Hot Fudge Sundae

Koa Tucumcari

Well, here we are in beautiful Tucumcari, New Mexico. We started out in Grants this morning, where it was a cold 35 degrees. We ate some leftover Picazzo’s pizza for breakfast before we left. And yes, it was still very good.

A few hours later, Fabgrandpa said he needed to stretch his legs and get something cold to drink, so we stopped at Dairy Queen. I got a small hot fudge sundae and french fries, a delicious lunch if there ever was one! After shopping for a while in the souvenir shop and finding nothing that caught our interest to buy, we were on the road again.

We only drove about 250 miles today, from Grants to Tucumcari, and stopped for the night at the KOA. It’s a nice park, and the trees here are showing their fall colors, but it is HOT here. At least it is hot compared to the North Rim.

We got parked on our campsite, and I went inside to rest, leaving fabgrandpa to set things up for the night. We were not planning to take the trailer off the hitch, but in order to get level, we have to extend the electric hitch jack to move the front of the trailer up. Well, the dang electric hitch wouldn’t work. It just click click clicked, and didn’t move at all.

Fabgrandpa wound up using a wrench to manually turn the jack to level us up, while I manned (or womaned) the phone indoor looking for an RV repair place where we could get the thing repaired. No luck. We decided to stay here two nights, and drive into Amarillo on Monday morning when the trailer places are open for business again. One place we called would come and install a manual hitch jack for an extra $125 for doing it on Sunday.

So, we’ll wait until Monday. We have enough groceries, and we figured why go to all the extra labor to move to Amarillo for the night tomorrow night, and then do it all again to move to the trailer place the next morning. This place is nice enough, except that I have seen three SPIDERS in the short time we have been here.

Campground Review: Grants, New Mexico KOA

Easy access off I-40

We stayed at the Grants/Cibola Sands KOA in Grants, New Mexico for two nights on our recent roadtrip. The campground was well marked with signs and was an easy access off of I-40. The first thing that grabbed our attention was how nice the owner was. She got us registered and on our site very quickly, and even gave Fabgrandpa a couple of fresh chocolate chip cookies.

the office

The office building also contains a camp store, a game room, a small diner type restaurant, and a laundry room.The management offers a free continental breakfast, and you can buy dinner meals from their menu. We ordered dinner on our second night, and it was delivered to our door. Fabgrandpa had the turkey and dressing and I had “Suzanne’s Favorite Plate” which was a boneless chiclen filet baked to order with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. The person working the desk was very familiar with the needs of a gluten free diet and was able to suggest several choices on the menu that would be gluten free.

the store and diner

Most of the sites at this campground are long pull throughs, and are very level. There aren’t many trees on the property, but it is New Mexico and in this part of the state there aren’t many trees anywhere. It is a nice campground, though, if you are passing through on I-40 to somewhere else, or if you are planning a stay in Grants to see the many unique sites the area has to offer.

our site

There weren’t many campers staying at this campground this time of year, but it was still cold out, with temperatures dropping below freezing at night. There were several units that pulled in in the evening both nights, though. The campground offers tent sites, and has two Kamping Kabins as well. There was a nice playground for the children.

Kamping Kabins

the playground

The campground, laundry room, and showers were very clean and well cared for. They provide free wi-fi access, which worked very well for us. There is a dump station on the property and they sell propane on site.  There are several interesting local attractions that would be well worth staying an extra night, such as Bandera Volcano and Ice Caves; the New Mexico Mining Museum (call ahead to make sure they are open); and Acoma Pueblo.

As with most campgrounds, the camping fees vary according to what type of site you require. We had a long pull through site with full hook ups and 30 amp electricity. The charge per night for our site was $44.50 plus tax, making a two night stay cost $94.95. If you have a KOA Value Kard, you get a 10% discount.

Roadtrip: Georgia to Arizona, 9th Day

headed west

It was a lovely day for traveling–no wind, smooth road, sunshine, 47 degrees. We headed west once again towards Flagstaff. Although our end of the road on this trip is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, I always feel like I am “home” when we arrive in Flagstaff. I love that town!

Western New Mexico

We fueled up in Grants after seeing the Ice Cave yesterday. Diesel was $3.999 at Speedy’s in town. When we were in the planning stages of this trip, we planned on getting 10 miles per gallon and paying $4.25 per gallon. Both of those estimates have turned out to be wrong, both in our favor. Right now the truck is saying 11.4 miles per gallon.

Western New Mexico

This leg of the trip was just so nice! The scenery in western New Mexico is eye popping gorgeous!

A little bit of water

These washes are usually dry when we come through here. It was good to see a little water flowing today.

The last exit before Arizona

We crossed over into Arizona around 11:00 a.m. and gained an hour because Arizona does not observe daylight savings time. They stay on Mountain Standard Time all year long.

The state line to Arizona

We have been traveling now for nine days, seven of them driving days. We have been in ten states!

San Francisco Peaks

It’s always exciting to me to see the first glimpse of the San Francisco Peaks, the mountains in Flagstaff. This was fifty three miles from Flagstaff. We’ll be camping at the base of those mountains at Flagstaff KOA.

Flagstaff

We arrived in Flagstaff about 1:30 p.m. and got set up in the campground. We were expecting our friend and co-worker, Gaelyn, to be there already. About five minutes after we got there, though, she posted on Facebook that she had trouble with her truck and was waiting for a tow truck two miles outside of Flagstaff.  A little while later her rig was towed in to drop off her fifth wheel at the KOA, then they towed her truck to the Ford dealership in town. We are all hoping they will be able to get her on the road again in two days.

Ice Cave and Bandera Volcana in New Mexico

Today we decided to go do a little site seeing. We’re stopped at the KOA in Grants, New Mexico. I have noticed the signs advertising the Ice Cave every time we go through here (twice a year now for 4.5 years) and have always wanted to go see it.

Brrrr! It's cold here!

It was cold out, about 32 degrees, and the wind was blowing, but not as much as yesterday. It was also threatening to snow. We decided to go anyway and I am glad we did.

On the way

By the time we ate breakfast and got on the road, the sky looked a little better. To get to Ice Cave, take New Mexico Hwy 53 south from I-40 in Grants. It’s a 28 mile drive but there is really nice scenery on the way there.

The road into Ice Cave

We didn’t have our RV in tow, but the road into Ice Cave is a pretty good gravel road. It is a little bumpy but no ruts and it is not steep. The parking lot at the end would accommodate a large RV.

General Store

The General Store is the starting point for self guided walking tours of both the Bandera Volcano and the Ice Cave. The fees are $10 per adult and $5 per child. They also offer a senior discount but you have to be 65 to get that discount. They give you a brochure with a numbered guide that corresponds to numbered markers on the trails.

The General Store was built in the 1930’s along with a saloon and a dance hall. At that time, the Zuni Mountain Railroad was in operation and the logging industry was in full swing. They kep their beer cold using ice from the Ice Cave. There are some really nice ancient artifacts on display, most of which were found in the lava, dating back 800 to 1200 years.

Lava Flow

This is a field of lava composed of jagged, broken lava produced when the surface of the flow hardens when the underlying lava is still moving. Lava from this volcano can also be seen along the side of I-40, thirty miles away.

Twisted gnarly trees

The trees growing in the lava bed are not able to establish a good root system so they are twisted and gnarly. They also absorb lots iron from this lava, so they are prone to be struck by lightening.

On the trail

The trail to the Bandera Volcano Crater is a half mile on a 5% grade. It is paved with lava cinders, so it is sort of hard to walk on. However, Fabgrandpa and I both made it to the end. We were huffing and puffing, but we made it. (Remember, this is about 8,000 feet elevation and we spent the winter in Georgia at about 250 feet.)There are lots of benches along the way to sit down and rest. Be sure to take a bottle of water for each person.My camera battery died before we got to the end of the trail, so I don’t have a picture of the crater, but I promise you, I did go all the way out there! Lesson learned: Take extra batteries! Oh, and did I tell you it was cold? and the wind was blowing? and it was spitting snow?

Along the trail to the Ice Cave

After a short rest in the General Store (and purchasing some batteries for the camera) we took the short hike to the Ice Cave. Along the way to the cave you’ll see a smaller cave that was once used as a natural “refrigerator” for the people who owned the land; sinkholes created by collapsed lava tubes; and some Anazazi Indian ruins.

 

Yikes!

There are about 70 steps down to the Ice Cave. It is broken up with a couple of landings, again, with benches so you can rest a bit. Once we got down there, it was awesome! The temperature in the cave never gets above 31 degrees F, so as rain water and snow melt seep in, it freezes. The ice floor is approximately 20 feet thick, with the deepest ice dating back 3,400 years! The green tint is caused by Arctic algae. Ancient Indians and early settlers mined the ice, but that was stopped in 1946.

Ice Cave

That is solid ice on the floor of the cave. I couldn’t tell if it was colder than the outside air because, well, it was cold today.

Ice Cave with frozen waterfall

The greens and oranges you see on the lava are lichen and Alpine moss, which is very rare this far south.

Geode or Ice?

We couldn’t tell if this was a geode or ice? What do you think? For more information on Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano, click here.

Trees growing in lava

By the time we were walking back to the General Store, the dark storm clouds had drifted away and blue sky was showing. These trees were growing atop a lava ridge.

On the way home we had a fabulous view of Mt. Taylor, 11,301 feet, north of Grants.

Mt. Taylor

 

Roadtrip: Georgia to Arizona, 7th Day

We listened to the trucks rumble into and out of the Flying J down the road from the campground all night long, but we slept soundly, being lulled to sleep by the drone of the diesel engines. We were up and on our way earlier than any other day of this trip. We knew it was going to be a windy day from checking the weather channel, but just how windy? Just look a this:

The wind blew the bed cover open on our truck as we were going down the highway. We had to stop so Fabgrandpa could bungee it closed.

The cover blew open!

A little while later, the RV steps blew open! I happened to notice it in the mirror, so we had to stop again to close them up. We also used a bungee on them to make sure it didn’t happen again.

Never happened before!

And dust! So much dust you could barely see in spots, and there was road construction added to that mix as well!

Dust and wind in New Mexico

We were really glad to get off the road today in Grants. It was snowing when we pulled in to the KOA there, and cold, about 35 degrees. Those sway bars are hard to handle when it is that cold!

We’ll be staying here for two nights, so tomorrow we can go see the sites around Grants. I want to see the Ice Caves and Bandera Volcano. I’ve see the advertisements for them for five years now and it about time to go see them.

 

 

Roadtrip: Georgia to Arizona, 6th Day

A yard full of birds

A late start again today, but another very short driving day. We pulled out of 40 West RV Park in Shamrock, Texas around 11:00 a.m. heading for Tucumcari, New Mexico, only about 200 miles or so. We had an incredibly beautiful day and not much traffic. How lucky and a girl get on a Friday the 13th?

This rest stop is partly underground

I love the Texas sky on days like today. So blue, and the clouds are awesome!

A grain elevator along I-40

Isn’t this just gorgeous! Those are the big round hay bales in a field of green grass under a blue and white sky.

Let's make hay!

This water tank has been leaning since we started driving up and down I-40 in 2008. We always wonder if it is going to still be standing the next time we come through.

What the?

P.U! That is a feed lot full of cows west of Amarillo. We smelled it quite a ways before we saw it. Still want that burger?

this is one stinking place!

Every once in a while, we are rewarded with a truly beautiful scene, such as this one:

Beautiful!

We crossed over into New Mexico and had about forty miles to go to Tucumcari.

Crossing the New Mexico State Line

We pulled into the Flying J in Tucumcari for fuel before going to the campground for the night. They are getting $3.999 for diesel here.

A fuel stop before going to the campground for the night.

Then it was just about a half mile to Mountain Road RV Park to spend the night. Not a bad day at all.

Mountain Road RV Park