Another Day Of Adventures

We have been fishing at the Conejos River, that runs through the RV Park where we are staying, for the past week and a half. We hadn’t even had one little nibble. So we decided we were going to go to the Trujillo Meadows Reservoir and try fishing in some deep water. The owner of our RV Park, John, told us he had a lot of luck catching fish there. The reservoir is about an hour and a half drive from where we are staying.

When you get to the turn-off for the reservoir, you have to travel down a pretty well maintained gravel road that doesn’t really have clearly marked signs letting you know where the reservoir really is located. So, we spent about another half hour driving through a campground, trying to figure out how to get down to the reservoir.

Finally we found the road that would take us to the reservoir, where we would find the deep water, and where I just knew I was going to catch that BIG fish… But no. What we found was that the reservoir was all dried up! Are you kidding me? Why would our camp host/owner, John, send us to a reservoir that was dry?

 

Mud pies anyone?

So now, we decide we will go try our luck at the other reservoir we heard about, Platoro Reservoir. On the way out of the dried up Trujillo Reservoir area, we saw two deer romping across the road. Perhaps they were looking for some deep water too.

All was not a complete loss, because the drive to and from Trujillo Meadows Reservoir is beautiful. We passed through “Caminante” To… – Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic & Historic Byway. The welcome sign read “Bienvenidos Caminantes! Come! Take a walk with us. We know an old song, El Caminante, which tell of taking a long walk along the ancient roads. Like the first prehistoric inhabitants, you too are a caminante, or one who walks upon this land”.

When we reached the turn-off for the Platoro Reservoir, we find out we have to travel down 25 miles, on a not well maintained, washboard-like, dirt road. The first few miles were deceiving as to what was to come further down the road… But, on we went, in search of the deep water, where I was going to catch that BIG fish! Hey, if you’re not going with a positive attitude that your going to catch a big fish, you might as well stay home. Right?

On the way down the long, and bumpy road, we passed these two beautiful horses standing peacefully in their field.

And, again, we saw lots of beautiful countryside while we were going down that long, and really bumpy road. 🙂

Finally, after an hour and a half on that very long, and really, really, bumpy road, we came to the Platoro Reservoir with deep water in it.

YES! I’m getting out and I’m going to catch my BIG fish. But no! You see those ripples in the water? Well those ripples were coming from wind that was blowing so hard we couldn’t even cast out our lines without having them blow right back in our faces. And, what looks like a simple shoreline that we could just walk around to the other side of the water, was actually a steep drop off. No way were we able to get around that water unless we had some fly-fishing waders, which of course, we didn’t. So, with dashed hopes, we called it a day, and started making our way back home without ever putting our hooks into any water at all…

On the way back down the mountain, like three hours later, we passed the same horses, standing in the exact same positions. I thought to myself, these horses really know how to stay in the moment and enjoy life. I guess we could all learn something from them. Stay in the moment, expect nothing, and hope for the best! 🙂

The next day, when we saw our Park Owner, John, we told him the reservoir he sent us to was all dried up. He looked surprised and said “really, I thought that would have been filled up again by now. They drained it to work on the dam, but that was only supposed to take a month”. So much for being in the know about your area. But we’re still loving it here, and we’re still having lots of fun.

Stay Tuned!

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Playing On The Great Sand Dunes

Yesterday we visited the Great Sand Dunes National Park. We had never been there before, so we made a stop at the Visitor Center, to see what we could learn before heading out to play on the dunes. We learned that “these huge dunes-North America’s tallest-are about 11 percent of a 330-square-mile deposit of sand. Eroded from mountains, then shattered by freezing and thawing, and tumbled by streams and winds, sand grains cycle through the dunes system.” That’s amazing.

We also learned safety tips to protect yourself before going out on the dunes. We learned :

  1. The sand can be REALLY HOT.  “In summer months during mid-day, sand temperatures can reach 150 degrees F. Hike during the morning or evening to avoid heat exhaustion and/or burned feet.” We were there in the morning and the sand was not hot.
  2. “Lighting can occur anytime during the warmer months, when afternoon storms approach the dunes. Avoid fatal lightning strikes by experiencing the dunes and other open areas during morning hours. Remain in a building or vehicle until 30 minutes after the last thunder. If you are in immediate danger, crouch in a low-lying area on top of a pack to prevent ground charge.” I guess if you don’t have a pack to lay on top of, you just crouch, and kiss your ass good-bye. Ha! 🙂
  3. “High winds are possible any time of the year Especially during the spring season, storm fronts can produce high winds which cause sand to blow. Hike during these conditions at your own risk. If hiking during windy conditions, consider wearing eye protection, long sleeves and pants to avoid getting sand-blasted“.

But hey, if the sand isn’t too hot, there’s no lightning, or storm clouds in the area, and no high winds, then you’ve got this, so go have fun. Ha! 🙂

So off we went.

Let me just say, it’s a long hike from the Visitor Center, through constantly shifting sand, to reach the top of these Great Sand Dunes. When we first started out, I asked Bill/Papa if he wanted to rent a sandboard so we could slide down the dunes once we reach the top. He said “how do we get to the top”? I told him that I didn’t see a chair left anywhere, and that I read it was a calf-burning adventure.. He said ‘oh, ____ NO”! We laughed, as we were trudging our way along, and talked about how nice it would be if there were some way to have a chair lift to the top, but of course, that would be impossible on the ever shifting sand. I’m telling you that you can get your toes in the sand here and never even have to take off your shoes.

After you reach the top of what you’re going to call your summit, which doesn’t have to be the highest peak,

the easy, and fun part, would be sliding back down if you had a sandboard. Because when you fall down, sit down, or come to a stop sliding down, it’s an even bigger challenge getting back on your feet in the shifting sand. Ha!

Bill/Papa said “this is a lot of sand, but unlike Oregon, where you walk in the sand and reach water, here you walk in the sand, and reach a hill of more sand”.

The Great Sand Dunes National Park is beautiful, and I’m so glad we got to visit, and experience for ourselves, how truly amazing the Great Sand Dunes really are.

After we finished playing on the dunes, we brushed ourselves off, emptied our shoes of an excessive amount of sand, and made our way towards the Great Sand Dunes Lodge and RV Park, where we were going to have lunch. On the way there we passed by these deer who didn’t seem to mind interrupting their lunch to pose for a picture.

We had a delicious lunch in this adorable diner next to the Lodge and RV Park.

I couldn’t resist getting pictures of these signs they have hanging around the ice cream and homemade pie counter. I think we could use a few of these signs in our Visitor Center back at McDowell Mountain Park. 🙂

 

 

Of course, I couldn’t leave the area without buying my token magnet. I think this one is just perfect to remind me of our day at the Great Sand Dunes.

Stay Tuned!

 

 

At Last

We finally found a hiking trail, that I was able to do in this altitude, that was both fun, and beautiful.

The South Boundry Trail #164, just outside the Taos city limits.

This trail is 20.8 miles long, and climbs steadily, but not straight up like the last hike I tried.

This trail has lots of places along the way that are flat, allowing you time to catch your breath as you walk along,

and there are plenty of opportunities for you to just pause, and take in the beautiful views from high up in the trees.

This trail also has many spots where you can take a real break, sit in the shade and talk, or just sit and think about how grateful you are to be able to get out and hike on such a beautiful day, and in such a beautiful place.

The information on this hike says ” The trail climbs steadily. Starting in low cottonwoods along the Rio de Don Fernando, and climbing up through the Pinon-Juniper woodland, Ponderosa Pines, Aspens, and even above treeline on the way to its’ highest elevation of 10,770 feet, just south of Osha Mountain. The trail is a highly sought after mountain bike experience with many possible variations. Many mountain bikers ride this trail from east to west, from higher elevation to lower.” I know lots of mountain bikers that might enjoy this trail.

Every section of this hike that I saw was just beautiful.

But now, I have to be completely honest here, we didn’t hike the full 20.8 miles of this trail. No, I’d have to be a crazy woman to tackle a hike like that. Ha! 🙂 But we did hike 1.6 miles of it.  This next picture shows the spot where I sat down in the shade, and declared that spot “my summit spot for the day”.

Hiking is a favorite past-time for Bill/Papa and I. It felt good to be out hiking a fun trail again, even if we only hiked a small section of the much longer trail. For me, it’s not how far we go, it’s that we go as far as we want, and that we have fun while we’re out there. We try to stay as active a we can, and we’re hoping that will enable us to keep doing all the things we love to do, and living this retirement dream we’re loving so much.

Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

Attitude vs. Altitude

I’ve been having problems adjusting to the altitude change since we arrived in Questa, New Mexico. We’ve been here just over two weeks now, and I have been itching to get out and do some real hiking. The past few days, I started feeling like I might finally be adjusting to the altitude, since I was able to take a deep breath while walking around the campgrounds, and/or when we were in town etc. So I told Bill/papa that I thought I might be ready to try taking a short, but real hike. We went to the local Ranger Station and asked for a list of local hikes. We were given 20 pages of hikes to choose from. One or two of them stated the hike was “novice to intermediate” and the rest were listed as “moderate, moderate to difficult, difficult, or expert hikes. Well, come on now I thought to myself, I walk or hike all the time in Arizona, so I certainly think I can do more than a “novice to intermediate” hike. Bill told me to pick the hike I thought I was going to be able to do based on how I was feeling with the altitude issues. I decided on the Cebolla Mesa hike. It is listed as a moderate hike and is only 1.25 miles long. The actual description of the hike read ” this trail is moderately strenuous to the confluence of the Rio Grande and Red River. The trail is steep and rocky, at the top, then switching to moderately steep with 22 switchbacks. The views of the gorge and the desert landscape are spectacular”. What on this earth would ever make that sounded easy enough to me to start out with? STUPID comes to mind!! The altitude must have really affected my brain, and clouded my normally good judgement. 22 switchbacks, I don’t even like switchbacks when I’m in a car! Mix in the fact that I have a PROFOUND fear of heights, and I for sure had the perfect set-up for a close call with disaster!!

But, off we went, into the wilderness as far as we could go until we reached

 

the trailhead that I, in my lost state of mind, thought I could tackle…

Oh, the views were “spectacular” at least what I could see of them seeing how I was too busy climbing over boulders and slipping and sliding along steep cliffs..

OMG, Bill/papa I said, I’m not so sure now if I’m going to be able to do this or not. But we decided we would just take it real slow, and easy, and if I felt at anytime I can’t go on, we would just turn back…

OK, I thought to myself, as we rounded the next switchback, it does look like it is starting to level out, somewhat. Maybe I can do this. I’ll just adjust my attitude and think positive. I always try to think positive and it usually serves me well…

Then we hit the next switchback, and I looked at the huge rocks, and steep slopes, and thought, “oh, HeLL, NO” if I go down there any further, that will for sure become my final resting place. I somehow had enough sense left to know I was never going to make it back out of there alive..

And not one minute to soon did I make that decision, because the climb back to the top was slow and painful, and I felt like I had an elephant riding on my back every step of the way.

I am convinced we are lucky we didn’t make it to the bottom of that trail. Because, let me tell you, when we finally made to back up out of there from the point where I decided I couldn’t go on, I was as spent as this dead tree, that also gave up the spirit, and the “I can do it attitude”, and just laid over.

I now have a very healthy respect for altitude changes, and what it can do to your body, and your attitude. Ha!

As Bill/papa always says when things don’t go as expected… “we had an adventure”. That for me was an adventure I won’t be repeating anytime soon.

After attempting that hike of doom, we found out there are other, more “normal”, hikes around the Taos day use areas. They aren’t even listed on the hiking list we got from the local Ranger’s Office. What’s up with that? Perhaps next week we will go check out some of them.

Stay tuned!

2018 Summer Celebration Trip

In April, I will turn 66, in September, Bill and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, and in December, Bill will turn 70. To celebrate all these special events in our lives, we decided to take the entire summer off from hosting/work-camping, and just relax and spend some quality time exploring New Mexico and Colorado. We’ve been to both of these states but never had the opportunity to spend the time needed to really appreciate the beauty of these states and what all they have to offer.

I’m documenting our summer travel here for our daughter, Shantel, and any family and friends that care to know where we will be this summer.

5/2 – 6/1  We will stay at the Sierra Hermosa RV Park in Questa, New Mexico. We picked this area because we thought it would be the perfect hub for taking day trips to surrounding areas that include: Eagle Nest which is situated on the enchanted circle scenic byway, Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument and Wild River recreation area, Carson National Forest, Taos, and the Village of Red River. Lots of fun things to see and do!

6/1 – 7/1  We will stay at Mogote Meadow Cabins RV Park in Antonito, Colorado. Here we will visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park, ride the Toltec scenic railroad, and visit the Conejos River, just to mention a few day trip activities this area has to offer.

7/1 – 7/31 We’re staying at Aspen Ridge in South Fork, Colorado. We are looking forward to traveling the Silver Thread Scenic Byway which includes visiting Lake City and Creed.

7/31 – 8/30  We will be at the Red Mountain RV Park in Kremmling, Colorado. This park is just six miles from the Wolford reservoir which offers all kinds of water activities as well as lots of hiking trails in the surrounding area.

8/30 – 9/29  We’re really looking forward to staying at the Monument RV Resort in Fruita, Colorado. This RV park is only about 30 minutes from where our kids and grandkids live in Grand Junction, Colorado, so we will have lots of  time to visit with our family that live there. Of course our day trips there will include exploring the Colorado National Monument and James R. Robb State Park with access to the Colorado River. More beautiful hiking trails to explore in this area.

Then, after a fun-filled summer, we will make our way back to our beloved Arizona. We plan to arrive back at McDowell Mountain Regional Park on 10/1 to enjoy another fun-filled winter season here.

Both Bill and I are beyond excited to take this summer to just relax, do lots of hiking and sightseeing, and have lots of time to visit with our family in Colorado. If any of our family or friends find yourselves in any of the areas where we will be over the summer, please feel free to contact us as we would love to have you come and visit us too!

Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

Doing Our Favorite Things

Bill and I had another fabulous week spending time doing some of our favorite things.

We are starting week three of our new Paleo food plan so we planned our menu for the week, shopped for the things we need to cook all our meals, and we washed, chopped, and grilled lots of fresh fruits and veggies for the upcoming week. I think half the battle of staying on any new food plan, where you are required to eat whole fresh cooked food, is planning ahead and having things on hand that are prepped and ready to make a meal.

This week we will enjoy menu’s that include grilled fish, balsamic grilled pork chops, coconut curry chicken, Sheppard’s pie, cabbage rolls with sauerkraut and tomato sauce, warm steak salad, and lots of sides like sautéed leeks and poblano peppers, roasted fresh beets and carrots, grilled pineapple etc. We are both loving this new way of eating, and so far, we have both seen positive results. For the first time in years, Bill said his hands are not hurting him and he can actually make a complete tight closed fist… I am also noticing I’m not having as many little aches and pains.

We also enjoyed an afternoon date at the movies this week. Both Bill and I love going to the movies!

Then, today, we decided to get our exercise in by hiking the Fountain Hills Lake Overview trail. It’s a nice little hike that we had never taken before so we thought we would give it a try today and we are glad we did.

We started off climbing up and around hill,

that allows you to see all the way around the Fountain Hills Fountain Lake,

and all around the town of Fountain Hills.

After leaving the overview hike, we ventured on over to the Fountain Hills Desert Sonoran Botanical Garden which is located right in the town of Fountain Hills. Here is a picture of the hike map through the gardens.

Of course, there are lots and lots of mighty saguaro cactus everywhere. I found this group of cactus interesting because to me, they look like they are all happy to be together, and are going to hug.

This saguaro caught my eye because the more I looked at it, the more I began to see little faces within the rotted out places within the cactus… do you see any faces in it?

Then, much to our surprise, we found out there is actually a historical dam in the garden. Well, blow me over… who knew?

There are also lots of large granite boulders throughout the gardens,

and the green coating seen on many of them is called “desert varnish”.

Bill and I had never visited The Fountain Hills Desert Sonoran Botanical Garden. We thought it is a lovely little walk, and a good way to get some light exercise if you can’t make it to our beautiful McDowell Mountain Regional Park, or you just want to explore some of the surrounding areas…

It doesn’t take a lot to make Bill and I happy. After 30 years, we are still very much in love, are each other’s best friends, and we enjoy anytime we spend together regardless if it’s working, cooking or doing chores, going to the movies, or enjoying the great outdoors. If we’re together, we make whatever we are doing FUN! And really, isn’t that the way love is supposed to be?

Stay Tuned!

 

Mediterranean Meatball Ratatouille

Two weeks ago my husband, Bill, aka Papa/Bro and I decided we both wanted to try a new approach to  losing some unwanted pounds. After a lot of on-line research, and a trip to a local bookstore, we decided to give the Paleo food plan a try. This food plan is all about eating whole foods. It is also known for being a food plan that can help reduce inflammation in the body, something both Bill/papa./bro and I are excited to try.

One of the two books we bought to help us understand the Paleo food plan, and to provide recipes for us to follow the plan, gives this nutshell description of the Paleo food plan. “Paleo Made Simple:

  1. Eat whole foods, not processed
  2. Don’t eat grains (especially wheat, but also corn, rice, oats, barley)
  3. Eliminate dairy products
  4. Avoid legumes (beans, peanuts)
  5. Enjoy lots of fruits, vegetables, and plenty of protein

The Paleo food plan is often called the “caveman” diet because it is based on whole foods that have not been processed in any way. Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, eggs, and grass-fed meats (when possible), i.e. beef, pork, bacon, chicken, and seafood.

Bill/Papa/Bro and I read through all the information and decided we are both “all in” to give this new food plan our best shot. The first thing we did after making our total commitment to this new food plan was rid our home of anything that is not on the Paleo plan. No need to have temptation in our way right?

This is week two for us and so far, so good. Bill lost 3 1/2 pounds and I lost 2 pounds. Everyday we try a new recipe from the Paleo books we bought. So far all of them have been very good and filling.

Today, I made Mediterranean Meatball Ratatouille. This is a picture from the recipe book showing what it is supposed to look like.

I started out chopping up some grilled zucchini (Bill grilled up a lot of fresh veggies for the week), and I added fresh mushrooms, and onions.

 I made meatballs out of ground Italian seasoned turkey, and browned them on all sides. Then I put the meatballs in the crockpot with the zucchini, onions and mushrooms, spices, and just enough chicken stock to keep it moist and set the crockpot to low for 5-6 hours. At the end of the cooking time, I put a can of diced tomatoes and two tablespoons of tomato paste into the crockpot and continued cooking an additions 15 minutes.

While that was cooking, I made a Paleo Bread from almond flour, baking soda, salt, eggs, honey, and apple cider vinegar. First I mixed the dry ingredients together,

then mixed the wet ingredients together,

and combined them to make the bread dough.

That was baked in our little outside oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, and produced this beautiful loaf of Paleo bread.

The next step in our dinner preparations was to process a head of cauliflower to make “riced cauliflower”,

that I stir fried in a non-stick skillet until it was tender but still a little firm. It was used to serve the ratatouille over.

The end result was delicious and something both Bill/papa/bro and I agreed we would definitely want to have again. High protein and very low carbs but very tasty, filling and satisfying.

It takes thought, time, and planning to cook whole foods vrs eating out, or using processed foods, but Bill and I are committed to this, and so far it is working great. We are excited to keep trying new recipes and see where this takes us.

Stay Tuned!

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