Tuesday, February 9, 2016

New Mexico and Points West

Sunny skies welcomed us to the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico.

Why is it called “Land of Enchantment”?

It is said to describe New Mexico’s scenic beauty and its rich history.  It was placed on New Mexico license plates in 1941. On April 8, 1999, it became the Official State Nickname.  There is also a State Ballad titled “Land of Enchantment – New Mexico”.

Welcome to the Dream Catcher Escapees Park – Deming, New Mexico

Today’s drive took about three hours to get to Deming, New Mexico, to the Dream Catcher Escapees Park for the night.  This park reminded us of our old stomping ground at Rogers Lake Resort in Dowagiac, Michigan.  We could feel their welcome mat was out and everyone was very friendly.

When we checked in at the office, they immediately told us about a meal planned that evening for 6PM for $7 per person, which we signed up to attend.  They also told us about a ‘Meet and Greet’ in the clubhouse at 4PM.  After we checked in, we drove to our site, set up, and had plenty of time to get back to the clubhouse for the ‘Meet and Greet’.  There was a large rectangular table in the center of the room where everyone gathered.  It was a fun time where we all introduced ourselves and visited around the table for nearly an hour.  Those who had personal cards (similar to a business card) exchanged them. I wish I could remember the names of everyone.  I do remember that Bob and his wife from Michigan sat to my right. The time flew by. Soon it was 5PM, and people began to disburse.

Time to go back to the trailer and take Angel for a walk.  They had a nice, convenient fenced dog run.  There were no other dogs inside, so we removed his leash.  He seems to be getting accustomed to the fact that he must have a leash on when we are outside.  When we removed it to let him run, he acted like he was not sure what was happening.  He loved his freedom.  We played with him and let him run and get some exercise.  It was easy to see he did not want to leave our side or let us get too far away from him.  He made sure he stayed between John and me and the gate so he would not be left behind. He loves to be with us wherever we are.

The 6PM meal was delicious and it really hit the spot after traveling all day.  It consisted of turkey pot pie, biscuit, dressing, tossed salad, choice of dressing, and a scrumpdillyicious chocolate cupcake (Krustaez box brand, which I have been told raises better when comparing it to other brands) with tasty peppermint icing, plus a choice of lemonade, iced tea, or coffee.  Approximately 25 people attended. Visiting continued even  after the meal was over.

Jigsaw Puzzle

A jigsaw puzzle was spread out on the table in another room of the clubhouse.  I love jigsaw puzzles, and could not resist joining fellow campers looking and adding puzzle pieces as we found them.  We worked on it about 15 minutes before the meal, and again after we finished visiting with everyone, and also in the morning up to the time we had to leave. This was a large thousand-piece puzzle.  It was called a celestial puzzle, had a lot of small writing on it, and was very dark, but we still enjoyed working on it.

One-thousand piece Celestial puzzle 

Highest Gas Price so far

A gas station across the street from the park was convenient to fill up before we left the next morning.  It was, however, the most we paid for gas so far at $2.399. But as I recall from vacation trips, Deming’s gas was always a little higher than most.

Saguaro S.K.P.’s Co-Op Park  -- Benson, Arizona

In the next three hours, we crossed the Arizona State line, and arrived in Benson, at the Saguaro S.K.P. Co-Op Escapees Park and stayed for one night.  Being a co-op, many people there had purchased lots and either lived there full time or returned there year after year.  Visiting a co-op park was a first for us.  Most of the lots with park models had an extra building that looked like it was either used for storage or an extension of their living room.  At least one row near the back looked like it was reserved for travelers with RVs of various kinds.  No park models were located in that row. There was also a nice-sized clubhouse, in which a potluck dinner was being set up.

The park was very clean, and the people we met while out walking waved to us and were friendly, but at check-in, I have to say we did not feel the welcome that we were used to getting from membership parks in the past. At check-in, instead of telling us about the Saturday morning breakfast or the evening potluck, they were more interested in telling us about the rules.

We asked if they had any site where there would be room for our second vehicle and the trailer I was towing, so we could keep an eye on them.  Their answer was we could park on separate sites, but they would not be close to each other.  I told them that would not work for us and asked if they had any dry camping spots. They had an entire row, all empty.   The one they put us on was the only one that had water and sewer.  They specifically told us that our sewer hose, in our case, the garden hose we use to drain gray water, could not lay on the ground. As we walked around the park later, I saw that everyone had their sewer hose on an elevated extendable metal rack extending from their unit to the drain.  By the time we finally got checked in, I was beginning to think it would have been a lot easier if we had gone on down the road a couple of miles and stayed at the Western Horizon Park at St. David, where we have stayed before.  However, since we were new to the Escapees RV Club, we had made up our mind we would visit as many Escapees parks as convenient to do so.

We were told they have a dog run, but I asked one of the people who was walking her dog if she could tell me where it was, and she did not know.  A few other people were walking with their dogs and it appeared they were returning from way out back, beyond the maintenance buildings, much different than it showed on their park map.  

Familiar Faces at the S.K.P. Co-Op Rover’s Roost Park – Casa Grande, Arizona

Saturday, December 5th, we continued on I-10, followed the signs for the Phoenix bypass, which was I-8.  It was only three to three and one-half hours to our overnight stop at the S.K.P. Co-Op Rover’s Roost Park near Casa Grande.  After getting checked in, we took a walk with Angel around the park.  He loves nice long walks.  They had pet walk signs directing people with their pets to the spacious perimeter outside of the fenced area of the park.

We visited briefly with Domingo and Carmen, with whom we shared Thanksgiving Dinner at the Escapees Park in Livingston, Texas.  We also visited with Cal and Kitty, whom we had met at the Escapee Park in Deming, New Mexico.  Cal had seen us drive past their site after we checked in and walked over several rows to say “Hi”!

What’s for Dinner?

For dinner, since we were hooked up to electric for the night, I fixed a packet of Knorr Rice Sides Rice & Pasta Blend in a delicate butter flavored and herb sauce with other natural flavor according to package directions. They are very convenient to store and easy to make.  I have found the Knorr packets for a dollar each at Walmart. To extend it as well as add a little variety, I added one can of peas that had been drained and one 5-oz can of chunk light tuna in water that had also been drained. After stirring everything together, I gave it an additional five minutes in the microwave, and it was ready to eat. It was no T-bone steak, but it was a quick meal that went together very well.

You Get What You Pay For!

One night was all we planned to stay at Rover’s Roost, but that changed to two nights when we noticed that one of the tires on the camper was wearing unevenly. We called the Walmart in Casa Grande.  They had the tire we needed. A closer look revealed that both tires were in need of replacement. We had only driven a total of about 3000 miles. Originally, we only paid $50 apiece for the tires including the new rims so I guess one gets what they pay for.  The next day we drove to Walmart and had them change both tires.  After getting the tires changed, we stocked up on the items we needed.

Chili and Ice Cream

After we arrived back at Rover’s Roost, Domingo came over and told us they were having a chili supper that evening at the park. Hurrah – a night off from cooking! We went about thirty minutes early.  It was interesting to see so many people already seated.  The first table had a couple of empty chairs, but we were told they were not available; they were saved for someone else (our friends who had told us about the chili supper).  So we went to the back and sat by ourselves at the first table available.  Another couple joined us in a short while.  Behind us on several tables were numerous crockpots, all full of chili, plus some sides, like cornbread and other breads.  Everything was very good!

Before the chili supper, they recognized people who had taken part in the golf outing on their driving range that morning.  People enjoyed seeing who got the prize for hitting the ball the greatest distance, singing the best ditty, etc.  Some were encouraged to sing it again.  After the chili supper, they were having an ice cream social, but we did not stay for that.  We like ice cream, but not particularly after chili.

Quartzsite, Arizona

Monday we continued on I-8.  It took us into the edge of Yuma, where we picked up 95 and headed for Quartzsite.  Most of the drive was between two mountain ranges.  There was a sign saying to watch for animals.  Later, fifteen or twenty burros crossed the highway in front of us.  We had seen a few Saguaro Cacti while coming around Tucson, and some from a distance on Picacho Peak.  Today we saw lots more Saguaros growing in the fields on both sides of the road. These seemed more up close and personal, quite a pretty site.

The road curved into a checkpoint where we had to stop, where they asked us where we were from and where we were headed, as well as whether we were U.S. citizens.  The signs also told us to keep our animals under control, because they have dogs at the checkpoint.  Angel was riding with me, so I told him that we were going to talk to a security officer at a checkpoint where there may be other dogs.  Also, I told him “no barking”, and to be nice and listen to me.  He growled a little and started to bark at the security officer, but listened very well when I put my arm around him to calm him down, so I could talk with the officer.  He is my little protector.

It was late afternoon when we arrived in Quartzsite.  We checked out a few campgrounds, and decided to stay at Desert Gardens.  A dry campsite for the night with no hookups cost us $10, and I could get laundry done the next morning. We could park both vehicles and trailers side by side for the night.

Our white cargo camper trailer just left of center with mountains in the background at Desert Gardens

Both vehicles parked side by side at Desert Gardens
The night temperature was forecast for 40, so John mounted the Mr. Heater Big Buddy Heater on our front wall.  We lit the pilot and turned on only one of the two heaters until the trailer was warm.  The remainder of the night, it ran on pilot and we were very comfortable.

Stay tuned to hear about our boondocking experiences in the desert. If you would like to follow our adventures and be notified of new posts, you can subscribe by email or one of three other methods. Your comments are welcome.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Still in Texas

Texas Skies

It was Tuesday, December 1st.  Today’s drive on 190 was a straighter shot west. The strip of blue sky kept getting a little more prevalent, but the gray overcast strip still hung overhead.

Gray and overcast skies giving way to more blue sky.
Today’s scenery was a variety of things, but much of what I remember was the ranching section of Texas.   Occasionally we would see a turnoff with a sign overhead announcing the name of a ranch with their brand on the bar across the top.  Sometimes we saw only a ranch road trailing through the landscape as far as we could see.  Other times in the lay of the land we could see a beautiful ranch house.  I even caught a glimpse of four horseback riders in the distance, probably riding their range, perhaps checking fences, or doing whatever ranch riders do.

Besides seeing ranches, we also saw cattle, but they were not everywhere, just now and then.  The distance between ranches led me to believe that cattle were grazing in meadows away from the highway. As we continued on, we saw an area with goats, sheep, and also deer.

Pictures Left in my Mind

While driving, it was impossible to take photos.  A couple of photo opportunities, however, were delightful and left only a picture in my mind.  Literally, out of the blue to my right as we drove by, there was a very small one to two acre tract of land with beautiful luscious green grass that caught my eye.  It got my attention because this time of year, it was uncommon to see this color of green, and in contrast, there were white sheep grazing. The picturesque setting of white sheep against the green grass looked like a painting hanging in the landscape.  That was one of those wow moments that even if I had not been driving, would have been a challenge to get on film because it came and went so quickly.

The drive across Texas would not be complete without traveling through deer country.  We drove for miles and never saw a deer.  Then we would see one on either side of the road, or even on the other side of a fence.  We were constantly on the lookout and even braked for one that crossed the road in front of John.  The second wow sighting was that of a deer literally leaping in mid air over a fence, thankfully, going away from the road. She was so graceful. What an incredible sight to see!  Her four legs were tucked up close to her body as she sailed over the fence in mid air.  But, again, capturing that on film, even with camera in hand and not driving would have been only by chance.

Friends had told us there was a very good barbecue place in Brady, Texas, one of the Texas towns we passed by.  It was too early in the day for barbecue, so we kept going.  One thing I noticed about 190 was that it was not uncommon for the directional road signs to appear at the last minute, as in at the intersection, with no forewarning.  At one intersection, we were in the right thru lane when we saw the sign at the intersection telling us the road turned left.  Fortunately, there were only two other vehicles, so after they moved, we could make a left turn.

As the day wore on, we noticed the overcast portion of sky was making room for even more blue sky. Sometimes we were driving through areas where there were short walls of rock on both sides of the road.

Late in the day, overcast skies turned to blue sky, and short walls of rock lined both sides of the road.
We were getting close to Iraan, our stop for the night, when a peculiar smell in the air kept getting stronger -- black gold – Texas tea – Oil wells!

Iraan had three city parks with RV hookups, all run by the city.  The city offices were closed, so we inquired at a gas station and were told to drive down this one street and we would see ‘it”.  We jogged over a couple of streets and did see it, but it looked like every space was taken.  One fellow came out of his rig just as I drove around the curve, so I rolled my window down to inquire.  My guess is that some of the people employed in the oil fields were camped in these city RV parks.

He told us there would probably be spaces at the other two parks;  We stayed at Rocky Point for $15 for the night with an electric hookup.  The park was very barren, but it suited our needs for the night. After we got plugged in to electric, we walked over and put our money for the camping fee in an envelope and dropped it into their drop box.  Except for hearing one dog barking at different times (not in the park, but across the street), the rest of the night was very quiet for sleeping.

The Loud Boom 

The next morning, December 2nd, we awoke to a bright blue sky with not a cloud in site.  We filled up with gas in Iraan and headed toward Van Horn.  After forty-five minutes of driving on 190, we got on I-10.  We went less than five miles when John suddenly slowed up, heading for the shoulder of the road, to pull off of the highway.  I saw a puff of smoke and pulled off behind him, and asked him what was up.  He heard a loud boom and had no idea where it came from.

The van drove okay, so we had no idea what we were looking for.  When he got to the back of the van, he saw pieces of shattered glass and, at first, thought that something happened to the solar panels on the trailer, but thankfully they were okay.  The rear left door of the van had no glass in the opening.  The glass had shattered everywhere.  We found glass on the pavement, in the van, on the inside of the privacy curtain, and even in the inside pocket of the door panel.  There was no one on the interstate but us.  It was a beautiful, sunny day.  We have no idea what caused this window to shatter.  At that point, there was not much we could do, so we continued to our night stop in Van Horn.

Angel’s Thorn 

Mountain View RV Park was a nice campground. It had easy on and off access from the highway.  We paid $35 for the night. In addition to campsites, it had private shower rooms and also two log cabin tiny house barns to rent. They were still working on getting facilities to a couple sections.  We went for a walk around the park.  All of a sudden, Angel began to limp.  John checked, pulled a thorn from his one paw pad, and then he was back to his normal running and jumping, as if nothing had happened.

Earlier that day at a rest stop, he had picked up several sand burrs in his front paws.  John quickly took care of pulling them out, and almost got them stuck in his fingers.  Everything turned out okay for both Angel and John.

The White Foam Board

Jim and his wife, fellow campers, were parked next to us.  They are hosts at a campground in Seward, Alaska, during part of the year.  Many thanks to them for offering us a piece of white foam board to fill the opening where the window broke.  With the use of our packaging tape and utility knife, John cut and reshaped it to fit the window opening.

The next morning, we put another hundred miles behind us by the time we reached El Paso.  There is no good way to go around that city, so we drove straight through it.  With the time change somewhere between Van Horn and El Paso, we had already set our clocks back.  It took us from 1:00 to 1:30 to drive through the city.  We then crossed the New Mexico State line, heading northwest in the Land of Enchantment.

If you want to follow our adventures and be notified of new posts, you can subscribe by email or one of three other methods.  New Mexico, Land of Enchantment, and Points West coming up next! Your comments are welcome.

Thank you for shopping through our links.  It does not cost you any extra, and we will make a few pennies, no matter what you purchase.