Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sage Coyote Farms, September 27-28

I call it the "Ranch" but Conlan and Gayle have given the Guerin Ranch the name of Sage Coyote Farm.  It is the second season for the organic garden and they are still learning what works and sells and what doesn't.  It's alot of of work and they supplement their income with Gayle driving the school bus part-time and Conlan picking up odd jobs (currently working for a guide for the hunting season).

They started out with pigs and yaks.  The pigs were a special grazing breed and suppose to reach maturity within a year.  Well it took more than a year to reach maturity and it's only been a few months since the first few were sent to the processor.  It's a learning process.  Funny story: When the pigs were first purchased, Conlan neutered all the he thought.  Understand, Tierra Amarillo is about a three hour drive to the nearest processor and when Conlan took the first pig to the processor she was pregnant and couldn't be processed.  Conlan returned to the farm and found the culprit and he was sent to the processor.  He found nearly all the sows were pregnant and had to wait until they gave birth and fatten up before he could return to the processor.  Now he is trying to sell all the little piglets because he has decided the pigs take up too much of his time and are not that profitable.  Live and Learn.

A couple of the fully grown pigs which are being fattened up before going to the processor.

 These are the babies which are about six weeks old

Since I visited last spring the farm acquired 12 head of Devon cattle and laying chickens.  The chickens are doing well and usually sell out at the farmers market. Meat from the cattle is bringing a high price and Gayle usually sells out of vegetable at the farmers market.

The cattle are a beautiful ruby color.

The horses and donkeys are thriving. Donkeys?  They are actually "guard" donkeys and Gayle adopted them to protect the pigs.  However, the donkeys decided to pick on the picks and are now pastured with the five horses. They will kick and tramp on the coyotes if they try to bother the horses or cattle.  In addition the farm houses five dogs (three of which were foster dogs and nobody would adopt them) and three "working" cats.

My favorite are the four yaks: Pavi the bull, T-Bone the steer that keeps Pavi company, and Charlotte and Lucy the females. All are just about a year old and not fully grown yet and will take another year before they are fully grown.  Conlan has worked with the yaks so they are extremely tame and social.  His goal is to eventually halter them and use them as working animals as well as breeding stock when old enough. These guys are  to valuable to  and will not be heading for the processor anytime soon.


Time on the farm is always too short for me but we are moving on to Balloon Fiesta with a short over night stop in Santa Fe.  We will be in Albuquerque for almost two weeks before heading back north.

We will be with the Escapee Boomers for the next two weeks and crewing for the Keystone Willie balloon during the event.  There will be two other couples from the Boomers who will also be crewing.  Well, this will definitely be a new experience, so stayed tuned.  If you are in the area, stop in and say hello.

Pagosa Springs and Creede, September 25, 2015

There is a private Rodeo Grounds at the intersection of Highway 160 and Highway 84 which advertised $5.00 donation for overnight stay.  We parked the Beaver and explored Pagosa Springs to look for an over night parking spot.  I've been there many times as it is one of the closest towns for services to my son's ranch in Tierra Amarillo in New Mexico, so our exploration was limited to the local brewery.  The hot springs are nice, but require an all day time commitment in order to justify the cost, and we are anxious to continue south.  When we returned to the Beaver the campground host told us we had to leave because we didn't have reservations and their insurance did not allow for overnight parking.  Apparently the $5.00 donation was for hunters or travelers who have stock and need to overnight.

I went across the street to the TS tractor supply and received permission to park overnight behind their building. I was also told it would be OK to park on the dirt road that ran adjacent to the back of the building.  We moved and parked in the field adjacent to the dirt road only to be told a few hours later by a scary looking gentlemen we had to move and that the dirt road and field were part of his property and not TS.  So far, Southern Colorado has not been very RV friendly.  I should mention that we did check out several RV parks in the immediate vicinity and at $47.00 per night, it simply doesn't make since  when the site will only be occupied for 8 hours.

The next morning we moved the Beaver  down the road and parked it for the day and headed off to Creede.

On the way to Creede we stopped at Big Meadow Campground.  The fall colors were beautiful and the morning was calm, perfect for photos.  The lake was smooth as glass.

Creede is an old mining town and is capitalizing on its "gold rush" status.   There are lots of little shops and a self guided driving loop.  We drove part of the loop and had lunch but didn't spend a whole lot of time in town.  I think all these little towns are starting to look a like and I had been to Creede several years ago.  It has gotten much more touristy since my last visit.

We headed back to Pagosa Springs and hooked up and headed off to my son's ranch,  Sage Coyote Farm  aka known as the Guerin Ranch in  Tierra Amarillo.  It is less then 90 miles and I really don't want to stay in a community where I am not welcome.  Although I was at the farm last spring, I'm still anxious to see my son and daughter-in-law and some of the new stock they recently acquired.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Silverton, Colorado, September 23, 2015

Durango was the next stop and we arrived around lunch time. Durango has several nice RV parks but at $47-$60 per site it is simply doesn't make sense to stay in a "resort" when we are not going to be there during the day. We checked out the Fairgrounds and it appeared to be the perfect place for an overnight stay. Hook ups were also available.  When we checked with the office we were told that the park was  full.  We explained we didn't need hookups, and would like to dry camp,  but we were told no dry camping was allowed and reservations were a must these days.  (This information was totally contrary to what our sources indicated) Well, there is a Walmart.

Walmart had signage everywhere stating no overnight parking but there were other RVs parked in the lot.  It doesn't hurt to ask so I spoke with Customer Service. At this point it was raining hard and I explained we didn't feel comfortable drive any further in the rain.  Customer Service Ok'd parking towards the back.

We settled in and then made a quick trip to the Historic District and a quick dinner.  Durango looks like a fascinating old town.  The Historic District is full of upscale stores and eateries and appears very clean.  If it hadn't been pouring rain, we would have spent more time exploring the old district.

The next morning  we moved the Beaver to the visitor center parking, and  headed out for a day trip to Silverton in the tow vehicle.  Up until now the aspen had just started to turn, but on the way to Silverton and in the town of Silverton, the fall colors were at peak performance.

Yep, the colors are real and not photo shopped.

Silverton is an old mining town with lots of charm, but one of it's main attractions is the narrow gage railroad which travels from Durango.  The train leaves Durango in the morning and stops in Silverton around lunch time for two hours before returning to Durango.  We arrived in Silverton just after the train arrived and before it left again.  The streets were busy with tourists, but I expected it to be much more crowed.

Silverton. Note the Durango Silverton train at the bottom of the picture.

The colors of the trees were brilliant

Silverton is known for extreme skiing.  Note just some of the runs on the ski hill
A short drive out of town brings you to  Eureka Mine. The road to the mines is part of the Alpine Loop which is a favorite with the Jeepsters and ATVers.  I'm pretty sure I took my Jeep on part of the Alpine Loop several years ago and if my memory serves me, the road is not to bad.
More dramatic scenery in the mining district, including a water fall.
 One of the old mines. Note the car of 60's or 70's genre at the bottom of the picture.

More interesting scenery.

Next stop about 60 miles down the road at Pagosa Springs Colorado.

McPhee Resevoir Campground, Telluride, and Mesa Verde NM, September 19-21

McPhee Reservoir is located a few miles from Dolores, Colorado and is a wonderful little campground. There were few campers there due to the lateness of the season.  The campground host was pretty firm that we not say any later than through the weekend as he had been there since April and was closing down the campground on Monday. We assured him we were only staying for a few days.

Since we arrived early in the day I took the opportunity to go to Cortez a few miles down the road and do laundry and hit up a McDonalds for wifi.  Wifi has been the pits lately, which is why all my blogs are posted several weeks after the fact.

The next morning we headed up to Telluride.  It's not that far, but I've been on scenic byway several times and it is not fun driving it in a large motor home.  I had hoped to go all the way to Ouray and drive on the Million Dollar Highway, but there were signs the pass was closed.  We did stop and Lizard Head Pass on the way.

 More evidence that Fall is here.
The scenery is very dramatic on the way up to Telluride

A Blues and Brew fest was in progress so the little resort town of Telluride was hopping and parking was at a premium.  While looking for a spot to eat our picnic lunch we happened on the Gondola which traveled up and over the mountain to Mountain City.  It was free! AND pets were allowed on the Gondolas.  Tara had her first gondola ride!.  We found a spot to picnic and walked around the village before riding the gondola back down the mountain  to town.

We also checked out the old mine at the end of town and the Bridal Veil Falls (not as dramatic as the ones in Yosemite and I didn't take any photos.

Mesa Verde NM is a short distance from Cortez, and the next day we drove over to the Monument. A new visitor center has been constructed and  it is quite modern  and beautiful but a bit of a disappointment because the main focus is on selling ticket tours to the cliff house ruins.    Unfortunately, many of the cliff houses were closed  for the season so we decided to not participate in any of the tours but to explore the main road into the park.  We'll return another time.  While late September is an ideal time to travel because the crowds are less, the down side is many things close after labor day which is too bad in a year that has had such great weather.

One of the vistas from the road towards the ruins.
 This statue greets you at the entrance to a brand new visitor center.  The photo is of a Native American climbing the cliffs. It is taken from the back side.  He is carrying a large basket.
 We returned back to the campground and made preparations to leave for our next stop: Durango.

Red Rock Country, September 18, 2015

I think one of the most beautiful drives in the South West is the stretch from the beginning of I-70 going east to Grand Junction, Colorado.  There are several view points showing off the magnificent Red Rocks. We didn't go as far as Grand Junction this time but turn south on Utah's Highway 191 towards Moab and  Monticello which is also a beautiful drive. I've been to Moab, Arches, Canyonland many times so did not stop this time and continued on to Monticello, which made for a fairly long day.  The last few stops have been less than 100 miles apart.

 From one of the view points looking south towards Moab

Some of the Red Rocks along Highway 70 in Utah.

There are several nice forest service camp grounds outside of Monticello on Harts Draw Road which provided a perfect place to park for the night. We were directly across from Dalton Campground.  Harts Draw Road continues on to the Needles District of Canyon Lands and we took a quick drive to Newspaper Rock  which is actually a State Park. We ended parking in a staging area which large enough to accommodate the Beaver. While setting up, some locals stopped by and we started up a conversation with them.  They said the area was under utilized and basically only used by locals.  Shh.  I won't tell anybody.

View from Harts Draw Overlook towards Canyonland

View towards to east and the La Sal mountains east of Moab.

We continue our journey south and our next stop with be somewhere around Dolores, Colorado. which is less than 75 miles.

Great Basin National Park, September 14-17, 2015

Great Basin NP used to be one of the most under utilized NP in the system.  Ely, Nevada is the nearest town with any services.  I stayed at Great Basin in early May of 2006 on my way to Moab and there was still snow on the ground then, and I have always wanted to go back and hike to the top of Wheeler Peak.  Back then only one campground was open and I was tent camping and I think there was only one other camper in the campground. Since then, a new visitor center has been constructed and a new camp ground has been established near Wheeler peak.  However, the road to Wheeler Peak campground advises again trailers or vehicle over 25 feet.  I guess, this remote park is getting a little more popular now that there are more sites and a nice, new visitor center.

Luck was on our side and Lower Lehman Campground had a few sites that accommodated the Beaver.  The sites in the other campgrounds were more for tent camping or truck camping.  Sites at Great Basin are a bargain at $12.00 or half price for "oldies".  

The little town of Baker which sits near the entrance to the park has a few provisions and gas but you pay dearly for them.  I paid almost $4.00 for a head of lettuce.  This place is remote.
Lehman Caves is one of the main attractions (along with the Bristle Cone Pine and Wheeler Peak)at Great Basin and a bargain at $10 for a 90 minutes tour ($5.00 if you have the "oldies" pass). There are few restrictions in taking pictures, unlike other caves I have visited.

Rain showers arrived and shrouded Wheeler Peak so I was unable to hike Wheeler Peak this time. The peak is prone to thunder and lightening, so it would not be the smartest thing to do.

 The aspens are starting to turn with signs that Fall is just around the corner.  It seems summer just started.

There are several trail that that lead through the Bristle Cone pine trees which are the oldest trees known.  However, due to the rain I didn't explore them this time, but the short nature trail at the end of Wheeler Peak road  had lots of aspen trees just starting to turn color.

Of course the sun came out the next morning, in time to leave.

We continued on Highway 50 with a quick overnight stop at Salina, Utah.