Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Camp Hosts at Storrie Lake

We just wrapped up our 2 months as CG Hosts at Storrie Lake and are now back at Eagle Nest, NM (elevation approx. 8,200’).   It was a pretty easy “job” for 2 months as our section of the campground only has four campsites and a group shelter.  We resided in one of the four sites so keeping track of the other three sites and the group shelter was pretty darn easy!!   There are two other sections to the campground and those Hosts have more sites/issues to deal with so we feel pretty lucky.  Would we do it again?  Sure but again only for a few months.

Initially when we arrived at Storrie Lake every day was SO windy starting about 10 am and continuing for the rest of the day.  After several weeks of that, that got really old.  The lake is pretty much at the base of the Santa Fe Mountains and every day for most of the time we were there the mountains would brew up their own clouds and thunder would rumble through later in the afternoon.  Mornings were almost always sunny and beautiful.   By early Mid-June we were already getting days at or near 90° so the afternoon thunder was good to help cool things off.  A/C was often needed!!

During the 2 months there we enjoyed an assortment of things:  an afternoon matinee at the Indigo Theater (which was rather unique looking from the outside) and saw Wonder Woman (pretty good), discovered a tasty smoked meat restaurant, weekly visits to Santa Fe to hit the thrift shops, on one of the really hot afternoons took a drive into the mountains to have a picnic lunch up on Johnson’s Mesa at just over 8,000’ which was slightly cooler than down at the lake and the views were awesome.  Barbara also made a trip to Seattle to help with some family matters for a few weeks.   We also started making pretty specific plans for our Colorado travels for August and half of September.

We put up a bird feeder and were constantly entertained by the variety of birds who visited. One of the more entertaining ones were the Cummings Kingbirds that had a nest of young ones in the rafters of our picnic shelter. We enjoyed watching the aerial acrobatics as they caught a myriad of insects to feed the little peeps. Of course, we had Hummingbirds, Oriels, Magpies, Finches and Red Wing Blackbirds visit as well.

One of the more exciting events that occurred while at Storrie Lake was the hail storm that rolled through!  If you've never been inside a 10' x 20' aluminum can with marble size hail peppering you for 10 minutes straight, you're missing out on some great adrenaline rush! The sound was deafening, to say the least.  Fortunately, no huge damage occurred.  Barbara's car got dented up a little and as for our home, we lost two running light covers which were easily replaced.

For now we are spending the rest of July at Eagle Nest.  We LOVE this place and have even toyed with the idea of spending a winter here.  Words just can’t do this place justice but try to imagine a high elevation (8,200’) valley surrounded entirely by mountains with a large lake at the north end of the valley.   The valley is approx. 15 miles in length.  There so many ‘moods’ to the ever changing weather and the weather at one end of the valley can be quite different than the other end.  Most mornings are sunny and beautiful.  The tree line is above the valley floor.  It’s just beautiful here!!

By August 1st we’ll start moving up into Colorado and plan to stay in the 8,000’-10,000’ elevation which should be some pleasant summer temps.  Lots of new territory to cover and we’ll try to keep you posted.

Bud & Barbara
Eagle Nest, New Mexico

Monday, May 29, 2017

From Yuma to Storrie

Lots to cover in this blog for, once again, I’ve been slothful in updating it.  The only reason I can think of is because I do regular updates on Facebook for family and friends but not in as great of detail as I do here.  If you’re not on Facebook with me and you’ve been wondering about updates, I apologize and WILL try my best to do at the very least a monthly account of where we’re at and what we’re doing.  Here’s hoping!

That being said, I am going to offer up a condensed version of the past couple of months. Here goes; Once we left Yuma, we aimed our trusty Lazy Daze over to Painted Rock BLM near Gila Bend, AZ.  We didn’t really care for this campground as there wasn’t much in the way of area attractions. Cell service was good though!  We had stopped here for three nights so that I could get into a Walmart near Phoenix to get an eye exam and order some new eye glasses. We stayed three nights here and then headed south to Organ Pipe National Monument, eventually hooking up with our friends Will & Karen and their new Class A Motorhome. 

Will & Karen's New Coach. NICE!

Organ Pipe is a MUST SEE area.  It sits along the Arizona and Mexico border and is quite a sight with all of the Organ Cactus and Saguaro Cactus that thrive there.  The campground is nice, clean and has some very good views of the area.  While there we visited the border wall during a Ranger Led talk and a van tour drive to Ajo Mt. Loop which was very interesting and pretty.  We spent 6 nights at Organ Pipe!

We then headed back up north just a bit to a boondocking spot called Darby Wells just outside Ajo.  The weather was hot so we only stayed a few days even though we really enjoyed the site that we were parked at.  While there, we visited the small town of Ajo (Ah-hoe) during a food festival which gave me plenty of photo ops.  The alley art (paintings on the sides of buildings) was very good and a lot of fun to look at!

From there we drove back up near Phoenix to get my new pair of eyewear and then continued on up to Camp Verde, AZ.  We found a couple of fellow campers that we had met  at Quartzsite who were camping along Cherry Creek Road so we set up near them. Beyond our friends there were too many additional people for us so we only stayed one night, moving further out to Forest Service Road 525 between Cottonwood and Sedona. We found a nice remote and beautiful location with great views but the road was very dusty and we had some major allergy issues.

View from our site of of FSR 528

We stayed 13 days there… rent free of course… and then moved over to Thousand Trails just outside of Cottonwood.  We were fortunate to find a “by ourselves” kind of site and enjoyed the easy in and out access and accessibility to Cottonwood.  I managed to do some thrifting while there and came across 5 almost new Harley-Davidson button-up shirts that I flipped on Ebay for a hefty return. Gotta love that!

We also spent a nice day visiting Palatki Heritage Site.  Very peaceful and an interesting place to visit!

We also spent a day at the V bar V Ranch for a small event that they were having. It was fun to see the colorful costumes of the Native Americans, watching Flint Knappers and learning how to start a fire without matches, etc. Of course, the park itself was nice to roam around as well!

We left Thousand Trails and headed north, stopping at Canyon Motel & RV Park for one night so that we could dump our tanks and get a good clean out of the black tank.  From there, it was off to the Grand Canyon……

Just south of the entrance into the park, on the right side of the road, is Forest Service Road #688.  We found a GREAT location and could have easily found a handful of others.  It was a very pretty site, almost park-like with tall spruce trees all around.  We ended up spending 5 days exploring the Grand Canyon, taking a few hikes and plenty of photos.

Once tired of the Grand Canyon (even for being mid-April there were a lot of people there) we headed back east toward New Mexico. A long days drive (for us at 4-5 hours) ended at Bluewater Lake State Park.  We found a pull-thru electric site (#A) but later on discovered several dry camping spots we would have preferred. They were doing some serious new construction on offices and showers so those facilities were closed. We stayed 3 nights and moved on further east to Cochiti Lake Recreational Area just south of Santa Fe.

We stayed a couple of times last year at Cochiti and it seems to be one of our favorite places to camp. If you DO NOT have a National Parks Senior Pass, it can seem pricey at $20/night  to camp there as it is a Corp of Engineer facility, not a state park.  The lake actually has 2 campgrounds; the newer one is just Cochiti Lake Campground and the older one is called Tetilla (Teh-tee-ya) Campground.  We split our stay between the two and actually preferred the older, more remote location of Tetilla.  We stayed in site #17 and it was large, spacious and quiet. And even though the showers there were old, the water pressure was great and the "timed" duration   was a decent amount of time. Nice!

View from Tetilla Campground, Cochiti Lake

While camped at Cochiti, we made a day trip to Bandelier National Park and really enjoyed it. It was a pleasant day, not to crowded and the scenery was beautiful.

Well, that pretty much brings up to where we are now.  From Cochiti we made the short drive to Storrie Lake State Park near Las Vegas, NM to be first time Camp Hosts in just one section of the campground.  We’re committed to be the Camp Host at the River Campground within Storrie Lake for approximately two months.  That helps the park with much needed volunteers through Memorial Day, Father’s Day and Independence Day (4th of July).  We’ll be off to another location and new adventures around mid-July.

Hope you enjoyed this quick up date on where we’ve been and what we’ve seen!

Bud & Barbara, back in New Mexico.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Boon Docking along American Girl

When we left Joshua Tree, we aimed our home-on-wheels back east along I-10, fueled up at Blyth and caught 95 south to Cibola National Wildlife Refugee.

Cibola NWR sits in Arizona and is a small yet valuable resource for native wildlife and plants.  We were hoping to spend a few days there, photographing the birds that frequent the ponds, marshes and washes but unfortunately the cell service was not conducive for Barbara’s work.  We took the self-guided auto tour the afternoon that we arrived and I managed to capture a few photos of cranes and even a burrowing owl, albeit a tad out of focus.

The next morning, we arose and fired up the vehicles and set off for Picacho BLM area just off of Olgilby Road, heading south from Cibola.  There is a huge area of free camping on the east side of Olgilby and that’s where we turned left onto American Girl Mine Road.  You pretty much have the run of the desert, just find an opening in the road that your vehicle can get across and drive on until you find the spot that seems to suit you best.  Or until you come upon a huge wash that prevents you from driving on.

We were amazed at the number of campers spread out across the landscape!  There was everything from van and truck campers to huge Class A Motor Coaches.  This area is used heavily for ATV activities so a number of the rigs were toy haulers.  That being said, there wasn’t an issue of space encroachment or even excessive noise.  We always had more than enough space from other RVers.  That’s important when you boon dock, and boon docking was exactly what we were there for.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, boon docking (or disperse camping) is simply staying in a place that does not offer any amenities; no water hookups, no electrical hookups and no bathroom or dumping facilities.  It’s kind of like remote backpacking for vehicle dwellers.  So as you can see, having lots of room between other campers is a must if you want to either; A) run your generator now and then without fear of disturbing others or B), not wanting to be disturbed by others who are running their generators. We had been dispersed camping at Joshua Tree as well and after our two week stay at American Girl have realized that we enjoy it quite a bit.

Our RV is fitted with two 80 watt solar panels, so during the day they kept our batteries charged very nicely, enabling us to use the computers, charge the cell phones and listen to music.  At night, we’d crank up the generator to watch some TV, use the microwave, have abundant lights and perhaps run the air conditioning to cool things off before bedtime. The generator also brings our batteries back up to full charge.

There’s really not a lot to see when parked out in the middle of nowhere and yet, it seems like every day we’d discover something new to enjoy.  The only wildlife I noticed were the occasional bird and a small lizard.  I enjoyed walking down in the deep washes that cut through the desert floor revealing sections of uncluttered sand, rocks and stones of all colors and sizes, and remnants (junk) of previous campers.  A huge bonus for me was coming across an area that held a handful of small meteorites…. I think.  If they are, from what I’ve read they are actually called “scattorites”, small pieces that are either remnants from a larger one or just small ones that fell into the atmosphere and didn’t burn completely up.  Of course, what I’ve found could also be small pieces of hematite or even slag ore but for right now, I’m happy convincing myself that they are meteorites.  At least until I check in with a friend who should know. Jury is still out.

We spent some time exploring the area as well. We came across this really cool bridge that was built prior to World War II.  It was decorated with what most call a “swastika”.  Native Americans used this “rolling log” design element (typically the legs went to the left, not the right) as a symbol for good luck and prosperity.  It can be found in all kinds of Americana; postcards, tokens, pottery, blankets, signage and of course, architecture.  Once Hitler, with his racist and hateful ideology, perverted this symbol Native Americans as well as most other Americans ceased using the design element.  Barbara and I also managed to take in a Rodeo which we enjoyed and went to a Date Orchard where we bought some Medjool Dates to send back to her parents.  We also tried a few ourselves and even a Date Milkshake.  Weren’t to our liking.  LOL  And of course, we found a local spot for some great Mexican food; Los Manjares De Pepe.  Muy Bein!

While in the Yuma area, we took advantage of being close to civilization to get some maintenance done on both vehicles (car and rv) and also managed to give our home a much needed bath and wax.  We also crossed over into Mexico for another look around.  I was really wanting to purchase some new eyewear from over there, but because of a few oddities in my prescription I wasn’t comfortable in doing so.  We ended up buying some more booze-filled chocolates to send to my daughter for her birthday.

Other than a little more sightseeing, that was pretty much the extent of our stay in the Yuma, AZ area.  We’ll probably go back again next winter as it was a nice place to stay and visit.  But here’s the kicker… the real deal… For the MONTH of February, we didn’t spend one red cent on camping fees.  We used a dump service at a Shell station in Yuma to empty our tanks and take on fresh water at a cost of $10.00  and we purchased propane while there as well (probably under $25).  Other than gasoline for the RV, that was it.  Friends, that’s pretty cheap living and that’s why Barbara and I are always looking for those out-of-the-way boon docking camping sites.  They’re FREE!

I must admit, that this has been a rough post for me to write. For some reason I just wasn’t feeling motivated.  That being said, I’m glad I finally wrote and promise that the next blog entry won’t be so long in coming. Thanks for being here for us and we look forward to your comments.  May your Spring be an enjoyable and healthy one!

Bud & Barbara