Friday, October 27, 2017

Leaving New Mexico - Final pics of critters and sunsets

Katie and I sure did enjoy our stay in New Mexico - probably more this year than ever before.  The weather was good, the lakes were high, we met some nice people, and for part of the time we camped with friends.  We snagged some of the best sites, and...  there weren't any bugs!  This has got to be the first time we've camped here and not had mosquitoes.  I don't know where they went, but it sure wasn't here.  Really nice!  Of course, there were SOME bugs, but none that really bothered us.

Two days ago we left Elephant Butte Lake State Park, heading west to San Diego for a family visit and annual medical appointments.  So these are the final photos - not many, but a few...

I saw this little bug again, I've seen these guys before and they always fascinate me.  Little blue dimpled bugs, dimpled like tiny blue half golf balls.  It's a Desert "blue-ball" blister beetle (Cysteodemus wislizeni, Meloidae) - Thanks, heyduke50!  So interesting looking:


Now that I know what he's called, I looked him up on-line, but I couldn't find anything about him other than a photo and the name.  I'm assuming from heyduke50's comment that they bite or sting or something, but I couldn't find any info. 

I don't know if I've posted any photos of Gambel's Quail - I think they are one of the prettiest birds I've seen and they are all over the desert in this area.  You can hear them talking to each other all day long.  This is the male:


And this is the female:

When I was camping here at EBLSP a few weeks ago with Don, we were out walking and saw this snake - Don said he thought it was a Sidewinder and it was definitely winding along going from side to side:

Here are the footprints he left - or should I say, body prints?  Thanks for the pictures, Don!


Then the other day I was back at the park again and when I was walking, I saw this little guy:

Neither snake had rattles, which was the main thing for me, but they seem to be as afraid of me as I was of them.  They really move away fast when they feel our feet on the ground, or see us.  Don't know which come first, but they must feel us coming.  And they scoot!

I haven't put up Katie's fence for a long time.  She doesn't like it and doesn't seem comfortable inside, but she wanted to be outside a lot at Elephant Butte Lake, so I put it up.  She laid down and relaxed and enjoyed looking around the area.  Even the birds walking past didn't bother her.  I could watch her from the dinette window and she could see me, so we were both happy.

Here she is laying in a patch of sun in the doorway:


Last sunset shot I took - isn't it beautiful?  Like a pastel watercolor.


On our last morning I filled the water tank, cleaned the floors, vacuumed the carpet and defrosted the fridge and freezer.  We left the park around 2:00 and stopped at the dump station to empty the tanks.  Then we drove down through Hatch and Lordsburg and stopped at Benson, AZ.  We spent one night at the Benson WalMart, then headed off early in the morning.  As we were driving along traffic suddenly slowed, and this is what we saw:

We slowed, but were still moving.  The east bound lane, however, was backed up for a long distance.  One car was upside down on the center concrete divider and the other car was totally smashed in the front end and also got rear-ended.  Thank goodness for the dividers!  It was a bad accident, but if the cars had come over into the westbound lanes it would have been far worse.  Always sobering to pass something like this.

As we were nearing Viejas Casino in Alpine, CA, the sun was just setting.  We always seem to get here this time of day, I remember snapping similar sunsets on previous trips to San Diego.

Viejas allows people to park in their big rig/RV parking lot for three nights each month.  I always seem to be coming through Alpine the end of a month.  Since the weather is always cooler up here, I stop off for three days on my way to San Diego.  Visit my son and daughter-in-law and grand kids, take care of annual medical appointments, and then sometimes stop again on my way back to Quartzsite.  Since it's then the beginning of a new month, I can stop for another three days in the cooler temps and nice breezes, before going down to the desert again.

So... this always feels like the beginning of the new year to me.  Summer and lakeside camping are done and dry desert camping begins.  All of you RVers out there know the feeling of anticipation I feel when the seasons change and I begin the planning and then start the engine for a new location. Fingers crossed that the medical stuff will be easy and quick with good outcomes, and I'll be on the road again soon.

From me and Katie, have a great weekend, everyone.  😎

Monday, October 16, 2017

Caballo Lake State Park, NM - quick update

We're still in the Elephant Butte, TorC, Caballo Lake area.  It's so pretty here, so easy to camp and find a great campsite, nice people, great walking, beautiful lakes, super weather.  Why would we want to leave?

I've been camping with my friend, Don, for a while.  We spent some time at Caballo Lake after leaving Elephant Butte Lake in NM.  Caballo has lots of places to camp - right on the lake, on the Rio Grande, overlooking the lake, in developed campsites, and electric/water sites.  Some of the camping areas are pretty stark, some are lush, and some are overgrown looking.  We drove through the area the day before we moved to Caballo, checking for empty campsites, and deciding where we would head next.

We decided on the Appaloosa Campground, it has no-reservation electric campsites and the temps were still high enough to want air conditioning from time to time.  Then one day when we were on our usual morning walk we noticed the gate at one of the reserved camping areas, the Stallion Campground which had been closed, was OPEN.  So we walked over to the Visitor's Center and asked if that campground was now open to anyone.  I guess it's been so crowded, they decided to open up that one, and since it was October, no reservations were required.

We hustled back to our campsites, packed up and drove to the Stallion Campground.  There was no one there and we got the pick of the sites. We had great sites!  Quiet, private, lots of trees and bushes and I even had a view of the lake.  I've been so lucky with campsites this year in NM state parks.

Look how big this site is, and my only neighbor is Don, next door on the other side of The Palms:

Beautiful view of the mountains, and see my little lake view through the trees?

Most mornings we walked down to the lake and all around the campgrounds near us.  We got some great exercise.  I'm trying to walk a target number of steps each day, and am going about a mile or more over my goal most of the time. :)

This might sound dumb to some of you, but I've been walking so much I've discovered a new muscle in my legs that I've never felt before.  I was talking to my son on the phone and reached down to rub my leg.  What's that???  I realized it was a muscle that was obviously getting more developed so that I noticed it. I looked it up to see what it's called:

"The large calf muscle, or gastrocnemius, has two parts or heads -- medial and lateral -- which extend from your knee joint to your heel bone. While the medial head is positioned on the inside of your lower leg, the lateral head runs along the outside. The two parts work together to extend your ankle downward."   Pretty cool to notice new muscles at my age!  πŸ™ƒ

Now if I could just stop eating chips and dip and chocolate covered almonds, LOL.

View of the site from my dinette window:

I think Don's site was even bigger.  One day he was gone in his car for a while, and some people drove up, looked at his site, parked and walked over to his empty casita.  They looked pretty happy.  I'm watching them through my window, wondering, what the heck?  Another car, part of their group, drove up on the other side of the site and parked.  He was getting out when I went outside to see what was up.  I couldn't believe they were planning to use the site.  The half with the casita.  Ummm, no.  "This is part of the campsite belonging to that motor home over there.  Sorry."  They were embarrassed and apologized, got back in their cars and drove away.  It would have been funny if I wasn't there to see them, and Don got back later with half of his campsite occupied by strangers.  I don't know if they were there for the day or planning to put up tents, but...  I've never seen that happen before. πŸ€”

Nighttime walk, the evenings were beautiful:

I've been pretty busy and haven't taken many photos - almost none while at Caballo Lake.  That's unusual for me, but campsite pics will have to do for this location.  We've moved on, and I'll post from another location next time.  :)

From me and Katie, have a great week, everyone!   πŸ˜πŸ˜ŽπŸ™ƒ

Friday, October 6, 2017

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted! (Again)

Katie and I have been at Elephant Butte Lake State Park in Truth or Consequences for a little over a month, and have now moved to Caballo Lake State Park.  I've been busy and not particularly in the mood to sit down and go through all my photos, you Bloggers know how THAT is!  Tonight the mood hit, and here I am.  Finally.

We really enjoyed our stay at Elephant Butte.  Did lots of walking, lots of visiting, some lunches in town, walked around TorC a little, and did some sightseeing.  All in all great weather and an enjoyable stay.  I'd have to say the same for our time at Caballo Lake, too, so far.

Below are some of the photos I've taken in the last month.  Most of my favorites were Roadrunner shots, but I've taken a few of other critters, some campsite pictures, a rainbow and some sunsets, the usual.   Sometimes I think I'm re-taking the same photos as I'm staying again and again in my favorite campgrounds, but I still can't resist.  And trust me, I'm sparing you all the lizard shots, I'd swear it's the same lizard as last year, the moon photos that look exactly like every other full moon I've posted,  and the endless birds that live in this area.  Etc., etc., etc. 

Here's one of the sites we stayed in overlooking the lake:

Elephant Butte State Park has these really pretty trees, and when they're in bloom they are just beautiful.  I love these little flowers, in fact I'm using the photo below as my screen saver right now.

The third and fourth weeks we were at the lake, we were lucky to get the end campsite with a great view.  After one of the rainstorms there was a rainbow going completely over the lake:

Lots of Mourning Doves - I knew they had blue rings of featherless skin around their eyes, but didn't know until I saw the photo below, while he was blinking, that their whole eyelid was blue.  Interesting. 

See his blue eyelid?

Of course, I had to post a couple of bunny photos.  They are running all over the place here, these cottontails and also jackrabbits.   They're so cute - the jackrabbits run when they see us, but these little guys think that if they stop and stay still, we won't see them.  (?)  I guess that's what they're doing, sorry little guy, I can see you!  

On one of the especially hot days, the rabbit below hopped into the shade, fashioned himself a nice cool depression in the sand, and laid down in it.



This large grasshopper Preying Mantis (Thanks to Anonymous and ndenim for the correction) was on my tire when we were moving to a new campground, and I had to flick him off the tire.  I was afraid I'd run right over him.   Pretty small wings for a big insect - they look like a skirt, don't they? 

And my Roadrunners.  They've kept me entertained.  Twice in two different campsites I've looked up and there was a Roadrunner on my truck hood, looking at me through the window.

They have so many different poses, it's fun taking pictures of them.






Do you remember when Mello Mike had his Annual Roadrunner Photo Contest a few years ago?  I ended up winning First Place the first year.  I haven't seen a post from Mike in two years now, but every time I take a Roadrunner shot that I especially like, I always think, "This could have been a winner this year."  These are two of those shots:

There were three Roadrunners seeming to fight over a piece of food, and the two on the left were jockeying for position to grab it while the roadrunner on the right and the rabbit behind him in the photo looked on.  Later I thought maybe the center bird was the mom and the one with the open beak was her baby.

After the center bird finally chased the bird on the left away, she went over to the food and picked it up and offered it to the other bird.  It doesn't look much smaller than the others, though, so...  I don't know what was going on, really, but it was very entertaining to watch. 





Below is a sunset photo from Elephant Butte - the sky was so red around the setting sun:

I just scheduled my annual medical appointments in San Diego and will be heading west soon.  I'm sure going to miss New Mexico, but it's always nice to get those appointments out of the way for another year!

From me and Katie, have a great weekend, everyone! ❤❤

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Storrie Lake State Park, NM - coming and going....

Katie and I spent the end of July and most of the month of August at Storrie Lake, one of my favorite state parks.  It's been really interesting, peaceful, scary, beautiful and fun.  Lots of walks, great bird sightings, beautiful sunsets, horrible hail storms.  Below are some of the photos I took while we were there.  I apologize in advance for some of the photos being a bit blurred - I had to really zoom in on some of them.

BIRDS AND CRITTERS

You know how much Katie loves hunting for lizards - here she is, missing the mark.  LOL  She never did sniff in the right direction.  When I look at this picture, I always have to laugh. 😁


Here's a bug we found on the road while out walking one day.  He didn't look real.  He wasn't big, just the size of a medium beetle, but he sure was interesting. Doesn't he look like a kid's toy with his orange/black wraparound cape, black helmet and orange balls on the end of his antennae? 


I saw lots of birds in the park this year.  Sometimes there are hawks on the overhead wires as we pass by the field and this year I was lucky to see one and get a photo.  I don't know why, but I love seeing hawks.


And as usual, there were a lot of Canada Geese.  They didn't come up into my campsite this year, which was surprising since some of the time the campground was pretty empty.


There was a flock of Pelicans that flew in and landed on the lake. They floated around for a while.  Fun to watch Pelicans, especially when they are flying in formation.


I was surprised to see Great Blue Herons - I don't think I've seen them here before.  There were two of them hanging out in one of the more protected areas at the lake's edge. Every morning when I'd walk by they were there, and one fished every afternoon a bit further into the open area of the lake.




Some Ring-billed Gulls were hanging out where the Canada Geese were.  A morning shot:

And an evening shot - it was getting stormy and the lake was reacting:


There were also a lot of hummingbirds, of course, but this year I didn't put out any feeders, so I didn't get photos.  The camp hosts had a few feeders out and they had flocks of hummers in their site every time I walked by.

We did get a Roadrunner, he was running across a field where we were camped, but he was moving so fast he came up to the motor home and disappeared.  I looked out all the windows, but never saw him again.  Standing there with camera ready...  I don't think I've ever seen a Roadrunner at Storrie Lake State Park before - no photo, but at least I saw him.  It's nice to know they are here.

This little critter, a Thirteen-lined ground squirrel, had a burrow in our campsite and scampered around looking very cute.
 
There were also horses and a donkey on the other side of the fence near my last campsite.  I could see them from my windows, and hear the braying of the donkey.


Also - this was funny - one day I'm walking along and a chicken crosses the road.  Not a joke!  One of the neighbors on the other side of the fence had some chickens and at least one rooster.  I could hear the rooster crowing every morning, I loved that!, and I learned that every morning one of the hens jumped the fence and ran across the road to the camp hosts' site.  They put meal worms out for her every morning, and she'd run over to eat them, then run back home.  She was a shiny black hen and reminded me of the Black Australorps I had up in Camino when I lived on the western slope of the Sierras.  They were bred for egg production, and I really enjoyed raising them and eating their wonderful, fresh eggs.  (I'd love to have hens again some day.) 

STORMS

We had some ferocious storms while we were at Storrie Lake.  It was monsoon season, which I always look forward to:  sunny mornings, cloudy afternoons, rain for a while, everything gets soaked and then usually the sun comes out again and dries out the area.  This year, though, some of the storms had awesome lightning and thunder, super high winds, incredible pounding rain, and we had three terrible hail storms - one had golf-ball sized hail - in the mix.

As you might know, when you camp at New Mexico's State Parks, you're allowed 14 days to camp, then you have to leave for six days before you can return for another 14 days.  Unfortunately the scary hail storms were all while I was out of the campground, hanging out in town at the library, or spending the day somewhere else in town, at a local park, etc.  The Wal-Mart allows campers to overnight in their parking lot for the six nights we are out, and I leave in the morning, and return early evening.

So, each time the hail started I was day camped somewhere in town and the only place I could think to go for protection was the Wal-Mart where I could park as close to the back of the long, tall building as I could, right in a corner to get the best protection for the motor home, if possible.

The first time it started, I didn't think much of it.  I was parked in front of the library and it was raining and hailing and then suddenly it sounded like I was in a war zone.  The hail was CRASHING into the motor home, it was deafening!  I starting driving to Wal-Mart along 7th Street (a beautiful tree lined street of historic houses), and I thought tree branches were falling on the roof of the RV.  It was loud and scary, and I was praying I'd make it to Walmart without any damage.

That first time I had waited too long, not know what was coming, and in addition to the hail, the streets were flooding.  I was afraid to stay on the road and ended up pulling off into a shopping area, and parked as close to the front of the building as I could.  These were the cars in front of me, doing the same thing, but they were lower and fit better.  One pulled right up onto the sidewalk and nosed his bumper up to the front of the store.  See his headlights on the wall?

Everybody in a vehicle was heading for cover.  All the gas stations, with their nice overhead roofs, were crowded.  It was something, a real experience!


The next time the hail started, two days later, I was better prepared.  This is what I wrote on my Facebook page:

"Tornado warning in Las Vegas, NM. I'm hanging out in town for 6 days, and will return to Storrie Lake State Park on Friday. Afternoon storms have been AWFUL! I'm learning, though. I was parked at the library and when the thunder started, I drove back to Wal-Mart to beat the flooded streets. As I was parked here, I got a Tornado Warning on my phone. Started the engine and drove around the side of the store, as close to walls as I could get. HUGE hail. Everyone was driving as close to the building as they could get. One man with kids in the car pulled next to the wall and a young man and boy got out of the car and ran to the corner of the building, the little guy was hysterical. I ran over to see if I could help - he had blood down the back of his head, neck and shirt. A huge piece of hail punched a whole in their rear window, and hit him in the head. His sister's long hair was full of glass. They came inside my rig and between wet towels and a fudgsicle, we cleaned him up and he stopped crying. The father came over after covering the window. He said this is the first year this has happened, and this is the third hail storm in four days for me. Make it STOP! My windows are okay, but I haven't climbed up on the roof yet. Fingers crossed!"

Well, we didn't get a tornado, but the golf-ball sized hail was enough for me!  Later I climbed up on the roof and checked everything out and all was well, there was no damage anywhere.  I wasn't worried about the roof itself, it's rubber, but everything up there has plastic covers, the vents and the air conditioner, and I was worried about them.  I thought the solar panels would be okay, and thankfully, they were.  And of course, I worried about the windows, but I knew they were okay once the hail stopped - we were good there.  Whew!

This is the little guy and his brother, below, getting back into the car after his dad put something over the rear window.  He's still got the washcloth on his head to keep the blood from running down his back. His older brother was great - SO caring and sympathetic. 



That second storm was the worst one.  In the days following I saw trucks with ads on their doors for "hail damage," and I saw three or four vehicles driving around town with windows gone.  They must have punched out the rest of the glass, and were waiting for replacement windows. 

During that second storm, when the hail first started coming down and I drove behind the building as close to the corner of two walls as I could get, this truck pulled up in front of me, right in a planting area.  That's the corner the kids ran to on the other side of the truck.


Later in the evening when Katie and I were walking around, I noticed this beautiful cloud across the street.  I couldn't get a photo of it, but lightning flashes were going on all throughout the cloud as we walked.  The lightning didn't come out, but looked like it was contained in the cloud.  It was really pretty.  I saw other people taking photos and videos of it as we walked.

After our six day out of the park, we went back to Storrie Lake.  We were able to get one of my favorite campsites, so I was a really happy camper!  There was one more hail storm, but it wasn't bad.  We did get a lot of rain though.  This is a photo of how wet it got one evening - everywhere it looked flooded, but some of the water was very shallow.  The next morning it was all gone and the sun was shining and the ground was normal again.  


THE LAKE AND SUNSETS

This was a favorite fishing spot for the local fisherman.  It's a large, flat rock that worked well for lining up their chairs and taking it easy while they fished.  Katie and I walked all along the shore line in this area.  She actually walked in the water, which surprised me.



Bonfire, anyone?



We had some beautiful sunsets over the lake, as usual.

And that's it for our time at Storrie Lake.  It's always interesting there, and I'd go back again and again if there was a good state park or BLM or forest land close by, but day camping in town and then spending the night at Wal-Mart for six nights...  well, I can do that for one time out, but usually that's it for me.  After my second two weeks in the park, we headed south.

I know this is long and has a lot of pictures, but with my track record lately, I thought I'd better get it all done at once.  Who knows when I'll post again???  We're at Elephant Butte Lake State Park now, and I have some great Roadrunner shots, so hopefully I'll publish another post soon.  

From me and Katie, have a great day, everybody!   😎😧🌧😲🌩😨