Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tucumcari KOA Campground - Tucumcari, New Mexico

After spending more than a week at the Wally Byam Caravan Club's International Rally in Farmington, New Mexico, it was time to start heading home. Our plan was to pull out before 9 a.m., but that didn't work out. There were two problems that delayed our exit.

One of the workshops at the rally was about proper towing. The speaker emphasized that you need to inspect the safety chains on your hitch. A quick visual inspection confirmed that we had problems and the chains needed to be replaced.

Our camping neighbor used a grinder to cut away the old chains and we were able to install new ones. That was the easy problem to fix. The next issue took lots of time to solve.

For some reason, we could not hitch up Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer, because of a problem with our Propride hitch.

We could not get the stinger more than two-thirds of the way in before the hitch pitched to the left and the stinger stopped sliding in. It didn't take long for our camping neighbor to come outside and to start helping. In a little while, one of our friends from the Cajun Caravan drove by and noticed our predicament. He said that the person camping next to him had a similar hitch and asked him to help us.

In a short amount of time, we had about half a dozen people standing around and trying to solve our problem. That was when the man with a hitch similar to ours said that we really needed his wife there because she was the one who was normally stationed at the hitch as he backed up the truck. A few moments later his wife arrived and she immediately saw the problem and knew how to correct it.

After successfully connecting Rosie's hitch to our truck she said that she hated our type hitch when they first got it, but she made her peace with the hitch and started liking it once they figured out the "tricks" to using it. That was encouraging to us and we were glad we had problems at the rally because so many people were there to help us.

In case you are wondering, there was nothing wrong with our hitch. The problem was that the angles of the stinger and the receiver on Rosie were slightly off. Our neighbor's wife quickly saw the mismatch and she knew how to fix the angles by adjusting the leveling bars on the hitch.

It was interesting that once she found the problem and cure, all of the men who were standing around and trying to help but could not figure out the solution, including me, immediately started nodding their heads and agreeing that the problem was fixed and this incident was over.

It was amazing how many things we were able to fix at the rally. Our camping neighbors noticed that our stinger's height was wrong as we arrived in Farmington and we were able to adjust that problem during the rally. During our hitch-up problem, the consensus opinion was that we had our leveling bars in the wrong position. After a couple of experiments, we came up with a new position for them.

It was almost noon before we finally pulled away from our campsite in Farmington. We had to say goodbye for now to some new friends from the Southeastern Camping Unit. We plan to meet up with them in three months at a rally in South Carolina.

The first thing we noticed once we were up to cruising speed was how much better Rosie was riding. Before, we felt every little bump in the road and everything inside Rosie crashed to the floor as we traveled. All that wasn't happening now. The new stinger height and the leveling bar positions were all working together to make towing Rosie much better than before. If for no other reason, the improvements to Rosie's hitch made the long journey to New Mexico worth it. Joining up with the Southestern Camping Unit and getting to know the great people in that group was, as they say, the icing on the cake.

Once again, we were faced with finding a reservation while traveling. Our original goal was to make it past Amarillo. We needed to leave before 9 a.m. to meet that goal. Plan B was to drive until we were tired then use the AllStays app to find a campground. We were getting tired of the road near Tucumcari, New Mexico. The best suggestion from the AllStays app was the KOA.
KOA Campground
You can alter one of the famous quotes from Forest Gump to, "KOA is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get." KOAs tend to range from OK to marginal. That's sad because KOAs meant something special back in the 1960s.

So, we dragged our lowered expections to the KOA Campground in Tucumcari, New Mexico. This time we landed on the high end on the "OK" scale.
Rosie at the KOA
Rosie's campsite

Like most KOAs, this campground was a parking lot. It wasn't full, so the campers were spaced in every other site.

We noticed while setting up that several rabbits were running around the park. As we continued setting up Rosie, it appeared that lots of rabbits were living in this park. We enjoyed watching them hop around our site.

Rabbits at our campsite

The park had a nice swimming pool and a playground for children. Several kids were shooting baskets using the basketball goal.

One of the mysteries of this park was discovered during the night. We saw what appeared to be hundreds of flashing red navigational lights on a hill in the distance. We speculated as to what these lights could be and one of the ideas we came up with was that they could be wind turbines used to generate electricity. That turned out to be correct as we could see the windmills the next morning as we continued traveling east on I-40.

Here are some specifics about this park:
  • If the park was full, the sites are close together. Since it was at about half capacity, they appeared to be filling every other site.
  • It appeared that they were trying to provide some nice amenities at this park. There was a swimmng pool, basketball goal, playground, game room, laundry and a camp store.
  • The restrooms and showers were clean and maintained.
  • We were able to watch all of the major TV networks pus THiS and GRIT digital networks using Rosie's TV antenna.
  • Our site had 20, 30 and 50 amp electrical service.
  • Our site had water and electrical connections. We could have booked a site that also had sewer connections if we were willing to pay a higher price for the night.
  • Speaking of price, there were many pricing tiers at this park. I wonder if two campers paid the same rate that night.
  • There was a dump station at the park.
  • AT&T only provided marginal 3G voice and data service over the park.
  • The park had Wi-Fi service. It was adequate to read email and, if patient, to look at Facebook.
  • The campground has a kitchen from which you can order fast food type items or breakfast. They will deliver your meal to your campsite.

We came close to having an accident in the park. The individual sites were marked with large rocks. As we were pulling out the next morning, we noticed that Rosie was about to go over a big rock. Had we not seen it as we were trying to carefully pull away, the rock would have damaged Rosie's holding tanks. We ended up going the wrong way down one of the camping loops to avoid having to deal with the decorative (and destructive) rocks.

As I mentioned earlier, this park was on the positive side of our KOA experiences. It was also one of the more expensive parks we have camped at. We remarked at how we pay less on the beach along Florida's Gulf of Mexico than this park and how much more natural beauty we enjoy at the Gulf.

Our journey home continues.

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