Borrego Springs, CA

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A busy day

Since I'll be at this park for a month, I had a number of chores to keep me busy all day today. I had several errands to run in town (Deming), including stops at Walmart, Pepper's Grocery Store, and a hardware store. It had been almost two weeks since I'd bought any groceries, and I wanted to get another thermometer to put on an outside window so I know how cold I am. ;) The last one I had blew off the window when I neglected to take it inside before departing down the road....my bad. I'm experiencing a problem with the new thermometer as it doesn't seem to be adjusting to the falling temps this evening. I'll see what it shows in the morning.

After I got back to the rig, I decided to start washing the windows on the outside so I could put up the thermometer and put up the sun shades on the front of the RV. I don't like to put those shades up until I get most of the bugs from travel off of the windshield. I asked Jack, my neighbor, to help me put up the shades by holding onto and stabilizing my ladder as I attached the shades. He was horrified to find out that I have to put the foot stool on top of the ladder to reach the top snaps. After I finished cleaning the windows, he got out his much taller ladder and installed the shades for me. What a relief! Now I have the extra insulation of the shades for cold temperatures, and since the rig faces south, it will help with the direct rays of the late fall sun.

The temps this coming week are supposed to be in the mid seventies, and with the direct sun on the rig, inside temps can easily rise into the eighties. I don't want to have to turn on the AC since my electric is monitored for the month, so the shades will help a lot. The shades and outside rug also make the rig look more like home. So I've finished setting up for an extended stay, and will finish cleaning the rest of the windows tomorrow. It feels good to be settled for a few weeks.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Friday, October 30, 2009

A short move

The person in site #17 left the park early, so I was able to move about 150 yards to the site I'll occupy for the next month by 10:00. It was pretty chilly out, so I took my time getting everything set up.

If you are a member of LoW's, the cost is $155/month plus electricity. The electricity is $0.10/KWH. I'm not exactly sure what that means, so I'll be monitoring my electric for a day or so to see how much that will cost. Then I'll decide whether to continue use of the electric heaters, or mainly rely on the propane furnace. There's not much room between sites, but it's better than some places I've been. It's a big difference from camping at a COE park or a state park, but I want to see how I feel about staying in an RV park for an extended amount of time.


I think I've got the biggest tree in the park at the front of my site. This afternoon, I set up a bird feeder under it and a water tray. There's a group of 12 Gambel's Quail in the area that I hope will visit the water station. I've also seen a rather tame roadrunner hanging around. I'll watch to see what visitors I have.

The view out my front windows is of the Florida Mountains. I will visit these mountains during my stay here.
There is some pretty nice landscaping in the park...like this cacti garden.

This is the International Headquarters of LoW, and also the location of the laundry room and recreation hall. I took advantage of using the laundry room today. It was much needed.


Tomorrow I'll head to town to find a grocery store and maybe do a little exploring. I've got everything set up except the trucker's antenna and amplifier for my internet reception. As you can see, I was able to upload pictures tonight, but I'm hoping the antenna will allow me to do this in under a half hour. We'll see.


Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Thursday, October 29, 2009

LoW-Hi RV Park, NM

I was on the road by 9:30 this morning, frost on the pumpkin and all! I definitely wore gloves this morning as I packed up things outside and got ready to leave with temps in the 20's. The winds were calm as I left, but as I headed through Hatch, NM, on the way to Deming, the winds commenced to blow around 20-30 mph, and of course they weren't a tail wind.

After 150 miles, I arrived at the LoW-HI RV park. When I went in to register, and join LoW's, there was a slight mix up in my reservation. So, tonight I'm in a back in space with electric and water (which I won't hook up since it will be well below freezing tonight). Tomorrow I'll move to a full hook up site and begin my one month stay at this park.

I went to the social hour today at 4:00 and met quite a few of the other solo members. I look forward to the potluck next Monday, and several other activities. Most everyone here travels solo, so none of us will be a "third wheel" at the functions. I think I'm going to enjoy my time here. There's quite a bit to see in the area, and I'm happy to stay put for a while.

After I move and get everything set up tomorrow, I'll try to take some pics of the park. The weather is supposed to improve and be in the seventies for next week. I can live with that. ;)

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The cold is following me

It was a dreary, cold, wet, and windy day today. About the only time I ventured outside was to take Emma on her needed walks. I did hook the car up this afternoon so all I'll have to do is stow the DISH and unhook the electric in the morning. I had packed away the water hose yesterday to ward against freezing temps at night. It's supposed to get down into the twenties tonight.

I decided to call for a reservation at the LoW-Hi RV Park in Deming. It is the home park for members of the Loners on Wheels(LoW) club. I'm ready to stay put for a few weeks, so I'll check out the park and their rates tomorrow. It's about 160 miles from here, so I can take my time pulling out in the morning.

Diana and John picked me up this evening, and we went to eat at a small place in San Antonio, NM. Diana thought they had the best hamburgers around. The owner participated in a Bobby Flay throw down challenge last May, and won for his green chili burger. I. of course, opted out of the chili part, but the burger was good.

Not much else to report for today. I hope the winds are calm in the morning.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Craning" my neck!

If there is one thing that the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is famous for, it is the abundance of sandhill cranes that migrate here to spend the winter season. My mission this morning was to pick up John, and head out on the auto tour route to find what birds we could and photograph them. On my way to the volunteer village, I stopped at a viewing area just as the sun was coming over the mountains.
The sandhill cranes spend the night in the water to stay away from coyotes and other predators. As I pulled over, they were getting ready to head out for the morning to feed in local fields.
It wasn't long before they took flight....
The sun was just peeking over the eastern mountains as they headed out for the day.
It was a gorgeous morning to be out and about on the refuge.

Sandhill cranes aren't the only birds to be found on the refuge. Flocks of snow geese have also begun to arrive.

Their numbers will increase dramatically in the next month or so. Every time there is an approaching cold front, more cranes, geese, and ducks arrive.

Cranes are one of my favorite birds, and we saw many today. So, you'll have to put up with several pictures of them. I love listening to their calls as they fly, and as they prepare to move from one field to another. This sandhill was fluffing his feathers in the wind. Cranes mate for life, so this pair is bonded.
See the red top knot?
While the cranes and geese were feeding, many Northern harriers were coursing the fields looking for rodents.
What a great morning it was touring this refuge! It was in the 30's when we started out and the wind was blowing up to 30 mph, but seeing all the wildlife was worth the frozen fingers. ;)
I leave you with one last silhouette...

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Monday, October 26, 2009

Birdwatcher's RV Park, San Antonio, NM

Well, I haven't been able to post in a few days because of a horrible internet connection (or lack there of). I left Cochiti Lake campground this morning around ten and headed south. By 1:30, I pulled into Birdwatcher's RV Park which is right on the border of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. I will be visiting friends, John and Diana, who are volunteering on the refuge.

Birdwatcher's RV is basically a gravel parking lot with hook-ups. I stayed here briefly last year on my way through New Mexico. The price is reasonable at $20/night, and it's peaceful, but certainly lacks any ambiance.

After getting everything set up, I headed over to the refuge's visitor's center and found Diana there. After she finished her shift, we went back to her rig and she, John, and I chatted and did some catching up since we last volunteered together last spring. I headed back to my rig to feed and exercise Emma for a while before John and Diana picked me up to go out for dinner. We had a good time and good food.

Tomorrow morning, I'll pick John up and we'll do the wildlife auto loop. We both like to take pictures, so I hope we'll see some sandhill cranes and geese. The challenge for me will be to get to their rig by 7:30. ;)

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Friday, October 23, 2009

Clean up day

After a frosty overnight, I decided today was a good day to clean up the RV. Emma and I took several walks around the park, and in between, I worked on vacuuming the floor and the ceiling, tightening the upholstery borders around the seats at the table booth, and generally wiping down all surfaces for dust. Not very exciting, but necessary. I also changed the sheets on the bed which is always somewhat of a workout.

Emma was able to spend several hours outside on top of the picnic table surveying the area. I prefer that when I'm vacuuming. The sun was shining and temps got close to 60.

There are a few pictures I included today, that I took yesterday.
After hiking around Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks NM yesterday, I continued five miles down the gravel road to the Veteran's Memorial Scenic Overlook.

What a fantastic view of these mountains and valleys.

There still are a few wildflowers blooming along the roadsides. I have always loved these particular flowers. Somehow they always remind me of strawberries.


Tomorrow, my plan is to visit Bandelier National Monument. It's not that far away, as the crow flies, but because of the mountains and valleys, it will be a drive of around 70 miles to get there.


Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Cochiti Pueblo. Every other National Monument that I have visited has been managed by the National Park Service.
It is located about 35 miles from Santa Fe, NM. The main feature of the monument is the geological formations of tent rocks and tee pees. There is evidence that ancient peoples inhabited one of the caves in the tent rocks.
Along one of the trails, there are large Ponderosa pines. Did you know that the bark of Ponderosa pines smells like vanilla? Well, it does.

The hiking trails offer wonderful views of tent rocks. These rocks appear to have caps on the top of them. The caps are made of harder rock than the supporting spires which have been worn away by wind and water.

You can see the various layers of different rocks in each of the tents.
This tent rock reminded me of an enormous mushroom.
The second geological feature of this monument is the tee pee mounds. These are fumaroles that do not have caps. I walked a couple of miles on the trails and enjoyed the solitude of the area. I was amazed at the number of birds flying around. I saw several mountain chickadees, hundreds of juncos, Stellar jays, wild turkeys, and thousands of American robins. What enjoyable companions along my way.

On the way back to Cochiti Lake campground I took a shot of the sites. My rig is on the far right. This is interesting terrain in New Mexico.


Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A dull day in New Mexico

The weatherman was correct once again. It was cold and rainy all day. I went over and found cyber friends, Bob and Judy, intoduced myself, and spent a couple of hours chatting with them. After lunch, I headed for Rio Rancho to do grocery shopping. Lot's of people hate grocery shopping, but I have always enjoyed it. Today was no exception. I even found some good sized raw shrimp (26-30 count) for $5.99/lb. I think shrimp scampi is in my future. ;)

As I write this evening, I'm seeing a little bit of blue showing through the cloud cover. If the sun shows itself tomorrow, I will head for Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. I think it's about eight miles from my campsite.

Emma also hopes the sun shines tomorrow. It doesn't take much to give her cabin fever...especially since she doesn't like getting wet. It's been a long inside day for her.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cochitti Lake COE Campground

When I left Lathrop State Park in Colorado yesterday morning, the forecast was for increasing winds throughout the day in Colorado. So I stopped to dump the tanks and pay for my Sunday night stay, and then was on the road by 8:30. The first 100 miles was smooth sailing except for the steep grades getting through Raton Pass (7,834') on the New Mexico border. Then, about 136 miles from Santa Fe, the winds hit with a vengeance! It was pretty much two handed driving the rest of the way. At times my hands went numb from gripping the steering wheel so hard.

I had decided to stop at a campground in Santa Fe with full hook-ups, laundry, and propane. This was probably the most expensive park I've ever stayed in. I couldn't believe how many people were staying there. The distance between sites was under ten feet...slide to slide. Not my kind of park, but I badly needed to do laundry and fill the propane tank. I was also very tired of driving. I did several loads of laundry, and got the propane filled on the way out this morning.

I drove a whopping 28 miles to get to Cochitti Lake Corps of Engineer campground. I have electric and water and the scenery of the New Mexico mountains and the lake in the distance is 1000 times better than looking out at pavement and my neighbor's rig. The water hook-up is interesting. It is over 50' from the rig and on a hill. There are 13 steps to get up to the picnic table and water hook-up. The water spigot is also about 5.5' in the air. I had to use a 50' and a 25' hose to reach it. I decided to just fill the fresh water tank and then roll up the hoses and store them. At this elevation, the temps at night may get low enough to freeze the hoses, so this seems a smarter idea to me than leaving so much hose out. A point of interest: I will be able to stay at this campground for five nights for less than the price I paid for one night yesterday.

By the time I got everything set up...including the DISH, filling the water tank, and erecting my trucker's internet antenna, a storm front began rolling in with determination. Since I go about these chores at a liesurely rate, I ran out of time to investigate the park or take any pictures before the rain began. I also tried a couple of times to register, but was unsuccessful. The rain is supposed to last through a good share of tomorrow also.

One of the blogs that I follow is written by a fulltiming couple that have been at this park for a good share of the last month as they wait for a closing on a sticks-n-bricks (townhouse) they are buying in the area. My plan is to meet them in person tomorrow and pick their brains about things to see in the area, and to find out where to go for groceries since we're pretty much out in the middle of no where here. Grocery shopping is a good chore for a rainy day. The sun is scheduled to return on Thursday through the weekend, so I've settled in for a six day stay.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Sunday Blast from the Past

In May, 2008, I headed west on my way to my summer volunteer assignment. Along the way, I stopped at quite a few interesting places. One of them was El Morro National Monument in New Mexico.

El Morro is a huge mesa that was a landmark for travelers for many centuries.
As these travelers walked along El Morro, they left inscriptions on the rock.

Some inscriptions were quite elaborate, while others were not.

Ancient petroglyphs can also be found on the face of Inscription Rock.

These stairs are the beginning of the strenuous hike to the top of El Morro. The trail is a mile long, and I certainly knew I was hiking at over 7,000' in elevation. I made good use of the benches provided along the way to catch my breath.

Once on top, the hike continues over huge sandstone boulders as you walk around the rim of a box canyon.

The trail culminates at the ancient Puebloan dwellings perched high atop the mesa. Then it's a refreshing decent back down to the visitor's center. So began my "vacation" between volunteer assignments.
Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A day of rest

I got a wrong number phone call this morning at 3:30! That sure ruined my night's sleep. When it finally got light out, I got up and began the day. I really didn't do much today.

This afternoon, I packed up the DISH and hooked up the toad. I also checked at the park office to see if there was a place to get propane in town on my way out tomorrow. There is one place to check...I hope they're open on a Sunday morning.

My plans are to leave fairly early tomorrow and head for Santa Fe, New Mexico. It will be a long trip of about 265 miles. If I can get propane in the morning, I'll head for a Corps of Engineers Park; if not, it will be an expensive private campground near Santa Fe that has propane for sale.

The weather at Lathrop State Park has been fantastic. I don't want to press my luck, so I'll head further south tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Friday, October 16, 2009

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

I was up before dawn this morning, and anticipating my touring today.

Before I left, I took a picture of my site at Lathrop State Park. Notice the mountains surrounding the park.

This is one of the two lakes in the state park. When I arrived, yesterday, I met a man in the parking lot that had just caught three huge northern pike in the lake. The biggest one was over 32" and more than 12 pounds. I sure would have enjoyed catching any of the fish he had!
At 9:00, I hit the road to travel to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. I drove about 70 miles to get there and went over La Veta Pass at 9413'. I'm sure glad I was in the car rather than driving the rig over that pass.
As I entered the park, I stopped for the obligatory photo at the entrance. A couple from Germany was kind enough to take this shot for me. I offered to do the same for them, but the wife was apparently having a bad hair day, and they declined. :) This shot is about ten miles from the visitor's center. Notice the nice fall colors on the cottonwood trees. The sand dunes are in front of the mountains.

These pictures don't do justice to the dunes, which rise up to 750' before the Sangre de Cristo (blood of Christ) Mountains.

These sand dunes have been here for more than 12,000 years. The winds shift them daily, but they persist to stay here. Two creeks surround the dunes and help to keep them where they are at. Several species of insects live on the dunes, and no where else in the world.
When I visited here in the late '60's, this was a National Monument, but in 2004, the park was expanded and designated a National Park and Preserve by a vote of Congress. The park now includes the dunes, mountains, and wetlands. All these habitats are integral parts of the dunes ecosystem, and will now be preserved forever. What a good idea our National Parks are!

I took a parting shot as I left this magnificent area. Kind of makes you want to sing "This land is your land..."


Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A short jog down the road

I was on the road shortly before ten this morning, and was off of the road by about 11:30! I only moved 58 miles down I-25 to Lathrop State Park, outside of Walsenburg, CO. There was some challenging construction along the way, and I didn't find a place to fill the propane tank. According to the weather forecast, I think I'll be alright for the next three nights.

Aside from the issue of the Colorado State Park pass, I've been really impressed with the parks I've stayed in. All of them have had very spacious sites with electricity, and pretty fantastic views. They have also been very large and offer many things for visitors to do. Emma and I took a ride through the park this afternoon, but pictures would be better if the tour is done in the morning. I'll be here at Lathrop for at least three nights, and use this park as a base for using the car to visit places in the area.

Tomorrow, I'll head out to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. The last time I was there was in the late sixties, so I need to visit it again. I also plan to visit a couple of National Wildlife Refuges a little west of here. I hope the weatherman knows what he is talking about. :)

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Royal Gorge & a surprise visitor

When I woke up this morning, there was heavy fog that was fore casted to be gone by 9:00. That didn't happen. I decided to head for the Royal Gorge anyway. It is located outside of Canon (there's a squiggle line above the first "N" so it is pronounced canyon) CO, about fifty-five miles from my campsite. It didn't take very long to escape the fog.
This is the world's highest suspension bridge. It is 1,053 feet above the Arkansas River. The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is a park owned and operated by the city of Canon City.
The best views of the bridge, in my opinion, are from the world's longest aerial tram. I took a ride on this tram.

I also took a ride down to the Arkansas River in the world's steepest incline railway. It has a 1,550' length at a 45* angle to the river.

From the bottom of the ride, you can look up at the suspension bridge.


This park was a little too commercial for my tastes, but I guess I can say I've seen the Royal Gorge. The cost was $21 and included the rides. Many of the venues were closed because it was after Labor Day. I also skipped the wildlife park. I'm not crazy about zoos.


When I got back to the rig, the temps had risen to the 70's and the wind was howling out of the NW. I hooked Emma up outside and enjoyed the balmy temps. After a while, I heard Emma scratching the ground, and when I turned around to look at her, here's what I saw....

I had no idea that there were tarantulas in Colorado. You can bet I flew out of my rocker to grab Emma so she wouldn't have a mishap with this arachnid! Spiders are about my least favorite things on earth....eeeek!
My plan is to head about 57 miles south of here tomorrow, and arrive at Lathrop State Park. The winds have to die down before I can accomplish that, however.
Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pueblo Lake State Park, CO

It was in the upper 20's when I woke up this morning, but that was an improvement over the last few mornings. So, I dumped the tanks, packed up, and headed out of Denver for locations south.
After only 115 miles, I pulled into Pueblo Lake State Park. I told you I wanted to take advantage of my Colorado State Parks Pass, so I'll be spending about seven more nights in state parks before exiting Colorado.

This is my site for the next three nights. I want to visit the Royal Gorge while I'm here and the optimal weather seems to be to do that on Wednesday.

This is the view out the window by my table. That's Pueblo Lake. Eventually, the skies cleared this afternoon and temps rose to 47. It's supposed to be back down into the upper 20's again tonight, but then a warming trend is supposed to begin.


When I drove into the park I noticed a group of LoW's (Loners on Wheels) camping close to the site I chose. This is a camping club for single folks. While I was setting up the DISH, one of their members stopped over to chat. I ended up joining them for their social hour this afternoon, and got some good info on visiting the Royal Gorge. This was the Colorado chapter of LoW's, and they were out for their October camping get together. The winds and cool temps moved the social hour indoors to one of the rigs. I would guess that all of these singles are in their seventies. It was an enjoyable visit with them.


I think I'll explore the park tomorrow and then visit the Royal Gorge on Wednesday. The sites here are pretty spacious, have electricity, and cost $18/night. The pads are paved, and can accomodate large rigs. Looks like a great park, especially if you have a boat.


Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Sunday Blast from the Past

At the beginning of February, 2008, I returned for my second volunteer assignment at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge (pronounced Anna whack) in Texas. I once again worked at the visitor's center and did a lot of teaching in the education programs. I also worked with the biologist on conducting neo-tropical migrant studies. Anahuac is a great place for the spring migration of warbler's returning from Central and South America.

This year, I also participated in the collection of abandoned crab pots. That's Stephanie Martinez, the volunteer coordinator and pilot of the air boat. The bay is closed to crabbing for a few weeks, and volunteers and staff go out in the bay on air boats to collect lost crab pots and bring them back to the dumpster (in the background).

After yanking the pots out of the quicksand-like bay floor, we jumped on the pots to squash them down to haul back. We found quite a few pots that day, and by the time crab fishing was opened again, the dumpster was full! It takes a lot of work by a lot of folks to help clean up the bay. Northeast of Anahuac NWR, is the Big Thicket National Preserve. It's known as the piney woods area of Texas. I drove up there on one of my days off, and enjoyed some of the trails. It was a little too early in the spring to enjoy the many wildflowers found in the preserve.

Along about St. Patrick's Day, someone dumped off a young mutt at the volunteer sites...and that's how I came to meet Emma. She has been my "wild child" traveling companion ever since.

While thistles can be a nasty plant, I do find their blooms to be gorgeous. There were plenty of them to be found on the refuge.
In the fall of 2008, hurricane Ike just about demolished Anahuac NWR. I've seen pictures of the devastation, but can't really wrap my mind around it. I will be returning there around the first of next year to help redevelop the education programs. I'm looking forward to teaming up with Stephanie once more.
Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later, Judy