2015/04/01-03 (W-F) The Land of Enchantment

2015/04/01 (W) Hello New Mexico

We were awake at 6 AM, which is not unusual for a travel day, and were up by 6:30.  I went in the house to use the bathroom and instead of beeping once the alarm started beeping continuously.  I found the touch pad and was able to silence it but it left me wondering if I had disturbed Curtis or when the police were going to show up.  Curtis was outside working by 7:00 AM and told me later that he did not hear the alarm and that it “just does that sometimes.”  We did not have breakfast or coffee, which is typical for us on a travel day, and targeted an 8:30 AM departure.  By the time we took showers, finished preparing the coach for travel, and visited with Curtis a little more we missed that target, but not by much.

We wanted to be out the gate before Curtis’s standing 9 AM RVillage team meeting.  By 8:45 we had the bus turned around and lined up with gate and Linda pulled the car up behind it.  At 8:50 we were hooking up the car when Curtis came over to open the gate, exchange final hugs, and go start his meeting.  We were hooked up and finished our light check by 9:05 and pulled out.  As soon as we were clear of the gate Linda texted Curtis while I lowered the tag axle tires and we were on our way.  We made the slow trip through Arizona City on Sunland Gin Road up to I-10 and were headed east at 9:17 AM.

Desert flowers in bloom in Hatch, New Mexico.

Desert flowers in bloom in Hatch, New Mexico.

I set the cruise control at 63 MPH and let the bus roll towards Tucson.  Tucson is not a difficult metropolitan area to transit and soon enough we were on the other side.  The speed limit on most of I-10 in Arizona is 75 MPH except through metropolitan areas and major interchanges.  The bus was running well and as traffic thinned out I bumped the speed up to 65 MPH and then to 68 MPH, and occasionally ran at the speed limit when passing slower vehicles.  At 63 MPH the engine turns ~1,800 RPM and I have long felt that the powertrain and chassis, not to mention the driver (me), are very comfortable at that set point.  The fact that 65 MPH is often the maximum speed limit in much of the eastern half of the country probably contributed to that impression.  What I discovered today was that traveling 68 MPH at 2,000 RPMs also suits the bus, and the driver, very well.

At 12:15 PM MST we crossed the border into New Mexico and entered Mountain Daylight Time, changing the time on my phone to 1:15 PM MDT.  Twenty four miles into New Mexico we stopped for the first time at a Pilot Truck Stop and topped up our fuel tank, taking on 110 gallons of diesel fuel.  It took less than an hour to complete the last 61 miles to exit 85 on the east side of Deming, New Mexico.  From there we had 1,000 feet to the entrance of the Escapees Dreamcatcher RV Park and pulled in.  Linda got us registered and navigated us to our site at 2:45 PM.  The park was only about 15% occupied so parking was easy.

Linda checked us in to the Park on RVillage and I called Butch Williams to let him (and Fonda) know we were finally on the move.  Curtis monitors his RVillage home feed closely, so we knew he would know we arrived safely.  Looking ahead to tomorrow the weather forecast for this area was for sustained winds of 25 – 30 MPH with gusts of 40 – 50 MPH.  Given that forecast we decided to stay tomorrow and head on to Albuquerque on Friday.

Sparky's restaurant in Hatch, New Mexico.  Funky facade and great food.

Sparky’s restaurant in Hatch, New Mexico. Funky facade and great food.

Escapees RV Parks and co-ops have a long standing tradition of 4 PM happy hour so we walked over to the club house/office at 4:15 and found seven folks sitting around a table with their beverages plus the couple that manages the office.  We stayed for a half hour and then went back to our coach to have an early dinner having only had pretzel snacks while we were driving.  Linda prepared a whole wheat linguine with a garlic, onion, and sun-dried tomato sauté and added vegan Italian sausage.  It was excellent, as usual.

Our son had texted us while we were driving and said he would call us later.  He received an e-mail a couple of days ago asking him to get in touch with the chair of the art history department at Eastern Michigan University.  That call took place today and he was offered the assistant professorship for which he has been interviewing these last many weeks.  We were obviously very excited, very pleased, and very proud.

2015/04/02 (R) A Day in Deming

Like many (most) places in the southwest there are lots of things to see/do in and around Deming, more around than in in this case.  The main thing I knew about Deming is that the company that makes the Steer-Safe aftermarket steering stabilizer is located here.  We had their product on our Itasca Sunrise motorhome and it made an enormous difference in the stability and tracking of the Chevy P-30 chassis.  This chassis was notorious for poor ride quality and handling, no doubt exacerbated by the stupid way in which manufacturers used it to create much longer motorhomes than it was designed for with long overhangs behind the drive axle.  Steer-Safe, Henderson’s Lineup, and Banks have, in particular, all made very good businesses out of correcting the deficiencies inherent in this chassis and powertrain (454 cu. in. Chevy big block V-8).  We were obviously excited to find and buy our Prevost H3-40 Royale Coach bus conversion, but I was sorry to see the Itasca go as it handled well and had lots of power by the time we were done spending money on it.

Linda needed to do some grocery shopping and at happy hour yesterday was steered towards Peppers as having better/fresher produce than the Wal-Mart.  She went to Peppers this morning but they did not have many of the things she was looking for so she went to Wal-Mart and said she liked it better.  I guess we got spoiled having access to Albertson’s supermarkets for most of the winter.  Linda called from the store to have me check quantities of ingredients on hand.  She then decided to make her chickpea salad and use it as a filling for small roll ups to take to the potluck dinner this evening.

Another flower in bloom in Hatch, New Mexico.

Another flower in bloom in Hatch, New Mexico.

After lunch we decided to visit the Luna Mimbres Museum in downtown Deming.  You never know what you are going to find in small town museums but we were impressed with the breadth of the collection and the quality of the space and exhibits.  Admission was by voluntary donation so we contributed something.  Once we finished at the museum we drove around town just enough to get a feeling for the place which was nicer in some places and not so nice in others.  In other words, pretty much what we see most places we go with the exception of places like Scottsdale or Lake Havasu City, Arizona where everything appears to be new and very upscale.

As we headed back towards the Escapees Dreamcatcher RV Park in the east end of town we decided to drive the extra 3.6 miles farther east to the St. Clair Winery’s Deming tasting room.  We learned that the Lescombe family has been making wine for six generations starting in France and, for the last 30 + years, here in the Mimbres Valley Appellation of New Mexico.  Their wines are made only from grapes from their own vineyards, with the main one being approximately 46 miles west of Deming.

The free tasting is normally two wines but we were the only customers there initial and Elly let us try small samples of several more, including their sweet and dry “tap” wine.  For under $4 a bottle they will fill your empty bottles with their red and/or white tap wines; sweet, dry, or blended any way you want.  The most unusual wines we tried were infused with red or white chili.  Linda did not care for the white chili but we both liked the red chili.  We are always looking for something that is unique to an area we visit and the red chili wine was what we have been waiting for so we got one for each of our kids and one for us.  Since we got 10% off of six (6) or more bottles we also bought the Mimbres Red, the Nebiola, and the D. H. Lescombe Port.

We had intended to go to the 4 PM happy hour at the RV Park but Linda got busy researching where we might go tomorrow and what we might do there while I worked on another consolidated blog post.  We did, however, remember to go to the potluck dinner where we met other park guests including three people who belonged to RVillage.

We went for a walk after dinner and then settled in for the evening.  I worked on my consolidated blog post for Jan 27-31, 2015.  While I was doing that we both started getting messages from our whole house generator.  Linda checked the utility company map and we were in a small outage area do to “local equipment failure.”  Before I went to bed I received several more messages indicating that the utility power had been restored, the transfer switch had switched power back onto the grid, and finally that the Genset had stopped.  It was good to know that it was performing as intended; that’s why we had it installed.

Hatch Chile Sales in Hatch, New Mexico.

Hatch Chile Sales in Hatch, New Mexico.

Temperatures back home have been warm enough that we are no longer concerned about water pipes freezing if we lose power.  The concern now is the sump pump.  As winter gives way to spring the sump pump runs every few minutes and a failure would be a disaster for our basement.  In addition to the whole house generator we have a secondary sump pump piggybacked on the primary one and set up to run off of a 12VDC automotive battery.

Before going to bed we decided to stick around Deming for a few extra days and use it as a base to visit some sites in the area.

2015/04/03 (F) The Chile Capital of the World

After taking care of some morning chores we drove to Hatch, New Mexico.  Several folks in town (museum, winery) and the RV Park told us that Hatch was THE chile capital of the world and was worth a visit.

We went north out of Deming on US-180 and then NE on NM-26 to Hatch.  Our Rand McNally Road Atlas indicated that this entire trip was a scenic route.  It was a relatively flat drive up a valley with low mountains on either side, and was certainly scenic enough although not in a dramatic, jaw-dropping sort of way.

The front (outdoor) area of Hatch Chile Sales in Hatch, New Mexico.

The front (outdoor) area of Hatch Chile Sales in Hatch, New Mexico.

Hatch was a small, quaint place but busy with people and traffic.  We had checked around and been advised that Hatch Chile Sales was the best place in town to shop for chiles, so we found it and purchased three different kinds.  We go a bag of Ancho chiles, which are dried/smoked poblano peppers, and a bag of dried red Hatch chiles.  We also bought bouquets of small hot pequin chiles, one for us and some as gifts.  Again, this is one of those unique things that we are always looking for as gift items.

We were in Hatch at lunch time and there are several restaurants in town, but we decided to eat at Sparky’s based on the recommendation of several locals and some online reviews.  Sparky’s is famous for their green chile cheeseburger although we obviously did not have that for lunch.  There was a long line to order, but we waited patiently and studied the menu.  We ordered a corn dish, spicy French fries, and chili infused lemonade.  All of them were very good.  There was also a singer / guitar player performing and we enjoyed his music while we ate.

We drove back to Deming by way of I-25 south, taking a short-cut through Las Cruces and back to the Dreamcatcher RV Park by way of I-10.  It was a much longer drive than if we had gone back the way we came, but it allowed us to see that the cut-off through Las Cruces was NOT a good choice for the bus due to lots of road construction with lane closures and shifts.  Even so, we made it back to the RV Park in time for some of the happy hour.  We also decided to stick around for at least another day and do some more sight-seeing in the area.

 

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