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Lake Amistad, Texas


VOF Nature Trail

Adventure Location: Valley of Fires RA, New Mexico
Teams Location:  Valley of Fires RA, New Mexico

The Nature Trail here goes out into and through the lava flow. Several lava flows have been visited in my life and this nature trail is the best one yet. It starts at an overlook across the street from a rest room. Well planned is my statement.

There are lots of information signs along the trail.  It is paved the whole way and easy walking or rolling if you are on wheels.
This sign tells of where the lava came from since it was not a volcano.  That was pretty interesting to me.

They have two aiming tubes mounted to show you where the cone that emitted the lava is located.  It is a pretty good ways over there.  This next picture was shot at full telephoto, then cropped and enlarged some. The cone is near center top of the picture.

All through the lava is “caves” that have seen use by critters but no critters were seen. This next info sign tells of lava bubbles and how they behave.

Then the Photo Team stepped left and shot this next picture of a collapsed bubble to show you one for real.  A lot of this lava looks like dried cow patties to me.
Burst Bubble
A neat sign tells of the real story about tarantulas. They are very gentle spiders that the OFM has handled many times in the past.
Some of these old trees have a lot of character.  This particular one has apparently lead a very twisted life but is still going strong.

And last on the tour is a picture of our campsite from down in the lava field.  You can see the hill from which some pictures were taken yesterday. The Castle is to the left and enlarge the pic to see it.

The altitude plus the up and down of the trail caused me to have to do a little horizontal time when my worn body made it back to the Castle.  It certainly did feel good to rest for a bit. Then it was back up and getting busy at trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.


Valley of Fire Campground

Adventure Location: Valley of Fires Recreation Area, New Mexico
Teams Location:  Valley of Fires Recreation Area
After all the dramatic travels through the valleys and hills the OFM Teams were ready for some rest when we got to Carrizozo, New Mexico and the Valley of Fires RA.
The campground turned out to be extremely nice and clean.  A site was chosen and set up went easy for a change.

Lunch was in town at Willies.  They have the best onion rings that have ever encountered my taste buds.  The hamburger was good also.  And they have strong wifi for the customers. Then it was back to the campground to check out everything.  We are above 5200 feet elevation and my body is telling me to take it easy. There is a hill with a telescope on it about 2/3 the way into the campground just before the tenting area.  The walk to the top of the hill was worth the effort.  We are above 5200 feet elevation and my body is telling me to take it easy. Here is a picture back toward the Castle from the hill.
Next my feet carefully took me down the hill to another campsite to get this picture of the tents only area.  That certainly looks nice down there and it is.
The low lava cliff protects the tent area from the evening sun.  They have water available right across the street and one vault toilet. Everything in this place is kept very clean.
The chollas are blooming all over the place. Man these are pretty flowers in real life.
A rather nice yellow flower with orangeish centers is in the area. Here is the best shot of several attempted.
And now we get to the important man who makes all this happen.
 Alberto Najar is the BLM Park Manager. Thanks to his efforts this is a really nice place in excellent condition. The entire park seems to be wheelchair, walker etc. capable. The main bath house with the showers is huge inside and very well lit. Once again these are excellent facilities for all folks.
The Teams are really looking forward to meandering some more to meet our goal of trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.


Through The Valley

Adventure Location:  Hondo Valley, New Mexico
Teams Location: New Mexico

The afternoon temp at Brantley Lake got a bit higher than the Teams like.

So we packed it in and made dem wheels rool.

We headed north.  In Roswell the decision was to turn west on hwy 380 as recommended by John.  It is definitely a nice road for an RV.  By the way the new loop around the west side of Roswell is well worth taking to cut out all of the in town traffic.

The valleys got nicer and nicer as we headed west. A bit west of Roswell, the road takes you through some low mountains or high steep hills.  We never did find a name for them.  Any way you start to go through the valley along the Rio Hondo River and it is beautiful.  The road has no places for a rig to stop for pictures and it did not seem a good idea to try for pictures while driving.

Eventually you get to a rest area where hwy 70 and 380 split. At this point we turned and followed 380.  The rest area has nice information signs to tell you some of the story of the Hondo valley and Lincoln County.

Hwy 380 through Lincoln County is one of those roly poly roads with a good surface but lots of wobbles.  Several minutes of putting things back in place were required after we stopped for the night. However the territory looks like it would be a good place to go back without the Castle to explore.  Naturally there are tourist trap places there, but it also appeared to have some interesting history to enjoy.
Here is a picture from the roadside rest area of the types of hills in the area. They are short steep devils.

Now the OFM Teams know about another area that could help in the quest of trying to have tooooo much fun.


Portable Tumble Dryer

Adventure Location: Brantley Lake SP, New Mexico
Teams Location:  Brantley Lake SP

Another windows open night for good sleeping. In fact about 0400 it was time to get out a light blanket. Nope no temperature reading was noted.  The AC was not turned on until around 1300 to my surprise.
Tomorrow is a rolling day and the new territory is uncharted for internet access. We will see how it goes but do not worry if the OFM Teams are not heard from for a few days. The only goal is to get higher in elevation so we can have cooler temps.

Near here is a CR406 with a sign that says Waterhole Road.  On Google it shows a small lake with the road going over the dam.  Great the OFM Teams have a site to check out.  So we mosey on down the road to Waterhole Road and turn onto it.  We find washboard gravel with lots of dust.  A mile or two the Team comes to a dip in the road that goes left.  This must be the lake just over the hill was the thought as we topped the rise.  Low and behold there was the lake bed and no dam anymore.  The Truck stopped in the middle of the lake so this next picture could be taken.  The grasshopper was not noticed until the picture was down loaded.

When you head out for the mountains and the Lincoln NF on 137, about five miles down the road you get to a wye in the road.  The mountains are to the left but a lot of truck traffic goes to the right.  This seemed like a good day to go to the left for a change. So the Truck turned left from the Lake road and exploring we went.
At the wye it was to the right for a change.  The road surface was paved so we could make good time.  We passed a couple of ranch houses, lots of oil field things and the road just kept on going on.  It was not exciting.  Finally something in the distance showed up.  It is a gas plant out way past the middle of nowhere.  The road went on past and was still paved.  The Truck kept on rolling.  Finally the Truck said to take a picture because nobody will believe how NOTHING it is out here in the NM desert.

After a long interval the Truck suggested we just quit and go back.  But the OFM made it go on to over the next rise.  Sure enough CR401 came to the end of the pavement.  The gravel started and a new county road turned off to the right.  It is paved.  OK now let us check the map.  None of the roads looked like the map shows them. Ratzz.  That means it is time to turn around and go back.  My thought well before we got back to the wye was “Why in the world did we go so far into nowhere?”
This was definitely a non-adventure but it is know now that there are hundreds of square miles of BLM land out there waiting for boondockers to enjoy themselves sitting in the middle of way past nowhere.

Often non-rv folks and the OFM have conversations and most of them think full time RV folks never have anything to do in the way of housekeeping. Sometimes it is hard to convince them that clothes still have to be washed, dishes washed and floors cleaned.
The day before rolling, if the Teams have been sitting still for a while like now, is cleaning day.  The laundry in Carlsbad is about a thirty mile round trip, so some clothing was washed in the bathtub.  That works out well but drying can be a pain.  In the desert however, there is the OFM Portable Tumble Dryer.

The damp clothing is placed in the mesh laundry basket and set on the picnic table. The basket is rotated now and then. The excruciatingly dry desert air here makes short work of drying the clothes. Then it is easy to fold and put them away.
While the clothing was drying, the vacuum was brought out and most of the sand and other saltwater debris was removed from the Truck. The vacuum had to be emptied seven times before the job was done.  The OFM was feeling so good that he even cleaned the Castle before putting the shop vac away.  Is he feeling ok?????

Now the OFM Teams are ready to get out there and try to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.


Star Party?

Adventure Location: Brantley Lake SP, New Mexico
Teams Location:  Brantley Lake SP

The night temps were nice enough to sleep with the windows open again.  By 1000 it was AC time again.
Yesterday the head ranger came by and gave me an invite to a star party for that night.  It sounded good and the temps were dropping fast so it should be comfortable. Of course there are no mosquitos out here in the no water land. About 2100 the OFM Stargazing Team headed for the telescope site by the kids playground.

My goodness there was a lot of kids on that equipment. The telescope folks were taking their equipment down already. The story was that the rain clouds way over there were too close and the equipment owner was afraid that his equipment might get damp. SO the star party was eliminated.  No rain got to us last night or even close. Oh well. It was worth the price.

Speaking of playground equipment, here is a picture of the children’s playground.

Yes my fingerprints did get put on the trolley that goes back and forth as you hang on it.  That was fun until my shoulders screamed in my ear.  Then the fun was over.
Back behind the playground is an open spot where the star non-party was held. And just back of that is the group shelter that can be rented for events. It is a very nice shelter and kept very clean by the park volunteers.

When the OFM Grocery Shopping Team got back to the Castle this afternoon the temperature showing on the Truck’s gage was 99 degrees.  From about noon on it was too hot for the wimp OFM to be out in the sun.   Keeping cool in the AC is another way of trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.


Sitting Bull Falls Report

Adventure Location: Sitting Bull Falls, Guadalupe Mountains, New Mexico
Teams Location:  Brantley Lake SP

The OFM had the wonderful fortune to have a reader stop by and introduce himself and his son.  Travis was a delight to talk with. He and his family were on the way to a reunion and decided to stop by and say HI. It definitely improved my day.  Thank you Travis.
Today was a trip to show how badly the Sitting Bull Falls area was devastated by the wildfires of last year. My head was ready to accept that the damages were more than terrible.  You can see what the area was like before the fires in these previous blog entries.

The NP folks have been very hard at work cleaning up and rebuilding things.  One volunteer told me that a rain hit the area very hard and caused mud slides that covered the picnic areas and even inside the restrooms to depths in excess of six inches. The vegetation used to keep the slides from happening.  Now with most of the vegetation on the hillsides gone, erosion is a real problem. This area has been open about a month and is a wonderful location for family outings.
As you enter the canyon this creek from the falls comes down to greet you.  There is a parking lot just past the creek. This spot caused a lot of electrons to flow in the camera to get this one picture.

The Team then went on up to the main parking lot and it was nearly full!  WOW that is good to see that folks are back enjoying the location.  The picnic area is doing well and has flowers scattered around.  It seemed to be in really good condition.  Some of the wood roofs of the shelters had to be replaced. The Darling couple in the picture and the OFM had a really nice visit during the time we were in the area.  They were fun to visit and were here in Carlsbad from Dallas for the weekend.

Along the walkway was this very agreeable pup with the right idea about handling the 95+ heat. When we came back by, the pup looked up, yawned and laid his head back on the cool concrete.  Yep he has it correct.

All of the extensive trail system in the area is closed for now.  The parks folks want to get some vegetation growing on the trails before letting folks use the trails. It seems to me they are correct in trying to prevent as much damage to the uncovered soil as possible.  When the trails open again, this is a prime hiking area NOT IN THE SUMMER.

This is where the trail to the top of the falls begins normally.

Then as an incentive to come back a beautiful view greets you at the exit gate.

Visiting with nice folks and touring great scenery certainly gets you well on the way to trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.


Nice Lunch Spot

Adventure Location: Lincoln National Forest near Queen, Guadalupe Mountains, New Mexico
Teams Location:  Brantley Lake SP

The night was nice, dry and cool and the windows on the Castle were wide open for a good night’s sleeping.  That is until 0530 when a few million birds got together right outside the Castle and started screaming and hollering to wake the OFM up. So it was an early breakfast.  And an early start to the beautiful day was good.
The goal today was to find some spots that the Castle could make it into in the Lincoln National Forest without doing damage to the Truck or Castle.  It is with great pleasure that the adventure was a wonderful success. Some lunch stuff was packed in case the Queen CafĂ© was not open to fix me another fantastic Green Chili Cheese Hamburger for lunch.  They are now out of business according to the sign on the door. RATZZZZZ

The route to take is called the Guadalupe Backcountry Scenic Byway . It is also a fantastic bicycle ride according to many folks. It has been partially covered in this blog before but tonight there is more.  And be forewarned the Byway has not been more than 30% covered so far. This Byway is NM 137 highway from Brantley Lake to Dog Canyon campground in the Guadalupe Mountains NP. This next picture was taken where CR409 takes off to Sitting Bull Falls Park.  That is hwy 137 headed up into the Guadalupe Mountains and where the Teams had a great day.

The haze is smoke from the fire in the Gila Wilderness out to the west.

All of the main roads are paved or graded gravel and passable by normal cars.  The rest of the roads pretty much need higher clearance vehicles to get around.  Normally 4X4 is not needed if you are careful. We have the National Forest map of camping areas to help us navigate and stay legal under the new rules about where you can camp.
This area is fairly typical of most of the camping areas. It is a little less than perfectly smooth as you enter from the white gravel road.

The Truck is sitting in what became our lunch spot.  The rocks and dirt were easy to navigate and the Castle should be able to make it up to the lunch spot without any real trouble at all. (I hope).
The dirt/rock road continues well on past the lunch spot and down the hill for about a mile to some private inholdings in the NF. My feet insisted that we walk down the hill a ways to see what is down there. What is down there is more and rougher road. On the way back up the altitude was noticed.  We are a bit over 6000 feet.  The great part is the 96 degree temps back at the Castle were not here. The Truck thermometer showed 81 degrees of dry cool air. It was wonderful.  This next picture is from down on the backside of the hill as my feet were bringing the OFM back up the hill huffing and puffing worse than a worn out steam engine.

And finally all the Teams decided to let the OFM have his lunch.  And he did not resist at all. The passenger seat in the Truck was my throne to look out over the kingdom around me.

Places like these make me think about having a smaller and lighter trailer to tuck away into the nooks and crannies of the forest and rough country like in Utah and Arizona.

Exploring new places to sleep is a wonderful way of trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.


Dark Canyon Ride

Adventure Location: Dark Canyon, New Mexico
Teams Location:  Brantley Lake SP

Last year a NP Ranger told me about the road through Dark Canyon.  It was supposed to be a very interesting drive.  With a bum ankle it seemed like a drive would be a reasonable thing to do as the ankle heals.  The Team started at the end that terminates on Hwy 137 and drove toward Carlsbad.

The road is a very good hard surfaced road that runs through ranches and public land.  There were many places along the road that an RV or tents could be well utilized.  It was not what I would call and interesting area in general.  Here in one picture is the summation of the drive and area.

It was definitely not a bad drive but certainly not on my OFM List for a return visit. There are a lot of places like this in the USA where one trip is enough, but is worth the one trip.
On the way back to the Castle in the 98 degree heat, we crossed the Pecos below Brantley Lake Dam.  There is a nice flow of cool water heading for Texas. The lake is very low so it surprised me that that much water was being released.

Back in the park some time was spent letting the Truck meander through the boondocking sections.  This is a boondocking section on the other side of the lake from the developed campground the Teams are staying in.  These folks must be tough to handle the high heat of the afternoons.

Over on our side of the lake is another boondocking area down in the brush. All the brush and water makes for a lot of bugs the Teams can so without.  However there is lots of space for on the water or off the water camping.  This group of folks was setting up camp. The Golden Retriever and Black Lab that they had with them were having a great time in the water.

Meandering the back roads can make for some good trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.


Clumsy Fool

Adventure Location: Brantley Lake SP, New Mexico
Teams Location:  Brantley Lake SP

EDIT: I drove past the Sierra Madre Astroblume today and did not know what the sign was talking about.

Seems to me the wind is blowing rather stoutly.  When you look out the window you can see trucks and RVs rolling down the road.  Brantley Lake is four and a half feet higher on the downwind side of the lake than the upwind side.
Finally an easy day of travel was had.  After two days in a row of 350+ miles each, it was wonderful to only roll about 105 miles and be set up by noon.  That is even after a Wal-Mart stop in Carlsbad to load the pantry and refrigerator.  Of course the first thing at the campsite that the clumsy fool known as the OFM had to do was step in a critter hole and twist his right ankle. In spite of that event camp was set up before noon.

On entry to the State Park (SP) an annual pass was purchased for $225.  That covers the normal entry fee and basic camping fee of $10 until the end of May 2013.  So the OFM Teams could literally live in the campgrounds for 53 more weeks at no more camping fees cost.  That annual furnishes you with water, a site, dump station and use of the facilities in the park. Another improvement for the park is that they now accept credit cards. That makes life easier for me now.
The Traveling Team chose the same site we were in before.  There was especially good reason this time.  The site is just on the downwind side of a knoll.  It has a few trees to help shade the hot evening sun from getting to the Castle.  Additionally no other campsites can be seen from my picture window at the dining room.

The fragrances from all the flowering desert plants are great.   Even the severe winds are not dissipating the fragrances before they arrive at my nose. Here is a picture from the Castle’s door showing the lake and the huisache in bloom.  Man that is some sweet sniffing.

It is very hot in the afternoon and chilly in the morning.  My trips out this afternoon were limited to about thirty minutes each and then some time inside in the AC.  Here in no particular order are some of the many flowers and berries from this area.
The birds think these are great.

The campsite is roughly elevation 3300 feet as my first stop in trying to acclimate to higher elevations.  Being able to handle higher elevations would be great when you are trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.


Attempted Robbery

Adventure Location: Here and There Along Hwy 90, Texas
Teams Location: Pecos, Texas

(This was written the night of 5-22-2012 but the Escapees Park in Pecos does not have Wi-Fi and the area does not have air card signal for Sprint.)
(Published from the Carlsbad NM Walmart 5-23-2012)

A walk around Seminole Canyon SP led to a couple of neat finds.  Along part of the old railroad bed are traces of when the RR was built and then removed.  At first glance it looked like an old deformed bullet.  When it was in my hand it proved to be one of the many pieces of old forge slag that adorn the RR bed.
Then a few feet away was this fence staple.  It was unusual to me in that the pointed part was square in the cross section.  All of the staple seen before are cylindrical down to the point then cut off at an angle.  Maybe this is an old staple from the cowboy days.

Both were put back on the RR bed about where they were found. But my meandering thirst had been brought forth.  My feet took the OFM Meandering Search Team (boy that’s a mouthful) on around the area.  Ah ha those bushes seem to be in an odd configuration.  And sure enough they were at the edge of a short cliff.  The cliff held a surprise called a cave!

It is against park rules to go over into the canyons so the cave area was observed from above only.  You could see that no critters were using it for home because the light coating of sand on the floor was undisturbed. Some vandals had been dumping large rocks over the cliff edge messing up the area.
The OFM Travel Team soon left the park and headed west on hwy 90.  The Recreation Area at the Pecos River got a visit.  Lake Amistad is way down so it was my thought that something interesting might be uncovered. And I was correct.

The Castle was parked at the lower boat ramp parking area that had no boat trailers in it. The old road that was used to cross the Pecos is now the boat ramp access road. It is steep.  As the bottom was neared a picture was taken looking back up the ramp and downstream on the Pecos. Look carefully and the Castle is visible at the top left of the road. By the time my legs got me to the point of the picture, my claves were screaming bloody murder at me. The thought of going back up had me wondering how much pain it would be.

After a few minutes of looking around at the boat ramp water line it was time to head back up.   After a few minutes of up walking my calves were getting very vocal again.  In fact so vocal, that a couple of locals came over to keep an eye on me. Along the cliff side of the road is several caves uncovered by the water receding.  A couple of them showed signs of being used by critters.

Much of the continued route along hwy 90 west has been shown in the OFM blogs before.  At one rest area was a sign that was not remembered.  It is a cute story at a rest area in the middle of nowhere.  In fact it is so nowhere that you have to go somewhere else before you can go anywhere.

The OFM Teams did not have to contend with any robbers.  That would have gotten in the way of trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.