Forest Living

July 22nd, 2019

Willard Springs campground

Not long after Donna traveled back to her home in Mesa, I drove over to northern Arizona and settled in the Coconino National Forest west of Flagstaff. I knew a couple other people that camped there and it wasn’t long before we greeted each other and made plans to take some morning walks. There are quite a few places near Flagstaff that many boondockers spend their entire summer. It becomes an art to move to different places before attracting attention and not overstaying your welcome. The limit is 2 weeks in one place and we try not to push the good nature of forest rangers too much.

I had only been at my camp a few days when I received word that my older brother, Richard was having medical problems and was being transferred to the VA hospital in Phoenix. For reasons not completely known his lungs were not working right and contributing to major health problems. I decided to drive down to Phoenix and stay with Daryl and Donna and help out any way I could.

Richard became very ill and he gave all the family quite a scare. For 9 days he lay in an induced coma on life support as they pumped oxygen into his lungs and medicated him through tubes. Through a strong will and modern medicine he fought back and was eventually able to breath on his own.

His recovery has been miraculous. He continues to improve every day. It will take a lot of work and rehab but we are all positive that he will be able to do the things he did before. He may have to make some adjustments to his lifestyle but we all have to do that as we get older.

I’m leaving out a lot of detail in the story of my time with family in Phoenix but that’s ok. There were a lot of emotions that we all shared while Richard was so gravely ill, and even more as he pulled through.

Watermelon party.

Once things returned to somewhat normal in town I headed back up on the Mogolllon Rim to get out of the heat of the Valley. Temperatures at Daryl’s and Donna’s were climbing to 110+ degrees and my lifestyle consists on migrating in search of 70 to 80 degrees. At 7000’ feet in the forests near Flagstaff, I have been quite comfortable the last couple of weeks. The camping spots I found are very pretty, and I have met up with some of the same people I was with before. Life is good.

On My Own Again

June 2nd, 2019

Camp in Cibola NF

After six weeks traveling together in New Mexico, Donna left this morning for her home in Arizona. It’s been a lot of fun having someone to camp with me and share adventures in and around western New Mexico. Having spent part of last summer exploring New Mexico state parks, I thought I would have seen most everything there was to see. But we found all kinds of new places to visit and see. One day we even drove up into Colorado to check out the tourist town of Durango.

I won’t go into detail of all the places we went and all the things we saw because Donna writes a much better synopsis of our travels, and it seems redundant for us both to tell the same story.

We spent time at five different state parks and only three days boondocking while traveling between them. A lot of our camping was in Navajo Dam State Park, a favorite of Mom and Dads in their retirement years. We have had many days this spring that have been cold, wet, and windy, and Navajo was a good choice to ride out the bad weather. We even paid for electric sites the first week we were there.

I’m camped in the Cibola National Forest about twenty miles from Bluewater Lake State Park. My plan is to go to Bluewater tomorrow and use the rest of my State Park Pass. The pass expires this month and I think I will travel back over to Northern Arizona for this summer instead of buying another one.

Thanks go out to Donna for the company and companionship this last 6 weeks. She did a lot of the driving when we went places and she always had marshmallows for s’mores at evening campfires. It seemed she was sometimes challenged with cell signal and TV reception so she had to do a lot of reading. I feel bad that we had so many bad weather days for her trip, and now that it is over, she will return home just in time for 100 degrees.

Where’s Summer?

May 10th, 2019

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/

Percha Dam and Fort Selden

April 21st, 2019

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.

Pancho Villa

April 5th, 2019

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