Monthly Archives: May 2013

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

(Ken) May 11 – 12, 2013.  By choice, if you will, Jodi and I decided to get off of the beaten path!  About half way between Albuquerque, NM. and Colorado Springs, CO. lies Maxwell Wildlife Refuge and we had a few days to kill.

During the drive in from Interstate 25 we received plenty of stares.  Once at the main entrance, we found ourselves on a narrow gravel road that seemed to have been used by a bulldozer or recently used as a washboard!  One and a half miles at 5 –10 miles per hour seemed to take an hour.

We stopped at the Welcome Center/Park Office, but found it locked.  Odd for a National Wildlife Refuge; but Jodi had called and we confirmed our stay.  We picked up a park map and proceeded to the camping area.

The camping area was small, but we were the only ones there so we had our pick.  Once we located the most level area, we set up and began our relaxing weekend!

Boon docking on the high plain skirted by the Rocky Mountains to the west was absolutely beautiful.  If it weren’t for the fact the area was in the midst of a three year drought, it would have been the perfect location.  We made the best of it nonetheless; enjoying the isolation and nothing but the sounds of nature.

The only curiosity that rose from a motorhome parked in a wildlife refuge came from the animals.  Numerous variety of birds hovered by the windows to check us out and the jackrabbits enjoyed the shade it provided.  A herd of Mule Deer kept their distance but the snake made his presence known by a slow slither right down the middle of the road.

I think we could have enjoyed being out there longer, but we had to be in Colorado Springs for a conference, so we packed up and headed north.  Still looking forward to the next Wildlife Refuge we find on the way!

Until next time………………..cheers.

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Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico

(Ken) May 7 – May 10, 2013.  If you weren’t looking for it, you would probably drive right by Kirtland AFB, New Mexico.  It is literally at the end of all the roads that go to the southeast of Albuquerque.  But, it is not advertised like most Air Force Bases throughout the country!

Retired from the Air Force, I have the privilege of staying at all US Military Family Campgrounds and Resorts in the world.  So, on our trek across the south, we decided to stay at Kirtland AFB’s Family Camp before we took that ‘right’ in Albuquerque and headed north.

Knowing it is an active Air Force Base, Jodi and me were quite surprised at the lack of personnel in uniform.  Whether we were out and about during slow times of the day, we didn’t see many uniformed personnel.  Traffic was heavy leaving the base mid-afternoon, but they seemed to all be civilian workers.  Maybe because of the number US Government Agencies homed on the base?

Nonetheless, the base was extremely clean, and all of the buildings seemed new.  From the Exchange to the Dormitories, they all looked great.  Even the housing looked modern and well kept.  Kudos to all who maintain Kirtland, AFB.

The FamCamp was located within easy access to one of the main gates on the east side of the base.  It’s as large as some FamCamps that we have stayed, but it wasn’t cramped either.  The view from the door; well I guess it could have been a bit nicer…….if we were staying on the edge of the Grand Canyon or on the rim of Niagra Falls!  Needless to say; it was just georgous.

Walk out the door of the RV and you are immediately met by a view of the Sandia Mountains!  Standing at and average of 10,000 feet above sea level and towering 5,000 feet above us, this was your front yard! Just spectacular.  We could have stayed there for another week and just stared.

What was really nice, is the natural weather barrier they created.  We sat one afternoon in shorts and t-shirts in a doughnut hole of sunshine while a weather front hit the top of the mountains and broke up the clouds just enough to surround us.  Rain or snow on the peaks, sunshine and warmth on us, and rain showers to west!

Until next time…………………cheers.

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Tram Ride & Hike, Sandia Mountain

(Ken) May 10, 2013.  Oddly enough, as afraid of heights as she is; it was Jodi’s idea to ride the longest mountain tram in the world to the top of Sandia Mountain!  While not the highest peak in the Sandia Mountains, it still managed to take us up over the 10,000 foot mark!

A short drive from Kirtland Air Force Base to the northeast side of the city, tucked away within housing developments, you will find the base of the Sandia Mountain Tram.  Purchasing tickets at Kirtland’s ticket office we were ready for the adventure.

Starting out at about 5,000 feet above sea level we prepared ourselves for the climb that would take us another 5,000 feet or so and travel nearly two miles up and away via cable!  To say the least, you probably do not want to do this on a windy day!

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We watched the weather reports and determined today was the fairest day all week to make the trip.  We had watched storms run head on into the peaks most of the week while we sat in the basin in sunshine and 70 degree weather.  Today was suppose to be clear and warm.

When we arrived at the base and entered the tram station, the LED weather board said the temperature at the peak was 32 degrees with calm winds! Good thing we brought our sweatshirts and coats.  We definitely needed them when we reached the top.

The tram doesn’t take you to the crest of the mountain, you have to complete that task when you exit the tram.   The hiking trails are well marked, but you still have another two miles to goon the trails to get there.

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After about a mile and a quarter hiking through the snow and a snow squall, the trail split to the crest and to the Kiwanis Cabin.  Not to be conquered by the mountain we decided to go to the crest first.  You always hear about thin air and how it affects you, but there is no way to prepare for the exhaustion and shortness of breathe when hits you.  Simply rest often.

It took us nearly an hour to hike the final 3/4 of a mile on the trail to the crest.  Looking out over the valleys from the top was literally breath taking! The air was that thin up over 10,000 feet. But, the beauty of it all was fantastic.  On a clear day, they say you can see over 9,000 miles from the crest.

We shot a thousand photos and headed back to the fork in the trail and climbed over to the Kiwanis Cabin.  Originally built of wood by the club in the early 1900’s for a shelter for hunters it was destroyed by fire shortly thereafter.  When the Civilian Conservation Corp was working on the mountain in the 1930’s they rebuilt the cabin with stone on the sight for their own shelter.

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As the afternoon drew to a close we headed back down to the tram station.  Thought it to be smart to get there before it got dark!  Plus, we could see a front moving in and it was getting cold.

The trip down the mountain was spectacular.  When you are going up, you find yourself looking up the mountain and into the 900 foot drops below the tram; on the way down however, you are looking out across the valley to the west.  And, with the sun setting, well what else can I say.  If you are ever in this region, I suggest taking tram to the top, it is something you will never forget.

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Until next time…………………..Cheers.

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Albuquerque, New Mexico

(Ken) May 8 – May 11, 2013.  After crossing the boarder into New Mexico and travelling west on the interstate, our destination was Albuquerque.  We had seen the city on a number television shows (Breaking Bad – In Plain Sight) and documentaries and thought the area could possibly be our new Mayberry.

Like many up and coming metropolis’ the city is growing fast.  With fast growth comes people and traffic.  As you can see in the pictures, the area is beautiful and clean.  The surrounding area is a mixture of vast plains and mountain peaks.  The scenery is breathtaking!


However, living in areas around Washington D.C., London, Cleveland and Tampa while they were expanding; I loathe traffic!  I should not have to schedule around rush hour when I can go get a gallon of milk.  Living on military bases made it easier then, but I that is no longer an option.

Another negative?  Emissions testing… least they make it quik?IMG_4920

Though, Albuquerque is a beautiful place; I think we will be by-passing Albuquerque, New Mexico as a final destination.  It does have its appeal, it just isn’t the Mayberry we are looking for!

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Atlanta–the cat, not the city


(Jodi)  I picked Atlanta up from the pound back in 1998 (we think).  She was just a tiny kitten.

I’d post of picture of her back then, but they are all packed away at my sisters house.  But this is her back at the house in Austintown, Ohio.


Multiple times a day, every day, for the past 15 some years, I have shown her love and kindness – yet….every single time, before she lets me touch her, she has to smell me, else she’ll bite (nip) me.  Because ya know, after 16,425 times (give or take), I MIGHT not be who she thinks I am.

I’ve known people who have been in and out of my house 100’s of times, yet they’ve never seen her.

Now I’m not much of a cuddlier – people or animals.  I like my space, as does she, so we get along well.  She’s never jumped on my lap and hates to be held.


About a year after we got her, I thought she looked lonely.  So off to the pound we go to find her a friend.  We brought Georgia home that day full of excitement to see the two bond.  Yeah….. didn’t happen.

You could not find two opposites.

Georgia couldn’t stay out of your lap, or face, or head or any other part of your body she could get close to.


Georgia loved to be outside, Atlanta rarely ventured out the door without prodding.  (both cats had their claws).  Tire-Swing1

One day while working in the yard I saw Georgia climb one of the trees and hop around like a flying squirrel, catching birds.  I noticed that Atlanta was sitting on the porch watching all this, taking it all in.

Venturing off the porch (a miracle in itself as she doesn’t like grass on her paws), very slowly, cautiously, she walks over to the now abandoned tree and looks up.  A few moments go by before she slowly looks all around, to make sure no one is watching.  This is it – a very big moment – she is going to climb that tree.

Starting off very slowly, the first attempt is alas a failure, as she quickly falls on her butt, not getting six inches off the ground.  After shaking herself off, looking around to make sure no one saw, she tries again, this time getting a little running start.  Boom.   Falls right on her ass.  She turns and runs back to the porch, not even looking to see who saw.  I’ve never her seen her try to climb again.


back_view_of_a_calico_cat_sitting_on_a_wall_AFA-06-06-00615Shortly after the tree-climbing failure Atlanta was seen in the road calling to Georgia to come join her. All for a new adventure she ran out into street.  They stayed there for a few seconds until a car was heard, at which time Atlanta jumped on Georgia, holding her down to try and keep her in the road. Honest to god she was trying to have Georgia killed. They were hollered at and both ran away, so alas the murder never happened.  Sadly Georgia was hit by a car about a year later.  I’m positive Atlanta is innocent.

Amaxophobia (or fear of riding in a car)

scared catAs with most cats, Atlanta HATES the car.   Always a gypsy at heart, we have moved around a lot, and in her lifetime, she has moved seven times – to her utter horror.

When we decided to start RV’ing full-time, my biggest worry was what to do about the cat.

Ok – here is where you animal lovers are going to think I’m a horrible person, but I did think seriously about putting her to sleep, to try and save her from the turmoil of moving in an RV the whole time.

I posted this question to one of the RV forums I follow:

Posted 19 November 2012 – 05:38 PM

I’m hoping that some of you may share your experience and/or decision about bringing your older pet along on the full-time journey.
I have a cat that is about 14. She is a pretty healthy indoor cat, though she appears to be starting to lose her memory (forgets she has eaten) and her vision seems to be getting poor. She has moved many times, from apt to house, etc. in fact she can anticipate a move and will start to pee outside of her litter box if we start packing up. Once settled in the new location, she is fine. She hates the car, though granted she is stuck in a cage and it always ends up at a new “house” or to the vet.
We are moving into our 35ft class A, full-time in April. I’m honestly torn as to what would be best for the cat.
Giving her away doesn’t seem a fair option. She doesn’t do well with new people (very scared) – my sister had to watch her for an extended period of time (3 months) and she never did get comfortable enough to come out from under the bed and wouldn’t use the litter box regularly. Can’t image that anyone would want an elderly cat anyway – healthy or not.
Putting her to sleep seems cruel since there isn’t anything physically wrong with her.
But putting her in a moving vehicle to live seems kind of cruel too…. would she get use to it?
Not going full-time is absolutely NOT an option.
If you have/had an elderly animal, what was your decision, and how did it work out for you?

You can read the responses from the link above, but all were totally positive that I SHOULD bring her along for the ride. With a bit of worry still on my part, the litter box and one very fat cat were added to the stuff we crammed into the motorhome. 


Turns out riding in a car is not the same as in an RV.  We don’t keep her caged, which helps tremendously in her feeling secure.

The first few times were not good – for her or I.  She cried and screamed for what seemed like hours (maybe 30 minutes).  She didn’t know the RV surroundings, having only spend a few hours in it prior to the big move.  So when we started off she had trouble finding a place to “be”.

That first day she ended up under the kitchen cabinet and I couldn’t get her out.  I spent most of that trip on the floor in the kitchen trying to reassure her.  Her screams told me that I could “just go to hell thank you very much.”  Thank goodness she didn’t pee under there.

IMG_3129But things got easier.  She found her place, which happens to be between our bed and the wall.  It use to be that she went in head first, and when you looked for her, all you could see was her big fat butt.  I image she was thinking “if I hide my head, this won’t be happening”.

Anytime she got scared, off she went.  The engine starts – gone.  The slides come out – gone.  The door opens – gone.

It has been a month and a half and she is a pro!


She still hides when we drive – but she doesn’t run under the bed until we actually start moving.  As soon as we stop for a break, out she comes (if she’s even awake).

I think Atlanta likes being on the road.  As she got older she got very clingy – wanting us near her (don’t TOUCH her, but BE with her).  If she was ready for a nap in the middle of the day she would holler at us to come to the bedroom with her.  She hated to be alone.  With the small confines of the RV, even if she is napping on the bed, she can see us.

She goes to her “hole” if we are being to loud or if she’s had enough of us.

I thought she would love sitting by the window watching the world go by – but turns out my cat is just…


She will on occasion sit by the open door and watch, but makes no attempt to even check out her new, ever changing surroundings.  We were at a wildlife refuge a few days back.  The place was swarming with birds, who, wondering what the huge monstrosity parked in their backyard was, would hover in front of the windows, checking us out.  That dumb cat of mine hardly even looked up.  What are ya gonna do.


So anyways.  We are here to tell you, if you are planning on full-timing and are unsure of whether to bring along your furry friends…. give it a shot.  They may hate it, and you may end up having to think of alternative arrangements.  But they may just end up loving it.  Or, as in our case, tolerating it.  One thing for sure, you will grow closer with your loved one.


Categories: Figuring it all out, Jodi's chit chat, Living in an RV | 2 Comments

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