Our Last Days in New Mexico

The scene above greeted us from Bertha’s rear window on a morning a few days before we left. I do believe the park was doing its very best to wish us happy travels. We are done with our latest stint as camp hosts. Overall it was another good experience, but we both feel it is time to move on.  I’ll leave you with a few previously un-shared tidbits from our stay.

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A Party at the Pink Store

Every year The Pink Store in Palomas, Chihuahua Mexico hosts a customer appreciation day.  DJ’s, bands, dancers, food and drink for all day. We waited for party day to shop on this trip and had a great time along with a huge crowd of revelers.

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Elaines Orchid

We decided to bring one of Elaine’s orchids along. She has nursed and cared for it regularly. So now some 3 months later she has been rewarded with blooms!

Petroglyph Collage
A Collage of Petroglyphs

All the known petroglyphs found in The City of Rocks State Park. It took a while to find them and a number of attempts to get clear images to enjoy. The cross on the upper right can be attributed to either the conquistadors or possibly to early Spanish shepherds. The other four were left by various Indian tribes.

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Lenticular Cloud Formation

Elaine took this picture of a spectacular cloud over Deming, NM as I was driving one morning.

Now we are on our way to the big city (Albuquerque) where we plan to relax, shop, and see a few sites.

From the land of chile peppers, New Mexico, the only place that believes pain is a spice.

Your Random Rover, Gordon

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A Few New Mexico Side Trips

Lake Roberts

Lake Roberts
Lake Roberts (Another View)

One day we decided to take a drive north just to see some new sites. We stopped at Lake Roberts  for a little walk. It was a very pretty day and we talked to a fisherman who stated that though the catching should be good he really did not care as he was simply out for the fishing.  We were kindred spirits as we were just out sight-seeing and the bonus was that some of the sights were really good.

The Catwalk

In the Gila National Forest’s Whitewater Canyon the Catwalk Recreation Area has been built, maintained and restored since 1933. We have been here before, maybe 16 to to 18 years ago and decided to revisit as we are less than 60 miles away.

Elaine on The Catwalk
Looking Up
Hanging Over The Creek
Proof That We Were Here!

When gold and silver were discovered in the rugged Mogollon Mountains above Whitewater Canyon prospectors flocked in. A pipe line was suspended over the creek to power a mill and the prospectors walked precariously on the pipe to get to their claims.  The mill closed about 10 years after it was built. The Civilian Conservation Corps rebuilt the catwalk in the mid-1930’s. In 1961 the US Forest Service again rebuilt catwalk system making it much safer, It lasted until it was washed out in a flood in 2014? after the Whitewater-Baldy Fire of 2012.  Luckily for us, it has now been rebuilt and is open to enjoy.  Approximately .5 miles from the parking lot, the first portion of the trail, the portion we walked, is wheelchair accessible.

It was quite chilly on the January day we visited so we were very happy to get back to the warm truck after enjoying our little hike.

Mogollon

That’s Elaine in the truck where it is warm
Downtown Mogollon

We visited the ghost town of Mogollon, NM in the off-season.  Nothing was open, it was cold and as you can see there was snow on the ground.  Once we had started there was literally no turning back as the truck does not turn on a dime and the 5 mile one lane road had only tiny turnouts. We arrived and returned safely no worse for wear with a few more pictures, laughs, and memories.

Your Random Rover,

Gordon

City of Rocks State Park

Can You See the Giant Rock Creature Behind the Sign?

We are camp hosting here for the months of January and February 2018. This park is the most remote state park in New Mexico and if you know rural New Mexico you understand that we are a long way from anywhere.  Dramatic, grand, spectacular, you can pick the adjective, they all fit this magic land of boulders. They all originated about 35 million years ago from a multi-year volcanic eruption that was 1,000 times larger than the Mount Saint Helens eruption in 1980. Hot volcanic material compressed and solidified and then as it cooled and shrank vertical cracks formed.  From there eons of erosion has widened the cracks to make individual boulders.

Campsite City of Rocks SP
Our Campsite at City of Rocks

The views from our campsite.

A Thumbs Up Sunset
A Thumbs Up Sunset Looking South
And Looking West
And Looking East
And Looking North

I think that you will have to agree that this is a very awe inspiring place to park our tiny house for a couple of months.

Some of the sights in the park.

A Petroglyph of an Apache Crown Dancer

The Apache Crown Dancers are an important part of the tribal spiritual rituals.

Kokopelli

This is one of the two Kokopelli petroglyphs in the park. Kokopelli in this form is the bringer of music that changes winter to spring and brings rain for the crops.

There are at least 5 known and documented petroglyphs here. They are fun to find and see, but please do not touch them or do anything else that could damage them. And of course do not enter occupied campsites while you are searching.

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Some Balanced Boulders
Rock Climbers

We often saw people climbing the rocks. In order to protect the rocks only free climbing is allowed.

Some More of Natures Balancing Acts
One of the Parks Multitude of Rabbits

I am not patient enough to be a wildlife photographer but sometimes opportunities do occur. This Desert Cottontail just sat patiently and kept a wary eye on me.  Coyotes, Blacktail Jackrabbit, Rock Squirrel, and Spotted Ground Squirrel are other park residents.

A Raven Nest Way Up in the Rocks

Sorry no pictures of the raven or even of the owl that borrowed the nest after the raven was done with it, but the park does have over 100 kinds of resident and visiting birds depending on the season.  Butterflies, Dragonflies and over 20 varieties of reptiles can be found in the summer.

More Rocks

While it is certainly impossible to define the park wth one picture, for me this one comes the closest.

The Welcome Center

The welcome center’s architecture fits well in its surroundings. Do stop in for area and park information from the real friendly folks there.

The Colonnade at the Visitor Center
Desert Camouflage
Geological History
Ancient Inhabitants
Early Inhabitants Mural

With the trails around and through the park for hiking and sightseeing, many species of birds to see and photograph or paint or draw, many desert plants and animals to discover, a very nice visitor center with helpful staff and a library of geological, botanical and biological information, and a botanical garden, New Mexico’s City of Rocks is a must see stop in the desert southwest.

“Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to drive across the country coast to coast without seeing anything.”  This quote from Charles Kuralt was brought to mind by the fact that we are only about 30 miles north of that great set of asphalt paths with dashed lines that criss-cross this beautiful, immense country of ours.  The freeways bring convenience and are needed but we do need to get off of them regularly.

We will be here for another month or so before heading on.  Which direction? Well now that just depends on the weather.

Your Random Rover,

Gordon

South to New Mexico

And We Are Off!  (This picture is of us on the road in front of our home in Port Angeles, WA)

We are heading to New Mexico to do a couple of months of camp hosting at The City of Rocks State Park.

Day 1: Off to Corvallis with a day to see brother Stephen. We left around 8:00 AM to mixed fog and drizzle which persisted most of the day with a few sun-breaks.  Overall it was a long, lackluster day.  Arrived at a typical KOA, definitely less than ideal, site had huge and inconvenient puddles and I had to back out as it was impossible to pull through.  We spent our day in the area just looking around, catching up with Stephen, and doing a little shopping (found a couple of Larry McMurtry novels at Browser Books that I had been searching for).

Albany/Corvallis KOA

Day 3: On to Red Bluff Elks Lodge for a night.  On the long drive over the Syskiyou pass, the weather was warmer and drier so we arrived safe and sound after a resplendent day.  The Elks Lodge here is easy for an over-night but freeway noise is a bother.  Please do note Gordon’s wondrous under-carriage lighting.

Red Bluff Elks Lodge

Day 4: Up and over Donner Pass to the Desert Rose RV Resort in Fernley, NV.   We lost a trailer tire on the way while Elaine was driving.  Luckily it occurred at as good a location as such things can happen and a Good Samaritan helped me change it.  Les Schwab Tire was only 6 miles down the road so all was well.   While they were fixing us up E&I walked into town and got lunch.  On the road again there was snow (not on the road) at the pass,

Roads bare but lots of snow at Donner Pass

7,227 feet above sea level, but none a few miles later as we passed through Reno, NV.  We arrived safe and sound to good clean level sight.

Desert Rose Resort, Fernley, NV

Unfortunately, noise from the adjacent highway again interrupted our sleep.

Day 5: On down highway 95 to Tonopah, NV.  A desolate drive that is bereft of perturbation and gloriously majestic.

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Desolate Highway 95 north of Tonopah

At Tonopah I found yet another book I had been looking for at Whitney’s Bookshelf, a wonderful little used book store where we have shopped before. (Need more time to read – the books in the “to read” stack are growing at an alarming rate).  Even though our RV site was behind the Casino, car and truck noises interrupted our sleep regularly. Oh well happier nights are sure to come.

Tonopah Casino RV

Day 6: The never welcome and always a little too exciting drive through Las Vegas.  Nothing really bad just lots of traffic, construction, and congestion.  Ridgeview Resort, Bullhead City, AZ where we are relaxing for a few days in a quiet park under a blue sky with temperatures in the mid 70’s.  Could not ask for more right now.

Ridgeview Resort, Bullhead City, AZ

It turned quite windy and cool while we were here but we managed to have a great time.

Day 9: Off to Pioneer Resort north of Phoenix, AZ where we will meet up with old friends from Wyoming that we met in Texas while we still lived in Arizona. Who said this retirement stuff was simple?

Notice that beautiful December sky at the Pioneer RV Resort North of Phoenix

 

One of the many saguaro in the park

It was definitely worth the stop to catch up with old friends and to see the north end of Phoenix.

Day 11:  We are off to Tucson, to see brother Bill and sister Nanette, and also will do a little shopping for products we can’t find up north.  Weather again a bit windy with blowing dust for the short drive down.  Not sure how long we will spend as we still want to spend a while meeting up with old friends in Sierra Vista and to get over to Columbus and Las Cruces, New Mexico before it is time to begin our hosting duties.

Justin’s Diamond J RV Resort

The Diamond J is a resplendent, quiet park out near the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum and Old Tucson Studios.  We stocked up on Tucson’s local Poblano Sauce, chile powders and spices from the Santa Cruz Chile & Spice Company (in Tumacacori, AZ), and of course lots of fresh tasty tortillas.

The Sonoran Desert (Looking east from Justin’s)

 

We also took a walk in the desert.

Christmas In Tucson’s Winterhaven

After a splendid dinner at Nanette and Bill’s we strolled through their neighborhood taking in the dazzling Christmas displays. (That’s Elaine and Nanette walking ahead in the bottom right picture.)

Day 18: Rolling again, this time to Sierra Vista where we took care of some business matters and caught up with some old friends. We weren’t able to catch everyone we would have liked to but hopefully will on our way back through in the spring. We camped just outside of Tombstone, AZ, the town to tough to die, which is still quite the tourist attraction, but having seen it more than once we did other things. By the way, we did drive by our old house and the new owners have made some nice improvements.

Tombstone Territories RV Resort, Tombstone, AZ

Day 21: This just might be our shortest road day ever, GPS says 11 miles to Kartchner Caverns state park where we plan to rest for a day.  Well there is Mary Ann’s Mostly Books, a quaint used book store in Benson, AZ, that we will most certainly visit.

Site 3, Kartchner Caverns State Park, Benson AZ

Yes the ground is wet. It has been raining off and on for the past 16 hours. This to shall pass. After all we are in Arizona.

We hiked up to the visitor center during a break in the weather.

The Trail to the Center

Where we visited the gift shop and learned about limestone cave formations and bats.

Eat Your Heart Out Mr. Spock

The next day we went for a “2.5 mile” hike.  I put the distance in quotes as it sure seemed a lot longer and Elaine’s pedometer indicated 3.5 miles.  The trail went up and down some steep hills and my poor legs complained  but the views were worth it.

The Foothills Loop Trail
The San Pedro Valley from the trail

Day 23: Finally off to New Mexico! Heading to Mesilla and Las Cruces. Another easy drive. Elaine drove the middle part which seemed to go by a lot faster than the beginning or the end.

Sunny Acres RV Park, Las Cruces, NM

We spent a week exploring and shopping the Las Cruces area.

Christmas In The Plaza at Old Mesilla

In  Mesilla we found many nice things but nothing said “take me home”.  Even though it was cold and windy we lunched on “chocolate chip chocolate” ice cream from the Chocolate Lady.  It was a wonderful bit of decadence.

Las Cruces Saturday Market

Lots of great vendors here, we did buy a new tortilla warmer and had a great green chile pizza from a wood fired oven for lunch.  Christmas Eve we walked through the park.

Decorations at Sunny Acres

The farolitos were nice and a few people had decorated their sites.

The Rio Grand at Las Cruces

Not quite the river from the movies but still a nice walk on Christmas, our last day in Las Cruces.

Day 30:  We are headed to our last way-point, Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, NM.  Vacation is almost over. Lovely blue sky and sunshine for my no freeway route. Traveled south through the pecan orchards past Anthem and almost to the Mexico border before turning west on New Mexico Hwy 9 where we saw many hawks perched on poles and trees. It was a very quiet peaceful drive.

All set up at Pancho Villa

Pancho Villa is a great place with a lot of history and definitely worthy of a stop.

A view of the park from Coote’s Hill looking south toward Palomas, Mexico. We are parked down there someplace.

While at Pancho Villa be sure to visit The Pink Store in Palomas, Mexico, a 3 mile drive south and a short walk across the border for great shopping and a fine meal.

The Pink Store

Do see the park’s museum at the visitor center for many interesting exhibits pertaining to chasing Pancho Villa across Mexico and the beginnings of US military mechanization and the use of airplanes.

Camp Furlong Museum at Pancho Villa State Park

The Depot Museum across the road from the park will also peak your interest.

The Railway Museum, Columbus, NM

If you can find the time the Luna Mimbres Museum in Deming (30 miles north) is outstanding.

Day 33: This was supposed to be the final leg to City of Rocks but traveling is never without surprises.  When we arrived at the park we were told they did not know we were coming that day.  This in spite of the fact that we were given that arrival date by the park ranger.  As there were no hookup sites we dry camped because a hookup site was to be available the next day.

Site 19 City of Rocks

Day 34: I walked down to the visitor center and verified site availability for later in the day. We had breakfast and waited around. It was nearly noon when the park staff came to our site and told us that they had made another mistake and our site would not be available for another day. Well I only figured for one night so we were very low on water and would have to tie everything down and hitch up anyway just to get water so with this somber news we told the park to give us a call when our site was empty and available and promptly left for Temperate Zone RV Park about 16 miles away where we would have a full hook-up.

Temperate Zone RV Park

Very nice quiet park with a very friendly and accommodating owner/hostess.

Day 36: Good news our site is available so after 2,451 towing miles it is now January 2, 2018 and we are in our host site at City of Rocks State Park near Silver City, New Mexico and looking forward to a couple months here.  I plan to record our adventure here in another post before we leave.

Keeping the shiny side up, Your random rover Gordon.

Columbus, New Mexico

We’ve been home too long so we headed out at about quarter to 9:00 on Friday the 3rd of January 2014.  Traveling 197 miles through Palominas, Bisbee, and Douglas, Arizona then into New Mexico through Rodeo, Animas, and Hachita, to the town of Columbus that was raided by Pancho villa on March 9th, 1916.  We plan on staying here through Monday night.

Pancho Villa State Park
Pancho Villa State Park

Pancho Villa State Park was created to memorialize that raid and the subsequent punitive invasion of Mexico.  Though the name is controversial, it was chosen to attract tourists to this sleepy little town. I have to ask: Would most Americans find “Osama Bin Laden Park” to be an acceptable name for the 9/11 memorial?  I think not.  Though he did not kill nearly as many people or do anywhere near the amount of damage, Pancho did commit heinous crime against the United States and her citizens.  Time does change some people’s perspective.  But on the other hand, would anybody come if they had named the park for Camp Furlong?

Exhibit Hall from Coote's Hill
Exhibit Hall from Coote’s Hill

Here at the park they have a very fine historical exhibit explaining much of the significance General Pershing’s 400 mile expedition chasing Pancho deep into Mexico.  It was the military’s first use of autos and airplanes and it helped prepare the army for WWI.

Transport Truck, Replica of Jenny Aircraft, Jeffery Quad
Transport Truck, Replica of Jenny Aircraft, Jeffery Quad

Some example exhibits.

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Sunset From Our Campsite

We were treated to several very pretty sunsets.

ViewOutTheWindow
Cholla, Prickly Pear, and Yucca

The park was not at all crowded. These are our neighbors.

Pancho Villa State Park Campsite
Pancho Villa State Park Campsite

As you can see we had great weather, beautiful scenery, peace and quiet. Who could ask for more.

The Pink Store
The Pink Store

We traveled about 3 miles south to Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua where there is a great store filled with Mexican crafts and a wonderful authentic Mexican restaurant all just a short walk across the border.

A Nice Little Museum in Columbus
A Nice Little Museum in Columbus

On the way back we stopped to see the Columbus Historical Museum house in the old railway station.  Well worth the stop!!

All of this just a few miles from home.  We like the back roads but for those in the fast lane Columbus and Pancho Villa State Park are about 30 miles due south of Deming, NM.

In our spare time on this trip we began planning our drive to Idaho in May.  More on that later.

I used to be indecisive but now I’m not sure.

Your Random Rover – Gordon