Tuesday, October 21, 2014

10/20/14 Truth or Consequences

Well, I wrote a whole long post and Blogger crashed and it's gone. Thanks.

I made and omelet  and coffee and enjoyed breakfast by the water.



I had seen Riverbend Hot Springs had a little rv park. I looked them up on FB and the pics looked awesome. Unlike the other baths in T or C, they had outdoor pools overlooking the Rio Grande. I saw they had a healing sound concert tonight and that sealed the deal.

I left the park at 1pm and headed to the rv wash I had passed in Elephant Butter. $8 later I was tired, wet and pissed and the rig was only marginally cleaner. I gave that up as a bad job and headed to the hot springs. This was a splurge....$55/night, but that included unlimited soaking. Since I was doing 2 nights, I also got a private hour soak.  It turned out to be so worth it. The setting is gorgeous and the tubs were hot and clean. I got in an hour or so then went back to the rv for dinner. A little after 6 I headed back over as the music was starting. As I walked across the street I glanced back & froze in astonishment. There was a rainbow and wrath-of-god skies behind me. It didn't deter me from getting back into the tub though. It was an intense few minutes....while it didn't rain hard at all on us, it did blow like crazy. Leaves were flying everywhere, and there were gorgeous flaming clouds in the sky. Just incredible.







 
Pam and Eric, workampers at the springs joined me in the tub and we had a nice chat. When it got dark it got even better as there were really neat lights all over the place, and the cool breeze balanced the hot water perfectly.

Around 8pm I got out & changed out of my suit....and then the skies opened. And then I remembered I left the roof vent open. Dumbass. I seriously considered putting the bathing suit back on & running across the street, but I didn't. I just bolted across the street.  :-) By some miracle no water came in. I finished up my rice, had a beer and facebooked a bit. This wifi sucks. While there's not a ton of traffic, the little bit there is is annoying as I'm so close to the road. Ah well. I'll stay here tomorrow night as well, then start heading north on Weds.  

While it was an expensive splurge, so far I think it was well worth it.


Monday, October 20, 2014

10/19/14 Elephant Butte Lake Day 2

I spent a pretty restful night with LOTS of dreams. I've noticed that quite a bit when camping, I seem to be a lot more aware of my dreams. Not sure if it's the lack of light or less electromagnetic pollution or what, but I definitely see a difference.

It began to thunder pretty fiercely soon after I awoke, and I scrambled to get my chair & other things inside. There wasn't much and that was good as the sky soon opened. I was a bit concerned as I was pretty close to the water's edge but I guess it didn't rain enough to raise the levels. And I moved even closer later :-)  I read for a while, "Walking Home" by Lynn Schooler, but felt tired and lethargic. I took a nap that turned into almost the whole day. I finally got up at 3:30 feeling like crap, with a bad headache. I putzed around for a while but finally got jolted into action by the sight of a ranger driving around checking cars. I guess they only looked for slips hanging on the windshields, not what they actually said, as they passed me by. I should have paid for another day before 2 pm but I was still out of it then.

I headed up, checking out the Ridge Road sites on the way by. They have nice views and cute little casitas. I almost took one of the only two that were open, but decided waterfront was better. :-) Since I was out & about I drove into town & got gas. I slowed down quite a bit on this tank and got 12mpg! I like that! I thought about heading up to South Monticello Point where some other women form Facebook were camped, but I was unsure if they were still there and it was close enough to sunset for me to think I shouldn't go exploring so I just headed back to where I had been. Well, actually I went to the farthest point on the spit as it was now open.


My new parking spot





He kept buzzing me for a while





All the partiers left.





Love their Porta-bote


Yep, I went about as far from anyone as I could get. :-)









It began to rain hard and blow harder soon after dark, which made me a touch apprehensive about water levels. :-)  However, it would have to rise at least a foot to put where I am under water, and my rig has decent ground clearance, so I think I'd be ok. That would take a LOT of rain. But I've still turned on the outside light every so often & checked. :-)

I think tomorrow I'll head into Truth or Consequences & see if there's an RV park in walking distance to the sights & hot springs. A nice long soak would be awesome.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

10/18/14 Wandering Aimlessly

I started out with good intentions of making it a short travel day. Only 75 mi to Roswell.  I got up early, around 7:30. I did some reading & went in to the Subway place for some breakfast. What a mistake. It was filthy. And the gal doing the sandwiches had no clue about anything. I guess she got the egg patties out of the freezer, as despite the cheese melting in the oven, most of the egg was stone cold. The coffee was abysmal too.  Ah well....

Got gas for the 85th time and headed out.

When I got near Roswell I saw this cool display, and made a u-turn to get back & take pics. Glad I did as it was the best thing I saw. I had an image of a little dusty town, with kind of an ET meets Route 66 vibe. I got a medium sized city with mini malls everywhere. Not what I was looking for.


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After I decided Roswell wasn't my cup of tea, I aimed for Valley of Fires Recreation area. Some of the drive was really pretty, with fall colors on some trees. I didn't expect that.  I passed through a cute town called Lincoln & didn't stop. Kinda kicking myself for that now. But at least I got to see Smokey Bear.


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When I arrived at VOF I discovered that it was windy as hell. Rip-the-door-out-of-your-hand-and-off-the-hinges windy. And no cell phone service. I decided I'd be seeing plenty of lava in El Malpais so decided to move on.  I did stop at a scenic turnout & get a few pics of the lava.


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I decided to head to Truth or Consequences since everyone says it's so great. I was pretty tired when I got to Elephant Butte State Park and I knew I was done for the day.  If I didn't find a spot in the park it would be one of the rv parks nearby as I was not up for another Walmart night. The visitor center was closed so I was kind of on my own as to where would be best to go. I wandered through a few campsite loops but they were all full. I saw a dirt road leading down to the lake, and a few 5th wheels & trailers down there.  I said to myself, "If they can do it, I can do it." This turned out to be incorrect. Well, I might have made it but I lost my nerve. The road began to be more soft sand and I was in a panic that I'd get stuck. Turning around would have been really difficult so I backed back up the hill. I was pissed at that point, mostly at myself, but just mad at the world in general as today hadn't gone too well. I went back up to the Ridge Road though I doubted there'd be any sites there since they had nice views. As I approached the end I did see a couple open spots but I could also see a LOT more people down by the shore.  This time I looked carefully before I left the pavement and saw regular passenger cars and a Roadtrek. So I said to myself, "If they can do it, I can do it." :-) This time it was true. There's even a big class A down here. I found a spot away from party central and parked.

Ahhhhh.....


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This guy looked like he was IN the water!!

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Party Central over there....glad I'm pretty far away as I can still hear their music.


I walked a little over a mile.....I plan to keep that up. I'll probably stay here a day or two, this sort of thing is why I'm doing this. And it should be more peaceful tomorrow night.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

10/17/14 Carlsbad Caverns


I got up at the crack of 10 this morning, I had been tired. I had some trouble getting motivated, but finally got in gear and headed to the Flying J for gas even though I had more than half a tank. This turned out to be an inspired move as gas stations were few and far between.


The scenery wasn't as stunning as I hoped, but there were stretches with tons of yellow flowers so that was pretty. It took way longer than expected and I got into the park after 2pm so no hike in from the Natural Entrance for me. I did do a little walk to a viewpoint. As you can see, it was deserted.




All the tours were over so I did the self guided tour. 


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Scary skull face in the rock

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Old rickety metal ladder the early explorers used. No thanks!
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Reflections in the water
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Reflections in the water

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The Bottomless Pit, 140' deep.
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Another face in the rock

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Instead of floors, the elevator shows feet below ground.

After I was done in the cave I headed back to the RV for dinner. I had about an hour and fifteen minutes till the Bat Flight program began. No cameras, phones or other recording devices were allowed. It was pretty amazing to watch, the bats funneled out of the cave like a living tornado, then spread across the sky like plumes of smoke. It was really something to see. I'm glad I stayed but it meant yet another Walmart night, and I had been looking forward to some nice desert boondocking, or Brantley Lake State Park. I wasn't about to go bopping around on unpaved roads in the dark though, so just went with the easy solution. This Walmart really sucks though....it looks like a non-bat tornado went through it and it looks like Miami before a hurricane. I wanted to buy a gas can but there were none to be had. Or tomatoes, onions or hand sanitizer. :-( At least there was beer, thank god. 

It's killer noisy too, it seems everybody and his brother has a noisy, smoky, stinky diesel pickup. Is there some reason they don't make mufflers for those things? People always brag about how diesels get better mileage...well, yeah, if I cut off my catalytic converter & muffler & just ran a pipe straight back, I bet I'd get better mileage too! But I'd wanna shoot myself as I could never drive something that loud. I don't know how they stand it. The stink & smoke is inflicted on the people behind so they don't have to put up with that, but the noise would seem to be an issue even for them. Ok, done ranting, I just had to be stuck behind one for 20 miles today and grew weary of it.

Think I'm heading to Roswell tomorrow. Time for kitsch & killer touristy stuff. :-)

Friday, October 17, 2014

10/16/14 The sun done riz...............

The sun done riz, the sun done set, and I ain't out of Texas yet.....  I heard a song with those words years ago but never understood till now. Not for lack of trying....I put in over 600 miles today.  I left the gas station at 4:15 am, a little later than I wanted, as I wanted to be on the other side of Houston before rush hour. I made it, barely. At 6am I could already see it was a parking lot eastbound as I put Houston in the rear view mirror. I don't miss that commuting BS one bit. Around 7:30 I was feeling sleepy again as the sun rose and I pulled into a picnic area just west of Flatonia for a nap. I figured I'd sleep till it got too hot then drive till dark. I had driven 222 miles already so I was off to a great start.

I slept till 11 or so, had lunch, did some internet, and hit the road at 12:30 or so. I got to San Antonio and followed the Garmin into hell. It had me get off on this loop road 1604 which was the most frightening road I've driven in a long time. It's a BUSY road, all kind of stores, businesses, etc, with stupidly short onramps. And the speed limit is 70. Just ridiculous. I wonder how many accidents there are on  that road. I was so happy to get off that, the whole time I was saying, "I should have gone through Oklahoma! I should have gone through Oklahoma!" Unreal. I needed gas but it was just congested I kept saying, I'll get the next one. I'll stop at the next one. Then the low fuel light came on with 16 miles to go to the next one. I had never run it that low before, I guess it comes on with about 4 gal left. Now I know. And hopefully I won't cut it that close again. I was pretty happy though, with all the 65 & 70 mph driving, I was still getting 10 mpg. Later, on the 80 mph stretches, I could watch the gas gauge go down....I got less than 9 mpg when I tried being a leadfoot.  I grabbed some snacks and hit the road again. The road really opened up after Comfort, TX....lots of hills and no radio stations. Except for one. Fox News Radio. I plugged in the unactivated XM radio & listened to the preview channel. It was better than the alternative. :-) Got gas AGAIN at Ozona....I'm afraid to add up the receipts and see what today's total was.  I pulled into Fort Stockton and tried to head to a roadside RV park that was supposed to be pretty cheap & basic. But I couldn't figure out how to get to it so said screw it. Then headed to the IHOP, which supposedly had ON parking only to find out it went out of business. How does THAT happen?? So I went for the old standby....Super Wally. There's about 6 of us in our own little compound in one corner of the lot. I'm glad there is safety in numbers as I saw what appeared to be a drug deal in progress on the other side of the lot as I was walking back from the store. If I had been alone in the lot like I was in Gulfport I would have left, but since I was in a big group I didn't. I wasn't in the mood to go wandering around in the dark any more tonight. I'm about an hour and a half from the NM border and I'm off the interstate from here on out, so maybe now I'll slow down and start sightseeing. Sounds like a good portion of the park at Carlsbad Caverns was damaged in the recent flooding but at least the cavern is still accessible.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

10/15/14 Gulfport to TX.

When I left you, dear readers, I was bedding down in the Walmart parking lot in Gulfport MS on Tues night. I had some nagging sense of "There's something you should know about this place" and finally fired up the laptop to google. Well, the first thing I found was a story of a few rvers who had been chained up by tow trucks in that very lot at 2am about a year and a half ago, and were forced to pay $500 cash each to be released. It had happened at least one other time at 2am. I was like, "Oh, awesome". I read some more and apparently they had been reimbursed and apologized to but I was still nervous. Especially since I was the only RV in the lot. I had asked the security guy & he said it was ok, but we all know how that goes. I didn't feel like moving so decided to roll the dice. I left the front curtains open figuring tow truck lights would wake me up. It was a dumb move.....I couldn't sleep. Every little noise had me awake again. I finally fell deep asleep at 1:30 am, and woke again at 4:40, still in the same spot, so that was good. :-)

I got up around 9am, got coffee and gas and hit the road around 10. I blasted past New Orleans on I-12, and through Baton Rouge, which was a white knuckle ride. At 1 pm I saw signs for the Atchafalaya Welcome Center, and I stopped there for a break. Super nice folks there and free coffee. While I was there a big PC cruiser pulled in next to mine. They weren't that friendly, probably because I looked homeless in my torn tie-dye shirt & comfy pants. Sorry, yes, I'm driving in ratty comfy clothes. It's uncomfortable enough without dressing for success. Get over it.

After lunch and relaxing, I headed south a bit as I'd seen a sign for the "Levee Rat Bar". It sounded like it might be a fun thing to see and on the water, so I headed down this narrow road. Turned out it wasn't on the water and was just a little roadside bar. Which was, however, apparently packed on a Weds afternoon judging by the parking lot. I turned around & got back on the highway. The guy at the visitor center had told me about a cool lake with a boardwalk through the swamp, but I never saw the sign. So I decided to press on. I had heard about beach boondocking at a place near the TX border, turned out that was 70 mi out of the way so I passed on that too.

I hit the Texas border at 5pm. I was tired...hadn't slept well the night before, and put 300 miles under the wheels that day. Plus I was now driving into the setting sun and it was killing me. I pulled into the rest area at the border and parked in the shade of a semi. :-) I figured I'd have dinner & a nap, then drive another 2 hrs to get west of Houston before stopping for the night. I fell asleep around 7pm, woke at 10pm and said no way can I drive right now. I went back to sleep again, woke at midnight and decided to hopefully leave around 3 or 4 am. I did get up at 3:30, got gas & coffee & on the highway at 4:15.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Westbound and Down......

And so the great adventure begins.

I got a late late start after a few more computer issues and not being able to get a lot of stuff done due to the torrential rains yesterday. I finally left at 4:30 pm, dropped some stuff at the storage and tried a little pest control. I had seen signs of mice last time, and I had read that they, like squirrels, hated cayenne pepper. I had been meaning to test-fire one of my cans of bear spray at some point so I'd know how it worked in an emergency so it seemed like a great idea to spray some of it around in the unit to make it inhospitable to mice. Well, you know where this is going. The force of the spray was pretty surprising, and the blowback was massive. :-) I ran. :-) I got just enough to cough & tear up for 10 minutes. It works. Since mice have more sensitive noses I suspect they'll move on to greener pastures. I actually hadn't seen any more signs of them this time so hopefully the other deterrents had already helped.

After I was done at the storage unit I headed west. I thought about stopping in Pensacola. I thought about stopping in Mobile. The buildings were lit with purple lights.....pretty! And there was an amazing white futuristic tunnel that I didn't expect. But I was rolling along in the groove and decided to see if I could make Biloxi. One thing I need to get over is this drive to get there. When I saw the "New Orleans 98mi" sign, I said to myself, "I could make that!" I have to remember that now the journey is the destination too, and slow down. I was going to go to a casino in Biloxi but decided I didn't feel like it.  I got off I-10 in Gulfport and headed for Cracker Barrel. Which turned out to have no RV parking and was in a mall area so it was unlikely I could sneak camp. Ah well, guess it'll be IHOP for breakfast in the AM instead. It is blessedly cool here, I was able to shut one of the windows which cut down on the road noise. It was downright chilly with it open. Love it. Gonna get me some $2.84/gal gas tomorrow and head west, hopefully ending up near Houston.