City of Rocks State Park

We went to City of Rocks State Park in New Mexico for the unique climbing opportunities. Instead I spent most of the time stalking some great horned owls. Over the week that we stayed, I took over 1200 photos of owls. On my initial edit, I trimmed it down to about 200 that I really liked. This still seemed excessive, so I got it down to 55. Finally 19 made the cut. Of course this is about City of Rocks as a whole, so I will start there.

View of the park from the nearby lookout. (sorry for poor quality, taken with my phone)
View of the park from the nearby lookout. (sorry for poor quality, taken with my phone)

City of Rocks is located about halfway between Silver City and Deming.  Silver City had a nice little food coop that we went to several times to get some groceries.  They also have a Wal-Mart and Albertson’s.

City of Rocks makes for a good jumping off point to explore Gila Cliff Dwellings, especially if you don’t want to drive your huge RV through the winding mountain roads.

Continue reading City of Rocks State Park

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Campsite Breakdown- Pine Springs at Guadalupe Mountains National Park

rv guadalupe

We thought we would start doing some short posts with basic information about where we’ve been staying.  We will probably go back and do this for the other places we have stayed too.

Where we stayed:  Guadalupe Mountains National Park Pine Springs Campground

Why we went there:  It’s about a 30 or 40 minute drive to Carlsbad Caverns and there isn’t any camping around Carlsbad Caverns.  There is an RV park in White City which is only about 8 miles to the Caverns but we prefer a more natural setting.  And we are trying to live as cheap as possible.  We would’ve loved to boondock somewhere but did not find a place to do this.

How accessible for RV’s: The drive to the park and campground is no problem.  Because of a tight turn on your way out, the max recommended total vehicle length is 50′. The tent and RV camping areas are separate.  There are about 8 spaces for big RV’s in a circular parking lot framed by the Guadalupe Mountains.  Ours is 38 feet so we used one of these big spots.  Three of the spaces are huge and you could easily fit an RV bigger than ours and your car next to it.  The other five are not as big but we managed to squeeze our car into our spot right behind the slide outs.  The rest of the spaces were for much smaller rigs.

Are there hookups:  No hookups and no dump station but there is a place to get water right by the registration board.

How much does it cost:  There is the entrance fee to the National Park which is 5 dollars per person.  We bought an Interagency Annual Pass for 80 dollars at the beginning of our RV traveling and it has already paid for itself.  The camping fee is 8 dollars a night.

Quiet Hours: (This is something Michael loved):  From 8am to 8pm.

Why we loved it:  The views were spectacular.  The sunsets were amazing, this seems to be a staple of the Southwest.  A lot of the hiking trails started right out of the campsite including the hike to Guadalupe Peak, Texas’s highest peak.  We got to see some wildlife like Mule Deer and Javelinas. It was close to Carlsbad Caverns.  The Salt Basin Dunes were not something we expected to find at the park and they were a good warm up for White Sands National Monument.

Things we didn’t like:  The RV’s were packed in pretty tightly together.  All week long we had neighbors 4 feet from us.  It’s nice to have some more space.

Would we go back if in the area: Yes

cool tree at campiste
Beautiful tree we saw on the Smith Spring Trail
IMG_1617
Walking on the Pinery Trail that starts right outside the visitor center.
javalina
Javelina
mule deer
Mule Deer on the Smith Spring Trail.
hike on guadalupe peak
Picture from our hike up Guadalupe Peak.
sunset pinery trail
Sunset over Visitor’s Center.

I 20 Wildlife Preserve

We’re going to try a little bit of a format change to how we post stuff.  Typically we have put up longer posts once a week (more or less).  We are going to try shorter posts closer in time to when things actually happen.  The main reason we are doing this is because I am lazy.  When I have a long post to write I dread writing it and tend to get too wordy without saying much.  Since I got my new camera I am also trying to get some better photos to put up.

With all that said….. While getting the transmission worked on, which you can read about here, we were able to visit the I-20 Wildlife Preserve.  The very first animal we saw there was their resident bobcat!  Seeing a cat in the wild has always been on my to do list, and my only regret was not being able to photograph it.  It was about 100-150 yards away, and by the time I got the telephoto lens on, it was gone.  We started tracking it, but we realized we were on an employees only service road, so we went back to the main trail never to see it again.  We were very close to its den at one point as we saw massive amounts of scat, some as fresh as about 10 minutes.  I took pictures of that, but I wont gross anyone out with it.  I’ll leave you with my 4 favorite photos from the preserve…..

IMG_1105 (2) IMG_1087 (2) IMG_1057 (2) IMG_1017 (2)

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

Last week we took a day trip to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, in Texas. This is the winter grounds for the endangered Whooping Crane. The numbers are a bit hazy, but in 1941 they were down to around 15 birds in the wild. Today there are an estimated 500-600 (about half in captivity). They were even able to introduce another population in the state of Florida, though they are still teaching them how to migrate by having them follow an ultra-light. Getting to see this extremely rare bird was the primary reason for our visit. Another reason…. Alligators!

The refuge is mostly drive through with a few designated trails that are all under 1.5 miles each. Right across from the visitor center is an alligator viewing platform. We were up there with another couple when the lady excitedly told her significant other that she saw one. I was able to get her to tell me where she saw it and I found it in our binoculars. I pointed it out to Tara. Since they had forgotten their binoculars I let them borrow ours to get a better view. This was the first alligator either of us had seen in the wild…. but it wouldn’t be the last.

first alligator

alligators and other wildlife

The Great Blue Heron Stalker

You may think, from the title, that this article will be about a human that stalks the majestic bird, the Great Blue Heron.  And perhaps that human is one of us.  You may think, it is a simple story, with a beginning and an ending.  But is any story so simple?

Life on the road, and in the RV, is full of untold dangers.  There is my recurring nightmare of us driving off a cliff.  There is the possibility that the GPS will lead us to an unfinished road where we will drive off a cliff.  The RV might blow a tire leading us to skid off the pavement and drive off a cliff.

Then there is the danger that lurks inside the RV.  Confining people and animals to small spaces does not always bode well.  One thing our animals like to do, is to wait for Michael and I to be in the narrowest part of the RV.  (This is right in front of the shower and bathroom sink.  We have a propane heater in this area, so the the hallway is smaller than anywhere else in the RV.)  The animals then converge here and it becomes a game of survival as to who can make it out unharmed.

final shower scene Danger awaits you here

7 Legs and the Valley of Fire

Lake Mead

We finally made it to our long-term camping spot while we are in the Las Vegas area. We decided to stay at Lake Mead National Recreation Area because it has a couple of boondocking sites and it gets us out of the city.  We can camp for 15 days at one site and then go to the other one for another 15 days if we want.  You can’t beat 30 days of free camping.  It’s a huge area and it took us about an hour and a half to get to our first boondocking site from Las Vegas. The road got a little rough at the end and we unhitched the car so Sweet B could maneuver easier. I drove the car ahead and as I was driving I saw something on the road.

Tara thinking: Hmm that is somewhat spider shaped. Man if that was a spider it would be huge.

Oh look it just moved. Oh it is walking. That huge spider shaped thing is walking across the road. Come on and meet 7 legs

Welcome to the Valley….. Of Death!!!

Gizmo enjoying the last of Bishop.
Gizmo enjoying the last of The Pit.

I really feel like learning to drive a Class A motorhome has been trial by fire. The drive from Bishop, CA into Death Valley was much more intense than any other time I’ve driven Sweet B. On the road in, the grade ranged from 6-7% and the shoulders were non-existent. I’m talking guard rails 4” off the white lines. With our rig measuring 8’6” wide, I would have sworn the lanes were more narrow than that. The hairpin turns were quite terrifying. Luckily we could see a long ways ahead, so Tara could alert me to oncoming traffic while I looked back and forth between my mirrors making sure I wasn’t going to hit the guard rail with any part of Sweet B or the CRV. Because of the sight lines, I was able to be in the oncoming lane a substantial amount. Had I not, I’m sure I would have left some paint on the guard rails. The Valley of Death awaits you