulltime Family (FtF), the Reyes Family.  We love when we get to spend time with other FtFs.  FtF has a traveling mascot named Rambler.  Rambler travels around with a family, going on adventures around the country  until that family meets up with another FtF and passes him off.  So now we are the honored caretakers of Rambler for a little while.  We’ll take him on our adventures with us until we meet another FtF down the road that would like to take him for a while.  Jake and Jesse are so excited to have him for now.




We really enjoyed visiting this park and I hope we’ll be able to come back someday and see the bat flight.

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