Bisti and Beyond – Part 1

This trip started with a different plan than previous trips. I usually had one destination and some idea of how long I’d be gone, maybe three to five days. This time I wanted to meander, maybe have four or five possible destinations, and no time limits, no schedule. What would it be like just to wander in my RV?

One of the places on my list of destinations, was Bisti/De-Na-Zin Badlands wilderness area. And when I mentioned it to others, they also wanted to go. We picked the second weekend in October to meet and camp at a friend’s place and then go on to Bisti. So already I scrapped the part about no schedule. But it seemed like a good idea to have folks to go with on the first visit.

Still, I was restless so I left a few days before the others to camp on my own at El Morro National Monument. This is one of my favorite places in New Mexico – beautiful scenery, ancient ruins, and the stunning Inscription Rock. And good hiking trails – an important criteria for Cassie and me.

I took the same campsite (#4) that I had before – it’s large and almost level. I fiddled with the leveling blocks on the front wheels to make it okay for the propane fridge. It took a couple of attempts backing onto the blocks and then not being quite right, changing the blocks and backing onto them again. Finally got it. Then I saw a rattlesnake hurrying away from the front wheel, heading across the road. Where was it when I was messing with those wheels??! I’ll never know, but the snake and I were both happy to have it far away.

The campground filled up and I met several other solo women campers. One was car-camping – she was from New Mexico and worked at a state park. One tent camper was on her way from Alaska to Silver City and then to Seattle for the boat home. And one intrepid Canadian was tent-camping as she bicycled from Montreal to Los Angeles. Good conversation and great stories. The next morning they all continued their separate journeys. I wrote a post about this group here.

I stayed for another night and a wonderfully quiet day. I was reading Timothy Egan’s book about Edward Curtis, the photographer (and so much more), “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher.” Excellent book. I’ve read his book on the Dust Bowl, “The Worst Hard Time” – also very good.

Friday was certain to be a busy day. We started with a walk on top of El Morro. Then moved to our friend’s land. Cassie loved it there – no fences, no leash, and a dog she likes to run with.

It was nice sitting around with close friends. The talk is so different from that with folks I see for only an evening. Both good, both interesting. But different.

Turns out the guys in our group were both having health issues and didn’t want to tackle a place as difficult as Bisti. That’s okay, but I’m going anyway! But I’ll spend three days here first.

 

We walked a lot, found shards and an old coffee pot. The shards were left in place; the coffee pot has a new home near their porch.

 

 

 

I keep a journal open on the table and add notes throughout the days. I noticed that I wrote less about the RV itself the trip. Not so many ‘to-do’ and ‘wants’ lists. The first thing I listed was after about four days. Saturday night was a cold night (18°F) and as I stood just behind the truck seats I could feel cold air flowing. I realized why people put a curtain here – not just for privacy. I’ll look for a mattress pad or cheap quilt to hang.

I enjoyed the ‘lounge’ area – used to be the dinette. It’s very comfortable. It’s nice not to have a long list of improvements needed. Sure is a change from those first insecure trips!

Finished the book on Curtis and started “Salt” by Mark Kuransky. It’s a history of salt and it made me hungry.

I loved early mornings here. I took my cup of tea and went for a short walk with the dogs. The sun was just coming up.

On Monday morning I slowly packed up and left about 9AM to have a fine breakfast at Ancient Way Cafe with Wi-Fi! It had been frustrating not to be online enough to check the weather. I didn’t like being surprised by the cold night. I had 130 emails – most of which could be discarded. But there were a couple that needed a reply. I did a quick check of Instagram – so many photos. And a quicker check of Facebook – no way to keep up. The one thing that did bother me was my blog readings. I so enjoy taking time to read blogs that other folks write and see the photos they post. But I couldn’t catch up this time. I liked being offline for a while – no wifi, no cell service – but it would be nice to check in occasionally. Need to see if there’s a fix for this that I can afford.

After my leisurely breakfast, I moved to Bluewater State Park, about 80 miles away. I’ll leave that for part two!

Solo Camping

I camped for a couple of nights at El Morro National Monument (New Mexico) campground.

This was the view from my campsite.  There are only 9 spaces so it fills up quickly. I shared my space with a woman who was car-camping – that made 10 campers for the night.  Six of us were single women, including a young Canadian who was bicycling from Montreal to Los Angeles. I would guess our ages were from mid-twenties to seventies.  I was impressed that so many women traveled on their own.

El Morro RV Trip – Part 2

[The first part of this trip to El Malpais is here.]

morro-2My goal for the second part of this trip was El Morro RV Park – perhaps better known for its Ancient Way Cafe, an excellent restaurant.  The park has cabins, camping, and full hook-ups for RVs, showers, washers and dryers, and great hiking.  No cell service for me, but they do have wifi.
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I found a cosy site under the trees.  Plugged in the camera battery charger and retired to my chair with my book.  It was nice sitting outside reading.  And watching for wildlife – many birds, a squirrel and a chipmunk.  And chickens.  Some of the permanent residents here keep hens.
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This tiny community is rich in artists – there’s a shop packed with fascinating creations; there is lots of outdoor art.  Being creative is just a normal part of life – and they show it here.

We hiked to the top of the mesa where there are acres to explore and incredible views.

View of the mesa where we hiked - taken from the next camp site.

View of the mesa where we hiked – taken from the next day’s camp site. The RV park is at the bottom of the slope at the far left.

A delightful couple from Colorado were in the space next to me.  They have a Tiger RV – only 16’ long.  Very sweet.  We had breakfast together at the restaurant and then we walked around the property, by the cabins, through the outdoor art gallery.
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My idea of art - dents on an old truck.

My idea of art – dents on an old truck.

I stayed just two nights.  At $30/night, it’s more than I like to spend.  And I wanted to get to the campground just down the road at El Morro National Monument.  First we went to the visitors’ center and then hiked for a couple of hours – the long hike over the top.

It was nice to be able to take all the time I wanted.  It was a warm day and there’s not much shade on the top.  Cassie had to stay on the leash all the time, but she still got a good workout.  And she loves finding pools of water.
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Trail to the top.

Trail to the top.

On top of El Morro.

On top of El Morro.

Atsinna ruins at El Morro.

Atsinna ruins at El Morro.

Not far from the visitors’ center is the El Morro Campground – no services except vault toilets.  But the sites are beautiful.  And it’s free.  I picked an east-facing site.
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It would be perfect to watch the full moon rise.  morro-3

There are only nine spaces here and they filled quickly for the weekend.  Folks came on Saturday to pick piñons.  When they left, elk ventured in.
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We hiked the shorter trail that goes along the the wall with the inscriptions.  We had all the time in the world to read them – from native Americans to travelers to soldiers.
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I met my neighbor – a women traveling in a van with a severely disabled man and a big husky-like dog.  All interesting beings, but quite a job camping under those circumstances.  And they do it fairly often.  I was impressed.  Made my outings look so simple.
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And I met a nomadic woman who was from Santa Cruz, my old stomping grounds.  Current Santa Cruz sure sounds different from my time there in the 80s and 90s.  I think the town got fat and greedy.  This camper lives a fascinating life and I hope to have her as a friend.  I invited her to visit Truth or Consequences.  One of the benefits of camping for me is meeting folks who like a similar lifestyle.
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