Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Our First Project and My Cousin in Corrales

When we are near friends and relatives and will be there for a while, we ask if there is anything around the house we can do?  As in, "Are there any projects that you'd like us to take a shot at?".  Here in Albuquerque, Reid and Amy didn't have anything in mind at first, but now we have plenty of items on our list.

Our first project is refinishing the front doors to their house and also at Janette's.  Janette is Amy's mom who lives with them.
Their house faces the sun, so it has taken a beating over the years.  Pam tackled one door and I worked on the other.

First, I took off the handle, eye hole, door stop and knob, then sanded it down on both sides.
Once that was done, I put on a light coat of polyurethane.  I will have to sand more and put on more coats.

Pam also had to remove the door trim and molding and then find a good replacement.  It took a couple of times, but we found the right replacement.
We worked on the doors on Thursday and Friday and let them dry.

On Saturday, we got to see cousin Linda and husband Jim, when they came over to Reid and Amy's for dinner.
Reid, Amy, Pam, Janette, Jim and Linda
Always fun to see those two!  They live in the village of Corrales across the Rio Grande about 25 minutes away.

On Sunday, we drove out to the Corrales Produce market where Jim and Linda usually sell their vegetables.  Jim is a master gardener and grows all sorts of vegetables.  It was a little cold and very windy, so there were only about 15 vendors there and the crowds were sparse.
Pam bought a plant and we talked with some of the vendors and found out Jim and Linda had already come and set up and decided to pack it in for the day when we arrived.

Since we were nearby, we gave them a call went over to their place for a quick visit.  A couple of weeks ago, Jim's green house had blown down in one of the strong storms.  He salvaged most of his plants and they appeared to be thriving.
He has been at this a number of years and has all sorts of interesting varieties.  It is clear they have a passion for growing and love what they do.  They showed us around, gave us some clipping for salads and such and we headed back over to Reid and Amy's.

We didn't do much then, but we surveyed the damage to the back fence that had blown down on Saturday.
That is the next project on our list.

It is great being near family and extended family.  The times we get together are few and far between but fun!

That's all for now on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us today.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Stops Along the Way

We are more or less in the travel mode although we have stopped for a few weeks in Albuquerque.  But after we left our great spot at Catalina Sate Park outside of Tucson Arizona, we have been to three more campgrounds.

A couple of weeks ago we wanted to camp at the Grand Canyon, but it was full.  The closest place we could find was at Camp Tuthill at Flagstaff, AZ.  It was about 90 miles from the Grand Canyon which was within driving distance for a day trip to the Grand Canyon.
Surprisingly we were able to get a pretty good internet signal and after some tricky maneuvering, we were able to latch onto a DirecTV signal through the trees.  At $19 a night, we found this to be a pretty good place and would camp here again.  I'd give it a 7/10 rating.

Marty and Roz commented that they prefer Camp Navajo near Williams AZ.  We had not heard of that one but found it online.  It says they open in May so we will have to try that one next time.

After Flagstaff, we moved east along I-40 to a great overnight stay at USARVPark in Gallup, NM.  We read the reviews on RVParkReviews.com and it rated very highly.  We agree.  For an overnight stay, it was great.  It May be one of the best former KOA's we have ever seen.
They have a really great gift shop and little store.  But more impressive are the grounds and the campsite areas.  All sites are wide and level and the laundry, swimming pool (though not open) and different areas are all well maintained.  And they ask a few questions to see which of the many discounts you may qualify for.  I like that!  I'd give it a 9/10.

We are currently in the FamCamp at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque.  We really like this place.
It is fairly easy to get to and the campsites are pretty long and wide.  Among the longest and widest we have stayed at.  Since brother Reid and wife Amy have lived here forever, we often find ourselves staying at the FamCamp.  It is convenient and not far from where they live so it works out well.
The laundry is reasonable and they have a new bathhouse/restroom in the area where we like.  Over the last couple of years they have made a steady stream of improvements.  The most notable are lots of gravel in the campsites and grading work so the roads lanes are pot hole free.

Overall, I'd give it a 7/10.

All in all pretty decent stops along the way.  None have the 'it' factor but those only come along once in a while...

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Roadrunner Financials - March 2014

Roadrunner Recap
We started out the month in Agave Gulch RV Campground (Davis-Monthan AFB) in Tucson.  We finished up the month in our first and only ever stay at a huge RV Resort (snowbird destination) Mesa Regal RV Resort in Mesa AZ.
In the middle of the month had an unexpected and sad trip to Baraboo, WI to attend the funeral of our dear friend Cathy.  We flew into Milwaukee and rented a car to Baraboo.  We were glad to go and be there for husband Tom and their son Vic.

Good News Areas We Are Under Budget
Except for our trip to Baraboo, we had a pretty good month expense-wise.

Biggest Expenses
The biggest expense was the biggest expense for the month was our trip to Wisconsin.
Since our only travel was from Tucson to Mesa, we didn't need to refuel the Roadrunner and therefore had no diesel fuel costs which was nice.
Large One Time Cost Item
Our trip to Baraboo, then we spent a little more than we like to on campgrounds.  

Monthly Average

With only a couple months left in my Jun-May 'fiscal' year, I am coming to the realization reducing my budget to $4000 a month from last year's $4100 was a bit optimistic.

Be that as it may, an overall monthly average of $4127 is certainly manageable.

**Disclaimer**
We have been on the road almost 5 years and knew a big part of this adventure would be to track and manage our costs of living as full-time RVers.  I started tracking our expenses and have labelled this our "Budget and Finances".  Upon reflection, this is really more of an expense tracking log and not really a budget as much as it is an estimate vs a budget.  I can not remember consciously saying, "we only have xx amount left in our budget for this..."

I show spending here and not income or charitable giving.

If you would like a copy of a sample this spread sheet, please let me know and I'd be happy to send it along, gratis.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Little Bit of Albuquerque

We had a short drive to Albuquerque from Gallup on Tuesday morning.  I like those kinds of days.   We arrived at the Kirtland AFB FamCamp and found a good site without any issues.

We were stationed here from 1988-1992 and I grew up in Santa Fe.  Lots of memories around town and we love coming back here to check things out.  And my twin brother and his wife Amy live here.
They have had a small business for the last 35+ years:  Environment Control.  We have already gotten together a couple of time for dinner at their place.  Pam makes it a point to make dinner and take it over to peoples place if it is feasible.  We hate to come see people and then have them feel as if we are there to freeload.  Moochdocking is a another story but we hate to freeload.

While in Albuquerque there are alway two places we like to go eat -- part of the local/regional cuisine:
Frontier Restaurant - This is one of the most unique and fun places we know of.  You can be standing in line to get a breakfast burrito with green chile or one of their huge cinnamon rolls and see guys in suits and ties.
Or folks that look like they haven't eaten in a few days.  College kids or city workers.  It is a great place to people watch and the food is outstanding.  Pure New Mexico.

Another fun one we try to eat at is Blake's Lota Burger.
They have outstanding green cheeseburgers.  We grew up eating those and they are yummy.  A little on the spicy hot side--but a great way to get your Hatch green chile fix!

We have some projects to do around Reid and Amy's house and maybe even will find time to do something on their new-to-them 1976 Scotty trailer.

They have only had it for a couple of days and are pretty excited about its potential!  Have you every heard of these?
It's in good shape although there are a few things that need to be updated.  But what 38 year old trailer doesn't?

That's all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles -- thanks for joining us!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Grandeur of the Grand Canyon!

From the Cottonwood/Sedona area, we drove up to Flagstaff, AZ.  It is a short 90 miles to one of the world's most scenic locations:  The Grand Canyon.
I think this may have been my fifth or sixth visit.  Last one with our young 5 and 6 year olds in 1988. We camped at Mather campground in our first RV - our 1978 Volkswagon Westfalia.

This time we only got to spend the day there.

We left Flagstaff about 7:10 A.M. and were there by about 8:30 A.M.  We were expecting some rain but early on it looked bright and sunny.  When we arrived we went over to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and got a map and the lowdown on the free shuttles.

We used to drive over to the scenic overlooks but now they are accessible by Shuttle Bus only.  But they have the system down.  It is about as easy as it gets.  Very organized and only a little bit of waiting.
Then the a short walk over to the rim to Maricopa Point and a view of Mather Point and Bright Angel trail down to the canyon floor.
This is where it initially became a little overwhelming.  The senses have a hard time comprehending it.  
I am seeing it but not quite sure how to process and absorb it all.

After a while we walked some more along the Rim Trail to Powell Point and Hopi Point.
And we went to Mohave Point, past The Abyss and took in the views at Pima Point.
After a couple of hours we finished up the Hermit's Rest Stop Route, changed buses to get back to the Grand Canyon Visitors parking lot, when it started raining.  We made it back just in time, had a picnic lunch and then went over to Verkamp's Visitor Center and took in some more views.
We also swung through the gift shop, found a some items we couldn't live without and then called it a day.

We made the 82 mile drive back to our Camp Tuthill Campground just outside of Flagstaff and were tired!  Chalk up another day in one of America's premier National Parks.

Thanks for joining us - until next time....

Saturday, April 19, 2014

You Have Got to See Sedona!

I don't think Pam and I have ever been through Sedona.  The more we read about the gorgeous red rock formations and canyon monuments, we decided we had to come and see it for ourselves.

The approach to the area reminded me a little bit of the Grand Canyon.  You know you are close to the area, but there is no big visual clue until you are on top of it.
It is about a 25 minute drive from Cottonwood, AZ (Dead Horse State Park) and we stopped at a scenic overlook to see some of the canyon vistas in the distance.

But once we got into Sedona it was stunning!  The redness of the rocks and the famous rock formations are right there --- seemingly closer than they really were.  I just couldn't keep from saying, "Oh My!!" or "Wow".

We took the main 89A highway through town and went to the 'Visitor Center'.  It became apparent it was a commercial place pretty quickly with offers of RV camping near by and helicopter rides available and jeep rides through the canyon to see it all up close.

We opted for the scenic overlook up Airport Road which was a right turn off the main drag and up the hill.  Then the valley and all its majesty below...
 The Coffee Pot

 The Sphinx

 Chimney Rock

 I have no idea but it was beautiful...

 Devil's Bridge

We took lots of pictures and tried to take it all in.  And then quickly we had a couple of helicopters fly  by.
If you can't take a helicopter, the Airport Road observation point is really a good alternative.

It was getting to be about lunch time and we wanted to see the Chapel of the Holy Cross.  It was  a couple of lights and round-abouts away off highway 179.  A few minutes later we were in the parking lot and eating our lunch before we climbed the small hill up to the Chapel.
Since my brother Brad is an architect and a Frank Lloyd fan, we note his creations and see them when we can.
The idea was conceived in 1932 but not actually built until 1957.  Small, quaint, elegant and interesting.  Read more about it here.  A prayer service is held there on Mondays, but all Liturgies are at the Parish Church in Sedona.

As we drove back through town, I decided to get up early the next day and see the sun rise over Sedona with the Red Rocks as a back drop.  It was pretty chilly but worth the hour of picture taking.
The sun seemed like it was taking forever to come up but finally did.
And then we had some hot air balloons in the distance

Sedona is now on "One of My Favorite Places" list and we will have to come back.  There is a lot more to do and see here.

Thanks for joining us on our day in Sedona!