Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Westward Ho!

I left Austin, and my good friends Fred and Judy, the best hosts in the world, last week and headed west to a small town in the Beg Bend area of Texas called Alpine.  There was a Cowboy Poetry and Crafts fair going on and my friends from Glacier Park, Montana, Bob and Diane were going to be there.  I wanted to head towards Tucson and warmer weather so it would not be far out of my way to stop and have lunch and a beer.  So I did and it was really nice to see them again even for a short lunch.  Here are some pictures of that area.

Officer's Barracks at Ft. Davis

Office Housing at Ft. Davis

Hospital at Ft. Davis

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

I considered staying around Alpine for awhile but changed my mind and headed north towards Guadalupe Mountains National Park at the Texas – New Mexico border.  It was interesting and now I can say I have been there and done that but it was a little disappointing to someone who has lived in the Pacific Northwest for over 35 years.
I took a few short hikes and then decided to drive the BFT seven miles back into the park to see an old ranch house built in the stagecoach days of the 1800’s.  The Butterfield Stage Line ran through the area and there was ruins from one of their stations so I thought it would be interesting.  Big mistake!  All I can say is I can’t imagine how anyone could ride on a stagecoach in that terrain back in the old days.

The road, dirt or rock and deep ruts and washes, got worse as I drove.  I should have known better because the brochure said it would take over an hour to go seven miles!  Well, the BFT got a workout and a challenge but prevailed and made me proud.  I did scrape some thorn bushes and may have a hard time getting some scratches out but they may just add a little character to an otherwise perfect truck.  Actually the guys in Montana gave me a hard time saying I had the best looking truck in the state and suggested I break the windshield and get a little mud on it.

Anyway, I had to stop about a mile from the house but I did take some pictures to prove I did it.  I won’t do that again.

Guadalupe Peak...highest point in Texas....8749 feet....a big deal to Texas since it is so flat!

The road I wish I had not taken.

This was posted along the same seven mile impossible road I took, and I'm complaining how rough it was!

That blue house in the far distance was my destination but I didn't make it.

The Weather Turns to Worms!

After a couple of days, I woke up and it was 22 degrees and very foggy and frozen!  I sure didn’t expect that to happen so I bundled up and hooked up, after breaking ice to get in the truck and to the hitch and headed out.  Once I was down the mountain it got sunnier and warm so I headed west towards El Paso, thinking I would spend some time on the base at Ft. Bliss.  Pati and had stayed there years back and it was a real nice RV park.

However, once I got into the congestion of the big city I just couldn’t bring myself to stay there.  I continued west on I-10 with visions of clear and sunny mid-seventy weather in the beautiful Oro Valley north of Tucson on my mind.  Again, being a vagabond with no real roots or commitments, I got to Deming, New Mexico and saw a sign for Silver City, New Mexico, so I took it to get off the freeway and away from all the 18 wheelers that drive me nuts.

I stayed in the City of Rocks State Park prior to getting to Silver City.  It is in the middle of nowhere and it is thought the rocks were tossed here from about 180 miles away during a volcanic eruption a very long time ago.  

That one rock is just sitting there on top of the bigger one.

I had been to Silver City years ago with Pati in our RV and also when I was working for Sprouse- Reitz Stores because they had a store in that town.  I recalled it was in the mountains and pretty nice.  I was right….it is pretty nice and at 5900 feet up can claim to be in the mountains.

So, here I am.  I am staying in a neat western theme RV park right in town and pretty darn comfortable.  I’ve been here three days now and read everything I can about the area and I think it will be a good place to hang my hat for a month or so if I can get a space next week as promised.  As much as I like driving and seeing new places, my budget doesn’t allow that luxury. 

If I stay in a place for a month, my daily rent is low and I use less gas, usually.  I  prefer to boon dock as much as I can but I need to install my six volt batteries and make the generator more convenient for daily charging them so I don’t get stranded.  I don’t have solar so I depend on my batteries and generator for power when not hooked to shore power.  

My big problem is I like to keep moving.  After about two weeks somewhere I am ready to hit the road for new adventures.  So I may not stay here a month but I will try to see as much as possible in the next week and then decide.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Yesterday, Dexter and I drove about 45 miles north to view the cliff dwellings at Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.  The road was very curvy and slow and it took over two hours to drive it.  It was worth the trip and the steep hike to get up to the dwellings to see them.  Every time I do something like this I realize how old I am getting and how much I need to keep moving if I want to keep moving down the road!  I suffered with some leg cramps last night from the ordeal but it was the cost of doing something I had not done in awhile and seeing some homes in the cliffs that people lived in over 700 years ago! 

The Gila Cliff Dwellings consist of five caves containing over 40 uniquely shaped and sized structures.  The people of the Mongollon culture lived there from the 1280’s through the 1300’s, and then disappeared.  It is thought that only 8-10 families lived in the caves at any one time and were only used for a generation.  It is speculated they left to join other Mimbreno cultures to the north or south.

As viewed on the trail leading up to the Cliff Dwellings

Approach to the second cave dwelling

Inside looking out

Inside the largest cave dwelling

Looking up from the trail to the last cave dwelling

Silver City And The Surrounding Area

I have some other day trips planned, actually planned out for me in all the brochures I have describing the area.  In addition to the day trips, this town has a lot of things going on. 

The downtown area, called Old Town, is really an old town from the 1800’s but all the buildings and shops are in use and well maintained.  There are a bunch of small restaurants, even a brewery, all in walking distance.  I read the town has 32 art galleries also.  It is home to Western New Mexico State University, which is right near the old town.

Main street thru Old Town
Very colorful everywhere

This is a side street downtown.....small businesses everywhere.

Use of color like in Mexico
I am sure I will find plenty to do while here but I also want to clean up my new 5th wheel, which I need to name, and the BFT (Big Ford Truck for late readers).   I hope the weather stays as it was after this storm passes, mid sixties and sun is good, as long as the wind does not get too high.  Maybe I can get back into shape while I am here so I can do some hiking in Arizona and Utah the next few months.

It is Sunday afternoon now and the storm passed and it is sunny with beautiful white clouds in a very blue sky.  It is still cool but will warm up in the next few days.  Dexter and I took a long drive into the mountains today to a small town called Glenwood.  It was a bust and a waste of gas but the drive was real pretty.

I checked online today for space at Catalina State Park north of Tucson and it is booked solid for months so that plan is out.  I do know of a BLM area southeast of Tucson that could work for a week or I can drop in at Davis Mouthan AFB and try to get a spot. They usually don't take reservations and rotate in and out so it is hit or miss there.

For now, I have three more days here and I plan to go to Fort Bayard, an old but still active Calvary Fort from the 1800's and check it out and get some pictures of some of the copper mines/pits that this place was built around.  I found out also that Billy the Kid was born here and his mother is buried in the cemetery adjacent to my RV park.  

Also.....Geronimo was born in a town up the way called Pinos Altos.  This area was the heart of the Apache Nation.   I drove through it going to the cliff dwellings and plan to go back on Wednesday and have lunch at a place recommended.  It is a real small mountain town but has a lot of history. More to come.

Tuesday, March 4th

The weather here is staying overcast and cold so I am going to leave on Thursday for Tucson and see if I can get a spot at the air force base rv park for a while.  I am tired of the cold!  Today I went to Fort Bayard and it did not have anything worth posting about so I drove to a trailhead called Dragonfly that one of the folks in the park told me about.  There are lots of Indian petroglyphs about two miles in so I wanted to check it out.  Tomorrow I am going back to hike that trail before I leave here so I guess I won't be having that burger and beer at the Buckhorn in Pinos Altos.   I guess I will just have to grill my own turkey burger tonight.  For now.....time to relax, read and take a nap.