Holiday Rambler RV Texas Spring 2018

Texas touring is desired to break the winter routine of Alb New Mexico. Navigator planning the route, leaving from Alb NM on afternoon of Saturday late March. Traveling in 2004 Holiday Rambler motor coach, 200 miles to Roswell NM, for night at Sam’s Club parking lot. After quiet night, we left for Texas state line. Tatum NM, followed a substantial distance by Bronco being the state line cross designation, with a couple of homes in existence. After Plains Texas, eventually turning south at Brownfield through cotton ranch land, oil wells, among countless miles of wind turbines around Big Springs, then on towards San Angelo,.

On arrival we spent the night in the city park near Lake Nasworthy. Gate was still open on arrival, so we paid $12 for the ‘ambiance’ of lakeside evening.

Easter weekend, so lots of families on Sunday. Leaving colorful eggshells scattered everywhere is Easter egg reminder. Not much in wildlife on this occasion, a few deer were seen roaming in early morning. Past years were prolific in Turkeys, wild hogs, vultures, donkeys, Llamas and even a white Peacock fanning it’s magnificent tail.

Headed south toward Junction Texas after 1st refill of fuel, and a bit of bird watching in the Llano River State Park, where bird blinds are close to the RV sites. Lots of migratory birds seen, as Texas has huge populations of migrating birds of every description.

Destination was the very large Garner State Park, where we observed the wild turkey’s in ‘strut’ broadly spreading their tails to attract females. This huge riverside park named after Sec of the Interior Nance Garner, of years long past, is usually open for camping, as the sites are numerous.

Departed in morning for Corpus Christi Lake State Park, where another two evenings spent. Trip to the gulf planned, to see the leftover damage from ‘Harvey’ hurricane. Hit and miss damage was evident, with structures destroyed, in between others relatively unscathed. Relatively little……, in comparison to the massive devastation of the Galveston Hurricane of past years.

The normal tourist occupancy of the local coast area is in the thousands of rooms. Only a couple of hundred are ready for occupancy right now. Crews are working to replace roofs [really high condos are scary to roof]. Windows are boarded on many high rises. Fascia coatings are gone on several structures walls. Restaurant structure in the bay ferry location, fell into the bay below, as pilings were loosened. Lots of jobs…… for those willing to work.

After staying 2 nights at Corpus Christi Lake State Park and seeing the coastal sites in the Honda CRV tow, we departed the coastal area and began heading back north.

Departed for San Antonio the next morning, leaving the filled lakeside RV parks behind. Last trip, during the endlessly repeated ‘Global Warming’, I had walked across the Corpus Christi lake. Following the last few years of heavy rainfall, it is quite deep this trip, with new aluminum pier for fishing. Guess the global warming has subsided for a while?

Drove along the designated hurricane escape highway, on toward San Antonio, for the next four nights stay, as we explore our old favorite areas. After checking in at our favorite San Antonio KOA, we drove the Honda tow into town and found an older section in San Antonio, where antiquey stuff is sold from ancient buildings lining the blocks. Fun day, Small stacking tables, cut glass door insert, Spanish military sword replica, 2 reproduction daggers, 2 wall hanging aluminum Conquistadors from the 1920’s, also happily found. The Honda CRV tow is now filled with treasures.

Brief stop with another ‘Goodwill’, Salvation Army thrift store excursion finding nothing special. The last generation of Obama economics has resulted in sparse little of much value donated to thrift charities. The previous Bush years, in glaring contrast, were awash in discards from affluence excess.

We venture forth today in search of treasures to sell in navigator’s little mall space. A stop at wonderful ‘Sea Island’, for excellent fish and chips, fried oysters, is on our radar.

A brief metal detecting few minutes in our RV spaces of the last days, resulted in a few quick quarters and dimes close to the surface. The newer Fisher F5 finds, ‘tones’ [there are 4 on the F5], on coins easily. I am usually shallow coin shooting, not too deep. I don’t do deep holes. Too much work and mess. A large, home fabricated ice pick serves nicely to poke and pry the coins out of the grass.

Leaving San Antonio KOA, for San Marcos Texas, we noticed ever more new development along the corridor of businesses that are expanding across former farm and ranch land. The hundred miles of cattle are long gone, replaced by new shopping venues and the business developments that support them.

Driving past San Marcos, southward, then into our favorite Lockhart State Park for an anticipated few nights stay, we were sadly informed of ‘No room at the inn’. The small, pleasant park was filled. Turning the rig back toward San Marcos, 17 miles backtrack, we entered our first RV park we ever stayed while in area years ago.

Pecan RV Park had been sold by the elderly lady some years back. The new owners razed her old house, leaving the slab of concrete as memory,…. then doubled the overnight prices. We paid for 2 nights among the numerous squirrels, so that we could accomplish our plans for meeting San Marcos friends, and our UT student grand daughter in Austin.

Evening meal at the Saltgrass Steak House in San Marcos was pleasant with old friends. Located above the San Marcos River Spring Lake, ‘Saltgrass’ [a Landry enterprise] has excellent ambiance and hearty fare. Iridescent black Grackles watch patiently within feet, for dropped bread, as the sound of rushing water cascades over the falls beneath the deck.

The Christian movie, ‘One Can Only Imagine’ is a must see for all that question life changing forces of Faith. Dennis Quaid portrays the mean father figure. His son is described from young life, on his way through poverty on his eventual path to fame and fortune, as a well known Christian entertainer of today. His trademark song is still played on most conventional radio stations today, Christian or Not.

‘Paul’ was conveniently in the theater nearby. Christians during Nero’s [and Caligula’s] time were systematically decimated. Used as oil soaked, living, burning torches, they were raised on penetrating poles above the edges of the Apian Way in Rome. A horrifically graphic, screaming message by the hundreds, for any considering Christianity as a way of life. ‘Circus’ routinely involved Christians being torn to shreds by wild animals inside the Colosseum, for the entertainment of Nero’s minions… his adoring anti-Christian ….voters.

Next day drive into Austin Texas for lunch with grand daughter. Austin is in constant traffic gridlock, similar to rush hour every hour. The day was spent in traffic more than lunch. Upon returning to San Marcos RV park, we sought a way to circumvent driving the rig back through Austin in the morning. This was necessary in order to avoid the horrible Austin traffic. With 50,000 students at UT alone [The Longhorns], the rush hour is endless, in spite of the countless, scheduled UT buses covering the city.

Bypassing the city, by taking narrow rural highways off of a backtrack, proved a better solution for the rig, although paying attention closely is demanded.

Staying the nights in Texas State Parks [there are over 100] along the route is always more enjoyable. Getting away from the cities offered more cancellation openings in the questionable reservation routine of the TSP reservation system.

Our old Ink’s Lake State Park had one precious night open. Enjoying the evening beside the large, constant level lake below Buchanon Dam, we watched the ducks, a Great Blue Heron and lots of squirrels accomplish their daily routine. Trailers and Fifth wheelers dominate the Texas RV scene, where heavy duty pick-up trucks are as common as work boots..

After a morning trip to check out Blackrock RV Park on Buchanon Reservoir, for possible vacancy [none], then driving the Honda CRV tow into a nearby town for an exhaust flange nut, to replace another that had fallen off the coach, we broke camp and moved out again.

No other State or lakeside Park openings nearby, we drove onward. Navigator noted Lake Brownwood State Park is on this route toward home. The night proved quite windy. Waves on the lake kept all of the boats on their trailers. Fishing was from the long dock, with good results for at least one party. Large Crappie crowded their ice chests.

With wind blowing, the awnings protecting the slide-outs rattled heavily. During wind, I throw heavy ropes over those awnings to hinder the destruction. Navigator noted the area that we had recently passed through, was being hit by hail and tornadoes.

Morning, windy and on the road again toward home, the speed is reduced against the wind. Fuel at Big Springs Texas and continue westward toward La Mesa Texas.

After leaving La Mesa Texas this morning, driving well over 100 miles, Stopped in Roswell New Mexico and filled at $2.25 per gallon at Sam’s Club, before rolling on again. A 400 mile day is not fun in the coach, especially when being passed by hurried semis on two lane highways.

Wind blew much of the return trip, more of a last dash, so additional fuel consumption was added to the slow progress. La Mesa, [Texans mis- pronounce it with a long E] has a nice city park in which they allow overnight free camping. They even supply water and electrical connection for overnight travelers.

The grassy park is quite nice with large pecan trees, squirrels and birds. Kids have a play set, along with a set of swings that are not maintained. The bolts that allow the swings to swing to and fro, were not grade 8 hardened and are all worn thin ….and breaking. Watching kids swing, after seeing the condition of those hanger bolts, was like watching amateur tightrope walkers practice death defying stunts, with no knowledge of the rope’s condition.

Driving highway northwest from Big Springs, both sides are involved in a big project of water irrigation, mixed with replacement oil well drilling operations. The  old individual wells for oil, are apparently being replaced with the latest technology where multi-bore horizontal drilling is feasible.

Irrigation water is increasingly stored in massive plastic lined earthen ‘tanks’, then distributed miles in every direction through piping for irrigation of the crops. Cotton is still king here.

Wind turbine ‘farms’ dot miles of hilly range land across the western states, with cattle grazing and cotton growing beneath the large structures. Each individual blade, of a 3 blade turbine, is 150′ long. When wind blows stronger than they can handle, they are ‘feathered’ to prevent destruction. Hundreds of the turbines were feathered these days. We often noted on past trips, 3-truck convoys, with each carrying a 150′ hollow fiberglass turbine blade, for new or replacement.

As noted, the Texas State parks were mostly all filled this trip, due to the Bluebonnets in bloom, spring Break of students and tourists starting to arrive, along with good fishing attracting the working class. We only enjoyed sparse single nights in our favorite locations, between checking out less well known parks along the route, due to full bookings of the most desirable.  Navigator was busy plotting and revising course changes throughout this spring venture.

Our last week was mostly on the move and not spending long at each area. Thunder Hog, the Holiday Rambler coach did well, in spite of being up over 100,000 miles and on the road every travel season for over 15 years since it was rolled out of the factory door. I noted several times, new sounds that brought forth concerns, followed by prayers to keep it purring until we got back home.

Drive up to house safely and happy. Unload all ‘stuff’ is team effort of tote and stash repeated for a duration of time. Drained the waste holding tanks, accomplished with no errors, now time to relax and watch some netflix mellow out series, sleep in the home bed tonight.. Tomorrow is oil change, creeper sliding beneath the belly of the beast to grease the dozen+ fittings ……ready for yet another trip. God be willing 😊

Lawns need mowing…..

 

Advertisements

Concealed Carry, State of New Mexico

Time for another full course of qualification for state certification. This is the fourth full class, including several others, that I personally have attended over these last many years.

11 hours classroom, plus range time of 4 hours, add travel time total of 3 hours, equals 18 hours of quality time with associates of similar interests.

Instructor this session is retired US Naval Aviation officer, former Alb NM Police Dept officer, presently reserve. Ellis McMath is in charge of the class, with other officers periodically in assistance, including a Baptist pastor…. ‘The reverend Mr Black’?

These Concealed Carry of Weapon courses are often held in church facilities, as is this present series. Christian churches receive an inordinate number of hate based threats endlessly directed at church members these days. This church, among countless others across the USA, is definitely ‘Not’ a gun free zone. Many members are certified and armed… at all times.

Only remaining procedure upon completion of certification, is the visit to the ‘Darth Vader Building’ in Alb NM [really looks like Darth Vader’s head, black glass and all] where New Mexico Dept of Public Safety office accepts the completed paperwork.. ..and another check, for $56. Four years certificate, with re-qualification every 2 years. New Mexico concealed carry license is accepted in most states. My State of Utah Concealed Carry license [some states also have reciprocity with Utah’s] is contingent on my NM license. Virginia’s permit is also a popular recourse for out of state applicants.

New Mexico requirements for CCW [concealed carry weapon] are very stringent. In this course, we receive the equivalent same course as APD {Albuquerque Police Department} Officers.

Exceptions for me to Not be allowed to ‘carry concealed’, being the ‘Left coast’ and several states of East coast, Illinois and a few others….. that we Never visit, for Any reason.

So far the tally is $100 for instruction, $40 for materials, $44 for fingerprinting [electronic on-line data] and background check by FBI [if they are not too busy investigating Russians] which totals $200 dollars.

All to prove that I and 22 other people [Citizens of incredibly law abiding behavior] in my four + 4 re-qualify classes over the last 16 years, this being the latest class.  Total of 33 citizens, including the firing range review of those others re-qualifying [their 2 year requirement] are responsible citizens. Responsible enough to acknowledge our 2nd Amendment Right to own and carry our firearms.

“Shall not be infringed” will definitely cost anyone, those desiring that ‘Right’..

The first evening class of 4 hours, was spent in a review of the study material and what the end result is expected to comprise.

…reviewing the handling and safety principles of…

Keeping home weapons out of reach of children, locked case. Wisconsin law blames gun owner if child gains access to an unlocked gun… by whatever means.

‘Concealed Carry’ gives ‘Right’ to own and carry a gun, not the right to use it..

‘Finger ‘Off’ trigger until ready to shoot’.

‘Never point the weapon at anything you do not want to destroy’.

‘Do not load weapon until ready to fire… on firing range.’

‘Be aware of background’. Bullets continue on trajectory… to cause damage.

‘muzzle at low ready [45 degrees, pointing downrange] until preparing to fire’.

‘Standard defensive response/failure response’ 2 shots within 2 seconds to upper torso center mass, evaluate 1 second, then 1 shot to forehead.

Body induced alarm reaction- 2nd shot within 1 second, shuts down the “How bad am I hurt” reflex.

Many experienced gun fight survivors have reported, Threat elimination is at times like using a small fire extinguisher, when its empty is when you stop :>)

Express firmly, the intent to decisively defend yourself unless attacker leaves. Body language, words and weapon manipulation… do not fiddle around with the weapon. Let them know, with no questioning, that you are prepared and ready to fire.

Do not escalate minor differences of opinion. Leave the area if possible, to unwind tensions. ‘Do not ‘brandish’ or threaten to use a gun to settle minor differences.

‘Do not ever fire ‘warning shots’, for any reason.

‘Do not ‘shoot to wound’.

‘Do not shoot a fleeing person that poses no further threat’.

‘Only use the weapon to save your own life, or that of another.’

Fundamentals;

‘Focus on front sight’, target will appear slightly blurred, which is normal.

‘Press’ trigger, do not jerk’.

‘Grip’, both hands, 360 degrees wrap around, with dominant eye alignment, dominant hand firmly on weapon and other hand wrapped over fingers. Arms extended, [dominant locked] in isometric opposing tension, for steady aiming.

‘Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy.’

Verbal Judo: Attempt to talk the offender out of whatever he/she is doing to create violence and injury to others. 80% of time, attacker is someone that you know.
Rare for stranger on stranger confrontations.

Laws of the State of New Mexico and other states that you may enter… Carrying of concealed weapon is a Petty Misdemeanor in State of NM…. Knowledge..

Only 3.7% of NM citizens are certified CCW. National average is above 5%. Many people in the state of NM, often those with little financial means, accept the fact that they may be guilty of a misdemeanor.. to protect themselves and loved ones.

Types of guns, details of their configurations, such as revolvers vs semi-automatic pistols and bullet types available. Hollow points are ‘defensive’ in nature. ‘Full metal jackets’ are typically used for target practice.

Federal laws. Review and have knowledge.

Post office and schools are ‘Gun Free
Zones’. [we see how that works out].

Court houses and many public buildings are ‘Gun free zones’…

Official signs 144 square inches, with the ordinance and offense, are to be taken seriously.

Laws, Laws, Laws.

Tests follow..

Situational Awareness brings up color codes of readiness.

‘White’ Totally unaware of everything, focused on whatever is of interest at the time… very vulnerable.

‘Yellow’, relaxed alert, no specific threat at the moment, just aware of surroundings.

‘Orange’. Specific alert, something seems not quite right, maintain attention on whatever is taking place, threats could materialize.

‘Red’ ..Fight or flight. The threat becomes real.

‘Black’. Combat is about to take place, ready your plan for action.

‘Opportunity’, Threat, Ability. Can this person actually accomplish the attack?

Biblical View.. Psalm 144: “The Lord is my rock. He trains my hands for war, fingers skill for battle”.

Matthew 5:39: “Slaps cheek’ [backhand, if your read the passage carefully] means minor ego effect’. Self defense does not mean take revenge.

Luke 22:35-39: Jesus advises selling garments to purchase weapons. Peter actually used one to cut off a soldier’s ear..

Killing another person Exodus 20:13; “Do not ‘Murder’ is correct translation.

“Love our enemy”, allows fighting off attack, without hating the attacker.

Aftermath. Shooting someone leaves emotional decisions. Be sure you are ‘Right with the Lord’ to better accept the ensuing complications to your life. Many people can not deal with the consequences, the guilt.

Be sure the element of necessity, becomes acceptable reality in your own conscience.

Many people are fine with allowing themselves or loved ones, to become victims of atrocities… Interesting. Philosophy of Martyrs?

 

Scenarios practiced on range: Hostage situation leaves very small target zone. Head shots are usually the only available. Risk to hostage to be carefully considered.

Rejected love triangles are common violence perpetrating incidents involving deadly weapons. Try to talk reason, but be prepared for ending the attack… saving lives.

Saturday, following three evenings of classroom, was ‘range day’. Driving round trip of 70 miles was involved to get away from civilization. This instructor likes outdoor ambiance [Sandia Mountain canyon] for shooting qualifications. We had a total of five instructor advisors, excellent for ‘One on One’ shooting tests, proficiency.

Scenarios: quite realistic, with full sized color targets of real men and women… armed. Dialogue provided by personal instructor, expecting verbal responses and commands. Women are often emotionally violent and not taken seriously.. until they kill you.

A knife is deadly and fast. Attacker can cover 25 feet in One second.

Laws, Laws Laws.. Review until understood, even then have information available, a competent lawyer.. Financial risks, including imprisonment, are always present.

We have completed the training, required testing, accepted the risks and are now ready for legal New Mexico certification.

Several forms. Copy of birth certificate..  [a real one:}, including health review permission, and social security number form, take all required, in order to finish official state application. Monday…. for Darth Vader…

Metal detecting city parks

The ‘climate’ is dropping in temperature in ABQ NM. I usually go out each afternoon, to detect a few coins at the parks around the city. The last days of fall were quite pleasant and I usually lingered around the areas that were producing results, until it became dark, forcing me to poke the ice pick probe about in the turf, lit only by my little red LED headlamp.

Now that it is colder, my nose drips and the breeze feels like a bite on my fingers. After about 4:30PM, I give it up and leave for home. Sun drops to the horizon and the afternoon of fun is ended.

This time of year, the city parks have far fewer people laying about in the grass, dropping coins from their pockets. The best results consistently, are still the homeless/drifter hang-out areas.

They are very irresponsible with whatever coinage they receive from pan-handling on the intersections, which include Every intersection, these last several years.

This afternoon, the most popular area, about 7 miles from our home, was vacant, except for one young man that parked his van, got out and began ‘Moon Walking’, gyrating, twisting and throwing air punches, as if in a ‘Disco Roboto’ competition at the local nightclub. I kept my side glances in his direction. He kept it up for over an hour….. after I noticed his ear buds providing the tunes.

There is a city ‘project’ not far from the city park, where they sleep inside to escape the cold. I offered a sleeping bag to one girl and she turned it down, informing me of the ‘project’ lodging nearby.

In just that one area, I found  a  dozen coins in the turf within the hour and a half, of swinging the coil over the dry grass. One was the dollar coin with a president depicted on it.

Setting the detector to eliminate everything but coins, [discrimination] leaves behind the rings and jewelry, along with the foil, pop-tops and pull tabs from another era, but I figure they are still going to remain hidden in the turf, for another time when the weather is warmer.

Yesterday the afternoon was mild and the big Domingo Baca city park, on the north side of the city, had dozens of dog owners all walking their dogs in a row. After observing a few minutes, I realized that a training class was in session.

At first glance I assumed an impromptu dog show was in progress, as none of the dogs were alike. Some behaved, some did not. Must have been basic training?

That park is not very old and relatively few coins are found as I randomly sweep the very extended area at a brisk walk. It does serve as an exercise of sorts, swinging the device back and forth as the pace slows over promising tones, which BTW are higher in pitch on my latest detector, a very nice, easy to program and tune, Fisher F5 ordered at reasonable price from metaldetectors.com.

The kneeling every couple of minutes after pin pointing for depth, yields a reward, if the tones are consistent. Periodically  a good tone indicates on display, a depth of four inches or more, which I tend to ignore, unless the turf is moist and soft enough to cut.

More easily done with my new Hori Hori garden knife. Cut a circle, lift a ‘flap’ and check what is beneath the roots. Easy to replace the ‘divot’ and leave no trace of the inspection..

I sewed nylon Cordura, a heavy belted fabric, together, for a more convenient sheath that is swung shoulder holster style across my chest. ‘Chicago Screws’ [Hobby Lobby] serve as rivets for easy fastening. A utility belt of Mil spec quality, serves well for carrying the varying tools and sheaths, depending on terrain.

Mostly the longer ice pick that I made, serves as a ‘prune probe’ of sorts, to determine if anything of value lies flat in the grass. I sewed together a simple sheath of belt Cordura, that also accompanies my Hori Hori knife.

The best Pin pointers are those such as Garrett for $128 US and made in USA. Chinese made [cheaper knockoffs] handheld Pin Pointers are fairly usable most times, and note if the coins or metal lie near the surface, where in the hole, the metal lies.

The latest pin pointer is branded Kmoon and works quite well for $28 US w free shipping, nice features, 4 LEDs [3 green indicators] and controls, even light the hole after dark. The most common Pin pointer seen on Ebay is the [Garrett] copy, China made as GP Pointer. After buying several, only one has so far resulted in an unusable, hyper unstable device.

note: Do Not answer the ‘feedback’ on Ebay purchase, until you are positive sure of the reliability of devices, or you will lose the limited time Ebay money back Guarantee.

I was approached over a month ago by a young couple from China, university of NM students with a little girl. She had lost a small ring with hearts on it. They leave for return to China on this Christmas Eve.

I search for that ring in an area [almost the size of a football field], often between coin hunts. The little rings ‘tone’ as pull tabs. That anomaly unfortunately forces the ‘Detectorist’ [term of endearment?] to kneel down every few steps, pry loose a lot of pull tabs and mower chopped scraps of aluminum, referred to as ‘Can Slaw’ by the metal detector guys on youtube.

The very best knee pads for this type use, are those of ‘roller blade’ knee protection design. They have a much better knee ‘hole’, straps and suspended ABS pad surface. All features that keeps the entire device in very comfortable position as you walk.

Real cold spell on it’s way for Christmas. Need to go out on ‘hunts’ every day…. before winter hits NM.

Merry Christmas. Happy hunting.. for buried treasures 🙂

Last Holiday Rambler trip of the year

 

We loaded up the old coach for one last short trip on a Wednesday afternoon. We were not exactly sure the destination following, but sure about Datil Well National Campground NM RV sites…. without ‘individual site’ water or elec.

Invited also to Conchas Lake NM with son and wife, to watch the water overflow the dam for the first time in twenty years, but distance is wrong way for this trip.

Datil NM National Forest Camp site costs are $5 a night, $2.50 for holders of Golden Age [was previously Golden Eagle, which I liked better]. The National Park pass [good for life] now costs $80. It was $10 for countless years ‘way back when old Hector was a pup’ 😊

150 miles from ABQ, Datil on edge of Gila National Wilderness near Arizona state line, is relatively short drive. Beautiful weather for camping and hiking. Nice scenic drive through altimeter 6,000′ rolling hills, box canyons, high desert, and surrounding mountain ranges.

Very quiet camp. Ground squirrels look like the tree variety, but primarily live in tunnel systems. Gathering the Pinon seeds is their ongoing project for winter survival. Always interesting camping remote, self sufficient, away from civilization, with birds and wildlife to observe on arrival.

Lots of Flickers, Finches, Crows, Hawks and other interesting birds migrating through on way to Mexico for winter. Navigator reads books while camped in remote areas. She finishes large books, historically based novels, or non-fiction, in 24 hours… with only minor disturbances.

The five camp ground water faucets are still working this trip in mid October, spaced among the 24 camp sites. The toilet systems spaced between camp sites, are in process of upgrades.

One faucet nearby our camp site was leaking a little bit, so I placed a plastic container to catch the drips for the birds before the water soaked into the ground. Fun to watch from the coach dinette windows.

Did the same for three more faucets. Birds with little black bibs, cling upside down to the faucet for their drink in spite of water drops falling onto their bodies. Others perch under the dripping valve spigot and catch the drops, about five to ten drops, before flying off. Many just hop around on the ground and drink from the puddles, or in this case, the little plastic trays I set into the ground. Bees also gather to drink the water. They pay no concern to humans.. if left alone.

The water gets shut off next week and the camp hosts, Carlos and Theresa will leave for their home in Arizona for the winter. They are already packed and ready. The gated campground stays open on honor system, but dry camp only.

They mentioned to the local Forest Service guys about the little items now on display in the visitor center locked case. Items that I and grandsons found just under the dirt surface on our camp site, with the metal detectors. The workers said that they “never heard them clearly, as that is illegal on Forest Service land”. 😉

Seems that exuberant bureaucrats writing the laws, forgot to discriminate between big mining claims, compared to hobbyists picking up small metal objects, many concealed below a couple of inches of dirt. Items left from previous humans traveling through.

In spite of the law, I did pick up a few coins dropped at our camp sites. One item of interest, .44 or .45 slug, fired from an old frontier style weapon, likely when the trail riders and cattle/sheep were herding on this Federally certified, CCC improved, ‘Hoof Highway’ from the mid 1800’s to the 1970’s. The older item of course went into the little display case in the visitor center cabin.

Fifteen wells, to water the cattle from long troughs, were constructed by Govt. One well and trough every ten miles, which was considered one day for cattle, two days for sheep. CCC Boys constructed fencing on over 150 miles of trail. Laying out one fence on each side to preserve the grazing for the trail herds.

Much of their original fencing remains to this day along side the camp sites. The last concrete trough at Datil Well, a 100′ long staged affair with two inch pipes, is still in place, though no longer functioning.

A nice steel bench is positioned for meditating how the scene appeared, as the trail riders arrived with their herds and set up for camp. The big water tank’s circular concrete surface base near the newer well, is still intact, minus it’s large steel walled tank of 8 to 10 foot height. The latest well is used only for the campground.

Some of the old 2″ pipes and structure for stabilizing the old tank, are still visible sticking from the ground and piled close to the site. I hiked to the site of what appears to have been the original well. Placed up on a hill to the west of camp, it was higher to catch the wind for the windmill of that time. Obviously electrified for a time [remnants of poles, wires and switch boxes], it is now barely discernible.

The later well, one that operates today supplying water for campers, was placed in the hollow near the camp ground, to make it easier for the electric pump to draw water for this last govt revision of equipment.

This Arizona-New Mexico herding trail rivaled the big Texas trails leading from ranches and range lands to rail heads, such as Chisholm and Loving-Goodnight Trail in importance, all through the 1800’s and early 1900’s, the New Mexico-Arizona trail was still in use, peaking in early 1900’s. I recall the last trail drives to Magdalena, as I worked the NM territory.

Rancher Dave Farr described the long trail rides as tedious hard, long hours, all night watches on horseback, served chow out of chuck wagon kettles, and back in the saddle before dawn. His note for holding onto your horse at all times, even while sleeping,…

“Well, without a horse, you’re worthless”.

The old Magdalena railroad has since been removed. The old roadbed and trestles across small arroyos, remains alongside our NM highway 60, as we drive to Datil past the Very Large Array of deep space antennas. Arrow straight for over 40 miles from horizon, to horizon on approach to datil, it is interesting. The first official highway to California, pioneered with a high clearance Pathfinder automobile in 1912.

The San Agustine Plain was once a very large lake surround by mountains. Climate Change [horrors of all horrors 😉 turned it into a high desert of western New Mexico ranch lands and open range, where cattle graze today among the VLA antennas.

The deep space antennas demand little to none, interference from outside radio waves. We could not obtain cell service, nor TV, nor radio.

After dark, ‘skip’ off of the ionosphere allowed us to listen to Nashville Tennessee and other distant stations

After darkness fell at the 7,000 foot altitude camp ground and ‘skip rolled’, due to low sunspot activity, my old single sideband 4 watt CB also picked up [illegal] multi thousand watts CB transmissions from the southern parts of the eastern states, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, all of the way to southern west coast, 29 Palms California.

Nothing of importance is ever said on those brief ‘skip’ transmissions. Only proudly announcing the wildly amplified wattage (7,000 from 29 Palms Marine Base) of their ‘Big Radio’s ‘Talking’ from wherever to wherever. Mostly in a deep southern drawl followed by key buzzwords and announcing who they were, in names like ‘Swamp Gator and Old Marine’.

Side note: Story of the Loving-Goodnight trail was told in ‘Lonesome Dove’ and ‘Comanche Moon’, by Larry McMurtry. Movies later followed the story lines.

Home now and likely drain the water system on the coach for winter storage….. if freeze appears eminent..

Datil Well Campground… Again

Loaded a few items  on Wednesday and drove the coach 150 miles to Datil Well National Campground for the third time this year. Great place for quiet and nature. Lots of birds this time, must be migration. Chickadees, Nuthatches and lots of little Finches were in the trees next to our coach.

Crows fly over regularly, as does the occasional Hawk. Camp hosts, Carlos and Teresa have a Chihuahua that likes to ride in the Mule 4 wheeler, as they make the rounds checking the camp sites. The Hawks circle, just waiting for the chance to grab Cha-cha.

Elk hunters were our neighbors this stay. Elk hunting bow season attracts those hardy souls that enjoy the sneak-up and possibly take an Elk. The first night, a big bull Elk was bugling around the camp ground at 2:30 AM [they are nocturnal, staying safely bedded down during daylight], as if to tease the hunters.

The camouflaged hunting party were a father and two adult sons, one with his young wife. Each morning at 5am, they set out with their bows to locate their prey. Returning after the sunrises, they rested until dusk and set out again. Returning for camp supper at 10 PM, they slept until 5 Am, when it was time to set out and hunt again.

The father, Mark, was presently working heavy equipment in the coal mines near Grants NM. He was retired from one of the privately owned prison systems near Grants, a Prison Guard with his 20 years of service, he still enjoys working to supplement his retirement. The additional funds allow him to enjoy his hunting and the costs associated.

We discussed crime, criminals, and I then told him of my grand daughter running down the thief and retrieving her stolen race bike.

The ‘chase’ story reminded him of an episode in his early career. He mentioned the prison escapee that he was sent to locate, fortunately immediately after graduation from the Sate Police Academy, when in his 20’s.

The bad guy ran from the residence, from where the wife had called to report him as a violence prone intruder. He was accustomed to altitude and ran fast, up the mountain side, through the snow. The senior guard told the new graduate, Mark, to…. “Go get him”.

Having a 500 yard head start, the escapee sprinted away from Mark at a fast clip, figuring that any prison guard would be fat, out of shape and not able to catch him.

Mark kept up a steady trot, following the tracks through the snow, as the escapee attempted to elude the guard. Every few dozen yards of steep terrain, the escapee had to stop and catch his wind.

turning, he watched for Mark, who accustomed to running twenty miles during training every day, never stopped.

As the escapee gradually wore out, Mark continued to close the gap, until the escapee could no longer even walk, let alone run through the snow. When Mark, still at a trot, approached the escapee, the guy was dripping snot from his nose, heaving loudly, sweating profusely and his legs were like rubber, shaking uncontrollably.

He astonishingly asked Mark,…. “What are you, a machina” [machine]? …Mark grabbed him by his collar and dragged him back down the mountain through the snow, stuffed him, cuffed, into the back of the prison car. The entire chase took up over three hours and covered about eight miles, start to finish.

I used the metal detector every afternoon within the RV campground and located the usual junk, plus a few treasures. Special finds, were the extra large tent stakes, barn nails, that held in place, the old canvas tents of the trail riders and Corps of Engineers crew. Each large round head under the dirt, gave a distinctive sound on location, like a quarter and iron.

Two of the massive ‘nails’ have now ended up in the little museum display in the office. Teresa, the camp host, locked them into the case. An old ‘Dip’ United States Tobacco tin {remarkably, I found both halves] and a few bullet casings, couple of lead bullets, joined the little office display, where I can return and say, “I found those”. Coins located near the RV sites during each day’s ‘detecting’, are now joining others in my treasure cigar box.

We left ABQ on Wednesday and returned home on Saturday, covering just over 300 miles. Making one detour off the highway 60 old original route to California, we drove up into Water Canyon. Fortunately as the pavement ran out after 4.5 miles, we found a large enough turn-around space for the coach.

I explored the Cibolla National Forest Camp site briefly on foot, in case of future exploration side trips. The old logging and mine roads lead through some really rugged and beautiful canyons and trees. I hunted this area when in my 20’s and had a Jeep for prowling and growling along the trails. Son Eric and I camped on the ground in sleeping bags….., back when he was too young to recall.

We returned to Alb on Saturday, stopping in Socorro NM for a Subway sandwich, we scurried back toward home with a fill up of fuel at Sam’s Club, in prep for next trip. Texas is stressed this year. We may not be welcome, so are making several small local trips.

A great celebration of our 49th wedding anniversary, we enjoyed the company together in the forest on Thursday, the natural environment, watching birds, squirrels and just relaxing in the mountains at over 7,000′ altitude, with interesting weather conditions daily. All in  All,  a great celebration of those last and fast 49 years together. 😊

Holiday Rambler return to Datil NM

9 Aug 2017

We packed up the coach once again on Wednesday with enough chow to feed our little group for a couple of days. Peg did the buying choice, depending on what what she figured would be consumed by the group on each day. We loaded two local grandsons for a few days return to the small National Park in Datil NM, near the Arizona state line.

 

The old Datil Well RV campground recreation area, along the old 130 mile cattle and sheep trail drive from Springerville Arizona, to the old rail head at mining town Magdalena NM, is so remote, so pleasant, yet close relative to Alb, that we really enjoy it and figured the young brothers would have a good time there.

 

Driving south in the coach alone, with no tow vehicle, out of Albuquerque and turn west at Socorro for a total 150 miles to campground, passing the famous ‘VLA’, and set up beneath the trees, in our favorite space number 5, early afternoon for the planned stay of a couple of days.

 

Each afternoon was spent metal detecting close to the camp site and actually doing the following campers a favor. We scavenged ‘stuff’ at each repeat tone, until an accumulated pile of scrap metal shards, rusty wires, burned and melted foil, bottle caps, pull tabs, old tent stakes, nails and screws, intermixed with one or two treasures [coins], consumed an hour or so each day before evening and a meal following.

The brothers used the lighter, but very proficient ‘Bounty Hunter’ metal detectors. One being the old faithful, well used ‘Tracker Four’. An analog dial detector discovered on Ebay, that has ‘detected’ numerous finds and enabled a young man to master/decipher the tones and dial needle readings of items beneath the soil..

The recently purchased, three tone Bounty Hunter ‘Quicksilver’ was used briefly by a friend, stored away for years and has ‘detected’ numerous coins, as well as the plethora of other items all detectors locate with no trouble, nor remorse.  I used the Whites Coinmaster happily acquired at a charity thrift store.

Pinpointers were reluctantly shared, as we were one short. Garrett ‘Carrot’ and an AT Pro copy of the Garrett, worked wonders to locate each object in the little dirt piles. Another hopefully excellent AT Pro ‘carrot’ is on order from Ebay for $33.

 

The 1st night initially was warm from the coach running gear heat depleting until after the sun set and an evening mountain breeze came through the open windows.

Nights are dark and cool in this area of several mountain ranges, a pass overlooking the 7,000′ altitude of the San Agustine high plains. Formerly an ancient and vast, high altitude lake bed, surrounded by snow capped mountains, the retreating Ice Age kept the lake filled to capacity.

Dark, at least when no moon is over us. Silence is typical in this  little campground of a couple dozen privacy welcome spaces, widely interspersed through the trees.

Hiking and toting gear through the conifer trees, such as various junipers, pinon pine, scrub oak and scrub cedar with a few Ponderosa Pines., the volunteers will be busy maintaining trails, repairing and repainting trail infrastructure, shelters on this weekend.

 

Squirrels are busy with the pinon seeds, burying during times of harvest and digging them up as need arises. Navigator saw what appeared to be a large roadrunner, half flying and running across a meadow. No coyotes this time. A few very bright blue birds flitted about, dropping a few blue feathers beneath the trees.

 

The mornings were cereal, frozen blueberries, apple slice, bacon, sausage and eggs, toast, all prepared in gourmet fashion by our camp ‘Cookie’.  Tea for the camp ‘Cookie’ and a couple of big, hot cups of early morning ‘Joe’ for myself. The grandsons on the sofa conversion bed in their sleeping bags, could not sleep-in during my noisily preparing for breakfast and making coffee. Still, we did not get out onto the trail hikes until after 10 am in the mornings.

 

The trails are presented on large and smaller sets of excellent sign boards. We used the cell phone cam to save map images, in case we forgot which way the junctions went.

Cell phones are mostly non-functional in this area and especially anywhere near the massive array of radio telescopes. Cell signals would overwhelm the faint signals from the universe beyond. A little Garmin Geco GPS recorded our trail traverses and provided basic reference back to where we turned it on where it acquired satellites.

 

The little Garmin Geco is not as user friendly as it seems. For one thing, it recorded every trip we ever made, both to and from this campground as we drove from/to Alb [I was observing altitude… over 7,000′], added to every hike, the data became basically a heavy black highway line, and tangled web of small dotted lines for hiking. To say Geco never forgets certain details, track, pan, routes, history……no matter how many times it is cleared, is an understatement.

 

In spite of all of the references to our saved trail map images on my phone, all three of us deciding where to turn, we somehow missed a faintly marked turn junction at a small rock cairn and repeated a mile or so of trail loop on the way back, taking us farther from camp. Oh well, after our good breakfast we needed the added exercise… I think.

 

Youngest grandson found an old ‘snap purse’ frame, like the style my grandmother carried. It is now in a place of honor in the display case of the visitor office at the Datil Well campground. Two of the old cartridge casings that I ‘detected’ while searching the area with the Whites Coinmaster, have joined two other vintage casings. We forgot to search the area of the purse near the trail, to find all of the money buried 😉

 

The Rocky Point overlook, high on a ridge, was visited more than twice. Often in the repeated excursion around the ridge top overlooking our campground.  We could see the distant coach in the valley slope below, but getting back down there seemed to be the problem. All trails, all junctions, led us back to the high Rocky Point. “We’re back” was our code for lost…sort of.

 

After spending a couple of hours wandering in circles, we finally discovered the small side trail that led us down off the ridge and toward the trail gazebo closer to the campground. Seeing the trail gazebo shelter told us that camp was only a few minutes further. Not a good idea to get lost on the edges of the Gila National Wilderness. One of the largest wilderness areas in the USA, countless folks throughout history have entered it, to never be seen again.

 

The boy’s parents would be upset at me for losing their sons.

GPS, I will blame the GPS Geco…and the maps, and the trail markers. Using today’s logic, it can’t all be my fault, as the group leader..sort of.

 

The following day, the last day of hiking the forested valleys, canyons and ridges, we finished the rest of the designated trails and heard thunder following distant lightning strikes.  Seeing a few lightning burned tree trunks and stumps, we agreed to take the shortest route back down to camp. Locating the shortcut down through the valley proved a little daunting…. as we passed the trail to Rocky Point… again. All trails lead to Rocky Point.

 

Returning in time for a nice late lunch prepared by Cookie, added to some more leisure metal detecting, we decided to stay one more night.

Dropping the envelope into the vault pipe, set off only one complaint from the youngest member of our party. The one that had decided he had enough of mountain man life and desired a return to city…. TV… and video games.

 

Settling the difference of opinion by some more metal detecting around the campground, he and I were caught in a deluge and sat out the downpour of rain under a shelter on the other side of the campground from our coach. Trudging back in mud afterward was a mistake. I spent the next half hour cleaning shoes for the next day’s adventures.

 

Early morning last breakfast of bacon [Hormel pre-cooked in package of 30. Remarkable stuff] and eggs, then break camp, we began the return to Alb.

Passing the VLA, we decided to turn off and visit the site. One curious young antelope even approached the coach when we stopped along the 4 mile entrance road.

https://public.nrao.edu/visit/very-large-array/

 

VLA was open to public today, as most days. Visitor center had all of the info about the creation of the massive array that listens to the galaxies far far away. A 20 minute documentary even showed clips from ‘Contact’ with Jody Foster narrating, a Terminator with Arnold Schwarzenegger, where the dish array was again featured. Added all in total several films, with more to come, the Array is quite the film star in itself.

 

We drove up in the coach, alongside one huge dish setting on concrete mounts outside the tall structure, a very large building where they are sheltered during maintenance. Each dish is over 85 feet wide and 92 feet tall. They are moved around on the 40 miles of rails by a unique diesel electric locomotive. A hydraulic device with jacks and swivels for positioning each dish onto rail sidings and then precisely raised and positioned, bolted onto concrete mounts set for firm observation points, as demanded.

 

Each session of remotely controlled time, bought by various entities around the world, lasts for 6 hours. I would imagine a huge bill submitted for each time slot. The array, constructed during the 1960’s, was saved from obsolescence when a Canadian firm provided the latest updates. The newest ‘listening’ units bolted into each dish, took over ten years to construct, install and tune, after mounting on the 28 large dish devices.

 

Today, used periodically in conjunction with other radio telescopes across this hemisphere, located in the Virgin Islands, Northern California, Washington State, Hawaii, Ohio, Los Alamos NM and the east coast, considered the Long Baseline Array, it’s life expectancy will extend to the the next generation of scientists curious of our origins and for whatever reason we were created to temporarily exist on this unique planet Earth.

 

Leaving with a new appreciation for yet one more of the many remarkable structures that seem to be prolific around the remote and secluded, sparsely populated land mass of the State of New Mexico, we head for Socorro, lunch stop at Subway and drive home.

Passing the water intensive miles of California style Pistachio groves south of Belen NM, amaze us in the desert environment, supposedly deficient of water. Makes one curious of the politics involved in acquiring Govt permits, let alone legions of EPA bureaucrats, for such water intensive, obviously [the overflow return sluiceway] soil eroding endeavors.

 

Re-fuel at Costco in preparation for next adventure. The driveway ‘roost’ of Thunder Hog is for unloading, water resupply, dump holding tanks, schedule maintenance projects… and call parents for return of their treasured young ones.

 

Tonight we rest assured that other blessed days of adding to the preparation of the young ones for their future, was accomplished with relatively little investment and shared fun time of prime memory quality.

 

Holiday Rambler RV to Datil New Mexico

8-2-2017