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

 

 

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

Manzano Mountain State Park

July 1st to the 5th. After our lovely walk through the Abo Ruins we head to Mountainaire where we take the turnoff that delivers us to Manzano Mountain State Park where we spend the long holiday weekend. There isn’t a pine tree in sight, but the park information page says there is.  I enjoy these high desert cactus that cover the land on both sides of the road. DSC_0049Shrub Cactus

Manzano is a small park with spaces pretty close together, but it has a couple of trails that the boys and I walk every morning, water, and a dump station. A few sites have shade/shelters, and all have a table and fire ring. The road up to the park and in the park is dirt, and becomes very dusty as more and more vehicles come in. Although our spot has no one on either side of us, we are by the dump station and it is heavily used and the dust is pretty bad. We are, however, blessed with shade!

DSC_0054Nature Trail at Manzano Mtn SP
One of the Walking Trails in Manzano

DSC_0057Outer Trail at Manzano Mtn SPNot only are the trails nice, there are some wildflowers blooming along the way.

I have no idea what these brown things are.  I thought they might be dried up snow plant, but on closer inspection, not.

Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs Travel.  Hugs, Shawna

Percha Dam State Park

June 29th. We are again heading north on I-25, destination Percha Dam State Park

. Shade, I need shade and a few days to just lounge around in it. I feel horrible. These past few weeks dealing with ever increasing heat has given me a bit of heat exhaustion I think. I sweat like crazy, can’t drink enough water, and just feel like I am burning up from the inside out.
Prayers are answered with Percha Dam. We find a shady spot down by the Rio Grande River with a view of the small dam. Lots of activity with locals coming and going picnicking, fishing, ect., but although I have to move the van around a couple of times a day to stay in the shade it feels wonderful. DSC_0012 (1)DSC_0013 (1)Looking at Percha Dam From Our Campsite
A little glitch with my solar system and an email to my solar guy (thanks Chuck!!) gets things sorted out and we are back in business churning out power from the sun and the inverter quits overheating because the button on the charge controller got pushed to a different type of battery — or whatever it was causing it to shut down. The fan goes for hours and pulls the cool from a wet sports towel I have wrapped around my neck and shoulders.
INTERESTING PEOPLE: I meet a guy and his wife who are trying out their new-to-them Rialto. He grouses that several things do not work in it, but they’re managing and will get stuff fixed in time. We chat and the usual topics come up: Where you from? Are you full timing? What did you do in working career? He discloses they are from Hawaii and plan on settling in Silver City. WHAT? WHY? Who leaves Hawaii for Silver City?

They were organic farmers on Kuai and according to him the small island has been “discovered” and has over the past few years become a crazy madhouse. Not what they wanted for their golden years so they sold the farm and ended up in New Mexico.

Percha Dam State Park is fairly large. The upper area has the electric sites along with the flush bathrooms and showers. The lower area is along the river and where the primitive sites are located. There are a few shade covers, but most are just a parking spot with a table, bbq, and fire ring. Water spigots are located near the dumpsters and vault toilets. Most spots have decent spacing between sites.

DSC_0016 (2)Mama Squirrel and BabyThis cute guy drove the Wild Wiener Dogs crazy!  Notice the two little ones in the hole in the trunk on the bottom left.  🙂  Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel. Hugs, Shawna

Current Read: The Grace of Dogs by Andrew Root

Rock Hound State Park

Thursday the 23rd of May we head out early. A coffee at McDonalds, the boys pushing in close in case I order a sausage McMuffin—I don’t—and I catch I-10 (Freeway! UGH!) to Deming NM where I search for the dog park.
We find it pretty easily, and it is a beauty. No less than eleven mature shade trees, mulberry and juniper, make the small dog side a shady oasis. The big dog side looks equally as shady. Having it all to themselves this early in the morning, The Chiweenie Brothers run full tilt until they can run no more.

With two exhausted wiener dogs napping, I hit Wally for supplies, and then drive the short distance to Rock Hound State Park where I purchase a New Mexico State Parks Pass good for an entire year of camping, up to two weeks at a time, in their parks’ primitive campsites. Primitive being tables with shade covers, fire rings, and a garbage can. Water is available and showers, too. All for the sum of only $225 . Did I mention this is for an entire year? *smiles*.

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So there it is, our summer adventure: Exploring New Mexico’s state parks! So glad you are coming along for the trip! Hugs, Shawna

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