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Old 11-04-2009, 08:32 AM   #1
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the Southwest - suggestions welcome

Preparing to head out for the Southwest this winter.
My blog will continue... after Bambi repairs are completed.

Adventures of Phantom & Bunny - Vol. 2 - the Southwest

http://www.airforums.com/forums/blog...0-phantom.html

Loosely intended itinerary: please feel free to make suggestions!
Mammoth Cave & canoeing the Green River
Nashville onto the Natchez Trace Parkway
Natchez, MS down to New Orleans - volunteer for Thanksgiving homeless
US10 to Texas - down gulf coast... Galveston, Corpus Christi, Brownsville
Up the Rio Grande to Big Bend Nat'l Park - Christmas?
canoe down the Rio Grande - day trip
New Mexico - White Sands, National Forest & BLM camping. Las Cruces
Arizona - Coronado Nat'l Forest, Organ Pipe Cactus Nat'l Monument
California - San Diego, Salton Sea, Joshua Tree, Mohave, Death Valley
Return - more northerly if weather/temps permit... Grand Canyon,
Utah - Zion, Bryce, Canonlands, Arches... Route 66?

Love to hear suggestions
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Old 11-04-2009, 08:56 AM   #2
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Love Natchez, might also consider the Plantation Road in Northern Louisiana, if only to see those spectacular antebellum homes. If you have time, going into one or two is worth the price of the ticket.
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Old 11-04-2009, 09:23 AM   #3
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us too!!!!!!!!!!!!

we are heading to the 4CU rally on New Years eve and stop in alpine on the way and try to see the marfa lights....celebrate NYE in the desert near tuscon...and then on to Joshua Tree and Palm Springs and then head back to Phoenis for the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car auction on Jan 18th...... then back towards guadulape mountains natl forrest and then big bend.. and then brownsville and south padre island...then up the coast and about mid march head for east texas.... then lousiana, mississippi, alabama, georgia...south carolina...then to barnesville ohio...heading to gillette wyoming for the big national WBCCI rally......
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Old 11-04-2009, 09:27 AM   #4
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Man....THAT SOUNDS GREAT
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Old 11-04-2009, 09:29 AM   #5
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Sounds as if you'll need a winter or 10 to do all that. Weather in the SW can change quickly from spring to summer to winter, so watch weather reports and make sure the propane tanks are filled if you have to use the furnace.

Big Bend—not everyone likes it. Never been there, but appears to be very dry, but looks pretty.

NE of El Paso is another federal monument or park at the NM border which I've wanted to see some day. Can't remember the name.

Mammoth Cave is enormous and we took two tours over one day and there's plenty more to see.

Vicksburg battlefield is good to see if you're into Civil War battles.

NW Mississippi is blues country for the Delta Blues. Blues museums in Clarksdale and Helena, Ark., nearby.

While you're in that part of Texas, San Antonio.

NM: Santa Fe, though very busy around the holidays, very quiet afterwards. Backroads north of there for Milagro Beanfields War country (movie filmed mostly in Truchas—means "trout") and Taos. Pueblo Indians have reservations and of course casinos in the area. My wife's family was there in the 1860's and some still live in the area.

NE Arizona is the Navajo reservation—the size of Connecticut and extends into New Mexico and a little bit of Utah. Unique place—really another country. Hubble Trading Post NM, Monument Valley NP, and Canyon de Chelly NM. Check out trading posts and try to meet the Navajo.

Grand Canyon—North Rim is closed in winter. Some buildings on the South Rim designed by the country's first woman architect, Mary Coulter, and made to blend with the land. Some historic hotels and the canyon of course.

Mojave National Preserve is very remote. Good campgrounds there and some rough roads in places. A couple of years ago we were there in November when the temps dropped to about 20˚, but not usually that cold in November.

Old 66 is south of there paralleling the interstate. The Bagdad Cafe of movie fame is along there too. You can also follow 66 for a long way in eastern Arizona and visit historic Oatman (donkeys everywhere). 66 east of Oatman is narrow and with blind, tight curves—drive slow. Kingman has a Route 66 museum.

Death Valley is an amazing place. Roads in and out are steep and narrow, but it's worth it. See Scotty's Castle. Not much for RV camping there. Another place not like anywhere else. And where else can you drive through the Funeral Mountains? About 100 miles to Las Vegas if you like contrasts.

Amongst the national parks in southern Utah, Capital Reef. Good CG, place to take a break after exhausting yourself at the other parks. Between Green River and Hanksville, west of the highway, is Goblin Valley State Park—weird rock formations and a very nice, new CG.

Winter can be a good time to visit Yosemite and Sequoia NP's since they are definitely not busy, but snow storms can be fierce. Summer in those parks is not the time to visit unless you want to be in the city with mountains.

As you go north, you'll find a lot of CG's closed in winter so check dates of operation carefully in CG books and on the internet. The economy has caused some to close earlier than the books say, so double check by phone.

Flagstaff, Arizona. Old downtown with very narrow streets and some good restaurants. Don't take a trailer into that part of town. I always find the Flagstaff streets confusing, so study the map carefully.

There's a very busy railroad along I-40 and some CG's are right next to it—for ex., Flagstaff and Gallup. These are not good places to stay if you plan to sleep at night.

In Winslow, Arizona, you can stand on the corner mentioned in the Eagles song, it's just a tourist thing, but fun anyway. La Posada Hotel, another Mary Colter building, was built for the Santa Fe RR in the early 20th Century is a quite a place. It's being restored. The restaurant has a great reputation.

Gallup, NM, has some trading posts, some real and some tourist fakes (Ortegas). Richardson's has a great Navajo rug selection. Ask to see the rug room (do the same in any trading post). El Rancho hotel on the east side of town is historic and was once a place Hollywood stars stayed in the 1920's and '30's. If you want to buy Navajo weavings most places you can bargain—in some, the price on rug is unreal and you can get it for 1/3 or less. Prices are highest in Santa Fe and Scottsdale, so go elsewhere though even there sales are down and bargaining might work.

The northern parts of NM and Arizona are very different from the south so far as weather, land and vegetation goes. Even in Colorado and Utah roads can be clear and snow piled up in the fields and on the mountains. January and February are the lightest snow months in Colorado over the endless winter—worst are November, March and April. If you venture north be prepared to change plans fast. We have travelled in early December and everything was fine though very cold at times. We'll be coming back to Colorado through Santa Fe just before Thanksgiving and will be watching and prepared to wait while roads are cleared if necessary. It's an adventure, after all. We've been traveling through the SW for years and have yet to see everywhere, and we keep going back to places we really enjoyed.

Enjoy your trip and remember, everything is far away from everywhere else. Fill up on fuel when you can.

Gene
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Old 11-04-2009, 09:41 AM   #6
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The KOA in Flagstaff is far enough away from the tracks as to provide a good night's sleep, Gallup is not. Organ Pipe is amazing! It is dry camping, if you need hook-ups, Shadow Ridge RV Park in Ajo is a great layover. Are you old enough to get a National Park Recreational Lands Pass?
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Old 11-04-2009, 11:00 AM   #7
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I just finished a one week trip out west, stayed at some comercial campgronds and some state parks on this trip. Meteor Crater Az was a good stop the parks website has some suggested day trips. We did the petrified forest and the Hopi Indian reservation loops. On our way back to Texas we went down to the City of Rocks State Park NM. This park is north of Deming NM. It has some very interesting rock formations. Then back to Texas staying at Fort Davis SP and then South Llano River State Park. The South Llano State Park has a large area set aside that is a wild turkey roost, so we have had turkeys and deer all around the Bambi while camping there. The south Llano river runs through the park. In the summer you will see a lot of kayaks. I would post some pictures from the trip but I am on the iPhone now. I have the photos of me standing on the corner of Winslow AZ. While traveling NM we hit some cold nights, one night we had a low of 11 degrees. The Bambi stayed nice and toasty inside. As it has been posted above make sure you have full lp tanks. Because as I found out with my 2008 Bambi, I knew that I was going to be camping in freezing weather and had drained the grey and black tanks and filled the fresh water tank. I set the lp furnace at 55 while traveling to keep the fresh water tank from freezing. My plan was to use the parks electricty to power the electric heat strip in the ac to heat the trailer that night while sleeping, then after waking up I would use the parks bath house thinking I would save some lp gas and use the parks electricty. I found out that when it gets below 30 degrees the Thermometer will automaticly switch from electric heat to the furnace. So if I had been low on Lp gas and been relying on the electric heat strip I would have woken up frozen if I would have woken up at all
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Old 11-04-2009, 12:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingfisher24 View Post
we are heading to the 4CU rally on New Years eve and stop in alpine on the way and try to see the marfa lights....celebrate NYE in the desert near tuscon...and then on to Joshua Tree and Palm Springs and then head back to Phoenis for the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car auction on Jan 18th...... then back towards guadulape mountains natl forrest and then big bend.. and then brownsville and south padre island...then up the coast and about mid march head for east texas.... then lousiana, mississippi, alabama, georgia...south carolina...then to barnesville ohio...heading to gillette wyoming for the big national WBCCI rally......
Hey Kingfisher, and all others heading to the deep South this winter-----state parks in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina should all be open, minus any budget-cut-closures. Watch out for swamps, rivers, lakes, etc., in those first four states---they have GATORS! Coastal SC parks may require reservations. Ya'll have a wonderful time!
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Old 11-04-2009, 01:51 PM   #9
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Not sure running the furnace while underway is a good idea. With the flow-through at highway speeds, it may run continuously and use up all your propane. We have travelled in cold weather, down to about 20 degrees; and have not had problems with any of the tanks freezing. Maybe the constant sloshing keeps them from freezing, or heat from tow vehicle engine blowing back. Also, the gray and black water tanks are not pure water and may freeze at a lower temp.

Zion is accessible in the winter, but all of the campgrounds at Bryce are closed. The National Park is open and beautiful in snow, but the NP campgrounds have limited open spots and no water or sewer (frozen solid). Last winter, the private campgrounds outside the park were closed altogether.

There is one KOA in Flagstaff, and two more near Williams (about 30 miles from Flag). The ones near Williams are close to I-40 and the railroad, so there is constant noise all day and night. We stayed at Circle Pines, and it has a nice indoor pool and spa, so if you don't mind trains, it is a nice park. The one in Flag, near Flagstaff Mall is under new management, and they have done some remodelling. Much nicer, but it's still an old KOA (in case KOA's aren't your thing). However, it is very convenient to shopping and restaurants. Bonito Campground (National Forest or NP?) is closed in the winter. Too bad, we really like this one.

If you are coming across I-10, don't miss Carlsbad Caverns. It's a real adventure and wheelchair accessible. (We don't hike, so if it says "wheelchair accessible" we know it is an easy trail.) They were working on a new visitor center last year, and it might be done now.

Lake Powell (near Page, AZ) is quiet in the winter. You can park right on the beach at Lone Rock, but watch the deep sand; or you may be staying a little longer than you planned. Also, not as many people to help dig you out.

Cedar Breaks is pretty, but too darn cold in the winter. Also, no RV campground very close. We went there, but had to stay overnight at Duck Creek (or some name like that). It got down in the teens at night, and we were the only people in the entire campground. At Cedar Breaks, the wind was blowing about 50 mph. Scary trying to walk out on the points with no hand-rails -- It's a long way down!

Yosemite gets lots of snow in the winter, and the southern access is sometimes restricted; and with the winding roads, rigs over 40-feet are not recommended. Best access is from the west entrance, but even then most people are cross-country skiers or skidoos. Winter camping may be parking in a snowpacked parking lot with no hookups.

Lots to see and do in southern New Mexico and Arizona in the winter, and it's relatively warm.

Happy trails -- see you on the road!
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