Thursday, August 31, 2017

Storrie Lake State Park, NM - coming and going....

Katie and I spent the end of July and most of the month of August at Storrie Lake, one of my favorite state parks.  It's been really interesting, peaceful, scary, beautiful and fun.  Lots of walks, great bird sightings, beautiful sunsets, horrible hail storms.  Below are some of the photos I took while we were there.  I apologize in advance for some of the photos being a bit blurred - I had to really zoom in on some of them.


You know how much Katie loves hunting for lizards - here she is, missing the mark.  LOL  She never did sniff in the right direction.  When I look at this picture, I always have to laugh. 😁

Here's a bug we found on the road while out walking one day.  He didn't look real.  He wasn't big, just the size of a medium beetle, but he sure was interesting. Doesn't he look like a kid's toy with his orange/black wraparound cape, black helmet and orange balls on the end of his antennae? 

I saw lots of birds in the park this year.  Sometimes there are hawks on the overhead wires as we pass by the field and this year I was lucky to see one and get a photo.  I don't know why, but I love seeing hawks.

And as usual, there were a lot of Canada Geese.  They didn't come up into my campsite this year, which was surprising since some of the time the campground was pretty empty.

There was a flock of Pelicans that flew in and landed on the lake. They floated around for a while.  Fun to watch Pelicans, especially when they are flying in formation.

I was surprised to see Great Blue Herons - I don't think I've seen them here before.  There were two of them hanging out in one of the more protected areas at the lake's edge. Every morning when I'd walk by they were there, and one fished every afternoon a bit further into the open area of the lake.

Some Ring-billed Gulls were hanging out where the Canada Geese were.  A morning shot:

And an evening shot - it was getting stormy and the lake was reacting:

There were also a lot of hummingbirds, of course, but this year I didn't put out any feeders, so I didn't get photos.  The camp hosts had a few feeders out and they had flocks of hummers in their site every time I walked by.

We did get a Roadrunner, he was running across a field where we were camped, but he was moving so fast he came up to the motor home and disappeared.  I looked out all the windows, but never saw him again.  Standing there with camera ready...  I don't think I've ever seen a Roadrunner at Storrie Lake State Park before - no photo, but at least I saw him.  It's nice to know they are here.

This little critter, a Thirteen-lined ground squirrel, had a burrow in our campsite and scampered around looking very cute.
There were also horses and a donkey on the other side of the fence near my last campsite.  I could see them from my windows, and hear the braying of the donkey.

Also - this was funny - one day I'm walking along and a chicken crosses the road.  Not a joke!  One of the neighbors on the other side of the fence had some chickens and at least one rooster.  I could hear the rooster crowing every morning, I loved that!, and I learned that every morning one of the hens jumped the fence and ran across the road to the camp hosts' site.  They put meal worms out for her every morning, and she'd run over to eat them, then run back home.  She was a shiny black hen and reminded me of the Black Australorps I had up in Camino when I lived on the western slope of the Sierras.  They were bred for egg production, and I really enjoyed raising them and eating their wonderful, fresh eggs.  (I'd love to have hens again some day.) 


We had some ferocious storms while we were at Storrie Lake.  It was monsoon season, which I always look forward to:  sunny mornings, cloudy afternoons, rain for a while, everything gets soaked and then usually the sun comes out again and dries out the area.  This year, though, some of the storms had awesome lightning and thunder, super high winds, incredible pounding rain, and we had three terrible hail storms - one had golf-ball sized hail - in the mix.

As you might know, when you camp at New Mexico's State Parks, you're allowed 14 days to camp, then you have to leave for six days before you can return for another 14 days.  Unfortunately the scary hail storms were all while I was out of the campground, hanging out in town at the library, or spending the day somewhere else in town, at a local park, etc.  The Wal-Mart allows campers to overnight in their parking lot for the six nights we are out, and I leave in the morning, and return early evening.

So, each time the hail started I was day camped somewhere in town and the only place I could think to go for protection was the Wal-Mart where I could park as close to the back of the long, tall building as I could, right in a corner to get the best protection for the motor home, if possible.

The first time it started, I didn't think much of it.  I was parked in front of the library and it was raining and hailing and then suddenly it sounded like I was in a war zone.  The hail was CRASHING into the motor home, it was deafening!  I starting driving to Wal-Mart along 7th Street (a beautiful tree lined street of historic houses), and I thought tree branches were falling on the roof of the RV.  It was loud and scary, and I was praying I'd make it to Walmart without any damage.

That first time I had waited too long, not know what was coming, and in addition to the hail, the streets were flooding.  I was afraid to stay on the road and ended up pulling off into a shopping area, and parked as close to the front of the building as I could.  These were the cars in front of me, doing the same thing, but they were lower and fit better.  One pulled right up onto the sidewalk and nosed his bumper up to the front of the store.  See his headlights on the wall?

Everybody in a vehicle was heading for cover.  All the gas stations, with their nice overhead roofs, were crowded.  It was something, a real experience!

The next time the hail started, two days later, I was better prepared.  This is what I wrote on my Facebook page:

"Tornado warning in Las Vegas, NM. I'm hanging out in town for 6 days, and will return to Storrie Lake State Park on Friday. Afternoon storms have been AWFUL! I'm learning, though. I was parked at the library and when the thunder started, I drove back to Wal-Mart to beat the flooded streets. As I was parked here, I got a Tornado Warning on my phone. Started the engine and drove around the side of the store, as close to walls as I could get. HUGE hail. Everyone was driving as close to the building as they could get. One man with kids in the car pulled next to the wall and a young man and boy got out of the car and ran to the corner of the building, the little guy was hysterical. I ran over to see if I could help - he had blood down the back of his head, neck and shirt. A huge piece of hail punched a whole in their rear window, and hit him in the head. His sister's long hair was full of glass. They came inside my rig and between wet towels and a fudgsicle, we cleaned him up and he stopped crying. The father came over after covering the window. He said this is the first year this has happened, and this is the third hail storm in four days for me. Make it STOP! My windows are okay, but I haven't climbed up on the roof yet. Fingers crossed!"

Well, we didn't get a tornado, but the golf-ball sized hail was enough for me!  Later I climbed up on the roof and checked everything out and all was well, there was no damage anywhere.  I wasn't worried about the roof itself, it's rubber, but everything up there has plastic covers, the vents and the air conditioner, and I was worried about them.  I thought the solar panels would be okay, and thankfully, they were.  And of course, I worried about the windows, but I knew they were okay once the hail stopped - we were good there.  Whew!

This is the little guy and his brother, below, getting back into the car after his dad put something over the rear window.  He's still got the washcloth on his head to keep the blood from running down his back. His older brother was great - SO caring and sympathetic. 

That second storm was the worst one.  In the days following I saw trucks with ads on their doors for "hail damage," and I saw three or four vehicles driving around town with windows gone.  They must have punched out the rest of the glass, and were waiting for replacement windows. 

During that second storm, when the hail first started coming down and I drove behind the building as close to the corner of two walls as I could get, this truck pulled up in front of me, right in a planting area.  That's the corner the kids ran to on the other side of the truck.

Later in the evening when Katie and I were walking around, I noticed this beautiful cloud across the street.  I couldn't get a photo of it, but lightning flashes were going on all throughout the cloud as we walked.  The lightning didn't come out, but looked like it was contained in the cloud.  It was really pretty.  I saw other people taking photos and videos of it as we walked.

After our six day out of the park, we went back to Storrie Lake.  We were able to get one of my favorite campsites, so I was a really happy camper!  There was one more hail storm, but it wasn't bad.  We did get a lot of rain though.  This is a photo of how wet it got one evening - everywhere it looked flooded, but some of the water was very shallow.  The next morning it was all gone and the sun was shining and the ground was normal again.  


This was a favorite fishing spot for the local fisherman.  It's a large, flat rock that worked well for lining up their chairs and taking it easy while they fished.  Katie and I walked all along the shore line in this area.  She actually walked in the water, which surprised me.

Bonfire, anyone?

We had some beautiful sunsets over the lake, as usual.

And that's it for our time at Storrie Lake.  It's always interesting there, and I'd go back again and again if there was a good state park or BLM or forest land close by, but day camping in town and then spending the night at Wal-Mart for six nights...  well, I can do that for one time out, but usually that's it for me.  After my second two weeks in the park, we headed south.

I know this is long and has a lot of pictures, but with my track record lately, I thought I'd better get it all done at once.  Who knows when I'll post again???  We're at Elephant Butte Lake State Park now, and I have some great Roadrunner shots, so hopefully I'll publish another post soon.  

From me and Katie, have a great day, everybody!   😎😧🌧😲🌩😨

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Takin' it easy at Bluewater Lake

Our two weeks at Bluewater Lake State Park were easy and enjoyable.  We stayed in the same campsite for 14 days.  Usually I like to move my site once in a while, but this time I paid for two weeks in an electric site, so we stayed put.  Plus it was a nice campsite.  We had three sets of neighbors during our two weeks, and they were all nice.  And we were close to the new restrooms with the NEW SHOWERS!  Yes, after no showers for a couple of years, they are done and opened up over the July 4th weekend.   So Bluewater now has a working dump, potable water area, and showers.  That really makes it nice. 

Here are some of the photos I took while we were there.  Our campsite in the electric non-reservation area:

Here are some photos of the lake - I've never seen it so full:

There have been times I was there when this boat ramp had to be pulled out further into the lake, because it didn't reach the water line:

And I remember laughing at this sign, "ROAD ENDS IN LAKE."  I've never seen it end in the lake before this year, in fact the whole area that's covered in water in this photo used to be a nice, big, fairly level area to camp.  The lake being so full is beautiful, but it sure took away a lot of campsites for the fishermen and people who like to be closer to the water.   On the weekends, though, there were a lot of RVers down there, so there's still plenty of room, they are just parked a bit closer together. 

Some flower shots - I don't know what these are, but they were pretty:

A little yellow cactus flower getting ready to open:

These thistles open up into pretty purple flowers, but I like the buds, too:

Here's a shot of Bluewater Creek, a bit further down from where JP and I hiked a few weeks ago.  There was a nice riffle in the water.

One morning I was in the mood for a cheese omelette, so I put one together with cheese inside, and avocados and tiny heritage tomatoes sliced on top.  It was SO good. And of course, my usual catsup and sour cream on the side.  :)  Every so often, I crave this dish.  And I ate every bite!

And two little residents of the park:

That's it for this Bluewater Lake trip.  I'm not sure we'll be back this year, but it remains one of my three favorite New Mexico State Parks.  Bluewater, Storrie and Elephant Butte Lakes.  I love them equally!  :)

Katie and I are in Storrie Lake State Park now - after two weeks sitting still, I was dying for a road-trip, so I really enjoyed our drive over here.  We stopped in Albuquerque to shop and then headed over through Santa Fe to Las Vegas, NM where Storrie Lake is.  The weather here has been SO NICE!  Warm and then cloudy and rain.  Some electrical storms.  We're in MONSOON SEASON.  Finally.

I'll post some photos of Storrie Lake next time.

From me and Katie, have a great day, everyone!   😀😊😎

Monday, July 10, 2017

Lake Mary Rd and Willard Springs, near Flagstaff

Lake Mary Road

After leaving Bluewater Lake State Park in New Mexico, Katie and I traveled to the Coconino National Forest south of Flagstaff, AZ to meet up with Mike for week.  He was camping with Chris, who I met in Sedona, and so it was nice to see them both.

They told me there are a lot of antelope and elk that pass by every day, but they are both early risers, and by the time Katie and I are up and outside, the wildlife are long gone.  But one evening, I did notice movement in front of The Palms over by the treeline and grabbed my camera.  I saw three Pronghorn Antelope Elk grazing.  It was dusk, so these are kind of dark, but so far they are the only photos I have of these animals.  These are the best, clearest ones.  I couldn't get a good shot of all three, one was always behind a bush!  NOTE:  After posting this, I received some comments saying these are not Antelope, but Elk.  Thanks to you all - I had info on Pronghorn Antelope on this post, but deleted it, since it's no longer relevant.  I don't know why, but it's even cooler to have seen Elk.  😊

Aren't they beautiful?

Our campsite in the Coconino Forest.

It looks like I'm alone, but you can see Chris' motor home next to me and Mike's van a little further away in the photo above.  We had some nice chats while we camped together.  Then Chris left because of the 14 day rule, and Mike and I stayed on. 

On one of my walks I noticed something weird hanging in a tree - right about eye level.  I walked over to see what it was, and this is what I saw:

Usually cocoons are not see-through, like the one I found on the rock in my last post.  This one looks like it's encased in a spider web.  I can't imagine what kind of insect is inside, or what it's becoming.  But spiders lay eggs, right?  So this isn't any kind of spider.
 It doesn't look like anything I've seen before!  What do you think?  Have you seen one of these?  Do you know what it is? 

And then a miracle happened!  Coming from high 90 temperatures in New Mexico, I was hoping I had made the right decision, and that our weather south of Flag would be cooler.  And I started to hear pop, Pop, pop, POP, POP!  I looked out the window and it was HAILING!  Hail pounding on the roof - I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT.   Then hail and rain, then just rain. I don't know how many degrees we dropped in about five minutes, but it was dramatic.  I was hot, then I was reaching for a sweatshirt.  Sweet, holy hail, Batman!

Here's the hail - kind of like manna from heaven to starving people.  Hail from heaven to roasting people.  (Apologies for any offense to religious people.   Of which I am actually one.  You had to be there to appreciate how great this was.)  
Look at this beautiful crescent moon:

Crescent and full moons are my favorites.  I love the crescent moons because they are beautiful, and the full moons because they give us so much night light wherever I'm camping. 

Willard Springs

Right before the 4th of July weekend, I moved over to Willard Springs to join Jeanne and John.  I expected it to be crowded in that area, it has been before when I've been there over a holiday weekend, but this time it was almost empty.  Maybe because there were no fires allowed due to the high fire danger.  And no fireworks allowed, either.  So we pretty much had the place to ourselves, other than a few other rigs, and could park where we wanted.

But there's sometimes a downside.  It was painfully obvious that recently there had been a TON of ATVers in the area, because all the roads had dust galore on them.  An inch or more of fine dust.  Any time someone drove by, clouds of dust were raised, and if there was even the slightest breeze, it came over and hung in the air.  You could see it, you could taste it, and you knew it was filling your lungs with dust.

These were taken when there was no wind.  When it was breezy, it just floated over overthing.

On the upside, there are a lot of good birds in the area, and we were there when the Acorn Woodpeckers were out working the trees.  They are so pretty:

And these cute squirrels were running around.

One evening I went outside and glued the rear view mirror back on the side mirror housing - it was a permanent glue that I got at Napa Auto in Flagstaff, and they said it would work.  So, I glued it on, held it until it was tacky enough to tape, and taped the heck out of it.

It only needed a few hours to cure, so in the morning, I removed the tape and it looked and felt like it was, indeed, a permanent fix.  Fingers crossed!

It was nice to get that taken care of.

It started heating up again, so Katie and I moved to another camping area at Willard Springs, where we were the very first time we camped here.  It has more trees, and I wanted shade - a big shade tree to park under to keep us cooler.  Even though there was only one other camper down a ways from us, and it's beautiful, I didn't like this area any more either.  We stayed only one or two nights.  Late one afternoon I walked the whole area, down the road to where I was parked early in 2016, and all around.  I couldn't find were I was parked before.  The whole area looked totally different to me.

There were roads criss-crossing the entire area made by ATVers - all dusty and dirty. There wasn't a large enough area to park an RV that would get you away from the noise and dust if they were racing back and forth on the roads.  Which - when the ATVers are there - is what they do.  And the weekend was coming.

I don't know if things are really changing or if I'm just being a complainer.  But I've been here before and loved it.  😟 

I did see this neat tree on my walk, though.  I wondered what was inside the hole, but didn't get close enough to look.

There's probably something living in there.

When I took Katie out for her potty walks, she came back into The Palms with her paws coated in dust, and I had to wash her feet.

So...  back to the weather apps to see what was going on at Bluewater Lake.  Had the temps come down there at all yet?  Yes! Thank goodness for wheels under our house! I packed up and the next morning, we headed back to Bluewater.  That's where we're parked now - for two weeks.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon, not hoping for a non-reservation electric site to be available, just hoping for cooler temps.  And guess what?  We were able to get an electric site.  The last one...  I immediately snagged it, not even looking for anything else.  Paid for two weeks - at $4 per night with the annual pass, how could I not?  And we're golden.  Yup.  And happy as clams.

The weather has been GREAT!  Warm, some rain on and off, then sun comes out again.  I guess we're in the beginning of Monsoon Season?  Yesterday I bleached some white tee-shirts I wore at Willard springs that were so filthy with dust they needed bleaching.  Between the dust in the air, and Katie sitting up close to me and rubbing dust off her and onto my shirts...  And I also soaked and hand-washed two pair of running shoes.  They were filthy inside and out, as were all the socks I wore with them.  They also got bleached with the shirts.  And Katie got a good wipe-down, too.  She was filthy!

I'm still cleaning up all the fine dust that came in through the screen door and window screens at Willard Springs.  It was so warm, you had to have the windows open when there was a breeze, and the breeze was, of course, full of ... right.  Dust. 

I don't know if I'll ever go back there again.  It's a gorgeous forest, a beautiful camping spot, and huge, so you always find a good campsite.  But the ATVers have changed it.  It's legal to ride motorbikes and ATVs there, so I can't fault the people who are doing it.  They are having a blast - this is their kind of fun.  But unfortunately you always know when they've been there. 

So, we are back at Bluewater Lake State Park in New Mexico.  Funny how the temps keep changing this year, but I think we're good for a while.  Between the warm days and cool mornings and evenings, and the rain that comes through almost every day, it's been so nice. 

From me and Katie, have a great day, everyone!  😊 😎 🙃