Monday, March 30, 2009

Cleaning the Coach

It was another cold, blustery day in New Mexico. We have been told that the wind is normal for this time of year. But, it's a cold, cold wind. I called Rapid City, SD to have our mail sent to us and never got an answer. Upon further investigation, I discovered that they were in the middle of another blizzard. The offices in town were all shut down as well as the airport. No mail going out today.

Still, Doug decided that it was a good time to start cleaning the outside of the coach. He hauled out the microfiber cloths, the waterless cleaning solution and the ladder. The back of the coach is the first thing that others see as they drive into the park, so that was the starting point.

He was able to work for 30 -45 minutes before his hands got too cold. A brief warming period inside and back at it again.

When he got to the side of the coach, I had to go outside and hold the ladder for him. Between the wind and the unlevel ground, I was a little nervous about him falling. He finished almost half the coach when the weather just became too nasty. Tomorrow's another day.

We jumped in the car and made a quick trip to Walmart to get our Redbox free movies, then home for the evening. We really don't mind the cool weather when we are safe and sound in our cozy, little box.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rough Life

It was a nice day to stay inside and watch the nascar races. The wind was blowing and it never got very warm. We piddled around with a few household chores, but never got very ambitious. It's a rough life.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lake Lucero Trip

We were up bright and early this morning, leaving the park at 7:30 to be at the entrance to the small missile range at 8:30. We lined up with about 18 other cars and then drove onto the U.S. facility guided by government cars and forest rangers.

The trailhead for Lake Lucero is 18 miles onto the base. There wasn't much to see except signs about unexploded munitions and warnings. Although, we were on the lookout for a herd of oryx. These are a type of gazelle that were imported from Kenya years ago. (We didn't see any)

Lake Lucero is in the middle of Lake Otero. If that doesn't make any sense, here's the explanation. Lake Otero was a lake in the Tularosa basin during the last ice age. Gypsum and other minerals were carried from the surrounding mountains into the lake. At the end of the ice age (about 12,000 years ago) the lake began to dry up. The gypsum formed crystals called selenite on the muddy bottom of the evaporated lake.

On rare occasions of heavy rain, a temporary lake is created at the southern end of Lake Otero (now called the Alkali Flats). This temporary lake is Lake Lucero! And the bottom of Lake Lucero is covered with large and small selenite crystals and is the primary source for the gypsum sand that forms the dunes of White Sands National Monument.

The guided trip to Lake Lucero is only offered once a month and we felt lucky to be here for the March tour. The ranger that gave the talks was interesting, knowledgeable and willing to answer all questions. It is unlawful to remove anything from this area and boy, was that tough. The crystals and rocks were incredible.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Blow Me Away

Wow!! The wind just kept getting more fierce last night and by the time we went to bed, we were thinking that we might have to bring the slides in. The head of our bed is in the slideout and as the wind caught that small part of the room, we were a little nervous thanks to the creaking and groaning.

But, we survived the night and today dawned bright and a lot more clear. Unfortunately, the temperature never got above 55 degrees. We are freezing. So we stayed home again and defrosted the freezer and refrigerator. It's long overdue and it feels good to get it done.

Not such an exciting day but a productive one.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Checking In

The wind came up last night and by this morning the entire sky is filled with dust and white sand. We can't see the mountains in either direction and when outside, our eyes and noses are filled with sand. Not very pleasant.

We did have to make a quick run to Walmart to return our Redbox dvds. Last night we watched the new Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull movie. And this morning, it was Quantum of Solace. With this weather, it's a good day to stay in and watch movies.

Doug says this reminds him of his days of sanding drywall. All you can taste and breathe is gypsum. (white sand.....drywall dust) I guess not every day can be sunny and bright.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lazy Recap

I'm sorry, so sorry. Please accept my apologies.....oops, I think that's a Brenda Lee song! We just haven't been doing much that's exciting and worth reporting. When we stay in an area this long, we don't feel the need to rush around and see everything. So, we take several days just to relax.

But, we did take a day ride up the Sacramento mountains to the tiny town of Cloudcroft. It's a ski resort in the winter and a tourist trap in the summer. The drive was relaxing and beautiful.

We left Cloudcroft and saw the signs for Sunspot. This is the home of the National Solar Observatory. Our visit was too late in the day for the tour, but we still enjoyed the views and learning a little about the facility.

Then, yesterday, Doug wanted to check out a rockhounding area near the Three Rivers Petroglyph site. It was a fun afternoon and we found a few pieces of jasper and some other neat looking rocks. All of a sudden we realized it was 6pm and time to head home. We started back south on the two lane rough road, crossing numerous cattle guards when we noticed a mama cow and her calf coming across the range. We slowed and admired them until we saw a few more. Doug proceeded cautiously, not wanting to injure the skittish calves accidentally as they came close to the car.

We started across a cattle guard in front of a large wash and there were at least 50 cows and calves standing in the road! When we approached them, instead of backing off from the car, they kept coming right at us. I guess they thought we were there to feed them. As they started to surround us, I got scared (I'm a city girl) and Doug quickly backed the car across the cattle guard which they refused to cross. (Yay!!!!) And there we sat. And sat.

Doug got out, much to my dismay, and tried yelling and shooing the animals away from the road. They didn't even flinch.

So, he took off his flannel shirt and waved it vigorously while shouting and they backed off at least 6 inches. Then he tried walking down the fence line along the wash, hoping they would follow. Nope.

So, we waited. After close to half an hour, we decided to just go forward carefully. We opened our windows and started driving very slowly. Yelling out the windows and waving our arms, the herd gradually and reluctantly moved aside. Success! Once past the bawling, drooling, slobbering bovine roadblock, we took off like a shot.

And that was our excitement for the day. They sure look a lot bigger in person that they do in pictures.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Greetings from dullsville. When we stay in one place for a long time such as we are now, there isn't always something to blog about. Today was one of those quiet, dull days where laundry and bill paying and catching up on housework were on the top of the list. So, if you don't hear from us occasionally, we are fine, just being ordinary.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Three Rivers Petroglyphs

Today, we went in search of more ancient history and art. North of us on highway 54 is Lincoln National Forest and within that is the Three Rivers Petroglyph site. There is a nice little campground and picnic area at the entrance and a charming couple that act as hosts for the area.

We were expecting to find mountains and cliffs with the drawings on them. So, it was surprising to see a series of low hills with people clambering all over them. We showed our National Parks card, grabbed our water bottles and trail guide and began climbing. There is a nice, yet rugged, series of trails that wind through the hills. However the best petroglyphs are found by going off trail.

Some of the drawings represent animals.....

Some represent people.....

And some are just unknown symbols.

The rock outcroppings were fascinating. Doug climbed every one that he could possible get to while I was a little more careful. I'm not quite the mountain goat that he is.

The higher we climbed, the more intricate and detailed the petroglyphs became. We saw drawings of hunters chasing animals, as well as animals pierced with arrows.

And some of the pictures were very large. Doug stood next to this one to give you some idea of the size of the carving. Truly fascinating.

After a couple of hours in the direct sun without a hat, I was starting to feel the effects. My face was beet red and I was sick to my stomach. At the top of the second hill we found a shelter and I rested while Doug searched for more drawings. The Archaeological Society of New Mexico recorded more than 21,000 petrogyphs in this area. I think Doug found 20,999 of them and took pictures. (just kidding)

We could have continued hiking and snapping photos for days, but instead, we found our way back to the car and started home. About 15 miles from the rv park, we noticed a small rv on the roadside. It appeared to be a blowout so Doug pulled over to see if he could help. Turns out to be a 70 year couple with their two small grandkids. The gentlemen had removed the destroyed tire but didn't have the strength to lift the spare tire into place on the wheel. Within minutes, Doug was able to help him get it all put back together and we were on our way. It feels nice to help someone on the road.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Inn of the Mountain Gods

We decided to visit the casino, Inn of the Mountain Gods, north of us on highway 70. It was a beautiful drive through the town of Tularosa on the way to Ruidoso.

It was uphill all the way, winding through the green mountains. But the temperature outside dropped from 79 in Alamogordo to 64 by the time we arrived at the casino.

We stopped at a historical marker that told us about the ancient volcano in the distance.

Here's the volcano. This was also the top of the pass and we made a left turn onto the road to the Inn of The Mountain Gods just as the road started down.

Now I'm sure you all want to see the pictures of this gorgeous casino built on the edge of a crystal clear green lake. The resort lobby is on the second floor with huge windows looking out over the lake. Unfortunately, I forgot to turn the camera on! So, you can click on this link Inn of the Mountain Gods to see just how beautiful this place is.

They also have big game hunting, a golf course, fishing, horseback riding and activities too numerous to list. Quite an impressive setup!

We signed up for our gambling club cards, checked out the casino, blew a total of $5 and left. Nice place to visit, but it just wasn't our style. We're sure glad we took the time to see this mountain top retreat.

Monday, March 16, 2009

New Shocks & TV Antenna

Today was a productive day. After lunch, we unhooked the coach and took it about a half mile down the road to Alamo RV. This is a service and parts place that was recommended by our park owners.

A couple of months ago, Doug bought some Koni shocks and wasn't able to install them himself. He didn't have the correct tools or the air compressor necessary for the tools. Alamo RV told us that they could install them in about an hour and a half. And best of all, their labor rate is waaaaay under everyone else's in the big cities.

These are the worn out, beat up, no good, old shocks. Good riddance.

At the same time, we discovered that the batwing tv antenna on the top of the coach had quit working. Doug removed it so we could take it to Alamo RV and check if they had a replacement. They didn't. But, in the catalog, we found a much better one. It was ordered and installed at the same time as the shocks.

The white disk on top of the coach is the new antenna. It looks so much nicer and will find the stations available automatically. No more cranking up the batwing and turning and turning, trying to find a signal. We are now able to watch local news instead of just New York and Los Angeles as well as make use of the digital cable box we bought months ago.

These were the greatest people to deal with. We can hardly recommend them enough. Funny thing, later in the evening after we were settled back in the park, the owners of Alamo RV showed up to do some work for another person in the park. After they finished, they stopped by and visited with us. Talk about customer service!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Extended Stay

After our fun day at White Sands National Park, we spent today trying to figure out how to fit all of the places we want to see in this area into the next three days. Ain't gonna happen!

So, we reviewed our options.
1) Leave without seeing everything.
2) Stay another week. ($85)
3) Stay a month. ($100)

The weather has turned beautiful and is forecasted to be this way now that spring is almost here. Yay! That made our decision simple. We are going to stay here at Edgington RV Park for a month. The owners let us roll over this week into the monthly rate. Neat people!

So, we can get our mail here until April 11. (If you want to send $100 bills, they will be gratefully accepted.) And we can see Three Rivers Petroglyphs, the Sunspot Solar Observatory, Inn of the Mountain Gods (casino), Tularosa, Cloudcroft, Valley of Fire and maybe some more rockhounding. Of course, we will return to White Sands. In fact, once a month they conduct a special trip to Lake Lucero where all of the sand originates. This month it's scheduled for March 28. We're already planning on attending that.

To my dear kids in Texas, we're working our way there, only verrrrrrry slowly.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


We had the most spectacular day today!

It was a visit to the White Sands National Monument. Everyone had told us that it was a "not to be missed" experience and they were not kidding. Words can't begin to describe the park. We started our trip at the visitor center (of course) and learned about the gypsum that the winds pick up at Lake Lucero and then deposit in the 275 square mile of desert in the Tularosa Basin.

After our stop at the museum and gift shop, we headed to the 8 mile road that takes us through the dunes. The first half mile gave us an indication of what to expect.

Then we stopped at the first trail. It's a one mile trek straight up a sand dune and then through the well marked interdune area.

This is where the dunes surround the hunting grounds for the insects, birds, rodents and wildlife that can survive in this harsh environment. We saw the tracks of kit foxes, kangaroo rats and several others we were not sure about.

We followed the ridges of pure white sand for the a while and then I couldn't stand it any longer. The shoes came off and the rest of the day was spent barefoot. What a delightful treat!

After finishing the trail and learning about the plant, wildlife and dunes themselves, we continued on the road to the next trails.

Then, to our surprise, the paved road stopped and it looked just like we were driving on snow and ice. There were pullouts everywhere and the further we went into the park, the fewer plants were to be found.

The dunes became just white sand with kids sledding and digging and playing. They looked like they should be freezing in the snow yet they were in shorts and tank tops. It was such an odd feeling driving through this winter wonderland and having the air conditioning running full blast.

Even some of the grown ups got in on the fun!

At the end of the road is a huge loop with picnic areas. The shelters all have protection from the wind, picnic tables and bbq's. There were people everywhere! We didn't get them in the pictures but almost every shelter was in use as well as cars parked everywhere.

At every opportunity, we stopped and climbed the dunes and took pictures. It was impossible to wipe the smiles from our faces!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Couch Potato

It rained off and on all day today. And, I was feeling a little under the weather. (Pun intended) So, we just stayed home so I could lie on the couch and doze. Doug visited with the neighbors and checked the rocks in the tumbler and took good care of me.

Some days are better than others....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Seeing the Town

Our day began with a nice visit with John & Barbara, the owners of the Edgington RV Park. They gave us lots of ideas and more brochures for the surrounding area. We now know which grocery store to shop and where the best rv parts store is located and which vet to not visit. (We don't need a vet any longer.)

The weather was beautiful for sightseeing, but we needed to get a couple of chores out of the way. About half a mile away, we found the Alamo RV place and talked to them about installing the Koni shocks that Doug bought a couple of months ago. We also needed a new head for the Wineguard batwing antenna on top of the coach. While we were in the store looking for the antenna, we found a newer model for just a little bit more that will seek out the tv signal on it's own. We ordered that and on Monday we'll take the coach to the shop and have it installed as well as the shocks.

Feeling pretty smart, we took a drive through town just to get acquainted with the place. It's not a big city, but it has just about everything you could ask for. A dozen different fast food joints, Wally World, Big K, Home Depot, Lowes, a zoo, a city park and lots more were all just on the main street. I really like small towns.

Hopefully, the weather will be just as nice tomorrow and we'll go find something interesting. (not rocks!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Again, rain and sleet on the roof! We packed up the last minute stuff and hit the road out of Pinos Altos. Since we were going to stop at the Walmart in Silver City (6 miles away), I just followed Doug and the motorhome in the car. The gas station at Walmart is kinda snug and maneuvering was easier without the car hooked on behind. The snow was coming down pretty good as we got off that hill!

We used our Walmart card and saved some money on diesel, then hooked up the car and pointed south. It was a nice drive back through Deming and then on into Las Cruces. Las Cruces was a much bigger city than we were expecting and we got to drive right through town. Narrow lanes and lots of traffic, but we made it. Then we continued north on US 70 through San Agustin Pass, past the Holloway Air Force Base and the White Sands National Monument to the much smaller city of Alamogordo.

We found the Edgington RV Park just two miles past Alamogordo. I had called last night to see if they had room for us since it's a fairly small park. All we gave them was our name, but the owner, John saw us coming down the road and waved us in through the exit of the park, guided us to our spot and took the time to introduce himself, his wife and the park. What neat people! We have never been treated like long lost relatives at a park before! John & Barbara brought us brochures of all the things to see and do in the area and visited and answered all of our questions.

The picture of our site makes it look barren here, but it's quite the opposite. In front of us are almond trees, pine trees, a huge willow tree and many others I can't name. It was just desert when John & Barbara bought the property 25 years ago. He has planted every tree himself.

He also built the fishing pond in the middle of the park. It's stocked with catfish, bass, blue gill and some koi. Doug can hardly wait to start fishing. Since we still have fish in the freezer, he'll probably just catch and release.

Here's the pond from the other side. There's a little dock and a picnic table. Quite refreshing!

I spent the evening going through brochures and I hope a week is long enough to see every thing!

And most important........Happy Birthday Mom Bev!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More Crummy Weather

We woke to more rain and nasty weather and decided to just get ready to move tomorrow. We made a quick run to Walmart for gas and groceries and then spent the day gradually putting things away.

We did find something interesting though. In Silver City, diesel is twenty cents a gallon cheaper than gas! And, even better, we discovered that if we buy a rechargeable gift card at Walmart and use it at the gas station, we save three cents a gallon. So, we purchased a card and spent $2.26 a gallon for gas and tomorrow we will fill the diesel tank in the motorhome for only $1.96 a gallon. Yippeee!

Our shopping is occasionally done in Walmart and we will definitely keep a gift card in our wallets. I know .03 isn't a fortune but every little bit helps.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Rain, Snow & Hail

Our plan for the day was to visit the Catwalk at Whitewater Canyon. But, when we peeked outside our windows, the weather was atrocious! So, we hunkered down in our cozy, little house on wheels and spent the day playing.

The portable heater never shut off all day and the propane heater ran too. I don't believe it ever got above 40 degrees. Doug worked with the tumblers a little bit and the stones are looking good.

The freedom to put our plans on hold or change them entirely is wonderful.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Mining Arrastra

We didn't have any great plans for today, so we decided to return to a couple of places we missed yesterday due to time.

Our first stop was at an 1800's mining arrastra. This was a crude, stone mill for extracting gold from the surrounding ore. Because of all of the gold in this area, there were 18 of these in this vicinity.

This was a mule drawn mill, but Doug played the part for me.

Quartz and ore were piled into the prepared hole and heavy stones were dragged around and around, grinding the rocks into a wet powdery substance. Water and quicksilver were added during the process because the gold would bind with the quicksilver and drop to the bottom. After the grinding was finished and the gold was all extracted, the quicksilver would be separated and the gold was then formed into ingots. (blocks)

After this interesting stop, we drove through a couple of campgrounds in the Gila National Forest. There is no way we could ever get the motorhome into these, but it was fun to see them.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

After watching the weather forecast for the next several days, we decided that today was probably our best bet for seeing the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. The drive was only 40 miles, yet everyone told us to plan on two hours each way. That sounded a little odd until we started up the narrow, two lane (barely) road.

The scenery quickly became spectacular with odd shaped, columnar rocks on both sides. We stopped for photos on barely noticeable pull outs and then continued a short distance to the next photo op.

The road was extremely curvy with quite a few blind switchbacks and our speed rarely got over 30, even on the straightaways. There were hardly any railings on the curves and the drop to the bottom was considerable.

After 10 stops for pictures, (that's one every 4 miles!) we finally arrived at the Gila National Forest visitor center. We had a lovely chat with the volunteer and a walk through the exhibits. She told us the proper way of pronouncing the word Mogollon. It's Mug-e-yon. Hmmmmm. These were the indians that inhabited this area and were thought to have used the caves in the cliffs as their dwellings. Turns out, the caves were used as ceremonial chambers, not actual living spaces. All of the volunteers that we encountered on our hike were full of great information.

We drove on up to the beginning of the cliff tour.

It's a 1 mile hike through the canyon, crossing the creek several times and up an old trail.

For most all of the walk, you can see the caves waaaaaay up in the cliffs.

And the photo ops get better the closer we get.

We rounded the last curve in the path and arrived at the entrance to cave 3.
There are actually 7 caves in the formation.

Caves 1 and 2 are not accessible any longer and it is believed that they were used for food storage and perhaps a communal kitchen. The foundations are still intact as well as a hearth and 2 circular depressions for cooking pots.

There are 40 rooms within the 6 used caves at the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Most are too small to be living areas and archaeologists believe that the Mogollon lived in pueblos on a nearby mesa where they gardened and caught small animals. The caves appear to be used for storage and ceremonies.

This small building was used as a storage and drying area for animal skins. 80% of the walls and buildings are original construction with the remaining 20% to maintain the structures.

I was amazed that we are allowed inside the caves. This is such an archaeological treasure! We climbed a stairway into cave 3 and could wander from cave to cave, up to cave 6. This is the main room from the outside. The T shaped opening was a door that was accessed by ladders. The Mogollon must have been small, muscular people, because that opening is not very big. Also, the wood timbers in the walls are all original wood. Fascinating!

How would like this view from your window each day?

We spent a long time inside the caves admiring the handiwork and pictographs on the walls. There were several volunteers in the caves available to answer questions, of which we had a million.

When it was time to exit, Doug climbed down the ladder from cave 6.

I, on the other hand, got cold feet and retreated back the way we came in. Believe me, it was a long drop if you missed a step.

What an amazing day! We headed back down to the parking lot just before the park closed for the day. You get some perspective of how high we were when you look down on the parking lot.