Ruidoso Motorcoach Ranch

We went out of our way to stop at Ruidoso Motorcoach Ranch. And thank heavens we did. What a stunning park!

We drove from Distant Drums RV Resort, near Sedona, Arizona, to Ruidoso Motorcoach Ranch. Eleven hours behind the wheel. Plus one hour due to a time zone change.

We left at 6:00am and did not arrive to Ruidoso until roughly 6:00pm local time.

The drive into the resort is a bit challenging. You will travel along some very scenic roads on your way and you will be navigating quite a few curves and climbing quite a few mountains. Ruidoso is situated at an elevation of about 7,000 feet.

As you drive through the gates, you will see this welcome sign.

“For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” — Romans 11:36

The owners, Lisa and Jimmy, will likely be waiting for you when you register at the clubhouse.

You won’t find a swimming pool or a fitness facility here. You will, however, find an absolutely stunning location for your Class A motorcoach.

Jimmy brought us out to our site, number 16. This was our view out the window from inside our coach.

And here is our coach at site 16.

And our front patio.

Here is a shot from the back of the park looking out to the clubhouse.

I made the following video of this special and unique property. If you have a Class A motorcoach and you are wanting to spend time in New Mexico, then you must come here. Highly recommended.

Sedona

Desert Shores is now but a distant memory. We left this beautiful resort in Southern California on Sunday with our first stop at Distant Drums RV Resort in Camp Verde, Arizona, only a gentle 5-hour drive, for two nights.

Our plan was to spend the afternoon, evening and the following day hiking in the Sedona area.

We left Indio, California later than planned. I was a bit rusty on getting the coach all set and ready to go. And, stiff. Physically stiff. I found the drive much tougher than I expected. The driving conditions were fine, clear weather, light winds, not much in the way of traffic, but I was definitely tense behind the wheel.

When we arrived into Distant Drums, I was pretty much spent. No hiking that day. In fact, I went to bed at 8pm and slept through to 6am. Very unusual for me.

Distant Drums RV Resort was a pleasant enough place to stay. The park is paved with concrete pads at each site. Well maintained, quiet and clean.

Sites are tight though. You need to be careful about where you get placed if you are coming in with a large coach. We had site 40. Fairly wide and a nice view out the front window.

The camp WiFi here is totally unusable. Campgrounds should provide a usable service or provide an honest assessment of the service: “We offer free WiFi but you really can’t use it for anything whatsoever.”

We used our hotspot for the two days we stopped here. Canadian data plans are amongst the worst and most expensive in the industrialized world. Our plan includes 15GB of data per month which is shared between Lorraine and myself. All that data for only $284 CAD per month.

We will be using a U.S. data plan when we return next year.

At just under 41 feet, our coach barely fit on the concrete pad and there was little room to squeeze our toad in beside the coach. This park was designed for much smaller rigs. Something to keep in mind if you come here with a large motorcoach.

The real attraction of this resort? Proximity to places like Sedona.

A 30 to 40 minute drive found us at the trailhead for Little Horse Trail, an easy hike out to Chicken Point Overlook.

We arrived to the trailhead before the crowds. After 9am or so, the parking lot becomes overwhelmed and you won’t find a spot for your car.

There is a unique beauty to Sedona. We have been here many times and every time we come back we are inspired by the majestic surroundings.

Although out in nature, the civilized world is never too far away. Contrails made shooting the trail challenging. The unparalleled Arizona skies were littered with them.

We spent a couple of hours hiking towards Chicken Point Overlook keeping in mind that we often diverge from the main trails that the tourists follow and that I am also taking a lot of photos along the way.

There are a constant flow of jeep tours that come out to the Chicken Point Overlook. You can make out a few of the tourists in the photo below.

Once we reached the overlook, there were 40 or 50 people from the various jeep tour companies. I was able to find a willing volunteer to snap this shot.

At least I can prove that I made it to the overlook.

The view from up here is really nice. I can see why the jeep tours make this stop.

But, if you hike on foot, away from the crowded jeep tourists, you can get a different perspective.

We spent most of the day hiking around this area. And, as the afternoon passed, we reluctantly said good-bye to Sedona.

When we left Distant Drums on the Tuesday morning, we had our longest driving day of the trip back to Canada. I am writing this entry from Ruidoso Motorcoach Ranch in New Mexico. More on the drive to New Mexico and this stunning park in our next post.

Last shot of the hike. Such an amazing day with my beautiful wife.

Salvation Mountain

“A unique and visionary sculpture… a national treasure… profoundly strange and beautifully accessible, and worthy of the international acclaim it receives.” That quote is from Barbara Boxer, a California Senator, in an address to Congress back in 2002.

We were spending the day with my sister and her partner. We were not far from Salvation Mountain and we decided to visit the site.

Salvation Mountain is located in a remote area of the desert, surrounded by makeshift shacks and RVs in varying levels of decay. The area is decidedly rustic, the Mountain visible from a few miles away due, I suspect, to the bright colours.

There is an area for parking. Basically a dirt field with a few vehicles standing guard near the entrance. There is no fee to enter although there is an opportunity to make a donation to help maintain the mountain at one of the vehicles.

Leonard Knight, the artist, had a vision to spread God’s love to the world. And he did it here, with this sculpture, in a remote location about a 90-minute drive from Palm Springs.

“God is Love” appears everywhere.

“Jesus loves you” was also everywhere.

This poster was the only image of the artist that I found on the site.

Leonard Knight passed away in 2014. This mountain was the second construction. The first one collapsed.

Lorraine found her way to the top of the mountain.

Although we are a bit tiny in the picture, my sister and I stopped for a snapshot which provides a bit of context for the scale of Salvation Mountain.

We spent about an hour or so just walking around and experiencing this unusual and unique work of art.

This was how we spent our last day in the Palm Springs area. Well, not quite the last day. We spent all of the next day getting ourselves ready to head back to Canada.

I was so happy to see my sister. We don’t get to spend much time together as we are usually on opposite sides of the continent. This was one of the main reasons why we made the trek west. And it was absolutely worth the long drive.

Leaving Southern California

Four more days before we begin the long drive back to Canada.

Yesterday, the temperatures in Indio, California reached 102 Fahrenheit or 39 Celsius.

A dry heat.

Back home it was 40 Fahrenheit or 4 Celsius.

A cold heat. Or maybe just plain cold.

Might need to pick up a sweater or two if things don’t warm up by the time we get back at the end of April.

We’ve enjoyed our time here in Southern California. Lorraine will miss the flowers that are everywhere in this part of Palm Springs.

I will miss the view from the front of our coach.

We will both miss the beauty of the surrounding area. We took Tabby out for a walk the other night just south of our resort.

And the trail was filled with a unique beauty that we don’t see in places like Florida, or back home in Canada.

There is life in the high desert. We had to step carefully at times. At sunset, we came across dozens of spiders on the trail. Lorraine paused for a moment and, before she knew it, one was crawling up her foot.

I confess that I have arachnophobia. Big time. But the pull of getting a shot overcomes the fear of spiders.

If you look carefully on the lower part of the trail in the photo above, you can see the footprints of the spiders. They are HUGE down here.

Then again, the footprints might have been left by our golden retriever.

Sunsets are different here than in Florida.

A shot taken from the front of our site at Myakka River Motorcoach Resort in Florida.

And a shot taken from our evening walk the other night.

Hard to beat those sunsets in Florida. Also hard to beat are the no-see-ums in Florida.

The next few days will be spent getting ourselves ready to go. It is a bit like moving a house. Well, more than a bit like moving a house. Our coach is a moving house after all. We have systems to check, bays and storage areas to re-organize, GPS devices to program.

We will miss this area for sure although we are very much looking forward to returning to family and friends in Canada.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Lorraine and I met up with my sister and her partner to spend the day hiking Mount San Jacinto State Park. If you are ever in the Palm Springs area, I highly recommend the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. It will take you up to the State Park in style.

The tramway features the world’s largest rotating tram car. The tram car is quite large and can hold about 80 people.

We paid $8 USD to park our car and $26 USD per person for the tram car ride.

The ride to the top of the mountain takes about ten minutes or so. You will travel about two and a half miles up the cliffs of the Chino Canyon. Once you ascend to the station, you will find over 50 miles of hiking.

A few tips if you decide to experience the tramway.

Expect crowds, especially if you go during peak times, between 11am and 3pm. It took us almost 40 minutes from the time we left our car in the parking lot to the time we boarded the tram car. We went on a Friday morning and the place was packed. I suspect it would be much worse on a Saturday or Sunday.

What I noticed on the way down is that the park emptied out by around 4pm. You might find fewer crowds during the week if you go later in the day. Last tram up at 8pm and last tram down at 9:45pm.

Be prepared. The Mountain Station sits at an elevation of 8,516 feet.

That means two things.

One, it will be much colder at the top, perhaps as much as 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit colder, than at the base of the tramway. Dress appropriately. And make sure you bring along some basic hiking supplies, especially water and good hiking shoes.

Two, and this doesn’t get mentioned on their website, you might get sick. I did. The altitude sickness hit me quite hard soon after we left the park. Severe headache, nausea. It passed after a day. Altitude sickness may become an issue especially if you are not acclimated to higher altitudes and/or you exert yourself too hard at higher altitudes.

When we were there, the trails were snow covered. The weather was beautiful though. No wind. And even though the temperature was in the low 40s Fahrenheit — around 6 Celsius — we did not feel the cold. We had our hiking gear. In my case I had a base layer for warmth and two layers of outerwear along with waterproof hiking boots, a backpack with the usual supplies for hiking and, of course, one of my cameras.

Along the way, we met a family from Saskatchewan, Canada. Mom and daughter were out hiking in open-toed Birkenstocks. They seemed surprised by all of the snow and the difficult hiking conditions despite this sign that greeted visitors on the way into the park.

In just a few hours we went from the heat of the Coachella Valley to a snow-covered mountain.

My poor left foot. I could barely walk on it after the hiking. I might have to get this foot looked at once we return to Canada. Nonetheless, just another one of those perfect days. I so enjoyed the time with my sister and her partner. Such a wonderful couple.

A few more shots from Mount San Jacinto. A stunning place to visit.