CAMPGROUND REVIEW: Santa Fe Skies – NEW MEXICO

CAMPGROUND REVIEW


Campground/RV Park: Santa Fe Skies RV Park
Location: 14 Browncastle Ranch, Santa Fe, NM     (877) 565-0451 or (505) 473-5946
Date(s) Stayed: 9/21/15 – 9/24/15
Length of Stay: 3 days
Site #: Aster 5 (Pull Through)
Cost per night (with taxes): $43/night
Discount Used:  10% Good Sam
Connections: 50 amp FHU’s
Stars:  2.0

Santa Fe Skies RV Park is located on the Turquoise Trail at I-25 & NM 14/599.  Beautiful sunsets, close approximity to Santa Fe and eateries is right around the corner.  While we were there, we visited the Miraculous Staircase at Loretto Chapel and Cathedral Basillica of St. Francis of Asisisi as well as enjoyed window shopping in the Santa Fe Plaza downtown.

We checked in approximately 4:00pm; we were the only RVers checking in at the time.  The young man cashier was not very pleasant and not very helpful.  He just handed us the park map, rules and was more interested in other things.  He didn’t let us know about the club house and what it had to offer.  The campground is terraced with approximately 90 FHU sites.  The entrance is a bit tight for big rigs.  Check in is at the large building on the right; there’s also a clubhouseand small souvenier shop.  The laundry was small and not adequate for how many sites there are. 


Each site is terraced on gravel with concrete pads equipped with a picnic table.  Sites are tight and mostly not level; had to use several blocks.  We had a hooking and unhooking issue because of it.  Other than grills, no open fires are permitted.  The roads/aisles are narrow.  There are some permanent campers but they are in another area of the park.  Free WiFi is located in the clubhouse and only during office hours. Propane is available for sale at the park.  Groceries, shopping, restaurants and fuel is fairly close by.  RV’ers are responsible for taking their own trash to the dumpster at the park entrance.  


Santa Fe Skies is a dog friendly park; there is a dog park and a 3/4 mile walking trail.  Do not let small dogs or cats outside; they could end up as Coyote snacks.  It can get quite windy at the park, they recommend not leaving awnings out while you are away from your RV. 


We rated this park at 2 stars because of the lack of hospitality, maneuverbility and leveling difficulty for big rigs, very close approximity to neighboring coaches and inadequacy of laundry facilities per amount of RVers; also because there WiFi only available in the clubhouse.   If we visit New Mexico again, we may look elsewhere. 

CAMPGROUND REVIEW: Haggard’s RV Park – COLORADO

Campground/RV Park: Haggard’s RV Campground
Location: 7910 W Hwy 50, Pueblo West, CO  81007    (719) 547-2101

Website: www.haggardsrvcampground.com

Date(s) Stayed: 9/9/15 – 9/21/15
Length of Stay: 2 weeks
Site #: E8 (Pull-Through)
Cost per night (with taxes): $297/week.  $27-37/week
Discount Used:  10% Good Sam
Connections: 50 amp Electric/Water and Dump Station
Stars:  3.5

Great Sand Dunes National Park – Colorado

In the summer of 2015, we relocated from the Air Force Academy Campground to Haggard’s RV Park in Pueblo, Colorado to visit our son who also lived in Pueblo.  While parked there, we also met up with our RV friends, Brittany and Eric (also a Coast Guard Vet) of RV Wanderlust some comraderie and campfires.

 

When our RV friends weren’t working their remote jobs, we’d get together for an outing and vittles.  One morning, we all rose early to drive out to the Great Sand Dunes National Park for some hiking, sightseeing and to get our National Park Passports stamped.

Brittany and Eric gladly agreed to drive if we packed a picnic lunch for the trip.  It was about a three hour drive to the Dunes.

About the Great Sand Dunes…

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is actually quite young; established in 2004. It sprawls some 150,000 acres; across part of Southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley, a broad and plain between the San Juan Mountains on the west and the Sangre de Cristos on the east. The tallest dune towers over 750 feet.

 

Streams and creeks flowing out of the San Juan Mountains over millennia carried gravel and sand into shallow lakes in the San Luis Valley. During drought periods, these lakes dried, releasing the sand particles to the action of the wind. Strong prevailing southwesterly winds carry the tiny grains toward the Sangre de Cristos, piling them up against the foothills.

 

The resulting dunes are the tallest in North America, covering more than 30 square miles. Adults hike across them and marvel at their beauty; children run and slide down their steep faces, enjoying a playground of fairy-tale proportions.  You can read more about how they formed and their geological natures here.

 

Welcome to the Dunes…

Once we got to the entrance, we stopped for photos because, in our world, it didn’t happen unless there were pictures!

 

After getting parked, we got our passports stamped at the Visitor Center and viewed a video and hands-on informational exhibits.

All four of us headed to the picnic area where we sat down to enjoy some fellowship while chowing down on our cooler full of vittles. We were blessed with beautiful weather too.

After packing up leftover crumbs of our lunch, we all trekked out to the base of the Dunes and climbed up the first that led to the rest of them.

 

Our exciting adventure…

It was already a very warm day so it seemed like it was a little more work but that didn’t stop Dan and Brittany from doing the inevitable; climbing to the top of the dunes. Being that Eric has bad knees and I have back issues, we hung out at the top of the smallest dune to watch Brittany and Dan challenge themselves. We were already 6000′ above sea level, so this was a bit more challenging than just taking a stroll up a 750′ hill, not to mention, it was loose sand.

While Eric and I stood there chatting for what seemed forever (because we stood there in the heat for all of it), Brittany and Dan disappeared over the crest of the first dune. They looked like little ants the further they hiked.  We’d see them again and then loose them doing down another…and another…and another.

Brittany’s words upon their return, ‘it was quite exerting; one step forward, three steps back and doing it at higher altitude, we just couldn’t catch our breaths’.

Dan said they had to stop often to empty their shoes which weighted them down. Adding to that, it was a very warm day; about 85 degrees.

A few times, we’d see one of them, bend over in the distance during their climb and stop for awhile. They said they were offered water by some passerby’s (hikers that were faster and more in shape as them?!). Then we’d see them start up again.

The finish line…

An hour and a half later, they successfully made it to the top and another hour and a half after that, they came back tired, weary but celebrated. They were red-faced and a bit dehydrated so Eric and I sacrificed our own water bottles to get them back to looking a normal color.  But LOOK at them looking all celebratory!

It was a fun day trip with great friends!  A little RV family bonding is what we call it.  Dan and Brittany felt celebrated and accomplished.  I bought them each their own I climbed the Great Sand Dunes sticker for their vehicles (if there were trophies, I would have bought them too!).

 

On the drive back, our tummies were growling so Eric took to googling places to eat in Pueblo.  We agreed on the Bingo Burger which turned out to be a very deserved and pleasant meal.  Fantastic burgers!Best friends!  Good times! Fantastic memories!

Pin this to your Pinterest Board…

Planning to go? You may want to read these…

Which National Park Pass Should I Get?

The Dirty Truth About Our National Parks

Other National Parks we’ve visited!

My Motorcycle Ride Adventure to Bishop Castle – Colorado

Back in 2016, while we were parked at the Air Force Academy, Dan was called out for a family emergency in Pennsylvania. Our campground neighbors made certain I didn’t have to be alone the whole time.  It was then that I met another motorcycle riding couple, Vicki and Rex in the sight behind ours.

During a morning coffee conversation, Vicki asked if I knew of any good roads or day-rides (they had a trike).  I had told them about a cool trip to Bishop Castle, a hand-built medieval castle in Wetmore, Colorado that our son took us to see years prior. I told her the route to get there was outstanding, especially riding motorcycles.

Austin heard me talking about it and googled it on his phone as I described it.   We all then made plans to ride out the following day with Austin riding on the back of her trike as her navigator.

Getting there…

The next morning, we coffee-d up, ate breakfast and rode out. The ride out was gorgeous as was the day!  Surprisingly, not much traffic for being a weekend.  Getting there was simple.

We rode out the gate of the Air Force Academy south on I-25 to CO 115 to Florence, onto CO 67, turning right on Hwy 96 in Wetmore.  We saw signs directing us to the castle; turning left onto CO 165.  It was about a 90 minute ride out to Bishop Castle.

 

Once we got there, the site was a little busy but nothing to be worried about when it came to capturing some good photos.

Admission was free, although donations were greatly appreciated.  There was also a gift shop that helped finance Mr. Bishop’s ongoing build.  It’s open most of the time.

About Bishop Castle…

There is nothing architecturally ‘perfect’ about the castle. Its completely constructed by the hands of Mr. Bishop.  I’m willing to bet there were no official blueprints.  If you’re into the whole Harry Potter thing, this is the place for you!  The stonework, iron work and blacksmithing was done all onsite; there is even a room where all of his tools and shop are on the ground level.


Every year since 1969, Bishop has single-handedly gathered and set over 1000 tons of rock to create this stone and iron fortress in the middle of nowhere. Bishop called it “a monument to hardworking people” and “America’s biggest, one-man, physical project. I always wanted a castle. Every man wants a castle,” Bishop said.

It hasn’t been easy for his masterpiece build. For most of those 40 years Bishop was engaged in a running battle with Washington bureaucrats over the rocks that he used, which came from the San Isabel National Forest that surrounds the castle property. Bishop felt that they were his for the taking, the government wanted to charge him per truckload.
Another bone of contention that stuck in Bishop’s craw belonged to the Colorado state Chamber of Commerce, which refused to list Bishop Castle as an attraction in its official tourism guides.”
These individual panes below were handcrafted as memorials and wedding memories for friends and family
This cool dragon’s head breathes fire from the fireplace; blowing smoke from his mouth outside.

 

This was looking up from the main entertainment room. The ceiling was glass with fancy scroll metal work.
Visitors could climb all the way to the top, winding through interior stone stairs and hand-forged iron and steel grid exterior walkways around the top.  I had climbed it before years prior, so I stayed below in the main room to wait for them and take photos. Vicki made it about a third of the way up however, came down after feeling a little uneasy about going all the way up. On the other hand, Austin was investigating every inch and climbing everything that could.
Austin, Vicki and I posing for a picture for a great memory of newfound friends!
After Austin climbed every inch of stone and metal, we had to get back back to the Academy as he had a curfew. As beautiful as our ride was getting there, it was even better coming home as we were able to ride with the beautiful Colorado sunset to our backs.
So, if you’re in the Colorado Springs or Pueblo, Colorado area, definitely put this on your list of places to visit in Colorado regardless of your ride…or drive!
To read about the story behind Bishop’s Castle, click on the link.

Other places we visited while in Colorado…

A Ride Up To Cripple Creek, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

 

 

Scotts Bluff National Monument – Gering, Nebraska

AOL - Scotts Bluff National Monumentt

 

There’s a cool National Monument in western Nebraska that is rich in history of our country. We actually happened upon Scotts Bluff National Monument on one of our cross-country motorcycle trips pre-RV. But it wasn’t just the history that drew us to this strange bluff situated on the flatland valley along the Platte River. We decided to visit again but with purpose…

Chimney Rock National Historic Site – Bayard, Nebraska

AOL - Chimney Rock National Historic Site
Between 1840 and 1869, visions of wealth and opportunity lured over 500,000 pioneers west to fulfill their dreams and a nation’s destiny. These emigrants started their journeys in Kansas and Missouri, walking more than 2,200 miles for months in pursuit of a better life. Since there were no road signs back then, they used natural landmarks to point the way. Along the Oregon Trail, they named a few of those Chimney Rock, Courthouse and Jail Rocks. Today, you can visit Chimney Rock National Historic Site to learn about them.

Continue reading “Chimney Rock National Historic Site – Bayard, Nebraska”

CAMPGROUND REVIEW: Jefferson County Fairgrounds Campground – COLORADO

CAMPGROUND REVIEW

Campground/RV Park: Jefferson County Fairgrounds Campground (Golden)
Location: 15200 W 6th Ave. Frontage Road, Golden, CO  80401
                (303) 271-6600
Date(s) Stayed: 8/15/15 – 8/20/15
Length of Stay: 5 days
Site #: 1 (Back In)
Cost per night (with taxes): $40/day
Discount Used:  None
Connections: 50 amp Electric/Water and Dump Station
Stars:  2
Jefferson County Fairgrounds Campground managed by the Jefferson County Fairgrounds has 40 RV sites.  The Campground was easy to get to off of US-6.
Sites 1-18 are on pavement; first section are back ins (50amps) and second section are parallels (30amps); it was a weird configuration.  Sites 19-40 are gravel pull-throughs (not level).  Since we were in site #1, we can’t speak for reviewing or giving knowledge of the gravel sites.  The back-in sites back up to a small hill; most take their dogs back there to unwind and do their business (and not clean it up!).
Being a Toyhauler, we could not unload our toys from the back which was not an issue for us; we hadn’t planned on it anyways.  Picnic tables were present at each site in the back (we moved ours to our awning/door side because we were so long and we had more room).  The bath houses were very clean and had ‘codes’ so no one from outside the campground could use them.
There is a nice covered pavillion with lots of picnic tables with a children’s playground to the right after the entrance check-in building (which was directly across from the front of our rig).  There is a bit of highway noise but that wasn’t an issue for us as we were out playing tourist.
Reservations highly recommended (by us) with thorough explanation of your size and needs.  They assigned us in site #1 which was fine except if the parking spots directly in front of our rig were taken.  Spaces were TIGHT; literally, slides touching which made it difficult for privacy and walking around your rig.
While parked, we toured and visited Rocky Mountain National Park, Breckenridge, Frisco, and Golden.  Lots to see and do in this location.

In our experience and opinion, Jefferson County Fairgrounds Campground was overpriced for what it was.  This is not a long-term campground’/park; only good for a couple/few overnights.  This was the only place with vacancy for our 44′ big rig toyhauler 5th wheel.  Though accessibility to I-25/US-6 was great, no sewer connections (except for dump station which was not big rig friendly), layout of the park, spaces between sites, maneuverability, and no sewer earned only 2 stars.

Would we stay here again?  As a last resort.

 

 

The Mixing Bowl Cafe’ – Gering, Nebraska

AOL - The Mixing Bowl Cafe

Since beginning our RVing adventures, we’ve come to rely on Yelp, our favorite business-finder phone app. While we were in the Scott’s Bluff area running errands and picking up dry stores and perishables, we set out to find a good lunch café’ in Gering, Nebraska. We read that The Mixing Bowl Cafe not only had mostly 5 star ratings but their reviews were outstanding.

Our Big Fat Greek….Festival Experience!

The saying, ‘when in Rome, do as
Romans do’, but what do you do in a small Nebraska town who celebrates their
Greek Heritage?  Of course, do as Greeks
do!  CELEBRATE with a festival!!  


We heard fellow RV’ers chatting
about going one evening, so what’s a couple of spontaneous RV travelers to do when they’ve not
planned anything for dinner?
 GREEK
FOOD!!!
   When we were parked in Scotts Bluff for our ten-day stay, we checked out
the local to-do’s and noticed fliers for a Greek Festival in the town of
Bridgeport, Nebraska. 
 

We drove “Captain America” (our RAM Dually) this time; Route
92 and passed Chimney Rock and the Pony Express historic marker headed east to
Bridgeport, Nebraska (got some great photos of that for a later blog entry).  It was the Bayard Assumption Greek Orthodox Church fundraiser; sharing their religious heritage with food and entertainment held in their
local Prarie Winds  Community Center.  We walked in being
met with smiles, handshakes and welcomes as we were directed into the gymnasium
where the festival fundraiser was being held. 

There were numerous rows of banquet tables and ‘stations’ of where you
buy tickets and then turn in an allotted number of tickets to sample different
Greek Foods…and beer….GREEK beer, which we tried one each and they were pretty
good with a higher alcohol content (those Greeks do it right the first time,
don’t they?).  We first bought $20 worth
of tickets; tickets being in $1 stubs. 
Our beers cost us 4 tickets each, leaving us only 6 tickets each to buy
our food which really wasn’t enough to enjoy a little of everything Greek. 
   






We each bought nice sized Greek
salads, fried calamari, and this tomato-y pasta dish.  We later bought Baklava Sundaes to finish off
the evening.  They had scheduled for 7:00
pm an evening of Greek Heritage dance presentations however, sadly we couldn’t stick
around for it because my back was giving me issues.



Before we left however, I just ‘had
to’ go to the dessert table to use the rest of our tickets to get some desserts
to go.
  I got into a couple conversations
with a few of the locals; all were enthused and very interested in hearing our
story (they obviously knew we were ‘not from around there’).
  We gave them a few of our travel cards so they
can keep track of us on our Facebook page and blog.
    


This group of very friendly folks were excited to pose for a photo for our blog.  Though we were preparing to leave, we found ourselves leaving an hour later because we got so enthralled in yet, another conversation with more of the locals.  One couple, Dave and Karin, snagged us after overhearing our adventures as RV’ers and chatted with us.  We ‘clicked’ thus asking them over for dinner a couple days later at our RV site.  We are so glad we did.  We are now, hopefully, lifelong friends, even if its through our internet travels.

So our moral to this blog story
is our travels and adventures aren’t only for seeing and doing the ‘attractions’, it’s about
meeting the wonderful people from all over our great Country and hearing their
stories.  We are equally excited to learn
about them, their walks of life, hopes and dreams.  It is because of them that makes us remember them and want to return…and look forward to great folks in the next town.