and drink plenty of it

Traveling Them Thar Hills


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Meandering from New Mexico State Park to NMSP, weather permitting…

14 days is the maximum you can stay at a New Mexico State Park, before they move you out; guess they don’t want any long-term homesteaders! We have learned most of the ins and outs of the rules; it’s a real bargain and in the spring we bought the yearly camping pass for 225 dollars – the pass is good at any New Mexico State Park for one year from date of purchase and we’re using ours up before we head into Arizona to finish up our winter in the southwest. Sites with electricity and water are only four additional dollars per day, if you want to boondock in a park, there is no extra fee above your pass price. The parks are beautiful, well-maintained and spaces are far apart for lots of privacy and the price is more than right – where else can you get a great view site for that price? Most of the parks have a bit of a challenge for an RV at 40 feet, but so far our luck in finding a wonderful site has been 100% and it has made our journey very nice. Having cell phone service (with A T &T) has been a challenge as well at several of the parks. But most of all New Mexico State parks have beautiful clean modern bathrooms with showers. They do a great job with these parks and it shows. 

After we left Rockhound State Park, we drove to City of Rocks, south of Silver City. The challenge at this park is there are only 4 non reservable spots with electricity; but perfect timing for us again and we lucked out and got the best spot in the place! ( E6 with 50 amp service box). We love the beautiful natural rock formations and it was a very relaxing time doing what we did in February (exploring all the rocks, hiking to the top of Table Rock) plus other things that Michelle had on a want to do list. The biggest one on that list for me was to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, so one day we took the long drive through San Lorenzo, Mimbres, and Lake Roberts on highway 61, and then hwy 35. The drive is very pretty and different from most of New Mexico that we are seeing, which is dry desert without much for trees or other vegetation. We climbed in elevation and it was very pretty up there, even saw a little snow on the ground in places. From Lake Roberts, where there are two campgrounds that only cost 9 bucks for a senior with a senior card, we took hwy15 to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. We will stay at Lake Roberts one of these trips through here, but the temperatures will have to be about 15 degrees warmer at night, it’s a pretty high elevation, but such a pretty view of the lake down below the campground. 

As far as the Gila Cliff Dwellings, we were totally blown away by the whole experience; It is truly amazing and really humbles one seeing these most precious places of our ancestors! We had many questions that are all answered, but one remains for me: Back then, when the Mogollon people built this dwellings 700 to 800 years ago, I wonder how did they find them? It took hours for us to get there in a car, up big hills and mountains with ever changing environments. The ancient people had to walk everywhere they went, a long and arduous task, to say the least – how did they happen on to these natural volcanic Cliff alcoves (five of them in all and one that isn’t accessible.)

There is a creek down below for water and this whole place is hidden very well from a casual passerby. They didn’t have planes to spot this from air or cars to get there fast. So how could they be so lucky to just happen by this great area, for a perfect place to build their stone and mortar dwellings. If you ever get a chance, go see it; it’s worth every penny, and my senior pass got us in free, so that is even better! 

On another day we came back into Silver City to see things we missed back in Feburary, and to eat at a restaurant that has good ratings for food and service. We both enjoyed it very much and it happened to be our wedding anniversary, or close enough anyway. The name of the place is Curious Kumquat; we ate lunch there, but from what we read, the Chefs Choice dinner could be a very interesting experience. 

We are always watching the weather, during the winter, but especially here in New Mexico. Our stay at City of Rocks was cut short by 3 days because of an in coming storm and we were up against our two week stay limitation, so we decided to head back to Elephant Butte State Park, so we could start out fresh and get Michelle closer to the Albuquerque airport, so she could go see our beloved granddaughter Charlotte – her withdrawal symptoms are worse than drug withdrawal! She also gets to see John and Jen, as well as fly into Bend, OR to see our other daughter Chenin and her husband Bryce!

While staying at City of Rocks I got to make a short trip to see my Mom for her 90th Birthday, it was great to see my younger brother Bernard and his lovely wife Alice too! It was a long drive, but a big 90th only comes around once, so gotta go for it! . 

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
  
 
The road back to Silver City
  


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Rockhound State Park south of Deming, NM

We were lucky on the Sunday after thanksgiving, to get the best RV spot at Rockhound State Park (just south of Deming New Mexico). We didn’t have reservations, and this park is very popular and hard to get in to. We got camping spot number 16, directly at the top of the hill overlooking the whole park and the valley and Deming city lights at night. It’s about 30 miles north of Palomas, Mexico. We have found that traveling on a Sunday seems to be the best bet for the least amount of traffic and availability of a space in the parks; we try to time our arrival before 11:30 am. We have found that most people have left just before we arrive, this has happened over and over again. 

Rock Hound has several trails, with offshoots up into the hills, to look and dig for either geodes or thunder eggs. Before we got there, we thought they must be just laying on the ground waiting for us to pick them up (after many days of diligently looking for natural treasures, we found out that is not the case). Even though we found zero cool rocks to take with us (one of the only state parks we know of that allow you to take rocks) we did love the hiking trails above and around the park; well-groomed and easy to walk on, with a slight incline and great views of the valley below. The park is at the foot of the Florida Mountain Range, which is quite rugged and home to wild Ibex that were a gift from the Shah of Iran back in the 60’s. I spent many an afternoon in my anti-gravity chair looking through my high powered binoculars hoping to get a glimpse of them. We heard from other campers that early one morning 20 of them came out of a cave with a cougar in hot pursuit – dang we missed that show! 

Another not to miss gem is the Luna Mimbres Museum in downtown Deming. The town of Deming didn’t have much to offer, but this museum was the best we have ever toured and it kept on going and going – it is filled from top to bottom with very interesting stuff and one whole room devoted to rocks and minerals. We may not have found any rock treasures to keep, but we sure did get to view hundreds of fine examples at the museum. They have so many displays and items to see – give yourself a minimum of two hours, and maybe more to see it all. The museum is staffed by knowledgeable and very pleasant volunteers, who take real pride in the area and their fine museum. For a rockhound, just the area displaying the rocks and gems is totally worth a visit; there is also abundant history of Luna County, and a large display of Native American pottery and baskets and just about everything you can imagine from an era gone by! 

   
    
    
    
   
We also toured the museum/visitor center at Pancho Villa State park only 3 miles from the Mexico border. The history of the town that the park is located is very interesting. Especially the attack on Columbus, New Mexico by Pancho Villa back in 1916. 

Here are a few pictures from the museum 

   
    
    
   


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Predicted Cold and Wind Push us South

Cold and Wind Push us SouthWeather reports for Saturday November 14th showed a major cold front and wind storm coming to northern Arizona and northern New Mexico for Tuesday. It foiled our plans to pass by the 4 corners on our way thru southern Colorado to Heron Lake State park in northern New Mexico. So we decided the best route would be to head for Elephant Butte State park at a lower elevation that wouldn’t freeze our pipes. Even our second choice, at the 6000 ft level at Santa Rosa lake state park wasn’t going to fair very well either. On the way we stopped off for the night at Sky Casino outside Cubero, NM just off interstate 40. It was just the right price and a nice park, and I couldn’t beat the all you could eat meat buffet on Saturday night. Now I love Elephant Butte State Park, so it wasn’t a hard decision. When we arrived, we were shocked by how much the water had lowered since February when we were here last. At that time we put our kayaks in at the boat ramp and paddled straight across the lake – that route is just a mud flat now. After two days of very strong winds and low temps, and what felt like freezing weather because of the wind chill factor, we decided for the next two days to take in ghost towns on two different routes; heading one direction one day and the opposite way the next. All these towns were big gold and silver mining boom towns; when silver prices collapsed in the late 1800’s they dried up. But these ghost towns still have a few people living in them and preserving the history and they are very interesting to talk to. The first day we went to two ghost towns, Winston and Chloride out on Hwy 52. Chloride was the most interesting of them all; a couple living there with a family history of the area is preserving the history for the next generations and the small museum (located in the old pioneer store) is very worth seeing. The second day we took Hwy 152 to Hillsboro and Kingston, south of T or C New Mexico. 

   
    
    
    
Hand Crocheted by an elderly lady named Cassie Hobbs, only for friends and relatives, and not for profit. Amazing!!

   
   
Second day to Hillsboro and Kingston on route 152

   
    
    
    
  


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Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks Revisited

I made a visit to these parks back in 1971 when a friend of mine and I took a cross country trip a year after graduating high school. We started from Phoenix, Arizona in my new 1971 yellow Volkswagen super beetle. One of the many stops along the journey was at Zion National Park, in Southern Utah. Things were a bit different back then, and up until 1989 you could stop along galleries (big arched “windows” cut into the stone along the outer wall of the 1.6 mile long tunnel). The views of the surrounding canyon walls and the floor below were incredible; these days, as you drive through the tunnel, you can see the magnificent arched portals, but no stopping! 

Some 40 years later, on our journey back to the southwest for the winter of 2015, we stopped off in Hatch, UT for a few days so we could visit Zion and Bryce Canyon. We took in Bryce Canyon first and I didn’t seem to remember very much from the 1971 trip. Zion was a whole different story; It all came back to me and brought back old memories. But this trip was much better because I did it with my lifelong mate! After this day long excursion, and a little surprise snow on the ground this morning, we decided to spend another night in Hatch and plan to leave in the morning for Lake Powell, AZ. After all when have the weather guessers ever been right; the predictions seem to change every few hours! We are in no particular hurry and will move on when the conditions are right!

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   

  


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Its been a busy Spring to Fall

In the spring we left New Mexico for Park City to see the Granddaughter and her Parents, a great trip!

Then in May we left for the celebration of our oldest daughters marriage to her wonderful mate Bryce.  It was a very enjoyable time and we were able to see my younger brother Bernard and his wife Alice for a week. 

Then it was off to out summer volunteer work for Oregon State parks.  One month at the lighthouse, two months at the Lifeboat Station Museum and then September at Lighthouse. 

In July we had a major shock as I lost my older brother Dave, somethings in life are very hard and this was a major one!  I was in Phoenix in August for the celebration of his life.

We were back in Bend in October for two weeks and had another wonderful visit with Bryce and Chenin. 

Since then we have been back in Park City.  The Granddaughter in just two months since we seen her on there visit to see us on the Oregon beach has been amazing to say the least!  She is the smartest little girl I think I have ever run into.

But I think our stay here in Park City just might have lasted to long. We are now looking for our exit date. 

   
 


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Petroglyphs National Monument Albq, NM

Our recent visit to Petroglyphs National Monument, in Albuquerque was our very first encounter with petroglyphs in person – we have seen them in books, or on television documentaries, but to see them up close and personal was wonderful.  It was very interesting to see these images etched on the rocks, made by Pueblo Indians up to 700 years ago. These pictures were their way to communicate before they had written language.  It’s also very interesting to read what present day Archeologists have to say about what they think these all mean. I could go on all day from the material we saw, and it I sure would be a kick to know what they REALLY were trying to convey in some of the pictures left behind. Many of them look like aliens that might have returned to Roswell in 1947;  something to ponder – modern mankind really can have no idea what these ancient peoples saw. 

There are 4 different areas in west Albuquerque – actually in the city limits – on one side of the street, one will find ancient petroglyphs, and on the other side of the street modern homes and shops. We picked two areas that allow dogs on the trail to explore; they happen to be the trails with the most Petroglyphs also.  We only allowed time to walk one area, it was an easy walk on a sandy trail at the Rinconada Canyon trail; roundtrip was 2.2 miles.  There are approximately 1200 Petroglyphs etched into rocks along this one trail alone.  Calle and I will do the other area called Piedras Marcadas Canyon while Michelle is in Salt Lake.  That canyon has some 5000 documented Petroglyphs. 

Below are just some of the ones that choose to reveal themselves to us!












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Taking it much slower in ALBQ

We have just started a month-long stay in Albuquerque to regroup after 4 months without full hookups.  We were going to stay at the Elks Lodge, but because of the repairs I need to do to the RV I wanted full hookups; didn’t want the hassle of moving to drain tanks. Michelle will be leaving for Salt Lake City on Sunday the 15th to see our sweet little Granddaughter and she won’t be back until the first week of April.  Meanwhile, I will be busy with some RV upkeep: replacing the house batteries that don’t hold a charge worth a dang anymore, fixing plumbing leaks from some of the bone jarring roads we’ve been on, and I’m sure I will find other things needing my attention. Plus the blackberry needs a complete wash as well as the RV and car. The weather has been great so far, we have seen Old Town and the Petroglyph Monument  and tomorrow we are heading out for a day trip up to Santa Fe on Old Hwy 14, better know in these parts as the “Turquoise Trail”. We look forward to a scenic trip, approximately 60 miles of ghost towns, rejuvenated old towns, old churches, museums, and at the end, a farmers market and good old New Mexican cooking in Santa Fe.

When Michelle returns from Utah, we start our journey back up that way, staying about a month in Park City with little one again, (can’t  get enough of that baby time!) and then on to Bend for a two-week stop over and then to the Oregon Coast for our summer of volunteering; third year in a row and still, loving it!

As the Highway Men Say:

“the road goes on forever, and the party never ends!”


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Salinas Pueblo Missions

We spent the afternoon traveling between the three Pueblo Ruin sites, called the Salinas Pueblo Missions, that are around Mountainair, New Mexico. The start of this journey, at the visitor center, was about 12 miles from where we were staying at Manzano Mtn State Park. 

The three sites are named Quarai, Gran Quivira, and Abo. These sites were home to many Pueblo Indians for centuries and we found them all fascinating and the rangers at each site were friendly and helpful.  


Quarai was a Tiwa-speaking pueblo at the foot of the Manzano Mtns, it was a thriving pueblo like Abo when first visited by Juan de Ornate in 1598. 







Gran Quivira is on a knoll protruding from Chupadera Mesa. It was the largest of the Salinas (Spanish for salt) Pueblos. It was also known as the Pueblo de Las Humanus or “town of the striped ones” due to the custom of painted and striped faces seen at this Pueblo. 









Abo was a thriving community when first visited by Spaniards in 1581. Abo was thought to have meant “water bowl,” another interpretation  was “poor place.”













As the Highway Men Say:

“the road goes on forever, and the party never ends!”






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Manzano Mtn State Park

We enjoyed a few sunny days at Sumner Lake State Park, just outside of Fort Sumner New Mexico, before we left I called the Ranger at Manzano Mountain State Park just to see how much snow was still at the campsite and how the road conditions up to the camp ground were.  I was a bit worried due to the fact that the elevation is 7,600 feet;  he let me know there was just a bit of snow left under the trees where there was shade and that the road is fine. So I asked him if a 40 foot 34,000 lb rig would have any problem – his opinion was there should be no problem.   We were delighted and took off down the road.  As the Highway Men say: The road goes on forever and the party never ends! 

We got to the quaint little village of Mountainair and turned right, off the main highway for the road up to the campground in the pine trees. We didn’t unhook the Jeep, we just kept on going. The last 3/4 mile was a slippery, wet, red dirt road up an 8% grade. Huey was  laboring a tad, and the back wheels were spinning and sending red dirt and mud to the back. The Harley, and the once white jeep both have a red tint to them! What a job it’s going to be to clean the Old Blackberry up. We are the ONLY people up here at this very small park, does that say something about our sanity lol.  Would we come again: yes and no.  No at this time of year. Yes to see the Salinas Pueblo Ruins again, which will be another post. 











As the Highway Men Say:

“the road goes on forever, and the party never ends!