Two full weeks in Agua Piedra Campground. At 8,529′ it was perfect weather for July in New Mexico. Cool at night and cool in the mornings. A nice campground, with oodles of walks and oodles of birds. I spent hours watching a pair of ravens talking to each other, many pairs of flickers, and lots of unidentifiable flying things.
And oodles of chipmunks. Yes, I know I am not supposed to feed them. I couldn’t resist a Cheerio to one who showed up every morning.
There was an inspiring camper, Sylvia (84 yeas old) who had been studying the flowers of the area since 1953. She was a wealth of information and put me to shame with her hiking abilities. There was also beautiful group camping area with an old cabin.And oodles of flowers.
Right now I am in Taos, NM in a hotel celebrating 1 whole month of not smoking cigarettes. A friend from Asheville, Marlis, joined me and we explored and ate and laughed. In Taos we ate the best meal from a food truck that the two of us had in a very long time. Spelt and grains and kale and tomatoes and cilantro and so good we still haven’t stopped talking about it! Then we found our new favorite beer, Kirin. We hiked around in the Carson National Forest, looking for interesting camping spots.
Then I panicked when I thought the gas tank had ruptured. There was gas spreading all underneath the truck. Aggh! Found it was actually a ruptured canister of gas on top of the truck leaking. Phew. The panic forced me to join AAA.
Now I am headed to a higher altitude for the rest of July and August.
With the New Mexico State Park‘s Annual Pass I can stay in any State Park for 14 consecutive days. For free. I plan (kinda) on arriving at a state parks on a Tuesday or Wednesday, to get a great site. And I also plan arriving several days before or after a holiday. Coyote Creek State Park looked like the perfect place to hunker down over the 4th of July.
It was ideal. Showers with nice hot water, a shelter, drinking water twenty yards away, interesting hikes, and a sweet creek running throughout the park. I couldn’t see a neighbor unless I tried. The weather is ideal (45 at night, 80’s in the day). I had to hang the blanket in front of the shelter since it was facing due west, and the afternoon sun could be fierce.
This was a great place to settle in. There was all kinds of wildlife (bugs, fish, birds and more birds, gophers, prairie dogs, and unknown noises) to investigate. There was a nice hike that had colombines and rose hips and bugs. There was one place in the park that I fell in love with. A beaver dam. And in the mornings and evenings there were warblers and hummingbirds and beavers with babies.
There was something to investigate every day. I fell in love with clouds and prairie dogs and strange bugs. The weekend of the fourth of July was full, but no fireworks, no hooting or hollering. I slept well every night. It was a magical place. (So magical that on my second day there I threw out all of my tobacco. Its been 14 days and I still don’t want to smoke. Magic.) The bug below loved the truck window. Every morning she was there. I met a woman who had been on the road for five years (and she turned me onto the best NM rock book). I met a man who had 33 mosquito bites on one leg. I saw a family with 4 kids, 4 adults, airline wheeled luggage, price tags still on their tents spend three hours setting up the 2 tents. They were laughing. So was I.
I hated to have to leave. 14 days were up. Now I am in Mora, New Mexico getting some groceries for the next camp out. No telling where the next stop will be. But I have gotten some good clues (“Don’t go there, its all ATVs and motorcycles. Ten miles further on the left is a great hikers campground.).
Morphy Lake is one of the New Mexico State parks. I was there on a Wednesday. Lots of room, and a beautiful little lake and snow covered mountains in June. Site #17 was a pretty spot. There were 2 blue herons that would skim the lake early every morning, and chipmunks that loved my treats.
There was no drinking water or showers, only pit toilets. But it was quiet and beautiful. The quiet lasted only until that afternoon. The park is very popular with day anglers. Then there was a combination of Fathers’ Day and a release of 80,000 fish. The park became wildly popular. Like Villanueva once the rigs were packed in, bumper to bumper, I was fed hot dogs and cinnamon buns. The noise level was so intense that I moved to another site. #19 was somewhat isolated. Even that spot wasn’t enough isolation for me. I could hear Latino rock and roll at all hours. Lovers fighting, dogs barking, children screaming with joy and energy. The only trail was one that went around the lake, 3/4 of a mile. And it was always crowded with anglers. I stayed only 10 days and then headed on.
Water in the desert is so precious and wonderful. Villanueva State Park is on the banks of the Pecos River. Every weekend the river is full of laughing children and adults on huge rubber rings. Weekdays are full of very loud birdsongs. The camping site was perfect. Shelter from wind and rain.And it was perfect for a major clean out (bugs, dirt, dust, disorganization).Every jar, can, book, and bottle was taken out of the truck and wiped down and reorganized. Phew. It was a major relief. I bagged books to donate to the next thrift store, threw out 2 gallon water container that was filled with green slime, and squished strange bugs. It was incredibly therapeutic. Then I got to sit in the shelter and read between walks (Villanueva State Park has some nice trails). Heavenly for this traveler!This heaven lasted until the weekends when family reunions and church parties and high school graduation parties overwhelmed the quiet.
The families were great to me, and I was fed hot dogs, and burritos and soups each weekend. During each weekend there was a presentation by the State Parks. I passed on the star watch, but adored seeing the raptor presentation. Having a red tailed hawk and a great horned owl two feet from my eyes was more than thrilling. Then, come Monday, the campground was filled back up with birdsongs instead of generators.
I packed up a very clean truck after 14 days and headed out. There was no cell phone service at Villanueva, so it is time to catch up and post to this blog.
I will not be posting a budget anymore. It works, and I am saving money. You can do it, too. Just count every penny, have a strict budget and keep to it.
I was surprised by the amount of petroglyphs in the Three Rivers area. They have counted over 20,000! Nearby is a great campground with water and pit toilets.
Three Rivers campground has access to well maintained trails. I hiked and saw lots of wonderful plants and flowers and bugs. I watched a lizard dig into the sand and pull out a wiggling insect. Then the lizard ate the bug.
This blog is called “…Hints”, so here are some things I have learned.
1. I do not need all of the water I am carrying. With the New Mexico State Park annual pass I am staying at campgrounds with water. Got to get rid of some.
2.The bug proofing is important. The blue cloth keeps out flies and bees. The clips on the bottom keep the curtain down in the wind.
3. The picture below is the primo spot in the bed of the truck, and is useless. I have to rearrange this spot. I don’t need the water. I would like all electronic cords and chargers here. (yes, I know that you aren’t supposed to have a propane tank indoors. The window above it is always open, and I cook with the tailgate down.)
4. I have to fix the kitchen. I bought 3 Sterlite boxes. I cannot not find one the same size. The latest box slides off when I am traveling. Aggh!
5. I have learned that I have to check all connections after traveling on rough roads. The propane connections. The truck cap.
6. I have learned that you can eat when the wind is at 30-40mph. It has no fresh food (everything rots/spoils too quickly in the heat). Veggies (V8), protein (Spam), fruit and a granola bar.
7. Drinking in the desert is important. Once every three days I drink this in addition to lots of water.
8. Hiding surprises is rewarding. I hid $400 last year, discovered it a few days ago and headed to a cheap hotel, bought new windshield wipers and groceries. I hadn’t had a shower in 18 days and I was covered in Deet and grunge. Phew.
Headed up to Villanueva State Park tomorrow, after mailing some things and picking up mail. Let me know what you want to see or hear about as I travel this year through New Mexico.