Monday, February 10, 2014

Year Four Travels - 2012

Dianne here:  Before continuing the blog retrospectives, Roger and I have big news -- We are selling our beloved RV lot.  No, we're not moving away; we've decided to build a small one-bedroom casita just up the street.  This casita is a new model just being offered here at Retama.  If it had been available when we bought our lot, we'd have bought one of those instead.  Anyway, if you or someone you know might be interested in buying our lot, click on the red link above to see the listing.
You can also look at the blog entries from when we finished the coach house (look under "coach house remodel").  Please pass the word!   It is one of the most desirable lots in Retama.    Now, on to the blog:

Map of our travels in 2012:

Hi all, Dianne here.   This retrospective blog entry covers 2012, year four of our travels.   (To see the entire map above, slide it out from under the left panel.)  In 2012, we saw some of the most beautiful scenery in all of America, and did lots and lots of hiking.

Our new baby!

Bandido meeting his new sister

January found us at our home base at Retama Village in Mission, Texas.   Just like January of 2011, this January found us adding a new member to our family, our cuddly girl, Tequila.  And just like Bandido the year before, she was a rescue from Cinderella Pet Rescue.  Bandido went to Cinderella with us on adoption day when we brought our little girl home.

Just two weeks later, Bandido and Tequila dressed as pirates in the annual Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort pet parade next door...

Roger and I donned our own pirate costumes for a neighborhood party at Retama...

Roger just couldn't get enough of costumes that spring, so he played the role of a drunken cowboy in the neighborhood mystery dinner...

In April it was time to once again hit the road.  Our first stop was in Kerrville, Texas to attend another RV Dreams Rally.  From there, we made our way through El Paso, Texas and Gallup, New Mexico to spend a week at A&A Mesa RV Park, just down the road from Mesa Verde National Park.

We toured the ancient ruins...
And took one of my favorite hikes of all time, the Petroglyph Trail:

From Mesa Verde, we traveled west to spend time at Monument Valley.  We took a Navajo tour of the famous landmarks...

 We paid a little extra for the extended tour that went deeper into the Navajo Nation to view some lesser-known sites -- money well spent!

Our next stop was still in Navajo lands.  We stopped in Page, Arizona just long enough to take another tour to Antelope Canyon.  The photos taken there speak for themselves:

We then spent an entire month at Zion River Resort in Virgin, Utah.  This enabled us to explore Zion National Park in depth.  We took lots and lots of hikes there, both by ourselves and with our daughters and granddaughter, who visited us while we were there.  It would be impossible to show even just our favorite photos from that stay, but here's just a very few:

Robyn, Amanda, and Kaia hiking the Virgin River Narrows at Zion

Kaia at the north rim of the Grand Canyon on a side trip...

  Before our girls left, we made another day trip with Amanda and Kaia, this time to Bryce Canyon National Park.  I consider Bryce Canyon to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, and I really wanted Amanda to see it.  We spent a beautiful day hiking together.

Amanda and Kaia flew home to Florida.  After another week exploring Zion, we packed up and moved the motor home to Bryce Canyon to do more hiking there on our own.

We weren't finished with desert beauty just yet.  Capital Reef National Park was our next stop.  We hiked to the pioneer register wall...

Ate delicious pie at the Fruita visitor's center, and rented a Jeep for the day to explore the back country:  

Moab, Utah was our next stop, which we used as a home base to hike and explore Arches National Park,  
 Canyonlands National Park, and (my favorite) Dead Horse Point State Park.  The ground was so hot while we were in Moab that we had to buy booties for our dogs, just to take them on the path at the campground to do their business. 

Here's the short video we took of them learning to walk in their doggie shoes:

Dogs aren't allowed to hike in the national parks, but they enjoyed Dead Horse Point State Park, and we enjoyed the awesome scenery there.

We had pushed our luck in traveling to the Moab area in Late June, and by the first week of July it was so hot we needed cooling vests for our dogs.   It was time to leave the desert for cool Colorado.

Our home base was Montrose, Colorado.  From there we explored the Black Canyon of the Gunnison
and found the beautiful mountain town of Ouray.

I'll never forget the jaw-dropping scenery we saw when we drove our Toyota on the twisty-curvy Million Dollar Highway outside of Ouray:  
That was one twisty drive!  

One sure way to cool off is to camp at 9,400 feet altitude, and that's just what we did for four days at Taylor Ridge near Altmont, Colorado.  We were out of breath most of the time we were there, but oh, what a view! 

We crossed the mountain at beautiful Cottonwood Pass...

...and boondocked for four days at Chalk Lake National Forest Service Campground near Buena Vista.  We had an awesome camp site and hiked with the dogs every morning up to Agnes Vaille falls just across the road.
Sadly, the very next summer, this mountain face gave way and buried five members of a family hiking this same trail.

My site at Mountaindale

Mountaindale RV Resort south of Colorado Springs was my home for a month while Roger flew to Indiana for three weeks in August.  I saw more wildlife right outside my door while staying there than I had seen anywhere else (even boondocking) in four years:    
Deer at my picnic table

Fox on my night cam
Here come the bucks!
One of the twin fawns who visited daily

Bear at my picnic table!!

With all that wildlife surrounding me, I was in 7th heaven!  I felt badly for Roger, but we made reservations for the same RV site for 2013 before we left.

From Mountaindale, we moved to another favorite place, Creede, Colorado.  We've written so much about Creede lately (that's where the balloon festival was) that I won't repeat; but here's a photo illustrating once again the beauty of that area of Colorado:

By then, the aspens were turning gold, so we knew it was time to head south. 

We did something totally out of character and parked overnight at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs and Spa.   We enjoyed dipping into the various types of hot springs, and even slathered ourselves in mud and went in the mud bath.  I'm too vain to re-post the mud bath photo, but you get the idea....

We stopped for a few days at another favorite spot in New Mexico, Abiquiu Reservoir for a little R&R before moving on.
I told you we had beautiful scenery on this trip!

Our last stop in New Mexico was the quirky town of Roswell, where we joined some other lighthearted folks and toured the interesting UFO museum.

Crossing into Texas, we stayed for a few days at Lost Maples State Park and took the worst. hike. ever.  The rocky, uneven trail surface just went on and on and on...

Our last stop on this trip found us in the Texas Hill Country, another favorite place.  This time, in addition to our usual haunts (Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Grape Creek Winery) we also toured the nearby LBJ Ranch...

And the amazing Old Tunnel State Park to view millions of bats leaving the tunnel at dusk.  We had visited once before, but it was the wrong time of year.  This time we hit it right.  The light was not great for a photo of the bats, but they show up in a short video I took with my camera that captures the excitement, with the park ranger's narrrative in the background:

We returned to our home at Retama Village in mid-October, back to our Texas routine, so the year four travels end here.  

There are a lot of pet photos of the year for 2012, because there were a lot of good pet photos!

Me and my pal

Pirate Bandido

Tequila and I getting ready  for the St. Pat's Day Parade

Bandido loves water!

Tequila grinning in Kerrville, Texas

Getting ready for a hike on the Pa'Rus Trail at Zion NP

Guarding Kaia while she slept

Charlie stalking hummingbirds

Oh, the indignity!  I hate these booties!

My salt and pepper pups

My stick!  No, it's my stick!

Charlie lolling in the grass at Lost Maples State Park, Texas

Home at last!

Bandido's favorite water tub at his home Doggie Park

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