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New Mexico, Arizona and Death Valley, March 8 - April 3, 2004

Eureka to Albuquerque
The itinerary for this one has changed steadily as we planned it. We're calling it our Death Valley trip, as that was originally the first stop, but it has become the last stop and the trip has been extended somewhat.

We left Eureka on March 8, planning 6 days to Albuquerque, where we will attend the FMCA Convention. We had planned to skip this one, but we have friends going that we decided to tag along with.

Following the convention we will head for Sedona for a few days, then catch a Cubs/Giants Spring Training game in Mesa with Joy's Brother-in-law and hopefully her sister if she can get time off. We were rained out the one time we tried to see a Cubs game with them when they lived in Chicago, so we are due for some good weather.

After the game we will head up the Joshua Tree Parkway to Kingman, then on through Las Vegas to Death Valley. We have reservations for a full week at Furnace Creek Campground, and plan to wander the valley for that stretch.

Total trip length approximately 3200 miles.
During this stay at home we got to the last of the significant projects on our list since we bought our house over a year ago. First was a skylight (the remote-control opening kind) in our windowless master bathroom.
Second was the long awaited full hookups for the motor home. Water, sewer, and 50/30/20 amp electrical. hookups hookups
The front door had been neglected by the previous owners, but we liked it so rather than replace the badly weathered door we were finally able to find someone willing to strip/sand/refinish it. Looks close to new, now. front door
Finally was a bunch of concrete work, including widening the driveway to make access around the motor home easier and a concrete walkway on the far side of the house. driveway driveway driveway
We stopped for overnights in Dunnigan, Coalinga, Newberry Springs, Kingman, and Holbrook. At Newberry Springs we stayed for the first time at Twin Lakes, where it is surprising to see so much water in the desert. All of the desert was particularly green this year. Newberry Springs Green desert
After temperatures in the 80's at Newberry Springs and Kingman, about 20 miles west of Flagstaff we hit some really heavy rain/snow mix that got us off the road at a rest stop until it abated somewhat. Made our car very dirty! Slush
There must have been a Prevost bus conversion rally somewhere west of us, as we passed, or were passed by, at least a couple of dozen of them. Not sure if this one was with the group or not, but I doubt it was going to FMCA! Prevost
The panorama below shows Balloon Fiesta Park on Sunday afternoon. This was the main parking area, although there are several satellite parking areas not in the picture. Coaches were still arriving, and the empty space in the right foreground eventually filled completely.
Balloon Park
Each morning at 7 there was a flight of balloons carrying paying passengers that flew low over the parking area. Holly was not thrilled with the sound that the firing of the gas burners made. balloons
  balloons balloons balloons balloons
We had a small get-together of users from rec.outdoors.rv-travel on Wednesday. From left to right, Don, Joy, Delores, Jan, Dave, and Chris. The backlighting wasn't helpful! RORT gathering
Last year I took the tram up to Sandia Peak, but couldn't convince Joy to go. This time she said she would if our friends John and Jean Watson went also. Jean took a little convincing, but at the end all agreed it was a fun trip. There was a lot of snow on the backside, and the ski lifts were in operation, but the temperature at the top was a balmy 43 degrees and the wind was light. I think it was colder when I was there in early May last year. Sandia Peak Sandia Peak
Sandia Peak Sandia Peak
One more picture of the motor homes parked at Balloon Fiesta Park. This one was taken from the tram. In the foreground are a number of coaches parked at an airport across I-25 from the park; it was a large Monaco rally that had thinned out quite a bit by the time this picture was taken. Balloon Fiesta Park
Thursday evening, the last night of the convention, the entertainment included a "Balloon Glow" event. Balloon Glow Balloon Glow
Balloon Glow Balloon Glow
From Albuquerque we went down to Sedona and spent a few days with Joy's Sister and Brother-in-Law. We did some hiking up the west fork of Oak Creek on Sunday. Oak Creek Oak Creek
Tuesday the four of us went down to Mesa's HoHoKam Park for a Cubs/Giants Spring Training game. It was a first for all of us. Pictures at right show Sammy Sosa warming up, and some Cubs signing autographs for fans. Sammy Sosa Cubs signing autographs
Cubs signing autographs Cubs signing autographs
In the first inning, Barry Bonds hit a monumental 3-run blast well out onto the berm in right field - most likely would have been a splash hit at Pac Bell Park. Bonds Home Run Bonds Home Run Bonds Home Run Bonds Home Run
Unfortunately, that was about the only highlight for us Giants fans, as you can see: Cubs Win
From Sedona we took a couple of days to get to this trip's ultimate destination, Death Valley. The weekend before our arrival they had temperatures up to 102F, but it had dropped to the high 80s by the time we arrived. It rose again into the high 90s, hitting 99 on March 30, the day before we left (one degree off the record for the day).

They say this was the best wildflower year since 1998, which was the record year. I took so many wildflower pictures that they needed their own page, which can be found here.

Here are some other pictures of our various travels around the valley:
Death Valley Panorama
A Death Valley Panorama from Dante's View, 5475 feet above Badwater.
Badwater
Badwater, the lowest point in the US
Badwater
View from a canyon above Badwater
Natural Bridge
Natural Bridge
Badlands
Badlands near Zabriskie Point
Horned Lizard
Horned Lizard at Dante's View
Mosaic Canyon
Mosaic Canyon
Mosaic Canyon
Death Valley from the mouth of Mosaic Canyon
Butterfly
Butterfly in Mosaic Canyon
Ubehebe Crater
Ubehebe Crater
Blister Beetles Mating
Blister Beetles mating
Zebra-tailed Lizard
Zebra-tailed lizard
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Scottie's Castle
Coyote
Coyote looking for handouts
Entrance to Titus Canyon
Entrance to Titus Canyon
Dogfight over Death Valley
Dogfight over Death Valley
Mosaic wall in Titus Canyon
Mosaic wall in Titus Canyon
Chuckwalla below Titus Canyon
Chuckwalla below Titus Canyon
20 Mule Team Wagons
20 Mule Team Wagons at Harmony Borax Works

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