Southern New Mexico, Then to Texas

From Albuquerque we headed south on I-25 to Truth or Consequences and Elephant Butte Lake State Park.  I didn’t get to leave until mid-afternoon, after finishing my realignment job at Statkus Engine.  It’s a good 150 miles to Elephant Butte, and I was stopping in Socorro to do laundry.  We got to T or C just after dark, so I just popped in to the Walmart right off I-25 and parked for the night.  My New Mexico State Parks annual pass had expired and I needed to buy a new one, which I could do at the park entrance in the morning.  It’s really the best deal in the country.  Out-of-state residents pay $225 for the pass (NM residents pay even less), which cuts $10 off of the nightly the rate.  Developed sites are $10, so they become free; electric sites, normally $14, are $4 with the pass.  Can’t beat it with a stick!  It would pay for itself before I left the state, and I knew we would be traveling to NM again in 2014.

Anyway, I wanted to get to Elephant Butte as soon as possible.  Christine and Carol were there and our friend Roxanne was there, but planned to leave within a day or so.  I had last camped with Roxi in the Coconino NF near Flagstaff, when she and Annie were there in the Duck and hadn’t seen her for a year.  So we headed over to the main part of the park and met up with the gals at the Desert Cove Campground.  The next day, Saturday, Christine drove us to Truth or Consequences to the farmer’s market.  Carol had a booth set up to sell the napkin sets and potholders that she makes.  Afterwards we met at the Passion Pie Cafe for breakfast with Roxi and Sue.  Sue is in the Women Go Solo Yahoo group that we are all on, but I hadn’t met her yet.  Great coffee, great breakfast, and great gabbing.  Always fun to hang with the gal pals.

Carol at TorC farmer's market

Carol at TorC farmer’s market

Just a few yards over from the Passion Pie stood this piece of street art.  Truth or Consequences is a funky town.

Street Art

Street Art in T or C

On Monday we moved over to the South Monticello Point campground (nicknamed “SoMoPo” by Roxi), on the far north part of the park.  The sites are nicer, a little bit further apart and with a view of (what’s left of) the lake.  Andy arrived from Bisbee that afternoon, then Chris arrived on Tuesday.  He had gotten a draw for an elk hunt in the Jemez, then spent some additional time in Santa Fe, so I hadn’t seen him in 3 weeks.  We all got sites together on one loop of the campground (it’s not as packed as the campgrounds closer to town.)

All of us at South Monticello Campground

All of us at South Monticello Campground (Chris, me, Christine (with Roxi’s “Spud”) and Andy behind the bushes on the right)

Nice sites at SoMoPo

Nice sites at SoMoPo

Carol had stayed back at the Lion’s Beach campground, closer to town.  But she came by for a lady’s luncheon that Christine had arranged to welcome Andy.  This is (l-r) Chris, Andy, me and Carol.  Roxi must have been taking the picture. (I stole it from Christine’s Facebook page. Actually, I just noticed it has Good Luck Duck in the corner, so she had gotten it from Roxi.)

Lady's Lunch

Lady’s Lunch

Anyway, around this time I was having trouble with my TV reception.  It had worked fine in Albuquerque.  But the TV towers for all of central NM are on Sandia Peak, right above the casino.  Getting reception there is easy.  Chris brought the TV from his RV over to see if it was a TV thing, but no, didn’t work.  Next, I took a long cable wire and ran it directly off the top of my antenna, in through the window, and to the TV.  That worked.  So, it was a wire problem.  Turns out the connection going into the RV at the base of the antenna was fried.  I guess I had been picking up channels from the TV itself, without the roof antenna.  I hopped on the scooter and cruised into T or C, got new connections and tools and replaced the fried pieces.  Easy-peasy.

Saturday we all (Andy, Roxanne and I) piled into Christine’s RV and headed to town for the farmer’s market and then met Sue at the Passion Pie Cafe again.

Passion Pie Gals

Passion Pie Gals (Sue, me, Chris, Roxi and Andy)

On the 30th Riley and I moved down to Caballo Lake State Park, which was almost full.  (I guess there was some flooding near T or C and it flowed down to Caballo, but not into Elephant Butte Lake.)

Caballo Lake

Caballo Lake

Chris stayed a couple extra days at South Monticello.  He had just bought a new kayak in Elephant Butte and wanted to spend time on the lake fishing with it. Christine and Andy would follow in a few days.  Roxi was heading northwest to her property.  She had just bought a parcel of land with an unfinished cabin on it.  She’d been planning to visit it and start making plans, but had stayed several extra days in the T or C area with us.  I was glad to be able to spend some time hanging out with her.

Last year I spent time with my buds at the Riverside campground below the dam, so this time I wanted to spend time up at the main campground. The Caballo sites are OK, but they have a very nice enclosure for the picnic table, with a carport!

Caballo has a little carport for your scooter!

Caballo site with a parking spot for my scooter!

There is really nothing near Caballo.   I was having a new iPad delivered to the park, then planned to move along to Leasburg Dam State Park, just north of Las Cruces.  Christine and Andy had spend a few days at Caballo, but had moved on to Deming and we planned to meet up again at Leasburg.  Chris was going to head back north on the way to Phoenix for Thanksgiving.  Before leaving, Chris and I worked on practicing loading and unloading my scooter.  He spotted me while I worked the scooter several times, eventually I got better at it. Now I can load it as well as unload it by myself (as long as I’m on flat ground).  I really wanted to be able to put it on and off by myself.  I came close to dropping it at Sandia when loading it by myself and sometimes it scares me.  So practicing with Chris was important for me.

On the 5th Riley and I headed down I-25, stopping in Hatch for a few groceries, then to Leasburg.  They have a lovely Visitor Center building:

New Mexico architecture at Leasburg Dam State Park Visitor Center

New Mexico architecture at Leasburg Dam State Park Visitor Center

Which is more handsome?  Riley or the door?

Nice door at the Leasburg Visitor Center

Nice door at the Leasburg Visitor Center

I scooted in to Las Cruces on Wednesday for the mid-week farmer’s market.  It’s good – a couple of blocks downtown, a mix of food and crafts.  On Saturday Christine, Andy and I went downtown to the farmer’s market, which is just huge on Saturdays.  Then it’s about 8 blocks long, plenty of food, and a LOT of arts and crafts.  After the market we went to the theater to see “Gravity” in 3D.  Great movie, especially in 3D.

Downtown Las Cruces with Christine and Edna, and Andy with Nell and Riley

Downtown Las Cruces with Christine and Edna, and Andy with Nell and Riley

Leasburg site (and another scooter-port)

Leasburg site and sunset (and another scooter-port)

White Sands National Monument is not far from Las Cruces, so on Tuesday 11/12 we packed our lunches, piled in Christine’s Toyota, and headed over.  The visitor center is right at the entrance, so we checked that out.  We each wanted a t-shirt, and when we decided to buy the same shirt, we had to dork it up and put them on for a picture.

At White Sands

At White Sands

Here is where we stopped for lunch.

Lunch Spot

Lunch Spot

It was nice to have one more outing with the girls before leaving. When we got back to the park I got busy packing up, since we were heading back to Texas in the morning. I was able to load the scooter by myself, no one else was around.  Yay!  The next morning I dumped the tanks on the way out and headed south to pick up I-10 to cross west Texas.  We made it to Fort Stockton by late afternoon, so just pulled into a corner of the Walmart parking lot for the night.  Close to the highway, but quiet.  That’s a good overnight spot!  The 2-day trip was pretty uneventful and I stopped near the end for an oil change and inspection.  Back in Denver in July, when I registered my new rig, I found out it would have to be inspected within 3 days of entering Texas.  So got it done and out of the way.  All told, I was on the road for just over 10 months and 6,800 miles.  I can’t even count all the new friends I made.  What a great trip!