Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Great Sand Dunes Monument

We're back in Colorado this evening, overnighting near the Great Sand Dunes Monument.

It was less than three hours from Angel Fire, NM to our present location.  The day dawned with us in heavy fog and cold temperatures.

Work delayed our departure till shortly before 10:30 AM, but the drive to Mosca, CO where the RV park was located was under warmer temperatures and sunny skies.

We got situated, I finished work and then shortly before 5:00 PM we headed out on Fiona from our campsite.

The Sand Dunes monument was less than five miles from the RV park.  As it was late in the day, we didn't have to pay the entrance fee because the gate was unmanned and the sign said to go ahead.  We cruised into the park, located the nearest point to the dunes but elected not to go on them.

We made our way out of the park, trying different parking spots/overlooks for "the right angle" for shots as the sun kept making its way down towards the horizon.

 ScooterBob looks right at home doesn't he?

Can you tell the "golden hour" was upon us?

The sunset's last few rays of light were too high to give good light to the sand dunes and so we headed back to the RV park where we caught the after effects of the sunset.

Tonight's repose

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Birthday Ride with my Sweetie up above the Angel Fire Ski Resort

A lazy day for the most part in terms of riding.  Work had to be done you see, before one could do fun stuff.

Martha and I headed out on Fiona after 3PM and wandered down to Black Lake to see what we could see, not much as it turned out.  The wind was blowing pretty hard too and with temperatures in the 50s, it really wasn't a lot of fun.

We returned to the Angel Fire area and decided to explore the ski resort.  It's a pretty small resort, when compared to such resorts as Aspen and Vail, but nice enough.

Martha had me drive down a roughly paved road leading away and up from the ski resort.  The road was called Camino Real or Royal Road and it would wind us up into the heights way above the ski resort, on the west side of Agua Fria Peak I think.

Sparsely settled with mountain homes secluded in the thick pine forest, there was much evidence of new construction as well.  The road turned to gravel and dirt soon after leaving the resort and we just chugged our way up, Fiona taking it all in stride by the way.

A few miles after the above picture, we came to what basically was the end of the road.  Had we had another Ural rig with us, we could have possibly continued onwards into what looked like the makings of more road but not today.

Fiona took us back down to the ski resort with no incidents and we stopped at a local restaurant for "Tapas Night" to celebrate my birthday.  The food was pretty good and after dinner we rode over to the local food market for some supplies, gas for Fiona and rode on home in the chilly darkness.

All in all, a good way to end a brief sojourn in the Angel Fire area.  We decamp tomorrow for the Great Sand Dunes Monument in Colorado.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Vietnam Memorial and the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

A somewhat late start for us today, what with work tasks and all.

Today we were headed to visit the nearby Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park and a subsequent lunch in Taos after which we visited the nearby Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.

We rode the northern half of the Enchanted Circle, and while less twisty, it was in our opinion more scenic.

ScooterBob accompanied us as we toured the Vietnam Veterans Memorial museum.  A very nicely done museum by the way, and its chapel was small but rather artistic in it's structure as you can see above and below.

I thought perhaps it would evoke a shape or message from an overhead view perhaps, but nothing comes to mind.

source: GoogleMaps

Saddling back up on Fiona, we headed to the village of Eagles Nest, spotting an American Bald Eagle in flight along the way, quite magnificent it was.

Martha and Fiona along the way to Taos

The road to Taos took us through Eagles Nest, Red River and Questa before finally depositing us on the outskirts of Taos.  Lunch was at "La Cueva", a very small Mexican restaurant whose food was quite delicious.  After lunch we wandered a bit among the shops in the Taos Plaza which I think functioned as the town square back in its founding days under Spanish rule.

Next stop, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge about seven miles to the west of Taos along State Highway 64.

Pictures at the bridge done with, we headed on back to Angel Fire, retracing our route along Highway 522 to Highway 30.

We did stop at the Lazy L Ranch's gate to photograph what we dubbed as "Nessie".  

Moreno Valley Dragon

We got back to the RV park with no incidents, Fiona having done great once again and this time not having issue starting up in the morning.  (We did have to wait till temperatures were warmer than yesterday morning which probably helped).

Update: found a youtube video with photos of the Moreno Valley Dragon:

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Ride to Los Alamos

Martha and I rode Fiona, the '99 Ural with the '84 R80 Beemer engine to the town of Los Alamos to see what we could see of this historic site.

It was a cool 34°F (1°C) when we set off.  We were slightly delayed because the oil in the engine had gotten a bit "thick" since temperatures were below freezing overnight here in New Mexico.  Angel Fire is at above 8000 feet in altitude so it gets a bit chilly overnight.  The battery on Fiona, though charged, struggled mightily but could not get going before the charge ran down.

I broke out the portable jump starter battery and after a bit of struggling to connect the positive clamp to the battery terminal, finally got Fiona's engine going.  I will be adding a battery cable extension to the positive terminal, it's just too tight in terms of room the way I have the battery mounted.

We got underway and twisted and turned our way up US64 West towards the city of Taos.  The temperatures were brisk but we were dressed for the ride and I had grip covers to keep my hands warm.

At Taos, we got onto State Highway 68 towards EspaƱola, from there it was about 13 more miles on State Highway 30 to Los Alamos itself.

 Fall Colors are on the way out in this part of New Mexico

 La Mosca Hill (Fly Hill)

 A Russian Rig at the Los Alamos main gate....
(Actually, it's just a front to a restroom building, part of a park)

 "Does this bomb make me look fat?"
Martha posing by Fat Man

 Little Boy

We retraced our route on the way back, temperatures had soared into the 70s by then and it was quite comfortable for riding!

 Martha liked the way she managed to capture the clouds in the mirror.

Along the way back, between EspaƱola and Taos, we stopped to check out the Black Mesa Winery:

It proved a bit crowded at the tasting bar so Martha elected to keep going.  We made it back to the Angel Fire RV Resort by 5:40 PM I think and I am happy to report that not only were we not the slowest vehicle on the road, but Fiona did great all day.

Martha cooked dinner while I installed the extension battery cable to Fiona's battery so we can jump start her easier in the future. 

Really, I'm smiling...honest!

After dinner, it was a soak in the big hot tub and relaxing in Umarang afterwards working on this posting.  A good day of exploration and riding!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

New Mexico Glamping

Our first extended glamping trip with Umarang, the Jayco Escapade motorhome and trailering Fiona via trailer.

Just over five hours from our home in Centennial, it was smooth cruising on the I-25 Super Slab and a stint on Westbound US64 to reach the resort town of Angel Fire.

 Martha at the wheel, she did great...

We got settled into our pull-through RV site with no issue and had a late lunch of sandwiches and chips along in my case a nice ale.

 The facilities are quite nice, best I've seen in my limited RV'ing experience.

 That's Umarang in the background, we're that close to the facilities.

Fiona is ready....

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Some more "shake down" tasks at Cherry Creek State Park

Sunday afternoon, I headed out with Patrick, #1 son, and Umarang, the motorhome to do some further shakedown operations.

Umarang:  Short name Uma, sounds like boomerang, in that she'll try and return with the Ural.  Patrick came up with the name by the way.

Ready to try towing Scarlett on the Aluma 638 Trailer.

It was a bit unnerving, not really being able to see Scarlett in the trailer behind me.  I could only see part of the trailer and the rig when making turns.  I see a backup camera in Uma's future.

We got to Cherry Creek State Park which is within six miles of home.  We were just going to stay two nights, test the Wifi booster and see if the weBoost cellphone booster made any difference within the park.

No issues with towing the trailer with a URAL rig on it, though I did engage the towing/haul function on the transmission to delay gear shifting while accelerating to seemingly accelerate a bit faster at the cost of MPG of course.

Once parked and leveled, we raised the Winegard TV antenna, turned on the small 19" Flat Screen TV we bought yesterday and tuned in about 22 off the air digital channels.  Not bad.

The Ubiquiti Nanostation M2, which is secured on the mast of the TV antenna found the nearby WiFi access point provided by the park.  Here's the results of the testing related to wifi:

All figures in Mbps or Megabits per second:

CCSP: Cherry Creek WiFi, no booster, using only the signal obtained by my Surface Pro 3 computer.

Download   Upload
1.56       .12
2.37       .11
2.65       .08

Using the Wifi access point provided by the Ubiquiti Antenna and Air Gateway:

Download   Upload
4.81      1.93
4.03      1.85
3.97      1.91
4.52      1.83

As you can see, using the Ubiquiti wifi booster equaled higher speeds via the nearby wifi access point.

Full details about the Ubiquiti equipment and how to set it up are in this great posting by  LINK   My thanks to RichardM for sending me the link.

I then tested the weBoost device but failed to get better reception than the 3 bars I was already getting on the cellphone.  I guess we were close to the local cell tower as I was getting 4G LTE signal already and the booster did nothing to make it stronger.  I tried moving the external antenna to several locations but no joy.  There's not much in terms of metal surface for the magnetic antenna to attach to on the roof, I was left for now with using the metal in the motorhome cab, probably not optimal.

I did test with the cellphone in the weBoost cradle anyways:

4g- weboost (3 bars)

download upload
  9.56 6.49
 15.21 7.55
 16.91 6.31

4G no weBoost (Monday morning)

Download    Upload
23.7                 5.65
25.2                 5.67
24.0                 6.63

As you can see, 4G LTE is much faster but of course, costlier.  I was surprised how much faster 4G is without the weBoost.  But then, different time of day too.  Hmmm.

The wifi here will do fine for me to work on Monday.

My loving wife Martha came to visit us briefly and bring us dinner so I didn't cook.

I rode Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol about the park looking for a good spot for sunset pictures, and found a good candidate at Pelican Point.  The sunset was disappointing though but I did get this one shot at a different spot:

After dinner, and since it was a Full Moon night, I tried for moon pictures.  Didn't bother trying to find a good location for the rig to try and silhouette it, not this time anyways.

The forecasted low temperature for tonight is only 51°F (10.5°C) so I doubt we'll need the furnace tonight.

The LED lights which replaced the Type 921 incandescent light bulbs are doing fine in terms of proving illumination.

The only issue was the fan in the bathroom quit working sometime in the afternoon.  I had left it running in order to draw in cool air from the air-conditioning in the main compartment.  Probably blew a fuse, I hope.  I'll take a look at it tomorrow when I've some time.

Patrick likened our being in the motorhome as being in a mobile man cave.  Amusing.

 Tom Turkey, hanging out by our RV site on Tuesday morning
as I prepped the RV for departure

Our site at Cherry Creek State Park