Get $1000 CASH for Christmas!! Click here to learn how.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

5 December 2017

After surviving the Highway to Hell, we needed a break!  When we arrived at the community owned RV park in Clifton Arizona, it wasn’t looking too good.  The park and the occupants just didn’t give us a very good vibe.  The manager only works mornings, with cleaning and maintenance being handled by prisoners from the local jail.  What surprised us was just how quiet the place was, even though it was a weekend.  You could hear a pin drop after 8 PM, and anyone we encountered were exceptionally friendly.  A true gem in the rough.

After some searching through our Passport America listings and checking reviews we decided our next stop was going to be the Hidden Valley Ranch Resort, just outside of Deming, New Mexico. 

Walls Sunset

One of the nightly colourful New Mexico sunsets.

Yes, the $12.50 a night price tag with full hookups was an attraction, but also the reviews we read, touting the place as one of the friendliest and most picturesque spots in the country.  Both proved to be understatements.  The last 8 miles or so to the ranch is all gravel roads.  You have to take things slowly, but as their advertising says, “it’s worth the trip!”  It truly is a hidden valley, there is no hint of life until you round a corner and voila! The ranch gates are there to greet you.  So too, are the pair of boots sticking out from under a pile of rocks with a white cross at the other end.  The owners do have a sense of humour. 

Walls Hidden Valley Resident
The permanent resident area of Hidden Valley Ranch Resort, Deming New Mexico!

There is nothing at all spectacular about the ranch and RV park itself, until you realize it’s all the little details and the people that make this place very special.  ATV’s are the prime mode of transport around the park, but everyone goes dead slow, stopping to chat with anyone they meet.  I suspect a trip to the laundry building from the far end of the park could take an hour or more each way with all the socializing.  There’s a clubhouse - the hub of activities at the ranch for staff and guests alike.  Coffee is at 3PM daily and there are nightly events planned.  Our visit at coffee hour netted us a laundry list of things to do, places to see, and a lot of the local history.  We’d hit a major snag discovered at Clifton, however.  One of our slide cables began to fray and had to be replaced.  Tucson was the closest big city, but calls there were fruitless unless we wanted to drop off the rig and wait for 4-6 weeks for repair (assuming they could even get the part).  This was not looking good.  Fortunately, an email to Stone’s RV started a quick chain of events, leading us to an 800 km round trip to Albuquerque to get the part and an appointment at a Keystone dealer in Waco to make the repairs. 

Walls Magnolia

Leeann standing at the Silos, in Waco Texas.  Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s hit 'Fixer Upper' are the owners.

Walls Petroglyphs
Leeann checking out the large collection of Native Petroglyphs at Hidden Valley Ranch.


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Yes, I’ve switched over to movie titles.  As I write this, we’re in Tampa.  We spent three days in Pensacola Florida, then Keaton Beach prior to arriving at Tampa December 1st for a 2-week hiatus. Time to recap a bit, and list some high and low points of the trip.  We departed October 25th hugging the West Coast.  Throughout we had no issues with finding places to stay.  Roads were passable at all times, but some sections were pretty bumpy.  We headed East, through the Mojave Desert.  Scenery was incredible, roads good, and we found a great mix of budget-friendly sites and boondocking spots.  All along, great hiking, history, and amazing sunsets.  From the Petrified Forest, we turned South, and unwittingly challenged the highway through hell.  Great bragging rights, at least, but never again!  We found more great campsites though, and got great support in fixing our slide cable.  All in all, a whole lot of Good.  So what’s the Bad and the Ugly?  

The day we left Waco, repairs complete, we lacked reservations, due uncertainties with repairs.  We’d been winging it so far, so didn’t worry much about it.  Sadly, that sure changed.  Two things were working against us, GPS, and a week-long American holiday.  We searched out some National Forest, and Corps of Engineers sites, and set the truck’s GPS System, and Google Maps on a tablet.  Both took us to near-impossible places to get out of, at night, including a tiny cul-de-sac, surrounded by ditches.  When we finally got to one campground, we hit another snag.  The all-wonderful Reservations system. Tenters can reserve any site, while RVers can only reserve RV specific sites. We arrived to find the only loop for RV’s was chalk-a-block full.  Easily ½ of those were filled with tents, taking advantage of onsite power and water.  The tent loops, were deserted.  This system flaw means RVers are blocked from getting sites, and Tenting sites sit empty, limiting both availability, and revenue.  With the massive increase in RV sales, this will only get worse.  There are big RV Resorts, 100% geared for trailers and motorhomes, with all the bells and whistles.  From the few we’ve stayed at, there’s room for improvement!  Sardine packing should be left to sardines, and not RV’s.  If you can’t get between your slide-outs and your neighbors, might as well get a hotel room.  WiFi, in 2017, should be a simple thing, but doesn’t seem to be.  Our New Mexican paradise, Hidden Valley Ranch, boasted ridiculously cheap rates, and multiple high-speed WiFi hubs to choose from, all the time.  Overall, the small family run campgrounds have rocked, while many of the big corporate resorts have failed to impress.  

Hidden Valley RV Ranch, New Mexico; Pensacola RV Park, Pensacola, Florida; Pavilion RV Park, Keaton Beach Florida; wow, you guys have amazing parks, with different styles, but share golden traits that we love.  Super friendly owners and staff, clean everything, and we will certainly return!

The Good RangerMuseum
We toured a lot of museums in November, including the Pensacola Naval Air Museum (huge!) and the Texas Ranger Museum.  A section dedicated to The Lone Ranger, and Walker, Texas Ranger, but Chuck Norris wasn’t hanging out there.

The Good NewOrleans

New Orleans, French Quarter.  We found the NCIS New Orleans shooting location, enjoyed the sights, sounds, and great New Orleans food.

The Good MammothSite

Waco is home to Mammoth National Historic Site, and houses an enclosed excavation of a large number of Mammoths.  They were not fossilized, but preserved, allowing for incredible research by Scientists.

The Good Elephant

Leeann has always wanted to see an Elephant, so we spent a day at Waco’s Zoo, which was very affordable and an amazing place to visit.

 

Customer Referral Program

At Stones RV we truly value our customers business. As a token of our appreciation we would like to extend our sincere “Thank You” by offering a Customer Referral Program. Learn More

What our customers are saying

“We purchased a 2001 Wilderness 29S a few years ago from Stones RV in Sydney. James Eddy was our salesman and he was very easy to deal with and showed us many trailers until we found the one that suited our needs. We were permanently parking it in a camp park so Stones delivered it and completely set it up. Thanks.” ~ Art and Tara Merrill