We took our first long (for us) trip in the Revel in the summer of 2019. Since we were new to the whole thing, we put the dogs in the kennel for 2 weeks and then hit the road. Along the way we stayed at state parks, national forests, KOAs, a ski resort parking lot, and a city park.
We started with a loooong drive the first day. About 10 hours of driving and our first stop was still in Texas. We had reserved a camping spot at Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo. We didn’t plan far enough in advance to get an RV site, so we ended up in a tent site on the floor of the canyon. In mid July. It was warm, but cooled off enough overnight so that we were able to sleep. It would have been less comfortable if we’d had the dogs – they prefer sleeping in cooler temps.
The park is gorgeous, and I got in an awesome trail run. Mike hadn’t gotten into mountain biking yet, but had his road bike and got in a short ride on the park roads. We only stayed one night as we were on a tight schedule out to get to the first ever Winnebago Revel Rally in Durango, CO. I would love to go back there, and found out there is a 50K race held there in October. Putting that on the list for sure!
From there we went through New Mexico on our way to Colorado. We spent the next night at Fenton Lake State Park. This was another quick one-night stop, so we really didn’t get to experience much of the park. Fenton Lake is in the Jemez Mountains at 7,650 feet above sea level.
It was pretty, looked nice for fishing, but what we remember most about it is the drive out of the park and back to the main highway up to Durango. Luckily I had printed out the google map directions because there was no cell service. Me: turn left, then stay on this state road NM-126 for 28 miles. Huh, wonder why it says that will take 52 minutes? We soon found out, as the pavement ended and we got our first chance to use the 4×4 on the Revel.
We made it to Durango and spent the next couple nights in a parking lot at Purgatory Ski Resort. This was the first ever Revel Rally. We got to meet other Revel owners from all over the country, take a look at the different mods others had done to their vans, go running and cycling, and talk to various industry reps. We also bought a screen for the sliding door from the guys at Rolef and got them to install it on our van before we left. It was a lot of fun, and we left there knowing we wanted to attend the next one in Wyoming for our next big trip.
We had made plans and reservations in advance for the first part of the trip, but once we left the Rally we had no set agenda. We wanted to see Santa Fe, and someone at the rally said we really should see White Sands National Monument. Since we got a late start out of Durango, we just drove an hour or so and stopped at a National Forest campground for the next night. The Lower Piedra Campground in the San Juan National Forest is located on the Piedra River about a mile off of US 160. We had our pick of campsites. It was quiet and the night sky was amazing. It also had the cleanest pit toilet we’ve ever seen. Mike took a picture of it but I won’t post it here. You’re welcome.
The next morning we continued on back to New Mexico. We made an impulse stop for breakfast in this cute little town on the way, Pagosa Springs. We didn’t know at the time we’d end up buying a condo there a few months later. I had found a campsite just north of Santa Fe using iOverlander, so we headed that way for the next night. We pulled into Overlook Campground, which overlooked (not surprisingly) a beautiful blue lake. We set up camp, and noticed some graffiti and tagging. And then a good bit of trash down the hill from our campsite. We were the only ones there and it was a little eerie. We started second guessing spending the night there and wondering if it was safe. An old car pulled in a few sites away, music thumping, obviously not camping. And we packed up quickly and drove down the hill while looking for another place to stay. We found an RV park and decided to stay there for the night. The guy that checked us in said it’s not uncommon to hear gunshots coming from where we were, so I think we made the right decision. It’s a shame, as the place was beautiful. Here’s a picture of our campsite before we packed up and hurried off:
The next morning we headed into Santa Fe to do a little sightseeing. An advantage to traveling in the van is the ability to park anywhere a car can park. We walked around a bit, shopped, ate, and then headed south towards Alamogordo and White Sands.
We stayed at a KOA in Alamogordo the next night. At that point we’d been on the road for over a week, so the clean bathrooms with showers and the laundry facility felt super luxurious. We got the e-bikes out and rode to a hardware store and a Dollar General to get a few things we needed before turning in for the night.
The next morning we made the short drive to White Sands National Monument. We parked in the visitor center parking lot and pulled out the e-bikes. Mike saw a ranger and asked her if it was okay to leave the van parked there while we rode our bikes in and she said that it was. So off we rode into the sand, and had the coolest adventure of our entire trip. It was pretty early yet, so not crowded at all. We rode the entire thing, stopping a few times for pictures. Just a really cool thing to see and experience.
From there we started back towards home. One fun thing about not having an itinerary is coming across places you wouldn’t have otherwise. As we were driving along a two-lane highway in New Mexico, heading back towards Texas, we saw the signs for Roswell. Of course we had to pull over and take a picture!
We continued on into Texas and stopped for the night at a city park in Brownfield, TX, which is a small town in the middle of nowhere west Texas. The park has free RV hookups and seemed perfectly safe, so we plugged in and spent the night. We were still probably 9-10 hours from home, so we spent the evening deciding where to spend our final night. We reserved a campsite at Pedernales Falls State Park just west of Austin. I am continually impressed by Texas State Parks. Another beautiful place for a hike.
Our first long trip (longer than a weekend) was a success! Two weeks and about 2,500 miles later, we couldn’t wait to do it again, the next time with dogs.