Motoring Across America

With James "Alex" Alexander

with James "Alex" Alexander



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WEEK EIGHT: BACK MOTORING


CONTENTS
Rearview Mirror - Summary of the past week: Flower Power and Ancient Ruins
Pups Across America! - Our latest canine encounters: Aztec Al
RV Gourmet - Jan shares her on-the-go culinary secrets: Not this Week
Favorite Photographs - Pick pics, pointers, and ponderings: Prairie Dog
Travel Tools & Toys - Gadgets for fun and productivity: Cell Phone Coverage Maps
Camper’s Corner - Thoughts on were we stayed and other RV topics: Ponderosa RV Park
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading: Canyon de Chelly and SW

REARVIEW MIRROR
Start: Austin’s Home, Parker CO
Stop: Colorado Horse Park, Parker CO
Stop: Ponderosa RV Park, Antonito, CO
Stop: Desert Rose Resort, Bloomfield, NM

Sunday
Prairie Dogs
By 6:00 AM I was sitting in the middle of Prairie Dog Pasture, just off of Main Street and 20 Mile Drive in Parker. Nestled right off of a main drag and adjoining a strip mall, 100 or so prairie dogs make it their home. Our pup Jerry loves to watch these little varmints, and I promised him that I’d get him a picture or two for his scrapbook. It was a hoot listening to their tribal calls as these Meerkat-like critters sounded their warnings and maneuvered their tunnels and holes. I could pack a lunch and spend all day (of course, I’m easily entertained :’>>>).



Pretty Flowers
After breakfast we packed our travel gear and drove a half hour to the Denver Botanic Garden. For the next hour and a half we wandered among the manicured gardens enjoying the vibrant colors of nature’s palette and the fragrant smells of spring flowers. Wow, is this a beautiful place, further enhanced by an exhibit of Henry Moore sculptures placed strategically within the gardens. Even the harsh light of midday could not take away the beauty.



Back to the Park
Next we went back to the playground in the Parker park. Lots of kids today, and Austin had a wonderful time running, climbing, sliding, and swinging. This mini-trip was capped off with a chocolate mint cone from Baskin Robbins.



Senior Championship
Ironically, the final round of the senior championship that we watched on TV, was in the city of Parker, less than 10 miles from Austin’s home. However, after a “high-energy” day, I preferred the comfort of the couch over the glory of the gallery. Really fun watching these old geezers (men my age) bogey, birdie, and eagle their way around this classy prairie course. In case you missed it, Tom Lehman won it in a three-way playoff.

Monday
Laid Back Memorial Day
Up early, I edited prairie dog pics, walked the Pups, then took Austie to the playground to burn off some energy. Next we went poolside in Helman’s backyard to watch Austin play and enjoy a quiet Memorial Day.



Bad Boy, Grandma!
At one time during the afternoon, Jan scolded Austin for teasing Mitzi. After some crying at being reprimanded, Austie came up with this: “Grandma, bad boy...Grandma and Mimi take time out.” What can you say to that without a smile on your face?

Tuesday
Global Connection
My workday started with a 6:00 AM phone call followed by several others. Most of them were “foreign” calls--Taipei, Brussels, New York, and LA! I must be “time-zone challenged,” as I have a whale of a time figuring out who to call, when and where.

Back to Normalcy
While I was doing consulting work, Jan was busy getting ready for the return of Austin’s parents. Mid-PM, we picked up Aaron and Kelly at Denver International and brought them back to reality. We quickly grabbed our stuff and headed to the Colorado Horse Park where we had been storing our coach. In ten minutes we had the slides out, water connected, and juice on--we were back camping.

Wednesday
Boring day doing work.

Thursday
Back on the Road
Finally, at 9:30 AM we were back on the road after hanging out around Denver for a month. We’ve had a great time, but it was time to go. Taking Parker Road south, we picked up I-25 South through Colorado Springs and past Pueblo turning west on State Road 60 at Walsenburg. We were retracing some of our steps from last year’s motoring adventure. Viewing the Spanish Peaks to our south, we took in the vista of various shades of green across the valleys bordered by the brightly lit snow-adorned peaks. The Aspen trees were in full bud, and their bright green hue contrasted nicely with the darker pines.

Old Home Week
The state map of Colorado shows a continuous connection of the black dots that designate scenic highways. They are right--just a pleasure to drive through this country. At the junction of 160 and 159 we stopped at Del’s Diner, as we had last year. It has a classic Elvis motif with a little Marilyn Monroe and James Dean thrown in. After a lunch of tacos and tostados, it was south on 159 to San Luis, then west on 142.

New Country
At Romeo, we turned south on 285 down to Antonito where we turned west on 17. My intent was to make it as far as Chama, New Mexico, before camping for the night. However, less than 10 miles outside of Antonito we were viewing down the mountain to the running waters of the Conejo River. Just then we saw a sign indicating a campground in one mile, and it was like a tractor beam latched on the coach turning us into the Ponderosa campground, a gorgeous setting with only 31 sites located on the water. Jack, the owner, put us in a nice pull-through site. However, because of the set up, we had to run our power cord and water hose under the rig. This is not a big deal, but Jan came up with a good idea: why not use our “dog power” to pull the connections under the coach? When I hooked the power cord to Jerry’s collar it almost scared him to death. However, with a little coaxing of a reward, Little Mitzy, our German plow horse, first pulled the power cord and then the water hose to their needed locations.



New Friends
Within 30 minutes of set up, we met two couples who had been coming to this location for over ten years. Great people. Next year, we’d like to come back and spend a week.

Friday
Jan and I took the Pups out on a short hike down by the river then back into the valley. Soon it was back in BALY and we were on our way, heading west on 17 through the mountains, then entering into New Mexico. At Chama, we picked up 64 heading west through Dulce, then south and west through the Jicanilla Apache Indian Reservation and the Carson National Forest. We blinked through Gobernador, Navajo City, and Blanco before setting up camp in Bloomfield, just a few miles from Farmington.

Saturday
Chaco Canyon
The four of us were outside the campground by 4:36 AM driving toward Chaco Canyon in our Honda Element. I’d been thinking about coming to the Chaco Culture National Historic Park for about a year, and it was finally happening. We took off driving southeast on New Mexico highway 550, a smooth four-lane road, and made great time making the 45 miles in about 45 minutes. Just past Nageezi, we turned south on 7900. The first ten miles were paved and fairly smooth. However, the next 20 miles were dirt, the surface being mainly washboard (if I didn’t know better, I’d say the the person who maintains the road takes great pride in making it as rough as possible), and ten miles an hour was about our speed limit. In the pre-dawn light we saw a half dozen horses running free and a small herd of cattle searching for fodder in this barren country. By six o’clock we were at the park entrance just in time for sunrise. At 6:10 a ranger opened the gates, and we were the first car on the the road to the ruins. Within five minutes we were in the parking lot for Pueblo Bonito, the best known of Chaco’s Great Houses. Soon we were on the trail viewing these amazing structures that was the center of the universe for these ancient people, the Anastazi, and the predecessors of today’s Pueblo peoples, the Hopi, Navajo, and Zuni. A couple hours into our exploration, we started on a dog-friendly hike on the Pueblo Alto trail. Great views and more petroglyphs were the promise. Alas, our foot trek was ended after a quarter mile as Little Jerry took ill. Hence, we reversed our direction and strolled back to the car. We made another brief stop to see a great kiva, but then pulled into the Visitor Center parking lot before 9:00 AM. As you might have guessed, we didn’t see a total of more than 20 people all morning. We purchased a few mandatory souvenirs, then had an early picnic at a table overlooking some ruins. It was a wonderful morning. The initial drive back seemed longer and rougher, but soon we were back at our motorhome, BALY.



Aztec Ruins
We were parked within ten miles of another location of Anastazi dwellings, the Aztec Ruins National Monument at Aztec, New Mexico. So after only 20 minutes of freshening up, Jan and I (we left the Pups to get some rest) were back in the car heading for another really cool place. We watched an interesting video on the Ancients, then strolled the ruins putting special interest in a meticulously re-constructed underground kiva where one could feel the presence of peoples past. Our visit to this small, but interesting National Monument ended at their museum where we purchased a small engraved Navajo-red plate that was made by a couple artisans who were demonstrating their craft.



Salmon Ruins
Enough culture for a day, you think? No, not for us. Another historically significant site was within five miles of our campground, the Salmon Ruins Museum and Research Library. Here we walked the ruin--an 11th century Chaco Canyon outlier pueblo. Reading the guide composed by the main archeologist of the dig, we moved from station to station. Highly interesting, but after a solid day of archeology and history, one kiva starts to look like the next! However, the museum was extremely well done, with just the right blend of art, history, and science.



Wonderful week!

PUPS ACROSS AMERICA!
Take a look at this shot of Aztec Al taken from the back of his pet parent, Greg’s, pickup truck.



Also, we have finalized dates for our event with the city of Carslbad, California. It will run both days over Father’s Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, June 19 and 20. More to come very soon.

Schedule Your Pup Shoots

June 6 till June 17
Working our way down to Southern California.

June 18 and June 19 (Father’s Day Weekend)
Two-day pup shoot in beautiful Carlsbad, California. Details available soon.

Please e-mail me at alex@PupsAcrossAmerica, or call me at 239-671-0740 to set up a shoot, or if you have ideas or suggestions.

Pass the Word
Know other Pup Parents that might enjoy this blog and the Pups Across America event? Please spread the word.

RV GOURMET
Nothing this Week

FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHS
My favorite is the prairie dog (see above).

TRAVEL TOOLS & TOYS: Cell Phone Coverage Maps
If you need to keep in phone or Internet contact while traveling in out-of-the-way spots, cell phone coverage maps are really helpful planning tools. For example, I’m writing this as we are driving through the Four Corners and wireless coverage can be very spotty. Since I have scheduled phone calls tomorrow, this impacts were we go and stay.
For AT&T: http://www.wireless.att.com/coverageviewer/
For Verizon: http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/CoverageLocatorController?requesttype=NEWREQUEST

CAMPER’S CORNER: Ponderosa RV Park, Antonito, CO.
This small, friendly, laid-back campground is a great place to relax for a night or a week or more. We plan on going back soon and spending more time. Highly recommended. http://www.coloradodirectory.com/ponderosacampcabins/

HEADLIGHTS
June 6 & 7
Probably Canyon de Chelly

June 8 till June 17
Working our way down to Southern California

June 19 and June 20 (Father’s Day Weekend)
Two day pup shoot in beautiful Carlsbad, California. Details available soon. Please let your San Diego-area Pup Parents know about it.

Going to be near? Look us up. Have some suggestions? We are open. Know a Pup Parent in the vicinity? Pass on this Web site and have them give me a call to schedule a shooting of their best friend.
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