Not As Planned – Part 1

Now I don’t like a set itinerary or even reservations for an RV trip, but I like to know my general direction and options. I had a chance to practice this on my last trip.

This trip was mainly planned to go north – to get out of the heat. Thought I’d check out Orilla Verde campground (the south end of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument) and then spend most of my time at The Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado.

I had the RV ready on Saturday morning – food and clothes on board. But I was tired, just wanted a nap – at 9AM! I realized I didn’t have to go as far as I had planned. I could just go to South Monticello Point on Elephant Butte Lake – about 15 miles away. That energized me. I camped there for two nights. The first change of plans.

I chose a quiet spot (#7) on the edge of the campground. I’ve stayed in several sites here and they have all been good. The park wasn’t busy – it’s still warm here and the lake is so low that it’s barely in sight here. There were mosquitoes – I was bitten several times. Cassie and I heard coyotes howling and in the early morning great horned owls were calling. Hummingbirds were finding nectar in the creosote blossoms.

What is now green was once the lake in wetter years.

I had a list of four things I wanted to get written. I’ll tell you now, none of them were even started. Another plan pitched into the wastebasket.

Cassie, my co-pilot.

Monday I moved to Cochiti Lake. There are two COE campgrounds, one on each side of the lake. I had always stayed on the east side, so I thought I’d try the west side this time. There was a part that was not well maintained, but was up on the hill with nice views. I had hoped to find a space there, but settled for one in the newer part – closer to the showers and pay station.

Ran into Roxanne, a friend from home. Nice surprise. She had just come from Orilla Verde where I was headed next. She also mentioned that Evie would probably be coming. I’d never met Evie, but I’ve followed her blog for a long time. Turns out the three of us had dinner together with fine conversation. Didn’t plan this gathering, but it was one of the trip highlights.

Sunset over the RVs at Cochiti Lake

Orilla Verde, near Pilar, New Mexico, was the next destination. It was an easy drive on the relief road around Santa Fe, through Espanola, towards Taos. The problem was I didn’t like the campsites for RVs. I should have asked at the visitor center if a small RV could be in the tent sites. I would have fit. I reviewed my list of options.

At the north end of the campground across the river is a dirt road to the top of the west rim of the gorge. Not a bad road, but I probably wouldn’t take a big RV on it. My RV did just fine. From there it was an easy drive to the Rio Grande Gorge bridge. And then to Taos and north to Wild Rivers. It’s the north end of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

I found a site (#11) in the Little Arsenic campground. The only available site. It’s not that there were so many people, just very few campsites. The names are strange. There is also a Big Arsenic Campground. The names come from the springs at the river – also Big and Little Arsenic, although I think they don’t contain arsenic. Figured I’d stay a couple of days until I left for the Dunes.

The road leading to the campgrounds at Wild Rivers.

Midnight Owls

There are no photos of the subjects of this post – just the story of a delightful encounter.

Midnight.  I’m asleep in my RV near Elephant Butte Lake when I hear owls.  Not the soft hoo-hoo-hoo that I’ve heard elsewhere, but a raucous hoohoo-hoo-hoo.  And a response that overlapped it.  Quite the cacophony.

Looking out the window I could just see the silhouettes of two very big owls on the shelter roof – maybe 12 or 14 feet from where I sleep over the cab.  They stayed about 15 minutes, very noisy, and awkwardly balanced on the metal roof.

I had to look up the call to be sure of their identity – Great Horned owls.  It’s closest to the territorial hooting at this link.  This was definitely the highlight of my trip.

I was in the part of the RV over the cab. They were on the top of the shelter.