Visiting Dear Friends – May 2019

Wednesday May 1: It is really windy today, but Clifford and I are leaving Rancheros de Santa Fe RV Park/Campground where we have been camped the last week for the Santa Fe event where Clifford was a guest speaker. Today we are heading east to visit dear friends from our Santa Fe years when they and we lived outside Santa Fe, getting together on a regular basis for breakfast at Harry’s or visits to their various homes. We are excited to see them, as it has been awhile, with lots of water under the bridge since our last get-together.

New Mexico landscape east of Santa Fe

As we are traveling east on I-25 between Santa Fe and Las Vegas, NM, right at the junction to highway 3, we hear a great loud bang and our whole rig – Suburban and 24-foot Cougar travel trailer – swerves nearly out of control. The on-ramp of highway 3 gives us a bit of leeway to get slowed down and stopped. With adrenal pumping, I get out to survey the damage. We have a bad feeling that part of Cougar must have ripped off, but it turns out to be a blowout on the right rear tire of the Suburban. It is not a good scene, but fortunately there was no traffic as this was happening, we didn’t wreck, and Cougar is fine.

It is a big deal to get Cougar unhitched, get to the jack and spare tire, and get Suburban jacked up. We put out warning cones and flags, and luckily the on-ramp gives us a little buffer from the traffic on I-25.

It is a big deal to get the Suburban tire changed

After we get the ruined tire off, the spare on, tools packed up, and Cougar hitched up again, we head on to our friends, much later than planned. There is no cell service in this remote area of New Mexico, so we can’t even inform them of our delay.

Iconic butte west of Las Vegas, New Mexico

Once we arrive, they happily show us their new place, a spot is found to park Cougar, and we have dinner together. All is well as we chat through the evening before heading to our respective beds.

A place for Cougar

The next couple of days are spent visiting and catching up on past and current events in their lives and ours.

She-shed at our friends’ new place
Wildflowers delight us at our friends’ new place

Clifford and our friend run into the nearby town of Las Vegas, NM, to look for tires for the Suburban. It is a bit time-consuming checking out places where the damaged rim can be replaced and new tires can be had, but eventually the right place is found and new 10-ply tires are put on. This is what we should have had all along. Live and learn. Learn and live, might also be said.

Last Days at Percha Dam – April 2019

The days of Thursday April 18 through Tuesday April 23 are busy with the myriad of projects Clifford and I have going on while we are camped at Percha Dam New Mexico State Park. Some projects are Carnicom Institute related, including completing the newsletter (finally!!!) and sending it out to our email list. Clifford’s focus is on the presentation he will be giving at the conference in Santa Fe in just a few days. Miscellaneous projects include watching hummingbirds and creating a collage cover for a new journal.

I spend time walking along the river, though the wind and the Easter weekend crowds somewhat limit my desire to be outdoors.

Vertical reflection
Horizontal reflection

Most days are sunny, but one particular day, cumulus clouds built up and a dark storm moved in. However, like the previous storm, we get only the wind and dust, but no rain. Another day, while I’m at the river, a really fierce wind comes up, seemingly out of nowhere, blowing dust and causing the trees to weave about. I walk back to camp as quickly as I can with my sweater over my head to protect my eyes.

Dark storm clouds from the east as the afternoon sunlight lights up the trees

Occasionally we sit outdoors to eat and once we took a dusk stroll together, but for the most part, due to the wind, our projects are done inside.

A dusk stroll

Being at this state park with electricity has been very productive for us, but it is time to move on. We are looking forward to the conference where Clifford will be speaking, as well as seeing friends from the years we used to live in Santa Fe.

Artistic rendition of moonrise at Percha Dam at the moment of sunset
A moment later, as the sun sets and the moon rises, the glow leaves the buttes

Hiking along the Rio Grande – April 2019

Wednesday April 17: I go for my usual morning walk at Percha Dam New Mexico State Park where Clifford and I are now camped. The Rio Grande draws me, as the water, the reflections, and the great trees all feel good to my soul.

Reflections on the Rio Grande
The walk bridge at Percha Dam campground

Back at camp, Clifford and I take care of CI business, most especially the CI newsletter, which has been rather time-consuming. My daughter Becka calls, and it is good to talk to her. I even have time for playing the viola.

The afternoon light is quite nice, so Clifford and I decide to hike the trail along the Rio Grande, even though it has remained quite breezy today. With the nice lighting, I get photos that I like of the river and the light on the west-facing buttes reflecting off the river. It was especially nice hiking with Clifford.

Hiking along the Rio Grande
Clifford at the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
Reflections on the river
Once a mighty tree

I had started chili earlier, so by time we get back, dinner is ready and we sit out at the picnic table in spite of the breeze, glad for the stone-walled shelter that protects us a bit.

Sunset at Percha Dam State Park

In the evening, I start going through the photos that I took today, culling some and sending a few texts with photos to family and friends, a good way to end the day.

Percha Dam – April 2019

Friday April 12: It is calm this morning at City of Rocks New Mexico State Park where we have been camped for over two weeks, our leaving having been delayed by extremely high winds in New Mexico. Since we have a ways to go today to get to our next destination, we skip part of the normal leaving routine, taking time only to finish packing and to make a thermos of tea for the road. We are on our way by 9:15, almost a record for us.

We arrive at Perch Dam State Park about 11:30 and there are only a couple of electric sites left. The first one is too tight for us, but the second one is fine. The sites here are quite close together, but all are pull-throughs around a loop with a view outward rather than toward a neighbor. We have a nice big tree by our shelter and are grateful for electricity.

Cougar at Percha Dam New Mexico State Park
Artistic view of trees at our campsite

Saturday April 13: It is sunny this morning as we make a trip to the nearby village of Arrey, picking up our general delivery mail and sending a birthday card to my daughter Merri.

Back at camp, I work on a CI fundraising campaign, take care of email, start the next CI newsletter, edit photos, and write/post another blog. Being here with electricity and decent cell service means we can take care of things that have been brewing on a back burner.

In the afternoon, we see increasing wind and big storm clouds building up. It looks like it could dump a ton of rain or hail, but all we get is wind and blowing dust.

Storm clouds moving in
Looks like heavy rain or hail about to dump on us

By evening, the storm has passed on.

Setting of the sun at the close of the day

Sunday April 14: As I do a morning walkabout, I see that the campground has been improved and is looking quite park-like. I call Merri for her birthday and send a photo of flowers by text.

The campground looking park-like

We make a trip to Truth or Consequences, the nearest town big enough to get supplies. Back at camp, we take advantage of the power and cell service here by working on a variety of projects: more CI business, another blog posted, and so on. Clifford is quite focused on the talk he will be giving in Santa Fe, as it is only a couple weeks away.

Wind and scummy skies continue throughout the day, so not many photos are taken.

Monday April 15: Today is mostly centered around domestic chores of cleaning and food preparation, as well as working on the CI newsletter. We make ANOTHER trip to T or C, as Clifford needs something that he didn’t know he needed yesterday when we were there, so we also pick up door mats to cut down on the dirt being tracked in.

Kitchen corner is home for herbs, sprouts, kombucha, and tea tins

Not a very interesting day photo-wise.

Tuesday April 16: I walk to the Rio Grande first thing this morning to take photos of reflections on the river. I can only imagine what this river was like before dams and irrigating stole its essence.

Rio Grand was once a great river

Today’s focus is the newsletter; I also send a few text with photos and post another blog. Clifford works on his talk. In the evening after dinner I play viola awhile. Although the days here are not too exciting, it is a productive time.

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.