Travels With Dick and Judy

Follow us in our trials, triumphs and tribulations, while on the road in our motor home "The Liberty Belle". We chose to forsake the conventional lifestyle in our 3,000+ square-foot home to move into a 40-foot Winnebago Ultimate Freedom. Travel with us as we take you on the road with us in our new lifestyle.
I may grow older, but I'll never grow up!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Where Has The Time Gone?

Sorry about the time lag since our last post, but it has been really busy with our preparation and move from Waco to Estes Park. 
We thought that we would be escaping the hellish winds we had been experiencing for the last several months at Reynolds Creek but, as it turns out, the wind gusts here at Mary’s Lake are just as bad, although a lot cooler and more pleasant.  We spent a pleasant two weeks between Houston and Lake Charles and got a chance to visit with old classmates during Judy’s semi-annual class reunion.  While at our son’s house in Tomball, just outside of Houston, I was able to mount the baseplate on the Nitro, which enabled us to tow it behind Belle.  You can catch up on all of that with Judy’s last update to our blog.

We picked up the motorhome on Monday, April 23rd, and promptly drove over to Reynolds Creek Campground for the night before our departure.

Here I was just before "shoving off".  I was saying a silent prayer that everything with the toad would go off as "hoped for".
The next morning, we set out on the first leg of our trip and stopped at the Wally World in Sweetwater, Texas to spend the night.  The next evening put us in Canyon, Texas - just south of Amarillo - with the anticipation of camping at and touring Palo Duro Canyon.  When we arrived, we were told the campground was closed to the public for President George W’s “Wounded Warriors” bike ride through the canyon that was to take up the next several days.  Oh, well, better luck next time!  Instead, we toured the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum.  As large museums go, I rated it as a so-so to pretty O.K.  Nothing to get excited about.
AS I said...
Just so-so...

Judy had fun, so it was good!

While we were at the Palo Duro Canyon RV Park (a typical tourist RV park with a fair share of “permanent” residents, a rude owner and no amenities), the plug on our 50-Amp power cable began to arc and I wasted no time replacing it.  There went another $150.  Oh well, with a house, there would have been a number of repairs to be made.

With that done, we set out through Amarillo and Dalhart toward Raton Pass (pronounced “Rat”, as in rodent, and “on” with a long “o” - hence Rat-ōn) in New Mexico, passing the extinct volcanic fields featuring Mt. Capulin National Monument.  Since we had visited it years ago (1976?), we opted to pass on a second visit and get on to Raton Pass. 

We finally reached the pass, despite the heavy cross winds the whole way, and decided on the Cedar Rail RV Park at the very top of the pass.  The vistas were fantastic and we chose a pull thru site

This is the view of the terrain, South and east of the pass, that we drove through

We keep telling oourselves we have to take more "Turon" pictures
Some of the braver souls opted for back-ins that left the rear of their RVs perched out over a cliff.  NOT ME!
That's a thirty foot drop-off he's perched over,with his wheels less than a foot away!

First thing the next morning, we took a drive over to Sugarite State Park.   This is a beautiful park with three lakes and plenty of big trout.  Last year, the park had been devastated by forest fires and the evidence was all around.
Afterwards, we toured historic Downtown Raton.  We spent over two hours visiting with the director of the Old Pass Gallery, Ray.  A very interesting and knowledgeable guy, especially on the area.  The gallery featured not only art and jewelry, but some very unusual furniture pieces that featured natural stone inlays.
Judy visiting with Ray, the Gallery Director
Another "Touron"

These tables feature hand-made stone inlay

After our visit, we decided it was time for lunch and we sought out the recommended “Enchanted Grounds Expresso Bar” for a quick sandwich.
I ordered a Creme Soda  and got actual vanilla
creme and soda!

Judy had learned earlier that one of her former classmate’s families, who owned the Lake Charles American Press, also owned the local newspaper in Raton.  Judy, always the loyal friend, had to seek the office out and naturally buy a souvenir paper.

The owners of Cedar Rail RV Park, Mike and Rhonda Taillon, were super friendly, courteous and helpful, suggesting an evening drive off exit 450 along Highway 555 that, after 30 miles, the pavement ended at Ted Turner’s Ranch.      Along the way, much to our surprise and delight, we spotted Pronghorn antelope, Elk (Judy saw them first), Mule deer, and our favorite, a black bear that was really a brown/cinnamon color.
We had to stop counting the elk we spotted.

He watched us closely, then ran off into the forest
If you plan on visiting the area anytime, please contact Mike and Rhonda.  They made our brief stay very pleasant.

While we were at Cedar Rail, we had the good fortune to create the beginnings of a really good friendship with Roger and Barb Heaver from Illinois, long-time full-timers in their 5th wheel.

After leaving Cedar Rail RV Park, we (me with a death grip on the wheel still battling crosswinds) traveled up I-25 to the town of Castle Rock and spent the night at the local Walmart.  Walmarts are convenient to say the least, but we realized that, if the weather is hot and you have to run the generator for A/C, they are not cheaper than a campground, especially with today’s price on diesel fuel!
Dad-Gum these cross-winds
Namesake for the town of Castle Rock

The next morning, we made our way just a short way up past Denver to a quiet little park just off the freeway.  Yes, I said quiet.  At St. Vrain State Park near Longmont, we could see the hustle and bustle of the highway, but the noise never reached the campsite.  We were assigned a pad right on one of their beautiful ponds and, within a half hour, were greeted with the sight of both Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles. 

Our nation's symbol soaring free!

Golden Eagle with Long' Peak about 40 miles in background
Golden Eagle Soaring past our RV

The park was also a residence for a fairly large accumulation of Canada Geese and Blue Herons.

Canadian Goose Nesting
Great scenery from my window


Gotta get some speed to get airborn
Blue Heron out my window


Tuesday morning, was the first time to check into our new campground that was to be our home for the next five months.  As we set out on our drive through Longmont and Lyons, the anticipation and anxiety of driving Highway 36 into Estes Park began to grow.  Despite the winding mountain road with steep drop-offs (that locals seem to not even notice), I was able to make the drive without incident, and the site of Estes Lake and the town below us was a welcome sight.
The welcome Scene of Estes Lake

As an aside, for those that are not familiar with my phobia, I have an extreme (almost laughable, but not to me) fear of heights.  When I had to replace the TV antenna atop our RV at about 12 feet off the ground, I almost never made it down.  A few years ago, I had to pull over on Trail Ridge Road and let my son drive before I totally froze behind the wheel at 5 miles an hour.  As he drove down from the heights, I sat slumped down in the passenger seat with my cap over my eyes looking at the floorboards, arms crossed, heart pounding.  Before we left on this trip, I went to my doctor for a prescription of anxiety/panic meds, just in case.  At this point, however, it seems I probably won’t need them.  But they are there…just in case.

Thanks to the modern age of telephones and “Navigation”, we made it through the town and over to Mary’s Lake.  We were the first volunteers to arrive, so we had first choice on a site.

Yep!  This is it!
Happy I don't have to work the store

We picked the inside site of two that were designated, hoping that the other RV, once it arrived, would block at least part of the wind from that direction (south), and future campers would do the same from the other side (east).
Now, we have four volunteers in the park: two of us who will be Camp Hosts here, and two who will be Camp Hosts at Mary’s Lake Campground at East Portal, which is next to the YMCA Camp and adjacent to the National Park.
Strange as it may seem, one of the couples for East Portal, Dave and Janice, showed up in the middle of the week, and yelled from the level above us:  “We hear one of you guys are from Texas”.  When we acknowledged, they replied, “So are we!”  “What part”?, we asked.  “Houston,” they replied.  We came back with, “So are we.  What part of Houston was your home?”  To our astonishment, they said “Clear Lake”!  It is indeed a small world.

Liberty Belle is now settled in and looking forward to the next five months.
Home sweet home 'till October!

More is soon to follow.  Thanx for coming to visit.


  1. awww. ..what a great catchin' up story. . .glad you had a few weeks to get all that done!


  2. It was a great catch-up blog and obviously, Judy is not the only one who took notes! Glad to see that map is getting more colorful :)

  3. I have to keep Dad honest. It was at least 7 years ago that I was driving my truck the whole distance up (he wasn't even behind the wheel!), and he MADE me pull over while he calmed down with the heights phobia. Took us all by suprise, as he had driven that same road on prior family vacations.