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Published on May 10, 2019, by admin in Adventure.

Camp at Navajo Dam

We were hoping to move north through New Mexico and stay one step ahead of the hot weather, but we may have moved too fast. Every since we left the Truth or Consequences area we have had little warm weather. Spring is having a hard time coming to the southwest this year.

When we left Percha Dam State Park it was starting to edge towards 90 degrees so we looked forward to nice weather at Bluewater State Park. The road to Bluewater was a little more than we wanted to drive in one day so we made a stopover at a free campground across from Pie Town, New Mexico. While there we saw the VLA site down the road and bought pies from a cafe across the street. I have stopped at the VLA several times but never bought a pie in Pie Town. The Pie was good but I don’t think I will ever buy another there – it was way way more expensive than my Pie budget allocates.

The next day we continued on up to Grants New Mexico and stocked up on groceries for our camp at Bluewater State Park. We only stayed a little over a week at Bluewater. The weather turned chilly and it seemed the wind always blew. We did get a few hikes in while there and even found a windless afternoon for a campfire and roasted hotdogs.

Bluewater is over 7000’ and a good place to find nice weather in the middle of summer, but we decided to move north for a couple different reasons. Straight north of Bluewater is Navajo Lake State Park. Even though Navajo is further north it is 1000’ lower and thus a little warmer. We also were sure that the area had cell service and TV signal for Donna, something that was almost nonexistent at Bluewater Lake. Perhaps the best reason we wanted to visit Navajo was the fact that Mom and Dad spent several summers there and we wanted to experience the nostalgia.

On the trip to Navajo Dam we made an overnight stop at a place called Busti/De Na Zin, a wilderness area in the Navajo Reservation. The camping area is nothing more than a parking lot but the picturesque landscape draws many photographers trying to capture the colors of the eroded formations.

We have been here at Navajo for almost two weeks. There is very few non electric sites here this time of year so we both paid for hookups. There is another campground area above the main area that is non electric but is not open until May 15. It’s probably a good thing we paid for electric sites because it has been chilly and raining. With electric we can turn off most things in our rigs that use battery and propane. There are nice bathrooms here with hot showers so we get to save that way too.

Ruins

Donna at Aztec Ruins

We have been exploring the area some. One day we went to Aztec to see the ruins the Pueblo Indians built around 900 A.D. We wanted to travel to Chaco Canyon to visit the ruins there but were scared away by reports of a nightmare road to the site. We have been to Farmington a few times to shop. I have been looking for another lawn chair and Donna has been exploring the idea of switching cell carriers. I found a chair at Target but Donna ran into a roadblock when she found out her cellphone is not compatible with Verizon.

It has been raining off and on for the last couple days and temps mostly in the 50’s. We plan on heading to Heron Lake State Park on Monday. It probably will not be any warmer there, but unless we drive several hundred miles south, it is the only option we have. We will only have to stay 6 days before we can come back here. The campground above us will be open by then and we can stay free with our passes.

I haven’t gone into a lot of detail on the places we have seen. It is kind of Deja Vu for my New Mexico summer last year but I see something new everywhere I go. It’s been nice having Donna and Hanna to share this New Mexico adventure. Now I’m caught up. To see more detail and photos of places we have been go to my sisters blog http://driveonup.blogspot.com/

 
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Published on April 21, 2019, by admin in The Great Outdoors.

Nice trees

After a nice stay at Pancho Villa State Park I moved 100 miles north to Percha Dam State Park. I still had a few days left on my 14 day limit but I wanted to move before the Easter weekend crowds hit the parks. It turned out to be a good idea because Percha Dam filled up with many campers and day use weekenders.

Percha Dam State Park is quite pretty. The camping area is filled with trees and there are some grassy spots. The grass is mostly starved for water so brown and thin and filled with little weeds. The place I chose to park has many goat heads around my rig that constantly end up in my rugs even though I always take my shoes off when I come in.

Donna parked under the trees

This is one of the New Mexico parks located on the Rio Grande. Two lakes north of here hold back most of the water this time of year so only a trickle is coming down here. They say that on May 2nd they open the dams and let the river fill up. It would be nice to see that but we will be moving to higher and cooler ground long before then.

My friend John has been camping in the area and it was nice to see him again. We take a walk each morning along the river to exercise and look for birds. John is pretty involved with birding and takes some great pictures which he posts to his blog. Google RVJohn to see his photographs and find out what he’s up to.

Two days after I arrived at Percha Dam, Donna joined me for a caravan around the state to find and enjoy some of the New Mexico State Parks and attractions. Yesterday we journeyed south to checkout Leasburg Dam State Park and a historic site called Fort Selden. Because Leasburg is so close to Las Cruces, the camping sites are always full. The ranger told us that every site has been occupied since last October. The campground had nice private sites but the terrain was just rolling hills of desert brush.

Donna at Fort Selden


We drove another mile and paid $5 to walk through the visitors center and crumbling remains of old Fort Selden. Fort Selden only existed for a few years, mainly to protect the settlers and travelers from Apache raids. The soldiers saw little action from encounters with Apache, and in fact, more men died from fights among themselves, illness, and suicide than Indian fighting. It was interesting to learn about the desolation living conditions for the soldiers and their way of life. One interesting fact was that General Douglas MacArthur lived there with his military family when he was a very young toddler.

We will probably move up to Bluewater State Park in a few days. It may be a little chilly there in the mornings but probably better than the 90’s predicted here next week. On our way we may go through Datil Wells, Pie Town, and the VLA. Lots of things to see.

 
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Published on April 5, 2019, by admin in Adventure.

Boot Hill

I stayed two days in Tempe while I got an emissions test on Minnie and waited for the winds to die down. Wind is probably the most dreaded condition for driving that I experience. Give me mountains, bad road, or rain to drive in and I will take them over high wind any day. Forecast for Wednesday looked good in the morning so I loaded up and headed for places east.

My first stop was near Tombstone, AZ on a forest road about 10 miles from town. The free campsite was quite nice, and I would probably spend a few days there if I was just wandering around, but I had a destination in New Mexico picked out to provide me with suitable temperatures for a few days. Tombstone is in high desert so the temperature got down quite chilly at night. The only other drawback to camping on this forest road was 8 miles of washboard dirt road. Anyone that has experienced washboard roads in an RV will know how cruel they can be.

The next day I headed for New Mexico after the obligatory stop to see Boot Hill Cemetery. The last time I was at the cemetery was when I was a kid and Mom and Dad took the family there for an outing. I tried to imagine what it was like to live in a wild western town where many of these men met violent death from a bullet or at the end of a rope, but I couldn’t really. I spent half an hour reading some of the headstones and comparing my pamphlet to the graves and then left before I was blocked in in the small parking lot.

Interstate 10 from Benson to Deming is generally boring, flat terrain of a lot of high desert. It seemed to take forever to drive the 200 miles to my destination of Pancho Villa State Park about 30 miles south of Deming New Mexico. My GPS wanted to go by way of a few southern roads but I overruled her and elected to stay on the interstate until Deming, adding a few miles to the trip but gaining better roads. I sometimes like to get off the interstate but traffic usually piles up behind me when I do.

Mexico just off in the distance.

I snagged the last non-electric site at the park and set up camp. Pancho Villa State Park is not very pretty. There is no lake or river or mountains or forest to speak of and the terrain is mostly flat desert. The main reason I’m here is to enjoy the weather. The park is at 3500’ and just about perfect this time of year. I have been exploring the park and visitors center and learning about the history of the Pancho Villa raid in 1916. The visitors center is very nicely done.

Visitors Center history displays.

What happened here

 
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Published on March 30, 2019, by admin in Adventure.

Squaw Lake


It has been a relaxing and fun time spent with Richard and Dianna at the LTVA near Yuma, but as the temperature builds and other commitments draw near, it is time to move once again. I’m headed back to Tempe to get my motorhome emissions tested and Richard and Dianna are headed up to Blue Ridge for there summer volunteering at the ranger station. I may go back over to New Mexico for a few weeks. I have time left on my state park pass and would like to take advantage of the perks it will provide.

We always seem to get a few projects processed while parked in the desert. I modified my electrical system, improved my water storage and supply connections, developed a washing machine of sorts, installed a braking system on my tow car, and thanks to Daryl, wired in a new backup camera. We also had to do emergency repair on Richard and Dianna’s awning when one day the wind tore it in two pieces. It was a task to remove the material from the mechanism and even more problematic to replace it. Luckily, he found a place in Yuma that could sew the material back together and fix it stronger than when it was new.

Washing machine

The winter weather here in southern Arizona has been colder and more windy than usual. There is a nice lake near the LTVA and it only warmed enough in the last couple weeks that I could put my kayak to use. The lake is one of many formed by dams on the Colorado River and I paddled out to the river several times. I think it would be fun to do an overnight kayak trip down the Colorado River.

Brake Buddy

Before I wrap up I wanted to tell the story of my braking system for Micro. Micro only weighs about 1800 pounds and is legal to tow without a brake system. Brake systems for tow cars typically cost over $1000 so I elected to go without for the time being. One day we were stopped at the dumpster to toss our trash and beside the dumpster was a box with a used Brake Buddy in it. People sometimes will set things beside a dumpster that are still good but they don’t want anymore. I decided to take it back to my rig and see if it still worked.

The next day I plugged it in and nothing happened. I removed the cover and discovered a loose wire, reattached the wire, closed it back up, and it worked perfectly normal. We downloaded the manual so we could get the settings right for my car and tested it several times with positive results. This little bit of serendipity saved me a thousand dollars!

 
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Published on February 2, 2019, by admin in More Stuff.

Quartzsite LTVA

When I spend the winter in southern Arizona, I fall into a quiet routine of daily uneventful living. It is a lot easier to document when I’m traveling, visiting new and interesting places, and experiencing adventure as I explore the highways across our land. I was surprised at the length of time since my last post and decided to write something no matter how simple the story turned out.

The main reason I decided to update was to tell about a new addition to my rig. In the last episode I wrote about the little car I added to my lifestyle. The Smart car is working out well and I’m glad I made the jump from motorcycle to car. When you turn 70 years old, everything seems easier on four wheels instead of two. My only regret is that my little car only seats two, so when I’m hanging out with Richard and Dianna, whenever we all want to go someplace, they always have to drive.

After solving the situation of supplemental transportation, I started to ponder an upgrade to the electrical system in Minnie. For the last few years my batteries have slowly lost much of there power. It was getting so bad that I could hardly get through the night on a full charge. All batteries will degrade over time but I have to admit that I didn’t take the best of care with mine. I mixed types and capacities – which you are never supposed to do – and through the use of inadequate equipment, never charged them to a point that removes deposits and extends their life. After pondering the choice between buying new lead acid batteries or taking the plunge and going with newer technology, I decided to go with newer technology and switch to lithium.

Lithium batteries last a lot longer than lead acid batteries, they have a greater usable capacity, they weigh much less than other batteries, and best of all, they require basically no maintenance. The only drawback, and this is a big one, they are way more expensive. I figured that a lithium battery would probably last as long as I’m physically able to live this lifestyle, so I took the plunge and bought one.

Big battery

The battery I bought is called Lifeblue. It gets its name from the chemical composition (LiFePo4) and the battery monitor system sent to your phone through Bluetooth. So far through testing I have used only a small amount of the 300 Amphours capacity. Through normal usage, the daily power I use would almost drain my old batteries. The new Lifeblue shows 75% of power still available.

Phone display

They could have put these all on one screen.

One problem I foresee is that I may not have enough solar to replace all the juice I use. Here in the desert southwest, the sun is low in the sky and we have had many cloudy overcast days. I tilted two of my panels on Minnie’s roof to help capture more sunlight, but the future forecast is for several days of cloudy weather. I way more prefer to use free sunlight to charge, but some generator time could be in our future.

I have been hanging out here at the LTVA with Richard and Dianna. Richard drove me all the way to Yuma to pick up my battery and helped me install it in Minnie. Both Richard and Dianna have done so much for me and I can’t thank them enough. It has been wonderful spending time with them here in Quartzsite.

 

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