A tour of our pad site

For a lot of reasons, we signed up for an annual RV pad site.  It is located near Lake Conroe, just north of Houston.  Conroe itself has a full complement of stores, restaurants, medical facilities and so on and the Woodlands is just down the road.  So we have pretty well everything we could need and want here.

The park itself (Thousand Trails, in Wllis, TX) has undergone some extensive renovations.  New sporting areas, new pool area, new docks, and new sites have really given this place a new look.  And the hot tub is only a few hundred yards from our site….  So we have a pleasant place to live that is not too far from Dallas (4 hour drive), has all facilities nearby, and close to Houston IAH Airport and cruise ship terminals.  And we can safely leave our RV home here when we go on trips, like our upcoming Europe cruise.

Our pad is located in the back, amongst a row of trees so we get some shade.  Important during these summer months!  So far, we have not done any site improvements, that will happen later.  We have a one year lease, and can extend it if we find we like it.  Here is a quick tour of some park highlights.

Boat docks

Boat docks, has about 20 boat slips

Boat launching area

Boat launching area, fish cleaning station on right

Swimming pool cabanas, each with a fridge!

Swimming pool cabanas, each with a fridge!

Pool side shade

Pool side shade

Pool area

Pool area

Miniature golf course

Miniature golf course

Tennis and pickelball courts

Tennis and pickelball courts

Basketball courts

Basketball courts

No RV? Fear not, there are cabins

No RV? Fear not, there are cabins

A different angle of our site

A different angle of our site, our car parked in front

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is one of the top tourist destinations in the country. And why not, it has a strong history; it’s roots go back to the 1050’s Pueblo Indians. Many cultures make up today’s population, including Indian, Mexican, and Spanish eventually being as we know it today. It is the oldest, and highest, capital city in the USA.

Although it is a desert city, it is only 15 miles from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Architecturally, it has adopted the Spanish Pueblo look, often referred to as Adobe, with thick walls to help even out the rather drastic temperature fluctuations. Santa Fe is also known for food, with heavy emphasis on spices and strong local flavors. And the art scene is well known with many galleries and exhibits.

Less well known, during World War II Santa Fe was the location of a Japanese American internment camp. The site was also used to hold German and Italian nationals. In 1943, the camp was expanded to take in 2,100 men of Japanese Americans who had renounced their U.S. citizenship. The camp was closed and sold of in 1946.

We enjoyed our week in Santa Fe and learning more about its culture, its food, its art and also some very nice hikes!

A rainbow over the foothills

A rainbow over the foothills

Adobe style architecture

Adobe style architecture

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi

Cathedral statue

Cathedral statue

Thriving  farmers market

Thriving farmers market

Yummy breads

Yummy breads

The old RR station is still used, also as part of the Farmers Market

The old RR station is still used, also as part of the Farmers Market

Hiking in the foothills

Hiking in the foothills

A view back to Santa Fe

A view back to Santa Fe

Making a lazy afternoon

Making a lazy afternoon

Sunup at Santa Fe

Sunup at Santa Fe

Chimney Rock, Colorado

Chimney Rock is an Ancestral Puebloan site, designated on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. It was a community inhabited between Durango and Pagosa Springs about 1,000 years ago with about 200 rooms. Rooms in the buildings were used for living, work areas and ceremonial purposes.

Housing approximately 2,000 ancient Pueblo Indians between A.D. 925 and 1125, the settlement included a Great House Pueblo with round ceremonial rooms, known as kivas, and 36 ground-floor rooms. A grizzly bear jaw found in one of the rooms when excavated suggested a reverence for the animal, and modern Chaco oral history suggests that the Bear clan originated in the Chimney Rock area.

The construction of the Great House Pueblo at the top of the ridge, close to Chimney Rock and its neighbor Companion Rock, had a large ceremonial role in the later years of Chaco presence. As the moon makes its lunar cycle across the sky over a period of 18.6 years, it appears in a “lunar standstill” between the two rocks for a period of approximately 2 years.

The inhabitants of Chimney Rock abandoned the site in 1125, burning the buildings when they left. Their modern day descendants consider the site sacred with the spirits of their ancestors, and have asked the Forest Service to refrain from further excavation out of respect.

A Kiva in the lower village

A Kiva in the lower village

Work area (grinding corn) in the lower village

Work area (grinding corn) in the lower village

Sure is a magnificent view from up here!

Sure is a magnificent view from up here!

Inside the Pueblo Village walls

Inside the Pueblo Village walls

It's a bit of a walk to get to the Great House

It’s a bit of a walk to get to the Great House

Inside the Great House  walls

Inside the Great House walls

Showing some of the complex structure of the Great House

Showing some of the complex structure of the Great House

A view of Chimney Rock, viewed from the Great House

A view of Chimney Rock, viewed from the Great House

Creede, CO & Bachelor’s Loop

Creede, CO at one time was one of the biggest silver mines in the country. Creede was the last silver boom town in Colorado in the 19th century. The town leapt from a population of 600 in 1889 to more than 10,000 people in December 1891. The Commodore mine is now disappearing, but it has 5 different levels spread out over 200 underground miles.

Creede’s boom lasted until 1893, when the Silver Panic hit all of the silver mining towns in Colorado. The price of silver plummeted and most of the silver mines were closed. Creede never became a ghost town, although the boom was over and its population declined. After 1900, Creede stayed alive by relying increasingly on lead and zinc in the ores. Total production through 1966 was 58 million troy ounces (870 metric tons) of silver, 150 thousand ounces (4.7 metric tons) of gold, 112 thousand metric tons of lead, 34 thousand metric tons of zinc, and 2 million metric tons of copper.

During it’s heyday, the Colorado Capital (Denver) enacted major legal reform movement against gambling clubs and saloons. Numerous owners of major gambling houses in Denver relocated to Creede. Among them was the infamous confidence man “Soapy” Smith, soon the uncrowned king of the criminal underworld. Other famous people in Creede were Robert Ford (the man who killed outlaw Jesse James) and Bat Masterson.

After touring the Mining Museum (very well done, by the way), take a drive through Bachelor’s Loop. That is, if you don’t have a fear of heights. Also, best to have a 4 wheel drive vehicle. There are some very steep sections, some very narrow sections, and all gravel. But it is definitely worth the time because the views are just stupendous. And if you have a real 4 wheel drive vehicle you will find miles and miles of old roads and ghost towns.

The drive into Creede shows why it is a mining town

The drive into Creede shows why it is a mining town

Those were some tough and dangerous jobs!

Those were some tough and dangerous jobs!

Working at the face of the mine

Working at the face of the mine

Sometimes you had to go down to get ore....

Sometimes you had to go down to get ore….

And sometimes you could just follow the vein.

And sometimes you could just follow the vein.

Not a very roomy trip down (or up) to the different levels

Not a very roomy trip down (or up) to the different levels

The gravel road takes you up to the Commodore mine

The gravel road takes you up to the Commodore mine

One of the main Commodore mine structures

One of the main Commodore mine structures

The road is quite rough, steep, and narrow

The road is quite rough, steep, and narrow

A different mine complex perches on the steep hillside

A different mine complex perches on the steep hillside

At the top is a peaceful valley with the headwaters of the Rio Grande river

At the top is a peaceful valley with the headwaters of the Rio Grande river

Coming back down to Creede

Coming back down to Creede

Said to be the highest church in the USA

Said to be the highest church in the USA

Ouray, Silverton, and Million $$ highway

Ouray is an old (1870’s) Colorado mining town turned tourist town. Often called America’s Switzerland, it is located high in the mountains. Although it still has an active mine, most city revenues come from tourists. There are many cute and interesting cafes, restaurants and hotels in town.  We’ve sampled a few….

Likewise, Silverton owes its origins to silver mining. And, like Ouray, it exists today mainly due to tourists. This is helped because it is the end of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway, which still uses steam locomotives and old rolling stock.  The train ride, starting in Durango, is a magnificent scenic tour of the Colorado high mountains.  Silverton’s entire downtown is registered as a National Historic Landmark.

To get from Silverton to Ouray, you have to take the “Million Dollar Highway”, so named because legend has it that cost a million dollars per mile to build. Another legend says that over a million dollars of gold is in the fill dirt used to construct it. In any case, better not be afraid of heights, because the road is narrow,with steep dropoffs, and many sharp curves, But it is a beautiful drive.

To get to Silverton, you have to cross several passes

To get to Silverton, you have to cross several passes

A view descending into Silverton

A view descending into Silverton

Downtown Silverton

Downtown Silverton

Yep, curvy road and big dropoffs!

Yep, curvy road and big dropoffs!

Downtown Ouray

Downtown Ouray

Hotel in Ouray

Hotel in Ouray

Water fall from way up high

Water fall from way up high

Mountains surrounding Ouray

Mountains surrounding Ouray

Great Sand Dunes, Colorado

Today our adventure took us to the Great Sand Dunes, about 25 miles from where we are parked in Alamosa, Colorado. It was quite a spectacular trip, seeing all this sand in the middle of the valley, and surrounded by mountains. We had a nice hike, climbing high in the hills to get a spectacular views of the dunes.

The dunes were formed from sand and soil deposits of the Rio Grande and its tributaries, flowing through the San Luis Valley. Over the ages, glaciers feeding the river and the vast lake that existed upon the valley melted, and the waters evaporated. Westerly winds picked up sand particles from the lake and river flood plain. As the wind lost power before crossing the Sangre de Cristo Range, the sand was deposited on the east edge of the valley. This process continues, and the dunes are slowly growing. The wind changes the shape of the dunes daily.

One of the many 14,000 ft high mountains along the way.

One of the many 14,000 ft high mountains along the way.

A view of the dunes with some of the mountains

A view of the dunes with some of the mountains

Here you can see one of the rivers that feed the dunes

Here you can see one of the rivers that feed the dunes

A little posing along the way

A little posing along the way

Looking back from the top of the Lookout hike

Looking back from the top of the Lookout hike

Many people cross the rive to hike in the dunes

Many people cross the river to hike in the dunes

Murals of Conejos County

Deep in the heart of the San Luis Valley, you can find a impressive set of murals. These murals, painted on structures on public as well as private land, reflect the history of this area. Most of these were by Fred Haberlein, known locally as “Lightning Heart”. He is one of the most prolific mural painters in the country. To see these murals, you will have to drive almost 100 miles through very rural USA. Some roads are even dirt, but the trip is worth it.

Below are a few of the highlights.

"Shepherd's  Sunrise", La Jara

“Shepherd’s Sunrise”, La Jara

"Whooping Cranes", Romeo, CO

“Whooping Cranes”, Romeo, CO

mural-03

"The old Plaza at Conejos",  Conejos, CO (Inside post office)

“The old Plaza at Conejos”, Conejos, CO (Inside post office)

"Walking in Beauty", Antonito, CO

“Walking in Beauty”, Antonito, CO

OK, just had to throw in this fire plug

OK, just had to throw in this fire plug

"The Great Water Serpent", Antonito, CO

“The Great Water Serpent”, Antonito, CO

"Mimbres Rabbit", Antonito, CO

“Mimbres Rabbit”, Antonito, CO

"The History of San Luis Valley", Antonito

“The History of San Luis Valley”, Antonito

"The History of the Conejos Region", Antonito, CO

“The History of the Conejos Region”, Antonito, CO

"Bronco Busters", Manassa, CO

“Bronco Busters”, Manassa, CO

"The Rams", La Jara, CO

“The Rams”, La Jara, CO

Unknown, in Alamosa, CO

Unknown, in Alamosa, CO

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