Monday, July 30, 2012

Sightseeing trip to Cibola National Forest

I went for a drive a couple of days last week with Hazel and Cari, my friends from last winter at Quartzsite.  They are great about sightseeing and learning about the surrounding areas and pretty knowledgeable about American Indian history.

A week ago Sunday we drove to the Cibola National Forest and made a large loop through some of the Indian Reservations and checked out some campgrounds in the area.  It was a grey rainy day, so we didn't get out to walk much, but the scenery was gorgeous.  We left at 10 am and didn't get back until a little before 7 pm so we were out for a long time.  I left Katie at home, and she did really well, no accidents.  Since I walk her four times a day now, I wasn't sure how she would do, but she's a trooper!

I'm terrible about getting and remembering locations, especially if I'm a passenger, so I can't really tell you where we went exactly.  We went down 40 and crossed the Continental Divide, driving through the towns of Thoreau, Prewitt, Milan and Grants, and visited one of the Visitor Center after Grants.  I got a good driving map of the area at the center to see where I could disperse camp if I decided to.  I can see why boondockers are upset at the new regs.  There sure weren't many places to boondock in this forest area that were legal. Wow, very few - three or four places in the whole, huge Cibola National Forest.  I was surprised.  The Ranger said each area is different.  I sure hope so. 

We drove through Acoma, Navajo and Zuni Indian Reservations, through National Forests, BLM areas and El Malpais  (Lava Beds).  We took highways and improved dirt and gravel roads.  It was a long, interesting, beautiful drive, but because of the rain I didn't take too many photos. This camera doesn't do as well as my Nikon that's in the shop, but I got a few good ones when we got out of the car.

Some photos from that day trip:

 Arch in the mountain.

 Cari standing on the ledge overlooking a large valley. 
The view was gorgeous.

 This is the same place as the photo above, looking in a different direction.

 Close-up of the photo above looking across the valley.

Cattle sheltering from the rain under the trees.

 Val, Hazel, and Fleur where we stopped to check out a trail head.
Beautiful rock formations in this area.

 Lava Beds - this was driving through El Malpais.

Then on Friday afternoon we took a shorter trip to check out some campgrounds closer to us.  They are near the town of Grants, Forest Service campground/picnic areas. The first one we visited was Coal Mine Campground where you can stay 14 days for $5/day, or $2.50 with the Senior Pass. It was a nice clean campground with good, level sites.  It was small, 15 sites, and in a very pretty area with picnic tables, restrooms, and a nature trail. There was a woman with a car eating at one of the tables, and another campsite had a couple with a car just standing there talking.  No campers.  No RVs or tents.  I would have loved to stay there next, but it was too remote, too empty and had no Verizon bars.  Too bad. 

Then we drove to Lobo Canyon Campground on our way out along Lobo Canyon Road back toward Grants.  It was not as well kept as Coal Mine, and a little further off the road. There was no one there. It would be perfect for a group of people wanting to camp for a reunion or weekend camp out. They'd have the whole campground to themselves.  It has six sites, picnic tables and restrooms, and is a free campground, but the sites are not for big rigs. Better for smaller rigs and tents.

Of all the campsites we drove through last week, we only saw a couple of tents and RVs.  It worries me that these public camping areas aren't being used - I'd think, especially with this economy, more families would be camping on their vacations. Especially in July, and at $5/night or free!

Hazel and Cari left on Sunday, heading to Arizona to visit a friend.  I'm camped in a different campground area here at the lake than where they were, and didn't see them every day, but it was nice to know they were nearby.  I'll miss them both.

Below are photos of the lake during the week, and then during the weekend.  What a difference!  I enjoy watching the rigs and tent campers drive in starting Thursday afternoon, and then most leaving Sunday.  When the shoreline is full, it's really pretty at night now that we can have campfires.  Almost every rig/tent area has a campfire and it's nice to look down and see them all lit up in the dark.  I tried to take some photos, but they didn't come out. (You'll have to imagine it.) 

During the week, there might be a couple of rigs on the shore, but it's pretty empty.  This weekend there were a lot of people fishing in the lake from their chairs on the shore, and some were wading in the shallow water.  Lot of kids playing in the water, too.  If you click on these photos you can see just how many rigs and trucks there are.

 Weekend view after I moved up to the site on the hill, Friday, 7/20.

 Weekday view, Sunday,  7/22.

This last weekend, Saturday 7/28.

This morning Katie and I walked down the hill and kept walking around the lake to the last rig you can see in the photo.  That's as far as the RVs can go.  I don't know how far you can walk, but I know you can't drive all the way around.  I couldn't believe all the trash on the beach left by the campers. Some of the rock fire pits were full of bottles, cans and garbage.  Who do they think cleans up after them?  Broken bottles on the sand - I found some big pieces and put them next to large rocks so no one will walk on them or drive over them. I didn't have any bags big enough to take them back to the dumpster. It sure would be nicer if people picked up after themselves - and didn't bring bottles to the beach. :(

I asked the Ranger if the same people came from one weekend to the next, and she said they are usually different. Some people who live close by come back from time to time, but for the most part every weekend has different people.  I guess that's why people leave so much trash - they aren't coming back and don't care how they leave the beach.  And although some are tent campers, most are RVers.  I think we're usually a good group as far as leaving our areas as we found them, or better.  I've seen the campground workers down there almost every day checking the area and picking things up. It's an on-going job, that's for sure.

This little bunny has been visiting our site lately. He's pretty small and very cute:

And finally, here's a photo of last night's sunset.  There were rays of sunlight streaming up into the blue sky from behind the clouds. It was beautiful.  

From Me and Katie, have a great Monday, everyone! :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Waking up to horses, Bluewater Lake, NM

I've been so lazy!  Just haven't felt like blogging but Katie and I are really enjoying Bluewater Lake State Park.  I woke up to horses in my site this morning.  They are so quiet I didn't know they were there until I opened my shades - and there they were, eating grass.  So cool!

Then they walked down the hill to the fields by the lake, where two younger horses started horsing around:

They didn't look like they were fighting, just playing.  Then the rest of the group, seven of them, walked up and they all sauntered over to another little grassy area to eat.  Fun to watch!  They are beautiful, shiny horses, very healthy looking. This area must provide all the food and water they need to stay in top shape.  I haven't seen the whole herd for a few days. 

Here's my camp site, above the lake.  It's a big, clean, clear site.  Very pretty:

This is The Palms - photo taken from down where the horses were playing:

 These photos are from last week after I moved up the hill to my current site:

I think this is my favorite place to be since I started traveling.  The weather has been really nice - and by that I mean MY nice.  Which is sunny and warm, not hot, then cloudy and rainy and lightening and thunderstorms.  I just love this weather.  I got my first lightening photo, couldn't believe it when I actually got one.

 Looking out at the rain.

I have so many photos - I'll post more tomorrow.

Have  a great Sunday, everyone!  :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Back at beautiful Bluewater Lake State Park, NM

On Sunday's post, I welcomed Campers4Lifex2 and didn't see any information about a blog, so she left a comment with her blog address.  Click on her name above for Campers4Lifex2.  Thanks for the info, Camper! :)

Well, it's been an interesting, frustrating couple of days!  Long days!  So this is a long post, sorry.  But keep reading - there are wild horses at the end. :)

We left our campsite at McPhee at 8:00 am on Thursday - was that only yesterday???

I finally got a photo of a rabbit at McPhee - I doctored it in one of my programs to look like an oil painting and liked the way it looked.

We stopped to get water and empty tanks and then took off.  I was told gas prices in Colorado were a lot higher than New Mexico - my destination, Navajo Lake State Park - so I decided to get my gas and propane tanks filled after we crossed the border.

We had a nice drive, enjoying the countryside.  We drove past the fire area that we saw on our way into Delores. At that time it was behind the hills, but later the fire came over the hills, right to the highway. Everything was burned and the ground was covered with ash.  This looks like an oil painting, too, but it's not.

Beautiful sunflowers along the highway.

I liked this shot.  Looks like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree with a Raven topper.

We stopped at the Walmart in Durango, and on the way into the parking lot, I saw these Prairie Dogs.  I've heard about them and seen them running across the road, but I've never seen them up close where they live.  There were LOTS of these little guys, having a good time running around, playing, in and out of their holes. Someone told me about a park that has lots of Prairie Dogs right in the campsites but I forget where it is.  Anyone else know?

 They're so cute when they sit up like this:

So....  we drove and drove.  Finally we crossed the border into New Mexico, and there wasn't a good place for gas - just one tiny town with expensive gas, and I thought I'd wait until I got to a bigger town with cheaper gas.  After that, no towns, no gas stations. We finally got to the sign, "Navajo Lake - 1 mile" and I had to keep going.  I had to have enough gas to run my generator, and enough propane for the gas stove and fridge and to heat the hot water tank.

There is a small town down the mountain, not too far, but still - far enough. When I got there, I filled my gas tank, paying more than I would have paid in Colorado!  That was not a good plan.  And they didn't have propane, which I needed to get before I reached camp.  I was tired and ready to quit driving for the day.

Thus began a wild goose chase that lasted all day, starting with the owner of the station where I got my gas.  That was the first of the wrong directions.  From town to town, following directions from gas station attendants 15 miles to one town, actually it was more like 20 and the manager was gone, no one to fill the propane tank.  They said go to another town, not far away - Right!  Got there, no one knew of anywhere in town that had propane.  But they directed  me to the next town.  Went into a Giant gas station where the counter person and a customer agreed the only place in town was an RV park right down the road.  Drove down there - the big propane tank out front had a big sign, "NO PROPANE."  I really couldn't believe it.

Now I'm thinking, maybe someone is trying to tell me something.  I checked my GPS and it was 50 miles to Navajo Lake, and 20 miles more to Bluewater Lake in the other direction.  Something like that.  I decided to continue on to Bluewater Lake. Funny thing is, when I drove through Thoreau, less than 10 miles from the lake, I got gas and propane easily. 

I arrived at Bluewater Lake State Park in the late afternoon.  My friends Hazel and Cari had been staying at Bluewater, but I wasn't sure if they were still here.  I drove to the electric loop where I knew there would be, and there they were!  I met Hazel and Cari at Quartzsite last year and have been in contact with Hazel since then.

I settled The Palms into the only available electric site for the night.  It was reserved the next day, and I wanted to find a non-hook-up site.  I went to my old site in the morning that I liked so much when I was here in June and got settled in there.  As I was looking out the window, I thought, that site across the street - if someone comes in they will ruin my view, so I checked on line to see if it was reserved.  It was taken most of the next two weeks.  Bummer.  

The site next to it, though, was a non-reserveable site and right on the ridge over the water, so I drove The Palms down there and got settled again.  I put out my chair and sat for a while enjoying the view of the water, the beautiful pines overhead.

Really nice.  But I couldn't get The Palms level, and kept thinking I needed to level it more. So I got up and tried to get it level.  I tried everything, even scooped up bowls full of gravel to make a little hill and put my leveling blocks on top and drove up to the middle of the pile.  Still not level.  Got a big flat rock and drove up on it to the middle, still not level.

I moved the picnic table to the other side of the flat BBQ/eating area and drove The Palms in the other direction, straight into the middle of the eating area.  The Palms was just short enough to fit that way.  Still not level.  I'm not OCD about being perfectly level and The Palms is short enough that I can almost always get level enough without using my leveling blocks.  This just wasn't working. Anywhere in the site, facing in any direction, the site just sloped too much.  Bummer. 

So I packed it up again and drove around a couple more of the loops.  Didn't see anything good.  There was a campsite overlooking the lake right by the road down to lakeside.  It's kind of off by itself and I would have liked it, but it was taken, so I drove down the road and got set up on the lakeside.  This is the "primitive camping area."  I wanted to camp here in June but never did, so this time I thought I'd try it out.  I got a spot and loved it. A beautiful lake surrounded by mountains out one window and a field of wild horses out the other.  Smelled like the ocean, breezes coming through the windows.  I was a happy camper.

I took a shower and washed/dried my hair.  I felt like a million bucks and was so glad to be here!  I looked out my front windshield and guess what I saw?

They were trotting along at a good clip, heading for the water.  So fun to watch.

 See the two small boys?  They were caught by surprise and made a dash for it. 
The horses didn't care that the boys were right there, they just ran in.

The white foal was slapping his feet in the water, splashing. :)

See the little white foal above?  Below is that little baby right after it was born - this is a photo I took on June 6.  It's really grown and filled out since then.  There were three new foals in June, and now they are all so much bigger.

I wondered if this little foal was going to make it - it's so frail looking. 

After they were done drinking, off they went - running back to the field.

Running and kicking up dust:

That was a really neat experience, seeing them all so close.  There were around 24 horses, 3 foals, and some yearlings and the rest mares and stallions. Watching a horse run is pretty cool, watching 24 horses running together in a herd is awesome!

It gets really busy around the lake on the weekends.  Little by little the rigs and boats came in.  Hazel and Cari came to visit, and Hazel said if I didn't get some rocks to block off my "area," someone might drive in between me and the lake.  That would have defeated the purpose of being here, so we set up some rock lines from the rig to the water.  Good thing, too!

Soon I had a truck right on the rock line on one side and a big rig on the other rock line.  I was starting to feel kind of hemmed in at that point.  I looked up the hill, and the site I wanted was empty!!!  I grabbed Katie and her leash and fast-walked up the hill to make sure the site was empty and they were gone.  Yes!!  Hurried back down the hill, packed up The Palms - AGAIN - and drove up the hill - into the site.

This is the fourth site we've been in today - fifth counting the electric one we woke up in.  As I told Hazel and Cari this afternoon (before the move back up the hill to this site), I'm getting pretty hard to please.  But I have to admit, I like the challenge of finding the perfect site. I hope this works for the next three weeks.

I'll post photos of my new site next time.  I'm hoping, since I have a good close view of the lake, that I'll see some water birds.  When Hazel and I drove around the campground yesterday afternoon, we saw a Great Blue Heron, then he took off and flew over the lake.  I 'd love to see him again.

And now I'm off to bed - I'm pooped!  You probably are, too.  Congratulations on making it to the end of the post!

From me and Katie, who is already sound asleep, have a good night, everyone!  :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Last day at McPhee Campground in CO

WELCOME to our new follower, Judilyn!  Judilyn has a Lazy Daze motor home named Dorrie Anne, who her blog is named after, "Adventures of Dorrie Anne."  She takes great photos, today's is of a couple of slices of pizza that look soooo good!  Judilyn, I've seen your blog before, I remember the bird house photo, which I loved, and left a comment.  I'm looking forward to more beautiful photos!  Thank you for following along with me and Katie!  Welcome aboard!

Today is our last day at McPhee.  I've really liked being here, as I said in the last post, there's nothing negative I can think of, for me, at this campground.  Last night was our last paid night, but I'm expecting an Amazon package today, so I'm extending one more night and we'll leave tomorrow.  I started thinking about the New Mexico State Campgrounds that I have an annual pass for, and thought, why not head south a little to use that pass?  So, tomorrow morning we'll head out.

Here are some final photos from McPhee:

 Mom and Baby

 Darling Fawn.

The deer just hang out in empty campsites.

This little guy kept coming to the window feeder.

 He would knock the seeds all over until he found one of these, 
then he'd fly off to eat it.

Grosbeak at the handing feeder.

 This Jay figured out a good way to get the seed!

Finally got a pic of a hummer. :)

And finally, a big black bird - there aren't many of these birds in the campground, like there were at Bluewater Lake, but occasionally one soars over.  This was a lucky shot this afternoon:

Okay, unless I get a great photo that I want to post, that's it for McPhee Campground pictures.   

My package hasn't arrived yet, but I've already taken in the bird feeders and my American flag and holder.  Tomorrow it's just unplug the electric and bring in the TV antenna and door mat, and we're ready to go.  

Next stop, Navajo Lake State Park!  I'm going to find a site with no ants - that's what drove us out last month.  

 From me and Katie, have a great Wednesday, everyone!  :)