Tuesday, December 30, 2008


No pictures or much to say other than the sale of our home closed today 12/30/08. What a relief. A great way to start off the new year.

We did hike a trail on the Organ Mountains today which was beautiful. It started from the Dripping Springs Natural Area just east of Las Cruces. Elevation started around 5,200 feet and went up on the 1.5 mile trail we took.

Las Cruces sits in a valley between the Organ Mountains on the east and to the west is the Rio Grande. Granted Las Cruces still sits at an elevation of 3,900 feet. Quite something to this flatlander.


Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Land of Enchantment, Leasburg Dam SP, Las Cruces, NM



Yes, we arrived in New Mexico today at Leasburg Dam State Park just north of Las Cruces. From what we saw of Las Cruces from I-25 it looked pretty good, certainly more appealing than El Paso.

The park is smaller than most we have seen. It is located along the Rio Grande but the campground does not have a view of the river. We bought the out of state annual pass for $225. We thought that the pass got you a site for half price and free for boon docking. No, it cuts the rate for water and electric from $14 a night to $4 a night and free for boon docking. That is one amazing bargain and we are on a fixed income, you know.

They have a Uno pizza place here and next to Randy and Sunaree’s cooking we love pizza best so headed there first. Then went to Mesilla, NM, which is actually a suburb of Las Cruces. It has a historic downtown and they had put out luminaries and had caroling in the square. If only we could have had a postcard it all it would have been perfect.


It has been cold and very windy the last couple of days so we used that time for laundry, reading and not much else. Today it only got into the 40’s and is supposed to be in the low 20’s tonight. It is supposed to warm up in the next day or two.

We went to White Sands Missile Range, toured the museum took some photos of the missiles and the most interesting stuff was the testing of the atomic bomb in the 40’s.


On the way we stopped off at Aguirre Springs Campground which is a national campground, no hookups but beautiful. We had snow flurries last night which didn’t stick here but there was still some snow at this higher elevation.

Later this afternoon we took a National Park Service guided tour to Lake Lucero.

PC270159 This is part of the White Sands National Monument which we have not yet seen. However, the only way you can get to it is by a 17 mile drive through the missile range. They only allow this once a month. You drive your own car and follow the ranger to the trailhead and then it is a 3/4 mile walk. Interesting spot and the crystalline formations of the gypsum are interesting to see. Click the Lake Lucero link above for more info.

As usual, I posted more photos of the area at the more photos link in upper left. Also, you can click on any of the pictures on this picture to see a larger version.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hueco Tanks State Historical Site, TX


Arrived here three days ago. Hueco Tanks is an unusual rock formation that seems to appear out of nowhere and does not resemble the landscape in this area near El Paso, TX.

It is famous for two things, ancient pictographs and bouldering, a form of rock climbing. This will be the second time that we have taken a tour of pictographs and I believe I have seen enough. To me the rock formations are far more interesting and scenic. Our three hour tour of the pictographs turned into a four hour tour.


Since this is a historical site you can’t just hike the trails. Oh no, we had to be at the ranger station at 8am to try and get two of the remaining 10 passes to hike the rocks. They issue 70 per day, reserve 60 and leave 10 first come, first serve. Even though we camped amongst the rocks we could not hike the adjacent trails. It is understandable when you see the graffiti that previous idiots left on and around the pictographs. You know what I mean, “Tina loves Waldo” and that kind of crap.

It is a beautiful place and well worth a visit. They allegedly limit you to a three night stay. Initially, we had two nights but have stayed over today because of a high wind advisory. We were to have winds gusting to 65 mph today with dust storms and I can confirm we had high winds and dust. The winds are out of the west and southwest. The campground is on the east side of the rocks so we opted to stay rather than go on to New Mexico.

Went into east El Paso today to do some shopping. I don’t know what it is but the longer we are camping and near small towns the less I like cities. Of course, what we saw of El Paso was not attractive. We overheard a woman at another campground comment earlier that El Paso was ugly. In the news, Mexicans are coming over here to shop at our malls due to the violence in adjacent Ciudad Juarez.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Life after Big Bend



We left Big Bend on 12/12 or 13, I forget which, and headed west out of the park. There was much more that I want to see and expect to come back here.

We stopped overnight at Terlingua, TX. Not much there. We did visit the “ghost town” and the old cemetary.  There was an old building converted to a sort of local gift shop. What caught my eye as we drove up was a guy sitting on the porch on a cell phone. He had a red tipped white cane which suggested he was blind but he had a flashlight strapped to the cane. Primary activity here seems to be associated with going to Big Bend or taking off road tours.

From there we moved on to a park south of Alpine, TX. We camped at an elevation of 5,200 feet with a lovely view of the hills. The road down to Alpine offers a lovely view of the little town. Alpine, population 5,700 seemed nice enough. Home to Sul Ross State University. You can see the influence as they have two, count them, two small health food stores.

Spent most of 12/15 at the doctor’s office and lab at the local hospital. The background is that the week before we left Pensacola I did something to my left ankle that caused a burning pain and then swelling. It has persisted in giving me pain. To try and solve this I tried taping the ankle for support and left the tape on about 24 hours while in Big Bend. The day after I took the tape off the front of the ankle became painful and developed a hard knot which looked like a tendon but moved when touched too easily.

Turns out it was a superficial blood clot in a vein and it was caused by the taping. Yes, Gayle is trying to kill me. If anything should happen please have her investigated.

Bad news for Gayle, is that this type of clot is not likely to move and cause more serious problems but may take some time to dissolve.

While in BIBE we found that our realtor was trying to reach us and we now have a contract on the house and they are trying to close before the end of the year. We are currently in the small town of Fort Davis, TX at a state park, Davis Mountain SP. It has been interesting trying to find notaries to get everything signed and shipped back to Pensacola.

At Davis Mountain, Gayle finally got her wish to see wildlife. The local mule deer stand outside and look in at us. The cats don’t seem too interested in them. Guess they don’t move fast enough to interest them.


She also got to see her first Javelina. They are cute little fellows. They tend to be near the campground at dusk and at night and don’t seem too interested in us. The one group we see moving around have a baby in the group.

Yesterday we drove up to the McDonald Observatory and took a tour of the two largest telescopes and attended the solar viewing. Both of which were interesting and worth doing. Last night we attended a star party. It was a little cloudy but clear enough that we got to see some good stuff. This photo is the 107” telescope.


Tomorrow we are probably going to head to Hueco Tanks State Park about 30 miles east of El Paso, TX.

It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Big Bend National Park, TX

We got to Big Bend on 12/7. We have wanted to visit this park for most of our married lives but just never had the time. It exceeded our expectations.


The photo above is of Chisos Basin. In the very center of the photo is the campground. We could not camp there because they limit the size of the rig. I believe the elevation is at or in excess of 6,000 feet. It is surrounded by mountains.

We spent a week in Big Bend and would have liked to spend more time but were running out of food and the park did not stock cardboard.

We camped at Rio Grand Village in an area without power or water. Our first real experience dry camping. I learned a few new things about our solar power. One is that in order for it to work properly it is best to not camp in the shade or even partial shade.

The Rio Grande flooded in September due to a tropical storm that passed through. It got a good bit of the campground we stayed in and a lot of it had not re-opened.

We didn’t scratch the surface on hiking the trails and now I wish we could have towed something with four wheel drive since there are all kinds of unimproved roads you can travel in the park.

I should report one narrowly averted tragedy. While in the car one afternoon Gayle started yelling as if in pain. I looked over to find that she had rolled the power window up on one of her fingers. It only took her a minute or so to figure out how to remedy the situation at which time the yelling subsided.

We hiked the Boquillas Canyon trail. Two guys had started ahead of us and were a few hundred yards ahead. We had stopped at an overlook when I heard a man singing. I thought it was one of them at first but finally saw a man standing on a boulder at the edge of the Rio Grande on the Mexico side singing.

We continued along the same path and he began singing as we approached. He is my new friend, “Victor the singing Mexican”. We talked and I learned that he had operated the ferry there for 34 years until 9/11 and then the U.S. shut that down. He has done this ever since. He sells trinkets by leaving them on our side of the river with a price list and a jar for the money. Of course, you should be aware that there is a sign posted at the trailhead which says it is illegal for us to buy the stuff. This is the same stuff they sell at the store.

I did end up getting him a propane tank for his lantern and dropped it off the next day.


Here is a photo of my new friend. By the way, he has a pretty good voice as well.

At some point when I have a fast internet connection I intend to upload more photos at my Picasa page and will put the link here on this page.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Seminole Canyon State Park, Texas

We haven’t done a very good job of keeping up on this blog. So, I suspect everyone has quit coming. But, it’s for us so here goes.

We were at Seminole Canyon State Park on 12/5 and left on 12/7. As we drove out of the Texas hill country to Seminole the land was flatter and more desert like. I used to think that the desert was ugly compared to places like the Smokies and such but no more. It has a beauty all its own.


The picture above is one of the canyon. The one below is pictographs found in this area.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Yesterday we drove over to Lost Maples State Natural Area. It has a small camping area, only thirty sites but has a number of trails. The Sabinal River runs through the park. That river like the Rio Frio is crystal clear and cold. The leaves on the maples were past their peak but it is still a lovely area. In general the Texas hill country around here is gorgeous

The rocks in the area appear to be mostly limestone which is fairly soft as rocks go. But you can see that in the way rain has worn them down. Picking one up leaves dust on your hand.