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  1. #31
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    I thought the same thing, glc, about 12-15. (mpg) Even our 99, not exactly current generation, gets that. Sometimes 15-18, if the winds are right. :-)

    That chokecherry tree is gorgeous!

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 04-28-2016 at 11:47 AM. Reason: added explanation of mpg, in case, just joining this conversation

  2. #32

    Default Cruising Across New Mexico - Day 24

    Friday, April 8, 2016

    Start: Albuquerque, NM
    Finish: Homolovi State Park, Winslow, AZ

    As predicted we woke up to rain and cold - 40s. A quick breakfast in town then a stop at Petroglyph National Monument, at the western edge of Albuquerque, for the passport stamps. While there a busload of school kids arrived for their activity with a very enthusiastic park ranger. Without prompting she was telling us how great her job, how refreshing.

    We headed west on I-40 into dark clouds arriving at in Grants before lunch, stopping at the El Malpais NM Visitor Center in town. While there I asked about the Centennial Junior Ranger Activity Book that was being reported as available at this time. They had the booklet which I will start working on and turn it in the future at another park site. This is a nation-wide Junior Ranger program with a wooden badge honoring the Centennial. On the back of the book it is stated "This book is geared for 4th graders but all are welcome to enjoy." As I have mentioned before, I have always learned something new when completing a Junior Ranger program, no matter how elementary it is. Continuing south of Grants, on NM 53, we arrived at the visitor center within the monument for more passport stamps. The weather was not improving, but never got too bad for a driving day.

    Centennial Junior Ranger

    NM 53 is a beautiful drive, south of I-40, and takes you through El Malpais NM and El Morro NM. El Malpais consists of uneroded lava fields from volcanic landforms still visible. On this overcast day the fields looked even more daunting. Further done the road, but before stopping at El Morro NM we stopped at the Ancient Ways Cafe. This is at El Morro RV Park and Cabins with full hook ups and services and a cafe with very tasty food and treats. We enjoyed fresh made scones.

    At El Morro NM we did a quick walk around the loop behind the visitor center, with a new rain shower chasing us back inside. Before leaving we ran across this wooly worm - Winter or Spring? This site preserves a route that early explorers used and left their mark on the sandstone cliffs.

    Wooly Worm

    El Morro

    Instead of continuing on NM 53 and into Zuni we headed north on NM 602, up to I-40 and back into Arizona. We stopped at Petrified Forest NP for passport stamps and then ended the day at Homolovi State Park, just east of Winslow, AZ. The weather continued to stay threatening with showers off and on, plus windy and cold. We stayed cozy in the van for dinner and up to bedtime.

    Wildlife Sightings
    Common Raven
    Turkey Vulture
    American Kestrel

    Cottontail Rabbit

  3. #33

    Default Arizona - Days 25-27

    Saturday - Monday, April 9-11, 2016

    Start: Usery Mountain Regional Park, Mesa, AZ
    Finish: Tucson, AZ

    This is basically the end of our Spring trip. We were heading to Mesa, east of Phoenix, for another letterboxing gathering. This time we knew most of the participants, with a few new attendees from out of state. The drive down AZ 87 through Payson and along the Beeline Highway was a nice welcome back to Spring in the Desert; Palo Verde trees, roadside flowers and even some Saguaros were blooming.

    Campground flowers
    Prickly Pear


    Hummingbird & Ocotillo

    We arrived at Usery Mountain Regional Park in the early afternoon and set up camp. Maricopa County has several regional parks with campgrounds scattered across the Valley of the Sun. The spaces are very large and include water, electric and free showers. As we travel around the US we often find it difficult to find quality campgrounds in the vicinity of major metropolitan areas, so we appreciate having these sites within the Phoenix Metro area.

    We did a bit of letterboxing before meeting up with a group of attendees for dinner. Sunday was the actual date for the gathering, and when the event was scheduled for April we were concerned that it could be too hot. Not only was it cool today, but it rained - a lot! Some diehards stayed around and waited for breaks in the rain.

    Rain in the desert

    Yes, it was cold on 4/11/16 in Mesa

    Overcast Desert skies

    We ended up staying another night and finished finding most of the boxes planted for this event on Monday morning. The weather had cleared and the temperature was heading for the mid-70s, great weather to be out. We arrived back in Tucson by 4 PM

    This ends my daily trip report, however I will be posting a couple more summary posts. Those posts will be made at the beginning of next week. Thanks for following along, but stay tuned for the wrap-up.

    Wildlife Sightings
    Mourning Doves
    Common Raven
    Broadtailed Hummingbird
    Gambel's Quail
    House Finch

    Cottontail Rabbit

  4. #34

    Default Stamps Galore

    The link below shows all of the stamps; NPS passport, Centennial, bonus, NHT and National Wildlife Refuge, my husband collected during this trip. This a great record of trip, one we refer back to for memories and to confirm dates of previous visits.

  5. #35

    Default Texas trip statistics

    On our 27 day trip we spent $1,892, which averages to $70/day. This was significantly less than other recent trips, thanks to gas at less than $2/ gal. I track our expenses in four major categories;
    Lodging - camping & motel
    Meals - meals out plus snacks and groceries
    Local transport - gas, & car rental and mass transit ( if applicable)
    Misc - ice, entrance & tour fees

    Lodging @ 33% - 5 nights of motel, all other costs were camping fees.
    Meals @ 40%
    Local transport @ 23% - gas only
    Misc @ 4% - ice and Texas State Parks pass

    When we left Tucson in mid-March we paid $1.38/gal and throughout Texas we paid $1.79. When we returned to Tucson in mid-April gas was almost $2/ gal. The lower gas cost helped to keep our daily average at $70, much lower than our standard of $90/ day on previous recent trips. We ate out as much, but did not find many pubs with local microbrews along the way, this may have kept our meal cost lower. Many of our meals out did not include an alcoholic beverage.

    Other statistics;
    National Park Service sites - 24
    BLM sites - 2
    National Wildlife Refuges - 5
    El Camino Real de los Tejas NHT sites - 19
    El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro sites - 4
    Letteboxes found - 107

    And 27 days of adventure!

    We'll be heading out soon for a trip north - AZ, UT, ID, MT then back down through OR & CA. I'll begin posting when we return in June. As always, thanks for your interest.


  6. Default

    Beautiful and interesting pictures, great report, loved the bird sightings.

  7. #37


    Thank you for the wonderful informative blog of your travels! I intend to do a similar trip in a year and a half when I am finished with working. I enjoyed your pictures and also the bird/ wildlife list you ended the posts with too, I am an avid bird watcher/ photographer too. I saw the van in one pic I believe. Is it equipped with a bed or did you camp in a tent? I guess taking a small or medium tent would be nice just in case I wanted to.
    Thanks again!

  8. #38


    Great report! We just spent 5 weeks going through Texas. Before that we spend three weeks in New Mexico, but we feel like we still need a few more weeks in New Mexico!

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