Friday, April 30, 2010

Snow in Texas today!

Thought this headline might get your attention. And, no, we’re not kidding! But before we get to that, let me get caught up to today…

On Tuesday (April 27), we went to Sitting Bull Falls. We did a quick “hit and run” cache near the park here and then were on the road about 11 - had a wonderful day! The falls are a federal recreation area within the Lincoln National Forest and are about 40 miles SW of the town of Carlsbad (which is 22 miles south of us). There is a nice picnic area there and it is only a short walk to the falls.

P1020220 Beautiful spot and we had it all to ourselves for awhile. On the way, we visited with the camp host, a single guy about our age who came for a 3 month stint four years ago. He claims he’s a desert rat and loves it there. Here are some pictures and a video from the area below the falls.

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Then we hiked up above the falls where the spring provides the water for the falls on its way through several very deep, very clear pools. John estimated this pool at 6-10 feet deep!

P1020273 This is the view from above the falls overlooking the parking/picnic area.

P1020263 And, of course, can’t have a blog entry without some of my flower pictures!

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There are a couple of remaining structures that were constructed by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) in the late 1930s.P1020281

There was quite a bit of open range on the way in and back from the falls. We enjoyed seeing the cows (we know: been away from Iowa too long!).

P1020284 We "found” our second cache for the day (a virtual cache) here near the falls and then stopped at Brantley Lake State Park on the way home to find another one. Here’s the dam below the lake.

P1020285 I hope this picture is generic enough not to give away exactly where this cache was!P1020287 Love those ears!P1020289

Wednesday (April 28), we did laundry and watched a couple of movies in preparation for heading over to Deming. We got a little bored in the afternoon so took a walk down to the road (about 1/2 mile each way). Boy, pretty exciting life, huh?

Thursday (April 29), we drove up to Artesia for groceries in the morning and then we sat and rocked & rolled here in the motor home for the rest of the day. We had originally planned to leave on Thursday, but high winds started last evening and by the afternoon, we were experiencing steady winds of 30-40 mph with gusts recorded as high as 69 mph in Artesia which is just 12 miles north of us. Yikes! By 4:00 pm, we felt like we had been living on a boat and decided to take a break so we fought our way over to the rec hall for happy hour. It was nice to spend some time in a solid building! We had a nice visit with our tablemates who had just arrived. They lived on their sailboat travelling the eastern seaboard for seven years and finally decided to buy a “land yacht” as they felt they were no longer physically capable of handling a sailboat at sea. They’re experiencing the west for the first time and are headed up to Alaska this summer so, of course, we stayed and visited long after everyone else went home. Not much else of note…

Sooooo, now it’s Friday (April 30). We had thought about moving down to Guadalupe Mountains National Park today, but a call to the ranger there changed our minds. High winds with gusts up to 70 mph were possible in the Guadalupe Mountains today, so we left the rig here and took the car. It does SO much better in high winds! Turns out the winds weren’t that bad, but the temperature was about 45 degrees at the 5,700’ elevation and IT WAS SNOWING! Not huge flakes; more like sleety stuff, but still a 4-letter word!!! Here’s our proof:


P1020317 We enjoyed a short slide show about the park and wandered around their visitor center looking at all the displays. Then we had lunch in the car watching the s**w and viewing Capitan Reef. This park is part of what was once a marine fossil reef some 260-270 million years ago. The high cliffs (Capitan Reef) that we see here today were part of a 400-mile long reef separating a lagoon from a vast sea that covered portions of Texas and New Mexico.

P1020300 After lunch, we stopped at a pull-off to explore the remains of a stagecoach station that was part of the historic Butterfield overland mail route in the mid-1800s.P1020298 Oh, look – flowers here, too!P1020302 P1020303

Just a few miles down the road was the Frijole Ranch History Museum located in the historic Frijole Ranch house.

P1020304P1020305 The museum was small but well-done and gave us a nice overview of what life was like for the early pioneers that lived here.P1020310 P1020313 We would like to return here someday to do some hiking.

After returning home, we attended happy hour again and then removed the sun screens and tire covers in preparation for travelling tomorrow. Whew! No snow here at the park!P1020320And, this is one of two little baby bunnies that we’ve been seeing on the path near our rig – so cute!

P1020318 Tomorrow, we’ll move to Deming, NM for a week or so before we wander up to the Albuquerque area.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Kari!

It’s Kari’s birthday today!  We enjoyed a quick phone call with her and sang “Happy Birthday” – well, I sang anyway!

Our intent today was to go see Sitting Bull Falls, but on our way there we looked at the gas gauge and decided it would be more prudent to drive in to Carlsbad first and fill up.  Did that and then decided to go visit the National Forest Services office for some more information.  The gentleman there was very helpful and, besides giving us lots of brochures and stuff, he also gave us some helpful hints about snakes and mountain lions.  Maybe now we feel a little braver about doing some hiking around here…

Anyway, by the time we got out of there it seemed to make sense to practice being flexible (our new retirement catch-word!) and forgo the Sitting Bull Falls trip till another day since the road to it was back towards our campsite and there were other things we wanted to do and see in town.

So, we walked across the street and went to see the museum.  It was free and very nice.


Then it was time for our picnic lunch so we drove a few blocks over to the Pecos River.  Here’s the view from our picnic bench:P1020182

Then it was time to explore the Pecos Riverwalk.  We headed down the path enjoying the ducks and geese along the way.P1020197


These guys had a little topknot of feathers…

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Down about 1/4 mile was a floating pedestrian bridge just before the dam.  These ducks were just hanging out on the edge of the dam.P1020189

We crossed the river and wandered down the other side back in the direction of our car (only on the wrong side of the river…).  Saw this beautiful flowering bush – not sure what kind, but it sure smelled good!

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The sidewalk veered off the river just a bit through “Pecos River Village” which was quite uninhabited.  Seemed a little odd to us as it looked like a pretty neat place.P1020205

We asked a couple of locals and apparently it gets used at Christmas and only a couple times through the year.  Hmmmm….strange. 

So we wandered farther on assuming that there would be another way across the river down there somewhere.  You know where assumptions will get you.  Ours took us on about a 2 1/2 hour walk as the sidewalk dead-ended at a picnic pavilion just before the railroad trestle!  Soooo….we walked all the way back the way we came!  At least we got to see these two little guys – pretty cute!P1020217

Then a stop at the grocery store for some supplies and home to watch a movie after eating the yummy chicken and rice supper John had in the crock-pot.

It’s a rough life but somebody’s got to live it!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Taking it easy on Sunday

Well, we planned to have a more low-key day today, but couldn’t resist going to see at least one touristy thing!

Around noon we headed just a few miles down the road to one of New Mexico’s state parks: the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens. It’s located high atop a huge hill just west of the town of Carlsbad. The 1.3 mile self-guided walking tour took us through all the different habitats found in the Chihuahuan Desert.

First, we went through the aviary. There are lots of these doves at our RV park and we probably won’t miss their constant cooing when we leave!


And, of course, lots of flowers for me to take pictures of! Don’t know what kind this one is.


Can you see the lizard in this picture? They’re really hard to photograph because they move so fast!P1020082

More unknown flowers…


This one I know! It’s a Claret Cup Cactus.P1020087

The yuccas here were huge! These were probably easily 20 feet tall.


There were desert critters here, too – javelinas, owls, prairie dogs (including one very tired one!), bison and elk.P1020089 P1020103 P1020110 P1020115 P1020125

And, isn’t this mountain lion gorgeous?P1020134

Our last stop was a greenhouse where they had cacti and succulents from around the world.

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A nice peaceful, but interesting, Sunday…