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.

BIRDS AND CRITTERS

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.) 

STORMS

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.  


THE LAKE AND SUNSETS

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!   πŸ˜€πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜Ž