Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Santa Fe and Sandia Tramway

This is a ‘Catch Up’ post.  Rewind to our 7 days in Albuquerque.

Midway through our week with brothers and wives, we scheduled an overnight trip to Santa Fe for some more memories and golf.  Brad, Reid and I “grew up” in Santa Fe having spent our elementary, junior and senior high school years there.  

That was where I found my life long passion with golf.  Reid and I both worked at the Santa Fe Country Club growing up and it’s where the three of us played high school golf.  Eldest brother Marty was already off to college and the Navy by then but he visited often and had not been back in a while.  Pam and I had visited Santa Fe quite a few times during our full-timing years.

For now it was a short 60 mile overnight trip.  First the guys drove up to make our 10 AM tee time at Santa Fe Country Club.  I regained my composure from our Monday outing and smoked those boys.  I had a good golf day.  

I have since played 3 more times in our travels and have been suitably humbled once again.  Golf is like that.

We finished our 18 holes and hung around a bit on the porch where the girls joined us.  They drove up after us and went to lunch before meeting us at the golf course.  We stayed for a little while then went over to our AirBnB rental.  It was only about a mile away from the golf course.

When we were growing up in the late 60’s and 70’s there were no houses out near the golf course.  It was now completely built up with many different neighborhoods.  Our rental house had a small yard but big bedrooms and was quite nice. 
For dinner that night we went to the Pantry Restuarant which is a local favorite and it was simply fantastic.  I did a face plant in my combination platter of New Mexican food.  It was so yummy.
Even better, there was a guy there playing in the restaurant.  I wish I had gotten his picture and name.  He did all the 60’s and 70’s songs which was a fun touch.  A table in the back had us singing and hand waving and tapping to the music.  It was a little out of character but good fun and just made for an enjoyable evening.

We returned to the house and hung out for the rest of the night and told stories and chilled before going to bed. 
Thursday morning we went to Rio Pantry, a sister restaurant near the downtown Plaza in Santa Fe and enjoyed breakfast and conversation outside.  

Then we played tourist on the Plaza and did some shopping and strolling around.  It was a beautiful morning for it.
At lunch we found a table at the famous La Fonda Hotel dining room and enjoyed some more local cuisine.
We took our time wandering around the grounds of the Cathedral of St Francis.  It is such an interesting and important place in the region.
Before too long it was time to head back to Albuquerque so we could go see the Sandia Tramway and have dinner at the Ten 3 Restaurant at the top.  We went back to Reid and Amy’s got ready and drove over to the base of the Sandia Mountains to catch the tramway to the top.  By this time, Pam had tapped out and decided to have some time to herself.  

The boarding station at the tramway was impressive.  I think I had a date here once in high school and Pam and I had been up with the kids once when we were stationed in Abuquerque at Kirkland AFB 1988-1992.

The operators were terrific.  They told us more facts than we could absorb and answered everyones questions.  It was about a 15 minute ride to the top and covered about 2.7 miles.  The view was quite amazing.  It you have trouble with heights, this is the wrong excursion for you.

Once at the top we were able to get a couple table for the 7 of us.  Brad and Sue and Elena got the corner view of the ski basin which was pretty cool.
Reid and Amy and I were seated nearby but a little ways back from the window.
The view quickly disappeared as the clouds rolled in the and the visibility was pretty much gone. I felt bad for the folks on the other side of the restaurant with the reservations and high priced seats.  What can you do?

After dinner (of some great hummus and pita bread) we descended the 10,300 ft Sandia Peak and the tram car went through the fog.

It was a fun couple of days and we were ready to get to Reid’s house and relax some.  That pretty much sum’s up a couple of days in our Coast-to-Coast road trip.  Thanks for joining us today.  And thanks for all the comments! We love ‘em.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Uh oh - truck stuff

Author’s Note:

If you’ve ever been a blogger you know that “getting behind is inevitable.  It is only a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’.  Living life and documenting it is a tall order.  Right now I have 6 other posts “in progress/started”, but haven’t been able to get them finished and online.  Such is the plight of a blogger.  But I will - more Roadrunner Chronicles episodes are in various states of completion and will get done!


Here we go:  

So far Roadrunner 2.0 (the truck) has been running like a champ.  Almost. Day 6 we were in Tulsa, OK when the truck began “missing”.  We had it checked out in Albuquerque and took a couple of days to decide that the $2800 fix could not wait until we got home.  We had to get it fixed now so we didn’t get stranded somewhere or worse. On Day 13 we dropped it off and get the spark plugs replaced as well as the coils and spark plug boots.  Good news. The bill was only $2200. ugh.  

More importantly, we have the peace of mind and a smooth running truck again.  

That’s the short story.  Here’s a bit more of the story.

 Yikes!  We have a problem with the truck.  "It acts like it is missing.  It runs a little rough when I step on the gas." There we were.  We had checked into the hotel in Amarillo and gone through the routine of unloading 2 suitcases, an ice chest, a couple pillows, our very small coffee maker and coffee pods.  

Next, we checked the local area for the lowest gas prices (usually at Costco or Sam’s Club) to fill up and be ready to roll out the next day and hit the interstate early.

 As we followed the GPS, it indicated an exit that I took.  But the exit line was really long because of ongoing construction and I was impatient (who me?) and figured I could just go to the next exit and save some time.  That choice plus my next one were costly ones.  I wish I hadn’t moved out of the long exit line in Amarillo so quickly.”

Yup - the truck didn’t like that when I ‘punched it’ and went from zero to whatever, to keep ahead of traffic in my lane on the Interstate.  Our F-150 has a lot of power but I overdid it on that one, and all kinds of lights quickly flashed on the dashboard for a moment.  It took a few seconds, but recalibrated things and it got back to normal.  I thought and hoped.

We had a brief and intense (is that the right word? ) discussion on what was going on. The truck regained its composure and drove better as we made our way over to Costco for gas.  We fueled up and headed back to the hotel and I noticed an amber check engine light had come on.  Nuts.

Those things have a tendency to be expensive.  Thankfully it wasn’t a red “Stop Engine” light.  Those are the ones that say pull over and get this thing towed.  But that was not the case for us today.

We went back to the hotel and the next morning as we headed for Albuquerque with the Check Engine Light still on.  It drove pretty well for the next few days.  But we knew it wasn’t right and we could feel it miss a step or “skip” now and then.

We called Reid and he set up an appointment at his favorite mechanics shop in Albuquerque. We arrived on Saturday and drove the truck around town and then to church and back on Sunday. At that point we were thinking we’d just wait until we got back to Norfolk and get everything checked out then.

Our Monday appointment came and we dropped the truck off at the repair place. They quickly found what was amiss and said they could get it fixed that day.  We weren’t convinced yet that it needed to be done ASAP. It was an expensive fix(estimated at $2800), so we got a second opinion from our great mechanic in Norfolk (Jeff at Able Auto). Jeff thought the repair price was a little high which agreed with our impression.  He suggested we monitor the truck performance and see if it got any worse.  I liked that idea. So that’s what we did.  I was looking for a change in how it drove, any new fancy lights on the desk flashing, and I checked the mpg.  

On Wednesday we drove it up to  Santa Fe (60 miles and 1000’ in elevation away) and on the way back, it started getting noticeably worse.  It became clear we couldn’t wait until we got home to get the truck fixed. We called the repair shop back, got an appt for the next day and dropped the truck off on Friday morning before we went to play golf.

They called about hole #11 and told us the truck was finished.  Good news - it was “only" $2200.  We were glad to get the repair done and so far Roadrunner 2.0 is running again like her old self.  We have been averaging 20.5 mpg in the 4300+ miles that we have driven.  Yesterday we got a little more:  22.3 mpg.

The other cost we have incurred was a welcome $5 to give the truck a good wash and dry.  We found a coin operated one and did it ourselves.  It was worth the 25 minutes to give it a good cleaning.

RV repairs and maintenance are part of the adventure and we are glad we can do this.  This trip has been a whole lot of fun and pretty fantastic.  I have lots more to share and more stories to tell so, please stay tuned.  I will be more frequent in my posting.  Promise.

Until next time....

Friday, May 26, 2023

Lower Antelope Canyon

 We did it.  Finally we got to experience the wonders of the stupendous Antelope Canyon.  

Through the years as full-timers (2009-2019) we saw pictures of friends who had been through the canyon.  Once we had planned our Brothers and Wives Reunion in Albuquerque at Reid and Amy’s, we put a stop in Page, AZ on the map.

Sometimes pictures tell the story so here’s my favorite one of all

Then some of my many photos of Lower Antelope Canyon:
The Wave:
The short walk to the starting point.
Descending down the two or three flights of stairs into the slot canyon.
Then the hour of mesmerizing wonder.  Every time we turned around too much to comprehend.
Toward the end of our hour long walk through the canyon we joined up with the tour group in front of us as we climbed up the couple flights of stairs to get out of the canyon.
It was everything I hoped it would be and much more.  The tickets were a bit pricey but it was worth every penny.  I would not hesitate to highly recommend.  It was one of the absolute highlights of our trip so far.  

Thanks for joining us in what is becoming a more irregular update of our days on the road trip.  We’ll keep plugging away and “back-fill” some of our stops.  The trip has been really fun.  See you next time on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Friday, May 19, 2023

Bro Time - Family, Church, and Golf

Here we are crossing over into the great state of New Mexico.  The landscape continued to change from our journey from Oklahoma, through the panhandle of Texas to the Land of Enchantment.  Not many states have a welcome sign like this one.

Once in NM, we made our way to Albuquerque in time for a World Famous Green Chile Cheeseburger.  Nothing like it at Lot-A-Burger. 
Next, we headed over to Reid and Amy’s and waited the arrival of Marty and Elena, Brad and Sue.  Here are some of us hanging out and telling stories on Reid’s back patio.
Later that evening we gathered around the dining room table where we have spent many hours eating and talking.  Pam and I and the kids were stationed here in Albuquerque (Kirtland AFB) and we had many extended family gatherings right here.
The next day, on Sunday morning we all joined Reid and Amy at their church.  Growing up, we all attended church regularly and that tradition continues for each of us today.
After a nice service we were surprised to hear one of the parishioners had a restored 1958 American Motors Rambler station wagon.  What a beauty.  Our family also had one just like this model but it was bright red.
Pam and me, Elena and Marty, Reid and Amy, Brad and Sue.
Later that day Pam and I drove by the house we lived in from 1988-1992.  The house was basically the same but the tree in the circular spot in the drive way was gone and the small from lawn was no longer there either.

That evening, cousin Linda and husband Jim (who are currently the first lady and mayor of the village of Corrales NM-- came by for dinner and a visit.
Good times!  This is one of the reasons we like to get together -- share stories we have never heard before or to refresh our memories of how things really were.  It was great to see them.

The next day, the guys went out to the University of New Mexico Championship Course to play in a fund raiser golf tournament.  Our grandad was an above average athlete and played golf.  Our dad and mom played golf so all four of us grew up playing and it’s the thing we try to do every time we get together.  Its always a lot of fun and this may have been the first time all four of us played together on the same team.
We comprised one of the 14 teams playing and gave it our best shot at a sychronized golf swing shot on the practice tee.  Brad, Reid, me, and Marty.
We took a couple of obligatory mug shots on the course.
We played pretty well but finished tied for fourth but had a fun day with a banquet where the ladies joined us.  As we left we had a fantastic rainbow that was one of the brightest I’ve seen in a while.
Thanks for checking in today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!