April 30, 2015

A Week at Trinidad Lake State Park

After seven months away, Tim and I crossed back into Colorado on March 26.  We checked into Trinidad Lake State Park, just outside the town of Trinidad in southeast Colorado.  Tim and I have always enjoyed Colorado state parks, and Trinidad is another great one.  It was nice to return to a state park and settle into a nice campsite that even had a small view of the lake.  Despite the fact that it was spring break for many schools, the park was surprisingly quite.

Trinidad was once a stop on the Santa Fe Trail and is an interesting historic town with a restored and active downtown.  Locally-produced bricks were used to pave many of the streets, and these have become the defining feature of the downtown district.  Trinidad was also a mining town, and the Coal Miners' Memorial on Main Street honors the men who labored in the nearby coal camps.

A Wealth of Historic Architecture in Downtown Trinidad

Trinidad Bricks

Coal Miners' Memorial

Tim and I were surprised with the number of very good and interesting restaurants in Trinidad, and we did our best to sample quite a few of them.  Comfort food was the specialty at Lee’s Bar-B-Q (which isn’t really known for its barbeque), and the burger smothered with fries and green chili was over-the-top.  Healthier, but equally delicious, options were the rule at our two favorite restaurants, The Café and Bella Luna Pizzeria. 

One day we ventured out to drive the Highway of Legends, a scenic highway that circles the Spanish Peaks from Trinidad to Walsenburg.  Our first stop was the Cokedale Ovens.  These odd structures seem to remind most people of ancient Roman aqueducts, but they are actually coke ovens that once transformed coal into coke for use in smelting iron.  The highway soon began the climb toward Cuchara Pass, and on the way we passed by several mountain lakes that seemed to be perfect summer destinations. 

Cokedale Ovens

North Lake

For me, the most interesting part of the drive was the wealth of unique geological formations.  Most interesting was the Devil’s Stairsteps, which is said to be a prime example of the 400-plus stone dikes that radiate out from the Spanish Peaks like spokes on a wheel.  I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I do know that I had never seen anything quite like that before.

Devil's Stairsteps

Unusual Geological Formations

Spanish Peaks - A Dramatic Backdrop along the Highway of Legends

We extended our stay at Trinidad Lake State Park because snow was in the forecast for the area we were headed.  This seems to be a recurring theme in our recent travels.  We didn’t mind a few extra days at the park, especially since we were able to move to an even more scenic and spacious campsite with a lovely view of Trinidad Lake.

A Peaceful Campsite with a Lake View

Although we didn’t spend all our time touring, relaxing and eating, we did make it a point to rest up for the work we were facing at our next stop.  That’s where we would downsize and make our final preparations for our trip to Alaska this summer.

April 29, 2015

Highlights of Northeast New Mexico

Northeast New Mexico is an area where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains.  It’s a diverse area with a varied landscape and an interesting collection of historic sites and unique landmarks.  The Santa Fe Trail also winds its way through this part of the state, and we were able to see remnants of the trail at several of the sites we visited.

When we left Albuquerque on March 21, we first made our way to Pecos National Historical Park, where Tim worked before moving to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Since it was Saturday, none of his former coworkers were at the park, so we spent our limited time revisiting the ruins of the Pecos Pueblo and the Spanish mission complex. 

The Pueblo of Pecos served as a trade center for Pueblo and Plains Indians long before Spaniards explored the Pecos Valley.  The Franciscans arrived in the 1600s and built the most imposing of the New Mexican mission churches.  By the time the Santa Fe Trail was established in the early 1800s, however, Pecos was largely abandoned and became only a landmark along the trail.

The Ruins of the Mission Church at Pecos National Historical Park

If These Walls Could Talk. . .

Late afternoon is usually the best time of day to wander through the ruins, as the setting sun illuminates the adobe walls of the church.  Although storm clouds were building when we visited, it was still a peaceful time to walk among the walls and imagine the long history that is embodied in this site.

Soon it was time for us to press onward towards Las Vegas, New Mexico, where we spent the next two nights.  Las Vegas was founded in 1835 and became a major stop on the Santa Fe Trail.  There is something about Las Vegas that really fascinates me.  Perhaps it’s the Plaza, or the wonderful collection of historic buildings.  I think it also has something to do with the fact that Las Vegas is still a bit rough around the edges.  It’s not a pristine, fully restored town.  There’s still a lot of work to do, but there is so much historic fabric to work with, as well as so much local pride.  I like that.

I had visited Las Vegas on two previous occasions and was looking forward to seeing how much progress had been made.  I also really wanted to share my favorite parts of the city with Tim.  On Sunday morning, we drove downtown and spent the day there.  We enjoyed lunch at a Mexican restaurant on the Plaza and later visited the restored Plaza Hotel, as well as other historic areas in the city.  

The Plaza, Las Vegas, New Mexico

With some trepidation, we drove down to the railroad district to see if La Castaneda Hotel was still standing.  This grand hotel was built in 1898 by Fred Harvey to serve the passengers on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad.  I love Harvey Houses and was dismayed on my last visit to see the deterioration and neglect that had befallen this wonderful Mission Revival style structure.  You can therefore imaging how ecstatic I was to learn that La Castaneda had been purchased last year by the owner of another Harvey House, La Posada in Winslow, Arizona.  Rehabilitation had already begun on La Castaneda!  I had stayed at La Posada in 2005 and had seen the quality of the rehabilitation work there and knew that La Castaneda was in good hands.

Rehabilitation of La Castaneda Has Begun

La Castaneda Is an Outstanding Mission Revival Structure

The Neighboring Depot Is Still Served by Amtrak

When we left Las Vegas on March 23 we stopped for a visit at the nearby Fort Union National Monument.  Fort Union was once the largest U.S. military installation on the 1800s Southwest frontier.  The fort was built to protect travelers on the Santa Fe Trail, as well as to serve as a major military supply depot for the region.  All that remains today, however, are the remains of adobe walls, as well as scattered chimneys, but the extensive interpretive panels give one a sense of what the complex must have looked like.  The park also preserves an amazing set of Santa Fe Trail ruts that once cut through the prairie sod.

Fort Union Was Once the Largest Fort in the Southwest

Santa Fe Trail Ruts

We spent much of our time talking with Tim’s former colleague, who is now Chief of Interpretation at Fort Union.  It was enlightening to hear of the work he has accomplished at Fort Union, including the new movie that we enjoyed.  The new interpretive panels that he produced enable visitors to understand the history and significance of the fort.

Good Interpretive Tools Are Invaluable in Helping Visitors Understand a Historic Site

We left Fort Union and drove to Capulin, New Mexico, where we spent the night.  Our plan was to visit Capulin Volcano National Monument the next day.  We knew that Capulin was an extinct volcano, but we weren’t sure what to expect at the park.  It turned out to be a fascinating place.  Capulin is the cone of a volcano that erupted between 56,000 and 62,000 years ago and is an outstanding example of recent volcanic activity.  Capulin is also significant as a symmetrical example of a cinder cone volcano. 

When Tim and I stopped at the visitor center we ran into the Chief of Interpretation who was manning the front desk.  We were fortunate to be the only visitors at the time, and we were able to spend a good amount of time with her to learn about the park.  We also talked with her about Tim’s consulting work, and she seemed very interested and gave us a tour of the facility.  There is a lot going on at this small park, and it would be a fascinating place to work for a couple of weeks.

Tim and I then took the scenic drive that spirals its way to the summit of the volcano, where we hiked the Crater Rim Trail.  As the name suggests, the trail encircles the rim of the volcano and provides expansive views of the surrounding volcanic field, as well as the snowcapped Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  Capulin is also one of the few places where you can walk into a volcano.  I took the short trail that leads to the vent at the bottom of the crater and was able to see what the inside of a volcano looks like.  Very cool!

Winding Our Way to the Top of the Volcano

View into the Volcano from the Crater Rim Trail

Walking into a Volcano

We ended up staying an extra night in Capulin because of the forecast for snow.  The snow began earlier than expected, and it turned very cold.  In the morning, we discovered that our water pump and macerator had frozen.  Luckily, the systems sustained no damage, and the sun helped to thaw everything out.

April 24, 2015

Albuquerque Adventures

Tim and I arrived in Albuquerque on March 16 and pulled into Ruth and Lou’s back yard for a few nights.  What wonderful hosts they were.  Lou prepared his famous spaghetti the first night, we enjoyed just sitting around and learning about the direction our lives had taken since our last visit.  We were especially excited to find out that Ruth was winding down her career and would be retiring in the next month.  Exciting times for everyone.

During our stay, Ruth’s sister Byrd came to Albuquerque for a visit, and it was go good to spend some time with her.  Tim and I had not seen Byrd since our wedding so we had lots of things to talk about. 

Good Time With Friends

One of our top priorities in Albuquerque was purchasing New Mexico piñon coffee.  This was our favorite coffee when we lived in Colorado, and we had been able to acquire it at our local Costco.  We really missed this unique coffee so we made our way to the New Mexico Piñon Coffee Company’s retail store in Albuquerque.  The company now makes K-cups for Keurig coffeemakers, so we stocked up. 

"Great Coffee Is a Matter of a Piñon"

Albuquerque was the perfect city to get our fill of wonderful New Mexican food.  Ruth and Lou took us to some of their favorite restaurants, and each meal seemed to be better than the last.  New Mexican food is different than Mexican food, although there are some similarities.  The use of the New Mexican chile, both green and red, is perhaps the defining ingredient that distinguishes New Mexican cuisine.  Green chile is used as a topping on everything, from burritos to cheeseburgers to pizza.  Over the years, Tim has made me a green chile convert!

Tim and I also took a day to visit Petroglyph National Monument.  This National Park Service unit preserves one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, but its location is somewhat surprising.  Petroglyph is really an urban park, and development has inched right up to its boundaries.  The park was established in 1990 and is an oasis in the midst of suburban sprawl.

Suburbia Is Just Inches Away from Petroglyph National Monument

Several trails lead to major concentrations of this amazing rock art, and Tim and I hiked the ones in Boca Negra Canyon.  We learned that the petroglyphs were carved onto the rocks not just by the ancestors of modern Pueblo people, but also by Spanish settlers in the 1600s, and later explorers in the 1800s. 

Petroglyph National Monument

Our first hike was not a long one, but the trail was steep and rocky, and surprisingly crowded.  We had forgotten that spring break brings out lots of families with kids.  It was therefore difficult to spend much time studying the petroglyphs and contemplating their meanings.  Still, I’m glad we took the time to seek out the images and marvel at the early cultures that created them.

Images in the Rocks

Tim and I had only planned to stay a few days in Albuquerque, but we extended our visit when the weather forecast for northern New Mexico called for snow.  This gave us time to shop for a new computer for me.  My laptop was old, slow and quirky, and I wanted to upgrade before we headed to Alaska.  

Although we had been researching laptops for some time, I couldn’t quite make up my mind.  We stopped at a Best Buy in Albuquerque and looked at the two top contenders.  Although I liked both laptops, neither had the one feature that I really wanted – extra-long battery life.  The salesman showed me a new HP with a battery life up to 12 hours – WOW!  That was twice as long as the ones I was considering.  However, since I knew nothing about the HP, we left empty-handed to do a bit of research.

I still couldn’t seem to decide, but finally made up my mind to get the HP. I drove to Best Buy the afternoon before we were to leave, but forgot my purse and had to turn around.  Arrggh!  I went back the next morning while Tim headed to our next destination.  I bought the HP Spectre x360 and left it with the Geek Squad to begin the set up.  I knew I wouldn’t have time to wait for them to finish, but I came back in three hours, and a very helpful Geek worked with me to install the programs that I would need right away.

I Love My New Laptop

I’ve been using the laptop since mid-March, and I love it.  The battery life is as advertised, and the computer is a pleasure to use.  I love how fast it is, and the back-lit keyboard is a great feature.  I had to quickly learn Windows 8.1, but it wasn’t too difficult.  I was even able to transfer all of my files from my old laptop to the new one by myself.  Having a reliable computer will give me a little more peace of mind as we head to Alaska.

April 22, 2015

Back to Un-Civilization

Tim and I finally left the Phoenix area on March 5, but it seemed to take forever to put the “big city” in the rearview mirror.  I was so happy to finally get through the hour of non-stop traffic and head for the hills.  Once we left the eastern suburbs, it was a beautiful drive over the mountains.  Wildflowers were blooming alongside the roads, and I couldn’t get enough of the hillsides carpeted with yellow poppies.

The stretch of Route 60 between Phoenix and Globe is known as the Gila-Pinal Scenic Road, and the Superstition Mountains were the most prominent landmark on the first part of the drive.  Silver and copper mines dotted the mountains on the way to Miami (not Florida) and Globe, and we enjoyed the road as it twisted and wound its way up and down the mountain.

Leaving the Big City Behind

On the Way to Globe, AZ

Poppies Galore

Our destination for the evening was Roper Lake State Park near Safford, Arizona.  As soon as we pulled into the campground, I felt I could breathe once again, and I let out a big sigh of relief.  Roper Lake is a lovely park, and we had one of the best sites in the campground.  Our site had an unbelievable amount of space, especially behind us.  It was so nice to be back in a “natural” park.  Even Kitty seemed happier.  Tim and I walked down to the lake and spent some time exploring the park.

A Fabulous Site at Roper Lake State Park

Roper Lake State Park

We stayed at Roper Lake State Park only one night and left the next morning for Silver City, New Mexico.  Because we drive a small RV, we are able to travel roads that are not suited to larger RVs.  And that’s exactly the type of road we took toward Silver City.  Route 78 is a narrow, winding road up and over the mountains, with hairpin curves that opened up to incredible views.  I love to drive this type of road.

A Great Drive with Great Views

Following Tim into New Mexico

We arrived in New Mexico to much cooler temperatures and checked back in to the Rose Valley RV Ranch on March 6.  We lucked out with another great campsite, with lots of room and privacy.  We were really looking forward to the week we had reserved there.

Kitty Worked Hard While We Were at Rose Valley RV Ranch

Where did the week go?   It seemed that we did very little resting, and very little touring.  Since we had played tourist on our last visit to Silver City, we welcomed the time to just be homebodies.  It wasn’t an exciting week, but we caught up on some chores and errands and spend quite a bit of time planning our Alaska trip.  Rose Valley was a perfect place to do what we needed to do, including haircuts and laundry.  We did take time to explore more of downtown Silver City where we found a popular coffee shop that serves sinful deserts.  Silver City is often listed as one of the best small towns in America, and the town has done a very good job of preserving and reusing its historic buildings. 

Downtown Silver City, New Mexico

While we were at Rose Valley, Tim spoke with his good friends Ruth and Lou who live in Albuquerque and discovered that they would be in Deming, New Mexico, on the day we were scheduled to leave Silver City.  What a coincidence that we were just fifty miles away.  Although we had planned to see them in Albuquerque, we quickly decided that it would be fun to also spend time with them in Deming.

Why Deming?  Ruth and Lou were there to attend the 50th Annual Rockhound Roundup, a gem and mineral show.  Neither Tim nor I had ever been to a rock show and had no idea that there were so many avid rock collectors.  The show was huge, and Tim and I actually had a lot of fun.  Some of the rocks were gorgeous.  With visions of Lucille Ball and “The Long, Long Trailer” in the back of our minds, we resisted making any purchases.  Rocks and RVs just don’t mix!

With plans to meet Ruth and Lou in Albuquerque in a few days, Tim and I left Deming with a “must-see” on our itinerary – Hatch, New Mexico.  Hatch is the self-proclaimed chile capital of the world and is known for green chile.  Although March is far from chile season, we were able to purchase frozen green chile, as well as various salsas.  The highlight, however, was Sparky’s, a local institution that has quite the following.

Sparky’s is not just a restaurant, but a roadside attraction, and is known for its world famous chile cheeseburger.  Tim and I braved the line that snaked its way out past the front door and ordered green chile cheeseburgers, of course, with barbeque and a strawberry milkshake to enjoy later.  We loved the atmosphere, as well as the food, and found Sparky’s a perfect local place to eat.  For us, sampling restaurants like Sparky’s is an essential part of traveling.

Sparky's, Hatch, New Mexico

Our overnight stop on the way to Albuquerque was Elephant Butte State Park.  We followed the advice of several bloggers and found a lovely campsite with a water view and lots of space in the north end of the park.  We paid for one night and settled in.  It was very windy the day we arrived, but the next day was wonderful, with very little wind.  Tim and I decided to stay for another night, so we walked down to the pay station and paid for one more night.  That’s when the drama began.

A Heavenly Site at Elephant Butte State Park, While It Lasted

The volunteer camp host came by and told us we couldn’t stay in our site for another night.  Say What?  Apparently, you can only stay in a reservation site for one night, which is not how we interpreted the signs.  By then it was 2:30 pm, and we didn’t want to move.  The campground was virtually empty, and all of the waterfront sites, except two, were vacant.  The host, however, said we had to move to one farther away.  I was incredulous.  I understand rules (if fact, I spent my career enforcing rules), but this one made no sense.  The host was very insistent, and I got very angry and decided I didn’t want to stay since we had to pack up anyway.  Poor Tim.  He had to remain the calm one and deal with the host.

About ten minutes later while I was inside packing the RV, the host came back and looked at our permit once again and began to write notes in his book.  Tim went out, and the host told him that we owed ten dollars for the car.  Toads (or towed vehicles) are not charged a separate fee, and we honestly believed that our car would be considered a toad.  I guess not.  Now Tim was upset and said he was not going to pay since we had already paid fourteen dollars that we would be forfeiting since we were leaving.  The host reluctantly said that would cover the ten dollar charge. 

The final straw was when the host asked Tim, “You aren’t planning to stay at any other state parks, are you?”  Tim, not surprisingly, interpreted this to mean that we would be blackballed from staying at all New Mexico parks.  What an awful experience!  I cannot tell you the last time I was that angry.  Perhaps we were wrong in not interpreting the rules correctly, but I still cannot believe how the host handled the situation.  

We left the state park as soon as we could and moved to a private campground farther north.  The campground was a bit funky, but the owner was great, and we were happy to give him our money and be some place where we felt comfortable.  It took me a long time, however, to just let go of the anger.

The next day we left for Albuquerque and stopped for lunch at Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio, New Mexico.  Here we once again ordered green chile cheeseburgers.  These were even better than the ones at Sparky’s.  The owner-chef sat and talked with us, and we learned that he had bested Food Network’s Bobby Flay in a 2009 throwdown.  Buckhorn Tavern is another restaurant that perfectly captures the local flavor and cuisine.

April 19, 2015

Two Weeks in Arizona

Tim and I weren’t planning to spend more than two weeks in Arizona when we arrived there on February 20.  Still, we had several things on our “to-do” list, including touring several units of the National Park Service, spending time with friends and attending the Camping World/Good Sam Rally.  Visits would have to be short if we were to fit everything in.

Our first stop was Chiricahua National Monument.  Located in the far southeast corner of Arizona, Chiricahua is one park that neither Tim nor I had ever visited.  We both agreed that it was worth the wait.  Known as the “Land of Standing Up Rocks,” Chiricahua is known for the rock pinnacles that loom over the countryside.  We learned that Chiricahua is a sky island, an isolated mountain range that rises above the surrounding grassland sea, and the scenic drive in the park took us to the summit.

The pinnacles take on all sorts of shapes and forms, and many of the formations have imaginative names.  To really appreciate the rock formations, you really have to hike among them.  And that is what Tim and I did.  We took several shorter hikes, and I couldn’t seem to stop taking photos at every turn.  As we made our way among the countless pinnacle formations, I was surprised to find that so many of the rocks were cloaked with brilliant green lichen.  The color was stunning.  We enjoyed the hikes immensely, but reluctantly had to turn back because of the relentless wind.  I thought we were going to be blown away!

Chiricahua National Monument

From Chiricahua, we drove even farther south to the historic, former mining town of Bisbee.  Our home for the night was an in-town campground that overlooked the open pit mine.  Now that was a different view!  Bisbee is a very cute town with a great art scene and excellent restaurants.  We stumbled upon a Vietnamese restaurant with just a handful of seats and enjoyed a fabulous dinner.  We spent the next morning wandering through the town and checking out a few of the shops.  Bisbee is definitely a town worth spending some time in.

Bisbee, AZ

The main reason for venturing into southern Arizona was to visit our friends Judy and Peter, who spend winters in Sierra Vista.  We hadn’t seen them since Judy retired from Rocky Mountain National Park several years ago, and it was so nice to catch up and get to know them a bit better.  They treated us to a delicious home-cooked dinner our first night in town – the salmon and cornbread were amazing, and the wine was perfect.  Driveway camping was an added bonus.  Judy and Peter were in the process of re-landscaping their yard, and it was especially nice to learn about their plans and share their excitement about the project.

We took a day trip to Coronado National Memorial, an odd little park.  Coronado National Memorial commemorates Francisco Vásquez de Coronado’s expedition in the 1500s into what is now the America Southwest, but it is likely that he never set foot in what is now the park.  Still, the park is beautiful, and the views from the top of Montezuma Pass were breathtaking.  The park is very close to the U.S.-Mexican border, and Border Patrol vehicles were quite evident.  From the top of the pass, we were also able to see the infamous wall that separates the United States from Mexico.  That was a first for me.

Coronado National Memorial

While we were at the park, we ran into Pam and John, whose blog I follow.  I accosted them in the parking lot at the visitor center, and after they got over the initial shock, they seemed happy to meet us.  I’ve read about how bloggers often run into one another, but this was the first time I had ever stumbled upon someone on the road.

Judy took us to a favorite spot along the San Pedro River where we saw a stand of cottonwood trees that were already leafing out.  It was so nice to see green leaves after the long, dreary winter.  We ended the day with a lovely dinner at Judy and Peter’s favorite Italian restaurant.

A Wonderful Visit with Judy and Peter

I had one errand to accomplish while we were in Sierra Vista, and that was getting fingerprinted.  Tim and I will be in Alaska this summer and will be working at Sitka National Historical Park.  For some reason, that park required me to undergo a background check, and Sierra Vista had the necessary facility.  I haven’t heard back from the park, so I think I passed.

It was sad to leave Judy and Peter, but it was time to head towards Phoenix.  We stopped for the night in Casa Grande and took the time to visit Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.  Casa Grande was impressive and is the largest known structure of the Ancestral People of the Sonoran Desert.  Today, a steel-and-concrete canopy, built in 1932, continues to protect the Great House. 

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

The campground where we stayed in Casa Grande was an older RV park.  This was my first real taste of an Arizona snowbird park, and I quickly decided that this is not the type of park where I’d want to spend the winter.  The sites were so close together that our neighbors could probably have heard us sneeze.  We next traveled to the western part of Phoenix and stayed at another snowbird park.  Although this one was a bit more modern, I also knew right away that this was not where I want to end up.

Our reason for coming to Phoenix was to attend The Rally, put on by Camping World and Good Sam.  I had attended a previous rally before we embarked on our nine-month trip, but Tim had never been, so we registered for the entire event.  For four nights, we would be camped with several thousand other rigs on the edge of the Phoenix International Raceway.  Arrival and check-in at the raceway was surprisingly smooth, and we got settled into our space rather quickly.

The Rally consisted of exhibits, seminars and assorted activities, but we were there mostly to attend the seminars and check out the vendors.  On our first day, it was hot and the sun was intense.  There was little shade, and the seminars and exhibits were in tents, which provided little relief.  We did a little shopping, waited in line forever for lunch, sat in on a few seminars, got overheated, and dragged ourselves back to our RV.  I have to admit that I was just about ready to leave.  I was not having a good time.

Luckily, the next few days were much better and more fun.  It was not as hot nor as crowded, or maybe we just knew the ropes.  One of the highlights was meeting Dean from Leisure Travel Vans, the manufacturer of our RV.  We looked at the Unity as well as a few other RVs, but mostly we went to seminars and did our fair share of shopping.  We may not do much regular shopping, but we do shop at RV rallies and shows.  New LED lights, microfiber products and microwave cookware and accessories were just a few of the things we couldn’t live without.  Of course we also found other things that we didn’t even know we needed.

The Rally

As the Rally neared its end, the weather began to deteriorate, and a flood watch was in the forecast.  Since we were finished by early Sunday afternoon, we decided to leave a day early so we wouldn’t have to deal with the rain, and mud, on Monday.  We moved to another nearby snowbird park.  Although the condition of the park wasn’t as good as the last one where we stayed, at least it had more character – trees!  Many citrus trees loaded with fruit even provided a bit of shade.

Staying at these three different snowbird parks really opened my eyes to the way of life for so many RVers.  That’s not how I want to spend even part of a winter – these parks are just too claustrophobic for me.  We had tried to get into the nearby county and state parks, but there was no availability.  Unfortunately, booking far in advance is necessary.  I know that I would have liked those parks, so it was frustrating that we missed that opportunity.

Tim and I did take advantage of our time in the Phoenix area, and Tim was able to attend a Cactus League baseball game.  The Cleveland Indians were playing the Cincinnati Reds on the second day of Spring Training at Goodyear Ballpark.  Cleveland beat Cincinnati 4-2.

Spring Training

While we were in Phoenix, we also faced an important decision – where to go next.  We really didn’t have a good answer.  To the north, snow had been falling, and some of the public parks we looked at had not yet opened for the season.  The private parks just didn’t seem too interesting. We spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to find some place that we would enjoy for a week.  What we really wanted to do was chill after all of the running we’d done since arriving at Fort Davis.  I finally said that I’d just as soon go back to New Mexico and to the park in Silver City that we really liked.  And, that’s just what we decided to do.