Kartchner Caverns SP Foothills

Kartchner Caverns SP Foothills
Kartchner Caverns SP Foothills

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Kartchner Caverns State Park...last stop before our winter destination in Gold Canyon, AZ

Our final stop before reaching Gold Canyon, AZ was Kartchner Caverns SP. This is a park we've been too a couple times before as we have moved back and forth across the lower states to visit family in the Midwest and winters in AZ. On our previous stops we reserved a pull through site #4 however this time we were feeling adventurous with our expanding experiences with electric only sites. We reserved a back in 30 amp electric/water site. This site was close to the Foothill trail and there was no other site on our awning side. We must be getting good because we pulled right in without an argument HaHa. Seriously, it was an easy back in with plenty of room for maneuvering.

For those who might consider a stay there we had site #51. Awning facing NW and some shade on the west side. Paved and pretty darn level. We reserved for 2 nights. After setting up we took a walk around the park and enjoyed the surrounding foothills.

The next day, our only full day, we got up early and prepared for a short hike on the Foothill Trail.

The temps are getting hot now that we're in the desert. The trail begins on a connecting path from the campground to the trailhead. It's a trail that winds around the foothills that the caverns are below.  Up and down through washes and over the side of the foothills. Of course we would stop periodically for water and to enjoy the views. 

We've done this trail each time we've been here and we still enjoy hiking the trail. It's not difficult, it's fairly short and it gives you a wonderful feel for the desert again. 

After our morning hike we got our showers and a change of clothes so we could have lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Benson, AZ. Our good friends Ron and Patsy from B.C. Canada had been through here before and told us of Mi Casa restaurant. Here's a LINK to their Facebook page. 

We stopped here the last time we were in the area too. Now a stop for lunch is a "Must Do" for us.

The building sits back from the street with a chain link type fence surrounding it. It you don't look carefully as you drive down the street you might miss it.

Enlarge the photo to see the cowboy tortilla

The interior is very old looking with two small rooms. I think they have about 6-8 tables with each able to accommodate 2-6 people. A young woman will bring out some chips and salsa to snack on while you decide on your choices. After you order it's a short wait before the food arrives. One interesting aspect of the food presentation is they put a fried tortilla with a different figure on your food. It might be a cowboy or coyote or even a saguaro cactus. It looks like they took a cookie cutter to a tortilla and then fried it. Very unique and fun.

Once our bellies were full the owner asked if we would like some dessert. Ah I Don't think I could eat another bite. Then he said his wife makes a carrot cake that is delicious. OK, you twisted our arm but we have to take it home in a to go box for a night time snack. 

We're so glad he talked us into it. The carrot cake was moist and delicious just like he said and it was drizzled with a creamy sauce. Mouth watering right now as I think about it. 

Another successful visit to Kartchner Caverns SP and Benson, AZ. 

We're in Gold Canyon, AZ now at Canyon Vistas RV Resort and getting some projects done before beginning to play. New kitchen faucet installed, rig washed and waxed and a new mattress. It's been unseasonably HOT here but like most desert climates it cools off nicely in the evening. Morning and evening walks and a couple rounds of Pickleball. Getting into the swing of things now. 

Life is Good
Because That's How We Roll

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Elephant Lake State Park...a change in direction

While in Pueblo, we read a FB post from friends, Mona Liza and Steve, The Lowe's RV Adventures
(thank you) and they mentioned they were at a campground at Elephant Butte Lake State Park. We originally were going to make a more northerly entrance to our Gold Canyon winter home through Gallup, NM then Winslow, AZ but we made a change in direction. We've been to Elephant Butte but didn't know about this campground so we just had to check it out. This was a campground about 10 miles north of the main campground in the town of Elephant Butte. This is the South Monticello campground. They have pull throughs and back in sites and many of them have wonderful views of Elephant Butte Lake. We got on Recreation.gov and found a back in site with those incredible open views of the lake.

Sunset by the lake

Since we were committed to moving on to get to our winter destination we only stopped for 2 nights. We happened to be there when the winds were fairly gusty and blowing at about 20-30 mph steady. That's the chance you take when in an open desert area along a lake. We did our best to make the most of the one full day we had there. We arrived early on our first day and had to wait a about 20 minutes for the prior campers to leave the site before we could move in. After getting set up we took a walk around the campground and even found a geocache near a closed boat ramp.

The next morning after some study of the campground map we saw a trail nearby. We drove about a mile or two and located a parking area. This was a fairly flat wide trail among the cactus and scrub. Unfortunately there were a few sections that had been washed out from prior rains but it looked like it was been worked on to repair the damage.  The temps were heating up now that we were moving southward so we didn't go too far. Again I noticed a few geocaches along the trail and picked up 2-3 along the way.

Well that brought us to lunch time so we had quick showers and made our way into Elephant Butte. As I mentioned we've been there a couple years ago and stayed at the RV Resort in town for a couple nights. While there we found a really cool local Mexican restaurant. Probably more of a take out style but they did have seating in an outdoor area. Great tacos and burritos with beans and rice.

So we knew that's where lunch would be. They were open and we enjoyed a delicious meal.

After lunch we took a little drive to the next town, Truth or Consequences, got some supplies at the Wal Mart and fuel. The town of Truth or Consequences used to be Hot Springs, NM however in 1950 as part of a publicity scheme to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ralph Edwards’ very successful game show on NBC radio, (more info on the name change)  Hot Springs became Truth or Consequences, Mr. Edwards traveled to town annually, celebrity friends in tow, for nearly 50 years to celebrate “Truth or Consequences Fiesta.”  Mr. Edwards has been gone for some time now, but Fiesta continues to this day.

Usually we have all our reservations made well in advance of our travels but for some reason we hadn't been doing that as we moved west. That turned in to a fantastic opportunity to check out a new campground in an area we've been too. Making our plans in Jello. Like our friends Steve and Debbie from Down the Road, we decided to play it Fast and Loose. That's how WE roll.  Now I get it. :-)

Next up, Kartchner Caverns State Park
Thanks for following along. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pueblo CO....Bishop Castle, Royal Gorge Bridge anad Garden of the Gods

We made an overnight stop in Goodland, KS before continuing on into CO. We had been to Grand Junction, Boulder and Durango over the last couple of years so we decided to make our CO stop in Pueblo. We're expanding our types of parks we stop at which means we usually stop at parks that offer electric AND water minimum and the closest park to the things we wanted to see around Pueblo was Lake Pueblo State Park. Lake Pueblo SP only offers electric hook ups. This means we would have to fill our fresh water tank and use the water in it for 4 nights. Many State Parks are like that so if you only limit yourself to E/W parks you really limit yourself in the type surrounding you have when you stop. Actually for a few nights it's nice to know we can do with less. Lake Pueblo SP is a very nice park with pull though and back in sites. Most sites are big enough for larger motorhomes and trailers. The pull throughs are semi circle sites along the main road in each loop.

Our site was on a higher loop with some views of the lake. There was a nice covered table and gravel patio with a fire ring. As we traveled west after our visits in the Midwest, we knew this would be one of our stops so we asked some of our RV friends if they had any recommendations for sights to see.

The top recommendations were Garden of the Gods, Royal Gorge Bridge and Bishop Castle. Well Bishop Castle was closest to us so we started there. Bishop Castle has a long and interesting history. The story begins in 1959 when Jim Bishop bought the land that the castle sits on. Construction began with a cabin and turned into an ongoing build of a castle. The castle is always open and always free.

While we were there we got to  talking to a gentleman who knew Jim Bishop and told us he isn't working on it right now due to an illness. Not sure if he will get back to work because of his age and health issues. 

There is a lot of iron work a couple towers and a dragons head on the front of the structure. Very unique and still very incomplete. It looked like he couldn't make up his mind where to stop and where to finish. There was junk laying around the property, signs for advertisement and some incredible stain glass in the main structure. 

I climbed up some of the iron work stairs to the towers which were of a spiral configuration. You could see through the mesh stairs and it was very dizzying and disorienting as you climb and also coming back down. 

Unfortunately the weather was cold and damp when we were there so we didn't stop long to explore more than viewing a few rooms of the structure and a quick climb up one tower. The castle sits at about 9000 ft. above sea level. 

If you would like to learn more and get details of the castle, Please click on THIS LINK. 

The drive to the castle was scenic and worth the trip to view this unique building. 

We still had most of the day to see more sights so we drove to the Royal Gorge Bridge in Canon City, CO. The road to the bridge is very narrow and winding. We even saw a sign for a campground near the bridge. They have a large parking lot and a beautiful new Visitor's Center. 

I'm sure during the summer months this is a very popular attraction and very busy but since this was late September with children in school now, we had the place pretty much to ourselves. There were a few other folks around the bridge on both sides but hardly a crowd. 

One thing we thought was a little disappointing was you HAD to pay to see the bridge. What? They had put up fencing around the Visitor's Center and no matter where you walked OUTSIDE the area....no view. 

So we went inside and found out the fee and decided we're there so let's do it. $23 for Glenda and $20 for me(Senior Rate). They have a gondola ride across the gorge which I took and not Glenda(afraid of heights). The ride only take a few minutes and you get some spectacular views of the bridge and thegorge below with the river running through it. 

Once on the other side I walked along a path to a covered structure called Sublime Point. This is where you can get some of the best views of the whole bridge and gorge below. 

If you enlarge the photos you can get a great sense of the expanse of the bridge. 

I then walked back down the path and saw several attractions that I'm sure are highly utilized in the summer months. They have a carousel, a Zipline, a Skycoaster, theater and an outdoor stage where they hold a summer concert series.


Stage for concerts


I started back across the bridge to the other side to meet with Glenda and along the way I noticed signs and flags. Flags for each state. 



After we met on the bridge I took a few more photos and we walked back to the Visitor's Center for a snack and enjoyed the views a little longer. 

Water Clock

If you're interested in more information, maybe for a future visit yourself, you can click on THIS LINK. 

That wrapped up our day so we drove back to Pueblo and our campground. The next day we had to stop at an urgent care center so Glenda could get her prescription for blood pressure meds renewed.

They charged $190 and you only see a Physicians Assistant. Looking forward to Glenda getting on Medicare next year.

Our final attraction was Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs. They have a great Visitor's Center and souvenirs. The staff is helpful with information and maps to navigate the sights and trails.  The weather was very gray, cloudy and misty but we made the best of what we could see.

We drove around the main loop to Balance Rock and did a little photo op. 

Then we found the main Garden Loop Trail at the main parking area. This is a paved trail accessible to everyone.

The rock structures are ominous and intriguing. As we parked the truck we saw several folks along the road looking up the hill. As we looked closer there was a herd of male Bighorn sheep.

Look at the white dots

I only had my phone camera with me so it's very difficult to clearly see the sheep. You may be able to enlarge the photo to get a better view.

After that sighting we started our walk along the paved trail and noticed signs related to rock climbing. These were caution sign telling folks not to climb on wet rock(which it was wet) and not to climb unless you were We kept moving.

You could see how these rock formations would call to those who participate in that sport.  We enjoyed the many rock formations as we moved around the loop trail. Eventually we worked our way back to the starting point. Along the way we came across a Mule Deer in a meadow near the trail. I believe it was a female since we didn't notice any antlers. 

Thank you for holding so still

Glenda read about the Twin Sisters rock formation so we left the main parking and trail area and drove to a short trail leading to the Twin Sisters. Being misty and rainy, it made the trail a little slick and we hadn't prepared for the mud on the trail so Glenda had to hold onto some bushes in some areas to keep from slipping.

Twin Sisters

You're supposed to be able to see Pikes Peak through the opening...Way too cloudy

Imagine Pikes Peak over our shoulder

It was a fun day and we felt like we accomplished a lot. We plan to spend more time in Colorado in the future so this will be on the list again.

Panoramic view

Our next stop was a change in plans. 

Elephant Butte Lake State Park 

Thanks for following along