Spring in Northern Arizona and New Mexico means wind. Lots of wind. Wind that comes out of nowhere, jolts you from sleep, and shakes the whole house. Wind that can easily knock an RV like ours out of its lane or off the road entirely.
Over the last several months, as we’ve traveled to places like Albuquerque and Santa Fe, we’ve faced one windstorm after another. In response, we’ve frequently changed our travel plans to avoid driving through it.
That brings me to an app that has really come in handy as we’ve navigated these constantly changing weather conditions. WindAlert is a free app that provides wind forecast information from weather stations all over the country.
Forecasts are available several days out, so we can look at wind stations anywhere along our intended route and see what conditions will be like on upcoming travel days. By way of example, here’s what one of our recent Colorado Springs forecasts looked like on WindAlert:
Basically, at 4:00 p.m. winds were sustained at 22 mph, gusting at 36, it was 37 degrees out, and it was snowing. If you look inside each of the individual bars, you’ll see a triangle/arrow. The arrow is pointed in the direction of the wind – helpful information when deciding which direction to park the RV and whether or not to bring the slides in.
(Fun aside: at 10:00 p.m., when it was 23 degrees, snowing, and winds were gusting at 54 mph, and ‘someone’ had to take Thor out, and that ‘someone’ was me, I was not a fan of “living the RV life.”)
Anyway, back to Winslow… after leaving Homolovi State Park, our plan was to spend one night at a campground in Holbrook and then make the long drive east to Albuquerque. However, the news was reporting a huge incoming storm for much of the midwest and west – the Bomb Cyclone that created blizzard conditions in much of the region.
WindAlert showed that winds along our intended route to Albuquerque would be sustained in the mid 20’s and gusting in the mid to upper 30’s. It also showed rain and snow during parts of the afternoon.
While there are plenty of people who would drive in such conditions, there are also plenty of people who crash their RVs every year because they’re stupid, and we do our best to avoid stupid. So, we extended our stay in Holbrook and spent the afternoon watching numerous beleaguered drivers exit I-40 and pull into the empty spots next to us.
By the following day, all was normal and we proceeded with an uneventful drive to Albuquerque. Just the way we like it.
As for WindAlert, we’ve been using it almost daily as we’ve traveled this Spring. In places like Northern Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado, wind comes on strong and, oftentimes, without warning. One minute the skies are blue and the sun is shining, and the next, the skies are blue, the sun is shining, and the winds are gusting at 45 miles per hour. In fact, the wifi password for the RV park we stayed at in Santa Fe was “StowYourAwning” – because people who leave for the day without first retracting their awning often come home to an awning-less motorhome. This app has been a lifesaver and a property saver and we highly recommend it.
(*And to be clear, I have no association with WindAlert and am not touting their product in order to make money. Though, also, to be clear, if someone knows the folks over there and could get them to pay me, that would be great.)
When we got to Albuquerque, we were pleasantly surprised to learn we had booked this enormous private campground during their low season. For the duration of our stay, we never had more than a handful of neighbors. Oftentimes, we had our whole section to ourselves.
Even better, when I went up to the office to extend our reservation, the front desk person decided to input every discount she could come up with to save us money (what can I say? I’m charming…) Next thing I knew, we were paying $13 per night for a site that usually costs $50 per night. Sweet!
Waaaaay back when we visited Galveston we met Curtis and Tami. Soon after that, they bought a condo in Albuquerque and have been traveling part-time ever since. When they’re not on the road, they work as “extras” in several of the Netflix series that are being filmed in Albuquerque these days. So, basically, they’re movie stars which means we’re friends with movie stars which means we’re basically famous.
New Mexico was the 6th state in which we’ve met up with our friends Celena and Shoam (Texas, Vermont, Maine, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico), which is pretty crazy. Even crazier, they are also friends with Curtis and Tami. So, we all got together a couple times while we were in the area.
We also hung out with friends Ben and Lanni, whom we last saw in Austin. They, too, put down roots in ABQ and are now part-time RVers. They took us around town, showed us the Old Town area, grabbed lunch with us at El Vado (a newly restored Route 66 era motel with several fantastic restaurants surrounding an outdoor courtyard), and took us on a walk through one of the local nature preserves, before we headed out for dinner.
Finally, one of my closest friends in college grew up in New Mexico and his mom and her husband live in Albuquerque. Over the years, when they would come visit Chad in D.C., we would all spend time together. We last saw them at his wedding in 2015. Anyway, when I mentioned to Chad that we were going to be visiting Albuquerque, he responded “Mom will murder you if you pass through town without telling her.” And since the only thing we try to avoid more than ‘stupid’ is ‘dead,’ off we went to two lovely lunches with Gwyn, Tracey (Gwyn’s husband), and Jackie (Gwyn’s sister). Jackie happened to be visiting from Michigan and gave us lots of great tips for what to see and do when we make our way up there.
As for Albuquerque itself, it’s an interesting city. Of all the locals we spoke with, everyone a) loved living there; and b) cautioned us about the rampant property crime affecting the city. As we explored, we noticed that, unlike most places, there were no “good neighborhoods” and “bad neighborhoods.” Everything is very mixed. In any given area, some homes and businesses will be really well cared for and others won’t. Many houses have bars on their windows, but the city is full of incredible artwork (like the mural in the featured image at the top of this post). While we saw a lot of litter in some places, elsewhere, we saw nothing but interesting architecture, great food, pretty parks, and really nice people.
It is obvious the city does not have the resources to deal with all the various issues it is facing. However, it is also clear that Albuquerque’s residents are proud of their hometown and many are working hard to improve its rough spots. We can see why our friends love living there and hope it continues to grow and attract new investment.
When we left Albuquerque, we were in the rare position of not having reservations for the night. I had found this Army Corps of Engineers campground just outside Santa Fe and it looked great – but they are first come/first served until April 1. We decided to roll the dice and give it a shot. And, lo and behold, when we got there, we scored one of the best sites in the place.
Our spot was huge and overlooked the reservoir. Thor immediately made himself at home on the patio and enjoyed the warm breezes and quiet…
And given how long it had been since we had had more than a day or two of decent weather, we made the most of it, too.
Kasha Katuwe-Tent Rocks Monument
Cochiti Lake is located right near Kasha – Katuwe Tent Rocks Monument, so Celena and Shoam joined us for a hike. There are two main interconnected trails, the very easy Cave Loop Trail and then the more challenging Canyon Trail that climbs about 600 feet to the overlook above.
The Cave Loop Trail was a fun and easy jaunt…
As we traveled its route, we started seeing some of the famous rock formations that give the park its name. Volcanic eruptions 6 to 7 million years ago left the deposits of pumice, ash, and tuff which make up the formations.
The trail up to the mesa was steep, rocky, and at times, exposed. But, what do you know? When you have hiking boots that have tread on the bottom, it’s a LOT easier to hike on challenging surfaces. Who knew???
Once we were at the top, we enjoyed the views of the Sangre de Christo, Jemez, and Sandia Mountains, as well as the valley below.
We then made our way back down and called it a day.
I had originally considered combining our visits to Albuquerque and Santa Fe in one post, but quickly realized there was just too much to talk about. I mean, our new friend Fred here…
…is gonna take some explaining.
More on that next…
Where we stayed:
American RV Resort, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Cochiti Campground, Pena Blanca, New Mexico
Yikes! That is some crazy wind! Glad you can avoid it. Great campsites, these look way better than the ones where it is busy and you are packed in like sardines! Beautiful pics!
Yeah, it’s amazing what a difference these campgrounds can make for our happiness levels. We just love the government run ones where they’re not focused on packing in as many people as possible. This place in particular was awesome because of the views. If it was a bit closer to civilization, we would have stayed even longer.
Cochiti Lake is a favorite stop of ours. You scored a premo site! Loved that hike at Kasha-Katuwe NM. I’ve done it a few times. Look forward to hearing about what you did in Santa Fe.
We loved the hike there too! It was a nice combination of interesting topography, challenging climbs, and impressive overlooks. And it was the perfect length – not too long or short. Definitely a fun one, and one we wouldn’t mind repeating if and when we’re back in the area!
Oooooo, WIND! The bane of our RV existence thus far! In fact, we have had our big slide in the entire time we’ve been at our current location because of it, and it’s really put the kibosh on hanging out outside as much as we’d like in several locations. I agree that having a good weather app (or three) is a life-saver.
We are looking forward to staying at and visiting some of the places you highlight here, but I doubt we’ll be able to finagle such a deal at that RV park as you did (not that we’re not charming, mind you!) Can’t wait to see Kasha Katuwe on our way back around next year. That slot canyon looks way cool.
Yes, you got some ‘splainin to do about “Fred!”
You guys will love Kasha-Katuwe, I have no doubt about it. The main hike is just challenging enough to keep things interesting without it being a slog and the views are wonderful. It’s rare you get a combination of a slot canyon and epic views from above, all within 3 miles.
As for the wind, yeah, I am over it already. It’s been relentless lately. It’s especially exhausting when it comes out of nowhere in the middle of the night – ask me how I know. I hope things improve for you guys. Getting away from the relentless wind is one reason we’re about ready to make the turn east (please prepare for upcoming complaints about heat, humidity, mosquitoes, and ticks… It’s always something…).
That WindAlert app is so cool and something we have desperately needed in the past … “AMARILLO I’m talkin’ ’bout you!”! It is now downloaded and ready for action! Thanks for the tip!
That’s awesome! I hope it is as helpful for you as it’s been for us! We haven’t been to Amarillo yet, but from your ringing endorsement, I’m thinkin maybe we’ll keep it on the back burner. 🙂
Great post Laura. I’m going to use that app., we also recognize the need for it. After a few of those nasty, windy drives we’ve learned to check the weather and then lock down all our awnings if necessary. Lots easier doing this at the campground than along an interstate with trucks whizzing by at 80, ladder wiggling precariously on the uneven shoulder and and wind blowing so hard the awnings are billowing up over the motor home! We keep trying to like ABQ enough to consider living there someday but your observations have been ours….it’s a really uneven city and I have trouble getting past that.
Love Thor’s relaxing moment.
Yeah, we have definitely learned the hard way to not assume anything about the weather. Just last night, the very day I published this article, we had a huge windstorm kick up in the middle of the night. It was sunny and 70 all day and then, out of the blue, the wind was so bad, we had to pull the slides in. It’s just crazy. You can’t assume anything about your route based on what it’s like when you leave, and there’s nothing worse than trying to deal with these things while on the highway.
As for ABQ, we really did love some of it – it’s so much the type of place we’d love to settle, and it’s extremely affordable. I just wish they had the resources to address some of these problems. We found this beautiful park to take the dog, but there were piles of trash all along the perimeter. I looked around and realized there were no trash cans, so people just leave stuff on the ground. Why does the city have a beautiful park with no trash cans? That’s the kind of stuff we kept seeing. If they dedicated some resources to things like that, it would make such a difference..
Thanks for the tip on the wind app, I’ll be looking into it. Loved Cochiti and the hike there, I have family in ABQ so have heard some of the same about it.
Yeah, it was just interesting to have almost the same conversation with all the people we knew who lived there… they loved it for the same reasons, but had the exact same cautions to convey. It’s like, everyone knows what the issues are, but there’s a lack of resources to resolve them quickly. It does sound like its getting better by the day though. I hope it continues, because it really is a cool city.
Love that password in Santa Fe! And I feel “almost” famous because someone “basically” famous reads and comments on my blog … wow 🙂
Oooh, that’s a good point. Maybe I should start charging “almost appearance fees” for reading blogs??? Could be very lucrative!! 🙂
You have the worst luck with weather, but the best luck with friends, so I guess it’s a pretty good balance!
Wow… I never thought of it that way, but you are SO right. It’s definitely a nice balance.
I got sidetracked by how pretty that wind app is…but even better is how useful it is! Thanks for the tip. I’ve always heard that winds are bad in northern New Mexico in the spring, but after reading your post, I’m scratching Santa Fe off of our travel plan for next April. Darn! I guess we’ll stick with fall visits, which is what we’ve done in the past.
Despite the winds, it looks like you had a blast in Albuquerque with friends. Interesting to hear insiders views and your take on the city. We’ve never felt drawn to it in the same way that we feel drawn to Santa Fe and Taos, but I’ve always wanted to give it more of a chance. It sounds as though some cool people are settling there.
P.S. I hope Thor knows how lucky he is to have you—23 degrees, snowing and winds gusts of 54 mph and he wants to go out? Dude owes you! So does Kevin, LOL!!
Albuquerque is definitely worth a visit. I don’t mean to sound negative about it. My comments are based on the thoughts our friends had from living there in combination with what we saw. It’s a really cool place and has a ton going for it. If they just had the manpower and resources to address some of these issues, it would be perfect….and instantly unaffordable for most people… Figures, right?
As for visiting in Spring, we had some days that were lovely, but the inconsistent weather definitely gets tiring after a while. The more we’ve traveled, the more I think Fall is just the perfect time to go anywhere. Less rain, less inconsistency, when the weather “regresses” toward the the prior season, it gets warm, rather than cold. It’s just better…. That’s my theory and I’m sticking with it!
As for Thor, yeah… it would be nice if he realized how good he has it, but alas, I’m pretty sure he is just spoiled at this point! 🙂
With eight years on the road full time and six of them out west, we so understand the wind. We have been so lucky and able to change reservations to work on travel days so we didn’t have wind. We only had one day where the wind was a problem with an awning. John has since put a lock on it. Now living in the west, we realize it is always at least “breezy” here in Boulder City. We loved finally hiking in the Tent Rocks. They are just so neat! Glad you are enjoying being so social and seeing lots of friends.
We had heard about the wind, but just had no idea what it was like until this season. It’s especially tough because you have no idea when it’s gonna come on. With thunderstorms, you can pretty much tell they’re coming and prepare. With windstorms, they just come out of nowhere. It’s interesting that you get breezy conditions year round in Boulder City I thought it was just a Spring thing. Interesting how there’s SOME crazy weather drawback no matter where you go. (Except San Diego??? I don’t know… I’m keeping that dream alive…:)
Just think how much fuel you could save if you mounted a sail on top of the rig, lol. Nice you were able to meet up with so many friends. The ACE park looks fabulous. Love the view from the top of the trail. Hope you are finding better weather.
Oh man… a combo motorhome/sailboat. Why didn’t I think of that?? Could be the next big thing! 🙂 Cochiti Lake was gorgeous – one of our favorite recent stops, no questions. If you guys are in the area, definitely stop by. You’d love it! Better weather is fleeting… we find it, and then it disappears. I’m starting to feel like we’re just hopscotching around in endless search of sunshine…. Anyway, for the moment, it’s about 73 and sunny, so we’ll take it!!
NM was on the top of the list for a possible home state but when we experienced their winds +dust at springtime, we immediately strike it off! I will check that wind alert app, that looks so cool and useful!
Yes, one post about a visit in Santa Fe and ABQ is never enough, besides Id like to see your photos of those artsy cities and your take.
Tent Rocks are one of those fascinating rock formations that makes your mind blown away, and I’m sure the wind has something to do with their formations.
That’s the reason why we never have a pet, to be exposed to the element while walking a dog and besides I’m lazy. But Thor is a lucky dog to have you as his walker 🙂
We feel the same way about New Mexico – it has so much going for it as a place to settle, but man, the weather sure can be rough! Oddly enough, we actually haven’t run into a lot of dust/sand this spring, but last year when we were down in Las Cruces, the whole interior of our rig was covered in red/brown dust. Not fun….
As for having a pet, I can certainly say for the months we did not have a dog, one thing we didn’t miss was having to go out in terrible weather. Thor is great about sleeping in and adapting to our schedule, so it’s not like we have to get up at 5:00 .am. or anything, but on rainy and snowy and cold days, he does have to go out at SOME point, and that is really not fun. BUT… it’s a small price to pay for all the snuggles! (Usually…) 🙂
I’m with ya on the wind! We are currently in Albuquerque visiting friends and family. I lived here for 11 years so know a lot about the wind and things to do here. Cochiti Lake is actually our next destination. I had never heard about the tent rocks, so thanks for that tip. Hopefully it won’t be windy when we are there and can go for hike. 🙂 I have a pretty good weather app that displays wind and direction, but your seems a bit better. I’ll give yours a try. I’m glad your new hiking boots are working out for you.
Oh, that’s awesome that you’re heading to Cochiti Lake! Perfect timing! One tip on Tent Rocks – they close down pretty early and because they have limited parking in their lots, they only allow people in when other people leave. So, make sure if you visit on a weekend, you go early, and even if you go on a weekday, make sure you head in by like 1:00, because they start pushing people off the trail and toward the entrance at like 3:30 or 4:00. Hope you enjoy it!!
We made it to Tent Rocks yesterday! What a great hike, but it definitely kicked my butt climbing some of those rocks. Thanks for the heads up about it. We’re still at Cochiti Lake and extended our stay a few days. So nice and peaceful here.
Awesome! Glad you liked the hike and yeah, that climb is no joke. It’s got a nice payoff though! As for Cochiti, we started with a 3 day stay and extended it to 7. And being back in a cramped private campground now, I miss that place even more. Enjoy!!!
Definitely checking into the wind app! Thanks for the tip Laura!
Your take on ABQ is also the same as ours. We loved Old Town and did some awesome hiking there. The American RV was our home base as well. We haven’t visited Tent Rocks yet, but hope to sometime in the future…the pictures sure capture our interest . Glad those new hiking boots are getting broken in…happy trails!
Yeah, we really loved the Old Town area and, though we didn’t do a lot of hiking in the area while we were there, we heard there are fantastic trails in the surrounding mountains. We also missed Petroglyphs National Park which supposedly has some fun trails. We just ran out of time (on days with good weather.) If you pass through the area, Tent Rocks is absolutely worth a stop. The main trail is very unique and fun! Happy trails right back at ya!
What?? You went to ABQ and didn’t throw a pizza on top of the Breaking Bad house? How about at least going to the car wash? Well, at least you had plenty of time for good food and friends, despite the dicey weather. We’re looking forward to seeing the area in the fall, when I hope we can experience their reputed best weather of the year.
I may be one of the 6 people on the planet who has not actually seen Breaking Bad. I know, I know… I’m weird. There are tons of references to the show in the city though – all kinds of tours you can take and landmarks you can visit. It definitely would have been cool if the sites were familiar when we were there. In any case, from what we heard, fall is spectacular, so hopefully it will cooperate for you guys!
Love your info— I had not heard of Cochiti Lake. Definitely will check out the wind app. That Meow Wolf is a crazy place! I will be looking forward to your description.
I was wondering …at what mph do you put your slides in?
Hey, So we typically really start paying attention when the winds are over 35 mph. Anything more than that, we will bring our slides in unless the wind is coming from a direction that doesn’t impact our slides (which are only on our driver’s side.) However, we’ve found that even at lower speeds (20 or 25 mph), the slide toppers can make a ton of noise, so we’ve brought our slides in at night just so we can sleep.
Isn’t Albuquerque the place where Bugs Bunny is always making a wrong turn?
I just had to look this up (because of course I did), and you are correct. How you remembered that, I have no idea. You are a true encyclopedia of random knowledge! And now, I will always think of Bugs Bunny when I think of Albuquerque. 🙂
Hi, just a note to say that I really enjoy your blog. Your sense of humor is fun and refreshing.
My husband and I are starting our adventure on June 4th. Actually this will be our 3rd time out full timing (long story relating to my serious health issue and passing of my Mom). Interesting how people are similar in many ways). Anyway, we’re looking forward to the wonderful adventure that awaits! Enjoy your travels. 🙂
Hi Debbie! Thanks so much for your comment. It is, indeed, interesting how many parallels we find with other folks as we travel. Many of the challenges we have faced are similar to those of our RV friends – and certainly, the older we get, the more we find others who have health, family, and pet related struggles – all of which are made that much more challenging because of our lifestyle. It’s certainly nice to find others who have faced similar obstacles and understand the unique challenges of life on the road.
In any case, I’m glad to hear you all are headed out again. While so much of this stuff can wear you down, it really is a fantastic life we are living and it’s fun to be able to share it with folks online. Perhaps one day our paths will cross! It’s always nice to chat in real time.
Best of luck to you and your husband as you prepare to head back out. Safe travels and Happy Trails!
As always, you have some great photos but I’m stuck on the fact that you were able to finagle all those discounts! We stayed at that RV park and we did NOT pay $13/day. what’s your secret?!?
Least it looked like you got a few good days of weather during your visit!
Honestly, I have no idea what she did. We had already paid for a week and I wanted to extend it 4 days. I mentioned the weekly thing (wondering if they would prorate after the week), and she was like “let me see what discounts I can apply…” I said “We have everything, Good Sam, Escapees, Passport America… whatever you want, we have…” Then she clicked and clacked a couple times and was like, “OK, that’ll be $55.” To which I said “Seriously?? Sweet!!” and asked no further questions….
She was either incredibly nice or horrifically incompetent, but either way, she was my favorite person that day!! 🙂
I see you made it to Meow Wolf. I hope you enjoy your stay in our beautiful state. If you get a chance to run a river, the San Juan is fun but it is by permit only, and you might have a hard time finding an outfitter that has room. The Taos Box is world class III and IV rapids and is flowing at 20 year highs right now.
Hey – thanks for the tip! Like so many other things, we’re gonna have to make a return trip to see the river. We really only scratched the surface and will absolutely need more time to enjoy all New Mexico has to offer. (Though Class III and IV rapids flowing at record highs sound a bit beyond my comfort zone – which is currently pegged at ‘a teeny tiny creek with not much going on.’ ) ????