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The End Of One Journey, The Start Of A New One!

This is the post excerpt.

This is the very first blog of our new journey through life.  We have just finished selling Leu Cat, our Lagoon 44 Catamaran sailboat which we spent 10 years sailing around the world, and have bought a Tiffin Allegro Bus to explore North America.  We are very excited to begin this new journey and look forward to sharing it with you.

Before we begin, we wish to share with you some very sad news.  The new owners of Leu Cat, Susan and Doug, have just emailed us to say that Leu Cat is no more.  We sold Leu Cat on August 30th and she was anchored in the lagoon at Sint Maarten.  Unfortunately, the massive hurricane called Irma swept over Sint Maarten just a few days later and destroyed much of the island and hundreds of boats, including Leu Cat.  Here is the message that we received from Susan and Doug:

“It is my sad task to tell you that Leu Cat is a total loss from Hurricane Irma. According to the last AIS transmission, she ended up against the Skipjack Restaurant on Welfare Road at the short bridge to Snoopy Island at 5:05 am on Wednesday, Sept. 6. That was almost immediately after the hurricane hit St. Maarten. With that information, Ian found her at that location today under a pile of wrecked boats with only the flags on the forward hulls visible to identify her. She is in small pieces as she was blown through the causeway bridge. We are saddened also to know that he lost his Leopard catamaran (which was a business in addition to his surveying) as well.”

We were so saddened to hear this tragic news.  Susan and Doug are such nice people and this is the last thing we would want for them.  Fortunately, they did purchase hurricane insurance so they should recoup much of their loss.  Also, we are saddened because Leu Cat was such a wonderful home, sailboat and companion to us as we sailed around the world.  If you are interested in sharing the adventure we had with her, you can go go to our blog site by Click here to go to our sailing adventure blog site

In the days to come, we will be sharing with you our new adventures as we start our exploration of North America in our new home.  We have yet to name her and are open to any suggestions that you may have.  We will post photos of her in the next few days as the dust settles from our outfitting her.  She is a beauty!

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Year 1 Day 43 Casino And Golf

Yesterday, while talking with the docent at the Kuaua village ruins, we learned that there is an Indian casino and a golf course nearby.  That sounded so good that today Mary Margaret and I decided to take a play day.  Thus, this morning we drove the ½ mile to where those establishments were located.  I dropped off Mary Margaret, armed with a fist full of dollars, at the casino while I continued on to the golf course next door.

When I checked in at the pro shop and gave my last name to the pro, I was surprised when he entered it into his computer and then asked me if my first name was Don.  Don is my older brother, who must have played here before me.  He travels extensively around the world, giving speeches and invited keynote addresses in his field of Internet use in education.  My guess is that he visited the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and while here, took the opportunity to play golf.

The course was absolutely beautiful with lots of water, well bunkered greens that were well maintained and ducks and geese quacking and honking as they lazily paddled in the ponds.  I love playing golf and with a wonderful course like the one I was on was nirvana.

It has been many months since I last played, maybe even over a year, so I had little expectation of scoring well, especially on a hard course such as this one.  However, I was in for a pleasant surprised as I shot a 90 with 4 pars. Whoo Hoo!

When I finished I returned to the casino and met up with Mary Margaret.  She was very excited as she was up over $65 dollars after playing for over 5 hours.  Double Whoo Hoo!

Tomorrow will be our last day in the shadows of Albuquerque.  We have mixed emotions as we want to explore the area some more but, at the same time, want to take a day off and just rest and relax as we are facing a 5 hour drive the next day as we head south to Columbus, NM.

Year 1 Day 42 Exploring Our Backyard

I’m a bit late with this blog.  Time seems to be just running by.  Sorry for being tardy…

Today we realized that our campground is actually on the land that is a New Mexico Historic Site.  Called the Coronado State Monument, it is named for Francisco Vasquez de Coronado who is thought to have camped near this site with his soldiers in 1540 while searching for the fabled Cities of Gold.  Instead of finding treasure he found 12 thriving agricultural villages inhabited since 1300 AD.  Coronado called the inhabitants: Los Indios de los Pueblos or Pueblo Indians.  Armed with this knowledge, we just had to explore the historic site and we discovered a gold mine of history and interesting information.

The ruins of the northernmost of the 12 Pueblos villages that were situated along the Rio Grande River here in this valley was just ¼ mile from us. The village was called Kuaua. Its name means “evergreen” in Tiwa.  It was first settled around AD 1325 and was occupied by approximately 1,200 people when Coronado arrived in 1540.  Conflict with Coronado and later Spanish explorers led to the abandonment of this site within a century of first contact.  Today, the descendants of the people of Kuaua live in the surviving Tiwa-speaking villages of Taos, Picuris, Sandia, and Isleta.

When archeologists from the Museum of New Mexico excavated the ruins of the Kuaua Pueblo during the 1940s, they discovered a square kiva in the south plaza of the community.  This kiva, or ceremonial chamber, contained many layers of mural paintings.  These murals represent some of the finest examples of Pre-Columbian art ever found in the United States. Painstaking efforts allowed for the recovery of the murals, and fourteen examples of the original art are on display in the Visitor’s Center.  The painted kiva was reconstructed and a local indigenous artist reconstructed one of the mural layers on this kiva’s interior walls.

We toured the ruins and we were allowed to climb up a ladder made from logs, walk across the top of the adobe kiva and then climb down another log ladder that was jutting out of a hole in the top of the kiva.

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The floor of the kiva was about 8 feet below the surface of the ground.  Inside was cool and dark but had enough natural light from the hole in the roof so we could see the painted walls.  While we were not allowed to take photographs, I did find this photo of the painted walls on the Internet so you can see what we saw.

While inside the kiva, our guide explained to us the meaning of each painting and the traditional use of the kiva by the Pueblos.  She also took us around the reconstructed ruins of the village.  The actual ruins still exist but were reburied after they were excavated when the archaeologists realized that the rain was destroying the adobe.  It is hoped that someday, when funding is available, the ruins will be re-excavated and protected by over hangs or some other protective coverings.

Here is A Computer Simulation Of The Layout Of This Pueblo Village Called Kuaua.

Here Is A Computer Simulation Of What The Village Looked Like.

Here Is A Photo Of Reconstructed Ruins Of The Village.

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Another View OF The Ruins

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The Rio Grande River Flows By The Village.

 

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Along with touring the ruins, the kiva and the remarkable displays, we also visited the gift shop.  Here we met the docent who filled us with lots of additional information about the Pueblo Indians and their culture.  We spent over 45 minutes with her as she was very warm and friendly and filled with facts.  We were also amazed at the quality of the art work that the local tribe had on displayed and ended up buying a few pieces.  They will make magnificent wall hangings once we decide to settle down and buy a house.  When that will be, we do not have the faintest idea but the  things that we acquired during our circumnavigation and now our exploration of North America will bring back the fondest memories.

 

 

Year 1 Day 41 Coronado Campground, Bernalillo, New Mexico

This morning we packed up and moved on, waving goodbye to Trinidad and Trinidad Lake State Park.  We were on our way south to the town of Bernalillo, New Mexico which is just about 15 miles north of Albuquerque.  Located there is the Coronado Campground.  It is a city campground located on a bluff overlooking the Rio Grande River.

The drive was very easy with Mary Margaret and I sharing the 275 mile, 4.5 hour drive (with stops to change drivers a few times).  It was freeway (I-25) all the way.  Shortly after starting we drove down the Raton Pass and were on the grassy great plains that abut the Rocky Mountains from the east.  As we drove, we spied another heard of antelope feeding on the grasses next to the freeway.  Mary Margaret asked if I thought that our deer whistles we have installed on both our bus and car were working.  It appeared to me that they were as some of the antelope raised their heads and turned to look toward us.  The whistles give out an ultra-sonic whistle that humans cannot hear but many animals included deer and antelope can.  They are supposed to scare them away so they will not bound in front of you.  After our “up close and personal” encounter with the mule deer last month, we ordered and installed two whistles to each vehicle.  I cannot really attest to how well they work but at least so far, we have not had any more “close encounters”.

Our new campground is pretty nice with a clever layout of the various sites.  We have a screen of trees in front of us that blocks the view of the main road which is about 1000 feet away.  We have a nice casita which houses a picnic table and with the large tree on our site, our view of the next camper is more or less blocked also.  Our view to the back of the site is of the open grasslands and then Sangre Del Cristo mountain range in the distance.  We have 50 Amp service and water at our site and a sump dump that is located near the park entrance.  With a nice BBQ grill and a campfire ring our site is complete!

Views Of Our Campsite

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We plan on spending the next few days here which should give us time to explore historic Albuquerque, catchup on some chores and relax a bit.  Life is good.

Year 1 Day 40 Football Saturday And The Limitations of DirecTV

One of the few things we missed during our 10 years of sailing was being able to watch college football games during the fall season.  We did not have a TV on our sailboat and it was very difficult to impossible to pick up live football games overseas on our computer.  Also, the cost of Internet access was cost prohibitive for streaming football games.  It was the rare occasion where we had high speed Internet access in a marina that would allow us to use YouTube to catch a football game a day or two after it was played.

Now that we are back in the States, it is a bit easier but currently is still a struggle.  This is because of our use of DirecTV instead of Dish satellite service.  We have discovered that DirecTV is very restrictive in its use of “local” networks such as ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.  These networks are available only if: 1) you are within 50 or so miles of your home address, or 2) you call DirecTV and tell them where you are currently located so they can hook your receiver up to these networks at your new locations (see the limitation below), or 3) you pay an extra $15 a month to be permanently hooked up to these networks broadcasting out of either the east coast or west coast, or 4) you buy a separate antenna that can capture local network signals if you are within 50 or so miles of one of their land-based broadcasting antennas.

It should be noted that we did try to be hooked up to these networks (see option 2 above) when we were in Tucson.  However, we were told by the DirecTV technician that we could not be connected since Tucson was not within the coverage area of the satellite that sends the signal.  Also, we cannot yet sign up for the permanent coverage (see option 3, above) since one needs to send to DirecTV a copy of your RV’s registration (we are still waiting to get that from the state of South Dakota) and once you do that, it will still take up to 3 months for DirecTV to process your request!).  Grrrrr!

Our current way of dealing with this BS is to use our computer to get access to ESPN3 through the Internet.   Apparently, ESPN3 simultaneously broadcasts the games that are on ABC.  For us, this is important because the last two Michigan football games have been on ABC/ESPN3.  Thus, despite all of the big bucks we are paying to have DirecTV, we have had to resort to our computer and the Internet to watch Michigan play football.  How frustrating is that!

In fairness to DirecTV, we can watch college football games on those DirecTV channels they do provide such as FS1, BTN, SEC, and ESPN, ESPN1 and ESPN2.  However, Michigan has not been on those channels these last couple of weeks.

Tomorrow, we head south with the goal to be near Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We plan of staying there for a few days to explore that city.

Year 1 Day 39 Trinidad, Colorado

After a leisurely morning we hopped in the car and drove into the lovely little town of Trinidad. Our plan was to check out its museum. Once inside the town, we travelled over its red brick roads. Trinidad is famous for its clay and has a long history of making red bricks. Each brick is stamped with the word “Trinidad” in the middle, so you’ll never doubt where is was made!

Trinidad Red Brick Road

Trinidad Street Bricks

The Trinidad History Museum consists of an entire block on Main Street which is part of the original famous Santa Fe Trail. The block is composed of three 1800’s original homes and a garden.  These include the original Baca family house built in 1867 when Trinidad was just a struggling settlement isolated in the middle of Indian territory, the adobe structure behind the Baca house which was the servant quarters and now houses the Santa Fe Trail Museum, the Bloom House which is a beautiful Second Empire house and the Bloom House gardens is the third home on the block.

We first entered the Santa Fe Trail Museum and were greeted by the young docent. She informed us that the museum was free and that there would be a tour of the two houses in 45 minutes which cost five dollars. We spent that time totally mesmerized by the various displays in the museum. For such a small town (it only has a population of about 9000) it was a remarkable museum.

Here Are A few Of The Wonderful Displays That We Saw

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We learned that the site of present-day Trinidad provided a good spot for traders and wagon trains using the Santa Fe Trail to set up camp next to the Purgatoire River. Around 1860 Hispano settlement began to push north from New Mexico to this area east of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Looking to expand their sheep business, the Gutiérrez family built the first permanent cabins at the site of Trinidad in 1859. Several more families, including that of Felipe Baca, followed in 1860–61; the town may have been named after one of Baca’s daughters. The new settlement developed around the intersection of two different segments of the Santa Fe Trail, which became the town’s two major streets, Main and Commercial. By 1861 the settlers had built irrigation ditches and were starting to raise wheat, corn, and sheep for sale in Pueblo to the north. The town quickly became the main population center in the Purgatoire Valley and served as a vital connection to northern New Mexico and Santa Fe.

Numerous wild west famous or infamous characters traveled to or through Trinidad.  The town back in the mid to late 1800s was a proto-typical wild west town with more than its fair share of saloons, prostitutes, gunslingers, hangings and shootouts. Such characters included Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Jessie James.

Through this period, five of the town’s law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty.  Trinidad had one deputy sheriff who ended up being the role model for a number of latter day western movies. George Titworth, whose career spanned over 30 years of being a law enforcement officer. His nickname was Alkali Bill due to his relentless tracking prowess. Some of the infamous outlaws he tracked down included Kid Curry of Wild Bunch fame, Black Jack Ketchum with his Ketchum Gang (who were notorious for bank robbing) and the Hole-In -the-Wall gang. Titworth once loaded his posse and their horses onto a train and used it to deliver themselves from Trinidad to Cimarron.  There, he rediscovered the Ketchum Gang trail, cornered them in the Cimarron Canyon where a shootout entailed that resulted in the killing of some of the gang members and capture of the rest. No doubt about it, Trinidad is rich with wild west lore!

Black Jack Ketchum Getting A Shave

Black Jack Ketchum

All too soon it was time for the tour. Joined by just two other ladies, we had what was essentially a private tour. We learned that in 1873, Felipe and Dolores Baca traded 22,000 pounds of wool for an unusual adobe house built for John Hough, a Trail entrepreneur. The Baca House boasts two stories, a widow’s walk, and Greek architectural details. Colorful Rio Grande textiles, Victorian furniture, and other period furnishings evoke the lifestyle of this prominent family.

Baca House Photos

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Cattle baron and banker Frank Bloom and his wife Sarah, pioneers from Pennsylvania, had their hillside home moved into their new home in 1882. It was a bit ironic to us that they sited their house right next to the Baca House. The Baca’s were sheep barons and now the region’s cattle barons would be living side by side. The history between sheep and cattle ranching during the late 1800’s is pretty ugly. Generally, the cattlemen saw the sheepherders as invaders, who destroyed the public grazing lands, which they had to share on a first-come, first-served basis.

Between 1870 and 1920, approximately 120 engagements occurred in eight different states or territories. At least 54 men were killed and some 50,000 to over 100,000 sheep were slaughtered. And yet, here in Trinidad, with its long history of bad guys, gunfights, lynchings and all the rest, had the two factions living within 50 feet of each other. Go figure!

With its tower and iron cresting, the Bloom Mansion is an excellent example of Second Empire architecture.

Bloom Mansion Photos

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We returned to our campsite where Mary Margaret made a delicious Hungarian dinner of lecho and then we retired to the campfire and finished this fun day enjoying a mesmerizing campfire.

Year 1 Day 38 Haircut, Laundry and Wasp Invasion

 

It is all just a day in the lives of Rv’ers.  Today started out innocently enough.  Mary Margaret threw in a load of clothes into our washer while I got our haircutting equipment out.  It had been awhile since my last haircut and I was now looking more like a shagging dog than a grandpa.

As the washing machine did its thing, Mary Margaret beautifully sheared my hair.  After she finished and I was putting away the haircutting stuff, Mary Margaret spied a wasp in our bathroom.  Using our electric mosquito swatter, I bzzzzzzzt the wasp.  It actually took two zaps of the swatter but the wasp was history.  However, before too long, Mary Margaret spied a second wasp, this one up front near the driver’s seat.  Another zap, another dead wasp.

By now we were scratching our heads, trying to figure out how the two wasps got into our bus.  Before we solved that mystery, Mary Margaret spied a third wasp inside our bus.  Once again, with a double zap of the electric swatter, another wasp was dispatched to wasp heaven.

With this third wasp, I was now thinking that maybe we had a nest that had established itself in the storage lockers under the floor of our RV.  Thus, I hustled to our little Fiat and drove off to Trinidad in search of an insect bomb that I could set off in the massive storage area we have.  Within an hour I had returned armed with a box of these cannisters.

Since you have to stay away from the fumigated area for two hours, we decided to head off to Trinidad for an early lunch while the bomb did its work.  I set it off, closed the locker doors, locked up the bus and off we went.

We discovered the Wonderful World Of China and had the most wonderful meal.  We ordered the house special for 2 which included soup, a hot platter of appetizers including spare ribs, beef, wantons, shrimp, and wrapped chicken.  Then came the main course of beef with vegetables, crispy walnut shrimp and fried rice with BBQ pork.  What a feast!  We had so much left over we had an entire meal for tomorrow!  Plus, each dish was delicious!  Thus, if you ever visit Trinidad, be sure to try this place out.  You will not be disappointed.

After our lunch, we drove around Trinidad to discover where things are that we wish to explore tomorrow and then returned to LeuC.  By now the fumes had dissipated and it appears that we are now wasp free.

Just another day in the lives…

Year 1 Day 37 Return To Trinidad Lake State Park.

We left our lovely campsite at the St. Vrain State Park, north of Denver, this morning.  As we headed out to our next adventure.  This time our objective is Southern California, specifically, the Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park near San Juan Capistrano.  Along the way, we plan on revisiting two of the campgrounds that we stayed at during our trip from Tucson to Denver.  These are the Trinidad Lake State Park in Colorado and the Pancho Villa State Park in New Mexico.  We feel that we did not have a chance to explore the environs of these parks adequately on our first respective visits plus they are very conveniently located along our planned route.

Thus, after driving a bit over 5 hours, we arrived in the mid-afternoon at Trinidad Lake State Park.  Along the way, Mary Margaret expanded her driving experience by driving in city freeway traffic (going through Pueblo) and through construction zone traffic.  She did not like either experience as it was a bit stressful at times, especially with the very aggressive Colorado drivers, but she now knows that she can handle it just fine.

Here Is Mary Margaret Navigating LeuC Down The Road.

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After Clearing In At The Ranger’s Station, We Pulled Into Another Beautiful Campsite. 

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We plan on staying here for a few days, allowing time to rest a bit and also to explore the area.  Trinidad has a most interesting old west history with Bat Masterson once being a Sheriff, Jessie James and his gang coming through, as well as Wyatt Earp and his family.

Here Is A Photo Of Bat Masterson

In fact, while Bat Masterson was Sheriff, the Earps and Doc Holliday came into Trinidad, straight from the shootout at the OK Corral. They all holed up with Masterson for a couple of days and sorted out what they needed to do with themselves. The Earps were on their way soon after arriving but Doc had a problem: Arizona wanted to extradite him for murder and try him in Tombstone.  To help out, Bat arrested him on a trumped-up charge and made a deal with the local judge to never let it come to trial.  Arizona couldn’t extradite him while this charge was hanging in the air so Doc lived a free life trying the “Colorado Cure” until his tuberculosis killed him five years later in Glenwood Springs.

Here Is A Photo Of The Wanted Poster For The Earps And Doc Holliday

In the next couple of days, we will venture into the town of Trinidad and check out the various museums and areas of interest.