Our Autumn Get Away

November 24-25, 2021 . Summer has finally given way to our autumn even though autumn this year is 10+ degrees above normal. It would be nice to have a normal season, but we’ll take it over the hot humid summer. Sitting around and sweating for months on end was no fun. I swear this next summer WE ARE OUT OF HERE for a few months. I hope!! Nothing is a sure thing any more.

The Chiweenie Brothers, as is their normal behavior when sensing a change, are racing around chasing each other’s heels, barking in wild abandon because, by golly, WE’RE GOING SOMWHERE!!! With that doggie sense of detecting when something they love is about to happen I grab and hug each of them in turn. Yes, boys, we are going on an adventure. I am as excited as they are!

MissAdventure packed with last minute essentials, I dress the boys in their bright red harnesses and attach the leashes. Grabbing wallet, keys, sunglasses, and my ever-present desert fashion accessory, the essential SUN HAT, we load up.

We drive to Love’s Truck Stop to fuel up. I gulp at the price of gas and quickly determine the amount we’ll need to make it to our destination and back home. Okay, it’s a lot for such a short trip, but we need this. The boys need a change because, well, they’re dogs. They thrive on new places, new smells, new adventure. I need a change because I am sick of sitting for months as the only way to deal with Arizona’s much needed monsoon. Let me go on record saying I hate humidity. It’s draining and restricting and miserable. Too miserable to get even one thing checked off my project list, but I did get a lot of reading done, :). And now my mental state needs a change.

Fueled up we head west across the Colorado River into California stopping in Blythe for a few grocery items and ice. It takes a few minutes to get things arranged in the ice chest, but at last we are on the road again heading west. Just a few miles out of Blythe we exit the freeway and turn left at the top of the off ramp, heading south. We again cross the Colorado and are back in Arizona in and around the Cibola Wildlife Refuge. They grow a lot of cotton out here.

We can’t camp in the refuge, of course, but the drive in reveals a feast for desert eyes. This area is flooded each fall with water from the river and hundreds of ducks, coots, Canada and geese, and even some sandhill cranes on the opposite, dry side settle here to spend the winter feeding before moving on. The poplars and scrub are dressed in brilliant yellow. With the backdrop of a brilliant blue autumn sky it’s breathtaking.

Not sure how long I have been sitting here enjoying the view, but The Boys remind me they are waiting. Dogs are not allowed outside of the vehicle, and they are getting antsy. You guys have been so good. Let’s go find a camp and do some exploring. Camera put away; we head back out onto the main road.

The BLM camping area begins right across the highway from the refuge, but I turn right, and we do a bit of scouting. It appears the camping area goes on for at least several miles with some entrances named, by campers no doubt, who have put up little homemade signs naming the dirt roads. Wino Way catches my eye and I drive back in a ways only to drive back out. It wasn’t impressive and the winos can have it.

There are lots of possibilities, but I think across from the refuge will be our best bet. Making our way back north we turn right across from the refuge and follow the fairly decent dirt road up and around. There are only two other vehicles here, both vans. We settle on a knoll that has a nice, elevated view of the area, and at least a quarter mile away from the nearest vehicle. It’s rocky and a bit barren, but the view towards the refuge is lovely.

I get the van backed in, our windshield cover put on, the solar panel set up facing south, and then take The Chiweenie Brothers for a nice walk. Every few steps I see a pretty rock. My jean’s pockets get full rather quickly. Note to self: Bring a couple plastic bags next time.

Oh, look, donkey tracks!

A well-used, narrow trail going mostly north/south disappears into the distance. Oh look, a pretty pebble. And so it goes. By now my shirt bottom is a makeshift receptacle for rocks, and we make our way back to camp, me doing a drop, stop, and rearrange of my cargo every few yards. *sigh*. But these rocks! They’re so pretty!!

We repeat the above on Thanksgiving Day. Our much-needed respite eventually comes to an end. I break camp but take the time for a couple more shots of our view then I take the boys on a very short walk, put the camera away, and we are off.

View of the Wildlife Refuge from our camp

Refreshed and ready to get on with the projects that were put off this past summer, they have now become autumn and winter projects i, and it’s time to get crackin’.

Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs!

Summer and Current Reads:

Three Forensic Genealogy novels by Nathan Dylan Goodwin. Hiding the Past, The Lost Ancestor, and American Ground. All are based in the UK and are not bad reads, but if you’re not into genealogy they may drag a bit for you. I believe there are several more of his books yet to be read.

I Thought You Said This Would Work, Ann Garvin. Cute, appealing story of three friends and the insights, trials, and tribulations they deal with when one of them is hospitalized. A road trip, a new friend added to the mix, romance, and animal rescue round it out. **** Four stars . Just because.

Flight Risk, Joy Castro. I started out loving this book. The Latina heroine from the hills of West Virginia married to a well-to-do man must make peace with her upbringing and come to terms with the fact that, yes, she does belong. But like so many new novels today there just had to be a LTBGQ appearance. It just didn’t seem to belong in this poor-girl-marries-well story. And then the author throws in a short, vicious, crying-her-eyes-out scene when our heroine is reminded of the 45th president and his “crimes against women” in a very transparent and ill-researched personal rant. I won’t be reading any more of Castro’s books. *** three stars for the first 2/3rds of the novel.

Two of Dean Koontz’ Odd Thomas novels, Odd Interlude and Odd Apocalypse. How can you not love any of these books? Koontz’ sweet, unassuming, psychic fry cook hero, Odd, is so lovable, and Odd is the perfect vehicle for the Dean Koontz imagination.

These Toxic Things, Rachel Howzell Hall. Wow! I think I’ve just discovered a new favorite mystery writer; could not put this book down and the ending blew me away. My only disappointment is the title. It sounds too much like a tacky romance novel. Sorry Ms Hall, but that’s what it made me think of. Carry on with the stellar writing no matter what title you give your next book. *****

The Four Winds, Kristin Hannah. FIVE STARs *****. 1921, Depression Era America. Choices must be made, survival may depend on that choice: One woman’s struggle with abandonment, change, choices, hardship, and raising her two children during the Dust Bowl years. I finished this book in two sittings. It is beautifully written with believable characters and situations. A heart wrenching read, but good portrayal of the choices people had to make to survive this catastrophic, man-made disaster. A wonderful historical fiction novel.

Another good five star read, Beneath Devil’s Bridge, Loreth Anne White. Excellent who-done-it. Years after the unbelievably violent, rage filled murder of a 14-year-old girl, old wounds are opened and brings to light new questions and new revelations when the man who confessed to the 25-year-old crime now claims he is innocent. *****

And that was my summer and how I dealt with the heat and humidity. I’d like to encourage you to read more, and The Chiweenie Brothers would like to remind you to remember to take your favorite furry buddy for some nice longs walks. Preferably before AND after a reading session. Bark! Woof! Woof! Bark!!!

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Why Aren’t We Traveling?

Covid lockdown is past us. We are a travel blog so why are we at home?

Couple reasons. I don’t like to share my private life on the blog, but I do feel an explanation is necessary so you understand why we aren’t back out there. My HOA claims it is illegal for me to live in the casita and required me to bring in a travel trailer. So I purchased an older “vintage” 17 footer and it now occupies the space under the kool cover, east side, in front of the casita. The numerous windows in the trailer give me a beautiful view of the mountains and I can enjoy our glorious sunsets without even going outside if I don’t want to. I now also have a nice large covered area to enjoy when it isn’t too hot; the kool cover provides shade but it also tends to hold in the heat. I still have room to park the vehicles in the shade, and The Chiweenie Brothers have shade to lounge around in, too. The downside is the casita is now storage and the lovely patio I built out the back sits unused.

As some of you know, my youngest son has been having some major health problems that have been going on for a few years, but now his gastroentologist thinks he may have had a heart attack. We are waiting for him to be able to see a cardiologist, and I don’t want to be any farther away than we are now. By being home I at least know how long it takes me to get back to him, where all the fuel stops are, and where we can stop for the night along the way if need be.

I have two or three closer to home mini trips in mind, but a phone signal and monsoon or lack thereof dictate whether we will take those or not. One is already off the table due to wildfires burning. UPDATE … Since beginning to write the draft of this post we had, at one point, 23 wildfires burning. I believe at this writing it is down to 20, but things change fast and just this morning State Trust Land in Arizona, along with five of our six National Forests have been closed to camping. The fire danger is just too bad to take the risk. I applaud our state for doing this. Five national forests closed due to wildfires across Arizona | 12news.com PLEASE DO NOT COME TO ARIZONA TO CAMP THIS SUMMER. THE CHOICE, COOLER, HIGHER ELEVATION AREAS ARE CLOSED. OTHERS THAT ARE NOT UP IN THE HIGHER AREAS ARE DESERT … no one in their right mind camps on the desert floor this time of year.

We will stay close to home, and in the meantime I continue to work on our new outdoor living space, known as an Arizona Room, underneath the Kool Cover alongside my permanently parked travel trailer. I have moved outdoor furniture here and set up an outdoor kitchen. This change has not been all that bad for the most part.

I do love this new space but mourn the loss of my time intensive and fairly expensive patio behind the casita. I also cannot see the White River of quartz hauled boxful by boxful from an old dump of mining quartz about five miles away that was put in along the fence line and the red yucca, Texas sage, and cacti I planted in that backyard space. I do get to see it when I head to the laundry shed—oh goody. I may move the patio pavers at some point, but that’s a LOT of work and energy is low to repeat that job, but it’s a thought. No hurry with any of that.

Prayers and good thoughts for my son would be greatly appreciated and some good thoughts that we may get away for a few short trips this summer would be nice, but if that doesn’t happen, there’s plenty to keep me busy around here. It is what it is, and will be what it will be; We will adjust our course as needed. The main thing is that my son get healthy and he doesn’t end up with even more health issues to deal with. This good man deserves a break!!

The Chiweenie Brothers relax under the cooler during our most recent excessive heat warning, anything above 110. I know they would enjoy some time away from home, too.

Covid-19 and Home Sweet Home

May 2020 for the months of February to May. I am pretty sure somewhere along the line during the trip from AZ to CA and back to say goodbye to my sister I contracted Covid-19. I gassed up 10 different times and there were a lot of people, mostly from out-of-state by the amount of traffic heading south at the end of the day, in the Mammoth Lakes area for the skiing and getting fuel for the return trip.  Or …

Perhaps my sister had it. When I received a copy of her death certificate she had listed what was not a surprise, COPD for “years”. The other three: Acute chronic respiratory failure, bilateral pulmonary emboli (blood clots in her lungs), and unspecified pneumonia, all listed as “days”.  Hmmm.  Just a thought that crossed my mind.  I was at her side holding her hand, stroking her cheek or forehead, leaning over to talk to her for the majority of the ten days I was there.   Anyway, I was sick for three weeks and it seemed like a hybrid of a cold and the flu. Grateful I had gotten back home before it really hit me.

Plans to use up the last months of my New Mexico State Parks pass didn’t come to fruition because of Covid-19 and The Chiweenie Brothers and I settled in on our little piece of Arizona. Once feeling better I got busy with installing snake fencing along the chain link fence on the north side.  Shade cloth was put up along the east side of our cool cover, a cement block wall was put up between the casita and the laundry shed. It works as a chiweenie barrier to keep them in the back and unable to see anyone who happens to pass by, AND it’s snake proof. I planted some rescued cacti out in the front, and  I also had to dig up most of the succulents I planted in the back last fall as the 112 degree heat (triple digits for two weeks beginning in late APRIL!!) was frying them.  Thankfully the evaporative cooler works really well; as long as it’s below about 105 degrees.  Then it is just okay, but certainly better than not having one!

Being an introvert and a homebody the stay-at-home order from Governor Ducey didn’t bother me a bit until I couldn’t get outside. Then I did get a little stir crazy.   For a while it was even too hot/windy in the early mornings to even enjoy my coffee under the patio umbrella. Like the crazy weather a lot of you are having, it has been bouncing back and forth.  Last week we got back down into the 90s, then two days of 80s, and now the temps will begin marching toward triple digits again.

Nothing prettier than cactus flowers

Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel.  We’re mostly staying put for the summer so I can keep the new transplants watered, but hopefully we can take a couple of short trips. I will definitely be researching places to go for next year, and I may publish a few destinations we are thinking about. Next month I  have an interesting person post to share. Hugs, Shawna

Lots of books were read over the months of winter and during the stay-at-home order.

Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey. Fictional novel inspired by a true event. ****

In an Instatnt by Suzanne Redfearn. ***** five stars.  Written from an interesting perspective, this book tells the story of a horrific accident and its aftermath; how each person’s character is revealed as they make life altering decisions during their struggle for survival.

Thief River Falls by Brian Freeman.  I thought this book was just okay (THIS wouldn’t happen! I kept saying to myself.  How stupid) because of an implausible story line until there very end when the story line is explained.  *****

The Other Wife. Another ***** five star read. Well written with lots of surprises.

The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards. **** Well written thriller that bounces back and forth between 1999 and 2015 with, of course, a surprise ending.  Only four star simply because, I think, it wasn’t quite as good as the others I have read so far this year.

The Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent, ****. Full of surprises and a happy ending.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl, A MUST READ!). A who-done-it murder mystery about a dysfunctional family with a surprise ending.  Four stars.

Rain Will Come by Thomas Holgate, ****.  Fast-paced thriller abiut a serial killer, but with a twist. Not for the squeamish although it isn’t TOO bad.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rowls.  Re-read this classic which I both love and hate.

Twisted Twenty-Six by Janet Evanovich.  Another light-hearted Stephanie Plum read.  Grandma Mazur marries into the mob!

When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal, ****. Nice coming-of-age story. A nice, but hard to believe, love story. A nice read about forgiveness.

And last-but-not-least Girl Next Door by Willow Rose.  *** three stars.  I found this one just okay.  When the author named a male cat Misty I was instantly put off. The story line about a serial killer and woman who leaves an abusive relationship ending up in the same town with her high school sweetheart who is a detective that speaks like a woman would speak put me off.  Then the cat is miraculously described as a female cat toward the end.  Who edited this???

Catching Up

Hello Friends! With the COVID-19 lurking around and people being asked to self isolate I thought this would be a good time to get  caught up on 2DogsTravel.
Since finding this bugger Snake in my little home this past fall and having it removed by a couple of our wonderful fire department personnel (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!) things pretty much went down hill.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were uneventfull except for the morning lows in the mid-20s for a week between Christmas and New Years. Another reason to be thankful that I have a warm(er) place to hunker down in the Arizona Winter.
Welcoming in 2020 we were delighted with this fabulous sunset

                                                       Gotta love Arizona sunsets.
Late January brought news that my SIL, Karen, had been hospitalized diagnosed with myeloma. That on top of diabetes and Parkinson’s. To her credit she had agreed to the bone marrow testing; she is not one who can handle much pain so this really surprised me. She had lived with her sister in Oregon for the past two years since my brother passed, and Sharon was her primary care giver. I  will be eternally grateful for this.

To make a long agonizing story shorter, she was finally sent home. Weak, discouraged, and with the knowledge that she would be taking chemo for the rest of whatever her life span would be, Karen decided that the treatments, constant doctor’s appointments, and continual tests were too much. She decided to let nature take its course and requested that all her meds to be withheld including her diabetes medications.  That, of course, put her into a diabetic coma and in less than two days she was released from her torment and went home to be with her Lord.
Ten days later I got a call from my niece that it was time to come say goodbye to my sister. Edie had been in rehab, again, to try and get her up and walking after yet another hospitalization in December. She came down with pneumonia on top of her CHF, years with COPD, and several bouts with sepsis. She continued to decline in hospital and come to the point of not being able to swallow amongst other various ailments. The doctors said she would never make it out of hospital and she didn’t.
I made the fastest trip ever to California (Hey, I could still be a truck driver if I wanted to . . . at least for a couple of days!).

One of us was with her 24/7 until she took her last breath at 9:30 a.m. February 27th. I stayed for a couple more days to help as I could and to visit with my sons before making a mad dash for Arizona before an incoming storm arrived.

The Chiweenie Brothers and I didn’t quite make it ahead of the storm and it was a snowy drive higher up on Hwy 44 near Lassen Park, but we came out the other side just fine and didn’t hit snow again until near Mammoth Lakes on Hwy 395 where the worst of this section of the highway was starting, but it wasn’t too bad.

Some shots taken with my phone on the trip back.
Mono Lake March 2020     MONO LAKE
The halfway point in our trip is right about Lone Pine, CA Where we spent a very brutal, cold night in the Alabama Hills. The wind coming off Mt. Whitney and surrounding Sierra Nevada made it feel like my hands were going to fall off and permanent grimace left on my face when we got parked for the night and The Boys needed their evening potty walk. I was so glad to have dug through a couple of my storage bins while in Redding and had brought my sleeping bag back with me.

A cold-but-windless morning presented a beautiful dawn creeping over the horizon.

Alabama Hills March 2020 Dawn is Breaking

Sunrise Alabama Hills March 2020
And this interesting little dinosaur, eh?
Alabama Hills Dinosaur Graffiti
A stop at McD’s for coffee and The Chiweenie Brothers and I head for the barn. I was  feeling a bit off, but was determined to get back to our little desert hideaway.

Back in Arizona The Boys relax after racing around their tiny back yard trying to get some of that pent up energy burned off. DSC_0024

I am totally exhausted and don’t even bother with unpacking the car.

Thank you for stopping by 2DogsTravel. Hugs, Shawna

Standing on the Corner

September 4, 2019 continued.
By the time we leave the dog park and are once again heading west the day has really warmed up. The drive to Winslow is uneventful. I stop for a quick lunch, head to Family Dollar where I get a bag of ice, some chew toys for The Chiweenie Brothers, and ask the clerk how to get to the library.
Once at the library I make an attempt at getting some blogging done, but even at 9:30 in the morning it is really heating up. We can’t sit here in the sun. Closing the laptop I look at two expectant faces.
What are we going to do? Drive on to Flagstaff or ….. “I know, Boys” I tell them, “Let’s go stand on the corner in Winslow, Arizona!” 2DogsTravel are up for anything as long as the drive is slow enough they can hang their heads out the window. We find the “park” AND a parking space. I leash them up, and we go exploring.
A nice guy and his son agree to take our photo with the bronze statues of Glen Frey and Jackson Browne who wrote the Eagles’ classic song, Take it Easy, which by the way is being blasted out onto the sidewalk, along with other Eagles’ songs. I return the favor and take their photo.

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That’s about all there is to see except for some window shopping which I don’t want to do; it’s too hot to walk around much.

On the way back to the van we find a bench in the shade of the building’s covered sidewalk and we take a little break.

The boys are loving all this people watching.

The Boys eventually get bored with being people watchers, and we are soon back on the road, heading to Flagstaff where we will spend the night at a former campsite near Walnut Canyon.

Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel and HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Hugs, Shawna

Holbrook AZ

September 4th. I packed up last night and we’re ready to roll. It’s a lovely morning; a clear sky and air warm enough to make one understand it will heat up fast today. I give The Chiweenie Brothers their breakfast and while they eat I get dressed. A quick walk for their morning business, and we’re on our way. Goodbye Bluewater. We’ll be back!

Once we are back at I-40 we cross the freeway and catch the on ramp heading west, Gallup NM our destination. It’s only about 30 miles away.

I need to find the library, the post office, and a branch of my bank. Gallup is an old town, and to my dismay all the places I need to be are in the old part of town which was built on uneven terrain. We go up and we go down, circle the library a few times and still cannot find a place to park.

We go up and we go down searching for the bank. Geez, one could easily lose a mirror on these narrow streets! Once I locate it I see a couple of parking spots, but the lot is TINY. I pull in and jockey MissAdventure around, finally getting her parked. Being careful not to hit the car next to me with the door I squeeze out and head for the bank’s doors. They aren’t quite open yet. I get in the line waiting.

In just a few minutes the doors are unlocked. In I go and get my business taken care of, trot back out to the van, and decide once I get out of this parking lot that I will forego the post office and will not even try for the library again. We’re outta here.

Back on I-40 we say goodbye to New Mexico and enter Arizona where we stop in Holbrook and 2DogsTravel get a romp at the town’s lovely dog park.

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Several large hunks of petrified wood line the roadway leading into the town of Holbrook.

The Chiweenie Brothers have a great time at this lovely park.


Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs! Hugs, Shawna

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Durango, Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park

After the marvelous tour of the Aztec Ruins we get back on Hwy 550 and head north to Durango, Colorado where we find Walmart and get our supplies and ice before catching Hwy 160 toward Cortez, Colorado.

Looking for a place to stop for the night we come up short and end up staying in a rest area just a mile beyond the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park. Any port in a storm, right?

We are up early and 2DogsTravel can’t wait to go through another ancient ruins area.  My senior pass gets us into the park for free, but guided tours here require a purchased ticket available at the visitor center that is located below the entrance to the park itself.

The ancient people who settled here were cliff dwellers and the tours involve a lot of climbing,  some steep stairways, and ladders so I forego the tours, choosing instead to get the best photographs I can from afar, which of course, I haven’t found for this marvelous stop either. *SIGH*.

The park is huge, and we spend almost the entire day here. Lots of driving, and climbing in and out of the van getting photographs of this land the Pueblo people made their home over 700 years ago.

One can see the dwellings just fine, but you miss out on a lot of information by not taking the tours.  I do purchase several informational brochures so I don’t think we miss any of the facts by not taking a guided tour, but I know I miss a lot of the personal observations a guide would have given.

  • The park protects over 4500 known archeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings.
  •  The cliff dwelling known as Cliff Palace includes 150 rooms, 75 constructed open areas, 21 kivas, and two “kiva-like” structures.
  • Balcony House has 38 rooms and two kivas.  The site is divided into three plazas or courtyards with associated rooms:  Lower Plaza, North Plaza, and the Kiva Plaza.
  • The six-mile long Mesa Top Loop Drive shows the full range of architecture in this national park from the earilest pit houses to the cliff dwellings. 
  • The Puebloans lived here for six centuries, from around A.D. 600 until about 1300.

Read about the magnificent Mesa Verde National Park HERE , and if you are in this area it is MUST SEE.  They have a campground in this park, places to eat, and much more.

The Boys and I end up back at the rest area where I observe a guy go to the back of the rest area where he goes through what looks like a locked gate. He’s gone for a while, but once he comes back out we go to inspect the area where we find the gate isn’t actually locked, but a sign cautions to keep the gate closed.

The method for keeping the gate closed involves a heavy chain that is looped around a post and one of the links is to be inserted into a channel cut in the iron.  This keeps the gate closed and from afar it appears to be a locked gate.

It is BLM land!  BLM land means public access is allowed, and we trot back to MissAdventure , fire her up, drive through the gate closing it behind us, and find a spot to camp for the rest of the week. It’s good to be shut down for a few days and just kick back in the cooler temps of the mountains.  Warm days, not hot days, and wonderfully cool nights make for some good rest.

On August 12th, rested up and rarin’ to go we head to Cortez, a short 10 mile drive, where we find the dog park.  The Chiweenie Brothers get their freedom to roam for a couple of hours.

Once The Boys are worn out and ready for a nap, I then mark the required Walmart stop off our list, and begin planning our next stop.  Do we take in Canyon of the Ancients? Four Corners? Hoven Weep?  All three?  Decisions are to be made, but we’ll worry about that tomorrow.  Walmart is our stop for the night, and as I lay my head down on the pillow a decision is made on where we’ll head tomorrow.

Thanks for coming along with us on our adventures. Hugs, Shawna

CURRENT READ:  What you Did by Claire McGowan

Aztec Ruins, Aztec NM

August 8 – 11, 2019.  Leaving Navajo Lake State Park we take Hwy 527 back out to Hwy 64. Winding our way along the two-lane highway passing opposing traffic consisting of at least 100 white work trucks making their way east hauling various items: Tanks of some kind of liquid, various types of small equipment, spare tires. Because of the small oil wells and a Conoco storage facility we pass I am guessing these vehicles are on their way to do something related to the oil industry.

Enjoying our early morning drive, we soon come to Hwy 550.  It’s our intention to head up to Durango, Colorado for supplies, but first a stop in Aztec NM for a bite to eat, a walk for the boys, and time outside the library where I get some blogging done, a request sent for mail forwarding, and some bills paid while internet is available.

I love the libraries where their internet is available right in the parking lot.  Makes it so much easier to get done what needs to be done and not have to worry about The Boys. The Chiweenie Brothers are spoiled.  

Once all the “To-Do’s” are taken care of we head out only to spot a sign for The Aztec Ruins National Monument.  This is something I want to see. I motor into their parking lot, and fortunately there is a huge shade tree with no one parked under it. With the windows down a bit I know The Chiweenie Brothers will be fine while I take a look see.

First, however, a short walkabout for them; they have been so patient waiting for me to get that to-do list taken care of. It’s a lovely walk through the native plants botanical gardens, The Boys enjoying sniff and hike time.  Okay guys, back in the van, you can’t go into the ruins, so be good and take a nap.

Barking their fool heads off as I dare to leave them behind, I wait just outside the entrance to the visitor’s center until they settle down.  Once I am out of site they are quiet, giving up the attempt to convince me they need to go with me.

A short orientation before the guided tour begins I learn that the Aztec Indians (who are from Mexico) did not build these ruins, it was the ancestral Pubelo people who lived here centuries before the Aztec empire prospered.  Inspired by popular histories about Cortez’s conquest of Mexico, and thinking that the Aztec built these structures, Anglo settlers name the place Aztec, and it was never changed.

Highlights of this very interesting tour:

  • Life span for the people who settled here from the late 1000s to the late 1200s averaged only 30 years of age.
  •  Timbers for building this ancient city were hauled from 80 miles away without the use of draft animals.  Think about that!
  • Rock for building was brought in, by hand, from 30 miles away.
  • Not all of the ruins here have been excavated.  There are many more in this area, but will be left unearthed, because what is excavated needs to be maintained.
  •  The West Ruin is the largest of the houses and had at least 500 rooms that rose to three stories.  It was a public building akin to our modern public buldings like civic centers or places of worship.  Excavation revealed original roofs with centuries old wood and vast desposits of well-preserved artifacts.
  • Archaeologists believe once the Pueblo people got their community built and they had “more time on their hands”, they began the art of decorating their pottery, and beautiful pottery it is. Ancient “interior decorating”.
  •  The Pueblo people made blankets from turkey feathers.

I took many photos here, which I haven’t found, but you can learn more about and see some photos of this wonderful national treasure HERE.

If you are ever in this part of New Mexico, this is a must see!! Admission is FREE and so is the guided tour.  Don’t miss it!

Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel, and for being so patient with this mess of losing my photographs.  Hugs, Shawna

Morphy Lake, Mora NM, Coyote Creek

July 14-16th, 2019, Early Sunday morning after breakfast for the Boys and a shower for me, we drive toward Morphy Lake State Park. No camping here, but it’s on our way to Coyote Creek State Park.  It’s only 40 minutes north of our current camp.

An Internet search says Morphy will be closed through Spring of 2019, but once we arrive to the turn off we’re met with this sign. CLOSED

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We just keep rolling along this country road under a brilliant blue sky enjoying the scenery:  Old churches, mountain vistas, horses in fields, and horses on porches.

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As we gain the tiny town of Mora I stop to photograph this old grist mill.

And this old building as we head on north . . .

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We eventually find Coyote Creek State Park and pull in searching for a spot to land for a few days.  There are none available, and I am sorely disappointed as this is a beautiful little park along Coyote Creek and I would have loved spending time here.

We pull back out onto that country road and head north again.  We haven’t gone but  about four miles and the road narrows.  I mean as in MAYBE a half lane wide.  God forbid we meet a big ol’ diesel pusher here!  Fortunately we do not, but the storm clouds have gathered and it begins to rain. Thunder rolls.

As we creep along the ridge of this paved goat path I see a bolt of lightning out of the corner of my eye. A half beat later the loudest clap of thunder I have ever heard shakes the van.  I am pretty sure I screamed. The Chiweenie Brothers are used to thunderstorms by now, but we’re back to square one after this and they are both in my lap. “It’s okay, guys, we’ll only hear the thunder AFTER the lightning has struck.  We lived to tell the tale, so calm down,” I tell them.  Thankfully that narrow strip of what they claim to be roadway is only three miles in length.

Thanks for reading our blog!  Hugs, Shawna

Storrie Lake State Park

July 10-13, 2019 Leaving Las Vegas we motor the short three miles to Storrie Lake State Park.  It’s a smallish park that gets lots of use from locals who love water sports from fishing to boating, and everything in between

There isn’t much shade for use by us primitive campers, but we check out several places before settling on one of three shade shelters in a dirt turnout next to the main road.  It turns out to be a spot used by all those parked by the lake that do not want to use the paved road because it has speed bumps.  Busy and dusty, we settle in anyway, because I was fortunate enough to get the one shelter that is on the lake side and has a small shade tree.

DSC_0023The Boys and I enjoy long, leisurely morning and evening walks and in between The Chiweenie Brothers take turns trying to dig out a squirrel.  They were unsuccessful, but had a terrific time in the attempt.

The afternoon breeze keeps things from getting too unbearable.  Without the adobe shade shelter we wouldn’t have been able to stay.DSC_0020

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Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel. Hugs, Shawna

CURRENT READ:  Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier.  Historical novel based on the life of Mary Anning, first woman to be acknowledged as a fossilist and dubbed “The Greatest fossilist the world ever knew. The British Journal for the History of Science, 1995