Thursday, May 31, 2012

Santa Fe Recap


We spent a most enjoyable week at Hyde Memorial State Park. It’s a great location just 8 miles from Old Town Santa Fe, and there are miles of hiking trails in the park and all along Hyde Park Rd going up to the ski area.

Views from the 3+ mile Circle Trail, which takes you to a 9400’ overlook. It was a steep climb up but didn’t seem so bad. Maybe we’re finally adjusting to the altitude.



We spent one afternoon walking around Old Town and the plaza doing a little window shopping. The architecture is interesting but it is just one shop after another of Indian jewelry, pottery, blankets, home decor, clothing boutiques, etc. Hard to believe they sell enough of that stuff for all those places to stay in business.


We did eat at a couple of excellent restaurants. Marble Tap Room overlooking the plaza, (or Rooftop Pizza, same food just on the other side of the building without the view) has great beer and some really good pizza. Try the blue corn crust, it’s delicious. Thanks to our Lazy Daze friends Martha and Bernie for recommending it. Sorry you were out of town so you couldn’t join us!

We also did breakfast at Santa Fe Baking Co Cafe. We shared blue corn pinion and whole wheat banana nut pancakes. It was way too much to eat but really good and they have free WiFi so we took advantage of it to check email and look up a few things. It’s amazing how much we rely on the internet these days, and miss having it at our fingertips.

Hyde Memorial State Park is a bit different from the other NM state parks that allow you to stay 3 weeks. Here you are limited to 7 nights in the power sites and 2 weeks in the dry camping areas. The ranger said the park is very popular and just about full every weekend, so I guess they are giving everyone a chance to get a site.

We thought about staying longer and moving to the non hookup sites, but many of them are unlevel or not long enough for us. It is also very shady which would make it hard to get much solar. Plus the park is having a water shortage so the one spigot in the RV area is locked. We learned you have to get the ranger to turn on the pump and unlock the spigot if you want water. Same for the dump station. Luckily we filled our water tanks before we left Coronado Campground, thinking we were going to be staying in the National Forest, so we were very conservative and managed the week without needing water or the dump until we left. In spite of that we would definitely stay here again if we ever come back to Santa Fe.


We’ve moved on near Taos. More on that later…

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hyde Memorial State Park, Santa Fe, NM


There is no cell or internet here, so I am just keeping a daily log and will post later.


Thursday May 24

As we feared, when we arrived at Black Canyon Forest Service Campground this morning, the non reserved sites were already taken, so it was on to plan B. I was a little worried because we didn’t have a plan C, but we were lucky and got the last 2 non-reserved sites a mile and 500’ elevation climb up the road at Hyde Memorial State Park. Since there are only 7 RV sites with electric, and 3 can be reserved, we were surprised to find any open. Except for the fact that Hyde Park Road is very close (that’s where I stood to take the above picture), and there is no internet (which we already knew), we are happy to be here in the middle of the Santa Fe National Forest.


We’ve escaped the heat, at an elevation of 8800’, and it feels like fall. It was good timing to get out of southwestern NM since the 2 forest fires near Mogollon have merged and high winds are blowing the smoke across the state. I think we’ll be pretty sheltered here. For $4/night with the NM State Parks pass ($14 without), downtown Santa Fe only 8 miles down the road, and miles of hiking trails all along Hyde Park Road going up to the ski area, this is a great location. We went to town for dinner at Da Lino’s Pizza ( it was okay), and then did some much anticipated shopping at Trader Joe’s. Haven’t been to TJ’s since last September in Indianapolis, so we stocked up.

Friday May 25

It was windy and we could smell smoke and see haze from the big forest fire, but the wind shifted a bit and the smoke cleared. Hiked a couple miles but at this elevation we are having a hard time whenever we go uphill. It’s nice to hike in shade and cooler temps.


This afternoon Debbie dropped Elliot off at the groomer so she and I also went and got a haircut. Jim went to Best Buy and purchased a new TV, since the original Jensen has had speaker problems for 2 years now and much of the time we were listening in monaural. We’ve looked before but couldn’t find a TV that would fit the opening, other than ordering another 12V Jensen, which costs close to $500. He found a 26” Samsung LED TV with the proper dimensions for $299, and even though it’s not a 12V we will just run it off the inverter when we’re dry camping. Our old TV was only a 20”, so this looks huge and the picture and sound are great. Now Jim just has to drill new holes in the mounting plate to bring it down where it needs to be.


Saturday May 26

Another windy day but we took a hike of about 3 miles.


We started smelling smoke and seeing haze walking back to the campground but it’s not bad so far. We couldn’t have picked a better spot to spend a holiday weekend. It’s quiet, and even though it’s windy there is no dust and we’re protected by the trees. We got lucky this time, but need to do a better job of planning for the 4th of July.

Drove up the road toward the ski area to try to get an internet connection but it wasn’t fast enough. We did get to look at our email and see that our mail arrived at the post office, so I am publishing this from town. Doubt I will post again while we’re here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Datil Well, Pietown, and the VLA



Yesterday we headed east another 60 miles to Datil Well BLM Campground, near Datil, NM. A perk for going this way is passing through the very small community of Pietown, at an elevation of 8000’ on the Continental Divide. Yes, it was named for it’s pies, and if you are so inclined you can read about it here. Of course we had to stop and get a slice of pie, and we had our choice of Daily Pie Cafe or the Pie-O-Neer. We stopped at Daily Pie since we liked the pie pictures on their website better.



Debbie had a slice of the best seller, Mexican Apple (with green chili and pinon nuts), Jim had triple berry, and I had lemon. We sampled each of them and they were all very good, but still not as good as my mother used to make..

Datil Well is a nice BLM campground along the former Magdalena Livestock Driveway, a 120-mile-long cattle trail between Magdalena, NM and Springerville, AZ. For $2.50/night it was a great overnight stop. No hookups or dump, but they do have water and vault toilets, and we had an internet connection, although slow. And 3 miles of hiking trails to help us work off our pie.




About 20 miles from Datil Well along our route, we passed by the Very Large Array, or VLA, which is a radio astronomy observatory. It consists of 27 antennas arranged in a Y shape, each of which measures 82’ in diameter and weighs 230 tons.



It has been used to study galaxies, black holes, quasars, pulsars, supernovas, gamma ray bursts, and all kinds of other things I don’t understand. We went in the visitor center and watched the film, and would have liked to take the walking tour but it was really windy with blowing dust so we passed.

Many people may know this place from the Jody Foster movie Contact, but it’s also been featured in several other movies and music videos. An interesting place to visit but I wouldn’t go out of my way to come here.



Our plan is to head to Santa Fe tomorrow, to a Forest Service campground near the ski area west of town. At 8000’ we hope to escape the heat and get there a day ahead of the Memorial Day weekend campers. We always dread these holidays.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Quemado Lake, Pinion Campground, Quemado, NM



Another short, scenic drive brought us to Quemado Lake, an Apache Forest Service area near Quemado, NM, elevation 7700’. There are several campgrounds to choose from, including Juniper, which has hookups, but we opted for Pinion with no hookups but where there was only one other camper. For $5/night with the senior pass, there is water, garbage, a dump station, and very nice vault toilets. I had to take a picture of the locks inside the ladies room. They all seemed to work, which had me wondering what might be trying to get me while I was in there.


Yesterday morning the air looked much hazier than we are used to in this part of the country, and we could smell smoke. Sure enough, smoke from the Whitewater fire we saw a few days ago was blowing this way. The ranger said we were not in danger,and hopefully the wind would shift. It did later in the morning, and we were able to go for a little hike down and around the lake.




This is another remote location, and although we have no useable Verizon cell phone service, with the amplifier we are getting a good internet connection. Which is nice since we had lots of catching up to do after 5 days.

Apache Creek Campground, Cruzville, NM



Our next stop after Glenwood was Apache Creek, another free campground in the Apache National Forest near Cruzville, NM. There was only one tent there when we arrived, which was surprising for it being a Saturday, but a couple other campers came in later in the day. It was awfully dusty but the sites are huge and was a nice quiet spot to spend a night. Of course the lone tenters had an ATV and a truck, and must have driven by our sites a dozen times. The ATV we could understand, but not sure where the truck kept going, as there was nothing around other than a small convenience store. Guess life is good if that’s all I have to complain about!

We took a walk and met a man and 2 dogs who live on a private road just past the campground. He told us where there was a hiking trail down the road, so we headed off in that direction. It was a mile long interpretive trail that climbed a hillside to a big rocky ridge with some ancient rock art.


There were lots of squiggly lines, so maybe they just let the kids draw on the walls for fun.


It was a nice hike, although a bit rugged in spots.



Actually the most interesting part  was this skeleton we saw at the trail head which appeared to be a dead horse. You never know what you might find on a hike, but we’d prefer to see live animals.


The elevation here is 6400’, so it didn’t get quite as hot during the day, but it was 34 outside and 49 inside when we woke up the next morning. I turned on the Wave 3 catalytic heater, then the furnace to warm things up. It had been a very long time since we used the furnace, and it would not stay on or blow warm air. Nothing Jim likes better than having to deal with a problem early in the morning! After reading the manual and not finding help, he searched his Lazy  Daze folder and found something about a sail switch, which may get stuck due to corrosion. He turned it on again and this time we heard the propane ignite and we had heat. It’s always nicer when problems resolve themselves.

By the way, this was day 5 with no phone or internet, also no TV. This part of New Mexico is really a dead zone, but it is so beautiful and peaceful we didn’t care.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Catwalk, Glenwood, NM



To get here we had to retrace our route and come back through Silver City, so we stopped at Wal-Mart for gas and a few groceries. We also thought we’d take the opportunity to check our email, publish the blog posts I’d written at Mesa, and look up a couple things on the internet. Well I guess everyone else was using Verizon at that time because we had such a slow connection we could barely look at mail, let alone post the blog or surf the net. We finally just gave up and left.

Before we left Mesa the camp host told us there was a fire near Glenwood, and we could see smoke across the mountains. We stopped at a ranger station to be sure the area we were going was not affected, and although there were road closures east of Mogollon, we weren’t heading that direction so it wasn’t a problem.


Our next destination was Bighorn Campground at Glenwood, about 60 miles north of Silver City. This is a 6 site Forest Service campground, and since there is only an outhouse and no water, it is free. Had it not been so close to the road and also so hot during the day, it would have been a very nice spot. The elevation at Glenwood is only 4700’, so it got up to 90 by late afternoon.


There were signs like this all around the campground, but we don’t know how long ago they were put up and we didn’t see any.


There was a trailer in the site next to Debbie, and after we got set up and were standing outside talking, a van pulled in and we realized it was Glen, aka Boonie, whom we had met a couple weeks ago along with the boondockers at Ft. Bayard. They’ve had some misfortunes since we met them, including emergency dental work and vehicle breakdowns, so they are temporarily split up and he is scouting out some dispersed camping areas for when they meet up again. He told us the Glenwood library has free Wi-Fi but we never did go check it out.

It was cooling off by 6:30 so we took the 5 mile drive to the Catwalk National Recreation Trail. The trail has an interesting history.  After gold and silver were discovered in the Mogollon Mountains above Whitewater Canyon in 1893, a small town grew up around a mill used in the mining process. Ore was dropped from Whitewater Mesa through a chute to the mill where it was crushed to separate out the gold and silver. Because the mill needed water to power the electric generators, a 4 inch pipeline was constructed 3 miles upstream down to the mill. When a bigger generator was purchased in 1897, it required more water so a new 18 inch pipeline was put in parallel to the original. Workers called it the Catwalk.

The mill was in business about 10 years, then the pipeline was dismantled and the materials were sold. In the mid 1930’s the CCC built the trail as a recreational attraction in the Gila National Forest but flooding along the river caused the trail to have to be rebuilt several times over the years. A mile long section of the pipeline route was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1978.

We were amazed by the scenery along the trail. There are giant Arizona sycamore trees with their white bark.


Colorful high canyon walls.


We are looking at the rock bolts used to stabilize the cliff face. Nice to know it won’t come crashing down on us.



Elaborate walkways and bridges.





Lots of huge rocks and boulders.




It’s a bit hard to see but there are a couple bolt heads sticking out of the rock below. We saw lots of evidence of the old pipeline, from bolts and eyelets still in the rocks, to small sections of the old pipeline that wasn’t all removed.



Swimming holes and waterfalls.




And even a suspension bridge just before the end of the trail.



The trail is 1.1 miles long, with the first half mile being accessible, although there are some 8% grades. Or you can also hike the old trail which parallels it on the other side of the river. The trails meet up at the halfway point and from there it is a moderate hike with lots of stairs and climbs. It was a good workout.

A regular hiking trail continues on near the suspension bridge, which we followed for a short distance. It looked like a good trail, and it intersects with other Gila NF trails, giving access to over 300 miles of trails.

The Catwalk is something not to be missed if you happen to be near Glenwood, NM. We were surprised and impressed, and saw only 2 other people on the entire trail.