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.

Six Months in a Nutshell: November 12, 2015 to May 7, 2015

November 12, 2015 to May 7, 2016: One week short of six months, over 4000 miles, and hundreds of photos later, we have returned to Wallace, Idaho. It was a memorable six months, not only because we traveled so far, but for all the places we saw, the places we camped, people we met – family, old friends, new friends, and angels in disguise.

Terry at Sunrise in the Sonoran Desert National Monument, Arizona – our furthest campsite from Wallace, Idaho

I took photos every day, sometimes only a couple, but most days lots of photos; almost every day I posted a journey post on FB with photos, sharing the journey with all who cared to join us in this way. I hardly ever missed a day in spite of power and internet restrictions that accompanied us most of the time. I suppose it would have a more relaxed trip had I not set this as a goal for myself, but seeing the world – what is most beautiful or most meaningful – is what I do. Seeing a beautiful sunset or morning light on a mountainside or hoarfrost on pines is not just a neat experience for me alone; it is an experience that demands to be shared.

Sunset at City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico – an Experience that demands to be shared

Clifford studied, researched, or worked on research papers every day that we were not actually traveling. He acquired sophisticated portable scientific instruments to compliment the portable lab. His dedication to his work did not waver, even given the limited space he had to work in.

Once we returned home, I saw that for many people the last six months were same-o-same-o, little ups and downs, nothing really different, nothing outstanding. For me, the last six months were filled with ups and downs, also, but they were Big ups and downs, events and experiences that gave depth and quality to my life. I am enriched by having done this journey, not knowing from one short time period to the next what we might encounter: beautiful weather – or snow and cold; great photo opps camping and hiking – or only a few shots through the tinted window of a moving vehicle; being well – or not being well and having to deal with it; spending days and days with no one but Clifford – or meeting people: some just passing through and some whose lives will intermingle with mine onward; beautiful camping spots where I’d love to stay forever – or a Walmart parking lot where I have to pick up trash just to be okay with being there. It wasn’t always an easy journey for me, but it was a good one. Living in an 8 x 16 foot space with someone day-in and day-out means some compromises, but it also makes me much more appreciative of what’s comfortable and convenient, and more accepting of what’s not. Things are less about good or bad, like or don’t like, and much more about It Is What It Is, and being grateful to be a part of the process. Of course, for a very long time I’ve had the intellectual understanding of the importance of being appreciative and accepting, but now it is a deeper part of my being; it is not so much something that I have to work at as something that I am: Happy for No Reason – not all the time every day, but on a more on-going basis than I’ve experienced before.

Things that stand out:

  • Snowy as we leave Idaho with Blazer and Pony (our small pop-up), our departure from Belgrade, Montana is delayed by several hours due to snow, more snow changes our itinerary by time we reach Wyoming.

    Postcard pretty, snow in Belgrade delays our departure after visiting son Tye and his lovely family.


    Crossing eastern Montana, snow forces us to change our itinerary.

    Mid-Wyoming snow storm and cold temps at Glendo State Park provide photo opportunities that are exciting for me, but also contribute to both of us becoming sick. Clifford recovers in a few days; it is weeks before I fully recover. Daughter Becka and a friend from Santa Fe provide warm dry lodging when I needed it the most. Thanks!!

    Snow storm in Wyoming with Pony (our pop-up tent trailer)


    Hoarfrost on PInes
  • Heading south: several inches of snow at Three Rivers campground north of Tularosa, New Mexico, but it is great being here until Goliath (the news-worthy blizzard on December 26th) comes raging through, nearly wiping us out.

    Sunset on the Sacramento Mountains


    Sunset on the Sacramento Mountains


    Goliath Approaches


    A day later, Goliath begins to abate and we are still in one piece, more-or-less.


    Goliath has gone, leaving both destruction and beauty in its wake.
  • The search begins for a hard-shell RV, not an easy task given our restrictions. We go all the way to Phoenix, Arizona, to get Terry, an older, but sturdy RV that falls within our budget, weight limit, and floor plan. We narrowly escape a near-disasterous incident before we even get out of Phoenix, but back at Colossal Cave outside of Tucson where we are camped, we set up home in Terry and sell our much-loved Pony.

    Terry: a 19-foot older RV is a great find.
  • Desert camping: Colossal Cave, Arizona – having been here before, we knew we liked it.

    2016-01-08_CCave- 071
    Arroyo at Colossal Cave running with rain water


    Special treat while at Colossal Cave: visit from Katie and her kids


    Campsite at Colossal Cave surrounded by saguaros

    The Sonoran Desert National Monument southwest of Phoenix looks bare and desolate as we approach, but I fall in love with it: two weeks of solitude with long walks and campfires to warm the chill morning air.

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    Falling in love with the Sonoran Desert National Monument


    Campfire in the Desert


    Rock mosaic made from Sonoran Desert rocks gathered on daily walks


    Sunset in the Sonoran Desert National Monument
  • The Carnicom Brothers Reunion in Tucson, Arizona.

  • Cochise Stronghold, another place I fall in love with, as well as feeling a special connection to this rock mountain. I become friends with the camp host and others with whom we stay in touch.

    Morning Light at Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona


    Sotol in the Dragoon Mountains


    Hiking in the Dragoon Mountains
  • City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico – what a really cool place to camp for two week.  While there,  I meet a woman who has become a special friend – I expect we will meet again on the road.

    Cook’s Peak from City of Rocks at Sunrise


    Sunrise at City of Rock, New Mexico


    The Moon Setting at Sunrise in City of Rocks


    Blazer and Terry – Camping at City of Rocks


    Great Horned Owls at City of Rocks at Sunset

     Leaving Arizona, Percha Dam State Park, New Mexico, is the first campground where we have plugged into electricity.  We catch up on projects that need power and internet.

    The once powerful Rio Grande is but a shadow of its former self – Percha Dam State Park


    The mesa on the far side of the Rio Grande, seen from Percha Dam State Park at sunset.

    The journey northward begins: Camping at Cochiti Lake, New Mexico, waiting for better weather around Santa Fe, and hiking in nearby Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.

    Giant Fairyland – my favorite rock formation at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
  •  Villanueva State Park east of Santa Fe, New Mexico, bypassing cold weather at Santa Fe, (or so we thought),…..

    Pecos River at Villanueva State Park, New Mexico

    followed by camping in the mountains north of Santa Fe at Hyde State Park, …..and more snow.


    Hyde State Park north of Santa Fe – Snow Photo Opportunities in April


    Snow on Aspens at Hyde State Park


    I was delighted with the snow; everyone else in the campground seemed to think I was nuts, being all excited about taking photos of snow.
  • Two weeks at Santa Fe visiting friends and working with our webmaster, Kaylee, to construct a new website for me.

  • Leaving Santa Fe, we stay at Villanueva again to wait out another snow storm – 20 inches of new snow right where we are headed in Colorado.

    Pecos River at Villanueva State Park: New leaves on trees adds color to the scene.
  • After visiting friends in Colorado, the journey is comprised of one-night stands in Walmart parking lots and rest areas, and brief visits with more friends and family once we reach Montana.

  • And finally, back to Wallace, Idaho. It is good to be back AND we are already planning our next outing. More adventures await!