Tag Archives: Santa Fe

Thanksgiving in Santa Fe, NM
November 26, 2007

Santa Fe, NM, Day Nine in Santa Fe Skies RV Park, Marigold #5.

Six months in our bus.


On our first day in Santa Fe, we were delayed from sightseeing because of battery concerns. This turned out to be a forecast of things to come.

We were excited to be in Santa Fe. We’d never been in the area before. We’d heard much about the beauty and history of the area. But doing much as tourists this time around just wasn’t meant to be.

Monday morning Dennis was waiting to talk to a Tiffin technician. After discussion with Tiffin it was decided that the Solar Regulator is defective. It is a battery charge monitor panel on our hall wall. It shows voltage and current charging status. It has been disconnected and we are waiting for a new one. Meanwhile the batteries seem to be charging correctly.

The Brady’s pulled out in style playing “On the Road Again” with musical horns. We were sorry to see them go. They were a very nice couple and David was extremely helpful to Dennis in detecting that our batteries were working properly.

With battery worries removed we were finally able to leave the bus and go into town. Monday was a beautiful, warm sunny day. We parked in the downtown plaza at noon. No sooner had we walked to the plaza then we ran into our friends, Dale and Marcel. They were in town for the Thanksgiving weekend and staying a block away at the historic La Fonda Hotel. We walked back to their hotel with them to see the Pueblo-style décor in their luxurious room. Then we left and they made ready to keep their appointments for an afternoon of massage and body treatments in the hotel’s spa.

Back on the plaza we followed Dale’s recommendation to find lunch at The French Pastry Shop & Creperie. We enjoyed crepes filled with chicken and mushrooms. The little restaurant was popular and had a charming interior. Welcome to old Santa Fe! After lunch we walked along E. San Francisco St. and around the plaza doing a little window-shopping. We could do no more than look — Santa Fe is more expensive than San Francisco and Aspen combined. I was amazed.

That evening we drove to Tomasitas Santa Fe Station on South Guadalupe St. where we met Marcel and Dale and Dale’s brother Dana with his wife, Tammy. The restaurant is located next to the old railroad depot and is a big favorite with Dana and Tammy who live in Santa Fe. Pitchers of margaritas arrived and we followed Tammy’s lead in ordering the Monday night special, a delicious enchilada, served up in the style of New Mexican cuisine. We had a lively time and lots of fun at dinner. Dale and Dana are hilarious together. Tammy is an English teacher and I found much in common with her. We are invited to their house for Thanksgiving so it was good to meet them in advance.


On Tuesday we found ourselves tired and disorganized. Maybe it was the 7000′ elevation. We didn’t feel like being tourists. One thing about living in your home — wherever you are you still have the errands and duties of home life. So we frittered the day away with house keeping and errands. We noticed that the weather was changing. We had beautiful blue skies and seventy-degree weather on Monday. Clouds began to gather on Tuesday although it was still sunny.

We really liked Santa Fe Skies Park and our living environment. It was quiet and we had terrific views. Each day we walked the dogs twice around the perimeter of the Park on the trail built by the Park and ranch owners.


Wednesday was another lost day in terms of being a Santa Fe tourist. We located Trader Joe’s and did some shopping to contribute towards Thanksgiving dinner. I was prepared to cook some dishes but Dale and Dana are the chief Thanksgiving cooks and they seemed to have all the traditional foods under control. Wednesday was very cold and windy. We were cold when we walked the dogs around the perimeter trail of the RV Park.


At 5:30 AM on Thanksgiving morning it was 45° inside the bus and 23° outside. This is when we discovered that we had no heat. Up until then the outside temperature had not fallen to below freezing. We have two heating systems. We’ve always used our electric heating system. The heat is blown out of vents in the ceiling. When temperatures fall below 32° the electric heat fails. All it does is to blow out cold air.

The diesel burner runs our other heating system. On the thermostat it is called gas heat. We switched our thermostat from heat mode electric to heat mode gas and waited for something to happen. Nothing. No heat. The diesel burner runs the aqua-hot system, which gives us hot water. That has always worked and we still had hot water. What were we doing wrong? I made coffee as usual and we both crawled back into bed. Dennis broke out the manuals. He also got online and tried to get information on the Tiffin RV Network. It was a mystery. We didn’t know why the heat wouldn’t come on. Naturally this happened on a holiday. No help was available.

We warmed up with hot showers and then hopped into our heated car and drove to warm I-HOP for breakfast. Then we shopped in a warm Albertson’s grocery store. About 11:00 AM the outside temperature warmed up enough to allow the electric heating to function. Slowly the bus warmed up and we prepared for Thanksgiving dinner. We loaded up the car with beer, wine, Martinelli’s cider, flowers and appetizers and drove to Dana and Tammy’s house. They live in a new housing development called El Dorado about 15 miles northeast of Santa Fe.

We discovered Dale and Marcel and Dana all busy finishing up preparations. Dale was getting ready to roast a batch of root vegetables and Dana had his pies and muffins in the oven. The turkey was roasting in an oven of neighbors who were out of town. I helped Tammy to set up a buffet table and the dining table. Dennis helped to see if the turkey was finished. Dinner was terrific and everything came out as planned. Dale’s Williams & Sonoma turkey dressing was delicious and so were Dana’s pies.

We returned to our bus late afternoon and found that the dogs were safe and the bus was still warm. That lasted until 10:00 PM. Then the blowers began to pump out cold air. Then Friday morning brought us a big surprise — snow! The whole world was white with about two inches of snow. I was thrilled but cold. I brought coffee to bed and we huddled under the covers until eight. It was 20° outside and 40° inside.


Friday morning, Dale called to say that I’d left my camera at Dana and Tammy’s house and she had it with her. We arranged to meet at the Plaza Café Restaurant for breakfast. Once again we took hot showers and looked to our warm car to get us warm. I tried to build a nest on the bed with my comforter for the dogs. They seemed to be all right with the cold. We drove downtown and met near the plaza for breakfast. It was actually snowing. At breakfast I asked Tammy where we should go to get some cold weather items. Tammy said she had piles of extras and she immediately gave me her knitted cap and scarf and a pair of really wonderful, warm leather gloves. She told us to go to Big Five Sporting Goods or else Target or Wal*Mart.

After breakfast we walked around the plaza to window shop with Dale and Marcel before they needed to pack and leave for the airport in Albuquerque. My hat, scarf and gloves made a huge difference to me and I actually enjoyed walking through snowflakes around the plaza. I made some small purchases of little decorative Christmas items for the bus and we had a lovely time.

After Dale and Marcel left we drove to the Big Five. We bought warm furry slippers for Dennis. We each bought a set of thermal underwear, tops and bottoms, as well as thermal socks. We got a knit hat and gloves for Dennis. Thus fortified we returned to the bus. We did not want to move the bus in snow conditions. We had put in calls to Tiffin and to Aqua-hot. Clearly we were stuck with a cold bus until after the four-day holiday.

It was 2:30 PM when we got back and we found that the bus was still cold. The heat never came on all day. We put on our new thermals and piled on layers of clothes including hat and scarf! I made hot-spiced tea. We were not comfortable but the cold was bearable — barely. We held out for a few hours. Then we got in our heated car and took the dogs with us. We drove around and got the car interior up to very hot. Then we parked at the Olive Garden and left the dogs in the car.

Again we went to a familiar restaurant just as an excuse to get warm. The comfortable booth felt wonderful. We ordered the artichoke appetizer and a salad. Then we skipped an entree and went straight to dessert. We returned to our car to find the dogs comfortable and the car still passably warm. We got home at 6:15 PM and went straight to bed wearing our thermals and I put my red flannel pajamas over the thermals. The sheets felt very cold. We watched TV but it was difficult because the air was so cold I could barely keep my head out of the covers to watch. I should have worn my new knitted hat and scarf. I quit and went to sleep early.


Saturday morning we dressed and took the dogs with us in the warm car and went to I-HOP again. Fighting the cold made me feel tired and cross. We went to I-HOP because it was easy to find and a known entity — reliable. There’s nothing like a warm, comfortable booth and a thermos of coffee to cheer you up. Afterwards we drove across the street to Bed, Bath & Beyond. Because our bed had felt so cold the night before, I bought a thick bed mat — a “Smart Fabric Technology Fiberbed” mattress topper. I also bought flannel sheets and flannel king pillowcases.

We got back to our bus at 10:00 AM and talked about leaving. However it would take a lot of time to make our preparations to travel. The slides all have canopies that stretch over them. They were each covered with two inches of snow. Dennis had to get out the ladder and sweep each of them clear. While he was working the sun came out and it got warmer. The electric heater started to work. I made the bed with new pad and flannel sheets. The deadline to leave is noon or you pay for an extra day. We were pre-paid anyway. The weather forecast predicted that it would get a little warmer each day.

We decided to stay. We even stayed in the bus for dinner, eating some of Dennis’s soup and a little leftover turkey Tammy had given us. By the time the heat quit we were in bed. The new pad and flannel sheets felt wonderful. Together with our thermal underwear, they helped us to feel warm. We felt very successful.


But Dennis made a mistake. Every night he had left the heat on in the living room, even though it blew cold air. It helped to keep the basement warm enough so that water in our pipes wouldn’t freeze. He got up at 1:30 AM to turn it on but it was too late. In the morning we had no water. The water pipe outside had frozen because the Park heating element attached to the pipe had kicked off. We thought our bus water pipes had frozen also. Actually they hadn’t but we could receive no water from the site water pipe. We also had no water from our holding tank because the pipelines by our holding tank pump were frozen.

No water! I use drinking water to make coffee so I used that but we couldn’t take showers. We huddled in bed and then dressed and got in the heated car and headed for I-HOP. But Dennis felt ill. Halfway there he turned around and we went back to the bus. He said he couldn’t stand the smell of food. I left him in our cold bus and drove the dogs to I-HOP where I parked the car in the sun to help them stay warm.

Afterwards I grocery shopped and then I returned to Bed, Bath & Beyond. We had been using an old comforter I brought but it had no cover. I was tired of messing with the complicated bedspread and four small square pillows that came with the bed as part of the Tiffin decoration scheme. I chose a heavy duvet with a red and black Navajo Indian design. (It’s called “Mesa”.) It came with matching shams so I bought two extra pillows.

At home I packed away the gold Tiffin bedspread, pillow cover, bed skirt and the four decorative but useless square pillows. I replaced them with the standard and king pillows we use for back support to sit up in bed. The king duvet became our new bedspread. The rich colors matched our southwest location and looked perfect for winter warmth and Christmas cheer.

Dennis had gotten sick. He thought he might have food poisoning but later we decided it could have been a virus. He was able to detach our water hose and he pulled it under the bus to the south side where it could be exposed to sunshine. Eventually it thawed and we had water again. Eventually the electric heat began to function. Dennis spent most of the day lying in the sun on the couch. Sometimes he paid attention to football games and sometimes he slept. I gave him some saltines and a diet coke, but he didn’t eat. At four in the afternoon he crawled into bed with a high fever. I couldn’t find a thermometer but his skin was hot all night. It scared me. That night I made sure the living room heat was on. I also let a tiny trickle of water drip out from each of our three faucets. In the morning we had water — nothing frozen.


On Monday morning at 6:40 AM I noted that the air temperature in the shade was 18° and in the sun it was 25°. Inside the bus it was 55°. I wrote the following in my journal.

“Windshield smeared with ice obscures view. There are dawn reds on horizon. It is clear so once the sun is up it will provide warmth. The air will heat up to above 32° and then the electric heater will become efficient. Right now it is blowing a small amount of air that is neither cold nor warm.

‘I woke at five and stayed under warm covers until six. Then I got up and made coffee. Now I sit in my cab chair wearing underwear, red flannel pajamas, my heavy white terrycloth robe and thermal socks. I have on my knitted scarf and hat and a red throw around my shoulders. The cream throw is over my legs. I don’t need my gloves. I’m sure I look a sight. Cold is not cute unless you own fur. My coffee has gotten cold.”

“This morning Dennis’s fever is gone. He is up and taking a shower. The four-day holiday is finished. Today we will get answers and find out what needs to be done. This week has been a lost week. Except for Cerrillos Road, on the east side, we saw little or nothing of Santa Fe. We had two brief outings in the plaza with Dale and Marcel. We met her brother and sister-in-law for dinner. We went to their house for Thanksgiving. On Friday we woke to snow and we’ve fought the heat problem ever since. That’s it. That’s all we’ve done.

‘Now the question is whether to stay or leave. With the heat fixed we could explore some more now that we’re familiar with the area. Certainly, we like Santa Fe. Or should we leave and go to a warmer area? At this point I’m leaning towards warmer. We can come back when there is springtime warmth. I don’t know. At this point everything seems like a big effort. I have little enthusiasm for exploration or being a tourist.

‘8:30 AM I’m out of the shower and dressed. The bus is 58°. There are clouds. It is overcast. The sun is anemic. BUT THE GAS HEAT IS WORKING!

‘Brent called promptly at 8:00 AM while I was in the shower. He’s on central time so he called at nine from Tiffin in Alabama. The problem was small — just as we thought. It was a loose wire in the basement. Now diesel burner aqua-hot heat is coming out of other vents — vents near the floor. It works quietly and it feels wonderful. Thank god.”

We paid in advance at Santa Fe Skies RV Park for ten days. Monday was to be our last day. With our heating problem solved we decided to remain for our last day and get ready to leave promptly on Tuesday morning. This gave Dennis a day to rest and recuperate before driving. We both voted for warmth. I suggested we head south on I-25 and go towards a warmer climate. Why not become “Winter Texans” and see the Texas gulf?

Heating Problems in Santa Fe, NM
November 19, 2007

Santa Fe, NM, Day Two in Santa Fe Skies RV Park.

Six months in our bus.


I wanted to be in Santa Fe by Saturday and all of a sudden I realized on Friday that we needed to make tracks. So we made an early start and left at 7:45 AM. Good thing we did because in an hour we crossed the Arizona state line into Mountain Time and all of a sudden it was an hour later. It was very pale and hazy — 68° in the morning. To amuse myself I baked breakfast cinnamon biscuits in our convection oven while Dennis drove ever eastward on I-40.

By late morning we had climbed those dark mountains that had been on the horizon and reached 5,000 elevation. The Grand Wash Cliffs were to our north and the Aquarius Mountains to our south. We were on red, rocky soil with grasses and (I think) juniper trees. We were in ranch country and had passed out of the Mohave Desert as we approached Seligman. After Seligman the land looked like yellow calico with dark green oval polka dots. It was grassland with small evergreen trees. The sky was a pale blue. By noon we were climbing again and into yellow pine mountain territory. We passed through Flagstaff at one. By two we were back onto a flat, level landscape with red earth and burnt out grass and a few distant buttes. We were entering Kachina and Indian pottery country with giant advertising signs at every exit.

We finally stopped at Holbrook Petrified Forest, a KOA camp in Holbrook, AZ. We did a good job and made up for lost time on Thursday. We drove six hours and logged 316 miles. Holbrook is at the entrance of the Petrified Forest National Park and is not far from the New Mexico border.

This was our first KOA campsite. I always thought of them as being of poor quality but this one was fine. We camped on a level dirt site and had plenty of space. There was a walking dog trail around the park and we had a nice view of the surrounding plateau although we were near route 66 and all the fast food amenities.

Our jovial host recommended the El Rancho Restaurant and Motel for an excellent Mexican dinner so we drove into Holbrook. This restaurant was a big surprise. It was large and very popular with lots of booths and a bar. We were lucky to snag a booth and we waited awhile for service. The staff was on the run. The menu was basic Mexican fare but I could tell that this was the real deal. There were tourists like us but the majority were locals — many appeared to be Mexican or Indian. We noshed on chips and salsa. For dinner we chose something I’ve not had before. Our waitress recommended Stuffed Sopapilla. Wow, they were delicious. Dennis had two Margaritas and we were happy campers.

I see that El Rancho is well known. I ran across this review.


On Saturday we covered 283 miles in five hours. We pulled into Santa Fe Skies RV Park at 3:00 PM. We traveled through the Navajo Indian Nation. More signs advertising everything from pottery to Indian ruins. This is a land of canyons with buttes and big horizons. Most of it is at surprisingly high elevations. Did you know that Albuquerque, NM is higher than Denver, CO? So is Santa Fe. Denver: 5280; Albuquerque: 5314; Santa Fe: 7000.


On Sunday, our first day in Santa Fe, I got up early to see the sunrise. About 5:30 I put on my white terry cloth robe over my red flannel PJs and took the dogs outside. Very cold! It was 44° inside the bus and 22° outside. But there was no frost on the ground.

We don’t understand our heating system. We’ve been using the electric heating system. But with freezing temperatures, we’re supposed to use gas heating system (hydrohot or aquahot) to keep the basement warm. Dennis had the diesel burner turned on all night (hydrohot) but the gas heat did not turn on. So we warmed up with electric heat. By 7:30 AM the indoor temperature had gone up to 69°. Cold and clear, we had a beautiful blue sky and the sun shining through our door to warm us up.

Unfortunately we didn’t get to sightsee on Sunday. I was ready to go out for breakfast in the morning but finally settled for cereal. I worked on my webpage all day while Dennis worked all day trying to solve technical difficulties with the bus. This was because the batteries were overheating. In other words, the Inverter was charging too much. The ? in the bus read zero. On the small Inverter in the basement there was a message, “High Battery Shutdown.” The Inverters work together but this one handles the refrigerator, which runs off of solar power. The refrigerator was working but we couldn’t figure out what was causing the batteries to cook.

Parked on our left was a 32′ 2003 Allegro Bus. Doug and his wife have a home in Santa Fe but their daughter lives there and they live in their bus because he travels so much for his job. He is a failure analysis engineer. Parked on our right was a 45′ 2002 Wanderlodge. David and his wife and their baby live in South Carolina but spend a lot of time traveling because they can work from their bus. They are both engineers. We had the right kind of neighbors for figuring out a technical problem. David was working outside on his bus and spent most of the day, on and off, helping Dennis figure out the cause for our battery problem.

Who knew there was so much to batteries? Our bus is set up for flooded batteries. Could it be that we had a get battery or an AGM battery and therefore the readings were wrong? David and Dennis tried to figure out the mystery. As it was Sunday, there was no one to call. David had the equipment to test the batteries and they read as being normal. We began to suspect that the readout in the bus was reading incorrectly and getting a wrong signal.

Finally Dennis felt he had done everything he could and that the overcooked batteries weren’t overcooked. We ventured down Cerrillos Rd and saw — I-Hop. Too tired and hungry to try being tourists, we stopped and at four o’clock we had our long delayed breakfast combined with dinner. After that we made some fun errand stops at Walgreens and Wal*Mart and got back to the bus at six o’clock.

So we’ve gotten a taste of our environment but haven’t really seen downtown Santa Fe. Maybe on Monday!


The Koppen climate classification for Flagstaff, AZ is BSk (Dry, Mid-latitude steppe: Mid-latitude dry).

Flagstaff has a highland semi-arid climate with four distinct seasons. The combination of high altitude and low humidity provide mild weather conditions throughout most of the year, and the predominantly clear air radiates daytime heating effectively. Temperatures often fall precipitously after sunset throughout the year, and winter nights can be very cold. Winter weather patterns in Flagstaff are cyclonic and frontal in nature, originating in the eastern Pacific Ocean. These deliver periodic, widespread snowfall followed by extended periods of fair weather. Brief, but often intense, afternoon rain showers and dramatic thunderstorms usually break this pattern common during the so-called monsoon season of July and August. Summer temperatures are moderate and high temperatures average around 80 °F.

At 7,000 feet elevation, located adjacent to the largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine forest in North America, the area around Flagstaff is considered a high altitude semi-desert. However, ecosystems ranging from pinon-juniper studded plateaus, high desert, green alpine forest and barren tundra can all be found within a short drive of Flagstaff.

Flagstaff is the county seat of Coconino County in northern Arizona. It is named after a Ponderosa Pine flagpole made by a scouting party from Boston (known as the “Flagstaff Tea Party”) to celebrate the United States Centennial on July 4, 1876.

Flagstaff lies near the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau and along the western side of the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the continental United States. It is located adjacent to Mount Elden, just south of the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountain range in Arizona. Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 feet is located about 10 miles north of Flagstaff.


The Koppen climate classification for Navajo County, AZ is BSk (Dry, Mid-latitude steppe: Mid-latitude dry).

Navajo County offers the infamous Monument Valley, Keams Canyon, the entry to the Petrified Forest, the largest stand of Ponderosa Pines in North America, and the Sunrise Ski Resort owned and operated by the White Mountain Apache tribe.

Navajo County is located in the northern part of Arizona. It contains parts of the Hopi Indian reservation, the Navajo Indian Reservation and Fort Apache Indian Reservation. Navajo County was split from Apache County on March 21, 1895. The first county sheriff was legendary gunman Commodore Perry Owens, who had previously served as the sheriff of Apache County. It was the location for many of the events that played out during the Pleasant Valley War.

The county seat of Navajo County is Holbrook. Other towns include Pinetop-Lakeside, Show Low, Snowflake, Taylor, and Winslow.


The Koppen climate classification for Albuquerque, NM is BWk or BWh (Dry, Mid-latitude desert or Subtropical, low-latitude desert). This means average annual precipitation is less than half of evaporation, and the mean temperature of the coldest month is above freezing.

Located in central New Mexico, Albuquerque lies within the northern, upper edges of the Chihuahuan Desert. It also has noticeable influences from the adjacent Colorado Plateau Semi-Desert, Arizona-New Mexico Mountains, and Southwest Plateaus and Plains Steppe.

Albuquerque has one of the highest elevations of any major city in the United States, though the effects of this are greatly tempered by its southwesterly continental position. The elevation of the city ranges from 4,900 feet in the valley near the Rio Grande to over 6,400 feet in the foothill areas of the Northeast Heights.

Like the Nile, the Rio Grande is classified as an ‘exotic’ river because it flows through a desert. The New Mexico portion of the Rio Grande lies within the Rio Grande Rift Valley, bordered by a system of faults. This system lifted up the adjacent Sandia and Manzano Mountains, while lowering the area where the life-sustaining Rio Grande now flows.

Albuquerque’s climate is usually sunny and dry, with low relative humidity. Brilliant sunshine defines the region, averaging more than 300 days a year; periods of variably mid and high-level cloudiness temper the sun at other times. Extended cloudiness is rare. The city has four distinct seasons, but the heat and cold are mild compared to the extremes that occur more commonly in other parts of the country.

Most of north-central New Mexico and southern Colorado fall within what is known as the transition zone, a climate zone that rests at 6,500-8,500 feet in altitude. In this zone trees like ponderosa, oak, juniper, spruce, and fir thrive in the cooler weather and higher altitude of the more mountainous landscapes. Hard, desert plant life, like shrubs and chaparral, dominate the landscape. In fact, the state flower of New Mexico is the Yucca. Oak and ponderosa pine forests run throughout the desert highlands.


The Koppen climate classification for Santa Fe, NM is BSk (Dry, Mid-latitude steppe: Mid-latitude dry)

Santa Fe has cool winters and warm summers. The average temperature ranges from a low of 14°F to a high of 40°F in winter, low of 55°F to a high of 86°F in summer. Santa Fe receives 2-3 inches of rain per month in summer and about 5 inches of snow per month in winter.

Santa Fe is located at 7,000 feet (2134 m) above sea level, making it the highest state capital in the United States. The next highest state capital is Cheyenne, Wyoming, 6,097 ft., followed by Denver, Colorado, 5,280 ft, Carson City, Nevada – 4,687 ft, Salt Lake City, Utah, 4,560 ft, and Helena, Montana, 4,125 ft.

Santa Fe is the seat of Santa Fe County and the capital of the state of New Mexico. It was originally occupied by a number of Pueblo Indian villages originating from 1050 to 1150.

Santa Fe was the capital of Nuevo México, a province of New Spain explored by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and established in 1515. The “Kingdom of New Mexico” was first claimed for the Spanish Crown in 1540, almost 70 years before the founding of Santa Fe. Coronado and his men also traveled to the Grand Canyon and through the Great Plains on their New Mexico expedition.

Spanish colonists first settled northern New Mexico in 1598. A settlement on the site that would become Santa Fe was first established by Juan Martinez de Montoya ca. 1607-1608. The town was formally founded and made a capital in 1610, making it the oldest capital city in the US. It is perhaps tied with Jamestown, Virginia (founded 1607) for second oldest surviving American city founded by European colonists, coming in behind St. Augustine, Florida (founded 1565).

In 1846, the United States declared war on Mexico. By 1848 it officially gained New Mexico through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In 1912, New Mexico became the country’s 47th state, with Santa Fe as its capital.