Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ute Lake State Park, Day 3

Ute Lake State Park has several different areas for camping, so we decided to scope out some of the different areas that we didn't look at when we first arrived on Monday. We found an area that we liked, so moved the rig over to Logan Park, Eagle Point area. This site has a covered table which we didn't have at the other site.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ute State Lake Park, Day 2

We drove into Tucumcari to do laundry and grocery shopping. We stopped at Love's to fill the truck with diesel ($2.879/gallon).

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ute Lake State Park

We left Clayton Lake State Park, stopping at the KOA in Clayton to dump tanks ($8.00). We stopped in Logan to have lunch at the Annex Bar & Grill where we had excellent food! We're parked at the Windy Point area of Ute Lake State Park.

Miles driven: 111.3
GPS coordinates: N 35° 21.691' / W 103° 29.388'

Sunday, May 27, 2007

McNee's Crossing

We found a road with a gate across it...the road looked like it might head off in the direction of the monument, so we stopped to take a look. Sure enough, on the gate was an old, weathered wooden sign that said "To McNee's Crossing." I hopped out, opened the gate, and closed it again once Earl drove through.

We saw a lot of tracks that *could* have been the wagon tracks; however, mostly, we noticed the ground in the direction of travel was worn away and quite a bit lower than the surrounding ground.

Clayton Lake State Park, Day 9

Since we never made it to McNee's Crossing the other day when we were out looking for the Santa Fe Trail, we decided to make the trip today. The McNee's Crossing marker is on the east side of SR-406 about 18 miles north of it's junction with highway 56-64-412.

As we were looking through the binoculars for signs of the trail, we noticed in the distance what appeared to be a monument, probably of the crossing made at the North Canadian River, so we set out to see if we could get close to it.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Clayton Lake State Park, Day 8

Tonight we decided to walk over to the area where the dinosaur tracks are. Some of the tracks were really clear, others we couldn't make out, even though there were signs saying that they were there! Of course, it was cloudy when we made the hike...apparently, many of the tracks are easier to see early in the morning or in the evening when the light is at a certain angle.
There was a thunderstorm last night with lots of rain, so some of the tracks were filled with water, making them easier to see. The upper right picture is of prehistoric worm tracks!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Clayton Lake State Park, Day 5

Since the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail runs just north of the park, we decided to go look for it. We calculated the approximate GPS coordinates as closely as we could from our Benchmark New Mexico Atlas, and headed out north on SR-370. We drove up and down the road several times, but never saw anything that looked like it might be a wagon trail. Once, when we were parked along the edge of the road, a local stopped (thinking, perhaps, that we needed help). The woman said she'd lived here all her life and knew the trail crossed the road somewhere in the area where we were stopped, but she didn't know exactly where.

We decided to drive to a spot our atlas showed as "McNees Crossing Monument" several miles to the east. So we headed north on SR-370 to Campbell Road where we headed east. Just at the point where Campbell Road ends, and we would have to head south for a short distance, there was a small rest stop/picnic area with an information kiosk about the Santa Fe Trail. Turns out that there were markers along the trail at this point, so we walked to where the markers started. Although we could see a line of markers heading off into the distance, we never could make out the actual trail...what we saw were more like cow paths, but never did we see two parallel "cow paths" together that would have indicated a wagon trail. Oh well...we had a nice drive, got some fresh air, and saw some pretty countryside.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Clayton Lake

This is only a small part of Clayton Lake, formed by damming Seneca Creek (so why isn't it called Seneca Lake?). This picture was taken from the overlook just prior to entering the park. If you look closely, you'll notice our rig to the far right of the picture.

Rabbit Ears

These two small hills are called Rabbit Ears. I don't know why...apparently someone thought they must have looked like rabbit ears, but the resemblance eludes me. (Actually, they were named after an Indian Chief who died in battle with the Spaniards in 1717. He was known as Orejas De Conejo because his ears had been frostbitten.)

Clayton Lake State Park, Day 3

We drove into Clayton in the afternoon to do some shopping and look around. We came across these dinosaurs at the Visitor's Information Center.

In our driving around, we found a sporting goods store, so stopped in to buy Earl an annual out-of-state fishing license. We also put diesel in the truck ($2.999/gallon, which is the cheapest we've seen it so far in New Mexico).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Clayton Lake State Park, Day 2

We cleaned the bugs and dirt off the front of the fifth wheel...amazing how dirty it gets!

Earl decided he wanted to bake cookies in the convection oven, so he hooked up both Honda 2000's together with the parallel kit (one generator would probably have run the convection oven, but we figured it was a good way to exercise both of them). While the generators were still running, I vacuumed.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Clayton Lake State Park

We arrived at Clayton Lake State Park before noon. The Visitor's Center was closed, so as we were walking around to see if there was a Camp Host, we spotted a Ranger who we flagged down. He opened the VC for us so that we could purchase an Annual Camping Permit (for out-of-state visitor's it costs $225 and allows you to dry camp in New Mexico's state parks for free for 21 days...or you can have electrical hookups for $4 per day).

Before finding a site, we filled up our fresh water tank and then headed out to find a place to park for at least the next week. We found a nice long site and were able to get level so that Earl could attach the Level Master and bracket we'd bought when we were in Sturgis.

I made hummingbird food, and in less than 1/2 hour of putting out the feeder, we had two Black Chinned Hummingbirds feeding from it...a male and a female.

Clayton Lake State Park is located 15 miles north of Clayton, New Mexico which is at the crossroads of two major highways: the coast-to-coast Highway 64 and the Canada to Mexico Highway 87.

The landscape of the park is characterized by rolling grasslands, volcanic rocks (it's not too far from Capulin Volcanic Monument which we'll probably visit while we're here), and sandstone bluffs, set on the western edge of the Great Plains. The Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail passes just north of the park.

The park also has one of the most extensive dinosaur track ways in North America (over 500 tracks, which we've yet to view). Eight different kinds of dinosaurs left their footprints on the ancient mud flat some 100 million years ago.

Miles driven: 66.4
GPS coordinates: N 36° 34.455' / W 103° 18.125'

Friday, May 18, 2007

Before we left Colorado Springs, Earl took the truck to fill up with diesel ($3.159/gallon). We had lunch in Walsenburg, Colorado, and ended the day at Capulin RV Park in Capulin, New Mexico. Nice RV park except that the voltage was too high...went to 141 by the time we finally unplugged.

Miles driven: 185.7
GPS coordinates: N 36° 44.496' / W 103° 59.589'

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

We did some shopping today...picked up more dry dog food for Maxx at PetsMart; bought some books which were on closeout at Borders Books; did grocery shopping; and picked up our mail.
We're back at the Elks Club in Colorado Springs, Colorado for a couple of days.

Miles driven: 115.6

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Flagler Reservoir State Wildlife Area

We stopped in Goodland, KS for lunch and diesel ($2.869/gallon) and then drove on to Flagler Reservoir State Wildlife Area just east of Flagler, CO. We found a really nice spot overlooking the reservoir where we got to watch Blue Herons, Blue Wing Teals, American White Pelicans, and other assorted birds, not to mention the cows grazing in the fields around the reservoir. This is definitely a spot we'd like to come back to someday!

Miles driven: 193.8
GPS coordinates: N 39° 17.553' / W 102° 59.323'

Monday, May 14, 2007

Having our slide problem fixed

It's a good thing that we got up early (6 AM), because just before 7 AM, someone from the service center knocked on our door and asked us to move since he needed to put a rig in the bay. That was OK, though, since Curtis had told us the work on our slides would be done at the main we drove over there.

Since the office wasn't open that early, we waited in the truck until Bryan Tillet and Curtis Peterson came out to introduce themselves (Bryan is the President of Peterson Industries and Curtis is one of the owners, although we don't know his exact position).

Curtis had us back up to one of the bays at the main plant, and we proceeded to unload all the stuff out of the front storage area of the RV so he'd have access to the wiring.

Curtis ended up replacing the 40-amp circuit breaker (which, apparently, Ron Walter had put in when he installed the solar -- although our slides weren't working correctly even before we had solar put in -- and which we were not aware of), with a 100-amp circuit breaker (the slides can draw between 80 to 95 amps when coming in). Once that change was made, the slides worked like they should; i.e., no more stopping when coming in!

The work was finished just prior to noon, so we had lunch at the hamburger stand just east of the plant. We then headed for Prairie Dog State Park which is west of Norton, KS. We were under a severe thunderstorm watch during the lots of rain and high winds, but, fortunately, no hail.

Miles driven: 74.4
GPS coordinates: N 39° 48.328' / W 099° 56.641'

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Smith Center, Kansas

We left Goodland, stopping in Colby for diesel ($2.819/gallon). We arrived in Smith Center, KS early in the afternoon, and parked in front of the service center.

Miles driven: 188.9
GPS coordinates: Not taken

Friday, May 11, 2007

On our way to the Excel factory

We stopped in Limon, Colorado for fuel ($3.049/gallon) and lunch. We're spending a couple of days at the Mid America Camp Inn in Goodland, Kansas...we'll head to Smith Center on Sunday so that we're there bright and early on Monday morning. Hopefully, we'll be able to get the slide problem fixed in short order.

Miles driven: 186.4
GPS coordinates: N 39° 19.499' / W 101° 43.709'

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Originally, we were going to stay just one day at the Elks Club in Colorado Springs. However, we decided to stay longer so that we could take the time to do some grocery Don and Earl got involved in trying to diagnose and fix the slide problem we've been having almost since we picked up the rig (the two big downstairs slides go out OK, they just stop several times on the way in).

Don talked with Curtis at the factory, and he told Don to make sure all the connections were tight and to replace the two 50-amp circuit breakers. Don and Earl did all that, but still the slides stop on the way in. So we're headed to Smith Center, Kansas to get the problem fixed once and for all. (On our way south from Sturgis, we had called the Excel dealers in Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. The first question out of their mouths was, "did you buy your rig here?" When they found out we hadn't purchased the rig there, all three dealers refused to help us. Since we are on our way to New Mexico and plan on being there all summer and into the fall, we were really upset at the dealer in the Moriarity dealer...even when we told them it wasn't an emergency, we'd be in New Mexico most of the rest of the year, so could come in at their convenience, they were still unwilling to help us because we hadn't purchased our rig from them!)

Curtis said he's going to change out the two 50-amp circuit breakers for one 100-amp one, and they *might* have to replace the hydraulic motor, too. We'll see once we get there (pray that there aren't any tornadoes while we're there!).

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Colorado Springs, Colorado

We stopped in Longmont, Colorado for fuel ($3.129/gallon!!!) and in Castle Rock for lunch (where we had very good pizza at Nick N Willys Pizza).

We arrived at the Elks Club in Colorado Springs, Colorado to find that friends, Don and Linda Troyer, were there, too (Don installed the JT jack stabilizers on our rig in Quartzsite this past January).

Miles driven: 165.0
GPS coordinates: N 38° 52.829' / W 104° 49.228'

Monday, May 07, 2007

Cheyenne, Wyoming

On our way out of Lusk, we stopped for fuel ($3.059/gallon). We drove to Terry Bison Ranch RV Park south of Cheyenne,'s on a working bison ranch.

Since there was a restaurant on site, we decided to go out for dinner since we hadn't taken anything out of the freezer to defrost. We got to talking to the waitress, and found out that she works at Silly Al's in Quartzsite during the winter! Small world.

Miles driven: 152.5
GPS coordinates: not taken

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Lusk, Wyoming

We left Sturgis today and drove to Lusk, Wyoming, where we are spending the night at BJ's Campground. This is a nice, neatly kept campground...and it's for sale should anyone be interested! ;-)

Miles driven: 186.3
GPS coordinates: not taken

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Yuck! It rained all day today! We were thinking of going down through Nebraska and Kansas to stop at Peterson Industries, but after all the reports of tornadoes in the area, I don't think we'll go that way.

We did do some shopping at Wal Mart in Rapid City and stopped to get diesel for the truck ($2.959/gallon).

Friday, May 04, 2007

We went into Sturgis where Earl renewed his driver's license. Afterward, we did some grocery shopping.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Getting the A/C Fixed -- Finally!

Since we are taking the fifth wheel to Jack's Campers (the Excel dealer near Sturgis), we got up early and left to make the 130+ mile trip. We bought fuel in Gillette at the Flying J ($2.839/gallon) and breakfast at McDonalds.

We arrived at Jack's Campers before 10:00 AM and they started working on the problem right away. They worked most of the day...the problem turned out to be a wiring problem...Peterson Industries had wired it wrong. Which means that the original A/C unit was probably OK!

We finally made it to the RV park (Elkview Campground, a Good Neighbor park) in the late afternoon...we're the only ones here except for some tenters.

Miles driven: 174
GPS coordinates: N 44° 20.798' / W 103° 26.711'

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Powder River RV Park, somewhere along I-90

We bought diesel at the Conoco station before leaving Rawlins ($3.099/gallon), and stopped in Casper for lunch at the Burger King. We spent the night at the Powder River RV Park off I-90 at Exit 88 between Buffalo and Gillette. We dry camped for $7.49.

Miles driven: 267
GPS coordinates: not taken

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Rawlins, Wyoming

We fueled at the Pilot's in Evanston ($2.879/gallon). Spending the night at Western Hills Campground in Rawlins, Wyoming where we have very good free WiFi.

Miles driven: 211
GPS coordinates: not taken