Rocky Point Campground – Texarkana

April 9, 2018

After leaving the SKP Ranch in Lakewood NM We spent a night Wally-docking at the Walmart in Abilene TX. We’d tried to book into a county park outside of Dallas but it was race weekend and all of the camping within an hour of Texas Motor Speedway was booked. The next day we headed east to Texarkana. I’d called an Army Core of Engineers campground and they said they had lots of space. After entering the campground into the truck nav system we headed off. All went well until we got off the interstate and onto the small roads. Seems the GPS figured it would be no problem routing us over a railway crossing that had a steep approach angle to the tracks with a big drop the other side. The trailer frame cleared the tracks by almost two inches. When we arrived at the campground the ranger said they had no space available which seemed odd based on what we’d been told. While discussing this with the ranger I noticed the campground map was for Clear Springs which is a different CoE area on the same lake. Looks like the GPS thinks they are all at the same address. After being given the alternate route out of there (turn before going back over the tracks) we finally made it to Rocky Point Campground. Not easy to find the entrance road off the highway as it’s not marked. Only took two passes to get it.

The campground was quite nice. The sites are large and well spaced. We got one backing onto the water. Some of the sites are in the treed areas. The lake is level controlled and was quite high so a number of sites were underwater and it looked like there was a fair bit of winter damage to repair. Temperatures weren’t that high so we were dressed for warmth and burning a fire. The wood was free to collect as there was lots of that they wanted cleaned up.

The dam is just up the road so one day we went for a driver to check it out. The actual dam is a large earthen berm with a control gate. The pcitures show the emergency overflow spillway.

One night we drove to a nearby restaurant for some local food and beers. Scottie’s Grill also does live concerts at the back and the waitress says they get 1-2000 people for those events. Seems the county is dry so we had to show ID and join Scottie’s club that allows you to buy alcohol. The food was great. We had deep fried crawfish and split a burger as it was huge (1/2lb beef, pulled pork, onion rings and more).

Great sunsets from out on the point looking across the lake.

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Lakewood, NM – SKP Ranch

April 4, 2018

We really had no plans on where to go from Las Cruces. Bill and Sue were leaving to go and see the Carlsbad Caverns and we were just heading east-ish. Jane and I decided to go to the SKP Ranch in Lakewood and take advantage of the 50$ first timers deal. Bill and Sue figured it was a good deal and would be a short drive to the caverns and so they came with us.

The drive east passed by lots of flat plains with no cell service. Just before reaching the Guadalupe Mountains we passed what looked like a dry lake bed area which looked like salt. The Mountains themselves were quite impressive rising from the flat plains area. I also try to get prictures of old abandoned structures when we’re travelling. Usually we don’t get to stop ┬áto check them out so they are just drive by shootings.

The SKP Ranch is a small park, no real amenities but a very friendly bunch of people there. They ring the big bell and give hugs when new people show up. ­čÖé

We drove into Artesia on Mar 31st to see the annual car show. Unfortunately it had been cancelled for this year. That would explain why it was so hard to find any information about it online. Not even that the “annual” car show was cancelled. We did walk the two blocks that comprise downtown Artesia, browsed the boot stores and had beer and wings at The Wellhead Brew Pub.

The four of us made a trip up to Roswell on April 3rd. Seems there were aliens up there that had crash landed years ago. Most of the older downtown area is all about aliens. We did the museum tour where there was plenty of evidence presented. Personally I wasn’t swayed, I’ll stay on the “nope, didn’t happen” side of the line.

After learning all about aliens we stopped at Pecos Flavors Winery + Bistro for beers and deli sandwiches. Good food there. Our next destination was the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art. On the way we took a drive through the grounds of the New Mexico Military Institute. It was a large complex of buildings with parapets along the walls and towers on the buildings. The museum was an interesting place and provided the “cultural” component of our day trip. I found a new use for old golf bags too.

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Here’s a few other pictures from downtown including a large grain storage bin. Many of the buildings in the old downtown area look to be from the 40’s based on design.

As we’d driven into Roswell I had seen a scrap yard on the side of the road so I had to stop on the way back to get some pictures. On the side of a building it said Diamond Auto Parts. Lots of interesting vehicles packed into the yard.

Further south of Roswell is the airport. It was originally Roswell Army International Airfield during WWII. It is now used by a number of aircraft related businesses including parting out of airliners. There are a large number of older airliners parked on the fields and taxiways surrounding the runways. We did see an old DC10 taking off and flying a few circuits of the airport.

 

Organ Mountains – Las Cruces (II)

March 28, 2018

The four of us decided to hike the Fillmore Canyon Trail to Fillmore Spring within the Organ Mountains NM. The shorter route leaves from the picnic area below the visitor center and that’s the route we took. It’s a bit over 2 miles return and a fairly easy hike.

The trail goes past the site of an old mine processing plant. According to the info board all of the steel was removed during World War 2 to meet military needs. The spring at the top of the trail was used to feed water to the plant and the remnants of steel piping are still in the bottom of the river bed.

The next day Jane and I hiked the 4×4 road that headed up towards the mountains from our camp location. There are also single track trails in the area we hiked. Only one of them is a “legal” trail created by the park and actually goes all the way to El Paso and is used by hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers. The rangers drive through the camping area a few times a day and on one occasion they told use they were marking the illegal trails to indicate that they cannot be used for mountain biking (penalty of fine if caught). Our hike was about 4 miles round trip and we used the illegal bike trails for part of the trip back and they we great to hike on, much easier than the gravel/stones on the 4×4 road. The one picture shows what looks like cement that underlies the surface and is exposed where water has been running. No idea what it is though but it encapsulates the other smaller rocks.

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That night I happened to wake up shortly after midnight so I decided to go outside and see what I could get for star images. The moon was high in the night sky so many dimmer stars were washed out but the ground was illuminated.

The last images were taken at various times during our stay here. The sunset is over Las Cruces and the mountains were to the east of our location.

This horned lizard was sitting outside the trailer one afternoon. It didn’t mind having its picture taken and sat still for quite a while.

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And finally… here’s a picture of the stone “arrangement” I left in the Rockhouse area outside Borrego Springs. It’s on the south side of the area so I’ll have to see if it is still there next year. ­čÖé

Organ Mountains – Las Cruces (I)

March 26, 2018

We left Mesa AZ on March 23rd with the intention of stopping at a boondocking location east of Safford AZ. We travelled Highway 60 which took us through the south end of the Superstition Mountains.

When we arrived at the turnoff area the highway was under construction and we couldn’t access the entry road. We were travelling with Bill and Sue and after a brief conversation we decided to move further on to find a location for the night and then figure out where to go from there while parked rather than on the side of the road. We stopped for the night at a Veterans Park, county park in Lordsburg. Nothing fancy but a mostly level area with picnic tables and shelters.

We all agreed on a boondocking location outside of Las Cruces at the base of the Organ Mountains. This would give us a base for hiking the mountains, visiting White Sands NM and checking out a bit of Las Cruces. The Sierra Vista trailhead has about 4 sites along the road and 2-3 at the trailhead itself. We setup our trailers at the trailhead. The road in is quite rough with rocks sticking up in the roadway.

 

The next day we all piled into Bill’s truck and headed to White Sands NM. We bought the saucers for sliding down the dunes and headed to the back of the dune area. It was quite the work out with climbing the dune faces. Watching each other trying to slide down the sand was hilarious and we ended up with sand in pockets, hair, shoes and more.

 

The gypsum dunes are a brilliant white. The sun reflecting off them is as harsh as the sun off of snow. Without the cold temperatures though!

There was even a couple that had unloaded a camel from a trailer for visitors to look at. Maybe it was there so it could get back to its roots.

 

The Bataan Memorial Death March was the same day and we passed it on our way to and from White Sands. There were more than  8000 marchers loaded down with packs and hiking 26.2 miles in the desert on the west side of White Sands.

The next day we did one of the hikes within the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks NM. It was a steady uphill climb of about 3 miles by the time you get back to the visitor center. There are some wooden structures partway up the trail and at the end of the trail is what remains of the sanitorium and mountain camp. There is also the “dripping spring” which is a small trickle down the rocks. The temperature was on the cool side and we had the occasional rain sprinkle as we hiked.

In the afternoon we headed into Las Cruces to visit the town of Mesilla. This is an old town from the mid-1800’s that is contained within the city of Las Cruces. Two battles┬áwere fought at or in the town during the Civil Wat. Mesilla served as the capital of the┬áConfederate Territory of Arizona┬áin 1861-1862. We had dinner at Andele’s Dog House Mexican restaurant on the advice of the park ranger we’d spoken to at our camp site.

Quartzsite & Mesa, AZ

March 23, 2018

We left Borrego Springs on March 15th and headed east towards Quartzsite. We planned to spend some time there before figuring out where to go next as we worked our way back towards home. As we were travelling we got a message from our friends Kathy & Scott. They were driving north from Yuma and stopping in Quartzsite. We agreed to meet on Plomosa Rd. and arrived a couple of hours after them.

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We stayed on Plomosa Rd for 5 nights and did some hikes across the desert. We also hit up Silly Al’s with Kathy & Scott. The first night we went there the power was out in town due to an accident so we had to go back again and did so on St Patricks Day. Jane took food coloring so that we could have green beers.

We considered going to the Wickenburg area again but then we heard from Bill and Sue who were in a park in Mesa, AZ so decided to go there for a few days of pool time and hanging out. This would also give us a spot to get caught up on laundry and general cleaning. The truck was covered in desert dust and need a wash.

I did get a picture of the B-17 from Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum as it flew overhead. There were also other vintage planes flying past on occasion.

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Borrego Springs – Coyote Canyon

March 13, 2018

North of the town of Borrego Springs is Coyote Canyon. It is accessed by driving off the north end of Di Giorgio Rd. The trail is mostly a sandy surface and no problem to travel with a 2WD vehicle. Some spots have large rocks that need to be taken slow but we never needed to use 4WD. The Chev 3500 SRW is better for trail driving than the Ford F350 DRW we had last year. The trails we’ve driven this year and narrow enough at points that the mirrors hit bushes, with the dually we’d have lots of desert rash on the rear fenders.

We drove as far as the 3rd creek crossing. I could have crossed over it but we decided to turn around at that point.

The plant life up in the canyon was starting to bloom. The ocotillo’s had leaf growth on the stems and flowers on top.