Down on the Rio Grande

This trip reminds me of an old song… Down on the Rio Grande.  On sort of a whim, we planned this trip near the border town of Terlinqua Texas right near Big Bend National Park.  At first, we didn’t know exactly what we were getting into, but we knew it was way down south right next to the Mexican border along the Rio Grande River.  Our goal was to visit Big Bend, do some mountain biking and enjoy Thanksgiving in the RV with a few of our RV friends.  The ‘trip’ decision was made right after the previous years Thanksgiving.  We thought.. “Okay, about a 9-hour drive from our hometown of Dallas”.  Well as fate would have it, a lot can happen in a year!  During that time, we made a life-changing move to Colorado!  Our friends were a little concerned “Are you still going to make it?”  The answer was “yes”, we wouldn’t miss it as long as the Colorado weather cooperated and allowed us to make the trip!  Sure, the 9-hour drive now increased to close to 15, but that just makes it more adventurous!  Of course, these driving times are all based on Google Map estimates, so driving an RV is always a longer driving experience for me.

View from my parent’s porch

As the tripped neared, we planned our route.  We knew this would involve more than one day of driving so we wanted to make the most of our excursion stops.  The first stop was in Edgewood New Mexico.  This stop actually had a two-fold purpose… it was a perfect location for a first-day rest stop and gave us a chance to spend a couple of days visiting mom and dad!  They live on the outskirts and their driveway provides the perfect spot to park the RV and still enjoy some scenic views.

After a couple of days there, we made a quick trip through my hometown of Roswell New Mexico as we headed to our next stop near Marfa Texas, which also served as a rendezvous point with some of our other RV friends travelling from the Dallas area.  This stop was somewhat unique in that it’s the Marfa Lights Viewing Area.  It is actually a roadside stop, which allows overnight RV parking for free right beside highway 67.  If you’ve never heard of the Marfa Lights, they have been described to be paranormal phenomena such as ghosts, UFOs, or will-o’-the-wisp, etc.  We were able to see the lights that night… drifting way out in the distance… and constantly shifting positions from side to side and up and down… pretty cool.  If you make this one of your stops on future trips, I’d suggest some binoculars which we didn’t have.

Marfa Lights Observation Area

The next morning we made our final leg into the Big Bend Area.  It is quite impressive with the various geological features and very desolate.  We wondered what people do down here for a living because it doesn’t appear there is much to do… besides nothing.  Which…. nothing can be a good thing!  We stayed at the Maverick Ranch RV Park.  The park is nice and part of Lajitas Golf Resort which offers to golf of course, but also has some shops, restaurants and other activities associated with it.  They advertise zip-lining, but all the zip lines were closed while we were there.  They just didn’t have the necessary staff to operate them, but maybe in the summer, it’s a different story.  From what we gathered there is some history of what this place once was and what it is trying to become again… it’s gone through a few owner changes over several years.  The initial concept for the resort was to be the Palm Springs of the Southwest.

Our spot

The RV Park itself is nice, though it looks as though they are working on getting the grass going again.  I can imagine that’s a full-time job being that you’re located right in the middle of a desert.  Other than that… the park has nice bathrooms and showers.  Each is its own little private room.  We had full electric, water and sewer and some of the spots even offered cable TV.  All the spots are flat and offer either pull-in or pull-through.

Behind the National Park Ranger Station

Most of our time there was spent mountain biking and hiking.  We could mountain bike right from the RV Park to many different locations with a vast assortment of trails.  It was awesome!

Of course, if you make it down that far, you must go to Big Bend National Park.  The drive to the park entrance is approximately 30 minutes away from the RV Park.  We spent some time in the park hiking and exploring.  The park offers many various hiking and camping opportunities.  You could spend an entire week in the park alone and never see everything.  Even though you’re in the desert there is a lot of wildlife in the park.  Everything from deer, fox, coyotes, bears and mountain lions.  We did see some deer, fox and coyotes, and a few from our group even spotted a black bear.  If you’re more adventurous and looking for a great backpacking excursion and night out camping, you can hike the south rim and camp out up top.  People think Texas has no mountain, but in Big Bend, you can hike up to around 7,800ft.  We didn’t do that this trip, but when I was younger I did.  Make sure, regardless if you’re doing a day hike or extended one to take plenty of water!  It’s dry there and gets hot even in the later months of the year.

Trying out the horns in the Long Horn Museum

On a final note, I suggest you visit the Ghost Town of Terlingua!  It’s between the RV Park and Big Bend National Park.  It’s a cool little place with some interesting history… and if you go there you need to make sure you visit the store and Starlight Theatre. While we were there, the Starlight offered a Thanksgiving dinner that was delicious!  The food there was good, the beer was cold and they also have live music on some nights!

Got Oxygen?

Wow! The air does seem thin up here we thought, as we stepped down out of our Unity travel van. We were in Leadville, Colorado for the weekend. Leadville is the highest incorporated city in the United States, sitting at an elevation of 10,152 ft.  We were here this particular weekend for a running race.  Well … maybe Teresa was, but I was really here to cheer her on, at least at the start and finish, and then ride my mountain bike while she was out of sight!  To call this a ‘running’ race may be stretching it a little though.  I did see people running, but I probably saw even more people making a quick walk or slow run of it.  Regardless, it was a race and no matter how you finished, running or walking, it was a huge task and even bigger accomplishment!

The race is called the Leadville Trail Marathon and Heavy Half.  You get the option to choose which torturous distance you wish to subject yourself to.  For the non-runners reading this, a typical half-marathon is a distance of 13.1 miles.  As you may have noticed in the title of the race, this is called the ‘Heavy’ half.  Well, to add a little more excitement?… challenge?… torture?, the half is actually 15.46 miles.  Don’t worry though, the marathon distance is only 26.2 miles, yep…. twenty six point two miles!!  Did I mention were at the highest city in the United States?  And, to add to the difficulty of the event, you were not only going to start the race at 10,152 ft, but you were going to immediately climb… and climb… and continue to climb until you topped out at a maximum elevation of 13,185 ft.  Then, once you got there, you would turn yourself around and head back to the start/finish line.

Now, I don’t want to make this all about a running race, that none of you may have interest in.  I  really want to tell you about Leadville and our experience camping there and enjoying this quaint historic mining town with an extensive history and amazing views.  This was our first time to Leadville and we weren’t sure what to expect.  We parked Pedro (our Unity CB) at the Leadville RV Corral.  It’s located on the south end of town right off the main street, which isn’t called main, but Harrison Street.  This is a great location in that it allows you to walk everywhere!  The RV park itself isn’t anything fancy, but it’s got all the necessary hookups and amenities.  We ended up not using the showers and bathrooms so I can’t report on that, but I can tell you the WiFi service was good enough to stream movies over.  The owner and manager lives directly on the property and uses a white-board to manage reservations, so don’t expect automatic emails or any type of electronic confirmation when you reserve a spot.  But… rest assured, if you reserve a spot, he will have one for you!

Our RV spot

View out our window

As far as things to do and places to grab some food and drink, there are plenty.  They even have an Oxygen Bar to get a dose of oxygen if the lack of it is wearing you down or you’re suffering from a little bit of altitude sickness.  You can purchase a session and sniff on some flavored oxygen to revive your senses, or you can even purchase portable oxygen cans with an inhaler.  In addition to O2 bars, there are also some regular bars and a local brewery.  We did try some of the local restaurants too.  My favorites were High Mountain Pies and Tennessee Pass Cafe.  High Mountain Pies is a little pizzeria on one of the side streets right off the main street.  They offer pizza, calzones, and sandwiches.  It’s got a very small dine-in area and then some outside seating as well.  The other establishment, Tennessee Pass had more room both inside and outside.  When we went, they had live music playing outside in their large patio area.  Their menu is more extensive with various options and they also provide a good assortment of adult beverages.  The food was quite good!

Tennessee Pass Cafe Patio

Be prepared though, depending on the time of year you go there it could potentially be a little chilly!  Even when we went there in June, the night temperatures dropped!  Remember, you’re at over 10,000 ft., so when the sun goes down so does the temperature.  The main street also has quite a few shops.  Everything from cycling and outdoor gear, to clothing and local arts and crafts.  Leadville is the center for some very extreme running and mountain biking events, as well as festivals.  Some of the events are world class and have even enticed Lance Armstrong to race here.  There is even a movie called, Race Across the Sky, that was filmed about one of the extreme mountain bike races here in Leadville.  So if you plan to go there, you may want to check ahead and see what events may be occurring during your travel time frame.

Leadville was originally a mining town.  The vast majority of miners have since left but the history remains.  We went by the Matchless Mine and checked out the old cabin of Baby Doe.  The Matchless Mine involves one of Colorado’s most famous Silver Kings, a love triangle and a life from riches to poor.   If you want to know more about the history of Leadville and mining you can visit the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum there.

Just the beginning on the way to the summit

We had a great time in Leadville!  We experienced the town, the mountains, some cycling and the views.  It gave us one of our first excursions in the beautiful state of Colorado and made us want more!  Best of all, Teresa finished the race and still had the energy to do more!

Teresa riding the day after her race



Arrived With Handshakes and Left With Hugs

My husband, John and I left for Mission Bay LTV Spring Rally on March 12, 2017. We arrived at the park and were excited to see twenty LTV motor homes. We had a meet and greet pot-luck dinner that night with the always good combination of great food and conversation. Upcoming trips were discussed with many suggestions from the members as well as introductions.

We met for a group picture Monday and then 15 bicycles took off for lunch in Pacific Beach at the Baja Beach Cafe. The route was a total of 16 miles from start to finish. Mission Bay is a gorgeous area for this type of ride and I am happy to say I made it the full 16 miles! We were able to meet the rest of the group at a restaurant for more great eating and sharing. Pacific Beach is a very busy and colorful beach area with many cafes and vendors. The bicyclists then took off on the return to the RV Park. We all made it safely back to the park.

After the bicycle ride, I noticed how many folks were getting together to discuss problems, parts, etc. At one point, three of the guys were trying to come up with a part for one of the others. I got some information on good RV parks, a park app for my phone as well as some kitchenware ideas.

We spent Tuesday afternoon in Old Town, San Diego after yet another delicious lunch at Casa Guadalajara. Everyone car pooled, rode bicycles or used the public bus to get there. The Old Town was very enjoyable, cute shops, and museums.

Again after our return from Old Town, I noticed folks collaborating on the motorhomes. One of the guys took his screen door apart to try and help another fix their door. We also noticed how many other RV owners in the park stopped by to tour several of the LTV units.

What struck me about this rally, our second event with the group, was how friendly, helpful and active everyone was – from helping me put an awning up for the “newbies” (like us) along with travel tips. It was a lot of fun walking the RV park and seeing all of our units along with flags. The enthusiasm of the Southwest LTV Roadrunners club is infectious.

Thanks to Dennis and Darleen Thorig, leaders of the event as well as George and Aileen Ormsby with their experience and suggestions.

We look forward to more events in the future.

John & Linda Briscoe