Cliff Dwellings; Atomic Bombs; & Wild Hogs (Elks Lodge 460 – Santa Fe, NM)

Author’s Note:  Picture heavy post today – consider viewing on a laptop or desktop instead of your mobile device.

We had quite the busy Tuesday… We took our little dog ‘Coach’ and jumped into the Silverado for a loong drive around the Santa Fe, NM area.

Follow along:

We headed north through Santa Fe from our spot at the Elks Lodge on Old Pecos Trail and got on Bishops Lodge Rd (590) which was a nice scenic drive until it joined US-285 after the town of Tesuque.  This very scenic route gave us a little flavor of the area.  Nice 🙂

Then we took US-285 to Espanola (#1 on the map below) where we stopped for a quick breakfast at McDonalds.  Then we got on Hwy 30 and headed southwest again until we saw signs for Puye Cliff Dwellings.


Puye Cliffs (← link here) was home to 1,500 Pueblo Indians who lived, farmed and hunted game there from the 900s to 1580 A.D.  Puye Cliffs’ inhabitants then moved into the Rio Grande River valley. They became the ancestors of today’s Santa Clara people, who now live at Santa Clara Pueblo, 10 miles east of Puye.

We stopped inside the Welcome Center along Hwy 30 which served double-duty as a gas station and convenience store to ask how much and how far.  It’s free to drive up to the dwellings; tours are available for a fee upon arrival; and the distance was about 7 miles…


we drove through the entrance and headed west…


until we got to a scenic overlook…


Here’s the informational placard I’m looking at in the pic above:



From the scenic viewpoint we could see a forest fire in the distance.


We drove on to the Cliff Dwellings and parked in front of the visitors center.


Once inside the visitor center…


we viewed the tour prices…


and took into consideration the length of time and distance one of the tours would require; we decided we couldn’t leave little Coach in the pickup for that long.

Notice the “Tour Pass Required” sign:


We read the literature available in the visitor center to gain some knowledge about this neat place.  There was no film or documentary available to watch, as in many visitor centers.  We went behind the center and took pictures.



You can see some folks on one of the tours climbing the ladder (below).


After leaving the Cliff Dwellings we got back on Hwy 30 south and stopped at White Rock where we saw a huge parking lot and visitor center for Bandelier National Monument (← link here), (#2 on map below).


A nice lady inside the visitor center told us that shuttles are required to get to the Bandelier National Monument and no dogs are allowed 🙁  but we could drive along scenic Hwy 4 right next to the monument and go into Los Alamos from 501 on the west side.  Click HERE to see google images of Bandlier National Monument.


We drove along Hwy 4 to the campground at the entrance to the monument.


We toured the campground for future reference.  Here are the rates and a map:



Since we couldn’t take little Coach to the monument in a shuttle, we continued west on Hwy 4 and passed our turn for Los Alamos to see the Valle Grande Scenic Viewpoint (#3 on map below) which was prominently marked on the literature and map we got at the visitors center.


It was a steep and windy road and we’re not sure it was worth the extra miles drive just to turn around again, but hey –  we were here now.


Click HERE and HERE for more information on Valle Grande aka Valles Caldera.




After checking out the reportedly ‘largest extinct volcanic crater’ from the viewpoint, we turned around and headed to Los Alamos.


In Los Alamos, (#4 on my map above) we stopped first at the Historical Museum.  (Don’t forget to click on the links).


Built as an infirmary in 1918 and later used as the guest cottage for Los Alamos Ranch School, the museum is in the oldest continually occupied structure in town.  During the Manhattan Project (1943 to 1947), the cottage continued to serve as guest quarters.


After an interesting and informative tour of the Historical Museum we took a walking tour of the nearby sites with little Coach in tow.

Follow along on our walking tour:



More pics of Fuller Lodge:
















More pics of the ruins mentioned in the placard above:





After our energizing walking tour, we drove over to the Bradbury Science Museum.


This was a really neat museum!  We could spend hours here, but it was getting late in the day.  We watched a very informative documentary film in the theater about the history of Los Alamos.




We left Los Alamos around 4:30 PM and headed back to Santa Fe.  When we got close to the Elks Lodge, we remembered that the town of Madrid was nearby.  Madrid was made famous by the movie Wild Hogs starring Tim Allen, John Travolta, and others.  Click HERE for a link to an informational website provided by several businesses in town.  We have to stop by Madrid since we’re this close, right!?!

We plugged Madrid (#5 on map below) into our iPhone GPS and drove the ~25 miles from our camping spot at Elks Lodge 460.






We stopped at the Mine Shaft Tavern (←link) known as one of the ‘last great roadhouses’.






We enjoyed a nice dinner while looking down on the main street of Madrid.




Giant chile pepper archway behind the tavern.


After an enjoyable dinner and an already long day, we stopped in front of Maggie’s Diner for a couple more pics before the sun went down.  We found out from the website that the diner was built for the movie and is now a gift shop.  Unfortunately it was closed for the day 🙁






Hope you enjoyed the tour today.

We’ll probably start heading towards Lake Powell today, the intermediate destination we have in mind is Farmington, NM.  Check back to see if we made it… 🙂

Touring Downtown Santa Fe (Elks Lodge 460 – Santa Fe, NM)

More pictures – less words today… just want to get the blog post done so we can go check out more local attractions today 🙂

On Monday, we drove into Santa Fe to check out some of the downtown attractions.  Stilla especially wanted to see more of the churches.  (Click on the link above for info on Santa Fe from my friend WIkipedia®).

We parked in one of the downtown parking lots and paid $6 for three hours.  Then we walked over to the Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi.  In yesterdays blog, I incorrectly identified this church as the one with the famous spiral staircase.


We found out that the church with the famous spiral staircase was around the corner as evidenced by this sign (below) on the post in front of the Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi.  So we followed the signs and went into nearby Loretta Chapel.


Here’s the Loretto Chapel.  (Click the link for history on this attraction).


This is the famous Loretto Chapel staircase. This amazing spiral staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. It is said that the staircase was built without nails—only wooden pegs.



More pictures inside the Loretto Chapel…


These banisters and rails were added ~10 years after the staircase was built.  (Click HERE for more from Wikipedia®)


This is what the original staircase looked like before the banisters / handrails were installed.



After checking out the chapel with the famous spiral staircase, we walked back over to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi


The cathedral was built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy between 1869 and 1886 on the site of an older adobe church.











After our tours of the local churches, we wandered around the downtown area and soaked in the sights…





We found a nice place to have lunch which included chicken green chili stew and a “world-famous” frito pie.  Yumm 🙂


We also did a little shopping.  Stilla found a good deal on a couple of earrings and I bought a cool Route-66 Santa Fe T-shirt, (because you can never have too many t-shirts, right?)  🙂







We wanted to take one of the local sightseeing tours (see sign below) but when we showed up 10 minutes early for the tour, we found that they depart early when they get full.  Do you see the small print below the departure times in red (below) 🙁  Ten minutes wasn’t early enough…


We should have taken a tour in one of these instead of the trolley tram… but, !$!


We walked through the old town plaza…



and saw the end of the Santa Fe Trail marker…


and then we checked out the chapel gardens on our way back to the parking lot…


When we got back to the Elks Lodge, little Coach was ready for a looong walk.  This is the infamous hidden entrance to the lodge with the overhanging trees (below) that I wrote about in my post yesterday.



We closed out the evening with a visit inside the lodge and paid the nice bartender for our camping spot here in the parking lot / field.  We paid a $15 (donation) for three nights because we want to spend another night here and leave on Wednesday.  This is a very nice lodge with very nice people… our second drinks were free per lodge tradition.  Unfortunately they don’t have any food at this lodge so we had to go back to the Coach to make dinner.

Check back tomorrow to see what we get into… There’s a lot of museums here to check out and also we read about some nice driving tours up north of here 🙂

Bad Moon Rising & Trip to Santa Fe (Elks Lodge 460 – Santa Fe, NM)

We left Storrie Lake SP around noon and plugged the Las Vegas, NM KOA into our iPhone for directions… which was mistake # 1.

After we took exit 339 off I-25 just south of Las Vegas, the iPhone said to turn left over the highway and then left again on the frontage road, “your destination is 700 feet” Siri said.  Well, the destination was actually to the right along the frontage road!?!  And most of you know what it’s like trying to do a U-turn in a big rig 🙁  I had to go at least a couple miles before I could turn around.  In hindsight, there was a sign for the KOA after the exit but I didn’t see it in time – darn google maps 🙁  I probably should have used our Rand McNally  RVND™ 7720 GPS, but it’s just so darn complicated sometimes to plug in a destination.

And then, mistake # 2 was trusting the iPhone app for dump stations which turned us on to this KOA in the first place.  I think I incorrectly stated in yesterday’s blog that it was their website that told us about the dump station, but it was an iPhone app that Stilla has on her phone that we had consulted.  The app said the cost for dumping at that particular KOA was only $5.  The clerk behind the counter told me it was $15!?! – darn iPhone apps and expensive KOAs  🙁  If I would have known before-hand that it was $15, I wouldn’t have stopped here because we were only 1/4 full on the grey tank and the black tank wasn’t even registering yet.  We dumped before we left Colorado Springs only 5 days ago.  We have a combined capacity on the tanks of 178 gallons, (100 black and 78 grey).  It’s just that we knew we would be dry-camping at the Elks in Santa Fe and wanted to start off empty.  At least the clerk gave us a $5 discount when I showed my military ID.

After dumping our tanks, we continued on to our next adventure of the day…

We headed south towards Santa Fe and passed a lot of smoke from a nearby forest fire on the north side of I-25. We followed the iPhone map (I know, I just don’t learn) to the Elks Lodge and took the first exit into Santa Fe, NM along Old Pecos Trail.

We found the Elks Lodge easily enough – sitting on top of a hill, but we weren’t sure how to get there.

Once again, the iPhone google maps feature didn’t show enough detail to tell us where the entrance was, and unfortunately the lodge didn’t have any signs posted. 🙁   We passed one small road that looked like it might go up the hill to the lodge but it winded through some overhanging trees and looked too narrow… then we passed a second small road but it was a sharp right turn that we couldn’t make while towing the Silverado.  Then we passed a third road after we went past the lodge but it clearly went into a residential area and the iPhone map showed a lot of cul-de-sacs, I definitely didn’t want to get stuck in there.  Along came a fourth road that had signs for Museum Hill, and I thought, hey – museums usually have room for RVs so let’s turn here and maybe we can unhook the Silverado and go scout out the entrance to the lodge.  Well, that didn’t work out too well because the museum(s) were clearly farther away as more signs indicated.  So, we were finally able to make a few left-hand turns in a residential area and got back on Old Pecos Trail.  We went past the lodge again on the divided road and the two roads that looked the ‘most-likely’ to be the entrances to the lodge parking area taunted me as we drove past.

We ended up going all the way back to the highway to find a wide enough spot to unhook the Silverado and turn around again.   This time, Stilla led the way back in the Silverado with her phone in hand.  She turned at the first narrow entrance road that had all the trees around it and called to let me know this was it.  I barely maneuvered through the trees without scratching the sides of the Coach and drove up the hill on the narrow entrance road to a large field; (let’s call it a parking area).


We picked a nice spot in the corner after our 70 mile trip for the day.


Parked at Elks Lodge 60 in Santa Fe, NM.
View towards Elks Lodge from in front of our Coach.

After getting set up, we walked around the lodge…



A lady peeked out the back door to tell us that the lodge was closed for the day (Sunday) and that they (a small group) had it reserved for a baby shower.  So we’ll just have to wait until Monday to go inside and pay for our spot.

We downloaded the bicycles off the back of the Silverado and headed into town to check things out.

We stopped at San Miguel Church, reportedly the oldest church in the USA.  (don’t forget to click on the link to learn more from Wikipedia®)







And we checked out the oldest house, the De Vargas Street House.



Then we had pizza and salad at Upper Crust Pizza, right next to the mission church.



We then drove further into town to get oriented.


We’ll stop at this church later (maybe on Monday).  It’s supposed to have a really cool spiral staircase that was handmade without using any nails.


On the way back to the lodge we drove back up to Museum Hill (near the Elks Lodge).  The museums were already closed for the day but we stopped at this sculpture to take a few pics…







Then we returned to the Coach and ran the generator for a while to charge the batteries while we watched some TV and took pictures of the ‘super blood moon’ eclipse





Pretty cool pics, eh?

Gotta run now… check back to see what we did on Monday 🙂

Getting Rid of the Squeaks (Storrie Lake State Park, Las Vegas NM)

I spent a lot of our Saturday here at Storrie Lake SP working on the Urban Escape Vehicle.  I mentioned in my last post that I had a rattle coming from the dash and a squeaking noise coming from the TV area.  I think I fixed the dash rattle, (see yesterday’s blog), now I had to tackle the squeak coming from the TV.

First, I had to remove the metal cover on the bottom of the TV so I could access all things hidden…


here’s what it looks like under there…


lots of spaghetti…


The last time I was under here was when we first got the Coach (3-4 yrs. ago) and I had to hook up the satellite receiver/DVR and a new surround sound Blu-Ray DVD system to replace the old stuff.

The small diameter bolts on each end of the TV wouldn’t tighten much, I think they’re stripped (see arrows in pic below).


Luckily these larger bolts located near the middle of the TV (see arrows below), are doing most of the holding…


All the bolts holding the TV were slightly loose (probably from vibration) – I’m sure the fine Colorado streets had nothing to do with it 😐  Or, could it have been those silky smooth California highways near Pomona earlier this year!?!  Hmmm…

With Stilla’s help pushing up on the TV; I was able to tighten everything down except for the smaller bolts on the outside edges of the TV, because they seemed to be stripped.  I tightened them as best I could.  All the metal brackets seemed fine, it was just the bolts going into the back of the TV itself that were loose.

All back together again… ready for a test-drive 🙂


Now, I didn’t spend all day on this, but with lots of breaks – it did take most of it.  We managed to find time for another nice walk around the campground and Stilla made an awesome shrimp dinner for us.

I also mounted a key holder ‘shelf’ at the entrance steps, which took some drilling through the metal step wall.  And of course, as luck would have it, one of the holes I drilled just-happened to come out exactly on a metal brace on the other side, which didn’t make it easy on my screws… good thing I had extra 🙂


And I finally mounted this coat / hat rack- hook thingy on the living room slide that I’ve been carrying around for a couple months…


Now we just have to test it all out on a drive into Santa Fe today.  We plan on heading for the Elks Lodge there, the Elks website says they have plenty of RV parking but no hookups.  From there, we’ll see what else is in the area.  We checked our online resources, but all the parks in town seem rather pricey except for a couple casinos a little farther out along the highway.

We also need to dump soon.  Stilla’s been doing some loads of laundry.  The dump station here at Storrie Lake SP is closed… maybe we can stop at the nearby KOA – their website says it costs $5 to dump.

Check back to see how things turn out…

Lakes, Rattles, and Squeaks (Storrie Lake State Park, Las Vegas NM)

Our second day (Thursday) at the Las Vegas NM Elks Lodge started with a morning walk around the block.  We passed by a local farmer/street vendor and bought some plums and a few fresh vegetables.  Then we jumped into the Silverado and drove two blocks north to stock up on groceries at the local Super Walmart.

After our shopping trip, we unloaded our groceries, and drove around town to check out the sights.  (Link HERE for more info on Las Vegas, NM from my friend Wikipedia®.  Sorry, but I forgot to take pics.  This is a really nice, scenic town with over 900 buildings on the Historic Register.  We drove over historic bridge street and around old town plaza.

I also found some interesting movie trivia while researching Las Vegas on the Wikipedia website:

In the 1969 movie Easy Rider, Las Vegas, NM, is the town where the two bikers ride behind a parade, are arrested for “parading without a permit,” and meet Jack Nicholson’s character in jail.  The name of the town can be viewed in the background on one scene during this part of the movie.

In the 2007 film Wild Hogs starring John Travolta included scenes filmed around Las Vegas.

And, most of the 2007 Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men was filmed here.

We’ve driven by Las Vegas, NM many times in the past while traveling along I-25 but never stopped until now except maybe for fuel.  This town is definitely worth stopping at if you ever get the chance.

We closed out the evening inside the Elks Lodge with some more southwestern style dinner while we watched the locals in a pool tournament as a football game played out on one of the many TVs around the bar area.  We also contributed a little more to their gaming room 🙂

While driving around town in the SIlverado to get a feel for the area; we initially drove north out of town a couple miles to Storrie Lake State Park.  We did a drive-thru the campsites, liked what we saw, and decided to bring the Coach here  Friday.


Image 1


Image 2

So here’s the Urban Escape Vehicle parked at Storrie Lake State Park on Friday:


Only $14 per night for 30 Amp electric and water.  The dump station is already closed for the season however 🙁

Here’s a few pics of our walk around the campground side (southeast) of the lake on Friday:


Some campers pulled up right next to the lake late Friday evening.




Then I spent a lot of time on Friday trying to find out where a new rattle was coming from that we’ve noticed while driving the Coach recently.  The noise was coming from the passenger-side dash area, so I pulled the dash panels off to investigate.


I found that the underlayment between the plastic dash and the metal firewall was loose.  This board and foam ‘underlayment’ (below) had a gap between the bottom of the plastic dash and the top of the metal firewall.


As far as I could determine, the board and foam ‘underlayment’ was probably initially glued to the bottom of the plastic dash, but that was 10 years ago when the Coach was new.  Also, a wooden brace (probably used to fill the empty space) had a gap at the bottom.  I could lift up on the board from underneath and it would move an inch or so at the front, (front of dash as viewed from the seats).


My solution was to stuff some foam between the 2X2 bracing board and the top of the metal firewall.   I also stuffed a foam “noodle” along the right side edge to firm up the sagging board.


I also found out that a brace (below) at the lower edge of the dash front panel along the floor had come loose.  It was originally glued to the tiles.


I cleaned and re-glued the brace using Weldwood® Contact Cement.


I then used the opportunity to vacuum and clean all the dust under the dash and the pull-out tray.  I also used a small socket and tiny wrenches to give all the nuts and screws that I could find a tighten.


All finished!  I just have to wait for the glue I put on the brace to harden so I can put my front panels back on.


While I was under the dash, I tried to identify what this pink connector (below) goes to.  I’ve noticed it before, but couldn’t determine what it goes to… this time was no exception, I still couldn’t find out where the wire goes because it disappears behind the gauges and drivers dash panel.  It appears to have been added as an afterthought, by the previous owner probably, because of the way it’s routed and it has a bunch of excess cable that is bunched up, zip-tied, and stuffed under the dash next to that 2X2 brace I mentioned earlier.  Reward for anyone who can tell me what it is… I don’t think it has anything to do with the radio or XM satellite, all that works and I can see all the connections on the back of the radio.  It’s also not the rearview camera, or trailer surge brake.  Hmmm…


Now I just have to find out about a squeaking noise we’ve also developed near or around the front TV.  I’ll have to pull off some more panels behind the TV.  Maybe I’ll do that later today.

We paid for another night here at Storrie Lake SP ($14).  We’ll probably head over to the Elks Lodge in Santa Fe on Sunday.  We know they only have dry-camping (no electric or water), but that’s OK for one night or so.  Maybe we’ll find something else in the area once we get there.

Finally On the Road Again (Elks Lodge 408 – Las Vegas NM)

On Tuesday morning, after we pulled in the slides and raised the jacks, I remembered that our dash air-conditioner wasn’t working.  The system quit working earlier this year and only blows warm air.  I always forget about this until we’re on the road somewhere and it’s not convenient to find a place to check it out and recharge the system.

This time however, I remembered 🙂 and realized that we don’t have a pressing timeline to be anywhere, so I called my old high school buddy Mike who owns Chuck’s Auto to see if I could stop by on our way out of town and get it fixed.  Mike told me to bring it by as long as I could maneuver around all the road construction that is currently going on around his shop.

So after we dumped our tanks at the Colorado Springs Elks Lodge dump station in preparation for travel, we headed over to Chuck’s Auto on the southwest side of town.  We decided to not hook up the Silverado yet and Stilla followed along behind.

When we got close to Mikes shop, I pulled over on a side street and we both jumped into the Silverado to scout out the best route through all the road construction.  It was a good thing we did, because the construction detours required us to maneuver through neighborhood streets with low-hanging tree branches and very large dips in the intersections.  Anyway, we found the best route and made it unscathed.  Mike made quick work of recharging the system with his high-speed mobile A/C service cart from Snap-on.

The Urban Escape Vehicle getting an A/C recharge at Chuck’s Auto.

While Mike was working on the system, Stilla went over to the local German bakery (Wimberger’s) and got the fixins’ to make some sandwiches.  When she got back, she made everyone in the shop some authentic German sandwiches which was our payment to Mike for the A/C work.  It’s good to have friends 🙂 Thanks again Mike!  We’ll see you again next year when we get back to the Springs 🙂

After saying goodbye to Mike and hooking up the Silverado at a wide spot on a neighborhood street near the shop, we headed south on I-25.

We stopped at the KOA in Colorado City (~60 miles from COS) because my Dad and stepmom Elaine are spending the week there with the FCRV ‘Rolling Springs’ camping group for their annual “Retiree Rally”.


We parked the Urban Escape Vehicle at a wide spot near the entrance and walked in to say Hi and “crash” their party.  We crashed their party here last year too, I blogged about it HERE.

Dad & Elaine outside their Coach at the KOA in Colorado City for the Rolling Springs “Retiree Rally”.

Before long, fellow FCRV members (and friends) Biff & Linda came over and we had ourselves a little “Happy Hour” time before we decided to go out for dinner.

Stilla, Linda, and Biff at the Colorado City KOA.

We intended to just stop by and say Hi on our way south, but since it was already late in the day and it looked like rain down south.  We decided to see if the KOA had any dry-camping (no pun intended) spots available.  We usually don’t stay at KOA Campgrounds because they are more expensive (based on our experience) than other campgrounds.   KOA’s usually have all the nice amenities; i.e., swimming pools, playgrounds, mini-golf, etc., but of course, they charge a premium for all that.

The nice camp-hosts hooked us up with a boondocking spot right next to their multi-use building for a $20 charge.


We were able to leave the Silverado hooked up behind the Coach which was a convenient bonus.  Plus, we were right next to the “doggie-park” which Little Coach liked.


So after we moved the Coach into the KOA and parked next to the building, we all piled into Dad’s Jeep for a ride over to Obie’s Fillin’ Station located on exit 74 just off I-25.  Obie’s is a BBQ restaurant, saloon, gas station, and country store all rolled into one… good food with good atmosphere.

Obie’s Fillin’ Station as seen from the frontage road heading north.
(L to R) Dad, Elaine, Stilla, Linda, and Biff at Obie’s Fillin’ Station.
Obie’s Fillin’ Station saloon area.
Obie’s Fillin’ Station country store.

After our good meal, (Ugh! I ate too much), Dad & Elaine stopped by our Coach to show off the hats that they wore yesterday at the “Retiree Rally” hat contest.

Elaine & Dad with their “Retiree Rally” hats.

In the morning (Wednesday), we joined a lot of the FCRV camping group members in front of the multi-use facility to go on a walk which is a traditional morning event.


We walked along a pre-designated route from the campground and ended up going about 2 miles.

Dad and Stilla on the morning FCRV walk.


After our morning exercise, we all piled into Dad’s Jeep again for breakfast at Max’s Place, (ate too much again), which is another nice local eatery with huge portions.

When we got back to the KOA, we said our sad goodbye’s and ‘see-ya-laters’ and broke camp to head on south.


We made it over Raton Pass without incident this time.  You may recall we had a rock hit the windshield the last time we traveled over this pass.  Link HERE.


We checked our online resources and determined that Las Vegas, NM had an Elks Lodge with RV spots.  We tried to call ahead to confirm availability but got no answer.

When we pulled in, we found four RV spots with full hook-ups – all empty.  The lodge doors were locked, but cars started pulling into the lot for Wednesday evening Bingo and the doors were soon opened.


Stilla backed into one of the RV spots while I ground-guided.  It’s good that she practices every once-in-awhile.


And here we are (all-by-ourselves) in one of the four extremely un-level RV spots at Elks Lodge 408 in Las Vegas, NM.  The “Mother Lodge of New Mexico” according to their website.


Our view of the lodge entrance from the Coach.


We went inside the Lodge and found a nice lady that said she was a past-exalted ruler, cook, dishwasher, etc., 🙂  She directed us to the nice bartender who took our $15 donation for parking overnight.  We decided to stay for one more day and check out the town, so we paid for two nights ($30).

They have great southwestern style food here; for dinner we had taquitos, an excellent beef-filled quesadilla, and an egg/potato burrito smothered in green chile.  Yum!  But I’ve got to stop eating so much 🙂

Our second drinks were free (courtesy of the lodge for visiting members) and they had a separate room with slot machines that Stilla always enjoys.  So we left our little contribution and called it a night.


I think we’ll head on over to Santa Fe, NM after we leave here on Friday.  We don’t have to be in Lake Powell for the Alpine Coach Rally until 5 October, so we have time to do some sight-seeing until then.

Oh, and by-the-way… the dash A/C is working great so far, thanks again Mike!

Slow-Prep to Move South (Elks Lodge 309 – COS, CO)

We’re slowly getting prepped to move south as we continue to say goodbye to family and friends here in Colorado Springs.  We talked to the camp-host and determined that we don’t have to rush off, there’s no one currently parked in the ‘overflow’ waiting for a spot.

On Saturday, while Stilla entertained our oldest daughter Jennifer and grandson Kaan at the Coach, I rode the Harley over to Pikes Peak Harley Davidson for an “End-of-Summer” Luau.


Free food and free beer (tips accepted of course)… can’t beat that!


My ’96 FLSTC “Heritage Softail Classic” at PPHD.

Some of the new bikes are sure looking good.  Back in the ’90s and earlier, you had to spend a lot of extra money adding all the accessories you wanted after you bought a ‘plain’ new bike.  Nowadays, they come with all the accessories straight from the factory, i.e., fat rear tires, chrome controls, custom footboards, air cleaner housings, etc.,



There were more people in attendance than my pictures suggest.  Most hung-out inside shopping, which is what the dealership likes of course 🙂


On Saturday evening we attended a birthday party for Tom.  Stilla is friends with his German wife, Martina.


Birthday boy (Tom) in the gray shirt.

The birthday party for Tom (his 40th) also doubled as a farewell party (of sorts) for Stilla and her German girlfriends.

Stilla’s German girlfriends from Colorado Springs.

Lots of good food which included German-style desserts… Yum!


Friends John and Frank.


Tom’s wife surprised him with an unexpected arrival of relatives that had just flown in from Germany.


And there was even a relaxing campfire in a raised pit to enjoy once the sun went down.  It was a nice evening… thanks Tom & Martina, and Happy Birthday once again!


On Sunday morning, I rearranged things in the basement of the Coach and packed up our chairs and tables.  Then I made my 2PM appointment with our tax-guy and finally got our 2014 taxes submitted.  Yoo Hoo!  And Yes, before you ask – we had filed for an extension.  Taxes for last year were challenging and required a lot of preparation for several reasons: I was still working for part of the year; we rented out the house for most of the year; had to evict the renters; and did a lot of repairs among other things… all of which, had to be painstakingly documented for our tax records.

On Sunday evening we went out for dinner with my Dad & stepmom Elaine.  They’re going on another campout with the FCRV group on Monday.  Maybe we can stop by to say Hi again because they’re going to the KOA in Colorado City which is along our intended route south.  They’ll be there all week, so if we leave on Tuesday, we can stop by to say goodbye again.  Thanks for the dinner Dad & Elaine!


On Monday I washed out the back of the pickup while Stilla worked on the inside of the Urban Escape Vehicle, vacuuming and cleaning.


I even ended up washing the whole truck and most of the Coach.  After the pickup was all cleaned up, I loaded up the Harley and the bicycles.  All set to roll… we just need to raise the jacks, pull in the slide outs, and hook up to the truck.


Later in the day, our youngest daughter Joleen stopped by with her boyfriend Dylan to say goodbye.  Then we relaxed the rest of the day and enjoyed our last evening at the Elks Lodge.  We’ve been here since 6 September… time to move on 🙂

My next post will be from somewhere south of Colorado Springs… check back to see where we end up.

Farewell (for now) Friends, Family, & Elks Lodge 309 (COS, CO)

We can feel the winter chill in the morning air already.  It’s time to move south.  We’re not sure exactly where we’ll go next just now, but we need to be in Lake Powell for an Alpine Coach SoCal Rally by 5 October.  So, we’ll start heading in that direction on Monday.

The pool is all covered…



the chairs are all stacked…


and most of the tables and sun-umbrellas have been put into storage.


We didn’t even have to pay to stay here for the last 14 days or so, since we helped the camp-host so much with the pool area and with our painting of the lawn furniture that I wrote about in earlier posts.  We’ll miss this lodge, but I’m sure we’ll be back next year.

We’ve stayed busy the last several days since my last post:

On Tuesday, I hung out at my high school buddy’s automotive repair shop (Chuck’s Auto) while Stilla visited with the daughters.  It never ceases to amaze me how easily he can remember where all the parts go back in, and in what order 🙂

Mike working on an engine timing chain and water pump.

It happened to be a day where Mike had decided to rearrange one of the service bays… so I helped move a few things around.


I wouldn’t mind rearranging this El Camino into my garage… oops, that’s right – I don’t have a garage anymore 🙂


After leaving Mikes’ shop, I saw some construction going on near our old house.  There’s a huge pile of dirt and boulders on the hill overlooking the back yard.  I stopped to check it out.



Backyard view of our old house from hill on the south side. (looking north-west)
View of downtown Colorado Springs from old house (looking east)

It looked like they were just using the hill for a construction staging area for a new building nearby (sign below).  Which is a good thing – because it would be a shame if they put a building on the hilltop, it would ruin the privacy that the backyard always had.


I also couldn’t help but notice, the giant cracks in the ground!  It looks like the hill is unstable and may break off into a landslide sometime in the future.  That’s a little scary.  The construction material and the heavy earth-moving equipment on top of the hill probably isn’t helping any…



I’m glad we sold the house when we did… hope the new owner doesn’t have any trouble from this.

Back at the lodge, we enjoyed a final “Taco Tuesday” with our new-found friends Jerry & Marilyn Baumgartner.  Biff & Linda joined us as well.


On Friday, Jerry & Marilyn packed up to head back home to Oklahoma.  I helped Jerry load his bike into the back of his Ford Ranger pickup that he tows behind his motorhome.


Safe travels Jerry & Marilyn!  Hope to see you in Port Aransas, TX next year… or even earlier in Quartzsite, AZ maybe !?!

Jerry & Marilyn Baumgartner. Good friends that we met while at the COS Elks Lodge.

On Friday evening, we enjoyed a spaghetti dinner at the Elks Lodge with my Dad/Elaine, Biff/Linda, and our grandson Kaan.  Kaan often spends the night with us, I guess the summer trip he spent with us didn’t turn him off to staying in the Coach 🙂

Italian night buffet at Elks Lodge 309.
Italian night at Elks Lodge 309.
(L to R) Kaan, Stilla, Elaine, Linda, Biff (behind Dad), and my Dad.

In other news – Little Coach got his follow-up shots at PetSmarts’™ Banfield Hospital.  I wrote about Banfield in a previous post (Click HERE.  He still has the weird cough but otherwise appears to be doing well.  We, (Stilla & I), also made our doctor appointments at Evans Army Community Hospital on Ft Carson and got our meds refilled.  So we’re ready to roll out of here now.  I just have to load up the Harley and bicycles sometime this weekend.

Stay tuned to see where we end up next… I’m thinking maybe Santa Fe, NM.  Our friends and fellow Alpine Coach owners, Mike & Donna Kuper, recently blogged about their stay there.  Link here:  Plus, it’s in the general direction of Lake Powell where we are co-hosting the Alpine Coach rally starting on 7 October.


Alpine Eggs & More Friends (Elks Lodge 309 – COS, CO)

On Sunday morning, we saw a familiar face pass by the front of our Coach.  It was Wilma Egg!  We know Wilma and her husband Vic from several of the Alpine Coach Rallies that we’ve attended over the last few years.  They’ve been full-timing in their Coach for ~6 years now.

Vic and Wilma had just pulled into the Elks Lodge 309 parking lot and Wilma walked by our Coach in search of the camp-host when Stilla and I both recognized her… we jumped out of the motorhome to say Hi.

Since the camp-host didn’t seem to be around at the moment, I gave Vic my recommendation for the best ‘overflow’ spot to park in for the night.  All the hook-up sites were currently full.


A good looking Coach, eh?  Of course, I’m biased since it’s the same year and color scheme as ours 🙂


We talked briefly and then we let them alone to finish setting-up with a promise to get-together later.

Vic & Wilma Egg in front of their ’05 Alpine.

Today (Sunday) was also the last day of the season for the pool to be open here at Elks Lodge 309.  So we basically spent the whole day trying to get the most out of it one last time.  Our oldest daughter Jennifer came by with our grandson Kaan.  And then our youngest daughter Joleen came by with her boyfriend Dylan to spend some fun time in the pool.  Here’s some last pics of the year here at the Elks Lodge pool:





Later on in the day, Jerry & Marilyn also came by to enjoy the pool with us.  Here’s Marilyn (below), sorry – no new picture of Jerry today 🙁


One of the Bronco fans (John) escaped from the bar area and was seen hanging around the pool too…


Vic & Wilma joined us later in the evening, where we enjoyed the nice weather and some more good conversation by the pool.

Marilyn on the left and Vic Egg on the right at Elks Lodge 309.
Wilma Egg and Stilla at Elks Lodge 309.

Vic told me about the volunteer work he’ll be doing with the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial here in Colorado Springs.  He retired from the New Jersey Fire Department and was involved in the response to the cowardly terrorist attacks of 9/11.   According to one of the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial websites (link here); “The mission of the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial, which is located in the shadow of Pike’s Peak, is to honor the sacrifice made by IAFF members who serve as professional fire fighters and emergency medical personnel who have given their lives in the line of duty. ” 

This nice lady played with little Coach while we talked.


Vic told me that another Alpine had pulled in and parked behind them (see pic below).  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to meet the owners because they left again early Monday.  Vic told me who it was, and we probably know them from past Alpine Coach Rallies, but I didn’t recognize the name(s) he gave me.  I’m sure if we saw their faces, we’d recognize them… I do remember seeing the Coach before because it has a bunch of wind-deflectors mounted on the sides at the rear.  I think they’re called air tabs (link here), and their generator slide-out appeared to be painted with a bed-liner material.

Two Alpines in overflow parking at Elks Lodge 309. (one on the right is Vic & WIlma Eggs’)

On Monday morning, I got the opportunity to talk a little more with Vic before they pulled out.  He told me more about the volunteer work he’ll be doing for the Firefighters Memorial.  They’re headed over to Cheyenne Mountain State Park (on the south-side of Colorado Springs) in order to be closer to the activities he’ll be involved with.  I think we’ll try to find the time this coming Saturday to attend some of those activities.  For more info on those Firefighter Memorial activities, go to this website (Click here).

C U later Vic & Wilma.  Hope to see you again soon!

After Vic & WIlma headed out on Monday morning, I helped another Elks Lodge member (John) put away umbrellas and stack lawn chairs in the pool area.  Later on, Jerry joined in and we covered both pools for the season 🙁


We closed out our Monday evening with new friends Jerry & Marilyn outside our Coach.  Jerry grilled up some awesome steaks that we washed down with some adult beverages.

Jerry, Stilla, & Marilyn at Elks Lodge 309.


And another fine day comes to a close!  Monday continues to be my new favorite day of the week (since retirement), because when I wake up , I realize I don’t have to go in to work 🙂

Check back soon…


Reunion(s) (Elks Lodge 309 – COS, CO)

Saturday was a day of reunions!  We got to see our old 1957 Chevy Pickup at a car show and then we went to a family picnic where we got to see all of my Aunts & Uncles from my Dad’s side of the family.

My Dad’s youngest brother, (Uncle Alan) invited us to come up to his house (near Florissant, CO) for a picnic/BBQ that he tries to hold annually.  Alan was also our realtor, you may remember him from some of my previous blog posts about selling the house.  He not only got us into the last couple houses we bought, but also got us out of them too. 🙂

But first – we stopped in Woodland Park on our way to the family reunion/picnic.  The annual “Cruise Above the Clouds” car show was being held.  We used to take our 1957 Chevy Bel-Air to this car show every year from ~2006 until I sold it in 2013.  I was hoping to see the Bel-Air at this car show, but instead, I saw our ’57 Pickup that I owned from ~2009, but sold in  2011!  This was the first time we’d seen it anywhere since it was sold.

The Woodland Park car show is normally held within the town park and on the adjoining streets.  However this year, the park was undergoing some major reconstruction, so the cars were scattered around on the surrounding streets and nearby parking lots which made for some serious hiking.

The town park in Woodland Park, CO was undergoing a major renovation.


I recognized our old ’57 Chevy Pickup right away!  It had a newly re-upholstered bench seat and the bumpers were re-chromed, but otherwise it looked pretty much the same.  The current owner was nowhere to be found, but I was able to ascertain from the window placard that it wasn’t the same person I sold it to back in 2011.

Sept 2015 at Cruise Above the Clouds

Here’s a picture of the truck when I put it in a car show in Springfield, CO back in 2010.  It won a ‘top-ten’ trophy/placard back then.

2009 at car show in Springfield, CO.

We had our grandson Kaan with us for the day, so I had him pose for a picture in front of the truck.

Sept 2015 at Cruise Above the Clouds with grandson Kaan.

And here’s an old picture from 2009 for comparison:

Pic from 2009 with grandson Kaan in front of our garage.

The new chrome bumpers look good.  But the truck still needs a new paint job, which is one of the reasons I decided to sell it.

Sept 2015 at Cruise Above the Clouds

This is an old picture (below) for comparison.

Picture from 2009

The new bench seat (below) also looked good.  When I owned it – it had a couple of ugly tan-colored bucket seats with little armrests.  I also put in a new clutch, pressure plate, and had the 3-speed transmission rebuilt.  I was really hoping to talk to the new owner, but he was nowhere to be found… he must have been wandering around checking out the other cars/trucks.

Sept 2015 at Cruise Above the Clouds

Here’s a couple more old pictures that I dug up.  These were taken in 2010 when we towed the truck to a car show in Springfield, CO behind our old Class-C motorhome.

circa 2010, on the way to a car show in Springfield, CO.
circa 2010, on the way to a car show in Springfield, CO.
Stilla, July 2010 at car show in Springfield, CO.

There were a lot of Chevy pickups at the car show this year.  We must have seen six or seven mid-fifties trucks.  They must be gaining in popularity again.  For example, here’s a yellow ’57…


and here’s a ’59 for sale that needs some minor work…


I loaded up on a few new t-shirts… they were selling event T’s for $15.  I bought one, and then they threw in a couple more from the last two years’ events.  What a great deal, especially since I’ve worn out some of my old ones.

After walking through the whole car show area, we still didn’t see my old ’57 Chevy Bel-Air 🙁  So I texted the new owner and he responded right away that he was at a different car show in Colorado Springs today… oh well, maybe I’ll get a chance to see it again another time.  We’ve stayed in touch since he bought it in July of 2013.  Here’s a picture of the new owner when he picked it up with his trailer… what a sad day (for me).


Anyway… enough of the trip down memory lane with the cars…

We left Woodland Park and headed on up to my Uncle’s house for the family reunion picnic.


The aspen trees are already getting their fall colors.


My uncle lives between Florissant and Divide.  Therefore, he likes to call his neighborhood “Floride” 🙂  Get it?  The back of his property borders the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.


Uncle Alan set up a tent and had a campfire going alongside the dirt road leading up to the house on his property.  This is the usual spot for his annual picnic, but he has to transport all the food, utensils, chairs, etc., from the house which is still a good distance away – too far to carry stuff by hand, so he uses a little trailer hooked up to his ATV.

Uncle Alan and his son-in-law Nick.

Alan cooked some hot dogs on the campfire while his son-in-law Nick grilled up some hamburgers and hot dogs on the BBQ grill.


We all milled around, talked, and enjoyed our food in the great outdoors.  The weather couldn’t have been any better.

Here’s some pics of our Hobden family gathering:  Note: My dad was the only one of the Hobden clan that couldn’t be here, because he (and stepmom Elaine) were at a campout in their Coach with the FCRV group this weekend.

(L to R) My Uncle Bruce, and aunt’s Alice and DeEtte.
(L to R) Aunts’ Beverly, DeEtte, Alice, and cousin Sarah.
(L to R) Uncles’ Alan, Russell, and Bruce. (Bruce had recent knee surgery).
My Uncle Alan’s daughter Sarah, her husband Nick and their two beautiful girls.
Our grandson, Kaan and Stilla swinging on the cool “porch swing” hanging from the trees.
All my dad’s brother’s and his only sister… (L to R) Alan, Alice, Russell, and Charles.
Our grandson Kaan played in the hammock.

And a few more pics…




My dad’s brother Russell (below right) and his wife DeEtte (below left) drove all the way from Lamar, CO to be here.  I don’t get to see them very often and it’s always great to catch up.


Kaan tried to find some treasure with the metal detector until the batteries died 🙁


We toured around the property a little bit on Uncle Alan’s ATV.  Kaan always enjoys that 🙂


And Kaan tried out all the swings that Uncle Alan has set up around the house…



It was great to see all my Aunts and Uncles (from my Dad’s side of the family) and we always look forward to these get-togethers.

Before it got too late, we helped clean up, and then said our farewells to head on back down the pass.  Here’s a view of Pikes Peak from the Woodland Park side.


Check back soon, my next post includes some new Alpine Coach’s that arrived at the Elks Lodge on Sunday…