Monday, March 28, 2005

05-21 Poof and It's Gone, New Mexico

Raton, NM

Week 21 of 52
Aug 21-27

Poof, it‘s gone… I’m back in New Mexico, just barely over the state line in Sugar Rite Canyon State Park. I took one of the primitive sites up on the mesa since the electric sites were booked up. The views are expansive, being able to see down into the tree lined canyon and off into the distance I can see Johnson Mesa as well.

After a quick set up, I had lunch and sat under my awning. A small storm was brewing and a neighbor came by to say that it got pretty windy the other day. I hadn’t tied down my awning, because I had thought the same thing, and had planned to take the awing down as soon as the first gusts of wind came along.

I went inside for a short spell, and before I knew it, I huge single gust of wind came along and you guessed it, took the whole awning up and over the camper. Tore it and bent most of the poles. Ruined. That quick. I had been very diligent this summer, taking down the awning even when it was a nice day, especially if I was going to tour and be away from the camper. Either that, or I’d have it well tied down.

The lesson here is, never hesitate with the awning. When your not using it, especially out west where the wind can pick up at a moments notice, take the awning down.

Over all though, the sun came out, the mesa and valley looked so wonderful with the yellow sunflowers everywhere, who could be upset over an awning that’s replaceable. Ok, I could have kicked myself at lease once for not taking the awning down when I should have, but the lessons learned. I’m retired, I have no house to maintain, lawn to cut or property taxes to pay, so I think I can afford this goof. Life is good.

Besides, it looks like my insurance will pick up a good portion of the tab, minus my deductible.

Dinner for Three. Back in Colorado Springs, Marv and Linda, my next door neighbors and I had had a number of very nice conversations throughout the week. They invited me over for dinner on my last night in the campground, Monday. We ended up having salmon, capers and cream cheese over toasted wedges, a fine beef done in sherry over noodles and for desert we had ice-cream, strawberries and Bally’s Cream Liquor. We dined outside with my cozy-time campfire (gas) with it’s new ceramic logs on top, watching the horses go through there evening walk up the hill as the sun sank low over the mountains.

Capulin Volcano National Monument Back to New Mexico, I’ve got to tell you, this north east corner of the state is just beautiful. I’m near the town of Raton and I drove east this morning via county road 72 over to Capulin Volcano National Monument. The ride took me through a valley surrounded by high mesas which I eventually began the winding incline up to the top. I drove for over 35 minutes across a vast mesa covered with grass ranch lands, without seeing another vehicle.

Off in the distance were pyramid shaped mountains. Later I was to find out they were all extinct volcano’s. I saw horse ranchers leading their cattle into pens for market or maybe a cowboy hoedown. It was so still and quiet up here. It seemed as it you could see for ever from on top of this mesa. Dotted between many miles of rolling grass lands, I’d see cattle and a few barns or out building, but no houses. I even saw more antelope. One was running right towards my truck. I stopped and he eventually stopped too. Looking at me, like, what’s this guy stopping in the middle of the road for? As I started to move forward, the Antelope followed me for a short piece before running back up the grassy incline and off into the distance. The ranches are so big up here, one of them had it’s own air field.

In almost an instant, I began the descent off of the mesa. The landscape changes instantly, from grassy fields to a low forest hugging the sides of the mesa walls. I was able to see Capulin Volcano from many miles away across the lower plains. It’s striking dark cone shape well preserved after it’s birth more than 56,000 years ago. Young by geological time. It’s completely made of cinder and ash, having been created from the strong central plume shooting high into the sky and then the ash and cinders falling from the sky forming the cone shaped volcano.

I’ve had three hikes while in the area for only two days. I took the hike around the top of the craters rim and then spiraling into the center of the crater itself. What a pleasant hike. The air was refreshing and slightly cool, with a warm sun bathing the whole area. Being thousands of feet above the huge expanse of land below, I almost felt like I had views from an air plane. I was able to see vast fields below for grazing cattle, volcanic mountains and the mesas off in the distance that were formed over millions of years. It does the mind and soul good to see such grand vistas, void of traffic noise, just the sounds of nature. The whistle of the wind. The rustle of a scrub oak from a striped chipmunk playing in the underbrush. Birds flying between the chokecherry bushes, enjoying a feast of ripe red berries.

The other two hikes have been back at Sugar Rite Campground. Hiking through an abandoned coal mining town just the foundations remaining, the doctors house, the old school, the mining store, past the coal mines. Contemplating the lives of all the emigrants who came over here for a better life. Earlier, I hiked to the top of the mesa overlooking the campground and Johnson’s Mesa.

Santa Rosa, NM Route 66 is everywhere out west. Santa Rosa even has a pre-1937 and post 1937 Route 66. It’s both nostalgic and sad at the same time to see towns and parts of Route 66 lost in time. Santa Rosa is a pretty dusty sleepy town. With two exits leading from hwy 40, you can drop out of the 21st century and back onto the main highway and hardly realize that history is all around you, if you take the time to find it.

Of course I had to have breakfast at the Route 66 Diner. Not many tourists. All the motels in the area provide continental or full breakfasts, so the tourist quite often miss the experience of eating in one of these great Route 66 diners.

Oh, New Mexico State parks has a plan for about $225 a year, you can stay at any of the campgrounds for free, with a $4 charge extra for electric. So if you stay at them for 22 days, it brings the cost down to about $10 a night. Not bad.

I’m off to Roswell and Carlsbad Caverns, then heading east and back to Fla. The reports are coming to an end for this year. Although, I’ll send a few from the keys I’m sure before I end them for this year. At least, I’m hoping I’ll be able to get into the keys by the 1st of Oct, so all you Floridians start blowing those hurricanes out to sea….

No comments: