Retirement is great. We bought a travel trailer and are exploring National Parks. (Actually, we bought one and sold it and bought a second one better suited to us. It happens...) And I have time to do some woodworking projects and things around the house.
On our way from Carlsbad Caverns National Park to Mesa Verde National Park, we spent a few days in Albuquerque, NM. This was partly because we needed time to do some laundry but also because Jennifer's cousin, Brent, lives there and we wanted to see him, which we did. We had a great visit to his home and had time to catch up on our respective lives.
We found there are lots of things to do in the Albuquerque area.
After leaving Guadalupe Mountains National Park, we drove toward Carlsbad Caverns National Park. It has no campgrounds, but there is one in Whites City, right at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns NP. The reviews were not good but we decided that it was so close that we would try it. It worked out fine. It was not a 5 star place but it was adequate, with full hookups. The shower and toilet was a single room for both uses but it was clean.
We drove from Las Cruces to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, knowing next to nothing about it. We didn't learn very much. When we arrived, we learned that there was a wildfire (called the Coyote fire) and most of the park was closed. The area right around the visitor center and several nearby trails were open but that was it.
As I said yesterday, we decided to leave Tucson and Gilbert Ray campground a day early, and break our trip to Guadalupe Mountain NP into two days. We realized that if we drove to Las Cruces, NM, we would have enough time to take a side trip to White Sands National Monument. We arrived at Las Cruces about 2 pm and after dropping the trailer at an RV park, we headed to White Sands NM. It was about an hour drive, and well worth the trip.
When we got up in the morning, the Saguaro cactuses had opened their blooms. This photo is of the very top of the very tall cactus. The blooms seem to be out only for a short while, probably because of the heat.
We left TwentyNine Palms and drove through Joshua Tree NP to the south entrance. It is a real contrast to see the high desert where the joshua trees grow and go down to the low(er) desert where different plants grow. The Cholla Cactus Garden was worth a stop. The Ocotillo bushes were not in bloom as they were the last time we were here.
We started the day by going to Split Rock and taking the 2 mile loop there. We were told that there were still wildflowers there, and the report was right. Although they were not stunning, there was a lot of variety and flowers all along the trail.
We went out to Keys View for a great look toward Coachella Valley and beyond. If the smog were less, you can see to Mexico, but there was enough haze to limit visibility. Still a great view.
We spent the weekend at Bodega Dunes campground, part of Sonoma Coast State Beach. We haven't been camping in our trailer since October and we wanted to get out there.
Bodega Dunes is just north of Bodega Bay. There are hiking trails from the campground that go to the beach and over the dunes which are extensive. For many of the trails, you share the trail with horses so we were selective about the trails we took. On the first day, we went to the beach for sunset.