Park Hopping

July 26th, 2018

Even have a little shelter.

It’s amazing how many multiple names of towns there are in this country. Yesterday I drove past signs for Cuba, Algodones, and Las Vegas, none of which are the places I first think of when I see those names.

I’m presently camped 4 miles north of Las Vegas, NM, at Storrie Lake State Park. I got one of the last developed sites available. If an electric site had been open I probably would have ponied up the extra cash to run my AC. It’s not too warm yet and there is a nice breeze that helps. The sky is dark overcast and may dump some rain soon. At least I have good cell signal and open sky for satellite.

After only one night at Fenton Lake I packed up and headed for Hyde Memorial SP. Hyde Memorial is 8 miles north of Santa Fe in what is called Black Canyon. It’s a good description because the park is narrow, heavily treed, and crowded. I found only three sites open and managed to squeeze into one of them. I was not level, there was no way my satellite could see through all the trees, and I had zero cell signal. The one good thing I can say is that at 8500′ the temperature was perfect – 75°.

Overlook on road above Hyde Memorial at 10,000′.

I’m a little miffed at New Mexico Parks because the last three parks have had no dump station. Fenton Lake never had one and Hyde Memorial was closed because of flood water. When I pulled in here at Storrie Lake and saw the sign that the dump was closed, I was a bit disappointed. When I asked the girl working the entrance booth about it, she directed me to a nearby RV park that charges $10.

The main reason I purchased the park pass is so I would have free access to dump, water, garbage, and a nice site. I guess my main objective this year is to explore the state parks and decide which ones fit my lifestyle. So far I haven’t found any better than Bluewater Lake and Heron Lake for warm summer months.

Fenton Lake State Park

July 25th, 2018

Small but pretty lake

My 14 day limit was up at Heron Lake State Park so I headed out to find another place to explore. My original thought was to head up to Eagles Nest State Park, situated high in the Carson National Forest at 8500′ of elevation, and look for a break in all this hot weather. Eagles Nest is a high, glacial lake situated out in the open with few trees around. I looked at the weather forecast for the next week and became concerned with being out in the open in violent lightning storms every afternoon. At the last minute I changed direction and headed south to Fenton Lake State Park.

The road up to Fenton Lake coming in from Los Alamos was pretty curvy and steep. I wouldn’t want to tow a big trailer up that way. When I went through Los Alamos, I was stopped, had to show picture ID, and consent to a search of my RV. I’m not to sure what goes on around Los Alamos. The signs say it is a national laboratory. I’m thinking some kind of top secret nuclear testing and design. There sure we’re a lot of impressive huge buildings with hundreds of vehicles in adjoining parking lots. When I get a cell signal I’ll look it up.

Pretty rainbow!

Fenton Lake State Park is tucked into a valley high in the Santa Fe NF. The lake is tiny compared with many I have been to. Most of the sites are reservation only and the few that are open are not very level or nice. There is no cell signal, and the weather is just as hot as Heron Lake. They have lifted all fire restrictions, however, so you can roast hotdogs over a campfire.

I thought that coming up in the middle of the week would give me a better chance of finding a good spot. The campground was almost full even on a Tuesday. I guess the big draw is the fishing. One camper told me they stock it with big trout every week. If I were a fisherman, or had a kayak, or planned to hike the nice trails in the area, I would probably stay for a while. But I’m not, and I don’t, and I can’t, so I think I’ll move on.

Richard wrote to me about all the places to see and explore near Fenton Lake, but with Honda down until I get the headlight fixed, I won’t be making many side trips. Maybe next time through.

El Vado State Park

July 21st, 2018

El Vado Lake

It was a struggle putting Honda’s tire back on the rim. I ended up with a couple bruised fingers and a sore back from all the bending, but it is back together and so far holding air. I drove as far as the dam overlook last night for a test ride and decided to venture out on a long trip to a neighboring state park today.

El Vado State Park is only a few miles south of Heron Lake, but just like getting to the east shore of Navajo Lake from the west side, involves a 40 mile road trip, half of which is in the opposite direction. It was a nice ride, however, and I found a Family Dollar and gas station in the little town of Tierra Amarillo only 10 miles from here.


El Vado lake is not very pretty and the camping area is basically a field on top of the hill. The lake is quite low making it look like a pond in a big hole with rings of exposed shale for banks. A lot of the campsites overlook the lake but they are out in the open. Some sites on another loop do go back into some scrub trees but only a couple sites were level enough for an RV. Strike three is 2 bars 1x cell service.

I may go over there next week just to say I stayed there. It is certainly not a park where I would spend much time.

Sketchy Ride

July 16th, 2018

Down for a few days.

A few days ago when I was still at Navajo Lake, I noticed Honda’s front tire was a little soft. I pumped it up and it held overnight, only losing a few pounds by morning. It was a very slow leak and I thought maybe a can of fix-a-flat would solve the problem. I purchased the fix-a-flat, pumped it into the tire, drove a few miles to seal the leak, and waited to check the results. After two days the tire was still up, and I had driven twice to a town 20 miles away and once exploring all the campgrounds in Heron State Park. I thought I had the tire fixed but yesterday proved me wrong.

Chama, New Mexico is only 20 miles away so I decided to make a quick run to the market to pick up a few groceries. I got kind of a late start and almost turned around because of rain clouds building in my direction. I decided to chance it and kept going. I reached the store just as it began to sprinkle and parked under an outdoor canopy. When I jumped off of Honda, a store employee called my attention to a soft front tire.

I looked for more tire goop to put in to get me home but the store was out. There was a service station next door and I slowly rolled over and pumped air in the tire. I could tell the tire was not going to last long because I could hear air escaping at an alarming rate. I jumped on and headed for home anyway.

I think the tire lost most of the air very quickly. My tires are quite good quality Michelin with very stiff sidewalls and I discovered that keeping my speed up caused the centrifugal force to hold the tire somewhat rigid. The tires are so stiff that it is a job to pull the tire bead open enough to replace a tube. I sat far back on the seat to take as much weight as I could off the front end and road just ahead of a rainstorm chasing me all the way home.

No sightseeing on this trip.

I took the tire apart today and found that the valvestem was torn at the base. I have patches but no home remedy for a torn valvestem. I talked to the camp host about a store nearby that might have a tube. He gave me a couple suggestions that proved fruitless when I gave them a call. He also told me that he gets Amazon shipped here and supplied me with an address. I told him my 14 days were up soon and didn’t know if I would be here that long. He told me not to worry about it because no one would care if I had to stay longer.

So I texted Daryl and had him order the tube for me. After quite a turmoil trying to get Amazon to recognize my address, he finally got it to take. I should have the tube in three days.

Heron Lake State Park

July 10th, 2018

These sites not for big RVs.

After five days at Navajo Lake State Park, I decided to drive 80 miles east to Heron Lake. Navajo is a nice park but too warm this time of year without air conditioning. While I was there, I fortunately had an electric site so I could run AC and stay cool. Navajo Lake is around 6000′ elevation and Heron Lake is 7200′. Logic told me to put the money for electric in my gas tank and drive up to the higher elevation.

There is a good road to Heron that curves up to the north and swings south at Chama. Unfortunately, my GPS saw a lot shorter route through the Apache Indian reservation, and beckoned me on another shortcut. It was a mistake! The road was sort of paved most of the way, but dangerous potholes littered every bit of the black top. That was bad enough but then the road turned to dirt. With all the rain in the last few days many places along the road were washed out and muddy. I half expected to come to a dip filled with water where I would have to back-track many miles.

I made it as you can tell. The campground I’m in is quite pretty with trees and views of the lake. I’ll do more exploration tomorrow. There is a thunderstorm firing up this afternoon and forecast is for more all week. The temperature is 82 degrees.