You Lost What?

2 September 2019

Labor Day is winding down. After our morning walk we head back to the van and I enjoy a second mug of coffee. The boys are napping. A car parks behind the van and I see a gal get out. She comes up to the van saying something on the order of “Youhooo! Hello. Are you there?” I reluctantly put down my current read, Look Alive Twenty-Five by Janet Evanovich, and poke my head through the curtains on the side doors.

Standing way too close to the van is a young woman with a few tattoos and a couple of missing teeth. Other than that she is fairly neat and clean. “Yes?” I reply, unable to keep the suspicion out of my voice.

“Oh, I’m just wondering if you have a plug for an air mattress, she asks. I can’t find mine.” I tell her I do not, and she whirls around and walks to the back of the van and over to her little white car and drives off.

I watch as she drives north toward the upper half of the campground. Odd. She didn’t ask any other campers if they had a plug. I ponder this for a moment and think to myself that perhaps I was just targeted, possibly for a theft, otherwise why would she not ask others if they have a plug? Takes cajones for someone to try something like that in broad daylight, but that’s our world today, no?

DSC_0004Mare and Stallion

It’s time to begin thinking of a plan for the last week or so of our summer adventure. The thought of getting back to Q so early is both daunting and exciting. The temps are still triple digits there, UGH, but I am excited to get settled in and begin the projects I have planned to try and make our winter home beautiful and cozy on a shoe string. And we do have an evaporative cooler. 🙂

Dealing with the temperature is an integral part (or maybe an annoyance) of van life, but you gotta bend with the way the wind blows. It’s been an amazing summer exploring New Mexico State Parks. We’ve been blessed with so many wonderful sights, animals, and interesting people. We’ve stayed engaged and entertained by nature. Can’t beat that!

DSC_0006

Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel.  Hugs, Shawna

Interesting Person, Sylvia Lee

Late afternoon, August 31st, a SUV pulls into the campsite just to the north of us. An older lady gets out and bustles around getting her camp set up. She notices me sitting outside reading while The Chiweenie Brothers play nearby and she walks over.

She very politely asks if I would help her plug her extension cord into the electrical box at her campsite, explaining that her hands are too weak to get the plug pushed in. Of course I’ll help! We walk over to her camp.

Meet Sylvia Lee

Sylvia is from Phoenix and is on her way to Minnesota to visit friends, then she will cross the middle of the US and head eastward to South Carolina to visit family. She travels in her SUV, a Toyota Forerunner she calls 4titude setting up a tent and sleeping on a pad on the ground. Or on a picnic table if conditions aren’t good!

DSC_0084Sylvia Lee, getting ready to leave for MinnesotaShe actually has two tents. A small one for if she gets to her destination too late in the afternoon, and a “mansion” of a tent if she has more time to set up and plans on a longer stay. I begin to ache just thinking about sleeping on the ground, pad or not. I am in awe.

She didn’t even bother with either tent last night, she just slept on the ground. The next day we visit more, and I learn more about this amazing woman.

Sylvia was a nurse. After her children started school she went back to school and got her degree. She is 78 years young (and incredibly tough from my viewpoint!)

She says she has always enjoyed camping and once she retired she began her long trips in earnest. Currently she is cutting back some as she is fostering several cats and must provide care for them while she is gone on her journeys, so she won’t be doing any more long trips. She sounds a bit wistful as she tells me this.

Sylvia is a volunteer at the Boyce-Thompson Aboretum near Superior, Arizona (we toured their beautiful gardens last spring) where she leads a history walk the first weekend of each month. I must say, she is dedicated. That’s a 200 mile round trip … and she’s been doing this since 2005!

DSC_0085Sylvia Lee

Sylvia has her own blog, Lee’s Rambles,  writing about her camping trips, outdoor experiences, tent camping, and light hiking. You can get an invite to her blog by emailing her at sighly@cox.net.

She is also an author having researched and written a book for Boyce-Thompson called The Abundant Arboretum. Talented woman, Sylvia.

I admire this woman so much; she does’t let much of anything slow her down. She is knowledgeable and interesting to talk to. We have tentative plans to do a little camping together next season or maybe sooner. I hope it works out.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hugs, Shawna

Blue Water State Park, Stoneridge

August 25, 2019.  We motor back east on I-40 and take the Bluewater State Park exit for the Stoneridge side.  The road in is narrow and in places winding and then becomes a steep grade down onto the flatter area near the lake.  I stop at the pay station and grab a tag, but don’t fill it out.  I’ll do that once we find a spot to call our own.

ALL the electric sites are taken.  The park is actually pretty full so I haven’t a clue what the ranger thinks all-but-empty means, but we do find a spot. Not ideal but it will do: Squished in between two other long-termers (full two week stay) with no shade.  On the bright side, the Stoneridge side is beautiful.  It’s a big park with lots of spaces and sections.  Vault toilets, gravelled parking spots, picnic tables, fire rings, water spigots strategically located throughout. 

After a couple of days the same ranger I spoke with at Las Tsusa stops by and tells me there will be spaces being vacated at the electrical sites later in the day.  We take a lot of walks scoping it all out and eventually a space opens up and I grab it.  There is a tree we can park beside, but it’s not even close to the table, but that’s okay.  We need electricity.

Jockeying  MissAdventure around to maximize shade, I get her settled in and immediately get my extension cord out and plugged in.  The laptop gets fed, and she sips on that juice for over an hour. In the meantime I am getting potatoes cooking in the IP and digging out every thing that  needs charged: The Kindle, my phone, my tablet, the stun gun, my camera’s battery.  The two small battery packs I carry are lined up in line to have their turn at sustenance.

Amazing how we take our power sources for granted until they aren’t available when we need them.  So thankful to have this electricity (at only $4 per day) I unpack my ac/dc fan and get it whirling the warming air out of the van. Next is a long walk for The Chiweenie Brothers. DSC_0081The Canyon Below the CG at Bluewater

Bluewater, Stoneridge side has paved roads throughout and makes for a good walking surface of considerable length for long, leisurely walks.  The Boys and I indulge.

Lots happens during our almost two week stay here.  One night around 2 a.m. a loud exsplosion jolts us awake.  It’s one of those things you aren’t sure what you have heard or if it even happened until you see vehicles rushing past with lights flashing.  Never did find out what that was.

One afternoon rescue personnel came flying into the park quite near our campsite, and parked near the trail that runs along the canyon in the photo above.  Someone had fallen along the trail (or off the trail!) and had to be rescued.

On a lazy afternoon sitting outside in the shade I spot movement out of the corner of my eye.  It’s been a VERY busy and crowded weekend here, Labor Day, but many have left this morning. This guy becomes bold and is staring intently at a big diesel pusher. He eventually turns around, trotting back the way he came, taking a right at the stop sign, but I fear he has his sights on their dog and will probably come back.

DSC_0005 (2)Wiley Coyote at Bluewater SP

I tell the camp hosts. They say they will tell the ranger. They come back later and tell me there is nothing they can do. I tell them I know that, but maybe they would like to warn the residents so they can keep an eye on their dogs. They don’t. Certainly not like Arizona where coyotes in the neighborhood are a big deal.

We spend the rest of our time here enjoying long, lazy days, cool nights, long walks and enjoy the heck out of having electricity.

The day before we leave, a group of wild horses come into the park.  I was hoping to see them as they have signs posted not to approach or try to pet the wild horses.  A group of four including the stallion, two mares, and foal!

 

DSC_0096Wild Horses at Bluewater DSC_0092Wild Horse. With Colt. Bluewater DSC_0091Wild Horses at BluewaterDSC_0034Filly Nursing Mare

Thanks for stopping by  2DogsTravel. Hugs, Shawna

 

Bluewater Lake State Park — Las Tsusa

Three weeks into August. The days are very warm, but the nights at least are cooling down in the higher elevations of New Mexico. 

After a night in yet another BLM-behind-a-gate camp The Chiweenie Brothers and I are up early as usual. In happy antiacipation of our next destination The Chinweenie Brothers are tethered outside while I make coffee and get their breakfast.  No walk this morning boys,” I tell them, You’ll get your exercise once we get to Bluewater. Scoot over to that tree for your morning business, and I’ll be right back with food.”

With the Boys devouring their soaked kibble and raw hamburger meal, I grab my coffee and walk around the area looking for anything that may have escaped our garbage bag and pick up a few items left by others who have come this way.  Our motto has always been and always will be ‘leave your camp as clean or cleaner than you find it’.

We’re soon back out on the highway heading back toward Grants where we will pick up I-40 and head west to Trudeau where our mail should be waiting. I spy a sign for Bluewater State Park   —— division, but Trudeau is farther up the road.  I’m a little puzzled because Bluewater, on the map, looks to be closer to Trudeau. Oh well, on the Trudeau to get the mail then we’ll figure it out.

Before long we’re at the exit for Trudeau and a sign that says Bluewater Lake Stata Park, Las Tsusa.  Oh, nice! There’s two sections of this state park. We’ll be able to get well into September between two weeks at each side.  Loving these cooler nights!!

Mail in hand, I search for a grocery store.  Finding a small mom and pop, I dash inside and pick up a couple of things that I can’t get at Dollar General for Family Dollar.  Oh my word, the prices are outrageous.  What in the world do local people do?  Probably the same thing I am doing, buying only the essentials and only those that can’t be purchased elsewhere.  Grants is 20 miles back if memory serves, and Gallup is 30 miles farther west.

Back in MissAdventure I back out onto the highway and we are headed north to Bluewater. It’s a nice 11 mile drive.

As we pull into the this state park I can’t believe my eyes.  The lake, a pretty blue color (With a name like Bluewater, I didn’t expect it to be any other color. Ha!), is the only thing beautiful about this park.

DSC_0069Bluewater Lake SP, La Tusas

There are two vault toilets, one here on the flat, one higher up on the knoll.  Picnic tables are metal and rusted, none looking very level.  Fire pits are circled with rocks.  Here and there broken glass can be found, and there’s very little shade.  NO WATER AND NO GARBAGE. Dirt roads, no pavement anywhere.

A small travel trailer and a tent are parked along the shore of the lake; other than that there is no one here, except for a white pickup which turns out to be the ranger. I ask him about this area,  He must read my mind from the look on my face because the first thing he does is tell me there is another section to the lake.

I remember the freeway sign back by Grants. I tell him that I was looking for an electric hookup as my solar setup isn’t working.  He assures me the other part of Bluewater has electric and is all but empty since school started.  I ask about the country road that looks like it might take one back to the other side without going back out on the freeway, but he says it’s not a good road and is about an hour and a half drive even though it’s the shorter route.  Back to the freeway takes about 20 minutes.

Because we need to spread out our travel a bit more—Quartzsite in August/September is still broiling—I decide we can at least stay one night here.  The phone can be charged with my backpacker’s solar unit, and that’s the most important thing.  I have a couple of movies downloaded from Netflix that can be watched offline, and my Kindle for reading so we’re good for another day.

We take some long walks, biding our time, and get a great night’s sleep.  This side of Bluewater may be lacking in amenities, but it is long on quiet.

The Boys are anxious to get moving, and we head out early.  DSC_0070 (1)MissAdventue and Fries at Bluewater Lake La Tusas side

On the way back out to the freeway I spot these wild horses on the other side of the highway.  Beautiful animals!!

DSC_0071Stallion on the bluff, love this shot
The Stallion

DSC_0072Mare Navigating the Path     DSC_0076 (1)Wild Horses

 

 

Thanks for joining us!  See you on the other side of the lake! Hugs, Shawna

HERON LAKE IS A NO GO, Navajo For the WIN

After our stay at El Vado, the park’s sister lake is up next. Heron Lake. The drive there is short, around ten miles. I speak with the camp host who says site #1 and site #15 are both available. We drive the loop. Number 1 has no shade at all, so that’s out. Site #15 has lots of shade but someone has just pulled in there. Dang. A check of the other campground sections provides no place for us. Read about Heron Lake State Park HERE

Onward, Boys, there’s no room at the inn.
Back onto Hwy 95 and then Hwy 64 we head to Chama and buy a veggie delite Subway sandwich, a few groceries and ice, and fuel. We travel through the Jicarilla Apache Indian Reservation, then through some oil well country on BLM land. We are back in high desert and there isn’t much of anything but juniper so shade is scarce.
We end up traveling clear to Navajo Lake State Park through some interesting rock formations which I stop to photograph, of course, but for the most part it is quite a lonely drive. Not much traffic along this two lane highway, but we eventually gain the lake, find a temporary spot for the night, move the next morning to another temporary spot, then finally get to one of the sites with a covered table and blessed shade. Here we stay for a few days so I can catch up on some rest.
Navajo Lake is very pretty, and this is a busy campground on the weekends. Thanks to school starting and Monday rolling around we get this lovely shaded site. Campground hosts are from Albuquerque. I chat with them for a while and the wife tells me they took a couple of weeks off to make a trip to Alaska earlier in the summer. THEY TOOK A TRIP FROM THIS CAMPGROUND IN NORTHERN NEW MEXICO TO ALASKA AND BACK WITHIN TWO WEEKS’ TIME. Wow, just wow. I don’t think I’d recover from that kind of traveling, but to each their own. I gathered it was more of an opportunity to check it off their bucket list than a chance to enjoy Alaska.

Read about Navajo Lake HERE.

Where to from here? There are several choices: To the other arm of the Navajo Lake and another campground? North to Chimney Rock National Monument in Colorado? Durango? Mesa Verde National Park? Four Corners? Canyon of the Ancients? All of them?
Thanks for taking time out of your day to see what we’re up to. Appreciate you and love reading your comments, Hugs Shawna

Current Read: Mrs. Everything, by Jennifer Weiner

El Vado Lake State Park, New Mexico

As we leave our beautiful camp at Hopewell Lake I am taken with the beauty of the morning. The air is soft and cool, the sun is peaking through the tall pines, and I am looking forward to what awaits us down the road.

We are again heading west on Hwy 64. We almost immediately begin the long decent that will take us through Tierra Amarilla. (yellow earth). It’s a long, long decent some of it steep, but the vista we encounter on the way down is amazing. DSC_0003 (5)

The shock of what we enter into at the bottom is heartbreaking. Tierra Amarilla is a dump. I follow the road into town encountering several derelicts drinking in the shade of some large trees. It’s barely 9:00 a.m. Ramshackle housing and abandoned buildings are abundant. The police station and another government building look pretty decent, so there must be a better part of this small town somewhere, but honestly I don’t want to look for it. I get turned around and head back out toward Hwy 64.
A quick stop at a gas station provides us with ice for our stay at El Vado Lake State Park and we drive the 11 or so miles out to the park.
When we gain the entrance I stop at the pay station, dig a ticket out of the little box and fill it out with the date, our vehicle license number and state, and our year’s camping pass number. I leave the site number blank as I don’t know which site we will be in. I’ve done this all along and no one has said anything so I guess it’s okay.
We drive past the restrooms and showers, and hang a right on the road that follows the lake along the cliff top. Campsites are dirt with covered picnic tables on concrete slabs, a fire ring, and some with electric. There is no shade to be had other than the table covers and my heart sinks. We can’t stay here!
Following the loop around we head back toward the entrance to the park thinking maybe we can park facing away from the sun for a few minutes while I look at the map and see what I can see. As we pull up to the pay station I see a dirt road off to our right that descends down into a ravine and back up the other side where it makes another right turn off into some TREES. Let’s go check this out Boys. We may find something there.
And we do. There are campsites back here and many fairly good sized juniper trees and  small pines. We slowly cruise the area. There are a lot of campsites here, but most are not even close to level; even the picnic tables have an obvious lean to them.

Eventually I find a spot we will call home for about a week. I make it as level as possible by digging two holes on the front and back right side for the tires to roll into. Not bad!!
The Boys are staked out on their short leashes for the time being while I set about putting up our tarp awning, getting the generator out of the back along with the IP and sack of spuds. Out comes the camp chair and our table cloth. Lastly I eyeball a couple of the trees and guesstimate the length between two of them and put the Boys’ cable line up and get them settled in. They’re tangled up together in a matter of minutes, which is normal. LOL

And here we stay for over a week. Ice should be good until day five, but I have plenty of water left and food that does not need refrigeration as long as I don’t cook more than one meal at time.
If you noticed a lack of photos of El Vado Lake, it isn’t a mistake. I did enough of THAT already. At this point in our summer adventure I still haven’t found the rest of the photos. Still looking. I am cautiously optimistic, but am not counting on anything.

Thank you for stopping by 2DogsTravel. We’re so glad to have you along for the ride!

Hugs, Shawna

 

 

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