Friday, October 31, 2014

OK… WE CAN STAY A LITTLE WHILE LONGER…

Days are warm and sunny!


After Taos, we head down to Santa Fe and stay at the Trailer Ranch RV Park.  We stayed here two years ago and liked everything about this place, from location, to services.  This time the WIFI disappoints… as in low bandwidth and constant drop offs… arrgh… We just want to read the news dammit!




We do some shopping here, get new tires for Dave, try to visit some of our favorite restaurants and ultimately cope with disappointment.  El Parasol no longer serves their corned beef burrito.  San-Q Sushi is closed. The Blue Corn Café is still a decent spot for lunch or dinner.

Fajata at Sunset




Since the weather is good we decide to head up to Chaco Canyon for a week of dry camping and hiking.  Still the same crappy unpaved road going in from the north.  We get a great campsite with views of Fajata Butte. 

Kin Klitzen







It’s hiking everyday and visits to sites we missed last time we were here.  We take in a couple of Ranger hikes and attend a lecture by Astro-archeologist Andrew Munro describing his work with the the alignments of the great houses. We drive the 7 miles of 4WD road to visit the outlier Kin Klitzen.








On our way out we take the southern exit…







The sign says beware, but the road is passable… 







but sometimes we have to share...



Monday, October 20, 2014

BACK TO THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT…


Last view of Kansas
Is it the people or the scenery?
It’s as if we haven’t had enough of the bovine aromas in Dodge City, we stop in La Junta, Colorado for a quick overnight… ahh the ever present scent of cattle by-products…  TheKOA Park is right off the highway it’s ok for the only park in the area.  The manager was a bit spacey: “Can we get some propane tomorrow morning before before we leave?” “Sure I’ll be here.”  We show up at 10:05AM to get propane and there’s a sign on the door: Sunday hours 8:00AM to 5:00PM Closed from 10:00AM to 1:00PM.  You think she could have mentioned this?

La Veta, Colorado is located in Southern Colorado and sits at an elevation of 7,000 ft at the base of the
Fresh snow on the mountains
Spanish Peaks and Sangre De Cristo Mountain range. Here we stay at the I Love Lucy RV Park.  (Just love that name.) This is a cute intimate park in town with the usual basic amenities and a vintage Airstream that they rent out. They will be closing for the season in a few days so we stay till they close.

Legendary!
In town we restock supplies at Charlie’s Market, La Veta's full service grocery store. Family owned and operated since 1937 they have a nice produce department great butcher shop a deli and an old-fashioned ice cream fountain! 


Aspens & snow
The Highway of Legends  (as in Legends of gold) is considered to traverse some of the finest mountain countryside in the country so we set out armed with our trusty Canons to see what we can shoot.  A side road beckons, it snowed last night up here and the dirt road is muddy and slushy with snow still piled along the shaded parts. We drive for a few miles and then decide that Dave’s tires are on their last legs and it would be prudent to turn around. We drive the entire loop stopping often and realize that there is so much more to explore in the area… we’ll be back!

Next it’s on to Taos and the Taos Valley RV Park. A nice mid sized park with full hook-ups and good WIFI in a location in near town. After setting up we head out looking for some local flavor.  

On the recommendation of the RV Park clerk we stop at El Taoseno. The décor leaves a lot to be desired.  The place looks like a dining hall in a retirement home complete with: cheesy Halloween decorations, chipped Formica topped tables, funky carpet and a geriatric clientele.  The food is reasonably priced. The Chicken stuffed Sopapilla is super-packed-stuffed with flavorful chicken and smothered in a green chili sauce and lots of cheese – quite tasty.  The Taoseno Beef Taco with Green Chile is also quite good.  Service is attentive and friendly.  So if you ignore the ambiance this is an OK place for a decent meal that won’t break the bank.
El Taoseño on Urbanspoon


In town we visit the Governor Bent House and Museum.  This is a strange collection of the old and the odd in the former residence of the first territorial governor of New Mexico.  Other than the setting being the Governor’s house the only items really pertaining to Governor Bent is a two page typed essay describing his violent demise and a few artifacts relating to the incident.

There are lots of shops vying for our dollars and some succeed.  The Chiripada Winery Tasting Room convinces us to purchase a bottle of their 2011 Shiraz Reserve and a 2011 New Mexico Port.  Prices are a tad on the high side for the quality but not insanely high.

Rio Grande Gorge
NM Sunrise 
An early morning trek to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge grants a glorious sunrise and frozen noses.

On our way back we stop at Michael’s Kitchen (based on the full parking lot) for breakfast.  The Breakfast Enchilada filled with eggs and cheese and smothered in green sauce is excellent and the Huevos Rancheros better than most. Portions are generous and service is relaxed.  On the way out we succumb to the bakery temptations and take home an assortment of fresh baked pastries.
Michael's Kitchen Taos on Urbanspoon

There’s lots of road construction around the Taos Pueblo so we opt to visit next time we get to this area, but we did stop in the Casino for an hour to play with their one armed bandits – we broke even.

San Francisco De Asis
The San Francisco De Asis Church is one of the most famous photographed landmarks in the area.  We time our visit to catch the late afternoon light.

Across the street is Old Martina’s Hall. It’s a little before five when dinner service begins but happy hour is on… only when we enter, no one is around. We wander about and check out the huge stage and dance hall in the rear, the beautiful southwest architecture and a wonderful exhibit of weavings displayed on the restaurant walls.  We finally locate an employee and she heads off to find the bartender.  OK it’s a little slow tonight… Our waitress shows up and goes ahead and seats us in the dining room.  We order a couple of cocktails (happy hour half price YEA!) and peruse the menu.
 
Old Martinas, Enchiladas,
Chile Rellenos, Beet Salad
and empty plate.
We share the roasted beet salad. This dish is artistry on a plate.  Dollops of beet foam surround thin slices of roasted beets, topped with baby greens, granny smith apples, candied nuts and topped with a molten cheese ball. The vinaigrette dressing is crisp and perfectly balanced with the sweet beets and tart apples.  We mop the plate clean. For entrees we choose the Pecan Encrusted Chile Rellenos, filled with melted Brie with a habanero mango coulis.  It’s a great modern take on a classic. The Rolled Green Chili Chicken Enchilada is accompanied with posole, black beans, salsa Fresca, guacamole, and a spicy tempura jalapeno.  The dishes are fresh, flavorful and stunning to behold.  Only a few other diners come in and a few folks gather around the bar.  According to our server, this restaurant is a popular spot when favorite bands come to town, but tonight: no music, no crowds, just great food and service.
Old Martina's Hall on Urbanspoon

Taos, we’d like to stay longer… the days are sunny and warm… BUT… pipes are starting to freeze at night… we WILL be back but for now… so it’s on to Santa Fe…


k

Sunday, October 12, 2014

THROUGH MIDWEST TO WILDWEST...

It’s raining when we leave the Mothership and continues all day.

Adios Ohio…

Hello Indiana…

More rain in Indianapolis…


What’s Up Illinois?


Stop for the night at the Cedarbrook RV Park in Mulberry Grove, IL.  Seems like a nice park with lots of trees and a pond. Overnighters have their own lot with pull-throughs and full hook-ups, WIFI functional.

Hey there Missouri!

Kansas already?



Homewood RV Park: Small park close to the highway with a pull through full hook-up and ok WIFI.

Pass the Mid-point of the USA on Highway 50.




We get to Dodge City and it’s time to take a break from all this towing/traveling.  We park at the Gunsmoke Trav-L-Park with a pull through in the back with good WIFI and full-hookup. It’s practically around the corner from the Boot Hill Casino andResort the first of three State-owned gaming centers in Kansas and the lowest performer.  It’s a clean low-key casino where a good number of folks seemed to be winning. (We somehow just didn’t fall into that category… sigh…)


Dodge City was a wild frontier town of the Old West. From 1876 to 1885 Texas Longhorns were driven to the Dodge City stockyards where they were collected and rail- shipped back east.  During these years the city became famous for gunfighters, saloons, gambling halls and brothels. Today it still relies on the bovine for the major source of income: feed lots and processing plants. The largest plant is near the airport, which explains phrase most uttered by first time visitors as they disembark: “My gawd, what’s that horrid smell?” It’s not really that bad, as long as you stay upwind.

Classic Steakhouse
Ambience
Since we’re keeping upwind, steak seems like an appropriate dinner in the Queen of the Cow Towns, so we head over to Casey’s Cowtown Club to savor some of their Prime Kansas Beef.   Dinner’s come with a salad, choice of potato, vegetables and rolls.  Salad is a Midwest special: Crisp Iceberg lettuce, a few slivers of red cabbage and one small piece of tomato. (Yawn.) Our potato choice is twice baked, with good flavor and consistency. (Yea!) Green beans are the chef’s vegetable choice.  Too bad they weren’t fresh. (Ban the Can!)  The rolls were light and warm, fresh from the oven. (Smile.)  With the exception of the vegetable of yuck, all of the side dishes rate on the high side of OK.  One bite of the Rib Eye and The Dodge City Strip and all is forgiven.  Generous portions, perfectly prepared per our requests and deftly seasoned are melt-in-your-mouth red meat perfection.  Forget the sides… It’s all about the meat!
Casey's Cowtown Club on Urbanspoon


The Doctor
will see you now.
We get rain in Dodge…so off we go to the Boot Hill Museum.  Here we get the picture of what the city looked like during the cattle shipping heydays.  (Too bad all the streets around the area are the land of franchised fast food.) At the museum, we start with a short film about the real history of the town and then walk up to the Boot Hill cemetery and the native gallery.  We are reminded once again that our nation was occupied prior to our ancestors’ colonization, and of the sometimes not so pretty history.  Then it’s back down through working replicas of the original town.  The general store has a collection of Colorado vintage sundries displayed and an assortment of Wild West themed items for purchase.  The saloon is open for business. No Spirits, but they do serve on tap the Beer that rhymes-with-sewers.   We opt for their house made Sarsaparilla, a tasty soft drink much like a root beer.  The rest of the storefronts are stocked depicting the 19th century lifestyle. 

Combo Plate

One last dining experience here… since we’re definitely west of the Mississippi, Mexican food is back in rotation.  We pick the El Charro restaurant based on the number of cars in their parking lot during lunchtime.  While we await our orders we check our Urbanspoon app… Yikes, a 66% rating and really confusing reviews… big portions… small portions… expensive… reasonable…  does disappointment taste like chicken?

Large Burrito
The house salsa is really flavorful, but lacking heat.  Our server brings us their other two salsas – the “California” similar to the house with the addition of fresh cilantro and the green salsa – a jalapeno heavy and super spicy sauce.  We find that equal portions of each combined makes for one really fine salsa.  The Chips are served warm, but some of the chips are pushing the stale scale.  The combo plate with beef taco, enchilada and a flauta with rice and beans is a good value, lots of tasty beef fillings encased in light crisp tortillas enhanced with a generous addition of the hot sauces. The large pork burrito with a substitution of green sauce instead of the rojo is super spicy and also a generous portion. (Half went home in a box with some of the rice and beans.)  This one was hot enough without additional sauces.  The meat was tender and full of flavor, a pretty great dish. Overall, a pleasant dining experience, with attentive wait staff and a good value meal.
El Charro Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Well it’s time to get the hell outa Dodge… keep pushing westward…