Thursday, November 3, 2016

We hope this blog update finds you all well and healthy!  We recently finished two weeks of RV’ing back up at Cochiti Recreational Area, and that is what this update is about.

At Cochiti, we met our friends Mark and Judith, who came up to explore Bandelier and the Santa Fe area, and had a nice evening together.  They taught Barbara and I a new-to-us board game called “The Settlers of Catan”. They were easy on us and I ended up winning, so yeah, I’m hooked.  It seemed a bit akin to Farmville, the game that some would play on Facebook.  The day that they left to go back to Bosque del Apache we all drove into Santa Fe for a pleasant meal together, making plans to meet once again.

As mentioned in one of the earlier posts, Cochiti has become one of our favorite New Mexico recreational areas, maintained and operated by the Corps of Engineers.  What that means to us is; no free dry-camping and no inexpensive four-dollar a night full hook-up camping like we usually get at the NM State Parks.  With my old person’s National Park Discount though, we’re able to get electric sites there for $10.00 per night.  Not to expensive really, but that’s a hundred and forty bucks for 2 weeks!  We consider that splurging.  :-)

We justify that “splurging” by Cochiti’s location.  Situated on the Cochiti Pueblo Reservation, this man-made lake is surrounded by high mesas and mountains.  The lake itself is formed by a five mile long dam that was built across the mighty Rio Grande.  Is that considered a double adjective…. “Mighty” Rio “Grande”?  Doesn’t really matter, as this river that starts in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and drives down through the states of New Mexico and Texas and then dumps into the Gulf of Mexico at Tamaulipas, Mexico is both mighty and grand.

We took a stroll along the top of the dam one morning, going just 2.5 miles across and then turning around to make it a 5 mile walk.  One wouldn’t believe it, but there was actually a lot to see on that dam walk. (Pun intended).  Fall was in the air so the foliage along the waters, both along the lake and along the Rio Grande spill-way, were turning.  The lumber along these areas are primarily cottonwood trees.  Anytime you look out across the scrub brush desert and see trees growing, you can bet that there is a water source there of some type.  It may even be a dry creek bed that has a water table of some kind not visible to the human eye.

We also had a birds-eye view of the lake and managed to see the “closed for the season” beach, a few sail boats out on the waters and even some ravens flying high above the lake but yet eye-level with us.  Pretty cool!

We came back up this way primarily to view the Aspen trees change to their shimmering golden fall colors, so one of our first ventures out was up towards Hyde Memorial State Park near Santa Fe.  There is a ski resort a few miles past the park and that’s where we headed….. us and about a zillion other fall color seekers.  Wow!!  We had originally thought of doing a fall hike up there but with so many people, the trails would have been crowded.  Instead of hiking, we looked for opportunities to pull off the road to take a few photos here and there and to stretch our legs.  We had missed the peak time by about 2 weeks but there were still some areas that had some color.  I love the way the gold-colored Aspens contrasts with the tall dark green pines.

We also made the drive back up to another of our favorite NM areas, Eagle Nest.  Again, we were looking for fall colors and were hoping to see a snow capped mountain.  We lost out on both, unfortunately.  Even so, it felt good to be back in the area.  It was quite deserted as the RV’ing/camping crowds had all left for warmer areas (like we had!) and the snow skiers had yet to arrive, waiting on consistent colder temps and of course, the snow. We checked out a lot of the places that we had when we camped there earlier and drove up to Maverick Lake where I managed to throw the trusty Kastmaster lure out a few times, catching and releasing one Rainbow Trout.  Before we headed back to Cochiti Lake, we stopped off at 5-Star Burgers in Taos and, again, were quite happy with our meals.

One of our last adventures during our two weeks back at Cochiti was to purchase a round trip ride on the Rail Runner.  The Rail Runner is a passenger train that commutes back and forth between Santa Fe and Belen, which is south of Albuquerque.  We picked it up at the Kewa Pueblo Station for the ride into Santa Fe, for a round trip day pass of $9.00 for the two of us.  Of course, it was only nine bucks because once again, I got an old person discount.  See, there are perks for getting older!  

We got on the train early in the morning so that we could hit the Farmer’s Market, and had planned to come back after only a few hours.  But once we arrived at the market and went through it, we decided to stay a little longer…. well, a LOT longer actually and ended up catching the last train of the day back home.  We ventured into the Santa Fe Square, did a lot of window shopping along with people watching and I ended up visiting The Governor’s Palace while Barbara rested.  The Governor’s Palace is a place that sits along the north side of the square where Native Americans lay their jewelry out onto blankets for the public to look at and to hopefully purchase.  I had bought a really nice turquoise ring 6 years ago when we were out this way on vacation from silversmith Raymond Twinhorse.  I looked for him there, asked around for him and finally found him sitting next to his jewelry.  We chatted a bit and I bought a nice copper and sterling mandolin pick from him.  It was good seeing him again.

Another highlight of our day trip to Santa Fe was lunch.  It was a 25 minute wait to get into Cafe Pasqual’s and it was a bit more pricey than what we’re accustomed to, but let me tell you, it was well worth the wait and the cost.  Everything was natural and organic and made in house.  I had the Durango Omelette and Barbara had the Grilled Chicken Sandwich.  It wasn’t just the main part of the meals that were tasty.  The sides were just as incredible; the potato salad (which wasn’t like a traditional one), the hash browns, the red chili sauce and homemade raspberry jam…. all great stuff!

Once again, our little 2 week adventure in the Cochiti and Santa Fe area was quite pleasant and enjoyable.  The weather was perfect, the views were awesome and the people friendly.  It will certainly be on our radar come next Spring when we begin transitioning from our southern Winter camp sites back up to our northern Spring and Summer ones.  For us that’s one of the joys of Full Time RV’ing; being able to pick up and follow the seasons on a whim.  

If you’ve read this post, then please leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts on it and also what’s going on with you.  We really do love hearing from you!!

Bud & Barbara


  1. Barbara and Bud, I have enjoyed reading about your adventures. The pictures are beautiful. I hope some day that Grant and I will have the opportunity to do more travelling out west. We have had a busy fall and now are awaiting the birth of Marta's baby. It's due on December 2nd and so could come anytime. It goes without saying that we both have been very aware of Barbara's absence at the office. Hopeful that spot will be filled soon. -Sue Neilley

  2. Hi Sue. Thank you for your comments and kind words! "Out West" is an awesome place to explore and we're just at the tip of the iceberg. So many new things and places are still to come. Congrats on you new grandchild. I'm sure you and Grant will thoroughly love spoiling it! :-) Thanks again for taking the time to comment here. Bud & Barbara