Last Days at City of Rocks – April 2019

Tuesday April 9: After breakfast, Clifford and I go with our friends to the Botanical Gardens here at City of Rocks State Park in New Mexico where we are all camped. Then we hike through the rocks, not on the trail, but wherever our meanderings take us. We find a big “cave” in the overhang of a large boulder and spend time here in the shade as we visit.

Visiting the Botanical Gardens with our friends
Hiking in the rocks with our friends
Rock formation creates a cave of sorts

In the afternoon, we all work on our various projects. Our friends make dinner for all of us this evening, which I especially appreciate, since I am most usually (like nearly always) chief-cook-and-bottle-washer. It is nice to have someone else take on this important responsibility.

We have been checking the weather frequently, as tomorrow was to be our leaving day. However, we see that it will be too windy for us, with gusts up to 60 mph on our intended route. There is sleet in Montana where my brother Rollie is headed, with a forecast for snow, possibly a lot of snow from the “cyclone bomb” that is hitting Colorado tonight and tomorrow. It is normal to be windy on the east side of the Rockies in the spring, but some of weather we are seeing and hearing about goes way beyond normal.

Wednesday April 10: It is windy and windier, with a temperature variation between the low last night and the high today of only 2 degrees. The sky is pale with dust, no doubt from the high winds. Our friends left very early to try to beat the inclement weather and high winds, but we heard later from them that it was a very harrowing drive for many miles. It would have been worse for us in the direction of our next destination. During the day we notice no one (other than our friends) leaving and no one coming into this usually active state park. We are staying beyond the 14-day limit, as are others who cannot travel today.

Cookes Peak nearly obscured by blowing dust

The wind is wearying and I head to bed as soon as the dishes are done. I have scarcely had time to fall asleep when Clifford wakes me up to find out where the mouse traps are. Traps are set and a mouse caught before I am even back asleep. Hope that was the only one!

Thursday April 11: It is not quite as windy this morning, so I go for a walk and take a few photos with plans to go back when the sun is in a more optimal position.

The “cave” where we all sat in the shade yesterday

However, by afternoon it is too windy to go hiking in the rocks again. We work on CI projects: MeWe, Friends of CI for our fund-raising platform, and start the quarterly newsletter. In the afternoon, we go for a short walk, very chilly, and back at the campsite, we pack up all the outside chairs, tables, solar panel, and so on, as we intend to leave in the morning. Other than the wind, we have enjoyed our stay here, but it is time to move northward. We have things to do and people to see!

City of Rocks Days – April 2019

Sunday April 7: Beautiful blue sky for much of the day here at City of Rocks New Mexico State Park where Clifford and I are camped. This is a real treat after several days of wind and scummy skies.

Beautiful blue sky at City of Rocks State Park
Our campsite at City of Rocks State Park with a great blue sky in the background

We have fruit for breakfast this morning, then go out to say good-bye to Rollie. He is packed and nearly ready to head out, on his way to Montana where he will spend the next several months playing bluegrass music whenever he can..

Rollie leaving for Montana

We have a CI business call and then I talk to my daughter Becka. Nice to have cell service here, but today the hotspot is very marginal, so I’m not getting as much done as I’d like. No blog posted today, but I do manage to get a couple photos posted on FB. I reorganize my bench, a big improvement, as anyone living in small spaces knows.

Bench reorganization project

Clifford and I are both able to spend time outside playing our instruments today – dulcimer and the long-awaited penny whistle for him, viola for me. An afternoon walkabout gives me a chance to admire the cacti that are beginning to bloom. I noticed the buds several days before, but now they are starting to open.

Painterly presentation of cacti blossoms

In the evening, Clifford has a call with his brothers, so dinner is late, but it is nice enough outside that we are able to sit at the picnic table to eat. I finish out the day with writing in the journal. Clifford has his ham radio and always has projects of one sort or another going on.

Monday April 8: This morning we are watching to see if an electric site opens up for our friends who are coming from Colorado, but none do. We pay for a pretty spot on the opposite of the rocks so that they will have a spot when they arrive. This park seems to fill up every evening.

Before our friends arrive, we make a trip to the Faywood post office, about 10 miles on up the highway, to pick up our general delivery mail.

A painterly Cookes Peak peaks over the foreground hills

Once our friends arrive and get set up in their campsite, they discover a swarm of bees in the tree right next to the picnic table, and then hiking through the rocks to visit us, they encounter a rattlesnake. So…. they pack up and move to the kokopelli site right next to us, which was not available earlier. This will be much more convenient for visiting and they come over to our site to have dinner with us. Later, we ladies head to our respective RV’s, while the men stay out until late, continuing their conversation. We will have more time to visit and hike tomorrow.

Checking out City of Rocks – April 2019

Friday April 5: Kind of a dark stormy looking sky when I go out this morning, creating a dramatic ambiance at City of Rocks New Mexico State Park where Clifford and I are camped.

The formation at the Visitors Center of City of Rocks State Park
Rays at sunrise turn the rocks golden

After breakfast, my brother Rollie, who just arrived yesterday, and I drive around the lava knoll, about a two mile loop. There are lots of sites tucked in here and there in the rocks around the perimeter of the loop, but not many are suitable for motor homes or even rigs as big as Cougar.

And more rocks

Clifford has an assurance that the missing penny whistle is at the Deming post office, so he and Rollie run to Deming together and I have Cougar to myself for a couple of hours. That is a rarity! I listen to CD’s as I put away groceries from yesterday’s errand day, sweep, and dance to music. When they return, Clifford finally has his penny whistle. Rollie brings his instruments over and we get set up to play bluegrass music outside. After only a couple pieces, the wind comes up, so we pack everything up and move over to Rollie’s motor home to continue playing inside out of the wind.

Rollie’s rig in the cul d sac near Clifford and me

We have a chicken dinner and then I play a game of cribbage with Rollie before taking care of dishes.

Saturday April 6: I have coffee with Rollie this morning at his rig while Clifford listens to his ham radio net. Back at our site as I’m making breakfast, the ham radio is especially static-filled, so I go out to the picnic table to eat and enjoy the sunshine.

Cougar at City of Rocks

After breakfast, Clifford and I take Rollie up to the viewpoint at the “Village,” as I call the nearby hill with the smaller cluster of lava rocks.

Going up to the “village”
Looking down at the City of Rocks
Cookes Peak to the east looking painterly from the view point

Back down at the “city,” we walk through the Botanical Garden to a much smaller outlying group of rocks.

Clifford on the trail to the outlying cluster near the Botanical Garden

Clifford suggests lunch in Silver City, which sounds like a great fun plan, so off we go, driving about 30 miles to the Adobe Cafe, our favorite restaurant in Silver City.

After we return from Silver City, I take my viola over to Rollie’s to play music. We start outside, but soon move in out of the wind. Darn wind – it is warm enough to be outside, but the wind makes it hard. It is fun to be playing music with Rollie, whether we are inside or out. As usual, Clifford is our appreciative audience and we are glad he is there.

I walk in the rocks at sunset, my favorite time to be there, along with sunrise, which is also a good time.

Walking in the rocks near sunset

Before heading to bed, I review The Four Agreements: “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” Sometimes the events in our lives feel personally hurtful, but the wisdom of The Four Agreements is worth taking to heart.

Sunset at the City of Rocks

City of Rocks – April 2019

Wednesday April 3: I walk in the rocks at City of Rocks New Mexico State Park an extra long time this morning, as it is calm for a change and the sky is a beautiful blue. I delight in each new and each familiar place where the meanderings take me.

Walking in the rocks
Rock formation near the Visitors Center

I spend much of the day on emails, editing, and get the next blog posted. Clifford and I work together on CI projects, updating the fund-raising campaigns that we have been working on in preparation for his talk in Santa Fe coming up later this month. He also works on music for the dulcimer, devising his own tablature system for it.

By afternoon it is too windy to even be outside, so I’m glad I spent the time walking this morning.

Token afternoon photo – wildflowers at the campsite

Thursday April 4: My brother Rollie and his little dog, Ninja, arrive mid-morning. I go around with him to help find a spot big enough for his motor home. He decides on the cul d sac next to where we are set up.

Rollie sets up in a cul d sac in the rocks

Clifford and I run into Deming to take care of errands, pick up supplies, and try to track down the missing penny whistle that Clifford had ordered from Ireland. It was not sent as instructed, and neither UPS or USPS seem to have it.

Back at camp, I go for an evening walk in the rocks with Rollie, as this place is all new to him.

Rollie and Ninja enjoy an outing in the City of Rocks
Nooks and crannies everywhere
Light from the setting sun
Sunset at City of Rocks

After the walk, Rollie comes to our place for chili dinner. I win the game of cribbage tonight, but win or lose, I am the one who does the dishes. LOL

A Hike at City of Rocks – April 2019

Monday April 1: It is a chilly 33 degrees this morning at City of Rocks New Mexico State Park where we are camped, but not so windy as the last several days. I go for a short walk in the rocks before jumping into projects for the day: editing, answering emails, and sending a couple of agent queries in regard to Novels of Shannon, an epic fantasy written by Ang MacDonald, who happens to be my daughter. Definitely an engaging story for fantasy lovers. Then Clifford and I sit outside to start an outline for the book we anticipate writing — the story behind Carnicom Institute. In the evening I go for a longer walk in the rocks.

Looking toward Cookes Peak from the rocks
Another view of Cookes Peak
Evening walk in City of Rocks

Tuesday April 2: It is cloudy and calm this morning, so I have a little campfire and sit out to write in the journal after a short walk in the rocks. Clifford is listening to his morning ham radio nets. Then he tries to figure out if the penny whistle ordered from Ireland has been delivered to the Deming post office where he is supposed to pick it up.

Morning walk in the rocks
Cougar tucked in
Campfire, coffee, and journal

Once he has exhausted the UPS search, we go to the Visitors Center, as they have an excellent display showing the exact location of the volcano that created City of Rocks.

One of numerous plaques describing the formation of the City of Rocks

After the Visitors Center, we drive to the smaller cluster of rocks that I call “the village,” located on a hill set apart from the main cluster. There is a great view of the City of Rocks from the overlook, but it is very windy up here and not really a great place to hang out.

Looking down at the City of Rocks from “the village”

We meet an interesting woman who is boondocking up here in her van. Then we go to the Cienga Trail, which is just off the road into the Visitors Center and camping area. We were thinking of only going in a quarter mile, but ended up doing the 2-mile loop…. hot, dry and windy.

I was glad to get back to camp.

Back at camp – the view from our front door

At sunset, I hike up to a high point in the rocks and take only a couple photos before I discover that my phone is out of battery. By time I get back to Cougar to get a small USB charger, the color has faded. It is still pretty, but too subtle for a good photo.

Hiking to the high point
One shot as the sun goes down
Pretty, but subtle now

Playing viola this evening, I run through Suzuki Book II, a change from the usual bluegrass tunes. I am tempted to finish the next blog, but it is already close to bedtime, so let it go. Clifford plays his dulcimer awhile, which is a fine and good thing at the end of the day.

Windy Days at City of Rocks – March 2019

Friday March 29: This morning at City of Rocks New Mexico State Park, I get up earlier than usual, still wanting to sleep, but also wanting to get photos at sunrise. Sunrise wins and out I go, taking quite a few photos, though the warm color doesn’t last long.

The warm color doesn’t last long
Artistic rendition

I walk to the Visitors Center and then around the loop as far as the Botanical Garden, taking a few photos before heading through the rocks back to our campsite.

Visit to the Botanical Garden
Trail through the rocks

Clifford and I work on fund-raising campaigns for Carnicom Institute again today and I finish editing the book proposal for an author that we know. I send a few texts with photos and check Facebook, posting photos there, but cell service is not great at City of Rocks, so don’t spend much time fussing with the net.

We have to pull in the awning because of the wind, which is strong enough to topple Clifford’s radio antenna. In fact, it is so windy I don’t even go out to take photos at sunset.

Saturday March 30: The wind continues with jet trails marring the sky; I scarcely go out for photos today.

Our front yard

We both work on fund-raising campaigns and email for CI. I send texts with photos to family, finish a blog, edit more photos, and take care of phone calls. Clifford plays his dulcimer and works on the presentation he will be giving in Santa Fe. Chicken and left-overs for dinner. Although we accomplished some stuff today, it wasn’t exactly a fun photo-opp day.

Sunday March 31: It is a chilly 34 degrees this morning, but not quite so windy as I walk down to the Visitors Center this morning. I am happy to see a good blue sky as I walk.

A good blue sky this morning
Walking in the rocks back to camp

Back at camp during my morning quiet time, I read the poem by Mary Oliver about the golden snow geese, which touches my heart, as I had that same experience at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico many years ago when snow geese were flying in right at sundown. Anyone who loves nature should read Mary Oliver’s poems. She has such a way of resonating with the soul.

Projects include another blog and working on the campaigns in preparation for the talk in Santa Fe. In the afternoon, Clifford and I both walk in the rocks, which is more fun than walking by myself.

City of Rocks State Park

It is not quite so windy, and when we get back to camp, we take a look at the awning to figure out why it has been hard to get in and out properly. We discover the side arm is jammed into the boom on one side. Once we get that fixed, we make a flow chart of the steps required to get the awning in and out, and post it on a 4 x 6 card above the door.

City of Rocks Arrival – March 2019

Wednesday March 27: Clifford and I are up a little earlier this morning, our last morning at Rock Hound New Mexico State Park. I make tea for the road, we finish packing and are on our way to City of Rocks New Mexico State Park by 9:30. It is not a long drive, as City of Rocks is only about 30 miles north of Deming, New Mexico. When we arrive, there is only one first-come first serve electric site open, and just as we are about to pull into it, some lady comes and plunks down a chair and sort of says sorry, not that she’s really sorry. She’s glad she snagged it before we did.

There aren’t a lot of sites in City of Rocks that are suitable for bigger RV’s, not that Cougar is huge, but she still needs more level ground and room for slide-out. We drive around and see a couple campsites that could work, and in the end we pick one near the “kokopelli site” where we first camped with our old Terry Resort trailer several years ago.

The kokopelli pictograph where we camped years ago

It is tricky getting backed into this site, but Clifford does an excellent job. Cougar is leveled, slide-out out, awing up, and we are tucked into the rocks with much more privacy than we would have had in the electric site. Also, there is immediate access to the rocks for hiking. So, in the end, this is a better spot for us and we are quite pleased with it.

Getting backed in
Cougar is tucked into the rocks

Once we are in place, I go for a walk in the rocks.

Looking back at our campsite
Meandering pathways

Thursday March 28: I get up earlier this morning so I can walk in the rocks at first light. Mucky haze on the horizon dampens the light, but I walk anyway, loving the meandering of the pathways through the rocks.

Big boulders reflect early morning light

This boulder pile out in the desert basin was created by a volcanic eruption from the Emory Caldera, centered near Hillsboro Peak at the southern end of the Black Range, 30 million years ago, with wind and water erosion shaping these monolithic blocks, some 40 feet tall.

Behind our campsite
Formations created from lava after a volcano 30 million years ago
One of numerous balanced rocks found at City of Rocks

In the morning we work on CI projects: emails and a fund-raising campaign. In the afternoon, I edit a book proposal for an author and Clifford continues his preparation for the talk to be given in Santa Fe in later April.

Near sundown, I go for another walk in the rocks, as the colors at the last light of day are quite spectacular.

Light from the setting sun turns the west-facing rocks golden
I am not the only one catching the setting sun
The setting of the sun at City of Rocks

After a dinner of breakfast burritos, I complete and publish a blog while Clifford watches documentaries on some of his favorite musicians. This was a very enjoyable day.

Winter Journey – Last Days at City of Rocks – January 2017


Friday January 6th, 2017 – There is a sprinkle of rain in the early morning, very welcome in the desert, here at City of Rocks State Park in southwestern New Mexico.  Even though it is very windy, I go for a walk in the rocks, but I should have left sooner as there is not much time between dawn and sunrise.

The outer “Village” at dawn

Sunlight in the rocks

Today my main project is getting bills, cards, and donor gifts ready to mail. The wind dies down in the mid-afternoon, enough so that I am able to play cello on the sunny side, which I haven’t been able to do so much here at the City. Talk to my daughter Becka as I walk in the rocks at sunset, and finish reading “Last Juror” after dinner.

Saturday January 7th – It is sunny, but only 25 degrees as I go for a morning walk in the rocks, taking photos and even doing a little video. It was suggested that I do that and post it on YouTube to show the interesting places we see. I think the shadows are too deep this early in the morning, so will try another video later in the day. I have a fun time capturing starbursts before the sun is too high in the sky.

Starburst at sunrise

Starburst over the shoulder of a boulder

Starburst illuminates a shrub in the rocks

Morning light in the rocks

After breakfast we go to the Faywood post office to mail stuff and do a last check on mail we may have received. In the afternoon I do some editing for Ang (Novels of Shannon – a really great series for epic fantasy fans) as well as preparing and posting blogs on my website, blogsite, FB, and Twitter. I love seeing these interesting places, which are the basis of the blogs and photos, but what gives them meaning is being able to share with family, friends, and strangers who might not ever be able to travel to these scenic locations. In the evening, I go on another walk in the rocks near sundown; a video at this time of day turns out better.

West-facing rocks near sunset

Walking in the rocks at sunset

Sunday January 8th – As usual, I go for a walk in the rocks on this sunny and milder morning.

Warm light at sunrise

Morning light illuminates grasses in the rocks

Grasses in the rocks illuminated by a starburst

Searching for starbursts at sunrise

Starbursts at sunrise

Rock formations in the morning

I work on the CI email today and am very glad to get that out of the way. I post blogs and then we sit outside – the first day warm and calm enough for us to do that. I am even able to play cello outside on the shady side.

Even though the sunset colors are not great, I love walking in the rocks and meander about, happy to be there.

Across the basin – Cooke Peak

Evening light on the grass


Evening light filtering through the rocks

Last light of the day

Rock ponds

I am sorry that today is our last day here, but it is time to move on.

Terry at dusk with Cooke Peak in the background

Winter Journey – City of Rocks – January 2017

Our “front yard” at City of Rocks

Tuesday January 3rd – the sky is kind of skummy looking this morning, so I don’t go for a walk in the rocks, but make tea and write in my journal.

View of the rocks from our “front yard”

After breakfast, we go to the Faywood post office. Back at camp, I spend most of the day editing Princes of Purt, the next book in the Novels of Shannon series by Angela MacDonald (an excellent and exciting epic fantasy series, for anyone who is interested), editing photos for my next blog, and posting past blogs on my wordpress blog site. It is not quite warm enough to play cello outside, so spend the rest of the day reading “Last Juror.” Clifford continues his studies.

Wednesday January 4th – I make tea, put it in a to-go cup, and with journal in hand, I head to a picnic table in the rocks. Once I get to the rocks, instead of sitting and writing, I begin hiking around in a different section of the rocks. They are an endlessly fascinating labyrinth just waiting to be explored.

Starburst at sunrise

A labyrinth waiting to be explored

A local resident of City of Rocks

Back at the campsite, after breakfast, I cut Clifford’s hair, as it is warm enough for us to do this outside. By time the temperature is warm enough for the cello, it is too windy out, so no playing cello today. Blogs and editing take up the rest of the day; I’m grateful for the electricity that allows hours on the laptop. I walk in the rocks at sunset, but don’t take many photos, as the sky is, unfortunately, is too streaked with jet trails. After dinner, I continue reading “Last Juror.” Although I might prefer to edit Princes of Purt, I don’t do good editing later in the day – too many little things slip by.

Thursday January 5th is a better day for photos as I walk in the rocks at sunrise. There is only a brief window of time to get photos with the special warm light of sunrise on the rocks and a bit longer window to play around with catching starbursts of the sun as it clears the rocks.

On the outskirts of the city

Rays of the rising sun reach into the city

Highlights from the rising sun

A walk in the rocks at sunrise

Cooke’s Peak seen from the City of Rocks

On the outskirts of the City of Rocks

My organization project today is cleaning the fridge, which I do right after breakfast. More editing and blog writing, as well as checking email. Although it was calm in the early morning, it is super windy all day long, so no cello again today. Surprisingly, the wind calms down at sunset, so I have a pleasant walk in the rocks before dark.

Balanced rock and tree silhouette near sunset

West-facing rocks near sundown

Pathways carved by nature

Tree shadows at sunset

Selfie-shadow at sunset

Winter Journey – New Year at City of Rocks – January 2017

Sunday January 1st is Day 87 of our winter journey. For the first time at City of Rocks, I have a morning campfire, as it seems an appropriate way to start the new year.

Campfire in the rain

The location is not ideal, but it is the intent that counts, so I sit by my little fire sipping hot tea until the rain drives me in. Now, I know how to have a good campfire in the rain, but in an RV park (which the electric sites are) surrounded by $100,000 giant 5th wheels and motor-homes, that is not the ideal place to have a good roaring campfire. And besides that, I can’t read or write in the rain.

I have only enough time for breakfast and then head to the Visitors Center for the planned New Year’s Day hike with a ranger. I join a very small group of hardy souls and off we go for a 2-mile hike in the rain. It was not a terrifically scenic hike, but it was fun.

Hiking in the rain

Lone tree on a rainy day

Back at camp, I see how many of my projects I can do with the limited bytes per day: send an edited chapter to Ang, post a blog/photos on my website with a link on FB, post an older blog to the blogsite and twitter. Got that done with less than my daily allotment – hooray.

Toward sunset, Clifford goes for a walk in the rocks with me; I stay longer to eke out the last of the sunlight for photos.

Sun nears the horizon

Last light

Last light of the day lights up a shrub in the rocks

Last light of the day casts a pinkish glow on the rocks facing west

Going down

Pretty cloud color in the east at sunset

We have nachos for dinner and I start reading a Tony Hillerman novel. A very good 1st day of 2017.

Monday January 2nd I am up in time to see very pretty sunrise colors.

Vivid colors at sunrise

Vivid colors at sunrise

As I walk in the rocks, I find several depressions in the rocks that have filled with water from the recent rains.

Rain water in the rocks

Mount Cooke from City of the Rocks

Mount Cooke shrouded in clouds with a dusting of snow

Today is an errand day, so we head to Silver City as soon as possible. Adobe Cafe, the bank, and Walmart are the only stops, so we are back at camp in time to enjoy the afternoon. After putting groceries and sundries away, I pick up the book I started reading last night and read the rest of the day, nearly missing a very vibrant sunset.

Vibrant sunset

Sunset at City of Rocks

After taking a few photos, I finish reading the Tony Hillerman novel and start reading “The Last Juror” by John Grisham. Kind of a lazy day for me.