December 30

2016 End

Howdy!

It’s reflection time again, and I’ve found it’s been a fun year. I’ve found new boondocking camps in Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. I’ve seen some new country as well this year. I’ve discovered some new spots in the New Mexico State Parks too.

Texas Fog

Texas State Parks has new interest to me. I found out, when I came to San Angelo SP, there is a weekly rate of $100, which knocks down the daily cost just over $14 a night. The regular nightly bill for electric and water is $20.

I’ve also learned that RVers that come to Texas over the winter are not “Snowbirds” but “Winter Texans.” It adds a bit of welcome to being a winter resident.

The highlight of the year was picking up my new trailer. As I’ve said in my review, I’m glad I sized up.

I have a lot to look forward to in 2017. I’ll start here in Texas and head north and east to visit cousins in Louisville, Ky. Then I’ll head east to meet my first great-niece in the Washington D.C. area. I’ll head up to Maine for my first time ever. I’m looking forward to seeing the coastline and eating lots of lobster!

More lobster and scallops will be consumed with my return to Nova Scotia, Canada in more than 20 years.

New territory will also include time in Quebec and Ontario.

Its up in the air where I’ll re-enter the US next fall. It’ll either be near Detroit, Michigan, Sault St Marie, Michigan, or possibly up in Grand Portage, Minnesota.

Minneapolis, Minnesota will be a destination, so I can visit with old friends.

From that point, I have no idea other than westward.

I hope you’ll continue to join me in my travels in the coming new year.

Have a safe and Happy New Year to you all, thats a mistake, Happy New Year y’all.

Rob

December 17

Bonus Post

It’s a day off on account of winds. I thought I’d add some bonus photos of the area.

Whatch’ looking at?

Looks like Little Monument Valley
For those of you that have been to Hawaii this looks like Diamond Head
I think I found the Necromancer from Lord of the Rings. It’s call ‘Mule Ears’ here.

Hope your day is more enjoyable than mine.

Rob

December 16

Forts, Telescopes, and a Park

I took a wander around Fort Davis last week before leaving. I have to tell you, it felt as if John Wayne should have stepped out of one of the barracks or houses.

Fort Davis Officer Houses and Parade Grounds
Old Trade Route and Barracks

This was the second fort I’ve seen this fall/winter. Fort Selden, north of Las Cruces, NM was to protect the trade route from El Paso, Tx to Albuquerque, NM. Fort Davis protected the trade route from San Antonio, TX to El Paso.

Where is John Wayne?

While I have a bit of romance, as many do, over the old west, (some politics are about to slip out here) the new settlers wanted a trade route through the Native American tribal lands. Move to present day, and here we are in a battle for a pipeline. Once it was proposed to go north of Bismarck, ND, but the city didn’t want to jeopardize their water supply. Now its slotted to go through  the tip of reservation land and threatening their water source. Nothing has changed since the old west. (Ok I’m done)

Hobby-Eberly Telescope. One of the McDonald Observatories

I also went up to McDonald Observatory for a daytime tour. The day tours start in the theater. They have a video feed from a telescope that observes the sun. Later the tour takes you on a ride up to two of the observatories. I was impressed with the tour. They have their own community there with internet, service employees, computers techs, and everything involved with a town. They have daily solar tours and they also host star parties on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. I would recommend  a stop if you’re in the area.

Harlan Smith Telescope, a 107 inch telescope.

I’ve made my way down to Big Bend National Park. If you’ve followed along for some time, you’ve noticed I’ve never gone to a national park. My reason for not visiting national parks is they don’t allow dogs on trails. I decided to visit Big Bend because I was so close, and doubt I’ll be this way again in the future. Dogs are allowed here “only where cars can go.” We did walk a bit on some gravel roads just to get out.

Chisos Mountains of Big Bend.

The first thing I’ll note about Big Bend is there is a lot of driving involved to see this park. The speed limit, like most parks, is 45mph, and since I’m outside near the Persimmon Gap entrance it is a long 26 miles at 45mph to get to the main headquarters. From the HQ you can go west or east to get to the campgrounds and there is also a road up to the Chisos Basin for camping and the lodge. There is also camping in primitive sites. You have book those in-person at HQ. A permit is $12 for a site and has a 14 day limit. Backcountry camping is also available for backpackers. Some of the areas in the Basin were closed off because of bear activity. I was shocked there were bears this far south and in a desert environment.

I’d already paid for five days at the Stillwell RV park and thought about going back for a primitive site, but decided I’ve seen what there is to see in the park. Also, one of the staff said it was going to get real busy with the holidays next week. The kids are on holiday!

Chisos Basin and the “Window.”
The main lodge hotel in Chisos Basin

As for Stillwell RV Park, it’s just in the ‘ok’ category. They have full and partial hook-ups and it’s really just an acre of land somewhat cleared with power boxes and water spigots.

I’ll head north and east next week. I’ve even emailed an RV park requesting a site for a month long stay. Yeah, what a change for me to book a month. One reason is, this is a destination state for snowbirds and there aren’t any boondocking possibilities in the state. No BLM lands to park on for a few weeks, like there are in Arizona.

I also found out that some state parks close for hunting season. Go figure?

Well, this is a longer post than most so I’ll sign off.

I appreciate you following my exploration of this amazing country.

Rob

December 9

No Yellow Rose of Texas

Sunset over Tularosa Valley

The day before leaving Oliver Lee SP, I took a drive over to White Sands. I meant to do it last Friday but there was too much cloud cover for good shots. When I got there, the register was down and I got in free. It was amazing. I felt like I was surrounded by snow. Even the roads felt like they were snow packed. Afterwards, I did chores before leaving.

Snow white sands

For the third and last time, I drove through El Paso on my way south. I stopped overnight in Van Horn, Tx. I had one of those mix ups happen. Having looked at a few campground pages I thought I’d picked the Passport America RV park when I drove into Van Horn RV Park. Nope, it’s a Sam’s Club park. I’m no longer a Sam’s member. I paid full price since I’d already set up. It wasn’t so bad though, I learned that the park has its own café. I had a pretty decent cheeseburger for dinner.

Snow-like drifts with snowcapped peak

It was a short drive to get to Davis Mountains State Park. When I went to check-in on my reservation, the clerk said I was a day early.

It happens once in a while, as a full-timer. You forget what day it is and when you are due at a campground. I mark my calendar to remind myself of what and when, but I it wrote down wrong. I left on the right day from Oliver Lee, I just wrote down the wrong stays in Van Horn and Davis Mountains SP. The clerk said I was fine as there were lots of spots.

Real snow

I left knowing I wanted to get here before the arctic wave Wednesday night.  The Thursday highs were due to be 33º. They’ll jumped back to the low 50’s today. No roses are blooming in this weather.

And so, for my second night in Texas, it snowed! For the first time, the Nash Grey Goose had snow on the roof.

Snow goose

I was a cold and blustery day yesterday, with a fog or low lying cloud cover. We haven’t seen snow since we’d started this full-time life. It wasn’t inches but a dusting of the ground and oak branches. It felt like Christmas was coming. It was one of those indoor days, with a few outside jaunts for Geordie. I decided to read and kick-back. I watched the temperature drop from 29º at 6:30 down to 24 by 10AM. It stuck around 25º most of the day.

It was a day for a good hot porridge for lunch. I even put on the Christmas channel on my SiriusXM

radio.

Frosty

I’ll note here that cell service in the park is zip, nada, no-go. They do have wi-fi but it isn’t very fast and I can’t get e-mail.

We finally moved into the Central Time Zone. Being at the western edge, the sun doesn’t come up at 6AM like I’m used to. I can’t wait for the sun to be on the other side of the Solstice.

I’ll head over to the old Fort Davis Historic Site today and over the weekend up to McDonald Observatory. I’ll report on that next week.

Thanks for joining my travels.

Rob

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.

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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