Fall 2021 Tour Episode 6: Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Lake Havasu City, Arizona, was our destination on November 5, 2021. We hadn’t seen my sister, Merri, since November 2019, four months before the world shut down to ward off a nasty virus. On the way, we stopped for a break at a spot large enough for our rig somewhere in the desert north of Desert Center on Rice Road, State Route 177. We lingered a while to take in the view of the red hills across the road.

Red hills somewhere on State Route 177

Our usual RV Park of choice is Prospectors RV Resort, when we visit Lake Havasu. This time we tried Campbell Cove. At our site across from the office, trees shaded the driver’s side of our fifth wheel. And no one pulled in beside us. Although the sites were smaller than the ones at Prospectors, being closer to town was more convenient.

Breakfast at the Red Onion is a must, so we met Merri there the next day. After our meal, I noticed the London Bridge Mural on the building across the parking lot. “Hey,” I said. “Let’s take a selfie?” The series of photos below will give you an idea of how many boomers it takes to create a selfie.

“No, not like that.”
“Hold the phone like this.”
“Okay, let me try.”
“Hey, I’ve got it.”

We featured our visit to The Bunker Bar in our November 11, 2021, blog post, so here, I’ll just compare what the place looked like while under construction in November 2019 and what it looked like two years later. If interested in reading more about the bar and watching a 360 degree video, go here.

The Bunker Bar Before
The Bunker Bar After

What could be better than sitting with family on The Blue Chair—now just called The Chair—patio overlooking the London Bridge, eating lunch, and listening to live music? The afternoon could not have been more perfect with a great view, great food, great music, and great family fun.

Check out The Chair for good eats and view

I wish I had photographic evidence of Jon, Merri, and me paddle boarding for our first time. None of us wanted to risk dropping our phones in the water, and I sure didn’t want to drop my Sony A6500 camera. Nautical Watersports hooked us up with boards, paddles, and life vests and set us loose in the little cove a few steps from the store. The no-wake location was the perfect place for our maiden attempt at balancing on a board and paddling about.

Merri, the youngest of us, popped up on her board first. I started out on my knees and graduated to a squatting position before my shaky legs straightened enough to stand. Then presto, magic. My legs stopped shaking. It took Jon a while to stand, and he said his legs never stopped shaking. Next time, we’ll do better. Can’t wait for warm weather to return so I can try paddle boarding again.

On our final day, we fit in a short hike at Mesquite Bay to enjoy the views of the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, to get a bit of exercise, and take in the views. Mesquite Bay 1 and 2 both have parking, fishing piers, and informational panels, and shelters. Non-motorized watercraft only are allowed in Mesquite Bay.

Mesquite Bay Havasu National Wildlife Refuge

President Franklin D. Roosevelt established Havasu Lake National Wildlife Refuge (current name Havasu National Wildlife Refuge) in 1941, to establish a migratory bird habitat. The refuge encompasses 37,515 acres along the Colorado River and protects 40 river miles and 300 miles of shoreline from Needles, California, to Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Fishing pier with sun shade

Hundreds of birds find the refuge a place to stop, rest, and refuel during their migratory journey each year. And like the human “snowbirds” that roll into town in their RVs, many of the fowl spend the winter and some even breed in the area.

Mohave Mountains in the background

Sadly, our visit to Lake Havasu came to a close, and it was time to move on. But I’m positive this won’t be our last trip to Lake Havasu City.

Next up: Barstow, California, where we check out Calico Ghost Town Regional Park, Peggy Sue’s Restaurant, Barstow Railroad Museum, the historic Harvey House, and Route 66 Mother Road Museum.

Safe Travels

Summer 2021 Tour Chama, New Mexico Episode 3: Echo Amphitheater and Heron Lake and Dam

In this post we wrap up our time in Chama, New Mexico, with a quick visit to Echo Amphitheater and Heron Lake State Park.

Echo Amphitheater

As we headed west on US 84 from Ghost Ranch toward Chama, we noticed Echo Amphitheater and had to stop. The rainbow of sandstone cliffs were created during the Triassic and Jurassic periods between 251 and 154 million years ago.

A cave in the making to the left and amphitheater to the right

We followed the concrete trail and ramps until we reached the dead end, where concave cliffs towered above and wrapped around us. Water cascading over the sandstone cliffs created the amphitheater over millions of years.

Information panels tell the amphitheater’s geological story
Flower growing in the parking lot

Picture the land mass of New Mexico as a grassy plain in a tropical or subtropical region located only 10 degrees north of the equator. Deposits from flood plains, lakes, and the rivers that once flowed across the grasslands created the Chinle Formation, which we recognize as the red siltstone and fine sandstone in the lower layers of the cliffs.

Jon stands on the observation deck

Then along came the Jurassic period, when a large lake formed across the Chama Basin region depositing additional layers of basal limestone and shale. As the lake evaporated, a layer of gypsum formed to create the gray caps on top of the cliffs.

Myths of murder posit the cause of the stains. I’ll believe the scientific hypothesis.
From bottom to top: red siltstone and fine sandstone, then basal limestone and shale, gypsum forms the gray caps on the top.

Native Indians and Hispanos harvested the limestone to prepare maiz concho (a hard-shell white corn) into pozole (a dish similar to hominy) and corn tortillas.

The rounded edge of this cliff, with its protective beret on top, seems to evoke a sense of power and movement

At the observation platform, we tried a few shy yells, and then we followed with full throated hoots and hollers. We couldn’t help but smile when the sounds echoed off the walls. It’s too bad carrying a tune is not in my repertoire of skills. I could only imagine what it would feel like to belt out a song in that space.

Dead or alive?

Besides the amphitheater, visitors can find tent camping spots, a hiking trail, and covered picnic tables at Echo Amphitheater.

Heron Lake State Park

One day while in Chama, New Mexico, we drove south on US 64 and transitioned to NM 95, where we stumbled upon the Heron Lake State Park. At the visitor center, we looked at the small exhibits, paid our $5.00 day-use fee, and picked up a map.

Don’t forget to pay the $5.00 fee

We pulled into one of the day-use sites at the west end of Heron Dam. The colorful rock mesa and lake landscape caught my attention and became my subjects for several photographs.

Heron Dam

The earth-filled Heron dam is part of the Colorado River Storage Project and operated by the United States Bureau of Reclamation. It measures 1,221 feet (372 m) long and 276 feet (84 m) high. Constructed in 1971 near the confluence of Willow Creek with Rio Chama, the dam creates Lake Heron. At its fullest, the reservoir covers 5,905 acres (23.90 km2) and contains 401,000 acre-feet (495,000,000 m3) of water.

View of lake from dam

Developed and primitive RV and tent camping are available, some of which are along the shoreline. Only a few of the sites have full hookups, many have electricity and water, some have no electricity and/or water, and about half require a reservation. Campers will enjoy having fresh water, the dump station, and restrooms with showers.

View from day-use site

Visitors will find plenty of recreational activities to engage in year round. Fancy a bit of winter ice fishing or cross-country skiing? Lake Heron has it. In the summer, anglers can try their luck catching trout, or kokanee salmon.

Shoreline camping

Motorboats are allowed at trolling speed only, so no summer water skiing is allowed. Kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, and sailboats are welcome.

Colorful rock mesa

For adventurers who prefer to keep their feet, or wheels, on the ground, the 7 miles of hiking and biking trails should suit them just fine. While hiking and biking, keep a watchful eye open for black bear, elk, deer, marmot, bald eagles, and osprey. They all call the park home.

Where’d that onion come from?

Then we went to the other end of the dam to see the water flow out and down river to El Vado Lake, another storage and release lake of the Colorado River Storage Project.

Backside of dam
Outlet from Heron Dam
Ponderosa pine forest in the canyon

Sadly, we didn’t have time to visit El Vado Lake where there’s a day use area, mostly tent camping, a few RV reservation sites, and a launch ramp.

Next up: We stay a couple nights in Green River, Utah, and visit the JW Powell River History Museum.

Safe Travels

Greetings From Our Door to Yours

Door with side light panels decorated with a red bow and Christmas Lights

We’re taking a couple of weeks off for the holidays and will be back in early January to continue our 2021 Summer Tour.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season filled with family and friends and loads of fun.

Safe Travels

Jon & Linda Todd

The Traveling Todds


Summer 2021 Tour Taos, New Mexico Episode 2: Taos Plaza and Kit Carson House and Museum

In this second episode of our Taos visit during July 2021, we visit the Taos Plaza and Kit Carson Home and Museum.

Taos Plaza

The plaza is the place to be for gatherings, the farmers market (May through October), live music, parades, demonstrations, and art displays. Surrounding the plaza are various shops, studios, and galleries. A day or so before we arrived, there was a big to-do because city staff had mistakenly covered up a public art display in the crosswalks. Oops! Sorry! What else could the city say?

From a distance, the gazebo looked in fine shape. Although, a closer look revealed trip hazards of broken and sunken bricks in the walkway.

Native American music and dance at the gazebo
Watch your step

The veteran’s memorial recognizes all military branches. The black cross is dedicated to New Mexican service members involved in the Bataan Death March during WWII.

Honoring heros

Prominently displayed nearby is a statue of Padre Antonio Jose Martinez (1793-1867). He is recognized as a person of influence in New Mexico’s history through the Spanish, Mexican, and American territorial periods.

Padre Antonio Jose Martinez

Here are a few buildings that surround the plaza. Some of them are holding up pretty well, while others are showing their age.

Pull in to shop

The Hotel La Fonda de Taos is an appealing-looking place to stay. Hotels have occupied the site since 1820 when a mercantile store that also rented rooms opened. According to the website, a recent renovation of the building retained many historical features while including modern amenities for 21st-century travelers.

A historic place to stay

One store had emptied out its stock, and a sign in the window said it had to close because of pending demolition. Further research revealed the building, which once served as the former county courthouse, was slated for demolition and renovation.

The building includes ten murals created by four Taos artists in 1934 under the commission of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Public Works of Art Project (PWAP). I had to look them up online because we couldn’t see them in person. I hope the contractors can save the paintings from destruction. It would be a shame to lose such a treasure. To see the murals, go to The Living New Deal.

Former County Courthouse

Lunch at The Alley Cantina

After walking around the plaza and visiting Kit Carson’s home, our stomachs growled with hunger. Our map app led us away from the plaza, down an alley, and past Taos Adobe Quilting to The Alley Cantina. We ducked in for a plate of chicken enchiladas and adovada, a red chile pork stew. Both were delicious, as were the margaritas.

We see quilt shops in almost all the small towns we visit
The Alley Cantina has good food
Watch sports under the skylight

Kit Carson Home and Museum

The Kit Carson Home and Museum (owned by Bent Lodge No. 42 of Taos and operated by the Kit Carson Memorial Foundation) seemed like an excellent place to soak up a bit of history, so we sought it out.

Kit Carson Home Courtyard

One might think Kit Carson would have found a fancy mansion for his family. Not so. As I walked through the four rooms, I tried to imagine seven children running around, plus several Indian children Carson took in after he rescued them from their captors and countless other extended family members from time to time.

Enter the door for the Kit Carson visitor center

We started our visit with a movie where several of us gathered along with a docent. When the movie ended, she told other stories of the man and his family and described the home, explaining the use of the various rooms.

Watch a movie about Kit Carson

She led us through the four small rooms, stopping to point out photos, memorabilia, and artifacts. Much of the furniture was not original to the home because Carson’s heirs sold off most of the belongings along with the house when he died. Luckily, collectors have donated some of the objects back to the museum.

Cozy place to snuggle against those cold winter nights

Kit Carson purchased the adobe home in 1843 as a wedding gift for his bride, Josefa Jaramillo. They lived there for twenty-five years, although Carson traveled extensively while on scouting trips with John C. Fremont and serving as an Indian Agent and Army Officer during the Civil War.

Kit Carson’s desk used during his time as Indian Agent

Historical photos show a humble home in this circa 1863 photo

A 1920 photo shows the home when one room housed a licensed Indian Trading Post.

The sign says, Kit Carson’s House 1858 to 1866 Trading Post
Josefa Jaramillo Carson’s sewing kit, including needles and pearl topped pins
Silk dress worn by Josefita Carson, youngest daughter of Kit and Josefa. Six weeks after her birth on April 13, 1868, both of her parents died.
A place to rest
Window, wagon wheel, and stump

Thanks go out to the masonic lodge and foundation for having the forethought to purchase the home in 1910 and turn it into a museum to honor their Freemason brother, Kit Carson.

Murals are a common sight in historic towns, and Taos was no exception. Across the street from the Kit Carson Home and Museum, I spied the mural shown below.

Created by George Chacón 1989

When we returned to our campsite at Taos Canyon Stop, we found a not-so-nice surprise. Before we left for the day, Jon had secured the awning to our picnic table to keep it from flying away during the afternoon wind. What we didn’t count on was a hail storm rolling through the canyon that unleashed rocks of ice the size of marbles. Rain we expected. Hail? No way.

On the bright side, replacing the awning fabric gave Jon a project to work on when we got back home.

Next up: Red River, Cimmaron, and Cimmaron State Park

Safe Travels