Monday, June 25, 2012

Mesa Verde National Park – Morefield Campground

After driving all day Sunday, stopping here and there, I finally settled on Mesa Verde National Park to spend the night on Sunday.   

We stopped at Durango to see if we could overnight at the Walmart or Home Depot, but they both said no. It's a city thing.  I need a short ladder, but I'll wait for a Walmart that allows O/N parking to buy it.  So, I checked my Atlas and on-line info and it was onward to Mesa Verde National Park. We got here around 5 pm.

Morefield Campground is within the park, and has tons of campsites.  You can make reservations, but according to the website, there are always campsites available.  All the sites with hook-ups were taken or reserved, but that’s okay, because I didn’t want h/u. The sites are all very natural, no concrete or cleared areas. There are a lot of trees and grasses and low bushes, which I'm sure keeps the dust down.  I like the feeling of the campgrounds.

The website said the dry camping sites were $20, but the price went up this year, and the site I was on had not been updated.  The daily one-half price with tax was $14.63 with my Federal Golden Age card. 

We kind of did the check-in backward.  They have a nice system that I didn't know about.  First we came in and drove around a few of the loops and found a site that wasn’t reserved or taken and it was perfect.  I looked around for a place to pay, you know, the little posts with envelopes?  There were none.  I asked a neighbor up the road how they paid, and they said you need to go to the store and check in, pay, and they give you a piece of paper with your name and check-out date and you put it on the campsite number post.  Once you have the paper, you drive around and find your campsite. So if you decide to come here, go to the Moreland Campground Store first to check in and pay.

So I drove back to the “store” and paid for three nights.  They have a grocery store with food and also souvenirs, shirts, all that stuff.  There is a cafĂ©, free showers for people camping here, and a coin-operated Laundromat.  There’s an evening program every night at the Amphitheater, and an all-you-can-eat pancake/sausage breakfast every morning between 7 and 10 am for $7.95 I think she said.  There are some nice trails, but Katie isn't allowed on the trails.  That's okay, at this elevation just walking around our loop is enough for me.
The Volunteer checking me in said there is a Momma Bear in the park with her two year-old cubs.  Also several coyotes have been sighted and they have already lost one dog.  I’m going to keep a tight rein on Katie, that’s for sure!  I've lost my Bear Bell that used to be on Katie's leash, but my whistle is attached, which was also suggested.  If I see the bears, I hope it's from the inside of The Palms!

I think we're going to enjoy being here.  The sites have a table and b-b-q pit, which you can’t use with the extreme fire situation going on in the state, actually in the area.  People are not allowed to even smoke outdoors, they have to smoke inside their car or RV.

Here's our site:

This path goes from our site to one of the restrooms:

View out the dinette window:

On our way here, I could see weird looking clouds in the distance, and as we got closer I realized those were clouds with smoke under them.  We went through an active fire zone with emergency vehicles parked on the side of the road and a helicopter over the nearest fire dropping water or fire retardant.  Flashing signs said “Do not stop for the next 5 miles.”   

There were lots of fires along the way, a couple that were spewing a lot of smoke and some that looked very small, just starting.  Some dark thick smoke, some white smoke. It was kind of scary, and then we were through it.

As we climbed the mountain to the Mesa Verde Park Entrance, there was a huge canyon between us and the fires, which were very visible from the road up to the park. 

I was told the smoke is going in the other direction so it shouldn't bother us here in the park.  I hope they are able to put the fires out soon.

I was able to update my Verizon tower access signals, but the coverage here in the park is minimal. One of the brochures I was given says there is no cell service in the park.  As I was driving around I was able to get one or two bars, though, that were soon dropped.  The Morefield Campground Store has free Wi-Fi, and I saw some people sitting at tables with their computers.  The volunteer said it’s not very good, but I will be able to get e-mail, and I’m sure I will be able to also upload my blog posts. 

So far so good, I like it here and plan to stay the full three days. Katie and I need to relax for a while and not worry about driving.

HEY, I just realized (last night when I wrote this) that I was getting 3 Verizon bars in this campsite if I put my tethered phone next to the window - we might even extend our stay!

From Me and Katie, I hope you have a nice Monday!  :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

4 strikes and we're out :(

WELCOME to our newest Follower, turquoisemoon!  She has two blogs, but is not an RVer that I could see.  Since I'm on the road, I didn't go down too many posts, but the posts I read look interesting.   Thanks for following along with us, turquoisemoon, we're happy to have you aboard!  :)

Although we had a beautiful campsite at Navajo Lake, I decided to move on the next morning. 

1.  Really hot - why does The Palms have wheels if we can't move to a comfortable area? 

2.  I couldn't seem to find a site where I'd fit and still face west.  That helps get the maximum from the solar panels, and puts us with our nose facing the hottest part of the day. We've been getting the sun beating down on us in the dinette window in the early part of the day, and then in the window over the couch in the hot afternoons.  It really helps to have the sun start in the kitchen window, go overhead, and end up coming in the windshield. I can control the heat better that way.

3.  This is a super dusty park. Not a lot of gravel or small rocks, just dry dirt that is really dusty.  But I probably would have stayed with those things, at least for a few days, #4 is what did us in. 

4.  I woke up Friday morning and stepped into the most ants I've ever seen.  They were everywhere!  BIG black ants and little black ants.  They were inside my (fake but fabulous Walmart) Crocs in seconds and I was really worried about them getting into The Palms.

I've never packed up so fast.  That was early Friday, and it's now Sunday morning, and I haven't seen any ants inside The Palms, so I think we're okay.

Heron Lake State Park was next on our list, so we headed that way.  It was a beautiful drive.  From the Visitor's Center, they have a telescope to use to see an Osprey nest.  There are three babies.  When I was with a camp host looking for a site (she was so nice, and went way beyond her duties to help me out) we drove right by it and saw two babies peeking out before mom tucked them under her again.

It was a little cooler there, and even though it was a weekend, there were some nice campsites I could get while facing West that were right near the water.  I even drove down to the Primitive Camping area at the far end of the Heron Lake State Park road.  The road was rough, and the turn down to the water was sharp and had large ruts.  I took a chance - wow, what ride! - but we made it.

Our primitive campsite, for about 10 minutes.

It was quiet and beautiful, with two other campers within eyesight. Katie and I walked down to the water, and in the dried mud there were large bird tracks, so I was thinking this would be a great place for bird watching.

I got my phone to check West and the level bubble app, and saw there were NO VERIZON BARS.  Rats! I couldn't stay there with no phone, so we drove out back to the main camping area. 

I was in an Extended Network area, and even if I was lucky to get any bars to allow calls in and out, this extended network didn't allow access to the Internet through my phone, at least I couldn't get it. Other people told me they used their computers, but I was on the phone with Verizon in the Visitor Center for 40 minutes, and we just couldn't get me on-line.

Anyway, I figured I could stay a few nights without Internet access.  We found a great campsite with a beautiful view and also with an easy walk to the lake.


I got The Palms set up and we sat outside for a little while enjoying the view.  Then Katie and I walked down to the lake, and I lifted her up and carefully put her back feet into the water.  She didn't fight me, so I put her front feet in, just a few inches - I was still holding her - and she started doing the dog paddle!  It really is instinct, because I don't think she's ever been in a lake before.  We walked more along the lake water line, and then walked back and I waded in the cool water and SO DID KATIE with no prompting from me!   Up to her knees.  I was really surprised.

So we walked back to The Palms and Katie sat down and started licking her stomach.  I laid her down on her back to see what was going on, and she had red bites/welts all over her underside.  Under her armpits, all over her chest and stomach, and down the inside of her back legs.  GEEZ.  I found some black bugs on her and picked them off, then put her in the sink and gave her a bath, thinking it would be soothing and might get any other bugs off her.  I put the 3 in 1 antiseptic ointment that the vet recommended for her nose all over her.  Surprisingly, she didn't seem to be bothered too much.

In the morning her bites looked a little better, and I found some Neosporin cream to put on her.  I decided to move to another site out of the grasses near the lakeside.  The new site overlooked the lake and was also an easy walk, but we stayed away from the lake on Saturday and only walked on the gravel roads.

The camp host in that area said all the little dogs get bit like that.  We had clouds coming in and a storm expected. After the rain, the bugs aren't bad, she said.  Unfortunately, we didn't get any rain and this morning, the sky didn't have a cloud to be seen. It was going to be hot again and I decided to leave and head north and see if we could find an area with cooler weather and Internet access.

 Beautiful Friday Sunset.

Of course, having the phone access is mandatory for me, but so is the Internet.  One thing I realized is that I couldn't even get on-line to figure out where to to next.  I couldn't get the temps in other areas, which was the fastest way to the coolest, closest NM campground.  I finally looked at the Atlas, picked a town over the border in Colorado, plugged that into the GPS and we left New Mexico, heading north. 

We are now sitting outside the Pagosa Ranger Station in the San Juan National Forest. It's in the middle of the small town of Pagosa.   This is a nice town, clean and rustic and lots of little shops.

When I post this, I'm going to do some research on where to go next.  But first I am going to call my son, Tom.  His 45th birthday was yesterday and for the first time ever, I didn't wish him a Happy Birthday.  I walked around the campground with my phone looking for bars, and finally was able to get a call though.  I had to leave a message, so at least he knew I didn't forget about his birthday.

I have no idea where we'll be posting from next, your guess is as good as mine.

From Me and My Dog, have a great Sunday, everyone!  :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

We're at Navajo Lake State Park, NM

Boy, are we beat!  But we made it to Navajo Lake State Park in New Mexico.

It's really hot, when we got here in the late afternoon The Palms was over 96 degrees.  It's 7:30 now, and with the A/C running since we got here, the temp in here is still 90.7.  It's going down realllly sloooow.  Katie is sound asleep, and I'm sure I'll be in bed early.  Between the drive and all the errands we ran on the way and the heat, I'm really tired.

We are overlooking a large lake going off in different directions, which we can also see.  It's really a beautiful view.  Here's our campsite and the view from the chair I was sitting in:

These photos are reversed time-wise - here is the dam - we drove by it on our way to the State Park:

This is the marina that we passed.  We can see it from our campsite.

There was a lot of interesting terrain on our way here. There were even some really nice Hoodoos, but I couldn't get a good photo, they were gone before I had the camera in hand.  I thought this area was interesting.

That's all for today.  Tomorrow we should be able to manage the heat inside The Palms better. By the time we got here, it was just out of control, and probably won't cool down in here until the middle of the night.

From Me and Katie, have a great Thursday evening, everyone!  :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Palms is ready to go, too.

WELCOME to new our Follower, Cari Cook!  I received an e-mail of introduction from Cari, and she said she just joined Me and My Dog as a Follower.  I couldn't find her in my list of Followers (she's there now with a photo but wasn't before),  so I checked back to the first page where the followers with no photo or info are shown, and there she was.  I saw others that I didn't recognize, so I did some research and searching in my posts to see if they had been welcomed, and they had not.

Here's who I found:  mickyjane, Frank and Chris, Diana, MIMI92R, and Laura.  I'm sorry I didn't welcome you all when you started following Me and My Dog, but I'm really happy to have you, and Cari, following along on our adventures.  Welcome Aboard! :)

Today I finally got out my RV cleaner and got to the bugs that were sticking on The Palms.  I got this stuff at Walmart and hadn't used it yet, but it's supposed to get off black streaks and bugs.  I had picked up a good number of bugs traveling across Arizona three weeks ago, and decided I'd leave here with a clean rig.

I got everything I could reach, which was most of the bugs, except the area over the windshield - the overhead bunk area.  I don't have a ladder so I couldn't reach that high.  I guess I should get one.

Last night I made two Birthday cards, one for my son, Tom, and one for my son-in-law, Matt.  Then I completed and printed out an on-line California Voter Registration form with my new mailing address, signed and dated it, and it was ready to mail.  I want to make sure I get my Vote by Mail form sent to my Mail Service.  I was going to walk down to the Ranger Office this afternoon when they opened at 1:00, but two volunteers drove up to ask me about a package they received (it wasn't mine), and they took my mail for me. That was nice.

This is so weird, but this morning I figured out we've been living an hour behind.  I guess if you don't have to go anywhere and you have no TV reception, it doesn't matter what time it is. 

I had everything on Arizona time, and here in New Mexico it's Mountain Daylight Savings Time.  I had to go around and re-set all my clocks an hour ahead, except my phone.
I don't know why I didn't notice that the phone was different than the rest of the clocks, I guess I don't use that one.  Three weeks.  An hour behind.  Isn't that weird?
We're ready to leave.  The last two or three days are always hard when we've been somewhere for a few weeks.  Katie keeps sitting on the dinette seat back, looking out the window and then back at me. She did that today while whining.  Drove me crazy, I finally gave her a chew toy and she stopped.  I think she was ready to go before I was.

We're leaving Thursday morning, and I'm going to stop for gas, propane, a little grocery stuff, and laundry on the way.  I'm about out of shorts, shirts and wear-unders, and need fresh towels and sheets.   We'll be traveling only three hours to our next New Mexico State Park, so if we leave early, we'll still get there mid-afternoon.

I usually get all that stuff done a day or so before we hit the road, but they are on our way, and there's a windy 5-mile road up the hill out of here to the Interstate, so we might as well take care of things on the way.

No good photos today. I think I've about taken pictures of everything I can.  I took photos of birds and squirrels today, but we've already done that on the blog.  I did get a neat looking spider on the wall of the vault toilet building yesterday.  He was a kind of big spider, and had the longest legs.  Just sat there posing for me.

We had another beautiful sunset tonight.  There hasn't been one in three weeks that wasn't beautiful.  It's so nice to have a clear view, no poles, wires, other RVs or buildings in the way.  

From Me and Katie, have a great Tuesday evening, everyone!  :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Getting ansy to move on...

WELCOME to our newest follower, Deb C.  Deb, you don't show any info or blog, but we are happy to welcome you aboard, and glad you're following along with us on our travels! :)

In addition to Bluewater Lake, there is also a Bluewater Creek on the Eastern side of the park.  I'm sure there are trails down to the creek, but Katie and I admired it from above.

 Bluewater Creek

Well, everyone is gone, and we are again alone in this campground.  My initial worries about having a big family surrounding us - and lots of other campers, too - was unfounded.  They were a really nice group.  Lots of kids and dogs and four generations.  Grandma and Grandpa are 83 and 90 years old, their kids were there, as well as grandkids and greats, too.  The dogs were mostly off leash, the kids were riding their bikes up and down the street, there was constant going back and forth from one campsite to another, and with all that, they were wonderful neighbors.  No yelling, loud music, late nights, a very nice surprise.  In fact, it seems very quiet today and I kind of miss all the people.

I don't need to be a busy-body - Katie takes care of that job for me.  She usually doesn't sit up there unless we're traveling or she wants to be traveling.  If you click on the photo, the close-up will show you all the people in front of one of the rigs.  She sat there for a long time watching them.

We're still suffering from the high altitude, but it's getting better.  The last two days we took long walks around the park, checking out the different campgrounds.  It feels good to be able to walk more, but we're sure happy to get back to The Palms afterward.

Katie is a definite critter finder.  Yesterday she saw this large beetle and stopped and refused to walk any more.  I went back to see what she found (usually it's food) and she was watching this beetle.  We followed it across the street and into the dirt.

I got a couple of good shots of the large birds  in flight this morning.  I think you guys are right, this one is a Turkey Vulture. 

Turkey Vulture
I'm not sure if this is the same bird as the one above. It sure looks different from below.
 Note: Per Judy, both photos are Turkey Vultures.  They really have different coloring on the top and bottom. Thanks, Judy!

There are one or two other black birds the same size who soar above us all the time, and swoop down when they see something good.  This is one - he's not a Turkey vulture.  I tried to find him in my bird books, but although he might be a Raven or some kind of Crow, they don't show the light tip on his beak, so I don't know what he is. Per Judy, it IS a Raven! 

I've been watching this cactus - it finally bloomed yesterday.  It's the only one of it's kind I've found on our walks.  Most of the cactus here are the small kind with yellow flowers, like the one below.

More flowers around the park - I know these are kind of boring, but I want to remember them:

Having so many colorful flowers makes our walks more interesting, and also all the birds soaring in the wind, especially on really windy days.

And finally, these are photos taken when we had lots of clouds on Saturday.  The clouds really keep it cooler when the temps are up in the 80's.

 Late afternoon 

Sunset, Saturday evening.

From me and Katie, have a nice Monday, everyone!  :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

It's raining!

It was clouding over late this morning, and it started looking like rain, but rain wasn't in the forecast the last time I looked.  Then, after our afternoon walk, the rain started coming down.  It's stopped now, but the sky is grey so I'm hoping for more.  I'm sure the tent campers aren't hoping for rain, though.

A LOT of campers came into this campground this morning.  This is the most crowded it's been since I've been here.  Lots of tents and RVs, and then a few minutes ago, a huge Cruiser 5th wheel pulled into the campsite below me, entirely blocking my view of the lake out the driver's side window.  It looks like there are a bunch of families meeting up here, because they all seem to know each other.  Lots of walking back and forth, music playing, kids riding their bikes up and down the street, etc.   Since this is Father's Day weekend, they are probably having a family get-together.  I've been lucky until now that it's been so quiet!

The Ranger has driven his truck through this area a few times today, I haven't seen him do that before, so he's definitely keeping his eye on things.  I hope they don't get too rowdy. 

One thing I've noticed about people camping with kids is that they might be kind of noisy during the day, but they quiet down early, which is really nice. 

For the last week I've been thinking I might want to move to the Primitive Camping area. We'd be right next to the lake and near where the horses and donkeys hang around.  If I start to feel I want more space, I might do that this weekend.  We'll see - but with Father's Day, it might be crowded there too, this weekend. 

Other than the rain and the crowd, nothing new to report. I downloaded a free monthly "rental" book from Amazon Prime yesterday and almost finished it last night.  Justice Rules by Thomas White.  It was really good, some unexpected twists and turns, kind of gross in places if you don't mind that, and I finally quit when my eyes were too sore to keep reading.  I read 92% of it (the Kindle Fire doesn't have page numbers, just percentages) and couldn't read anymore.  When I post this, I'm going to finish that book and start another.

Well, after I fix an early dinner.  I skipped lunch, it's 4:30, and I'm starved. I'm thinking a fried egg sandwich and a fruit salad.  :)

From  me and Katie, have a great weekend, everyone!  :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Roadrunner Mug and a New Toy!

WELCOME to our new Follower, Carolyn!  Carolyn is a member of the Women Go Solo Yahoo Forum, as am I, and although I'm a lurker, Carolyn often comments, so I've been following her for a while, even before I started following her blog.  (How's that for a run-on sentence.)  She says "I am trying to figure out what to do with me in these final years of my life."  Jeez, Carolyn, you're in your 60's!  Hopefully these aren't  your final years - I'm in my late 60s too, and I plan on at least 30 more!  Carolyn's blog posts are very conversational and have lots of great photos. She has a rig named Homer and has visited 43 states so far.  Carolyn, thanks for following along with me and Katie!

My prize for First Place in the "Mello Mike's 1st Annual Roadrunner Photo Contest" arrived today!  It's bigger than I thought it would be - not only will it be great for drinks, but I can also use it for hot soups or stew; it's big enough around to use as an insulated food mug.  It's really pretty, and I can't wait to use it.

I sent Mike a thank you e-mail, and mentioned that after looking at these photos on the mug, I realized one of the things I like the  most about Roadrunners.  They always look so surprised, or maybe very interested in something.  They seem to have a real expression on their face.

I also got a new Kindle Fire yesterday!  Very exciting!  I've gone back and forth about getting a tablet, I really WANT one, but don't necessarily NEED one, so I just couldn't justify the cost. The one I want, with the keyboard attachment, would have been around $800 or more.  So I started looking at the Kindle Fire.  I have the first generation Kindle.  It's good for reading and I use it all the time, but I wanted something that would connect to the Internet without setting up my laptop.  I wanted it to get e-mail, access blogs, etc., and the Kindle Fire looked like a good deal at $199.

I had some points on my AMEX card to spend, and my daughter and her family gave me an Amazon gift card for Mother's Day (thanks Kristy and Matt!) and I used both toward the purchase price, so I got a very nice new electronic toy pretty inexpensively.

It came around 11 am yesterday, and I spent all day trying to figure it out, get all my books downloaded, get some documents into the "cloud" so I can download them to the Fire.  I want my maps and spreadsheets about parks available when I'm on the road, as well as other information.

I had to call Verizon to set up my phone as a Hot Spot so that I could wirelessly do what I need to do with the Fire.  I want to download as much as I can to the unit so I won't have to use the hotspot much. If I can download some movies and TV shows, etc., then I won't need to use the wireless feature when I watch them.  I'm hoping I can download movies from Netflix.

With the purchase of the Kindle, I got a free month to use Amazon Prime to watch movies and TV shows, but I need the Internet for that, so I'll use my laptop for that feature.  (Of course, anyone can get a free month - they give you 30 days free hoping you'll continue.)

I have a lot to learn about what it will do, and how things work.  I was ready for a new toy that I can have some fun with, and enjoy figuring out.

I also got myself a couple of battery operated fans today when we were shopping.  They'll be nice to have, for sure. I've been wishing I had some that didn't need to be plugged in. Sometimes it's not hot enough for the A/C with the generator running, but a nice little fan would be just right.  

Here are my three new toys - gotta love new toys!

 Roadrunner Mug, Kindle Fire, and Fan

Did I show you our new (3rd) campsite?  It's a good one.

 There's lots of shade by the table in the morning, 
but no shade on The Palms' solar panels.

Between working with the new Kindle all day yesterday, and going to Walmart today, putting away almost $300 worth of food and supplies, gassing up The Palms, then dumping tanks and filling up the water tank, I was really tired when we got back to the campsite around 3:00.  I don't plan to do anything much for the rest of the day, or tomorrow either.

Now we're good to go with everything we need, and more, until we leave here next week to travel to another New Mexico State Park.

Here are a couple of pretty sunsets from Monday evening. They were taken from our campsite; the first is a long shot and the second one is a close-up of the same place where the sun went down.

That's it for today. From Katie and me, have a  great Wednesday, everyone!  :)