Monday, July 31, 2017

A Little Boondocking

With our New Mexico State Parks Pass, we have been staying almost exclusively in their campgrounds, but our next few stops were different.  Because we were trying to stay cool, we found a boondocking spot in the Allstays app which was just 1 ½ miles north of Red River at almost 9000 feet.

We parked in town and walked partway up the road to see how bad it was.  In the motorhome vs. trailer discussion, that’s a plus in the motorhome column because we could have just driven the towed car up.  But we decided the lane-and-a-half dirt road was good enough and up we went.  The last part got considerably worse, but we persevered.

It was a Thursday, so we had our choice of spots and grabbed the only fairly level one.

We took a couple of nice hikes up the continuation of the deteriorating road, but, at that height, the longest was less than three miles round trip. 

Saw lots of these pretty black and white butterflies.

And what looked like Spanish moss.  I thought that only grew in the southeast.

But this area is mostly used by people with ATVs.  On Friday they started pouring in.  We couldn’t believe it when we saw TWO of these 38 foot toy haulers come around the corner.  Wow!  Although that’s a plus in the trailer column (if you’re keeping track), because a 38’ motorhome would have twisted and popped out a windshield.

By the end of the day, it was no longer a peaceful spot.

We probably will never go back there despite the entertainment of watching the neighbors.  The road was too bad and there was no phone or internet even with the proximity of the town.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Flying with the Angels

Okay, not really.  But Angel Fire is a ski resort which cleverly converts into a family playground in the summer.  We had a lot of morning clouds and afternoon rain during our stay, and kept checking the weather forecast for the perfect day to ride the chair lift.  Our last day at Eagle Nest looked like it would be perfect.

The day didn’t begin well.  Ron snapped this picture of the early fog.  You can barely see the outline of the hills across the lake.

But the fog lifted and we were off to Angel Fire Resort.  The ski lift was longer than I expected.

We hiked around on top of the mountain, sometimes gasping for air at over 10000 feet.

If you ever wondered how to identify the various conifers, this sign is pretty interesting.

We had been told there was a mountain lake, but obviously the teller hadn’t been there in a while.

We saw what we believe to be bobcat tracks.  So cool.

And the flattest chapel ever.

I know a lot of places open their ski lift in the summer, but Angel Fire takes it several steps farther.  I was impressed with the disk golf course they created on top of the mountain.

But the really big attraction consisted of numerous mountain bike trails down the mountain.  Like ski runs, they are rated as to difficulty.  I thought this was genius!  Here’s a family all suited up and ready to begin their trip down.

And in case you were wondering how the bikes get up there, they have their own chairs on the lift!

Here we are coming in for a landing back at the bottom.

While we were in the area, I kept saying I wanted to get a picture of the purple flowers that were blooming everywhere.  I was told they were penstemon.  Finally on the last day, I did.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Back to Eagle Nest

We can now understand why our RVing friends rave about Eagle Nest State Park.  At 8200 feet, it’s definitely the place to be during the hot days of summer.  The scenery is lovely and, although tiny, the town of Eagle Nest has a few eateries, a laundromat, a thrift store, and a yummy ice cream parlor.  If that isn’t enough, about 10 miles away is the slightly larger town of Angel Fire – winter ski town and summer playground.

We happened to arrive just in time for the 36th Annual Angel Fire Artsfest.  I don’t have any pictures, but this juried event was out of this world and had a wide variety of art.  We enjoyed the paintings, photographs, sculpture, pottery, and, of course, jewelry.  We spoke to several of the artists who were all so friendly and shared their stories with us.

Another day, I participated in a garden tour sponsored by the Angel Fire Garden Club.  It was not the grand gardens that I was expecting, but more hardscape, with beautiful stonework and multi-level patios.  All six of the homes were located in the surrounding wooded hills with the challenge of prevented deer from consuming everything.  I only have one very poor picture.

Another day Ron and I took a hike in Angle Fire which began at pretty Monte Verde Lake,

Where this mommy mallard (?) had her babies out for a swim.  (The babies were too fast to photograph.)

Then we climbed up a bit into the hills to take the Lady Slipper Trail.  On the way Ron spotted this deer lying in the woods.  We wondered if she was birthing a fawn since she never moved as we went by on the trail.  (Don’t worry, this was a zoomed shot.)

We went over the river,

And through the woods.

And found some nice viewpoints, but no Grandmother’s house.

Another terrible picture, but we were excited to see what I guess is a Western Tanager.  Anybody know for sure?

Back at the park, we had a few laughs.  I kept thinking the neighbor’s gate was a wildlife sighting.

At one point, the site next to us was occupied by two trucks, two boats, one RV, and two tents.  There doesn’t seem to be a limit here.

And we got a kick out of another neighbor who had quite a system for getting his fishing equipment down to the lake. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mills Canyon

Our plan was to return to Eagle Nest and the cooler weather, but we couldn’t resist a stop at Mills Canyon on the way.  According to the Allstays app, there are two free national forest campgrounds – one on the rim and one just for tents in the canyon along the Canadian River.  On Google Earth, both appeared to have large sites, but, believing the app, we stayed on the rim.

The next morning we drove the truck down into the canyon and discovered the reason for the ‘tents only’ designation.  It was bad enough that the road was dirt and potholed, but it was one lane with poor visibility and few places where two vehicles could pass.  It was really nerve-wracking, but we made it all the way down without meeting another car.  Whew!

When we could take our eyes off the road, the scenery was lovely.  Below we could see the remains of Mills Canyon Enterprise.  Established in 1881, thousands of trees produced tons of peaches, pears, cherries, plums, apricots, apples, walnuts, chestnuts, and almonds. 
Unfortunately, in the fall of 1904, the fields suffered massive flooding and the trees never recovered.

Here’s a sign about the enterprising Mr. Mills.  It seems he led quite a colorful life, but died penniless in the end.  How sad.

The remains of some of his ranch are available for exploration. 

I was surprised until I read the sign explaining that they had been 'stabilized.'

On the way back up, I took this out the window.  Although narrow, this was far from the worst part of the road.  We were thankful to have high clearance and 4-wheel drive.  Ron just knew that would come in handy someday.

We spoke to a ranger who said money was in the budget for road improvements, but we’ll believe it when we see it.

Ron has been doing some flintknapping – the art of making stone tools, using historical methods.  Here he is flaking a piece of obsidian using a deer antler.

He’s getting pretty good at making arrowheads.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Clayton (part 2)

Independence Day dawned bright and beautiful and perfect for the traditional 4th of July parade.  With only about 2800 residents, Clayton’s parade was not the longest, but it had plenty of gorgeous horses.

We’re guessing this piece of fire equipment was designed for prairie fires with those big tires.

Look at the lovely feathering on this magnificent horse.

Later we went back to the fairgrounds for the Lil Ears Junior Rodeo.  I think the flag would cover the entire ladder truck displaying it.

The rodeo consisted of three events and the kids competed in teams of four in four age categories from 3 to 15.

The first event was a relay where each child had to ride their ‘horse’ around the barrels.

Then things got a little wilder with the ‘cow milking’.  This one deserves a video.  Check out the expertise of the little guy who does the ‘milking’.

And for the final event, the teams had to herd the ‘cows’ over to the fourth team member who would then ‘brand’ them.  I kept taking pictures of the same team because they were just such darn cute little girls.

The adults had their own milking event with wild cows!  Check out this video.

But in my last post, I promised you some Mutton Bustin’.  The sheep are looking a little nervous.

Although it was fun to watch, the age of the typical participant was a bit shocking to us.  Just watch this little guy.

Looks dangerous to me, but this is cowboy country where kids are tough.

I think this was the winning ride, probably because he was the tallest contestant.

And here’s one more video showing a unique method which seemed to confuse the sheep.

There were more adult rodeo events after the kids, followed by fireworks, but we left after the kids were finished.  It had nothing to do with the fact that a huge storm was coming in.  (Well, not much.)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Clayton, NM

In the northeast corner of New Mexico, near the borders of Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas, lies the very friendly town of Clayton.  Clayton Lake State Park was our next stop.

In the spillway of the dam are about 500 dinosaur tracks from the early Cretaceous period (about 100 million years ago.)  When we walked over to see them, I neglected to take my camera, so this picture is from the brochure.  They are especially dramatic when the sun is low and after a rain.

Following the park ranger’s directions, we took a drive to see where the Santa Fe Trail came across the grasslands.  I guess not too many people take this dirt road.  The cows seemed amazed.

Here’s the sign.

It’s not like the wagon ruts of the Oregon Trail, but it does give you an idea of what the travelers saw.  There was not a fence or house in sight.  This is the edge of the Kiowa National Grassland.

Clayton plans events for the whole 4th of July weekend, including some I had never seen before, such as Crazy Goat Roping.  I know what you’re thinking and I also wondered if this was animal cruelty.  After all, I don’t even like zoos.  But these goats were smart and tricky.  They knew they only had to get from the chute to the other side of the pen and they were safe.  Usually the results were something like this.

But look at how expertly this little guy threw his lasso.  Too bad the goat was long gone.

Who knew goats were so fast and such powerful jumpers?

It was a ‘head and heels’ competition like the calf roping, but these guys don’t act like calves.  Even the experts had problems.  I had to laugh when this little guy evaded the man who was being honored as Pioneer of the Year.  You know he must have roped a few cattle in his lifetime.

I never realized how big of a loop the cowboys throw.  I guess this works well for roping steer, but most of the goats jumped right out of it.

This cute little 4-year-old went through the line multiple times.  Of course he never caught anything, but he was sooo serious.

There were more traditional events too, like bronco busting.  Poor things.

But I had to laugh at this horse who refused to come out.

There was a guest appearance by a group of trick riders – all girls.

This little 7-year-old amazed everyone.

It was getting dark and they were moving fast, so the pictures aren’t the best.

Here I almost missed her, but this little girl rode all around the ring standing on the horse.

This is just crazy.

We have our friends Donna and Bob to thank for recommending Clayton as the place to be for the 4th.  One night we all went to Pizza Hut where Donna got this hysterical picture of us and my halo. 

Next post - Mutton Bustin’.