Saturday, March 30, 2013

2013-5 Truth or Consequences New Mexico

Space Port America

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Elephant Butte St Pk

Campground:  Elephant Butte St Pk.  (prev. paid $225 yrly camping fee)  Elect. & water Site $4.  Free wi-fi in the park.  Many non-reservation sites available.  Most are wide spaces for easy backing into.  Ramada and picnic tables.   Some pull-thrus but not great views.  One row of back-in campsites had lots of wooden posts defining the campsites.  Why I have no idea, as they only make it harder to get into one of those sharp angled sites.  I believe the campsites on the north end of the park are newer and have double wide sites.

Rabbit TV

As you may know from previous postings, I like my electronic devices.  My most recent find has been a small USB device called “Rabbit TV“.  Basically it’s a small device that gives me access for a $10 a year subscription (which is included when you buy the small USB device).  Connecting the USB device  to the computer, I have access to TV programs and movies using my computer.  Now I have to have high speed internet connections which my Verizon phone provides anytime I’m in a 4G reception area.

The small Rabbit Tv device provides access to a most useful web site where all the TV stations are laid out and easily linked too.  There are thousands of free movies as well.  I have access to what appears to be all the satellite TV stations as well such as TLC, History Channel, HGTV, and all the rest.

The only warning I would give anyone thinking about purchasing this gadget is that it will use a lot of band width so if your using your cell phone, make sure you have a good plan with lots of data available.  I found the device in a Wal-mart and for the cost of $10 figured I couldn’t go wrong.  I’ve already watched a couple of programs on the device and can even connect my laptop to the TV for full screen viewing.

Truth or Consequences
Distance traveled:  118 miles

The winds died down and I was back on the road on Monday.  Oddly heading south before reaching CR-26 which would eventually lead me in a north easterly direction to hwy 25 and Truth or Consequences.  It’s one of those county roads traveling through the southern arid desert landscape of New Mexico.  Only saw  dry saw grass, scrub and yucca plants dotting the landscape.  Midway along CR-26 I had to stop at a boarder patrol station checking for illegal’s.  I was quickly waved through.  A large wind farm was generating lots of power with a stead breeze turning their three bladed turbines.  Further on down the road and I passed a solar array station making more electricity from the sun.

Note: I could have taken CR-152 and saved a bit of driving, but the road is winding and has a mountain pass of over 8,220 feet in elevation.  I also saw on my handy web site “All-Stays” that their was a height restriction along that route.  I.e. CR-152 between Silver City and T or C is winding and has a 6% grade mountain pass.

love the paint job on this old camper

I’m staying at Elephant Butte State Park which has a ton of campsites and I was directed to a back-in site that sits up on a hill overlooking the lake.  A grand view of the lake and surrounding low mountain ranges.

The following day was laundry day and grocery shopping.  You know I usually have a story to tell about my laundry visits.  The visitors center had recommended the Laundromat I went to so I figured it was pretty good.  Upon entering, the place was pretty empty, which was fine with me.  The washers and dryers all looked in pretty good condition.  The laundry attendant was washing someone’s clothes but didn’t say much as I started doing my laundry.  She disappeared behind closed doors and eventually opened those doors to reveal a small shop of sorts with chips and drinks for sale, as the vending machines in the laundry room were ancient and didn’t look like they’d been operational for about 10 years.  I struck up a conversation with a very nice lady and as we chatted, I mentioned that I thought the dryers were not real hot.  Having touched the glass window on both dryers I was using and it was luke warm.  Minutes later, the owner/attendant came out and asked what was wrong.  Before I had a chance to say anything she went into a dissertation on how their dryers are well maintained and that they all were set to the proper drying temperature.  She also told us that she has a constant ear to every conversation in the laundry room and would quickly come out to resolve any problems.  Almost gloating that she could hear all conversations and always knew what was going on.  I told her I had no problem with the dryers or the use of the washers and thought the place looked well maintained, but she kept insisting that I did not know what I was talking about and that her and her husband worked very hard to keep the machines in top order.  The gal I had been talking too tried to mollify her but she wasn’t listening.  All in all it kind of creeped me out.  After all, from what I could tell there are only about two Laundromats in town so I hardly think she would have much to worry about business wise.

Most everyone I’ve talked to in the last day or so have mentioned that it gets pretty hot here in the summers, (100+ degrees) so I would gather it’s not the place to be touring or camping during the summer months. I'm here at the end of March and the temps are in the mid 70's... Perfect.

the road to Chloride NM a Ghost Town

Winston and Chloride (Ghost Towns)

The next day after having done all my chores the previous day, I did a bit of touring through the raw scrub desert leading to the foothills and mountains to the west of town.  Although it was only a 36 mile drive it took a full hour to travel that distance as the road which started out straight, quickly began to dip in and out of  gullies, across washes and finally curved up and around all those foothills.  I was heading towards two of the many ghost towns in the area.  Winston being the first which is really a very small community with a couple dilapidated buildings and a number of adobe and very old mobile homes with lots of junk scattered around the yards.  The final destination at the end of the road is Chloride.  A once thriving silver mining town, with a couple good buildings in various degrees of disrepair and a perfectly restored general store and once saloon/school house now co-op gift store.  The restaurant housed in the old bank was closed until the summer season starts.  The main attraction is the general store which at the end of the silver boom was shuttered with everything intact inside.  The current owner and his wife who restored it took 4 years just to clean up the bat droppings and rat poop before finally bringing back the store to it’s present condition.  The best part was listening to all the stories the owner told about the town, the store and the people.  Oh and the town has 13 people living in it.  There’s even six campsites available right in town.  $15 a night full hookups.  I’d be a bit cautious about bringing a big rig there, though it is doable as the road leading to it has very little traffic.

One of the stories he tells is of a cowboys wife who got married at age 16.  She had never gone to school, yet was able to sew all her own clothes and built all of the furniture in their house.  She built all the furniture with just an axe, a hand saw and hammer.  The picture of the small reed chair that the doll sits on, which she also made, is an example of her fine craftsmanship.

It was great to get up into the foothills and see some juniper trees.  The flowering trees were just on the verge of blooming in town, wish I could have seen them in full bloom next to all those old buildings, they must look just awesome.

Arriving back at the camper where I have two new next door neighbors in a Class B van camper.  How appropriate to have two lesbians move in next to me, right during all the news coverage on the Supreme Courts deliberations regarding same sex marriage.  This pair of gals has done pretty well for themselves, owning a home in Naples Fl, one in Albuquerque New Mexico and because they love to camp, downsized to the Class B they are traveling in so that they could continue taking little adventures around the state.  Nice to see a couple so much in love and enjoying life so much.

The  next day was a day at the Riverbend Hot Springs.  Nice outdoor hot pools to soak in next to the river.  Perfect weather.  They were doing a photo shoot while I was there but declined to include me in their shots.  I wonder why

Riverbend Hot Springs, one of the best in T or C NM

Spaceport America 

The highlight on my adventures so far..

On Friday I decided rather than pay the $59 for the tour to Spaceport America where the Virgin Galactic craft plans on taking tourists into space,  I‘d just drive out there on my own.  Although I’m sure the tour is nice, they don’t actually let you go into any of the buildings except the fire departments headquarters and maybe even a drive onto the tarmac.  The drive out to the site was over the rugged hills that surround Elephant Butte  and then onto a flat scrappy desert landscape.  Part of the drive boarders part of Ted Turners huge land holdings where he has a herd of buffalo.  I didn’t see any buffalo along the way, just a few cows grazing on the meager dried grasses and scrub.  The Spaceport is not as isolated as I’d expected, in that there are a number of ranches along the route leading to the Spaceport.  When I arrived at the entrance gate, the loan security officer talked with me for a while as I was only permitted to stop at the outer parking lot and take a few pictures before moving on.  He did tell me that Branson has signed the final occupancy papers meaning that the Spaceport is now ready to continue spending money for the final phases of the development.  Since I love architecture, it was pretty darn neat just to see the main Virgin Galactic buildings from the outside and get hopefully a couple good pictures.  Imagine, the first airport designed specifically to transport the public into space.

Virgin Galactica main bldg. 

Needless to say, it was a great adventure for me to just stand out there and take a few pictures and think about the future ahead.  I hope to take the tour in another year or two when the Spaceport is officially opened to visitors.  Did you know that New Mexico has a brochure called the New Mexico Space Trail.  It highlights the numerous sites throughout the state that explore the prehistoric Indians who followed the stars, large array radio telescopes, rocket scientists to modern day space explorers.  There are over 52 sites to explore throughout New Mexico and I hope to get to many of them in the coming years.

Well that was more than enough to get ones appetite up, so back in town I headed to K-Bob’s Steak House and had a great top sirloin steak (6oz) lunch with drink for under $10.  And it was really, really good.  Now that was a great bargain.

I’ll stay here for the Easter Holiday and then move over to Alamogordo for my next adventure.

 More photo's on my PICASA site.

Friday, March 22, 2013

2012-4 City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico


New Mexico
City of Rocks State Park

Arizona to New Mexico map

Campground:  City of Rocks.  Cost, paid $225 to camp for a full year in New Mexico state parks.  With an additional cost of $4 per night for electric sites.   Primitive sites and water/electric sites.  I plan on staying about 40 days at the state parks, making the daily camping fee round out to about $5.65 a night.

Bowie AZ
I’m back on the road with a smile so wide it reaches from the drivers side to the passenger side of the truck.  I had planned to stay at a small campground in Bowie AZ just before crossing into New Mexico.  Limiting my driving the first day out on the road to less than a couple of hours.  I was ready to fill up truck and pulled off the exit ramp, drove past the campground I’d picked out (cheap) but continued on through town.  Well, it wasn’t much of town, actually there was no town remaining in this sparsely populated corner of Arizona.  I stopped to take a picture, check out the gas station, diesel was $5 a gallon so I decided, what the heck, continue on into New Mexico.

not to worry, it'll be fixed before you know it.
Traffic along interstate 10 was moderate with lots and lots of semi-trucks but with everyone pretty much going just a tad over 65 even with posted signs of 75 mph, it was smooth sailing.  The occasional vehicle doing 75 or better.  At Deming I headed north to my stop at the City of Rocks State Park.  Upon entering the park, they had the right lane closed to force one onto a dirt loop for a pay station.  I pulled off, but realized just ahead the rangers office/visitor center was open and why use the pay station.  Crunch, scrape, opps.  Well that protruding fence didn’t have a chance.   Soooo, after 9 years on the road, this is the first time I’ve done something like this.  Minor damage to the slide out trim work and skirting.  I’ve got a call into a shop in Alb. To have it fixed.  Not upset particularly, after all, life is not perfect and it can be fixed easily.  I could even bend back the trim and patch it a bit, but will instead have it repaired professionally.

Here at City of Rocks, I’ve signed up for the yearly camping sticker ($225 out of state res.)  Since I’ll be spending at least 2 months in the state, I should save quite a bit on camping fees and have the opportunity to visit many of New Mexico’s great state parks.  $4 extra each night for elect sites.

My campsite

Somehow I lucked out getting the only electric site remaining.  I’m at the end of the row and have an expansive view of the New Mexico desert landscape.  Low mesas and a ridge of mountain ranges off in the distance provide a sweeping arid scene.  Imagine, views from all three sides and not another camper in sight.

City of Rocks, New Mexico 
one of the awesome dry camping sites

view from my picture window... wow

The setting is typical of many state parks.  A Couple miles off of the lonely county road, meaning it’s quiet, serene country living.  City of Rocks is a natural occurring rock formation that was created oh about 30-35 million years ago with the dramatic event of  volcanic eruptions that they say were 1,000 times more powerful than when Mt St Helen erupted in 1980. The various layers of lava eventually cooling and forming harder pillars and stone.  Over those 30+ million years later with erosion from wind sand and rain what remains is this city of rocks.  Many are concentrated in one area creating avenues between the large boulders much like a city.  From my campsite, I look out on the expansive desert landscape and see individual boulders the size of a house resting in solitude as if waiting for a giant to come along and roll them like marbles across the landscape.

Indian grinding holes 

Not a bad way to start out my adventures for the season ahead.

What am I reading on my Kindle Fire?  Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, by Willie Nelson.  Willie is one of my favorite country singers and it was quite a rambling story he tells of his 3 families, actually 4 if you count a daughter he recently found out about.  I think the thing that I got most out of the book is what an awesome family man and father he is.  Having been married three times, he’s been able to blend all the families together and remain close to all of his children.  He’s a great song writer, singer and has written a number of books along the way.  He still performs live concerts all over the country and world and hasn’t slowed down hardly at all.  Did I mention he’s in his 70’s.

Silver City Museum 
Spring is blooming

Silver City NM 

I did take a day trip to Silver City, about a 40 minute drive from City of Rocks.  It’s still a mining town but is also a university town as well.  Though I didn’t see much of that evidence while driving around the downtown.  I won’t say there were homeless around town, as I think they were just a lot of scruffy looking dudes with scraggly beards and old clothes.  Maybe they were wanabee hippies but I think they missed the mark.  The town is considered a great place to retire too due to cheap living and mild winter temps.

I visited the main museum in a Victorian house that was also at one time a boarding house, health resort, City Hall and Fire Station.   The attendant let us know that none of the rooms had any original wall paper, flooring, or furnishings and yet there were no photos permitted anywhere.  Not sure what they were trying to protect.  Maybe some of the exhibits or poster displays.

There are many great places in the area to visit including the Gila Cliff dwellings, but since I’d seen many of the regional attractions, I just walked and drove around town to get a better feel of the area.

I’ll spend another day here at City of Rocks and then head on up to Truth or Consequences and Elephant Butte State Park.  Feels great to be back out on the road exploring the country once again.

Full picture albums on PICASA.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

2013-3 Leaving Tucson Arizona


Exiting Arizona
New Mexico Here I Come

Barn Owl

Weeks before heading on out, the full timer begins to secure things down that have been taken out during the long winter months stay.  For me that involves repacking all the glassware and ceramic dishes.  Putting cozies that my sister Ann has made for me  to wrap all the stemware and bottles so they don’t break as I head on down the road.  Locating the bungee cords used to strap down the bedroom tv to the wall and securing all the overhead cabinet doors throughout the camper.  Finally organizing the outside storage bins and making room for all the patio chairs in storage bays and adding air to all the tires if needed.

Sneaking in a trip to Tubac AZ with Tom and Christine, where I found a great SW ring I'd been wanting

the owner of the shop that I bought my SW ring from

this old truck is still being used to haul all that Mexican pottery

Tom and Christine 
with my facial hair before I shave it off for the summer

the latest Mexican folk art, large metal flowers

The fun part begins when I start planning the first couple legs of my summer journey.  I had a couple different paths I could take this year.  One leading back through Arizona and then east to Albuquerque or taking a more southerly route through New Mexico before heading north to Alb and Santa Fe.  I’ll be taking the latter, even though I’ll miss visiting some friends in Arizona along the way.

I use my Microsoft Streets and Trips software on my computer to map the route and determine where I’ll stop each night.  It’s the best way to determine mileage.  Then I go to my blog and use a couple of the web links like Passport America, Rv Reviews, and All-Stays to find some good campgrounds along the way.  This year I plan on staying at many of New Mexico’s many State Parks along the way.  They have very reasonable camping rates and I’ll purchase their yearly out of stater pass for $225.  Which will let me into the state parks and camping for that one price plus an additional $4 per night if I get a site with electric.

Final parties to say goodbye

My last week at Desert Trails RV Park has been hectic.  Final goodbyes with the Writers Club and Travel Club.  Teaching a one day course in Creating a Blog.  Which was not an easy task as it can be a bit complicated going through all of the initial setup steps in creating ones Blog layout and design.  It ended up being a three hour session.  A few parties to attend as we all gather around to say sad goodbyes and wish each other well on our travels and journeys back home.  The Photography Club had it’s end of year Photo Art Show which turned out great and was very well attended.  A few of us had matted and framed photo’s for sale and I was honored to have a few of mine sell during the show. Including two new ones that I’d just recently had matted and framed.  Finally I had to run around doing errands like getting oil changes for the truck, picking up prescriptions and even got my 5 year pneumonia shot.  Since I don’t have a spleen, I need to get the shot every couple of years.

Six boards like this one were one display

about 150 people came to our photo show

display with some of my framed and matted photos for sale

Then it’s time to complete the last of the packing.  Loading up the patio chairs, storing the outdoor carpets, taking down the patio lights, closing up the camper, hitching up and finally the day comes to move on out.  I’m back on the road and the next report will be from the open road.

The next adventure has started and I’m glad your once again on the journey with me.