Friday, October 14, 2016

Santa Rosa to Elephant Butte

From Cochiti we made our way over to Santa Rosa State Park near, of course, Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

Santa Rosa was once a thriving community that sat along Route 66, the infamous historical byway.  Sadly, it is now a mixture of small businesses and empty decaying buildings.  That said, it is not without it’s attractions. The typical tourist attraction is the Blue Hole which draws swimmers and divers in from all over the country.  As we don’t really swim and certainly don’t scuba dive, we decided to forgo the $5 admission charge and just glance at it from the parking lot.  Oddly enough, this attraction is part of the Santa Rosa Parks.  Now, if you’re anything like me (Bud)… and heaven help those around you if you are… your mind immediately conjured up a picture of Rosa Parks in a Santa suit.  I know… it’s a bit out there but dang….. “Santa Rosa Parks” just cracks me up!

"Santa" Rosa Parks

Santa Rosa is a mecca for anyone who enjoys old signs, and as a once-upon-a-time sign maker I was in photo heaven.  I did a quick photo shoot one evening and actually got there a bit later than I would have liked.  The sun was fading fast in the western sky and I had to hurry along the main drag to capture what images I could find. The morning sun would have been much better as far as the number of signs I could have photographed and with better contrast, but the evening light gave a warm color to my photos.  I’m pretty much happy with them.

After I hurriedly walked westward and then eastward along the main drag, I ventured off to a couple side streets, snapping photos as I went.  I eventually met a gentleman by the name of M.E. Sprengelmeyer sitting outside of the local newspaper office, coffee cup in hand.  He was curious about me and what I was doing and as we chatted I learned that M.E. was the publisher, editor, photographer and writer of the “The Communicator”.  Of course, there are a few others on his payroll that help in the gathering of news stories, photos, cartoons, etc.  He invited me in and I shared with him my history of newspaper work (illustrator, graphic artist, writer and ad sales).  We discussed the failing industry and both wondered how people who lived in a small community could ever keep up with the local sports, school achievements, chamber news, etc. without a local newspaper.  

M. E. Sprengelmeyer

I am sure, if Barbara and I had given it the time needed, that there were probably plenty of interesting places to explore and discover in the Santa Rosa area and perhaps come next year, we’ll go back for a little longer stay.  But we had Elephant Butte State Park on our minds and after three nights at Santa Rosa State Park we steered La Casita southward.

When we were up at Eagle Nest back in August and September, we had met a couple who actually live in the village of Elephant Butte.  Roger and Dianna use to RV extensively and eventually settled down into a stick built home but still own a camping trailer for small jaunts around the state.  After getting to know each other, Roger handed over his phone number and asked us to give him a call once we made our way to Elephant Butte and they would show us around some.

Elephant Butte State Park has quite a few places where one can camp and we chose South Monticello campground.  Wow, was it ever nice!  Once again, all of the amenities, paved roads and nice level graveled sites with plenty… as in P-L-E-N-T-Y… of space between RV sites.  Practically everyone near the east end had excellent views of the lake.  Well, what lake there was.  Elephant Butte Lake gets pretty full in the spring, being fed by the Rio Grande, but as the summer drags on more and more water is released for irrigation purposes to help the farmers in New Mexico and also those down in Texas. Seeing as we arrived in October, most of the lake at our end of the park was dry.  Still, the view was beautiful and the sunsets awesome.

Once we got settled in, we gave Roger and Dianna a call and they graciously took us out to dinner at… where else… but the Ivory Tusk Restaurant.  Afterwards, they invited us up to their home to visit.  Up… way up.  They have a really nice home that sits on the edge of a very high mesa, overlooking the lake.  It was a gorgeous view as we sat outside on the back deck chatting and getting to know one another.  I was having a great time, until I wasn’t paying attention and walked right through the closed screened patio door, tearing it off the railing and bending the frame.  What a klutz.  Sorry Roger!  I’m blaming the fantastic views that I was looking at!

Dianna & Roger

Our stay at Elephant Butte seemed to be a socializing mecca for Barbara and I.  Through the RVillage website, we had made contact some months back with a couple who’s paths we finally got to cross.  Mark and Judith are fellow Ohioians and after we met in Truth or Consequences over a sweet bite, we seemed to have hit it off pretty good.  They were volunteering up at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, which is about an hour north of where we were staying.  They have been full-timers for a year now.  Our initial meeting must have went well for them also, for we eventually got invited to meet them in San Antonio, NM for burgers and then into their home ( a beautiful 5th wheel ) for a visit.  It was an evening full of grins and giggles and a bonding that I am sure will last for a long time to come.  That said, every full-time RVer knows that the relationships one builds while out on the road are relationships that are eventually separated by hundreds of miles apart.  BUT… as we all have the wander lust in our veins we know that eventually our paths will once more cross and we’ll pick up where we left off.  

Mark & Judith

Barbara and I did make a trip up to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge for a guided tour, led by another couple.  It was nice, but the geese and other migratory birds hadn’t started coming in full strength yet so we saw very few birds.  But hey, it was a free tour and a nice day to be out.

"Hank Heron"

We also reached out to another couple through RVillage; Bill and Sandi who hail from Indiana.  They are another pair that we found fun to sit and chat with and of course, had lots of laughs.  They have only been RVing full-time for a month or so, but seem to be settling right into it.  As plans now stand, they will be hanging around the southern New Mexico area, as we will be, for most of the rest of this year.  We hope to continue to visit with them and get to know them even better, and Bill and I are even talking about next spring…. trout fishing up around the Eagle Nest area.  It’s never to early to plan a fishing trip!

Truth or Consequences, NM is another one of those sad but nice little towns.  I talked to a former New Yorker who owns a very nice, eclectic shop filled with old and new stuff along with some handcrafted items.  She told me that T or C (as it is often called) is officially the poorest town in New Mexico.  It does have some interesting shops, often very colorful, and the local Walmart has bank after bank of solar panels that not only provide the electricity to operate the store, but also provides nice shade from the sun for their customers.  Pretty cool!

With all of that socializing, we didn’t get out and about much to explore the area.  We had Roadrunners, Jack Rabbits, Cottontail Rabbits and Gambel Quail in and around.. and ON…. our campsite.  No snakes.  One big spider that I “think” was a tarantula but wasn’t 100% sure so I left it alone.  :-)  

We heard coyote in the distance and enjoyed the ever changing mountains as the sun rose and sat.  We stayed a full 2 weeks there and then headed back up to Cochiti Lake.  I am not sure how long we’ll be at Cochiti.  We’re mainly going up there to use it as a home base while we drive back up into Eagle Nest to view the fall foliage and, hopefully, a snowcapped mountain or two.  After that, we plan on returning to Elephant Butte, hooking up with Mark and Judith, Roger and Dianna and Bill and Sandi again, and try real hard to find some time to explore that area more thoroughly. 

Thus far, this adventure of ours has been worth the effort and the risk that we took to make it happen.  

Gives us your thoughts about all of this and also let us know what’s going on with you and your life. We truly do want to hear from you.

Bud & Barbara

At Santa Rosa State Park

In Santa Rosa

View from Camper at Elephant Butte State Park

Jack Rabbit!


  1. 1. LOVE the illustration of Santa Rosa Parks! Maybe you should begin a series of tongue-in-cheek illustrations like that with all the unique names of places you are coming across :)
    2. I see where I get my graceful walk from now ;0) haha!
    3. Is M.E. Sprengelmeyer hiring?! ;) Double HAHA
    4. I LOVE that yellow door photo in Santa Rosa!! (I love all the photos but esp that one)
    5. I LOVE YOU!

    1. Ahhhhhhh! Thanks Baby Girl. Love you too!

  2. Hi B&B, Glad to see that you have been having contact with people you have met during your travels. Alone time is nice but if it is 100% of the time it can get to be somewhat depressing. After all you want to share what you have experienced and learn of other possible adventures that may be waiting for you. As for me, I continue playing a waiting game before my next hip replacement but in the mean time I attend to tasks long neglected by me around the house. This week I painted my shed for the first time in 20 years. Cool/ Cold weather has finally come to Ohio (30's at night and 50-60 during the day.) meaning that motorcycle riding will soon be over. I'll putz in the garage and do maintenance as well as some changes to the bikes when I have time. Hip surgery will be sometime in December so I can be mobile for the spring and summer. Be glad when this is over. You all take care during your travels and I'm glad you are finding desirable camping spots that you really enjoy. Bill

    1. Thanks for the awesome response Bill. Love hearing about what's going on with you,even if it's about the cold weather... the home chores... the hip surgery... (sigh). I'll say a prayer for ya Bro! 😆 Seriously...I enjoy hearing from you and look forward to the day we can hook up again, maybe to catch some wind. Blessings to you my friend!