Our New Mexico and Arizona Winter Adventure

Karen Souhrada
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In May of 2011, we picked up our new Leisure Travel Vans Libero at the factory in Winkler, MB.

The Libero is the perfect size for our RV lifestyle. Retired and residing along the front range of the Rocky Mountains in Loveland, Colorado, enabled us many opportunities for camping trips to nearby national parks and forests. In the winter, we enjoy taking the Libero south for several weeks in neighboring New Mexico and Arizona. We particularly enjoy camping in the Arizona State Parks.

For many years we had passed by Las Vegas, New Mexico – about 65 miles east of Santa Fe on I-25 – without ever having explored the area. This time we decided to make the visit. We camped at Storrie Lake, a New Mexico state park just outside of town, which has beautiful electric sites overlooking the lake for $14. The next morning, before jumping back on the I-25, we decided to follow the signs to the historic district. The old town square is a well preserved town, and was a point on the Santa Fe Trail. As we explored the town we noticed a door marked “Absaroka County Sheriff” which seemed odd. After a quick Google search we learned we were at one of the filming locations for the TV series “Longmire” for scenes of fictional downtown Durant, Wyoming.

We stopped at Pecos National Historic Site located in the hills just outside Santa Fe. This site is quite historic – from the large ancient pueblo community, the Spanish conquest and mission church, to the pioneers of the Santa Fe Trail. It’s certainly worth the visit if you’re in the area.

Leisure Travel Vans Pecos National Historic Site

The following day we visited Acoma Pueblo, located approximately 60 miles west of Albuquerque, and we were fortunate to be in the area on a feast day. The community was celebrating the inauguration of the Pueblo Governor with reverent dances, songs and festivities. We boarded one of the shuttle vans from the Visitors Center and Museum and toured the Mesa and Pueblo village. An exciting “feeding the people” ceremony had just begun where relatives of the Governor were throwing food into the crowd. The plaza is surrounded by multi-story pueblo houses and on top of their roofs were crowds of people watching the festivities. If you catch food, it is considered a blessing. At first we thought we should hang back from the ceremony, that was until we began being hit by various food items in all directions, and so up went our hands and we started catching blessings! What a sight this was; airborne items flying all over the plaza, to the roof top crowds, and to all of us sitting or standing around on the streets. A nice lady gave us a plastic bag in which to put our goodies of Cracker Jack’s, cheese crackers, cookies, Pringles, candy, and fruit, all of which we enjoyed for the next week of our trip. 30 males in the Governor’s family and 30 female relatives of his wife followed down the street in procession behind the couple, accompanied by dancers in costume and various drum singers. The village was filled with drums, ecstatic sounds of laughter and excitement, and we marvelled at how lucky we were to have been in Pueblo during this celebration.


After an afternoon drive through El Malpais National Monument, we continued on to Show Low, Arizona, and spent the night at Fool Hollow Lake State Park. As we were entering the area, we opted for a route just off the main road which led us through a lovely area of ponds, grassy verges and campsites in the tall pine woods. We found a great campsite featuring level pads with electric hook-ups, picnic tables, grills, and well lit full service bathroom facilities with free showers! It was such a peaceful place, and in the evening the stars were out in their glory reminding us of why we love the Western skies.

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Apache Junction, Arizona, was the next stop on our journey, and for a few days we camped at Lost Dutchman State Park in the shadows of the Superstition Mountains. We made the most of each day spending much of our time outside, enjoying the warm temperatures, walking the well-maintained hiking trails. We enjoyed spending the evenings preparing and eating dinner to the backdrop of absolutely awesome sunsets, and not ready to go inside, the night sky beckoned us once again for moonlit walks to the base of the mountain. We noticed that many of the campers had rope lights spread out under their rigs. This could just not be a case of everyone turning mid-winter festive, could it? The nice docents working in the park office educated us to the notion that “pack rats” (also known as wood rats) could be dissuaded from invading the engines of parked vehicles when lit up at night just by the application of lights. OK, but we still liked the idea of a festive community!

Catalina State Park in Tucson, Arizona, was our final destination and in all of our past winter trips in our Libero, we make a point to stop here. Just minutes from nearby shopping in Oro Valley, once inside the campground you feel like you are far from civilization. If you enjoy hiking, there are miles of trails to explore!

After covering over 25,000 miles with our Libero, my husband and I are pleased with our purchase. We have found we have more than enough storage for several week trips. With the optional rear power sectional, we have found it most comfortable to keep the sofa in its bed position, with an added memory foam mattress on top. Every time we head out for an adventure, someone stops us to ask us about our RV… it’s a real head-turner!

Karen Souhrada

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