Best Laid Plans

July 25th. Goodbye Cimarron Canyon. We’re up before dawn and heading west along Hwy 64 as the first pale rays of the sun pierce the morning sky. Looking forward to heading Taos way, I enjoy freshly brewed coffee that was the only thing I did before we headed out. We make a stop just before we leave the park, and I feed the Boys and take them for their morning walk while enjoying the rising sun casting a warm golden glow on the Palisade Sills.

We continue on Hwy 64 taking the lower route of New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle that will take us up to Taos. I stop and photograph the lush carpet of lupine and another unknown wildflower that is along the road.

I barely notice that there appears to be someone about a quarter mile up the road standing in the middle of it. One sees all kinds of weird things.

Done with the camera I hop back in the van and drive up the road. Yep, there’s someone in the middle of the road. Stopping traffic. With only one car ahead of me I soon find out that the highway is closed due to a big rig having turned over on one of the curves. He is not sure when it will reopen, but certainly not until late afternoon at the soonest.

We turn around and head to Angel Fire where I find the library. It has good internet signal out in the parking lot so I catch up on blog posts and get a couple scheduled before the Boys get restless. A gentleman is making a call outside his vehicle, and I hear him tell someone that ‘he won’t make the meeting’ as the highway will be closed until tomorrow. Alrighty then, let’s go get the laundry done guys!

Once I have the laundry washed and partially dry, the blue sky is studded with thunderheads. I grab a couple of shots of the ski run that can be seen from most places in this swanky little village. DSC_0114 (1)Angel Fire Ski Run

DSC_0115 (1)Angel Fire NM Welcomes You

Where we gonna stay tonight Boys? What say we head back out to Coyote Creek State Park? We may luck out and find a spot out there this time, and I’d like to be somewhere before this storm hits. We’ll be there before the big thunder rolls don’t worry. It’s only 17 miles.

Coming up to that 3 mile narrow paved goat trail we make it without meeting any vehicles, and we don’t get hit by lightning. 🙂 We arrive at Coyote Creek State Park. I drive clear to the back and even up into the “Forest Area, additional campsites” which no one in their right mind would stay in. Yes, it is that bad. Not a level site to be found in any of the five or so spots, and getting into any one of them is a nightmare: No place to easily turnaround, rutted road, tight corners, if you need to back in you have to do it backing up hill. As we are jockeying around trying to turnaround, some poor couple pull up towing a trailer.  The main part of Coyote Creek State Park has lovely sites and good dirt road.

We motor back down to the entrance I find the camp host and ask if there are any open spots with shade. There is, but it’s right in the circle where those who need electricity line up like cord wood. It looks to me like the spot blocks the road, but camp host says to take my pick of the two spots there. Not ideal, but I am not fond of the idea of going back to the national forest road where we could probably find a boondocking spot, but the mere thought of traveling along that ridge in another lightning storm makes my stomach churn. We’re staying here guys.

I barely get the Chiweenie Brothers out for a short walk and back in the van when BOOM! BOOM! Boom-boom-boom-boom-boom pierces the air like artillery fire. The storm is here and it’s vicious. Fries wants under the covers of the bed, and I let him in while I start rubbing his side and back with small circular motions, never taking my hand off of him. This was the technique I used, called T Touch, to get him used to thunderstorms to begin with, and after a bit I can feel him relax even as the storm drops buckets of water, bolts of lightning light up the sky, and the thunder continues to roll. As has been seen elsewhere, the temperature drops about 20 degrees.

We end up staying here for several days, attend a flag lowering ceremony put on by the Boy Scouts to show support, and take long walks to the back of the park and back again, sometimes twice day.

Friday morning, coffee in hand I pour over the map making note of the roads that lead out of Taos trying to decide where we should go from there. I have a good idea of where we will head, but the final decision will be made once we get to Taos and do our supply shopping. Taking the last swig of my now cold coffee, I make a face, grab the leashes, and take the Boys for their morning walkabout. That done, we motor out of Coyote Creek, taking Hwy 434 back to Angel Fire and head up Hwy 64 where we begin to climb and twist and turn along the snakey mountainous highway.

Coyote Creek State Park is known for its good fishing. There is a large group site here, a small area with electrical hookups, but you’re packed in as you would be in a commercial campground. Showers, water, garbage, and a dump station are available. A few sites scattered about have shade shelters, most have picnic tables. The roads around the park are dirt, but nice and smooth and there’s no dust.

Thanks for joining us! Hugs, Shawna

Goodbye Sugarite, Hello Again Cimarron

July 24th. We leave the beautiful Sugarite Canyon. This park is up near the Colorado border and there are no roads heading from here back west; we must drive back along Hwy 64. I don’t want to travel east even though there is another state park about 80 miles from here—and one I would like to see—but the elevation drops, and I don’t want to get down into the heat. Perhaps another trip. My park pass is good through May of 2020, so ….

It’s a lovely soft morning of summer, blue sky and cool morning air. Enjoying the drive and keeping an eye out for things to stop and enjoy I notice a horse and a very shaggy old donkey next to a ramshackle barn. Of course I have to stop! DSC_0109 (1)

The Boys don’t quite know what to think of this woolly little creature standing perfectly still and content while I snap his photo. Llamas are the next attraction, a bit far away for a good shot, but I try anyway. DSC_0108 (1)

We end up back at Maverick Campground in Cimarron Canyon State Park and are blessed with the shady spot!! The camp host here welcomes us and says she had kind of promised the spot to someone, but there were other sites they could go to and we could stay as long as we. liked. Not sure what that was about because this spot isn’t a reserved site so they can’t hold it. I soon find out.

It’s not long before the neighbor on the right wanders over. Friendly small guy with a bit of an accent who practically tells me his life story before he gets around to why he is really here talking to me. His wife plays the dulcimer, and they come to this campground every year at this time from Texas to attend a dulcimer festival in Red River NM. It’s well attended he tells me, and this is the closest they can get as sites closer are always full.

Their group has made this “their” campground. All this said in a very friendly conversational way. I smile and think to myself, I get it buddy, but I’m here for the night. Rest assured I will be leaving in the morning.

Thanks for stopping by! Hugs, Shawna

NOTE:  I have reclaimed some of the lost photos PTL! The Cloud warned if I delete any photos, which I did after uploading to a thumb drive, they are permanently deleted from the hard drive.  Wellll, I found some of the photos. I had indeed moved them to a folder to be deleted. All the photos that I had transferred and then deleted were in the trash.  Still missing some, but am going through each and every folder in the trash before I empty it.   Hopefully Azetec Ruins and Mesa Verde National Park will show up as well. 

Here are a few photos of Cimarron Canyon State Park

Sugarite Canyon State Park, NM

July 17th, Sugarite Canyon has two tiers. One is along the creek that flows along the bottom of the canyon and into Alice Lake, the other is up on the mountain.

We cruise through the tiny lower tier and there is nothing available. Although tiny and crowded there are rows of shrubs and trees that keep each small site private. This is very appealing.
The upper tier has two campgrounds, Gambel Oaks, a group site, and Salt Pocket, a large area with many campsites. Each has a gravel parking pad, sunshade over a picnic table on a concrete pad, fire ring, and a bear box. Water and vault toilets are nearby.
Everyone must keep food, cosmetics, and anything else that may be enticing to a roaming bear, inside the box. The ranger talked to more than one person just in our area about not putting their foodstuff away. A bear entered two campsites last week and they are taking no chances. New Mexico doesn’t remove and rehome a wayward bear. If they cause any problems other than just walking through they are not given three chances. It’s two times and your out, as in euthanized.

Sugarite has several hiking trails, all with at least some uphill climbing involved. The one we walk every morning isn’t too bad. I am not interested in the one that is several miles long that goes to a high mountain lake. Vista Grande Trail is at the upper end of the park and each morning the Boys and I head out, rambling through the campground and onto Vista Grande where I look for wildflowers to photograph. I got several new ones here.

The vista around the campground isn’t too shabby.

Monsoon season has begun here in earnest. Almost every afternoon we get a thunder and lightning show. Moisture ranges from a few fat drops to a downright deluge, the temperature dropping 15 to 20 degrees. The days are warm, the nights cool and perfect for sleeping.

Pat, a roving ranger came up during one evening here at Sugarite and gave a wonderful talk about the night sky. She brought in an 8” diameter telescope and we took turns looking at Jupiter with it’s distinctive belt, and Saturn with it’s rings. Did you know New Mexico, due to it’s lower population and less light polution along with fewer big cities, has some of the darkest skies in the nation? Perfect for stargazing.

July 20. It’s early morning, around 5:30 and The Chiweenie Brothers go beserk. The berserk kind of bark that says, ‘MOM! There’s something out there. You HAVE to get up! NOW.’  Pulling my eyes open as best I can I sit up and look at my Boys. They couldn’t be any more excited, and I wonder what in the world …  Looking out the open back doors I see a big black shape ambling along the bush line about 150 feet from us. Big. Black. Bear. She pays no attention at all to the little dogs barking their heads off, she just keeps ambling along head to the ground, and eventually wanders out of sight. The Boys keep barking essentially asking if they can go get ’em. Nope, no way guys. You’re not bothering her! Well, that was exciting!!
July 23rd. It’s time to move on. I hate leaving our shady site, and will miss our daily walks along the Vista Grande Trail, but we need supplies and ice and I’ve already made a couple of trips to town from this camp.

DSC_0077 (1)cliff clouds yellow flowers, a favorite

Sugarite is only 15 miles from the Colorado border and there are roads up into Colorado but really no other way to go but back west along Hwy 64. It’s about 100 miles back to Cimarron and that’s enough driving for one day so Cimarron here we come.

DSC_0002 (2)Outcrop of Rock in Sugarite Canyon SP
Thanks for stopping by! Hugs, Shawna

Dawson Cemetery

It’s a beautiful cloudless morning when we pull out of Maverick Campground in Cimarron State Park. Heading east on Hwy 64 the plan is to stop at Dawson Cemetery, near the little town of Cimarron, New Mexico. It’s an old mining town. It’s dirt road, but it’s decent dirt road, and we drive the 7 or so miles in taking it nice and easy, just enjoying the drive. Charlie has his head out the passenger window and Fries is doing his thing with front feet on the dash and back legs planted on the passenger platform—the dog seat if you will.
Nothing left of the town that I can see except for a couple of old buildings.

We soon arrive at the cemetery and walk up to the bill-board type memorial board and read about the many Italian coal miners (and those of other nationalities) who died in two separate explosions at Dawson, New Mexico’s biggest mine in the 1920s.

I’d stay here tonight if there was some shade but there is just the dirt parking area, no trees. We head back out toward highway 64. I spot this big guy, bigger around than my forearm crawling across the road. Its head is triangular and looks like a rattler, but there are no rattles on the tail. Unfortunately I was obsessed with getting the head up close as I safely could, and didn’t get the whole snake in the shot. In any case, we’ll just let him crawl across the road and continue on with his snakey business. You’ll have to use your imagination, these photos, too, lost forever.

Pulling my gaze away from the distant mountains and marveling at how green everything is we stop to watch these guys cross the road in what seems like an unending line.  There must be 200 animals in this herd. I have never seen so many elk in one spot before! What a gift to witness this!

See photos of  Dawson Cemetery HERE

We gain Raton, NM and I find the library with the intentions of getting some posts scheduled. I work at it a bit, but soon, even with the windshield shade in place it becomes too hot. The boys are panting and circling trying to get comfortable. “I know babies, I’m hot too. Let me get this machine shut down then I’ll take you to McDonalds for a treat, ‘K?”
Tummies full we jump on I-25N and catch Hwy 72 to our next campsite. See you there!

Hugs, Shawna

Cimarron State Park NM

As we head back onto Hwy 64 after our visit to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial the day is still bright and sunny with just enough of a breeze to keep things nice. We pass by Eagle’s Nest State Park. It’s really crowded with those who like to fish, and I would just as soon not be stuffed in between two Rvs; they are lined up like sardines in a can. But the lake is pretty.
Cimarron is located in a canyon between what is called the Palisade Sill. Interesting rock formations and wildflowers abound along the narrow two lane road that winds this way and that through the canyon.

Our first shot at a campsite is nixed due this section being reservation only sites, but a state park worker points me to Maverick or Black Jack just up the road. We get back out onto the highway and peek at Black Jack. It’s a tent area and we drive on to Maverick. Very small and mostly full, but we do find a site.

There are two fishing ponds in this camping area with a nice trail around them both. Campsites have tables, fire rings, drinking water is nearby along with toilet facilities . NO showers or dump station. Sites are pretty close together and in places can actually make a person feel uncomfortable, but if you have good neighbors it works.

Thunderstorms gather in the late afternoon on most days, and we get a few really good drenchings. It’s nice to have the tarp, cut to size, to fasten over the open side doors to keep it comfortable inside MissAdventure. Nights are wonderfully cool.

DUE TO A MAJOR GOOF-UP ON MY PART THERE WILL BE NO PHOTOS FOR SEVERAL POSTS COMING UP.  DURING A SESSION OF ORGANIZING PHOTOS INTO ALBUMS I INADVERTANTLY  DELETED A LOT OF MY PICTURES. I AM BEYOND SICK ABOUT THIS!

Read more about Cimarron Canyon HERE.

Thanks for joining us! Hugs, Shawna

Veteran’s Memorial State Park

After our lightning scare, we continue on to the ski resort town of Angel Fire.  Beautiful high mountain area where you can see the ski run from most places in this little village.

 

From there it’s onto Hwy 64 and we stop at the this heart wrenching memorial

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While The Chiweenie Brothers wait in the van, I stroll the grounds. Vietnam was an unpoplar war and our boys, who put their lives on the line, were not treated well when they returned home. . .  Those that were blessed with their lives and returned home.

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Hugs, Shawna

Morphy Lake, Mora NM, Coyote Creek

July 14-16th, 2019, Early Sunday morning after breakfast for the Boys and a shower for me, we drive toward Morphy Lake State Park. No camping here, but it’s on our way to Coyote Creek State Park.  It’s only 40 minutes north of our current camp.

An Internet search says Morphy will be closed through Spring of 2019, but once we arrive to the turn off we’re met with this sign. CLOSED

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We just keep rolling along this country road under a brilliant blue sky enjoying the scenery:  Old churches, mountain vistas, horses in fields, and horses or porches.

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As we gain the tiny town of Mora I stop to photograph this old grist mill.

And this old building as we head on north . . .

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We eventually find Coyote Creek State Park and pull in searching for a spot to land for a few days.  There are none available, and I am sorely disappointed as this is a beautiful little park along Coyote Creek and I would have loved spending time here.

We pull back out onto that country road and head north again.  We haven’t gone but a about four miles is my guess and the road narrows.  I mean as in MAYBE a lane a half wide.  God forbid we meet a big ol’ diesel pusher here!  Fortunately we do not, but the storm clouds have gathered and it begins to rain and thunder rolls.

As we creep along the ridge of this paved goat path I see a bolt of lightning to the left and a half beat later the loudest clap of thunder I have ever heard.  I am pretty sure I screamed. The Chiweenie Brothers, used to thunderstorms by now, but we’re back to square one after this, are in my lap. “It’s okay, guys, we’ll only hear the thunder AFTER the lignting has struck.  We lived to tell the tale, so calm down,” I tell them.  Thankfully that narrow strip of what they claim to be roadway is only three miles in length.

Thanks for reading our blog!  Hugs, Shawna