ABQ: How Low Can You Go?

After 7 glorious days of near-perfect weather, I left the Bisti Badlands sooner than I would have liked. There was a cold front on the way, and temps were predicted to drop below freezing. The Winnie was not winterized, and since this appeared to be a fast moving front with temps returning to the 70’s on the back end, I didn’t want to go to the trouble and inconvenience of emptying the tanks and blowing out the lines for just a couple of days. So I decided to move on into Albuquerque sooner than planned, securing a space with hookups. This would also put me in better position for my RV repair appointment.

For a town the size of Albuquerque, they are woefully short on campground options if you need to be close to town outside of Balloon Fiesta time. This is especially true during the pandemic when all but private RV parks are closed to visitors with out-of-state plates. KOAs at sixty bucks a night are never an option for me.  The El Rancho RV and Mobile Home Park had reviews from multiple sources citing violence and theft.  That left the Enchanted Trails, a Passport America park as my best option. It’s a nice enough park with exceptionally lovely staff.  But being located out in an industrial area, its only nearby conveniences are CampingWorld, Freightliner, and Loves Truckstop.  I had expected more in-town options from New Mexico’s largest city.

By the time I arrived at Enchanted Trails, the weather forecast was beginning to deteriorate. Not only were freezing temperatures predicted, but they were now saying up to four inches of snow. I raced to the Walmart and bought two electric heaters (redundancy!) a couple of bottles of RV antifreeze, and a work light to put in the plumbing bay.

Watching the accumulation on my neighbor’s lawn chairs.

Just please don’t let the power go out!

The Winnie has never endured temps this low without having been winterized. Keep in mind this was the third week of October!

So beautiful, yet so risky for my water-filled pipes.

Still, I don’t see snow that often these days, so I had to get out and play…

Awning Icicles

As the day progressed, the original forecast of 27°F was revised down to 18°F. And the four inches of snow was revised up to 8” to 10” accumulation over two days, not one. I was not yet winterized. Keep in mind the blog is always behind…it wasn’t even Halloween yet! By the time I started to panic, it was too late to try and get further south. I called the front office to ask if I should extend my reservation. Laurie, the kind woman at Enchanted Trails said “No one is leaving, and I recommend you don’t either!” They were really helpful in allowing us all to extend our stay.

I put the hanging curtain up to section off the cab, and lined the gap above and below with blankets and pillows. I hung my sleeping bag over the door to keep out the biting wind. Then poured antifreeze down all the P-traps, and opened up those cabinet doors with plumbing beneath them. The cheap electric heater I bought at Walmart was no match for 18 degrees, but I supplemented with the Mr. Buddy heater during the waking hours (never use it sleeping, and always vent a window to prevent CO poisoning.) And finally, there’s no better way to warm up the Winnie than with a steaming hot pot of homemade chicken & dumplings!

Making the family cold-weather favorite, chicken and dumplings. Only I don’t have a dough roller, so I had to improvise.

But before I could use the bottle as a dough-roller, I had to empty the contents first. 😉

Okay, so I could claim I needed to get rid of the freezer-burned Palisades peaches in the freezer, but the peach and blueberry cobbler was really a symptom of cabin fever!

The next morning, the snow plow showed up.

Enchanted Trails is located on Historic Route 66, and they have some really fun “period pieces.”

It would be 10 days before I got out of Albuquerque. My original appointment on 28th October was completed a week later, on the 3rd of November. How much of the delay was due to weather versus inefficiency is a matter of opinion. I was pushed out from Tuesday to Wednesday due to the snow. Pushed from Wednesday to Friday waiting on a part. Pushed from Friday to Tuesday because they didn’t start trying to install the new part until 3pm Friday afternoon, and they close at 4pm. (It was my choice to skip Monday, as I had to get the hell out of there!) Once Tuesday rolled around, it was about an hour job before I was finally sprung free.

With my repair spanning over the weekend, I was faced with the decision of where to go…

I was given the option to remain on the lot, but I would have to stay inside the Winnie so as not to set off the security alarm. So no, not an option.

The thought of returning to Enchanted Trails felt like defeat. So with the roads now clear, I drove the 55 miles north to Jemez Springs, a place I had enjoyed back in 2018.

I had the good fortune to end up in Jemez Springs on the night of the full Hunter’s Blue Moon. This was the night sky just as the moon was rising over the ridge to the left. (You can see the glint of light on the Winnie’s metal ladder.)

There were two people working on my rig in tandem for most of the time. They seemed to spend more time talking about what they should do, how they would do it, and what had been done, and looking for misplaced equipment than actually doing the work. And I can’t help but think I was double-billed for the both of them.

They billed an hour for screwing in the four screws and attaching two springs on the new arm lever I ordered to repair the skylight. I could have done that myself, but I had no way to reach it without buying a stepladder.

The bill for replacing the broken shaft in the slide motor was eight hours of work. There is no way they spent eight hours working on it, so I suspect I was paying for both “Click and Clack.”

But the gas furnace repair is what really sticks in my craw. The guy blew it out with an air compressor. It took all of four minutes, yet he billed me an hour and 10 minutes for the job.

Upon being presented the final bill…$1,424.07, I was flabbergasted and rendered speechless. I anticipated a third of that, as 90% of my time on that lot was spent waiting around.

I was really looking forward to walking the Paseo del Bosque path while I was in Albuquerque.

The word “bosque” is Spanish for “forest,” and the Paseo del Bosque is known for its cottonwood forest. Seeing as how I had been “chasing gold” all autumn, I could not wait to see this trail in all its golden splendor! Unfortunately, Old Man Winter got here just before me, leaving behind a very brown town!

View from inside the duck blind along the Paseo del Bosque path.

View of the duck blind from across the pond.

Suffice it to say, I cannot recommend Tom’s RV and Repair in Albuquerque. While they came highly recommended, I really think they have got more business than they can handle. Most of my time sitting on the lot was watching them shuffle RVs around the lot like a sliding tile puzzle. Two months later, and I am still “smarting.” I’ve tried so many times to finish this blog post, but it’s been too bitter a pill to swallow. Time hold my nose, gulp it down, and put it behind me, and move on to more pleasant topics…

15 thoughts on “ABQ: How Low Can You Go?

  1. I kenna not help with what you think about Tom’s repair as I do not like to bring back the language of a former lumberjack, rail road gandy dancer and fleet sailor. So I shall just wonder about those cars that resembled my Pa’s Kaiser from the fifties. Albuquerque has never been my favorite place to visit, but you have had a worse time there than have I. Sitting in the restaurant at the top of the gondola and watching a snow storm come up the valley below and darkening it with opaque snow is the memory I shall keep instead. And some of the best New Mexican food that I have ever eaten. Have a better holiday period over the next two weeks. HO,HO,HO Allen and Deede

  2. My sister lives just over the Sandia’s in Edgewood and Ed’s got cousins in Albuquerque so we have been there quite a number of times over the years. Our first visit in 1978 for Balloon Fiesta was terrific and we do love visiting with family but yeah, not a fan of Al-be-qu. It certainly sounds like you got ripped off big time, but blogging about it helps spread the word….NO to Tom’s RV and Repair. Hope your are now somewhere warm and having a much better time.

  3. Jemez Springs! Los Ojos Restaurant and Saloon! I had a couple of Nutty Brown Alien Ales there back in 2018 (’cause, well, you wrote about the place so, of course, I had to go); had a ball hanging out at the bar with some loco locals that afternoon.

    Love the photos of those old campers covered in a foot of snow at the rv park! Still trying to decide if I should bring my 1969 Shasta Compact back into the fold. These shots are pulling me in that direction, for sure. Can you imagine all the memories locked up inside those old tin walls?

    Man! Hate how that repair bill bit your butt that day; hope Winnie is all fixed up for a long while now. Here’s to her “all dressed up with nowhere to go” status changing in 2021. May your Christmas be cozy and warm, Suzanne! 🙂

  4. Sounds like you need a glass or two of a good bourbon. I know you have some Double Oak laying around, but I have just finished reading “Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last” by Wright Thompson, a lovely book about family and good bourbon and am busy working my way around some new bottles, Larceny being a top contender. Give it a go and enjoy the book if you can find it.

  5. There are not a lot of stellar RV repair outfits. Coast to coast it’s a huge gamble.
    I’ve always said: If RV “techs” had great skill in plumbing, upholstery, TV, solar, electricity or dash cams they would be working in one of those fields and earning 4X the wage compared to what the RV dealer pays. A jack-of-all is rare indeed.

  6. I had been thinking I really might like to caravan with you because of the great places you go. Then I read this post. Snow in Albuquerque in october? I had no idea it was even a possibility. Goes to show what I know. I agree that enchanted trails is the only place to stay near Albuquerque unfortunately. I’m hoping to go to the Gathering of all Nations and stay there in late April but covid may change all that as it did this year. I can so so so soooo sympathize with your RV repair woes and the ridiculous cost for subpar service. We really should get together and share stories I’ve got one as good as yours but they didn’t do the work they charged me for so it’s been 6 months I’ve been fighting for a refund and finally got a pittance. Hope both of our repair problems are behind us and so is your bad weather. I’m playing it safe in Florida.

  7. Gotta blame it on 2020, the year that keeps on giving, as my friend says. I have personally contributed to the local southern NM economy with my rv issues. Hang in there and safe travels. And please keep traveling!! You are such an insightful gal.

  8. We were in Albuquerque to have a antifreeze pump replaced. We did not like it, not sure why, just did not like it. I think we were at that KOA because it was so close to the RV repair place. Even for KOA, it’s terrible.
    That degree of cold is just miserable.

  9. Sadly I think that your RV repair experience is that of most all RV repair places. That is kind of why I’m all about either DIY orrr finding mobile repair guys that come to you. Sorry it sucked. ABQ is an odd place but I have coworkers there that explained part of the lack of things like RV parks is because they are jammed between reservations so land generally is extremely limited. Jemez Springs looks wonderful and I need to put that on my ever growing list of places to check out….someday.

  10. That is some serious snow for ABQ. We stayed at Enchanted Trails several years ago but since then have had the luck to be able to stay at the airforce base campground when passing through. And at the balloon festival grounds in 2019. Friends live there so I get to see it from a different perspective. We loved Jemez but have never camped there. And as someone said, the absolute best New Mexican food anywhere ever anywhere. Some of the best we had was at some quicky fast food place. I just can’t imagine camping in that kind of snow. More power to ya woman!!

  11. First time visitor to your blog and I really like it as I’ve been a fan of YouTube RVers to learn more about a lifestyle I won’t ever know other than through others. I’ll be back 🙂

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