Find us on Google+ Rick and JoAnne's RV Travels: June 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Camping with Grandkids - Two Weeks in Bliss!


We just spent the last two weeks at Mueller State Park in Divide, Colorado with the first week dedicated to our grandson Caleb, and then the next week to our granddaughter Ella.
We had so much fun seeing the sites, doing crafts, fishing, hiking, playing games, and plain old-fashioned camping!

There is so much to see and do in the area and for the past two years we have covered just about all of the sites in the Colorado Springs, Divide area.  And for the past two years we have been witness to tragic wild fires while camping. Thankfully, the campground was not affected, but there were times the smoke was present. We feel so sad for those who lost their homes or were displaced, and even suffered a loss of life.

The pictures tell the story way, way better than I can begin to….hope you enjoy them as much as we did making them!

We leave for Glacier National Park and our camp hosting assignment the first part of July and since we are “on the road” nine months of the year, we truly look forward to our time catching up with family and friends from May until July, given we won’t see them again until the holidays.

If you are in Montana and the general area of Glacier, please stop by and say hello. We will be in the Apgar campground, Site A2 from July 25 to October 1.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Los Alamos, Pecos, Fort Union, Home

This post is a continuation of “Where in the World Are Rick and JoAnne” and #4 in my effort to bring our journal up to date.

Los Alamos

Before pulling out of Bandelier, a trip to Los Alamos was on our list. After our visit to the Trinity Site we wanted to learn more about the Manhattan Project and Los Alamos and in Particular visit the Historical Museum and the Bradbury Science Museum. Los Alamos is home to the Los Alamos National Laboratory which was founded to carry out the Manhattan Project.

At the time of the Manhattan Project Los Alamos was a “secret city” – officially, it did not exist. But it was where the first atomic bomb AKA the “gadget” was produced. We found everything about this town and the lab from the location on top of a mesa on the Pajarito Plateau, the history, to the ongoing role in scientific research fascinating.

The father of one of our friends worked on the Manhattan project. We were able to look him up in the registry at the Science Museum – that was pretty cool and in a sense made the whole visit feel more “real”. In fact, our friend told us that her mother’s wedding dress had been made from silk parachute remnants her dad had picked up while working on the Manhattan project.

Both museums are jam packed with the history told through hands-on exhibits, computer simulations, personal journals, and videos.

More pictures here.


 After leaving Bandelier we headed for Pecos National Historical Park. Nope, we didn’t stop in Santa Fe. We have been there several times and so decided to pass it up on this trip.

 Pecos is part of the continuing migration story of the Pueblo people. While there is evidence of pre-pueblo people settling in the area between 800 -1100, it became an impressive 5 story pueblo village/fortress by 1450 with upwards of 2000 inhabitants. As the cultures such as Chaco declined it is thought that possibly the Pueblo people moved into the Rio Grande and Pecos Valleys.
Pecos history is directly linked to the Conquistador Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, followed by the “Cross and Crown” strategies of the Spanish referring to both the desire to colonize the area for Spain and through the Franciscan missionaries claiming souls for God. Pecos played key roles in both the Pueblo revolt of 1680 and the Reconquest by Diego de Vargas. The last survivors left the mission in 1838. Today, their decedents live in the Jemez Pueblo about 55 miles northwest of Albuquerque.

Considering the many pueblos we had visited on this swing through Arizona and New Mexico, this was a perfect Pueblo to end with. For us, it helped link the ancient Puebloan cultures with the Pueblos of today.

More pictures here.

Fort Union

Transitioning from the Puebloan history to a different era landed us at Fort Union National Monument. This Fort, like several others built along travel routes in the Rio Grande Valley was established to protect travelers and serve as a supply garrison. Fort Union was a major stop along the Santa Fe Trail. Along with Fort Craig it played a role in the Civil War battle of Glorieta Pass which succeeded in turning the Confederates back and ending Civil War activity in the Southwest.

The fort participated in the Indian wars of the 1860s and 1870s and continued as a supply depot until the Santa Fe Railroad replaced the Santa Fe Trail as the main avenue of commerce.

There isn’t much left of the fort and one can only imagine the dusty and windy existence its inhabitants faced.

More pictures here.


We have been home in Broomfield since May 1. What have we been doing?

First, we use this “home” time to catch up on yearly physicals, eye and dental appointments – we now have clean teeth, new glasses and best of all a clean bill of health.

Yet, the main reason we plan on being back in Colorado at this time of year is to spend time with our kids and grandkids during their summer vacation. This year was extra special because we had two granddaughters graduate from high school!

More photos here and here.

Adding to the “special” classification was a trip to Florida's Sanibel Harbor Marriott Resort and Spa to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday. My Mom’s birthday also gave us an excuse to have a family reunion. Thirty-three showed up - it was all great fun. BTW – my mom and dad read this blog, are on Facebook, and use an iPhone 5!

More pictures here.

We had time to sneak in a short kayak paddle in the "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge."

We are now getting ready to leave for a Mueller State Park for a weeklong camping adventure with grandson Caleb. Then the following week we will be back at Mueller State Park with granddaughter Ella. More on these trips as they unfold.

After camping with our grandkids we will be heading back to Glacier National Park. We start our volunteer camp hosting on July 25 but are going to leave three weeks before that and travel up through Idaho.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Aztec Ruins, Chaco Culture and Bandelier

This post is a continuation of “Where in the World Are Rickand JoAnne” and #3 in my effort to bring our journal up to date.

Aztec Ruins

Aztec Ruins National Monument was only about 10 miles from our campground. While our main destination in this area was Chaco Culture we decided to check out Aztec – a site we new very little about. As it turns out we are glad we did.

The park covers a relatively small area but the ruins are quite remarkable. The Aztec community flourished between 850 and 1130 making it a younger pueblo than places like Mesa Verde and Chaco Culture. Built on the bank of the Animas River and probably started as a satellite to Chaco it eventually became a center of its own and continued to flourish after the decline of Chaco.

After an orientation stop at the visitor center and museum we headed out for a walk through the ruins. What made this ruin unique for us was the fact we could walk through rooms that have been very well preserved including some with the original wooden ceilings. Also, it was interesting to see the rebuilt Great Kiva although not authentic it was believed to be historically and architecturally accurate and provided a great example of what the Kiva might have actually looked like. If you are in this area this is a site you don’t want to pass up.

More pictures here.

Chaco Culture

 In its day, Chaco Canyon was one of the key population centers of the pueblo people. The Chacoan culture at its height dominated and influenced religion, ideology, commerce, politics, economy, social structure, and architecture of the region for 300 plus years (800 AD – 1100 AD.) Chaco was the hub of the Chaco Road – a network of roads connecting over 150 communities in the region and the site of Great Houses that were the largest buildings in North American until the 19th century. For example, Casa Bonito was four stories high, contained over 600 rooms, and 40 kivas.

With a full tank of gas in our Honda Fit we headed out early from the campground for our 65 mile journey to Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Yes, there is a campground at the park but we were advised by several people not to drive the dirt road that leads into the park unless we wanted to destroy our RV. As it turns out, that was very good counsel. Getting to the park from the north requires a trip over a crazy, rough dirt road. Even the park website has this warning:

“The northern and southern routes include 13, 20, and 33 miles of dirt roads, respectively. These sections of road are infrequently maintained, and they can become impassable during inclement weather. If you have an RV and are not planning on camping in the park, you may want to leave the RV and drive a car into the park.”

That being said, the destination was worth the effort. Chaco is impressive. Over the years (including this recent swing through Arizona and New Mexico) we have visited dozens of ancient Puebloan sites throughout the southwest. Chaco along with Mesa Verde provide what we think is the best glimpse of these ancient cultures. Given the harsh and often brutal environment of the area it is amazing to me that people were not only able to survive but actually prosper.

Many Indian people of the southwest consider Chaco an important part – being a stop in their sacred migration and for them, Chaco remains a spiritual place. Stand on a hill and feel the dry desert breeze, walk across a dusty plaza, duck as you enter through a small doorway into a dark room, touch an ancient wall – yes, I think here, more than most of the other sites we have visited you can “feel” the history.


After Chaco, we headed to Bandelier National Monument and the Juniper Campground. After settling in on our “no hookup” site we headed down to the bottom of Frijoles Canyon to the visitor center. This is a very different place than most of the other ancient sites we have visited. First of all, it is right on a river and the surrounding area is more lush than the typical dry and barren locations typical so many of the ruins. Secondly, the cliffs in the area look very different. They are not sandstone but are Tuff – the remnants of huge ash flows from the Valles Caldera volcanic eruption over 1.4 million years ago. The good news for the pueblo builders is that tuff is an easier material to work with than the typical sandstone and adobe. The bad news or us is that Tuff is much “softer” then sandstone and/or adobe and thus erodes much quicker.

After our stop at the visitor center to watch the introductory video and tour the small museum, we headed out on the 1.2-mile self guided (there are 21 stops) loop trail to some of the main ruins in the park. While there is evidence that this area was inhabited over 10,000 years ago by nomadic hunters the pueblos and cliff dwelling period was at its peak from 1150 to 1600. It is assumed that as clans from the four corners area migrated to this area.

The oral histories of the Pueblos in the area today link them to Bandelier.

More Pictures here.

Next up… Pecos, Fort Union and Home.