The 10 day weather forecast for the areas we were in started showing the possibility of winter weather (snow and freezing temps at higher elevations), so we started to head south a little quicker.
Stop 1: The Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, Utah
Yes, we stayed in the parking lot of the Dinosaur Museum. This museum participates in the Harvest Hosts program which allows RV members to boondock (no hookups) and stay one night. We were the only RV there and when Don signed their log they hadn’t had anyone else stay this year and only had one RV last year.
I think I know why. During the night someone drove into the parking lot, turned off their lights, and pulled around our RV. It was kind of spooky and I think I want to stick to farms in the future, but who knows, we are doing a lot of things I never thought we would do.
The Dinosaur Museum was interesting. We learned that birds are direct descendants of dinosaurs and got to see several models representing early feathered dinosaurs. They also had a good mix of dinosaur movie memorabilia and actual dinosaur fossils and models of how they would have looked. We also found out about how our knowledge about dinosaurs has changed throughout the years.
Stop 2: Pleasant Journeys Alpaca Ranch in Hesperus, Colorado
This was a little stop in paradise. This was also a Harvest Hosts overnight stop and we were the only RV there. It is located 16 miles outside Durango and is on a plain overlooking the LaPlata mountains, a beautiful location. The ranch is about 35 acres and has been at this location for 8 years, having moved from Phoenix, Arizona. It is the largest Alpaca farm in southwest Colorado. When we first arrived we had to open field gates, go through a cattle pasture, and get greeted by two gorgeous horses before going onto the actual ranch.
This is a working farm of about 50 alpacas and a wonderful working dog (a Maremma or sometimes called an Italian Sheepdog) named Charlotte. Upon arriving the owner, Susan, took us on a tour of the farm. She introduced us to all the animals telling us about every aspect of running an alpaca ranch from teaching us about each alpaca’s personality, to their show quality (or lack their of), and how she is developing her herd.
During the night Charlotte earned her keep. We could hear coyotes howling in the distance, we could hear the horses being restless, and Charlotte barking and running around to guard the ranch.
The Alpaca stop would have been perfect except for the fact that Don got food poisoning on the way to the ranch. We had stopped at a farm-to-table restaurant in Cortez, Colorado and I think he got a bad cupcake. Anyway, remember there are no secrets in an RV and I felt really sorry for him because he was really sick.
Susan invited us to continue our stay at the ranch but we needed to move on for more amenities.
Stop 3: Bayfield Riverside RV Park in Bayfield, Colorado
This was a short move just to the east side of Durango. We don’t have many pictures of this RV park because Don was continuing to recover and we discovered the jeep had a dead battery after we pulled in. (A friendly auto parts store delivered us a replacement to the RV park.) However, it was a pleasant private RV park for our two night stay and gave us a chance to have full hookups and a laundry to catch up on chores. On our last full day Don was feeling better and the jeep was running fine, so we did get to explore a little around Durango and refurbish our supplies.
Stop 4: Heron Lake State Park in Los Ojos, New Mexico
We are getting braver now that the kids are back in school and the parks aren’t as crowded. We drove into this park, without a reservation, and found a perfect spot with a beautiful view outside our door (it may be the best view for an RV – spot #17). And New Mexico state parks are a bargain, $14 a night for a site with electricity/water. We are learning that you don’t have to plan everything, make reservations weeks in advance, you can let serendipity take over. We are comfortable not really knowing where we will go next and keeping our plans open. This will be our weekend stop, we try to stay put through the weekends when camping spots are harder to find.
Heron Lake State Park is one of the largest state parks we have been to so far on our journey. There are about six separate camping areas and a total of about 6 RVs in the whole place.
We are at an altitude of about 7,000 feet and the temperature ranges from 34-70 degrees. The lake level is low because we are in the dry season. The water level should be replenished during the winter snow fall. The scenery is breathtaking and we have seen a lot of mule deer and rabbits. However, we have been warned we are in bear country, mountain lion country, and that snakes are plentiful. (There are posters telling us if we are bit by a snake that we should remain calm (ha-ha) and to follow certain steps.
Next stop: Coronado Campground in Bernalillo, New Mexico (between Santa Fe and Albuquerque) for at least a week.