Monday, July 28, 2014

Ute Lake State Park, New Mexico

This park is probably the fifth state park I've been to in New Mexico.  When I first arrived, I discovered that the camping fee is $14 per night.  If you purchase a yearly permit, you can camp for $4 per night.  The permit was $225 and I figured I would break even if I stayed in different parks for at least 22 days.  As of now, this is my 25th day and I'll be moving to another state park tomorrow.  Or the next day, if I feel lazy when I get up in the morning.  This has been great for my budget, to make up for past technical difficulties! 

I thought the above pass through the rocks was part of the trail, but when I squeezed through, I didn't find a continuing trail on the other side.   The scenery in this area was great, lots of little hills and rocky coves on the lake, plus the giant boulders.


I love close-up photos - the above is sap oozing out of a tree.   
And just another little wildflower blooming along the side of the road. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tucumcari, New Mexico, at night.

This little shop has jewelry and all sorts of other little trinkets, even pretty rocks and agates from other areas.

This little motel seems to be the nicest of the vintage ones.  And they have "refrigerated air"!
 Basic, historic and restful and they have wifi!   
 This is not far from a truck stop and right off one of the interstate exits.  They probably have good food.

This is one of the basic motels - and they have phones, probably not a big draw anymore!
I've enjoyed this town, it was probably well visited back a few decades ago.  There are so many abandoned, derelict buildings and businesses that it's a little depressing.  But the people are friendly, helpful and care deeply about their town.  And I believe they actually value their visitors, unlike lots of places.

Tucumcari, New Mexico on Route 66



This is an interesting little town, and Route 66 runs right through it.  Route 66, also called The Mother Road, is four-lanes here, although it goes back to it's original 2 lanes on one and of town and disappears on the other, to appear further on.


 The mural in the above photo is on the side of a building in town and there are about 24 other murals around town, most of them larger.  They all depict the area's history or show the area's terrain - which is also called Mesaland.

Because of the history of the road, the town is full of old classic "mom and pop" motels, some of which have been maintained very well,, and others that have been closed and boarded up. 

Old gas stations have been taken over by other businesses or they have been boarded up. 

A few miles east of town, Route 66 continues to a town called San Jon, which has numerous buildings along the road that have been abandoned. 

There was a business along the road that was fenced in, with numerous old vehicles of various stages of rust and decay.  I parked along the road and wandered in to see if they would mind if I took some photos.  I photographed most of them - Studebakers, Jeeps, Fords, Ramblers, an Edsel, and many more.  They were a real contrast to the shiny classic cars in the museums in this area.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of Tucumcari, it sure has been fun here.  Tomorrow, I plan to give you another glimpse of the town, at night.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Santa Rosa and Route 66


When I left Roswell and Bottomless Lakes State Park, I drove north out of the desert and into the high plains area. The terrain changed along the way, the brown of the desert gave way to rolling hills covered in different shades of green grasses and clumps of short green trees. There were tiny little wildflowers scattered along the way.

My first stop was Lake Sumner State Park about 15 miles north of Fort Sumner. When I pulled in, I was the only one in the campground. They have pay stations in these state parks, so there was no one in the visitor center. It felt a little strange being the only camper. Of course, it was early morning and a few other people came in throughout the day. And they left the next morning. One other couple and I were the only ones who stayed more than just overnight.

My next stop was Santa Rosa and the Santa Rosa State Park. It seems like most of these parks are situated around lakes and somewhere along the line, the Corps of Engineers was involved in their development. These last two parks both had dams.

I visited the town of Santa Rosa, built along Route 66, which has been replaced by Route 40, although old sections of the road remain. There are a few remnants from Route 66, some signs that haven’t been taken down, and there’s a Route 66 diner that’s still in business.

I had to stop at the Route 66 Auto Museum, where they had a collection of very nice antique cars, mostly from the 1960s, although some were older and some newer. They had an Auburn from the early 1930s in very nice shape (I had never heard of it before) and a LaSalle, also nicely kept. Others included Mustangs, a Thunderbird, Road Runner, Cadillac, Edsels, a Camaro and a Woody wagon. There were all sorts of signs and other memorabilia on the walls, as well as an old gas pump and air pump. It’s definitely worth a stop if you’re in the neighborhood.

Next stop is Tucumcari, which has more Route 66 sights and memorabilia. They have refurbished some of the landmarks and maintained others.

By the way, the gas station with the above sign was not open - I sure was disappointed!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Full Moon

Above is a shot of the full moon the other night.  Actually, it was the night before, but I like this photo better than the one I took of the actual full moon.  Still in Bottomless Lakes State Park in New Mexico, but planning to leave early in the morning tomorrow.  By the way, the lakes are not really bottomless - the early explorers thought they were because when they tried to find out how deep they were by tossing a line in the water, it just drifted away and they never could get a measurement. 

These lakes all are partly rimmed with a bluff like the one pictured above and also shown on one of my previous blogs.  They're sinkholes, the earth was washed away by water from underground springs until finally the top covering became thin enough to fall in.  The other day I was exploring and found an area that looked interesting.  I parked the truck and wandered over to a patch of land high up on a hill without too much vegetation.  I don't like wandering through a lot of vegetation because I really don't want to run into a snake, especially a rattler.  Anyway, I was wandering around, kicking a few rocks and noticed that the ground sounded funny - unlike other areas I'd been in.  I kicked a few more rocks around and finally realized that the ground sounded hollow.  Mental images of the surface caving in under my feet were enough to make me turn around and hurry back to the road.  Who knows how deep it will be when it does cave in?  I certainly didn't want to test it, but I'm really curious.  It may take years or it might be next week.......

I found these cute little flowers this morning on my hike, I have no idea what they're called.  They are pretty much that size and very low to the ground. 

Tomorrow I'll be leaving here, but I've enjoyed the stay here, and I hope the next park I go to will be as nice.  Well, I could do without the flies, especially the deer flies - they have teeth!  Surprisingly, I have not experienced mosquitoes here, but that might be because it's the desert. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Valley Area - Bottomless Lakes State Park

Above is a typical picture of the valley area in and around the park and adjoining the rocky bluffs that were pictured in my blog from yesterday. 

Just because it's desert, that doesn't mean that there aren't pretty flowers.  I did find some, although I did miss the cactus flowers and other things that bloomed in April or May. 

These yellow blooms are tiny and on a little bush that seems to be low to the ground.

This is a plant that has some type of vine sprawled over it - sometimes this vine covers multiple plants.  It doesn't seem to harm the plant on the bottom.

First, I thought this little guy was a tiny hummingbird, he's only 2-3" long.  He was flitting from one flower to another and his wings were blurred because he was so fast.  There were bunches of them around that area.  I took lots of shots of them and got a few good ones.  Someone told me he's a moth, but I don't know what kind.  If anyone finds out what he is, please let me know.

I dropped something on the trail and noticed this guy, who was busy blending into his surroundings.  Looks like a grasshopper.

So, these are the most interesting things I saw on my 3 mile hike this morning.  Luckily, no rattlesnakes, although I keep looking.  Not that I want to see one, it's because I want to go the other way if I do!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bottomless Lakes State Park

These shots are from Bottomless State Park in New Mexico.  My truck in the photo above gives you an idea of how large these bluffs are. 


This shot is at Mirror Lake this morning, which would have been more like a mirror, except for the nice breeze. 

This is the other side of Mirror Lake with what looks like a sandbar between the two.  It's actually hard packed desert earth, which has a tiny connecting stream through the lakes.  It does have tiny fish going between the two, they're less than 2 inches long.

This is a closer look at the composition of these bluffs.  In contrast to these photos, much of this area is a valley which was the site of a shallow sea ages ago. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A good day

Today was a pretty nice day, until I got attacked by a bird! I was crossing a street and was about in the middle when I felt a thump on the top of my head. I saw a blur of black fly away and when I put my hand up on my head, my glasses were gone - I had put them on the top of my head for safekeeping. So much for safe, I saw them drop down to the sidewalk on the other side of the street, at least 12 feet away. Amazingly, when I picked them up and examined them, they were unharmed. Obviously, the bird saw something shiny and thought it was something good to eat. The joke’s on him!

I had a real treat today, I saw a peacock raise his tail feathers in a beautiful display. He was trying to attract a female by shaking his feathers she was pecking for food nearby, totally unimpressed and uninterested. I took some video and put a short couple clips together you can see it on You Tube at  

I also saw some little prairie dogs, so cute and industrious, digging all the time for their food.


Just so you know it’s not all fun and games, then I went to get some groceries, came back home and did a couple loads of laundry.  It was a good day!


Roswell's Alien Fixation


Roswell, New Mexico is such a cool town.  They really are into their legend of the UFO crash way back in the 1940s.  You’d think the emphasis would fade after a few decades.  But, they’ve kept it going all this time and I think it’s fun, so I wanted to share some photos. 

Stores sell T Shirts and other items with the alien/UFO theme, some of their storefronts are shown below.  The tattoo parlor is next door and I bet they will do tattoos of aliens, although I didn’t confirm that.


 It’s been hot here and I had to buy a bottle of water the other day, the label states “UFO H2O, Preferred by Aliens in all Galaxies”.  A sign in a storefront for loans doesn’t say anything about lending to aliens, but they do have a little green alien face on the window.  And Arby’s welcomes aliens, it says so right on their sign.


 So for an otherwise ordinary town, these people have embraced and nurtured their legacy from another world.  Meanwhile, I’m still looking for friendly green aliens.



Roswell, New Mexico is famous for a UFO crash that supposedly happened in 1947.  Something happened and, unfortunately, any evidence was quickly snatched by the government.  Anyone who had happened to see anything was threatened with deadly consequences.  Of course, the government told everyone it was a “weather balloon” crash.
I visited the UFO Museum today.  There was a large collection of affidavits from witnesses who finally were persuaded in the 1990s to state what they knew about the situation.  Numerous newspaper articles addressed both sides of the situation, of course emphasizing the government’s position. 
There was a 3 page list of UFO activity tracked by radar in the 1950s and 1960s, none of which had an explanation.  Numerous photos were posted, only some of them were declared to be setups.  Quotes were posted from previous presidents of this country and others, scientists and other famous people have declared to believe in them, or had personally seen them.
Also on display, loaned for a short time, is a hand carved replica of a lid to a tomb from a temple of the Mayan people in Mexico.  This is about 8 feet tall and about 5 feet wide.  The carving is done in typical Mayan style, very ornate and complicated.  This carving depicts a Palenque Astronaut estimated about 400-500 AD and shows symbols representing extraterrestrials, symbols for many of the planets and symbols for parts of the spaceship.

In the mid-1990s the movie Roswell was released, which I have not seen, but will be looking for it at book exchanges, used book shops or thrift shops. 
The town is full of shops specializing in alien items and one fast food restaurant had a sign out front – Aliens Welcome!  Certainly something happened way back then, since the government stepped in so quickly and squelched things.  And this community has been living with it all this time.
If you believe in them or not, it certainly is interesting to think that there are other beings in other galaxies.  I think after I leave here, I’ll be headed over to a nearby state park where it’s far from city lights.  It will be almost full moon by then, and I think I’ll sit outside and stare at the night sky, willing the aliens to show themselves. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Brantley Lake State Park, New Mexico

My first state park in New Mexico meets with my approval. Actually, this one was very nice and my site backs up to a big field with a lake in the background. You get such nice views out of the back of trailer or 5th wheel.

I guess I should just say it’s a part of the desert rather than a field. I always thought of deserts as big sand dunes with very little vegetation except for a few large cactus types. Maybe some are like that, but this desert is full of little creosote bushes, yucca plants, grass and some prickly pear type cactus. This is the Chihuahuan Desert, mostly in Mexico, but part comes into southern New Mexico. It’s not totally flat, but it’s not sand dunes either, and the ground is actually rather hard. I took the trail down by the lake and went through a small group of trees, similar to cedar but shorter. I never did get to the lake, since the trail turns around when it reaches a sand bluff above the lake.

The next morning, I took the trail to the visitor center, watching for rattlesnakes along the way. I really don’t want to run into those guys, so I made as much noise as possible, kicking little stones along the way. I figure they’ll hear me before I see them and they can give me a warning in which case Ill be headed the other way as quickly as I can. The only critter I saw on that 3 mile hike was one little rabbit, along with a few birds. It was perfect weather, still cool and totally overcast, it was still below 80 degrees at noon.

Since I went through a time zone last week, it gets light around 6:00 here and I haven’t adjusted to sleeping much later than that. When I get up, I go outside to enjoy the cool air it averages about 70 during the night. I wander around my trailer and there are always rabbits around, theyre all over the campsite areas. For the past 3 days, I’ve had one sitting under my trailer for hours, no matter how many times I walk by or open the door, he doesn’t seem concerned. They will actually hop around within 5-6 feet of me.

Next is Roswell, New Mexico, a few hours north, to visit some alien beings. Hopefully they’ll be friendly!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Arriving in New Mexico

Yesterday I drove from Fort Stockton, Texas to the "town" of Whites City.  In town is one large store consisting of about 3 large rooms consisting of a few groceries, T shirts and other souvenirs.  Across the street is a large restaurant and some motel-looking rooms.  There is a post office, an over-priced gas station and a tiny museum.  And the RV park that is just outside the gateway to Carlsbad Caverns. 

On the way over, the rest of west Texas was what I expected it to look like, flat dry land with some bushes trying to grow, lots of oil drilling rigs, and in some places, huge round storage tanks for the oil coming out of those wells.  It was a two lane highway with a speed limit of about 70, nothing fancy.  The state line was nothing fancy, a few signs that had been used for target practice - Welcome to New Mexico, Mountin Time,  State Law, use seat belts. 

For some reason, the terrain became a little more hilly right after passing into New Mexico, and the oil rigs were still in evidence.  I found the RV Park, expensive not because it was an oasis in the desert and luxurious.  No, it was expensive because it was the only game in town, the only game for miles around!  I set up camp and had lunch, then drove up to the Caverns.  The photo above is from one of the roadside lookouts. 

I'm not going to bore anyone with details of the formations in the caves, since I've done that in a few other blogs.  But, I will mention one fact I probably didn't - these places are very far underground.  In this instance, if you don't take the steep, winding path of the natural trail for about an hour, you take the elevator.  Being the adventurous sort of person, I took the path on the first day and the elevator on the second day.  The elevator takes you down 850', be sure to clear your ears on the way.  That's not the bottom either, there are caves under these caves and they all continue for miles. 

The adventure continues tomorrow as I move north in New Mexico.