Archive for the ‘New Mexico Summer’ Category

Picture Yourself…

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

… in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and… No, that’s something else altogether.

Ready to launch at the boat ramp.

Hard to tell where the water and cliff met.

I haven’t been able to get that song out of my head every since I decided to stop overnight at McHood City Park near Winslow, Arizona and paddle the pretty river of Clear Creek. McHood Park is a small campground and day use area on the shore of Clear Creek Reservoir. The campground is nothing more than a parking lot but it is free for 14 days.

The temperature in Winslow this time of year is still in the 90’s, so I got up early and put my kayak in the reservoir next to the campground. The dam at the reservoir backs up the water into Clear Creek for a few miles and makes a beautiful place to float through the canyon of steep rock walls.

These guys swam right over to my kayak.

The reservoir was not very pretty for 1/2 mile or so – reeds along the shore and seaweed that scraped the bottom of the boat – but then you cross under the bridge and start into the canyon.

Day use area.

The canyon, rock walls get steeper and steeper until they tower over you in your little boat, almost making it dark as the sun is blocked from the narrow gorge. The cliffs are favorites of some visitors that come here to jump from high ledges into the water.

It felt kind of spooky to be all alone in the depths of the canyon, miles from anyone. Once in the deep canyon I had no cell signal. The only blessing was that the shade from the rock walls blocked the sun and increasing heat of the day.


It’s about 3 miles one way.

I finally reached the end of the navigable water. I met a young man there that had paddled his canoe earlier than me and was fishing by the shore. I asked him if I could go any further and he said I could go a little further but would have to drag my boat over many shallow places.

These are ancient petroglyphs on the walls.

On the way back I met six more people in one-person kayaks going the opposite way. One woman had a paddle board with a dog riding with her. My shoulders started hurting on the way back and my butt got sore from sitting so long on an unpadded seat. The wind also came up and blew in my face, making forward progress even more difficult.

I had my phone in a plastic baggie in a fanny pack when I started out, but taking it out of the plastic every time I wanted to take a picture got to be too much of a hassle. Of course when I got back to the boat ramp, I would fall in the water.

I stepped out of the boat and grabbed hold of the front handle to pull the boat up on dry part of the ramp. I didn’t realize just how slippery the algae covered concrete was and I went down in an instant. I floundered around for a bit and succeeded in dunking myself even deeper. Finally, I got hold of the dock and stood up, immediately pulling my phone from the fanny pack and setting it in the sun to dry. It was somewhat protected in the zippered pouch so just a little water got to it. Seems like it is fine.

It was noon when I got the kayak loaded and strapped down. I drove south to a familiar camp near Blue Ridge Ranger Station. The weather here should be nice for a few days.

Boat Trailer

Saturday, September 8th, 2018

My trailer will probably get some laughs!

It always seems that campgrounds by a lake are never right near the lake. It posed a problem for launching my kayak. I either had to carry it the distance to the shore or pack everything and drive Minnie to the boat launch. If I had a separate vehicle it would be easy to carry the kayak on a roof rack and spirit away to the boat launch.

Here at Storrie Lake you can pull down and camp anyplace along the lake. That makes it handy to put Boat in the water but not good if it rains and your stuck in the mud. Many campers like to park right by the water but it just feels too exposed to me.

One day I was pondering this dilemma and decided to see if my bicycle trailer would fasten to the end of my kayak. With a little modification and a couple tie down straps, the trailer fits snug to the boat. I added a couple boards and put an old rug down to cushion the plastic. I used it like this for a few times. I could pick up one end and either pull or push the boat like a wheelbarrow. This soon got old too. It was ok for a hundred yards or so, but any further left me with wobbly legs, reminiscent of a drunk walking along side of the road.

My workhorse.

In the middle of my dream a couple nights ago I thought of a way to use a PVC pipe that I picked up for my awning last year and modify the pipe to fasten to Honda. It’s still in the experimental stage with a couple of bugs to work out but I’m confident it will work. For now Honda has to be my workhorse around camp. I don’t know what I would do without him.

Nice kayaking when water is smooth.

Two more parks

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

Villanueva State Park

My two weeks were up at Storrie Lake so I packed up and headed south along the Pecos River to check out two more state parks. I was a little concerned that I would be dropping lower in altitude and thus finding hotter temperatures, but I hoped to find an electric site to ride out the Labor Day weekend with air conditioning.

Forty miles south of Las Vegas, New Mexico is the little state park called Villanueva. It’s another one of those parks built in a valley along a river. There is fishing and hiking trails. I only stayed overnight and hiked two short trails. There was no cell signal from a tower but up at the visitors center there is a booster where you could connect as long as you were close to the building. The Pecos River that runs along the length of the park supplies moisture to the valley so that lush, tall trees provide a pretty campsite.

There is a lot of history along the Pecos River. Early Spanish explorers were believed to have traveled through the valley, and later the area became part of the Santa Fe Trail. The town of Villanueva was a busy crossing when the Pecos was part of the border between Mexico and the United States. Supplies brought in by traders heading west were heavily taxed by the Mexico government.

Trail above the Pecos River.

In the morning I hiked up the valley to a mesa where early Spanish settlers built rock walls as a place to thrash wheat. They would fill a large, round, stone walled area with wheat and walk cattle in a circle to separate the grain. Then they would fluff it into the wind to remove the chaff.

After my morning hike, I packed up and drove 80 miles south to Santa Rosa State Park. Santa Rosa is 2000′ lower than Storrie Lake and the heat was definitely in full swing when I reached the the campground. I drove the non-electric camp loops and only saw a couple sites occupied. It was the opposite when I looked at the electric sites. Luckily, I found a couple non-reservable sites open and snagged one for the next seven days.

Santa Rosa Lake lookout.

I haven’t explored much of the park yet. The lake is not a place where I can launch my kayak so I will just hang out and enjoy the electricity. I did ride Honda into Santa Rosa today and met Richard and Dianna on their trip back to Tennessee. We had a quick lunch at McDonalds and then they continued on east. I will not see them until next year.

Das Boot

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

10′ Lifetime sit-on kayak.

Now I know why Richard and Dianna got a motor for their kayak – paddling is hard work!

On the water.

With my knee not getting any better and walking becoming more difficult, I rationalized that maybe paddling a boat would at least give me some exercise, so I bought a cheap kayak from Walmart through their online ordering system. You can order something and have it shipped to one of their stores for free. Most of the time I’m in a state park or backwoods road with no address so shipping to a store works well for me. The only trouble is it takes way longer to get something from Walmart than it does from Amazon Prime. It took almost two weeks for this kayak to find it’s way from Las Vegas NV to Las Vegas NM. Tracking showed it even went to California before coming back this way.

I’m not really sure how I’m going to carry it yet but I will figure it out. When I picked it up, I went to the store, left my motorcycle here at Storrie Lake, and tied the kayak to my ladder. The kayak only stuck up a foot above the roof and rode fine the four miles back to the lake.

Easy to carry if I didn’t have Honda.

Of course the weather has turned windy and rainy today so I have only tried it out for a couple quick jaunts. I made sure I stayed close to shore and paid attention to the storm clouds moving in.

The hardest part is launching. The lake is so shallow here where I’m camped that I have to walk the boat several yards into the water where it’s deap enough to float with my weight once I sit down. If you get in too early, you sit on the muddy lake bottom and your stuck.

Walking out into the water where it is deap enough to launch wouldn’t be a problem except for the consistency of the lake bed. I bought a pair of cheap sneakers to use as water shoes but the mud sucks them in like quicksand trying to pull them off with each step. Maybe I’ll get the hang of it before I have to move.


Friday, August 10th, 2018

Eagles Nest SP.

I drove north yesterday and stopped at Coyote Creek SP. It’s only 40 miles from Storrie Lake State Park which makes it a good place to serve my time away from the 14-day limit rule for New Mexico state parks. The rule is that you have to be out of a park 6 days, then you can go back for another 14. Some people will stay a week and then go out for 3 days to make it legal. I figured the weekend at Coyote Creek would give me another batch of time at Storrie Lake.

Both parks have pluses and minuses. Storrie Lake has great cell signal, a lake, and the city of Las Vegas only 5 miles away. Coyote Creek has trees, dump station, cooler weather, and hiking trails. It’s hard to pick one that I like best.

This morning I woke to chilly temperatures and overcast sky. I was planning on riding Honda 30 miles north to check out Eagles Nest State Park, Cimarron State Park, and a couple attractions on the way. After thinking it over for a while this morning, I decided to drive Minnie up to the state park and stay for a couple days.

The road North from Coyote Creek was under construction. For about 5 miles the road wound steeply up to a higher Alpine landscape. At times the road was only a little over one lane wide and I’m glad there was not much traffic. Once I broke out of the forest into wide valley meadows, the road was wide and nice.

I stopped in Angel Fire to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park. I walked around for a while looking at all the memorials to those who served during that war. The visitors center had many displays of all things pertaining to the war years. It was a sad place to visit, but important to remember those that served and the 58,000 young men that gave their lives.

No match for a tornado!

I arrived at Eagles Nest SP shortly before noon and was lucky enough to find one site open. The camp host came by after I parked and recorded my documents to put me on the time clock. He mentioned to me that there was a tornado that came through the park yesterday and showed me a 5th-wheel RV down the road that was tipped on it’s side. He said there were three other campers that had broken windows, but thankfully, no one was hurt. The people that own the 5th wheel we’re not there at the time. Tornadoes are so rare in this county, I guess I should feel safe tonight.

If the weather is good tomorrow I may explore some nearby places. I talked with another camper that told me it was 38 degrees this morning. That’s not good motorcycle riding temperature!