CITY OF ROCKS, JUNE 16, 2017

Location: City of Rocks State Park, NMMap.

hydra trail planned 2017 june 16

Grrrr.  Roused at dawn.  Okay, okay.  I’m up.  Yesterday, we planned to start our hike at Pegasus Campground and drift north then west, coming in midpoint of the rock grouping.  It’s the orange line on the map.

When Margo didn’t get in the truck, I thought she had changed plans without telling me.  About halfway to Pegasus Campground Margo says, “Darn, I forgot we were going to drive.”  No harm done.  In fact, the longer walk would do me good.

 

hydra trail done 2017 june 17

I don’t know how we missed the split, but we realized we had passed it long after we had.  We continued on and came in at the Botanical Gardens.  A good, long walk filled with rabbits and long views.

We are pretty tired and spend the heat in the travel trailer.  I send invisible Atta boys to the little air conditioner on the roof.  We couldn’t stay here without it.

 

Margo is already thinking about returning home along another route.  She spreads out a not very detailed map and points.  She asks, “What do I think of taking Highway 61 east to Highway 152 to Hillsboro”?  Here it is from Google maps.

san lorenzo to hillsboro map.jpgOh, no, no, no, no, no.  Around 8100 feet which is 3000 more than City of Rocks.  Last fall I took that road to do some fishing at Lake Roberts.  I got tired of the twists and turns and ups and downs in just the truck.  Imagine what that would be like pulling a 24′ travel trailer.    We’d a been screaming meemies.

We asked where is the closest dump for the trailer tanks.  A host tells us the nearby Hot Springs has a fee dump.  Gotta go check it out because it may be hard to get to.  It’s easy to find the place.  Just look for trees.

An interesting place.  Somewhat hippyish but very pleasant vibes.  Shady and cool.  The employee gives us a map and tells us to wander freely and we do.  It’s been designed to maximize cooling.  Covered walkways, planted atrium, fences, trees.  Shade cloths here and there to cut off even more sun.  I expected to see a big, bubbling spring, but there aren’t any.   A slow drizzle of water from a pipe falls into small concrete pools, most looking like they need a good scrubbing.  Some water is warm, some cool.   Now I understand the purpose of the tall water tanks behind the facility.

There were lots of little turns and twists and a number of private areas.  Their literature says there are 13 pools, but we only saw four.

There’s an RV park in the back.  We drove around to it.  Not very well kept up.  Could use some serious pruning, picking up and fixing up of a couple of old, long-term travel trailers.

I was excited to see they sold camping type things.  Ice, ice cream, candy, charcoal, soaps, soups, sodas, and more.  Of course it’s expensive.  We are 20 something miles to the nearest convenience store.

The dump was a little difficult to get to unless you back through a gate.  Probably easy to do in a RV, but not so easy with a trailer.

Overall, the place is certainly interesting, and they get mostly good online reviews.  Would I stay there?  No.  I was satisfied with the cheaper spot at City of Rocks State Park.

I’ve been missing my favorite pair of hiking socks.  Wigwam, light gray.  Feel awesome.  I tore the house apart looking for them.  Where the hell are they?  A better question is where did I put them that made sense then, but when found will leave me baffled about what I was thinking.  I finally gave them up for lost.  Today Margo was adjusting the pleated curtain on the window of the travel trailer and exclaimed, “What the heck.” and pulls out one of my socks from between the window and curtain.  Of course, I remember clearly what I did.  I rolled them up and shoved them between window and curtain when the wind kept rattling the curtain.  A sock in each corner fixed the problem and I went back to sleep.  Hey, I have an excuse.  I was sleepy.

 

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CITY OF ROCKS, JUNE 15, 2017

Location: City of Rocks State Park, NMMap.

An early up to get in a hike before it gets too hot.  Views are muted by smoke.  Once I was home I looked it up on InciWeb.  The smoke is thicker to the north so I think we are looking at the effects from the Corral Fire  which is about 26 miles north of us.  We walk the Hydra Trail from the visitor’s center north and east to the Pegasus Campground then back to camp.

city of rocks hydra trail 2017 june 15Jack rabbits and desert cottontails are everywhere.  So are large soil mounds with entrances.  A burrowing critter to be sure.  But what is it?

A camp host said the mounds were from ground squirrels.  If there is one squirrel per mound, there is more poundage of ground squirrel per acre than a two-year-old steer.

city of rocks pegasus campground 2017 june 15

 

city of rocks bird watch 2017 june 15

We are being watched.

 

city of rocks yucca blooms 2017 june 15

We relax under the awning and watch the activity in the soapweed yuccas.  It’s like an interstate.  Little bugs are crawling all over it.  A dozen black flies are around each plant.  A half dozen variety of bees or things that sorta look like bees buzz about.

Birds feed on the bugs.  Even quail fly up.

Margo watches a rock squirrel as it impresses her with its intelligence.  It crawls past the dangerous petal points to the thick stem and crawls up it.  The upper part of the stem leans over until it almost touches the ground.  The squirrel sits like he’s on a chair and carefully chooses the tastiest flowers.  When he’s satisfied, he steps off.  The six foot stem doesn’t sprong back to vertical.  So that’s why they are leaning.

At 6pm, we head for another walk among the rocks.

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CITY OF ROCKS, JUNE 14, 2017

Location: home to City of Rocks State Park, NM.  Park map.

Off on another 2017 travel trailer adventure to add to where we’ve been: Bottomless, Elephant Butte, Caballo, Sumner Lake, and Conchas Lake.  Here is happy number six.

An early start on our trip because the older we get the the more we try to do stuff early in the day — before the body screams “Don’t do that.”  Drat.  Early drat.  The dreaded flashing billboard on Highway 70 west of Alamogordo.  Whitesands Missile Range has priority for an hour, but it’s now 45 minutes past that time.  Traffic isn’t stopped, not even slowed down.  State Police are picking up the last half dozen cones.  All is clear.

The trip took three hours.  This state should be called the Hide It state.  Again, we are left wondering where the point of interest is until it is almost under our tires.  Is that it?  Nope.  What the heck is that?  I dunno.

We pass over a hill and drop into low rolling plains.  Our destination is before us.  A bunch of rocks.  Big, big, big rocks in a big pile.  There’s a little pile off to the side, and another pile behind us on a hill.  Otherwise, it’s like they were accidentally dropped here.

I know that some of you are yellin’, “What are you doing, going to City of Rocks in June?  Don’t you know that place gets HOT?  Yep, sometimes the plans line up that way and ya just got to go with it.  We’ve got air conditioning.

city of rocks campsite 2017 june 14.jpgWe set up in record time, because it’s not exactly cool.  Uh-oh.   Three of the four electricity/water/sewage sites are taken up by camp hosts.  The last was unavailable so we set up at a no sewage site.

It’s not windy so we roll out the awning.  If I could, I would sing songs about awnings.  I’ve only been sitting under one on and off for six months, but I gotta admit I like what awnings do.  And the sun is strong here.  The gentle wind blows hot, hot, then oddly cool.  Just enough to make staying outside under the shade bearable.  If I have to move outside of this 120 square feet, I will melt.

Margo decides to go for a walk and sets off with the dogs.  She returns with stories.  She stopped under one of the stunted oak trees and suddenly the tree top explodes.  She has been feet away from an owl.  She also says she found a bee tree.

I spent the time eagerly following the little rectangle of shade made by the awning.  By the end of the day I dragged the chair in increments from the western front of the trailer, south along the entire length, and around to the eastern back.  I wasn’t a total recliner potato.  I looked at the plants and watched for critters.

city of rocks horned owl 2017 june 14At 6:40 pm it is cool enough for me to want to go for a walk.  Margo agreed to take me on the story tour.  We had to wade through rabbits to get to the rocks.  Forget following trails.  The natural erosion between the rocks has made every flat surface a path and every boulder looks like something wonderful to jump on.  Oh, to be a 12-year old.  Margo shows me where she encountered the owl.  She was lucky.  There’s a fresh regurgitated mouse.  I peek around another boulder to see the bee tree.  A busy horde is entering two feet above the ground.  The bees and I have met before.  They are pollinating the plants near the trailer.

city of rocks rock trail 2017 june 14Here’s a photo to get an idea of the size of the rocks.  DotDog loves jumping on them.

 

 

 

 

 

city of rocks more 2017 june 14

Rock babies?

city of rocks water bowls 2017 june 14.jpg

How the animals survive without supplemental water.

city of rocks scallopped 2017 june 14.jpg

 

city of rocks rocks framed 2017 june 14.jpg

Our mighty TV antenna booster struck out.  No AT&T service.  No wifi.  The plus side is I don’t have to listen to one word of politics.  I forgot to bring a laptop (I know, how can someone forget a laptop).  No DVDs.  So glad I brought books and ebooks.

I am bereft.  For once I was good and brought no sweets.  What was I thinking?  Homemade applesauce raisin cookies could fuel me for many a walk from trailer to chair.

Tomorrow, we start walking.

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CAMPING SUPPLIES FOR DOGS

Oh how I wish it were nothing more than dog bodies we have to make room for in our travel trailer.   In addition to dog food, water, bowls, leashes, and stake out cables there are some other things to include when you pack:

Vaccine records.

Disposable gloves and grocery bags for picking up doggy poop.

Water resistant seat protector.

Brush or comb.

Bucket or hose.

Soap.

Dog Towel.

Goodies.

Toys.

Blankie.

Have I forgotten anything?

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SLEEPING PAD FOR TENT CAMPING

Boy, oh boy, did I learn all about sleeping bag compression last fall.  I had gone to Lake Roberts in southwestern New Mexico within the lovely Gila National Forest.  Took an old tent Margo acquired at an auction.  With two monster sleeping bags below me I thought I was in high cotton.  Fifteen minutes later my abundant body parts had squished the sleeping bags to micro thinness.  It was if I had nothing below me.   How can that be?  I carry my own fluffiness.  So I put on every item of clothes I brought.  Thought marshmallows.  Didn’t help.  I was cold and uncomfortable all night.

I happily got up before dawn which made me look like a bada** fisherman.  It’s weird to be the first person awake in a campground, and I tried to be as quiet as possible.  Under the beacon of my solar lantern, I boiled water for hot tea.  I slurped it empty before I could see my hand in front of my face.

sleeping-bag-pad-expanded-2017-feb-26

So I would never be in that painful predicament again, I bought a sleeping pad.  More than I wanted to pay, but I refused to go cheap on an item which suspends me over a hard surface.  A Therm-A-Rest.  It’s a bit too long, but I only had two choices: 48″ or 77″.  I got the 77″ because I couldn’t imagine my heels laying on hard ground.  It’s wide enough that I can curl up.  It will puff to an awesome 1-1/2″ thick when blown up.

I blew it up and laid my sleeping bag and myself on it in the living room while watching TV.  It is so much better than hard ground.  I envisioned a much, much more enjoyable return trip to Lake Roberts.

I guess I could try sleeping on the floor tonight, but darn it, I find the occasional scorpion on the floor.  Lordy knows there are none in the great outdoors.  At least not the way I zip up my tent.

sleeping-bag-pad-flat-2017-feb-26Here the pad is empty of air.  I know.  It looks pretty unappealing, but don’t let that fool ya.  It packs nicely.  It rolls into a bag smaller than a medium sleeping bag.  I opened the two valves at the corners and it mostly blew itself up.  I did have to give it 15 good breaths or so to plump it up.  Advertisement say five puffs.  In y’alls dreams.

Instructions say to store it inflated.  Not many places in this house where such a large item can go.  Stuck it between a window and desk.

Glad I don’t have a cat.

 

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NOISE. NOISE. NOISE.

About a quarter mile away someone is building a rammed earth home.  Don’t know what rammed earth is?  Here’s an article from Mother Earth NewsHere’s an article with lots of photos.  The tamper sounds like a jackhammer and this thin mountain air makes it sound like it’s next door.  They used the tamper most of the day.  Brrrrrrrrtttttttttt.  Brrrrrrrrtttttttttt.  Brrrrrrrrtttttttttt.

It’s right up there with early Sunday morning newby pilots who must be using landmarks to practice by.  They have a whole dang forest — over a million acres — but they fly over my house.  Thinking about writing “GIT” on the roof.

If I lived in a travel trailer, I could just move a couple miles away.

That’s one for the mobile life.

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PASSED ON A 1995 GMC VANDURA

While in Tularosa, I pass by a house with a high top camper van in the back.  Been wondering if it runs.  Looks in good shape.

So the Sunday before we left for Conchas Lake I was passing the house when the owner was out.  I stopped and introduced myself and asked if he was interested in selling the van.  He was.  The van was in a tight place, but we were able to get inside.  It looked excellent inside.  No leaks.   Carpet was in good shape.  I can stand up in it.

He was honest about the issues.  No refrigerator.  A electrical issue which ran the battery down until he put in a cut-off switch under the hood.  A huge engine.  454 on a 3500 chassis which means you can watch the fuel gauge drop (NCLady made the pantomime of pouring out of a glass when she heard the engine size).  1995 so no OBD port.  And the same price he paid for it years ago.

There’s a small Class C parked on the side of a property nearby.  Maybe I should introduce myself there next.

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