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.

Winter Journey – City of Rocks – December 2016

View from the “City” of the electric sites, with the “village,” a smaller rock formation, beyond.

Thursday December 29th is an errand/shopping day. We head to Silver City, a 20-mile drive to the north. This is a section of New Mexico that is not very appealing to me in terms of the landscape and the run-down look of small nearly-abandoned towns along the route. Silver City is a bigger and much more active town. We go to breakfast at the Adobe Cafe, then to the laundromat, and finish up with buying propane, groceries, and sundries. It is nearing dark by time we get back to camp.

Last light on the rocks

We have a dinner after putting things away. Clifford had to get a new phone, so he spends time learning how to get his programs on it, while I check FB, always eager to hear some news from my kids.

Friday December 30th is so overcast in the morning that there is no sunrise color at all, but it is no longer dark, so the sun must have risen. Both of our hotspots are out; Clifford acquires monitoring software so we can keep better track of our bytes. I do some editing for Ang, post a blog, check email and Facebook, and am under my daily byte quota. Becka calls; she is back in Georgia after visiting Mike in Japan for the Christmas holiday. Clifford and I bike ride the loop around the “city”– probably a couple of miles, which is a lot for me.

Mount Cooke in the afternoon

At sunset, I walk in the rocks.

Sunset at City of Rocks

After dinner, I do more editing for Ang, as it is a darn good story and hard to put it down.

Saturday December 31st is the last day of 2016. There was rain in the night and it is raining when I head to the Visitor’s Center this morning. Back at camp, as I’m writing in the journal and sipping hot yerba matte tea, I glance out the window and see the most beautiful rainbow arching over the rocks. I grab a camera and dash outside for a few photos before it fades. It was a most joyful sight, a great way to end the year, which has been a difficult one for many of us.

Rainbow blessing
Rainbow at City of Rocks

I take time to edit and post the rainbow as a end-of-the-year blessing for my family and friends. Throughout the day, the clouds are marvelous, dominating the scenery.

Clouds dominate the scene at City of Rocks
Clouds behind Table Mountain
Clouds behind the City
Clouds over Cooke’s Peak
Clouds behind the formation at the south end of City of Rocks

Today, instead of posting a blog on the website, I pick up the first blog of this journey to post on my blog site, which I have neglected for well over a year, and also post it on Twitter. I really like taking photos to show people the beauty of the world and to keep family updated on our travels, but if no one sees them, it doesn’t mean much. Hopefully, expanding to the blog site and Twitter will help out. A phone call from a dear friend is a welcome addition to the day. Walking in the rocks at sunset and dinner with Clifford rounds out the last day of the year for me.

Rocks and clouds near sunset
City of Rocks and clouds at sunset
Dramatic light at sunset
Silhouette at sunset

Winter Journey – Arrival at City of Rocks – December 2016

Monday December 26th is moving day, but since I am up before Clifford, I have time for tea and journal writing on this frosty morning.

Frosty last morning at Riverside

Once he is up, we finish packing up and are on our way after saying good-bye to people we have met here and at Percha Dam.


Last morning at Riverside

South on I25 to Hatch, then State Hwy 26 to Deming, stopping at Walmart for groceries. While we are there, we decide to go ahead and replace a worn tire on Terry. One axle is bent, causing one tire to wear faster than the others. Another 25 miles brings us to City of Rocks State Park. The Visitor’s Center is closed, but we head on over to the electric sites. The site on the end with a view all around is free, but then we see an OCCUPIED sign. My instinct is that the people are gone and just forgot to turn in the sign, but we can’t take a chance on someone coming in later and claiming the spot. Although I am grateful that there is another site available, I feel a bit disappointed that we didn’t get the one that seemed meant for us. We get set up and I am glad to see the rocks through the front window.


Setting up at City of Rocks

I go for a short walk in the rocks at sunset, glad to be here at this unique place.


Walk in the rocks at sunset

Tuesday December 27th I walk in the rocks at sunrise to take photos.


Sunrise in the City of Rocks


Sunlight reaching into the rocks

A tremendous volcano 35 million years ago created this interesting geological feature as it spewed out rock debris and molten lava that cooled and coalesced as it hit the ground. Millions of years of erosion followed the eruption, and now we have “City of Rocks” State Park – a giant labyrinth of nature-made pathways, with twists and turns every-which-way.


City of Rocks in the morning

It is sunny and warm enough that we are able to sit outside for breakfast; later we set up our chairs and small tables on the warm sunny side of Terry to read, study, and (me) play cello.


City of Rocks Cello

In the later afternoon, I hike in the rocks again, hoping for a colorful sunset. Even though the sunset was not exceptional, hiking in the rocks is always fun

Wednesday, December 28th the morning sky is overcast and the sunrise is modest, but I walk in the rocks, anyway, looking for more subtle photo opportunities.


Rocks in silhouette


Light coming into the rocks


Sunlight on grasses


Sun peaking through the rocks; Cooke Peak in the background


Morning light on the rocks


More rock formations

More self-talk on the need to not only be grateful, but to feel grateful. Easier said than done, but listing the positive aspects of a situation is a good way to start. Back at camp, after breakfast, I download my cameras and look at the new photos, which is always fun to do. Then we sit outside again and I play cello for awhile, but after the wind blows over the music stand a couple times, I decide the annoyance to Vata is not to be ignored and I head inside. Organization project for today is the closet, rearranging to make hats and gloves, which we are needing, more accessible. Photo editing and blog writing fill out the afternoon.

A walk in the rocks at sunset is a pleasant close of the daylight.


Sunset at City of Rocks



Winter Journey – Christmas at Riverside – December 2016

Friday December 23rd – fog coming up off the river covers the campground this morning. For me, this is photo opportunity time, so I pull on sweats over my pj’s, grab a coat and a camera, and out the door I go. I walk along the river, appreciating the visual effects created by the fog.

Gnarly tree in the fog

Foggy reflections on the river

Trees in the fog

Grasses along the river

Mesa reflection

As the fog lifts, things begin to look normal again, so I head back to our campsite. Clifford is up and has a great idea: we should go Christmas shopping for me. Now, I am not so much into shopping for stuff for myself, but this is an opportunity not to be passed up. We go to T or C again and have breakfast out to celebrate our 17th anniversary today. Then over to Walmart (what else is there in T or C?) where Clifford buys me a long sweater and a pair of shoes. Fun for me, for sure!

Highway to Truth or Consequences

On the way back, we explore the nearby dispersed camping area.  No one is there now, but it is probably popular some times of the year.

Exploring the dispersed camping area

We are back to our campground early enough for me to play cello outside; some guy comes by and stops to listen and then asks if he can take a photo of me playing my cello!

I walk up to the top of the dam and even though I am there too early for sunset photos, it is a nice vantage point.

View of the mesa from the top of the dam

Friday December 24th – a short errand today: post office at Arrey, our last chance to check for mail here, as we will be moving soon. I find the most protected side of Terry and play cello outside in spite of the wind. It was a really good session and I almost didn’t do it because of the wind. In the later afternoon, I walk about to find the best vantage point to get photos of the mesa at sunset.

Mesa at sunset

Back at camp, we have a special Christmas Eve dinner – not nearly as fancy as the dinners that my grandma used to make, but pretty darn good considering we are in a little camper!

Saturday December 25th – Christmas Day: I decide to have a campfire this morning, as it is the last chance to use up all that wood I have stashed here. It is a nice quiet time, sitting by the campfire, meditating on the meaning of Christmas in my life, and writing in my journal. Today would have been my mom’s 91st birthday. I sure miss being able to call her to wish her Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas.

Christmas morning campfire

Between phone, text, email, and FB, I connect with family and friends. After dinner, I begin packing up everything that can be packed ahead of time. Tomorrow is moving day and the more I do tonight, the easier it is in the morning.

Winter Journey – To Riverside – December 2016

Thursday December 15th is moving day.

Leaving Percha Dam

It is just a short distance from Percha Dam over to the Riverside portion of Caballo State Park on the other side of I-25, but even so, everything has to be packed properly for safe travel. The site on the end of the loop is not available, so we take another with a cool old gnarly tree by the picnic table. Walk down to the river to check it out.

Rio Grande at Riverside Caballo State Park

Since we have neighbors on both sides, I am not as comfortable playing cello outside, but it is windy enough, I figure they can’t hear me anyway.

I hear from some of my kids and brother Rollie: it is cold and snowy in Montana.

Friday December 16th, I am up in time to take photos of a very colorful sunrise, which was much appreciated by my hungry photographer’s soul.

Terry and Blazer at Riverside

Colorful sunrise

Nourishment for a photographer’s soul

Even though the temperatures are relatively mild, it is too windy to sit outside. Other than a bike ride around the campground (the restroom is on the far side from where we are parked), activities are inside: write in journal, post blog of our one-night stay at Angel Peak, and backtrack our trip from the Hamfest in Quartzsite in mid-January to figure out when we have to leave here and where we will be staying on the way. I stay up late reading; Clifford stays up late trying out his night-vision goggles, as well as his usual studying and ham radio activities.

Rain in the distance

Saturday December 17th is a chilly day, even though the wind is from the southwest. Looks like rain in the distance.

We go to Arrey to pick up mail at the post office and then treat ourselves to breakfast at the Arrey Cafe. We seldom eat out, but it is nice now and then not to have to prepare and clean up after a meal. Back at camp, we go through the mail, taking care of business, and more editing, but no playing cello, as it is too chilly and windy outside today. Most of the US is much colder; we are fortunate not to have had to deal with the extreme weather.

Sunday December 18th, I walk down to the river first thing this morning to take photos.

Clear and calm at the river in the morning

Although the day starts out clear and calm, it changes to overcast and windy, so activities are inside projects – making soup, editing, and preparing the next blog. Clifford continues with his studies. In the evening, we watch the first segment of the series “Roots,” which Clifford has on DVD.

Winter Journey – More Percha Dam Days – December 2016

Sunday December 11th, 32 degrees this morning and calm – perfect for a campfire. By mid-day the temperature is in the low 70’s, a lovely day and very pleasant to be outside.

Evening light on the mesa to the east

Monday December 12th, about the same temps as yesterday, but windy.

Morning light

 Today we go to Truth or Consequences for groceries and sundries, then stop at the Arrey post office to pick up our mail. Clifford has received a monster-size book “The Principles of Internal Medicine,” which will become part of his reference library. Not sure where we are going to store a book of that size in Terry.

Moon rising near sunset

Tuesday December 13th is laundry day. Of course, photography comes first.

Almost sunrise, glowing through the woods

The machines at the nearest laundromat are not commercial size, so it takes a LONG time to get our laundry washed and dried, and I even end up hanging some things on our clothes line when we we finally get back to camp. We needed to get this chore done, but I certainly didn’t expect it to take up so much of the day.

 Wednesday December 14th is our last day here. I enjoy having a campfire first thing this morning and take photos of the brilliant sunrise and the more subtle setting of the moon.

Brilliant sunrise at Percha Dam

The more subtle setting of the moon

After breakfast, Clifford and I go for a bike ride around the lower campground – the less developed area. Play cello outside, even though it is a bit windy, as the temperature has reached the low 70’s by afternoon.

Campsite at Percha Dam

The usual editing and blog writing takes up the evening hours, along with packing up as much stuff as I can to get a head start on the morning. Moving is always a big deal, easier this time because it is only a few miles away, but even so, everything has to be securely in place before we pull out.

This has been a pleasant stay

Winter Journey – Percha Dam Days – December 2016

Sunrise in southern New Mexico – looks like the clouds are being pulsed this morning

Tuesday December 6th, I sit by a little campfire with hot yerba matte in a thermos and my journal after taking photos of the sunrise. Great way to start the day.

Still some autumn colors even thought it is December

Later, as the wind picks up, I do inside projects: editing, checking email, and cleaning out the storage closet. It is too windy to play the cello outside today. In addition to his ham radio studies, Clifford is studying flavins, as they may play a role in detecting disease. This knowledge will tie in with his CI work.

Wednesday December 7th, I had a very good dream about Mom before I woke up. I saw her in the camper and I said “I wish you were really here” and she answered “I am really here,” and then I gave her a hug. There was more to the dream, but enough said. As well as the usual daily activities, we do some home repairs: reinforcing a shelf that looks like it might come down, fixing the toilet lid, making a cover for the outdoor outlet, and such things.

Thursday December 8th, I take photos of the rising sun showing through a break in the clouds, but it too windy for a campfire this morning.

The sun rises, silhouetting the old cottonwood trees

Even though the sky clears by afternoon, the wind continues all day, so I can’t play cello out.  However, it is a far warmer cry than where we were a year ago at Three Rivers, New Mexico, not all that far from here.

Clearing of clouds

More editing, write another blog, and clean storage shelves today. In tiny homes, such as RVs, everything has to be stored just so, or it doesn’t fit. There is always some area or another that is ready for reorganizing.

Friday December 9th starts out as a chilly 21 degrees, but it is calm, hooray, and sunny.  I try to get photos of the cranes as they fly overhead from wherever they spend the night to nearby fields, but my camera doesn’t focus as fast as I need it to, so I miss a lot of shots.

Cranes overhead

We make a trip to Arrey to see if we have mail and get a couple of items at the grocery store. On the way back, we check out Riverside, the lower part of nearby Caballo State Park to get a sense of the layout, as that is where we plan to go next.

I have a nice long session with the cello in the afternoon as the temperature reaches into the low 60’s. More editing, blog writing, and answering emails in the early evening, along with chatting with my daughter, Becka.

Saturday December 10th is sunny and calm in the morning. After breakfast, I clean the fridge, and then Clifford and I go for a walk in the woods along the river.

Rio Grande River below Percha Dam

Walking in the woods

Carol and Clifford in the woods along the Rio Grande River

Good-bye to the river

We flush lots of birds, I’m guessing flocks of quail and doves, see abundant deer tracks, and best of all – we see a beautiful fox run across the little meadow area where we are walking. Back at camp, even though the wind has picked up, I play cello outside – a 5-clothespin day, which means I have to use 5 big clothes pins to hold the music on the stand, but it is warm enough to be doable. More editing in the evening. Being at a campground with electricity sure is a convenience.

Winter Journey – Percha Dam – December 2016

Traveling south toward Percha Dam State Park

Friday December 2nd, after spending last night at the Socorro Walmart, we arrive at Percha Dam State Park in southern New Mexico around noon. I am very happy that the site I was hoping for is available. It has a shelter with a rock wall windbreak, a campfire ring, and a big back yard, with woods beyond.

Campsite with stone windbreak and big back yard

After we get set up, it is still warm enough that I can play cello outside for awhile, serenading the trees and the birds.

Percha Dam cello in our big back yard

Lots of birds winter here, including Sandhill cranes, which we can hear not far away. After dinner, I read for bit before heading to bed. Clifford stays up late, working with his ham radio gear.

Saturday December 3rd, it was very windy and a bit of rain last the night.

A camp elf dances in the wind

We are grateful for Terry being dry and cozy, as it is chilly and windy all day – a good day for inside activities, including phone calls, emails, editing, writing and posting a blog, writing and posting a statement in favor of the Standing Rock people, and finishing the novel I started recently. The only outdoor activity is a bike ride down to the restroom at the other end of the campground. During my quiet time this morning, from the book “The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace” by Jack Kornfield, I read The past is over: Forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past. That is very profound, knowing how hard it has been for me to accept certain aspects of my past.

Sunday December 4th, I walk down to the Rio Grande River at sunrise, hoping to spot the cranes that we hear and see overhead. No such luck and sadly, the Rio Grande River is exceeding low, the life nearly drained out of it with the dam and agriculture. Windy for much of the day, so spend time inside doing bookwork, editing for Ang, and working on CI email. In the afternoon, as the wind calms, I am able to play cello outdoors while there is still sunshine at the campsite.  The late afternoon sunlight lights up the mesa to the east and the trees at the campground.

Mesa to the east at sunset

Camp trees at sunset

Monday December 5th, 19 degrees this morning and the frost is really quite pretty – probably as close to snow as we are going to get on this trip.

Frost in the morning light

The day is sunny and calm with the temperature reaching to 65 degrees by afternoon. We go to the nearby little village of Arrey to mail a few items and set up our general delivery address. Back at camp I play cello outside, with an audience – the fellow from the neighboring campsite comes over to listen. The blog for today was my trip to Montana – kind of a hard one to write, as my mom’s passing has been sad for me. Clifford continues to work with his radios and with a portable visible-NIR spectrometer for CI research. We certainly keep busy!