December 2

A Dog Up Dog Canyon

I mentioned last week that I’d be leaving a day early from Brantley Lake. I’m so glad I did. Snow and ice were due on Sunday night, with up to four inches of snow expected.

It was a long drive over the mountains. I’d filled my tank in Carlsbad and found the only gas station on the road was in Cloudcroft, NM. It was packed with cars for the homeward trip from Thanksgiving. By my GPS I had about 20 miles to Alamogordo. On my truck “mileage to empty” readout I had 48 miles left. When I drove into the first gas station, I had 26 miles worth of gas left. Close call!

The sun slips under the clouds for a spectacular sunset into Dog Canyon
The sun slips under the clouds for a spectacular sunset into Dog Canyon

I have to say I’m finding Oliver Lee Memorial State Park really nice. It sits right on the slope of the Sacramento Mountains looking down on the Tularosa Valley. Farther west sits the San Andres and Organ Mountains. One thing I was worried about being so close to the mountains was the sunrises. Being on the West slope I thought it might be late in the morning for sun, but it hits the trailer just before eight. As for the sunsets, they are great as the sun sinks past the western mountain ranges.

Old residence of "Frenchy" an original owner of property at the mouth of Dog Canyon
Old residence of “Frenchy”, an original owner of property at the mouth of Dog Canyon

On Tuesday I drove back down to El Paso, Tx for Geordie’s check-up for his eyes. The docs gave him an “improved” assessment. I was glad to hear that. He’ll need to have another check-up in April. Thankfully, Eye Care For Animals has a nationwide network. I think I’ll be close to the Springfield, Mo office when Geordie needs his eyes checked again.

If you need a map of the campground!
If you need a map of the campground!

It’s gotten colder this week. Overnights have begun dipping into the 20’s. There was also a lot of wind the first few days. The dust softened the lines of the mountains.

On Wednesday I took Geordie 3/4’s of a mile up the Dog Canyon Trail. It’s a tough hike with a 600’ elevation gain in just 0.6 of a mile. The whole trail is 5.5 miles with a 3,100’ elevation gain. Not a one day, roundtrip hike. The views from the hike were amazing. I could see the White Sands area as a line in the valley.

Looking out at the White Sands
Looking out at the White Sands

It’s been awhile since I’ve climbed a mountain. I thought this would be a good prep hike for a hike to a cabin up 2.9 miles for a roundtrip hike. I thought about going up today but rain is due tonight and tomorrow. Today I’ll head over to White Sands Monument and leave the hike for Sunday or Monday.

Alpen glow
Alpen glow

I joined the RV club Passport America. For $44.00 a year, I’ll receive a 50% discount at their network of RV parks. With my eastward trip this next year, it should help with expenses. I’ll use Passport America and Harvest Hosts on my trip towards and into Canada.

I’ll be heading down to Texas next week. I should be reporting from the Davis Mountains next Friday.

Thanks for following.

Rob

November 25

Weather Changes

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving.

We had rain a surprise rain on Monday. Exactly 107 drops fell on the Nash. It’s also been dropping in overnight temps, one night in the mid 20’s.

Tuesday I attempted to go to the Living Desert Zoo but found the parking lot packed. I guess the local school kids are off for the week. I decided I’d skip the crowds.

I came back and went down to the lake and launched the canoe. Wouldn’t it be my luck, as I got out the wind came up and kept Geordie and I from the main lake. I paddled a little way in the branch of the lake then came back in. The decision was a good one. The wind picked up to big, trailer shaking, winds.

Brantley Dam.
Brantley Dam.

I’ve noticed in my drive to town, the Pecos River below the dam as a possible place to paddle. I might give that a try this afternoon.

Water Diamonds
Water Diamonds

I’ve been looking at the weather for next week and it looks like rain is due on Monday. I’m heading over the Sacramento Mountains to get to Oliver Lee Memorial State Park and I’ll be topping out at 8600’ at Cloudcroft, NM. Snow is due with temps below 30 up there, so I decided to leave a day early on Sunday and get over the mountains before the rain and snow hits. My only other alternative is adding about two to three more hours, to my already three hour trip, and still I have to go over the Sacramentos. Most of my worry are the roads being icy. I’ve never driven on icy roads with a trailer. Safer is the best bet.

Rabbit Run
Rabbit Run

Next week will be my last week of New Mexico State Parks. I’ve used my camping pass a lot this year. I’ve been from Navajo Lake, Heron Lake, City of Rocks and more. I’d say I got my money’s worth.

"Wabbits" Actually "Texas Jack Rabbit." I don't think Elmer Fudd would care either way.
“Wabbit” Actually “Texas Jack Rabbit.” I don’t think Elmer Fudd would care.

I’ll be back to boondocking soon, with some Texas state parks thrown in. I’m glad that I’ll be out there again. I’ve been feeling cramped the last few weeks and ready to feel some space around me again.

Thanks, as always, for reading.
Rob

November 18

WIND!

Marshland near Bottomless Lakes
Marshland near Bottomless Lakes

What a Thursday!

Wednesday I looked at the weather and a cold front was coming south. That meant big winds were due. From Roswell to Carlsbad, NM winds 20-30 mph with gusts to 50 mph.

I left early on Thursday to get down to Brantley Lake State Park before the winds started. I was only an hour and a half away and the winds began about a half hour into the drive. I found on the roads a grass-like top had broken off and was blowing across the road. Some of it stuck to the pavement and it looked like golden fur on the road. Very weird.

Hairy road
Hairy road

I hoped that the campsite that I’d reserved was empty, so I could just pull in and set up. Luck was on my side. After I set up, I took a drive around the park to get a lay of the land. I also went down to the headquarters for a map of the trails in the park. The rest of day I was inside with the trailer while it was rocking. Geordie wanted to sleep in the wind!

Brantley Lake had a lot of white caps on it, so a canoe paddle was out of the question. Maybe over the next week plus I can get out in one of the branches of the lake a few times.

Of course Geordie will get a few swims.

I’ll try and get down to the Living Desert Zoo in Carlsbad and the caverns further south during my 12 days here.

If you’re not familiar with southern New Mexico, the three crops of major importance are, chiles, Pecans, and Pistachios. South of Caballo Lake is Hatch, NM and it’s the mecca of the chile crop. Many of the areas I’ve been in have groves of Pecan trees. I’ve been waiting for the roadside stands to open up to grab a bag. The Pistachios are in the Alamogordo, NM area. I’ll be over that way in a couple of weeks. I’ll definitely grab some then. I wonder how they all blend in a recipe? Pecan, pistachio, and green chile pie? Sweet, heat, and crunch? I like the sound of it. I’ll have to develop a recipe.

Dark line across the lake are Pecan groves
Dark line across the lake are Pecan groves

The better sites here at Brantley are the edge sites. Since the campground is on a peninsula, most have a view of the lake. I generally prefer east facing to the back of the trailer for the early morning sunrise. That way I can heat up the interior of the trailer without using too much propane. The eastern sites were booked.

Site 24 may not be the best. Looking at the neighbor
Site 24 may not be the best. Looking at the neighbor

Next week is Thanksgiving. I hope you’ll stay away from the Black Friday crowds and #OptOutside instead.

Have a great Thanksgiving. I thank you for following my journey.

Rob

November 11

Peace and Quiet

I took a walk on the Bluff Trail here at Bottomless Lakes on Wednesday. I found myself enjoying the quiet with the cloud cover and cooler temperatures. We had an overnight low of 35º by my thermometer.

Lea Lake with Campground center left
Lea Lake with Campground center left

I began thinking, this was the first feeling of fall for me this season, and how most of the time, in the last two years, I was chasing warmer temps as I headed south.

Swimming pavilion built by the CCC
Swimming pavilion built by the CCC

I relish four seasons. I enjoy snow and the freshness of a white landscape. This year, as I head to Texas, I may experience more of a winter than I have in Arizona and California.

I noticed on this walk, the beauty in the seed heads of the plants I was surrounded by.

dsc_0045-001

dsc_0049-001

Muted colors of seed heads
Muted colors of seed heads

In general I had a feeling of inner tranquility, a calmness. Only the sound of the wind going passed my ears and a few crickets in the shrubs.

Something else I thought of, was the lack of words I’ve had the last few posts. I still haven’t discovered why. I’ll just chalk it up to writer’s block.

White shore is gypsum.
White shore is gypsum.

I’ve been back and forth on where to go from Bottomless. I need to go back to El Paso to the veterinarian around the first of December to check Geordie’s eyes. I’ve looked at the maps and as far as camps go there are very few good spots. There are some RV parks near El Paso but don’t look very nice even for a two day stay. Looks like I’ll be zig-zagging southern New Mexico this November. I made plans yesterday to go south to Brantley Lake SP near Carlsbad, NM, then head back over the mountains to Oliver Lee SP near Alamogordo and White Sands. It should be a reasonable drive to El Paso from there.

Unusual merging of two sinkhole lakes. Background lake holds trout, foreground lake is too saline for fish.
Unusual merging of two sinkhole lakes. Background lake holds trout, foreground lake is too saline for fish.

I’ve been surprised by Roswell and its size. I thought is was around the 20 thousand range in population, its closer to 50 thousand. I think I’ve seen a little green alien figure at every business in town. As you may remember the story of a spacecraft crash landing around here.

My review of Bottomless Lakes is probably 5/10. It’s not what I’d call a prime park. It’s also about 14 miles from town, about 20 minutes drive to restaurants and groceries. There are no fire pits and fires are not allowed except in the barbecue grills. When I first arrived in warmer temps there were a lot of flies. Now I have a half dozen in the trailer still. I put up fly strip to rid myself of the strays. I suspect they come from the marshlands to the West. Keep your doors closed!

I’ve found that the New Mexico State Parks have put in wi-fi which is nice if you want to watch a movie and save data on you internet plans.

Thanks for stopping by.

Remember our Veterans today.

Rob

PS  I’ve been invaded by spam artist the last week or two. If I happen to delete you I’m sorry. I’m receiving about 20-30 new subscribers a day.

November 5

Cowboy Song

If you remember, Marty Robbins sung the song “El Paso” a long time ago. Here is my rendition.

 

Out in the west Texas town of El Paso

I found the vet for Geordie to see

Just as expected his eyes were inspected

Geordie stood still and the vet was impressed

When the lights went on I was told the verdict

Geordie was given more meds for his eyes

Now he needs three drops twice a day

Looks like he’ll need them the rest of his life

 

Ok, that’s enough of that, it would have taken me a few months to finish. Here is the real version.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UVVS5-9HvA

I moved this morning over to Bottomless Lakes State Park out on the plains east of Roswell, NM.

Did we have the rains yesterday. It was expected but the hail was not welcomed. After it ended I checked for leaks and found none. Later, in the bathroom, I found a puddle. Not good! The fan vent cover that opens was broken at the side where is overlaps the seal. What to do? Just as the rain began again, I put duct tape over the hole from the inside. I knew I should also do the outside, but I had to wait for an hour for the rain to cease, then climbed up at 9:30 at night with tape, flashlight, and a towel to dry the cover off. I must have put two layers on and went to bed.

This morning I checked it and felt no water anywhere.

What did we do before duct tape?

So, I followed the rain east this morning and it is still grey with drizzles for today and rain tonight. Then it should end and I can get out to wander the area.

Sorry for the short post.

Thanks for reading,

Rob

 

 

October 28

Television and the Old West

Hot times in southern New Mexico, upper 80’s around Las Cruses. Thankfully I have electric and can turn on the A/C in the late afternoon.

Organ Mountains
Organ Mountains

I’ve moved south to Leasburg  Dam State Park. I was here in March of 2014. It was a bit colder back then. Less global warming I guess!

I’ve actually watched TV the last few nights. I caught the PBS/BBC show “The Durrells in Corfu.” I’d heard about it and found it very funny.

The one thing I don’t miss are all the drug ads. They are everywhere, and for whatever ailment they  convince you, you have. There must be at least six to eight drugs I’ve never heard of before. I better “ask my doctor.”

On the outside of the trailer, I find a whole lot of Quail. On walks with Geordie early in the morning, we scatter 20-30. From my National Geographic bird guide, I found they are Gambel’s Quail. Also saw a few Roadrunners and have heard at night the wailing Wile E. Coyote at night after a day of mishaps.

After starting this weeks post, I decided to stay next week too, since I can watch the Cubs on TV in the World Series. As you see in my Instagram post, I’ve flown my “W” flag after the first win in game two. Everyone here already knows I’m a Cub fan and has commented on my cap and the team. Game three tonight in Wrigley Field.

Made it to the vet for Geordie. She strongly suggested I see a veterinarian ophthalmologist to check his eyes, so we have an appointment next week.

Took a trip to the laundromat this morning. Aren’t you all excited!?

dsc_0017-001

Later, I went down the road to old Fort Selden. The fort dates back to just after the Civil War. Many of the soldiers were in the Battle of Glorieta Pass.

Barracks
Barracks

The fort was used to protect the trade route between El Paso and Santa Fe and the farmers along the Rio Grande River from the Apache raiding parties.

dsc_0010-001

One young boy, son of the fort commander, grew up to be a famous general. His name was Douglas MacArthur.

dsc_0012-001

As you can see, many of the buildings, being adobe, are in decay but the layout can be seen and you are allowed to walk around the fort. The museum and video are well worth it. You’ll find artifacts from the fort and an understanding of a soldiers life in the fort.

Horno or wood oven. It's used by the Pueblos and Spanish to bake bread and roast meat. Can you smell the pizzas?
Horno or wood oven. It’s used by the Pueblos and Spanish to bake bread and roast meat. Can you smell the pizzas?

I’ll be moving south to the KOA for one night on Sunday and return to Leasburg Dam SP. Somehow I didn’t plan my stay here very well with the World Series going on.

Thanks for reading.

Rob

October 21

Light News

It’s been hard to put words together the last few weeks, because nothing real exciting has happened.

I moved over to Caballo Lake State Park last week. I came to this park last year. This year it feels strange to be here. I don’t know why?

One thing I’ve noticed in the morning hours, I awake to the ‘baw’ like calls of cranes moving south. I can’t tell if they are Common cranes or Sandhill cranes. Either way, just about 6:30 to 7:00 AM they start forming their V like formations and head south. Waves of them ‘baw’ out.

Since this ‘lake’ is just one of many along the Rio Grande River, the cranes and many other birds have been using this as a flyway for centuries. If you look at a map, the Rio Grande starts in Colorado. In the San Luis Valley in Colorado is another area of this flyway for the many birds that head south. Russell Lakes is a marshy area in the middle of the valley that allows a stop over for the birds life. I assume, going backwards, they come from the North near the Arkansas River then up from the North Park area I was in this past summer and to Wyoming and parts further North to Canada. Now they fly south, just like RV ‘Snowbirds.’

I’ll move farther south next week. I have an appointment for Geordie at the vet. He needs a rabies shot and I want to check his eyes again. I’ll camp at Leesburg Dam State Park closer to Las Cruces, NM.

Wish I had more to write. Sometimes the words don’t come.

Thanks for stopping by for this brief post.

Rob

October 7

City of Boulders (not that one in Colorado)

Well, best laid plans turn to dust. I left the boondock camp south of Glenwood, NM and went looking for a place to boondock in the Big Burro Mountains southwest of Silver City, NM. As I started up Tyrone Road I found that the recent rains had done a good job of creating ruts and washboarded the road. I found all the off-shoot roads far too rough for anything but an ATV. So after a half hour I decided it wasn’t possible to camp there.

Plan #2 was to head further south to a spot farther from Silver City or plan #3 was to head to City of Rocks State Park. I took option three.

dsc_0014-001

I was glad I came to City of Rocks. I’ve seen other bloggers posts on this magical place and wasn’t disappointed. This park was formed almost 35 million years ago in a volcanic eruption. Then it took rain, snow, and wind to come to this point.

This is an amazing spot. Out in the middle of nowhere are these volcanic tuff rocks on the plains of southern New Mexico. If they weren’t all jumbled together, you’d think this was a Stonehenge or an Avebury like spot. It’s an adult sized playground of rocks to climb on.

dsc_0023-001

When I drove in I found only two spots open in the electric section and paid for 10 days.

The weather has been just right for wandering around the park, though rain is due tonight and tomorrow.  In the mornings I’ve been taking Geordie up to the lookout section of the park. It’s a separate jumble of rocks higher up a hillside. We often wander the park during the day, and so far haven’t encountered any snakes. There are trails into the scrublands around the park, we haven’t hit those yet.

Morning to the east. An old volcano.
Morning to the east. An old volcano.
Morning at City of Rocks.
Morning at City of Rocks.

This park is also for the astronomers. I’ve seen a few folks with telescopes out, and there is a small park observatory. There are ‘star parties’ listed on the events page at the visitor’s center. The next one it on the 22nd, but I’ll be gone by then. If you haven’t been out at dusk, the sliver of moon sits to the upper left of Venus.

dsc_0035-001

I’ve done a few jaunts to Silver City for food and to have the truck’s oil changed. It’s a bit of trek up there.

dsc_0037-001

I will most definitely put this park in the “return trip” column, maybe for a star party.

Thanks for reading,

Rob

September 30

Nuts!

Here we are the last day of September. It’s been getting colder over night and the day time temps have dropped into the mid 70’s.

I stayed a couple nights longer at Datil Well Campground. I’d been looking at some of the campgrounds farther south along US 180 and found most are free and without water. Some are limited in their RV lengths as well. I also looked at the cell coverage and it looks very spotty.

The time I was at Datil Well I noticed in the campground and along the road I walked Geordie on, lots of piñon trees with their cones opened. At the campsite I poked under a tree and found a good amount of pine nuts. I spent a few minutes over the next few days and started collecting them. Pine nuts are expensive to buy and there is a reason for that. They do not produce every year and it is a bit of a headache to open the raw hard shell variety. I don’t know how a commercial producer does it but the best way for me is a dentists nightmare. I suppose a hammer and a light touch could be used, but with a bit of a learning curve. The other way it to roast them in the shell. I have a video of how a Navajo harvests and roasts the nuts. You’ll want to eat roasted nuts right away.

One harvest batch
One harvest batch

I’ve looked on the internet for ways to crack that hard shell on raw nuts but I can only find information on the soft shell piñon that grows mostly in Nevada and parts of California. Colorado and New Mexico species are hard shell species.

One tub filled
One tub filled

If you’re in an area with piñon trees, it would make a fun outing with kids. Just beware that there is a lot of pine pitch on the cones and ground. Wear old clothes, hats, and have some vegetable oil on hand to dissolve the pitch.

By freezing the unshelled raw nuts you can keep them for a couple of years, from what I’ve read. But if you’ve got them use them!

Lots of cones
Lots of cones

dsc_0009-001

Most of the pine nuts you find in stores these days are grown in China. There are US sellers online.

The nutrition of the pine nut is very good and healthy. With about a cup you receive about 18 g. protein, 18 g. carbohydrates, and 92 g. fat, most of that is polyunsaturated, that cup is 900 calories. While most of us won’t eat a whole cup it is still a good food source which is why the First Nations and Hispanics gathered the nuts as a staple food source for winter.

I’ll probably collect pine nuts as I head south. Might as well harvest while I can and stock up.

I moved over to Quemado Lake on Tuesday. I found a couple of pretty campgrounds, Juniper and Piñon. Juniper has a section of electric and water sites for RVs. They are double sites, two right next to each other. At this time of year, it was empty but for the camp host. The RV section will close today. The rest of the campground stays open all winter.

Quemado Lake half full and a storm on the way
Quemado Lake half full and a storm on the way

I spent two nights here and I should mention, as with most lakes, the lake was more than half empty. Still, I had the pleasure of hearing about four bull Elk bugling all night. Fall is here.

From Quemado Lake I had planned to stay for a night in one of those free campgrounds but I found them lacking in desirability. Too much road noise and too cramped. I found myself going further south to just at the edge of the Gila National Forest land and to Little Dry Creek Road, south of Glenwood, N.M. What a night last night. It must have been the last hurrah for the monsoon season. Thunder, lightning, and a ton of rain. I’ll stay here through the weekend.

Gold on gold
Gold on gold

Thanks for stopping in.

Rob