The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. We came, we saw, we conquered. It’s been our major pin in the calendar for quite a while.
After routing our spring to get from the desert Southwest to Elkhart, an amazing summer in Alaska, returning to the chaos of the bus renovations not being done, spending a month onsite pushing to get them done in time to make Albuquerque and then a 1400 mile quick run back to New Mexico – we made our goal.
We arrived positively exhausted, low on personal energy fuel, back-logged on work and 9 days ahead of heavy socialization & activities as we co-hosted the first ever Xscapers convergence.
Even if we’re fully charged up, going into such a stimulating environment would have pooped us out.
Basically, we’ve been running in reserve energy mode for a long long time.
Post Fiesta in Albuquerque
We made it through the balloon fiesta, quite well, actually. It’s hard to not be energized when surrounded by amazing supportive community, appreciation from readers and magical balloons flying over.
But as the event ended, we wanted nothing more than to crawl into a cave for a few days and hide. We had been tapping into reserve energy that was now sucking fumes.
While we would have loved to just stay put in the standard parking lot another day or two, the balloon fiesta staff too wanted to wrap up the event and weren’t too keen on us staying put. For ease, we packed up and moved over to the Sandia Resort & Casino just around the block.
This is a well known free casino parking option in Albuquerque, and it has absolutely beautiful well landscaped grounds. The parking lot can accommodate many dozens of RVs.
They have an official 4-night limit that is infrequently enforced. Many of our neighbors had been there well over a week.
We checked in at the Players Club, and were given $25 in free match play – so we played the slots for a bit to mindlessly distract ourselves. I figure if the casino is generous enough to let us stay, I don’t mind contributing a few bucks. Unfortunately for them, we turned the free match play into real dollars – so we treated ourselves to the buffet with our winnings.
As nice as the parking spot was and convenient to shopping for provisioning, this was not a place to find our much needed solitude. Seems many of our fans and friends were also parked there, and we had a constant stream of visitors.
Of course, we were pleasantly surprised that we randomly pulled in right next to a hero of ours, Randy of Mobile Kodgers! We totally spaced on snapping a picture of us together, but it was great to catch up with him – and the many others we met there.
Cochiti Lake Paradise
Our original intentions was to head out to a New Mexico State Park, purchase an annual camping pass and start some park hopping.
However, we wanted to stay within close range of Albuquerque, as Apple just announced the new retina 21.5″ iMac – and it totally had my name on it. We had no idea if we’d have a shipping address in the coming months, so we opted to have it shipped to the only Apple store in the area.
We couldn’t find an ideal sounding state park nearby – but Cochiti Lake Recreation Area (our review), run by the Army Corp of Engineers – sounded great. Just 11 miles off I-25 between Sante Fe and Albuquerque, the park had very high ratings and reports of strong cellular signal.
The electric hook-up sites looked pretty booked up, but the dry camping spots were wide open. Perfect – we don’t need no stickin’ hook-ups anyway.
We arrived, dumped the tanks and refilled the fresh water – and settled into one of the open dry camping loop spots for $12/night. It just so happened it was huge, had a gorgeous lake view and was a walk-in site. Meaning, no one could reserve it out from under us and we could extend up to 2-weeks as we desired. We love first come first serve!
On the way to register, a few friends from the Escapee’s Boomers group came over to greet us, as they too had sought refuge here after the fiesta. Instant sunset happy hour was planned.
In this RVing lifestyle there seems to be no shortage of social life – that’s for sure. It’s becoming harder and harder for us to find solitude these days. Thankfully, most fellow full timers get it – and after happy hour is enjoyed, everyone appreciates their own space and time.
We’ve been thoroughly enjoying Cochiti Lake. The weekends tend to attract weekend campers from the surrounding bigger cities. We love seeing folks get out and enjoying our beautiful country, making memories and connecting with each other. But we sure do love the sound of them packing up their music makers, generators, toys, barking dogs and outdoor lights on Sunday morning.
The weekdays have been super quiet, and we’ve had the loop mostly to ourselves.
Peace. Quiet. Solitude. Lovely surroundings. Cheap camping. And a Verizon tower looming over us.
We’ve gotten out for long walks regularly, enjoyed kicking back and watching movies. We’ve *gasp* read books (I, The Martian), cooked meals, grilled outdoors, and worked on small household projects.
Those may not seem like big things to the outsider – but getting back to a normal life is huge for us. It’s been so long.
We’re getting caught up on work projects. Coverage? got a major map refresh, we’ve done several mobile internet advising calls, published some new content for our RV Mobile Internet Resource Center, did extensive cellular booster testing and just had more time to be engaged instead of in struggling to keep-up mode.
We’ve been enjoying and getting used to our new RV systems. We’re especially loving the hydronic heating (we’ve had a couple chilly nights). It’s so super quiet and works great.
It’s been so good. So recharging. And exactly what we needed to reset after months of really not being at home and in upheaval.
Not ready to move on, we extended until middle of this week. Since we’ve been major homebodies, we’ve barely left the campground except a day trip to Albuquerque to pick up my new computer, some provisioning and a 3-D showing of The Martian (we live SUCH exciting lives, eh??).
We hope to make it out to nearby Tent Rocks for some hiking before we leave, we keep hearing it’s spectacular.
And then we’ll likely look at the weather forecasts and choose where to move to next. Having lots of solar and huge holding tanks makes extended dry camping a breeze.
What’s Up Next?
We really don’t have much of a plan ahead. And we LOVE it!
We’re aiming to make Quartzite in mid-January – the Xscapers will have their next convergence there. We’re committed to the Escapade in Vermont in late July. Other than that.. we’ll go where the winds call us.
I think we need a few more weeks like this to get anywhere close to considering ourselves re-charged. And by golly, that’s our prime directive right now.