Santa Fe, NM again

So, we had 2 weeks at Storrie Lake, then 6 days away at Villanueva State Park, then back to Storrie Lake for 14 days.  I was thinking of a place to go next.  Maybe a little north to Coyote Creek State Park?  Maybe Hyde Memorial State Park in Santa Fe? I realized I needed to get my next scheduled service done on the scooter, so Santa Fe it is!  Centaur Scooters had closed in Feb. (the owners retired), but Mateo and Eddie had spun off the service shop just around the corner, so I made an appointment for June 10th.  We had to leave Storrie on 6/9, so just headed to Santa Fe and planned an overnight at the new Walmart near I-25.  First up when we got to town was a visit to Trader Joe’s to stock up on some goodies. The next morning we dropped off the scooter, then ran a few more errands.  By noon we were loaded back up and headed up the mountain on the way to Hyde Memorial.  The park sits at about 8,400 ft. elevation, so is nice and cool.

HydeHyde has about 8 RV sites with electric hookups lined up in a row right along the road.  But, I hoped to get site 19, on the main camping road, in the forest.  Chris and I stayed at #19 last June.  It was long and level.  We were able to fit both of our RV’s plus Chris’ truck in the site.  Luckily, it was available when we got there.

Site 19

Site-19It’s a very shady site, but I parked so I got sun by about 11:00 AM, then had sun through the afternoon on my solar panels.  Unfortunately, there were also bugs hitting my roof.  Some little inchworm thingies would lower themselves off the trees via thin strands, so I would either walk into them on the trails, or they would drop on my RV.  They were small enough to get in through the screens on my roof vents.  Fun times.  After a few days I moved to the RV/electric sites.  They don’t have any trees overhanging the sites.

Moved to site #38

Moved to site #38 in the RV row.

Anyway, I already knew there was no internet connection at Hyde.  But, I figured Riley and I could hike the Circle Trail up to the ridge-line where there was Verizon signal.  Or I could scoot into town and hang at a coffee shop.  Every other day we did the hike and every other day I went in to Santa Fe.  That worked out OK, although it’s always nicer to have connection whenever/wherever.

The Circle Trail is a lovely forest hike, although moderately strenuous.   The section from the campground to the ridge is about a mile and gains 1,000 feet elevation.  Riley and I both got better at it each time.

About to head up the trail

About to head up the trail.  Little Tesuque creek runs through the campground and there are lots of little mini-waterfalls.

There are 2 tables at the top of the ridge.

There are 2 picnic tables at the top of the ridge.  Plus you can see a LONG way from up there.

Heading back down

Heading back down

I rode in to Santa Fe on Saturday and got to take in the Farmer’s Market at the Railyard.  There was a good band playing at the entrance. Had to get a picture since they have an upright bass player (I used to play in high school).

Band1

Farmer's Market

They have some GOOD looking produce at this market.

They have some GOOD looking produce at this market.

And another band.  (There were 3 total.)

And another band. (There were 3 total.)

The RailRunner train connects to Albuquerque and runs right next to the Farmer's Market

The RailRunner train connects to Albuquerque and runs right next to the Farmer’s Market

On another day I rode the scooter in to town to run errands and get online.  I picked up a new pair of hiking shoes at REI, 2 sets of jersey sheets to use to cover the couches, and refilled a gallon jug of water.  Then I stopped at the post office to see if my package was in.  Cliff, the former owner of my RV, found some couch bolster pillows and had sent them to me in Santa Fe.  Can you believe I fit all this stuff on the the scooter?

Unloaded

Canvas backpack, shoes, water, box of couch pillows, 2 sets of sheets and my laptop bag with iPad on top.

Shoes and water in the top case at the back, box of pillows bungeed to the top case base, laptop bag on the floorboard (and hanging from a hook under the handlebars).  Canvas backpack is under the seat, I didn’t need to use it.  It scrunches up and lives there in case I need extra carrying ability.

Loaded

The scooter has been so handy.  It’s fantastic to be able to scoot wherever I need to go.  I only wish I could take Riley with me.  It would be nice to take him places to go hiking.  Maybe one day I will upgrade to towing a car.  Maybe some day.

We stayed 7 days at Hyde.  I thought I would move back to Storrie, but didn’t want to get back too soon.  Las Vegas, NM has a big celebration over several days for July 4th.  So, I wanted to get there closer to June 24th or so, so we could have our 14 days stretch past the 4th of July holiday.  I had a standing invitation to visit with my friend Iska who lives in the country on the outskirts of Santa Fe.  She is a longtime friend of Chris’s and I had met her a couple of times last year when he and I visited while in Santa Fe.  I called and we arranged to head to Iska’s on the 17th.  That’s next.  I will sign off with a hummingbird photo.

Lots of hummingbirds at Hyde

Lots of hummingbirds at Hyde

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Villanueva State Park

On 5/20 we had to leave Storrie Lake State Park, having used up our maximum 14 days in a 20 day period.  Would have to find somewhere else to go.  I wanted to get back to Storrie ASAP, since the weather was nice, the Verizon and TV signals were decent, good town/shopping and it’s just a pretty park.  Villanueva was just 40 miles away down I-25 and I had never been there before.  I had heard it was a pretty park, so we would do 6 days there and then be eligible to go back to Storrie Lake for 2 weeks.

From reading other blogs and looking at Campsite Photos, I decided to go directly to the upper “El Cerro” campground.  Supposedly there is a bit of signal possible up there.  But, I didn’t get any Verizon up there at my site 25C.  I wandered around a bit with my MiFi, never found anything.  Not a huge deal.  I could always scoot someplace to connect and check email or whatnot.  (Which I did a couple of times.  There is signal at the nearby “town” of Sena.)

Our site

Our site and rock shelter

Most of the sites have these rock shelters.  Made a nice area that I could close off with Riley’s exercise-pen and make a little private sitting area.

Our rock shelter

Got my chair and a complimentary beverage for relaxing…

It was a really pretty park.  The Pecos River flows right through the park and has some good hiking.  The visitor center is a nice looking building.  Had some interesting displays in there.

Villanueva Visitor Center

Villanueva Visitor Center

There are 3 trails in the park – the El Cerro Trail above the upper campground, the River Trail and the Viewpoint Loop Trail on the other side of the Pecos. We did the El Cerro Trail first.  It’s not hard and not long.

The view from the El Cerro Trail

The view from the El Cerro Trail

Riley at the top of El Cerro

Riley at the top of El Cerro

The trail is pretty rocky in some places.

The trail is a little rough in places

Cactus Flower

Trail cactus.

On another day we went across the bridge to the Viewpoint Loop trail.

Pecos River

Pecos River

Sit....Stay...

Sit….Stay… Awww, isn’t he cute?

The trail is mostly rolling or level, with a couple of spots on each end where it’s like a rocky StairMaster and you get the elevation gain.  The Verizon is good up there.  I brought my Verizon MiFi hotspot and iPad and was able to get 3 bars of 4G.  I could see the towers over by I-25 from up there.  So, you just have to get high enough to line of sight.

4G Territory

4G Territory

There are 3 shelters at the top of the Lookout trail and 2 of them have picnic tables.  If I went back again, I would just hike the trail once a day and check in online.  It’s less than 2 miles.

Chillin' like a villain...

Just chillin’

Nice view of the park from up there, both the lower and upper campgrounds.

Villanueva CG

Villanueva CG

Not having internet is good for getting other things done – lemon oiled all the wood in my RV, did some bookbinding, reorganized a couple of cabinets, rented movies at the Villanueva General Store, read, made dog treats, etc.. Lots of back-burner things finally get done when I’m bored.

I figured maybe I wouldn’t go back there again, no internet at the campsites.  But, I’m just spoiled.  I want to go online anytime any little thought passes through my head.  A once-a-day hike and internet session isn’t the worst life in the world.  Maybe I should consider going back sometime.  It’s entirely possible.  🙂

Santa Rosa, NM

After Oliver Lee State Park, we headed northeast 200 miles to Santa Rosa Lake State Park.  I planned to stay the 14-day limit there.  But, there was almost no Verizon signal there.  My “Coverage” app, which gets their info from the carriers (Verizon, AT&T, etc.)  about signal coverage, showed good 3G, possible 4G, signal there.  Nope.  Occasionally I could get a 3G signal, but it would go away almost immediately.  Also, I couldn’t get much of a signal on my AT&T iPhone.  It’s hard to be without signal for more than 2-3 days.  Also, most of the sites are quite unlevel.  I did find one that was mostly level across from the rest rooms and stayed there.

Typical Santa Rosa SP Site

Typical Santa Rosa SP Site.

The site we ended up in.

The site we ended up in.

Anyway, we did stay there for 6 days, as I had arranged to get a General Delivery package from my folks.  Something had come that needed a signature, and I needed to get mail sent already.  Darn it!  I would have left within 2-3 days otherwise.  Plus, it was quite hot there.

So, we stayed and did a bit of hiking around.  I scooted in to town a few times, using my MiFi at the McDonald’s or at the Library.  On the way in to town the road goes past an auto transfer yard next to the railroad.  I had seen this on the Google Maps when researching the state park and town and thought it was weird.  Seemed like a lot of cars parked next to the railroad, with no businesses nearby.  When I got to Santa Rosa and passed by the site on the way to the park, it made sense.  The autos had window stickers on them.  They come there on trains, then get offloaded onto car carrier semi-trucks for delivery to dealerships.  There was always some activity going on – cars coming off and getting parked, or getting onto the semi’s.  I guess Santa Rosa is a central location with cheap land.  Anyway, I thought it was interesting.

Auto Transfer yard

Auto Transfer yard

Auto transfer yard loading

Auto transfer yard loading

While at Santa Rosa Lake I wove a shawl for my friend, Margaret, who I had met at Grand Tetons National Park back in 2012.  I took a picture to show what it takes to “warp” the loom in a small space.  The fold-up table that I got to use between the couches and/or outside is placed in the aisle with a peg on the end to wrap the yarn around.

Small Space Warping

Small Space Warping

Then the yarn is spooled up on the bar on the far side of the loom, and woven on the near side.  The woven cloth is wound around a bar on the near side as it’s worked.  Once the warp is all woven, it’s done.

Shawl in progress

Shawl in progress

Then cut it off and finish the ends.  It seemed like it would be hard to weave in a small space, but it’s workable.  And enjoyable.

Finishing the ends with hand-twisted fringe

Finishing the ends with hand-twisted fringe

Other sights around Santa Rosa:

Santa Rosa Library

Santa Rosa’s Moise Public Library

Santa Rosa Courthouse

Santa Rosa courthouse and square

Santa Rosa1

Santa Rosa is on the old “Route 66”

Next up, I will catch up on Storrie Lake State Park, where we are now.  Will try to get that posted in a day or 2.  Spoiler – I love, love Storrie Lake and Las Vegas, NM!  Four bars of 4G – yay!!  And ran into some blogging friends!

On The Road Again – In New Mexico

After 5 months in Texas, we are back on the road.  As mentioned previously, we left on April 14th and pointed the Lazy Daze towards New Mexico.  I plan to have a ‘Touring New Mexico State Parks‘ sort of year.  Last year was quite expensive, traveling through half of  California, visiting San Francisco, then back to New Mexico and Colorado.  Buying a new RV and scooter was not in my annual budget!!  So, I figure maybe when we have a spendy year traveling, then I’ll make the following year a less expensive year.  The NM state park system fits that bill.  I bought my annual pass ($225) after Balloon Fiesta last October, so we’re good until 10/31/14.  We can park in primitive, developed and water-only sites for free.  If we need an electric site it’s just $4 per night.  Plus, with all the parks at various elevations across the state, we should be able to adjust to the weather pretty easily.

Anyway, we got to Horizon City (just east of El Paso) on the first day. I don’t normally do 515 miles in one day, but I just wasn’t tired of driving until that point.  The next day we got to Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus. Columbus isn’t much of a town, but it’s just 3 miles north of Las Palomas, Mexico, and I needed a dental checkup.  I had looked at other Lazy Daze owners blogs (Jim/Gayle and Andy Baird) about Las Palomas, as I remembered reading they had been there for dental or vision care.  I have a good Obamacare plan now, but no dental.  It would cost $150 to have my previous dentist do a checkup and cleaning, so made an appointment at American Dental in Las Palomas for the morning of the 17th.  The place was a perfectly normal dental office, instruments came out of a sterilized sealed packet, nice competent doctor, no problem.  Cost was $35 cash, no additional work needed – Yay!

Las Palomas, MX

The dentist office (American Dental) is just next door to the Pink Store

Next, we headed up to Rockhound State Park.  We had liked it there previously.  This time there was only one site available and it was hard to get level there.  Plus the flies were horrid!  So, I decided to not stay and just go straight to our next planned stop – Oliver Lee Memorial State Park near Alamogordo.  We hadn’t been there before, so wanted to work it into this trip.  I really liked it!  Good hiking, close to a decent sized town, good space between the sites, and I was able to get a pretty level no-hookup site away from the electric/reservation section.

Oliver Lee Site

Oliver Lee Site, at the base of the Sacramento Mountains

The next day I got our site all set up.  I don’t normally put a lot of stuff outside, but if I plan to stay in a site for several days, or 2 weeks like here, I get the big rug out and Riley’s ex-pen.  He loves to hang out outside with me.

Set up for a good stay

Getting set up for a good, long stay

We hiked the Riparian Trail, a short nature trail from the visitor center along a creek.

Riparian Trail

Riparian Trail

Then we hiked the Dog Canyon Trail.  That is actually a long, several mile, all-day hike, with major elevation gain up into the forest.  We did part of it, 1 mile or so then back.  That’s all Riley could handle.  On another day we did 2 miles, then back.  He really does not like the rocky trails and can only go for a few miles, then wants to lay down a lot.  We need to build back up to longer hikes like we did last year.

Dog Canyon Hike

Dog Canyon Hike

Looking down on the campground from the Dog Canyon Trail

Looking down on the campground from the Dog Canyon Trail

On the way back down I noticed all the solar on the visitor center.  I really like to see the alternative energy efforts of the state parks.

Oliver Lee Solar

Solar on the Oliver Lee Visitor Center

When we got back to the RV Riley was tuckered out.  Didn’t quite make his bed, and did not care.

"Close enough, I'll just lay like this for a while..."

“Close enough, I’ll just lay like this for a while…”

So, Oliver Lee is definitely one park I will keep on my list of go-to NM state parks.  It’s pretty close to Alamogordo with decent shopping – Walmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Lowes (the food one), good hiking, good Verizon signal and TV, and a good breeze (high enough up above the town).  It’s a short ride to town on Hwy 54, but that is too major of a road (65 mph) for me and the scooter, so I found a back way in on lesser roads that I could go 45 mph or less.

After about 2 weeks we headed to Santa Rosa Lake State Park.  Will post about that next.  Currently I’m at Storrie Lake State Park, with plans to visit Coyote Creek, Eagle Nest Lake, Cimmaron Canyon, and Hyde Memorial this summer.  Hyde Memorial State Park is near Santa Fe.  Chris and I spent a couple of weeks there last June.  Having a free spot to stay just a few miles from Santa Fe is great.  Unfortunately, there isn’t any Verizon signal at the campground.  Will have to go in to town for internet.  But I have the scooter now, so no problem!  More soon….

Oliver Lee Sunset

Oliver Lee Sunset

More from Texas

Riley and I spent exactly 5 months back at my folks’ place in Texas, arriving on November 14th and leaving on April 14th.  I had lots of time to spend with the folks, which was nice, and got some projects done.  This will wrap up the visit and then I will do a few posts about the major projects my dad and I did – new TV setup, upgraded solar system and adding a pantry closet.

In February my Lazy Daze friend Kathy came through Austin.  I had met her and some other LD women in Bluewater Lake State Park in October 2012, when they were heading home from the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta that year.  Then we got to visit a bit more at Balloon Fiesta this past year.  When she posted to the Lazy Daze group site that she would be visiting Austin on the way to New Orleans, I sent a note offering a meet-up.  She spent some time at Pecan Grove RV Park near downtown Austin, then drove out to Inks Lake State Park where we met up.  We got a couple of nice sites on the lake.  The weather started nice, then got cold and rainy for a day, then was cold and nice after.  Inks is such a pretty park, on a constant-level lake.  It’s always good, no matter the weather.

Inks Lake1

At Inks Lake, my rig on the left, Kathy’s in the shady site on the right.

Inks Lake2

Riley likes to be outside, watching for birds and squirrels

Inks Lake3

Sudden cold spell caused a heavy mist to rise from the lake.

After 4 days at Inks Lake Kathy and I came back to my folks’ place and she enjoyed a bit of driveway camping for a couple of weeks.  My dad was able to answer some questions she had and helped with some projects.  Kathy wanted to learn to knit hats and I helped her to knit a couple, including the cutest baby hat.

Kathy

Farmer's Market

We drove in to Austin to run errands and visited the Lakeline farmer’s market.

One night there was a pig roast at the neighbors’ place.  There are wild hogs that run around the deer lease they have nearby, and Texas allows year-round feral pig hunting to try to help with the problem.  They barbequed/smoked 3 small pigs and we had a feast.

Wild Hog

Don, Donnie, and Alan cut up the meat, with my dad supervising.

On March 18th, we drove in to Austin to Pecan Grove RV Park on Barton Springs Road.  The place was full during South by Southwest, but we were able to get in when it ended. I wanted to camp in Austin, as I hadn’t done that with my RV.  Kathy had really enjoyed her prior Pecan Grove visit, and planned to spend a week or 2 back there before heading on from Austin.  I just wanted to have a few days in town as a tourist.  I got to ride the scooter around downtown Austin and to Trader Joe’s, which was such fun!  We checked out P. Terry’s burgers for lunch one day.  I had heard of the place, but hadn’t eaten there.  They have a location just a couple of blocks away.  Good burgers.  And Chuy’s is just a block or so away, too.  So I got to have my Chuychanga fix.  It was nice to have a little mini-trip while mostly stationary for 5 months.  On the way back to the lake I stopped to get my generator serviced at Gen-Tech in Leander.

Pecan Grove is densly packed and surrounded by condos, but there is no better place to stay in Austin.

Pecan Grove is densely packed and surrounded by condos, but there is no better place to stay in Austin.

One thing I was glad to get done was shampooing my carpet.  I borrowed my brother’s shampoo machine and it made a big difference. I did the section between the couches first and got a before and after shot before starting on the near section.  What a difference!  I didn’t realize it was that dirty.

Carpet cleaningFYI – this is how you remove mistletoe from your trees in Texas:

Mistletoe

Alan works the bulldozer and dad uses a saw on a pole

I got to have lunch with some Dell Credit team coworkers while back in the area.  Lori, our Dun and Bradstreet Account Executive, took my ex-boss Mike, co-worker Lynne and I to lunch at Louisiana Longhorn Cafe in beautiful downtown Round Rock.  I had not had Etouffee before.  Yummy.  Always good to see them.

Lori, Mike, Lynne

Lori, Mike, Lynne and me.  (Caught Mike in a blink and I look like I’m in pain.  Oh well, it’s the only pic I got.)

On another trip to town I got to have an Olive Garden lunch with the Marketing friends I worked with before leaving Dell.  So great to be able to visit with them and catch up on what they are doing, and how Dell is doing now.

Sanjukta, Chris, Remi

Sanjukta, Chris and Remi

We had another camper visit, my friend CB.  He was relatively close, visiting his sister in Eddy, near Waco, TX.  He brought his Airstream and set up a nice little spot for a couple of weeks.

IMG_0125 We helped my dad a little with the log splitter.  He had taken down a dying tree in the spot where my RV sits and stacked the logs until it was time to chop them up.  The log splitting machine makes short work of the job, but is easier with a helper.  We had a good visit before CB headed back to Eddy.

Log Splitting

Once the big logs are split they are carried to the other side of the house with the bulldozer-type machine.  Better than a wheelbarrow!

Riley got some stuff done, too.  He had his annual exam, 3 visits to the groomer, and a dental cleaning.  Not his favorite things, but he is in good shape for a while.

Just before leaving I completed one big item – I finally sold my car (2009 Nissan Altima).  I loved that car and didn’t want to sell it.  I didn’t have time to sell it when I was back for a visit Nov./Dec. 2012, so it sat in the garage for another year.  My dad drove it once a month for exercise, but it’s not efficient to pay insurance, registration and depreciation just to have it to drive during the winter.  My sister-in-law Bev was possibly interested when we talked about it at Christmas, but they weren’t really looking to buy at that time.  I ended up putting it on Craigslist at the end of March and posted a note to my friends on Facebook.  Bev saw it and the timing was right.  Ken and Bev decided to buy it, picking it up on the the weekend before I left to go traveling. I got a picture of Bev on Friday night, when we went out to the garage to go over the bells and whistles on the car.

Bev and her new car

I think she will enjoy the car as much as I did.

It was nice to have a car when I came back for the winter.  Not sure what I will do this winter.  Probably hitch a ride to town when my folks go, borrow my dad’s truck on occasion, and rent a car for the weekend when I need to get a bunch of stuff done in Austin.  Maybe in a couple of years I will trade the scooter for a towed vehicle.  I’m not ready for that yet, but maybe later.

It was sure nice to spend time with the folks.  It’s not often that adult children get to spend extended time with their parents.  I’m glad I had the opportunity to do that.  And it’s always great to have a nice (and free) spot to park.  By April it was getting warm, and I was ready to hit the road.  Riley, too.  More soon…