Thursday, July 11, 2013

My fierce little protector

We are back at Bluewater Lake State Park in New Mexico.  When I drive through their gates, it feels like I'm home again.  I snagged a really good site - there are so many good sites here, but I haven't tried this one yet.  It's completely level and on the edge of the canyon with the beautiful creek far below.  I can't see it from the campsite, but next week I'm hiking down there with a guide.

I have some photos from my last stay that I didn't post, and I'm going to put them in today and then start fresh next time.

Riding through the campground.

We only had an hour drive from Gallup back to Bluewater, but I was so over staying where I was, I decided to travel part way back last night and overnight at the Pilot gas station in Jamestown, NM.

I thought it was kind of strange that I had no problem sleeping, whether in Wal-Mart right on the edge of their parking lot by a busy road, or last night with all the big rigs around and RVs close by on both sides.  I slept like a log the whole time I was in Gallup.

Airtop sleeping room - it comes with a ladder.

I woke up at 6 am this morning and jumped up, got ready and behind the wheel.  I didn't even let Katie out - of course it was pretty early for her.  We had about a 40 minute drive and came through the gates right after 7 am.

This little squirrel/chipmunk (?) came barreling along, jumped up on the wood retaining wall and stopped on a dime when he saw the big squirrel on the other side.  He turned around and scooted off in the other direction. :)

I'm not sure about this 14 days in the park, then six days out.  I decided this is a pretty silly way to live.  It's like living in a home you love and having to leave every two weeks to stay in a place that is borderline unsafe.  After six days, you get to return to the wonderful home.   But now that I'm back, it all looks a little different because I'm back and I love it here. 

I don't think I was ever in any danger while I was in Gallup, but I have to tell you, it gets pretty tiresome being constantly approached for money, or to buy something, etc.  I was doing laundry yesterday and a man came up to me as I was loading the dryer trying to sell me some CDs.  Good grief, a little privacy please.  My delicates were visible!  I was coming out of Family Dollar and was approached to buy jewelry, twice in that same strip mall on different days. It seemed that wherever I was, I was considered fair game, and you know what?  I got really tired of it.  I know people are having a hard time, but stay out of my space.

I debated about posting this, but decided to tell you about a couple of experiences Katie and I had in Gallup.  I wanted to wait until we were back at the lake, though.

Gnarled, twisted tree trunk on a juniper tree. 

On Tuesday afternoon Katie and I were in the parking lot when she had to go outside for a little potty break.  I put her leash on, locked up The Palms, and as we were walking away from the rig, I saw three men talking nearby.  As soon as they saw us, they approached.  Katie was on high alert. Two of them kept walking and one started our way.  They were all well dressed in jeans, boots and cowboy hats, but were part of the group that hangs around panhandling.

As the man came near, Katie ran toward him, stretching the leash to it's fullest length, and she went ballistic.  If I had let her go, I have no doubt she would have attacked the man.  I've never seen her like that before.  He continued walking toward me with his hand out, asking for money.  I held out my arm with my palm facing him in a "stop" position and said to him, "She won't let you get ANY closer, please STAY THERE."  He tried to talk to Katie and befriend her, but Katie was having none of it.  Barking, snarling and showing teeth, she was scary and held her ground.  He finally smiled and walked away.  I was so proud of Katie!  There was no way she was letting that man near me.  I didn't sense any danger, but she must have.

Here's our beautiful Great Blue Heron fishing in the lake. I don't usually see them wading in water this deep - his feathers look wet.

As soon as he was far enough away from us, she came right back to me.  She got lots of pets for her good job as a protector.

Later we went back to Wal-Mart where I did some shopping.  I wheeled my purchases back to The Palms, and parked the cart outside our door.  I opened the door and latched it so I could bring in the bags.  I saw a toothless, dirty man approaching the rig, again with his hand out.  He was smiling, but still, my door was open and THIS IS MY HOME, Gosh Darn It!  I finally lost it, and yelled at him.  "I don't have ANY money for you - LEAVE ME ALONE!  GO AWAY!"  Poor guy, he got more than he bargained for, that's for sure.  I guess all the anger that was building over the last five days because of these people making me feel not as safe as I wanted to feel -  it just spontaneously poured out.  I was kind of like Katie earlier in the day.  I was fine until then, but when he was approaching my open door, I blew.  I realize that I am fortunate to have such a nice life, and not everyone is as lucky.  But, !#%*, I had had enough.

Butterfly in our campsite.

Okay, deep breath...  Afterward, but quite a bit afterward, I felt bad. I just don't lose control like that, but I think the pressure was building for a few days, and that poor man got the brunt of it.

I'm not sure they are homeless, because they were never around at night.  They arrive in the parking lots when the store opens and leave around dinner time.  They all come in from the same direction, and leave the parking lot in the late afternoon to go in the direction they entered.  I'd love to follow them to see what kind of car they are going back to. One man sat down on the curb in front of The Palms one day and pulled a wad of bills out of his pocket.  He unrolled it and counted it, then put it back in his pocket.  Judging from the size of that money roll, he's probably got a larger monthly income than I do.

Here's our campsite bunny keeping a close eye on the intruding squirrel.  The rabbit won again - he didn't attack, but the squirrel ran off.

So, that's my story, and a bit of a rant, I guess, about the "homeless" beggars.  I know that phrase is not very PC, but I'm really tired of having to PCize everything. I decided a while ago to use real words, the honest words, and not be PC.

I think I should definitely thank Wal-Mart and Home Depot for letting me stay in their parking lots for that long with not a word from them.  They never bugged me at all. The security, camera and lights at Wal-Mart are great.  The free, very fast wi-fi at Home Depot was a real gift, because that's what I did all day and I really appreciated it.  Nights were good and I felt fine sleeping at Wal-Mart, it was only the days when the beggars swarmed that were iffy, and we stayed in The Palms most of the time.

If I decide to do this again, I'll stop one night at the Pilot gas station, then the Indian Casino, two nights at Wal-Mart, then head back, Indian Casino, Pilot and then Bluelake.  And stay away from other parking lots and strip malls where the homeless gather. Or I'll head in the other direction and stay at the Wal-Mart in Grants.  I know that city better, and know of different places I can park during the day like the library, or post office, or maybe even the police department.  It's much smaller, and you don't see people hanging around like in Gallup, which is a much bigger place.

I'll leave you with a beautiful sunset from my last visit here.

As I write this, it's storming - rain, lightening and thunder all over the place.  I love it!

From me and Katie, happy as clams at Bluewater Lake, have a great Thursday, everyone!  :)


  1. Good for Katie for giving that beggar what for. And, I agree with you 100% about being PC. Real words with real meaning are so much better than all that round about rigamorole.

  2. I remember staying at a motel in Gallup several years ago when I used to drive from Asheville NC to see my family in Sacramento. I didn't care for Gallup and never stayed there again, but I had a man knock on my motel door in Farmington asking for money. He looked so pathetic I gave him a dollar. I had Lady then, and left the safety lock on so she didn't tear him up! I will often give someone a dollar if they don't approach me - but walking up to my space, well I feel about it like you do.

  3. Gorgeous sunset ... I don't blame you one bit for hollering I can not stand the panhandling. there are organizations to help.

    They do not need to panhandle at WM .. seems there would be policy to prevent that. A lot of cities have that law

    I have been approached many times... many many times while I was pumping gas... they had no money and just needed gas. I saw no vehicle.

    One woman was almost blocking the drive ... oh, oh and on ... I got a zillion of these stories and some were very believable and sad.

    One young girl ran toward me from across the street from McDs... her boyfriend just kicked her out. I said let's call someone... no no no... he'll come back I know he will.

    You want to get back in the car with him???? oh I cold write a post abut ths encoutner... so many that you just don't know whether to trust them to give them even with my phone.

    Can I just use your phone? dirty unsavory looking people... wanting to use my phone? I said I'll be glad to call for you ... but noooo

    so I suppose they were looking for a old woman to have pity and give them her phone and they'd run like hell.

    sad sad sad... just sad BUT as you said... ENOUGH ... dammit ...

    AND BRAVO KATIE! how precious is that!? love it

  4. We have parked at several Walmarts as we traveled from place to place. I don't see much sense in going to an RV park for just a sleep over. We have felt pretty safe most of the time, except for once when we were deffinitly in a bad neighborhood. Nothing happened, we just felt very out of place.

    I really enjoy your blog. Pet Katie for me.

  5. I think you showed great restraint. Are there not any other places to stay?.... It just doesn't seem worth the aggravation. How far would you have to go to find a place you would be comfortable with?

    I think I would rather deal with bears!!

  6. Many times I roll my eyes as John sleeps with a gun. In some ways, I feel that it is totally stupid...then in others, I feel safer. But I sooo prefer NOT to have guns in our M.H. I have no idea what I would do if I were traveling solo.

  7. There's a strip shopping center a few miles from us that is full of pan handlers every day. A van drops the guys off in the morning and picks them up late afternoon. One of the shop owners overheard one tell another that he makes $40,000 a year tax free panhandling.

    I totally agree with you on not being PC. I've started biting my tongue lately and it doesn't feel natural :)

  8. The problem with the panhandlers is that you never know if they are dangerous or not. Most of them are probably harmless, but you are an easy target being a woman alone. They can quickly figure that out. I hope you go the other direction next time and stay out of that city. The police need to crack down on the panhandling, I think.

    Katie must have sensed something in that one guy, so you see they are not all harmless. Good job little Katie

  9. I think you need to scope out another campground for the 6 days you need to be away. Or at least move around each night. You're too much a target if you stay too long in one spot.

  10. Yay, Katie!! She is a wonder dog! Your plan to go to Grants & love around every 2 days sounds very wise, Barbara.

    In my area, people "fly signs" at freeway ramps. Their stories change--"I need gas $", "Homeless--no food", etc. but I see these folks in my practice & I know they are trying to score money for drugs. And wow! You can buy a lot of drugs with $40,000 a year! Frankly, if people stopped giving them money they wouldn't be panhandling.

    Love your photos & your blog! So glad you're safely back at Bluewater Lake SP! Continue to take good care, you & Princess Katie!

  11. Glad you have Katie !

    I have a Rottweiler....well trained and large. He stands and stares at them. They take one look and go away.

    Even at home in my house he always sleeps in his bed by mine.

  12. Barbara, there must be some forest service campgrounds or dispersed camping in the nearby Cibola NF. Have you checked into that? Seems like that would be a safer and quieter alternative. But then we aren't big fans of WalMart camping.

  13. Cheers for little Katie!

    All these well-to-do panhandlers give me the creeps! Why doesn't the person in the strip mall who sees the morning drop-off and afternoon pick up, report this to the police? You would think they would be happy to provide a home for the bunch of them!


  14. Gorgeous photos! Good for Katie!

    On my trip out west this past winter, the only time I had trouble with beggars was in New Mexico. Both WMTs - in Deming and Carlsbad. And, yes, you just get fed up with the intrusiveness of it all.

  15. Where my docs office is, there are a lot of panhandlers. I keep doors locked and walk with a purpose. One guy did approach me anyhow. He asked for cash, I told him I don't carry cash, and I usually don't for real. His reply back to me was, you must use a debit card, they are killing the beggar business - ha! Someone told me to also look at their shoes. Which I'v found ttrue to some degree.

  16. Feeling unsafe is a terrible feeling!
    I feel that some of the beggars purposely try to look a certain way that they have found will get others to give them money just to get them to leave!
    Katie needs a hero badge! Good Dog!

  17. I have also heard about the panhandeling problem in Gallup. We Walmart camp a lot in the cooler months and have never had a problem, but we do avoid Gallup. Good for you for standing up to them and give Katie a "good girl pat" for being so brave. Becki

  18. Great post Barbara and I agree with what others have said. In Oregon, as elsewhere I'm sure, the panhandlers hide behind their right to "free speech"...and it is very hard to get laws passed that limit their right to hold a sign saying anything they want to say. We were aggressively approached in an Oregon rest area recently by two people who were part of an organized group. They were approaching people before they even got out of their cars, asking for money. I watched these two people (who said all their belongings had been stolen) get into an SUV with two other people, drive to a different part of the rest area, and start all over again. Oh and they had money enough for cigarettes and each pulled a big backpack out of the SUV when as they got into the vehicle. Makes me really mad. As someone else said, if they didn't make money at this game, they would quit. DON'T give them money, period! And a BIG big for Katie!!

  19. Why not get a sign to place in your windshield area when you are in a place such as that "no panhandling"...
    There is a campground at Red Rock Park/Church Rock about 7 miles outside of Gallup. I dont know the details of it but maybe worth looking into. Its $20 a night has electric hooks ups and Water.

  20. Katie deserves a big hug and treats for protecting you like that. I held my breath reading the story, hoping that the man wouldn't try to harm her or you.

    I think it's really sad about the panhandlers, esp the ones who appear to be organized and professional. I drive a lot in the Dallas area, and they are on quite a few street corners. I don't make eye contact and just keep going.

  21. Small dogs often don't realize they are small when it comes to their people. Good for Katie. It would seem like all the panhandles would hurt Walmart's business there. You need to find another place to stay. Perhaps with so much boondocking in between, you might try an RV park for the off-times. Some RV parks will even let you dry-camp for a smaller fee.

  22. Lavaland RV Park near Grant NM is a Passport America Park for only $15 per night....maybe an alternative.

  23. Just in case, maybe have a baseball bat or some spray near your door? Just for feeling safer?
    I was once accosted in the parking lot on my way home after work. I had a couple of bags from lunchtime shopping, and the guy who approached me only wanted my bags and my purse. I held firm and puffed up my chest to look bigger, and he backed down. But he did touch me on my shoulder a few times (he was that close) and his breath was strong of booze. I decided then I wanted to start carrying a whistle just in case. If another beggar/burglar (or whatever they want) comes close to me, the whistle is loud enough to stop them and make people notice.
    I hope.
    Good for you to have Katie with you, they should be scared of her when she flips out like that. Sammy has only done that once, and it even scared me!

    stay safe!

  24. I've passed through Gallup a couple of times, stopping briefly to shop. I was accosted by panhandlers both times. I won't go back. If I were a single woman, I would NEVER go there.

    Barbara, you said, "I'm not sure about this 14 days in the park, then six days out. I decided this is a pretty silly way to live. It's like living in a home you love and having to leave every two weeks to stay in a place that is borderline unsafe."

    Well, that's true if your six days out are spent in a place like Gallup. My suggestion: don't do that. I've spent most of the last seven years camping in NM state parks, and I never stayed overnight in a place where I felt half as unsafe as you were in Gallup. Instead, when my two weeks are up, I go to a different state park, use BLM land or Forest Service dispersed camping for a few nights, or even spend a few nights in a commercial campground at Passport America rates. Colleen mentioned Lavaland RV Park in Grants; I stayed there for several nights this past spring. My notes say:

    "Lavaland RV park is not exciting, but after that dump I spent the last two days in (Root 66 RV Park, Holbrook, AZ), it’s SO much more pleasant! It’s clean, is undergoing renovation, has nice level sites with pine trees between them, and has impressively fast Wi-Fi." The staff at Lavaland were very friendly, and aside from some highway noise (it's close to the interstate), I thought it was fine. It cost me $15 a night plus tax with my Passport America card.

    The point is that you don't have to put up with the horrendous situations you encountered in Gallup, when there are plenty of safer, pleasanter alternatives.

  25. Barbara, after reading Andy's comment, I hope that you will not stay in that town again. I would not have stayed longer than about 10 minutes. I don't think its brave as others have suggested. There has got to be a better place to stay. I'm sure you have your reasons for boondocking when you need to leave the state park, but that town is like trying to stealth camp in a larger inner city like Chicago or LA or something like that.

  26. I'm with u on the p/'s time to call it what it is. Our country has gotten so low by trying not to offend people who will gladly offend us. U r much braver than I am and I used to think I was a pretty strong ole gal. Guess my cancer has made me aware of my limitations but I still believe we should be able to go and stay where we want to. These people should be stopped. I'm sure there are some folks who actually do need help but these cons ruin it for everyone. I hope u will put pepper spray on a keychain or around ur neck or something that will give u a little more protection. Good for Katie, she's a mighty brave lady also. God bless you and keep you safe as you enjoy this still beautiful country of ours.

  27. Good for Katie! She is a fierce protector.

    Not long ago I was approached by a man asking for money. He had brand new white sneakers on and was smoking.

    Know what cigarettes cost these days? Needless to say, he got nothing.

    I have helped some out in the past, but I'm sure there have been times I've only helped them to buy more alcohol or drugs.

    I did a blog a while back about a woman who approached me saying that her son had been killed earlier in the day and she was trying to get home. I panicked, feeling so sorry for the woman, and hailed down a passing police car. He said, "Don't worry, we'll take good care of her." I was to find out that she'd been pulling the same scam in nearby areas. Can you imagine anyone doing that? World's gone crazy.

  28. I would look into purchasing a book from Amazon called Don Wrights Guide to Free Campgrounds. I purchased a copy before I even began fulltiming and I use it all the time to find great free campgrounds or those less the $10. I looked up the Gallup area and they listed a free campground called Ojo Redondo in the Cibola National Forest.

    Sorry to hear about your bad experiences. I too hat parking on asphalt in a Wal-Mart, etc. I would much rather find a nice place out in the forest that doesn't cost too much.

  29. Dogs, absolutely, can pick up on the body language of people. Also, whether you are aware of it or not, you likely tensed up and that went right down the lead to Katie. Same thing when you are riding a horse, a change in you not only goes down the reins but also your seat changes. Animals read body language as easily as breathing. I have only been, genuinely, afraid twice. Both times my dogs were there and both times they reacted with significant aggression, were big enough to take someone down- and those two men who scared me, went running.


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