Holiday Rambler into Texas

After the last 50th Anniversary trip to the Grand Canyon, that we achieved in September, another was desired before winter, toward Texas.
Packing up the old reliable coach for even a small trip, is a chore. We always leave later than planned. No exception, we left about noon from ABQ NM and arrived in Roswell NM about four hours later. Actually a bit shorter time, as wind was fair and helping us along. Refuel in the Sam’s Club is usually wise when not positive about direction of travel.
Sam’s Club RV camp is always pleasant.. and cheap.
The following day trip proceeded on east through plains Texas, after climbing the caprock limestone east out of the Roswell valley. A pleasant green irrigated river valley where hundreds of horses claim as their racing heritage home, was left behind.
Turning south after Plains, we pass through Brownfields and La Mesa, on way toward San Angelo Texas, where we camped in the San Angelo State Park. The noteworthy site of this park is the impressive US Army Corps of Engineers dam built for the 100 year flood.
A lake encompasses a relatively small area behind the very long, overbuilt dam. With an 8% of capacity, water level today, it looks minuscule in comparison. The exceptionally helpful park rangers were proud of the 8%, as it afforded some boating and fishing. The old ‘average’ level has been history for the last 20 or so drought years. The boat ramps are far from the water, and trees have grown into the area where boats at one time happily launched.
Leaving this nice quiet park, stocked with lots of happy birds, to continue the rest of our tour, was accomplished easily with a quick holding dump, after which we headed for the nearby San Angelo Sam’s Club, for another top off of fuel.
Not really sure which way to proceed, we noted the weather. Navigator is always on her instruments of prediction, and our focus reluctantly shifted away from the South Llano River State Park near Junction, along I-10. Predicted were flash flooding. They surely achieved that prediction, as learned later, an entire local RV park was washed away with four people missing.
Wisely chosen, Navigator programed a route toward San Antonio, bypassing Kerville, which also was flooded to lesser extent. San Antonio arrival was the far better choice and we chose five nights on our KOA  membership. Alamo KOA is a very nice park, with updates ongoing to the facilities always in progress.
Cabins are increasing in numbers and quality, with lofted levels available near the little lake filled with ducks and geese. The very interesting, extensively trailed, Salado [salad] River is close enough to attract blood thirsty mosquitoes, if not properly ‘Deeted’. There are lots of fish… and turtles, including the elusive Alligator Gar, sought by aficionados.
We parked the rig in a very long, quiet spot under large trees, near the Wifi where the evenings were pleasantly passed, obtaining news and weather, including the emails so desired these days. Distant trains sounded their soulful horns pleasantly during passing.
A reasonably priced chuck wagon breakfast served in the new, large entertainment facility, is offered, and I partook, more than once. Scrambled eggs, sausages and hash browns with coffee, filled the soul well in early predawn mornings.
Rainy tonight. Days are nice, warm as usual in San Antonio. Hunkered down for the night and glad that we continued on past Junction Texas, continued on to S.A.
Severe rainfall up to 5” today near Junction.
As noted previously, a Junction RV [off I-10] park was flooded and Helos are searching for the missing. The Llano River Texas State Park where we periodically camp, was not mentioned. It is also on the South Llano River that overflowed it’s banks for miles. We enjoy the seasonal bird watching at that park on occasions that we stay. Lots of deer, turkeys and hogs… lots of wild hogs all across Texas.
Metal detecting is lucrative this trip in KOA. Well, as lucrative as it gets. Swept the area near a series of city baseball parks and then returned to our KOA for more ‘sweeping’. One men’s silver ring and lots of coins are stacked on the sink cabinet tonight. This is a large and very busy Alamo KOA with cabins. Lots of folks lose lots of stuff.
This KOA is situated on a flood plain, as many RV parks are prone. Cheaper land for the lower rates. This KOA RV park [Alamo] has flooded before. We had to camp in the other park higher on the bluff one previous time when this area was threatened.
San Antonio is protected by several dams built by the Army Corps of Engineers. Each dam [about 100] across Texas, supports State of Texas Rec areas with RV camping.
There are no natural lakes in Texas. All are reservoirs behind dams..

Navigator was on her electronic instruments, computer, watching TV, phone weather updates, weather channel and Garmin, plotting every turn and maneuver for this entire trip. She was so busy most of my driving hours, attempting to avoid floods and storms, barely had time for site seeing. We never found ourselves in a spot that we could not escape. She did really well 😊

Leaving San Antonio Alamo KOA just ahead of more storms predicted. We drove eastward to Lockhart State Park.  One of our favorite small parks situated on a 9 hole golf course. We do not golf, but find the little park quiet and relaxing, away from the city life and convenient to our prowling.

Only a few spots near the little stream were available during this little holiday when kids in groups attend small learning trips. Three buses left them off for their guided hikes and lessons on nature’s interesting features. One evening, a ranger led an Owl hike, to search for elusive critters. I was invited, but much too muddy for me to happily walk the steep trail in search of ‘Hooters’ 😊

Following arrival and set up, navigator and I drove the tow into San Marcos for traditional evening dining with friends at Saltgrass, a Landry’s restaurant situated over the San Marcos River source near the college. Three hours of visitation later, we bid our friends adieu and returned the 18 miles south to Lockhart State Park, our homestead for a few nights.

Backtracked to San Marcos Texas, and another few miles on the interstate in the tow car for a bit of shopping the following day. Always enjoy a discount outlet mall [Tanger double malls combined] and lunch at Cracker Barrel, before a bit of exploring the area. Driving 35 miles south to Gonzales, an historical antiquey town, and then return back to the RV at Lockhart for the night, ended the day.

An evening hike around the golf course revealed several patches of dug up earth. Ranger answered my query of wild hogs? They do some serious digging when the weather is wet. He mentioned the thousands of Armadillos doing similar, but lesser earth moving damage whenever weather is dry.

The countless tree spiders of the Banana type, fill the trees in spring, alarming the acrophobia folks to no end. Fishing in the stream this trip would have yielded stocked 9″ catfish by a thousand. The rangers hunt the wild hogs periodically to cut the numbers, but when the litters are large and frequent, it takes only a short time for them to again overpopulate.

Drive the tow car to Austin next day for lunch with our granddaughter. She is in her 3rd year at Austin, the notoriously fast-track, University of Texas [Longhorns]. Sports Medicine is her interest at this point.

Returned to our nice cozy home in Lockhart State Park as the rain began falling. No end in site for the big rain storm covering most of Texas this tour. Partaking in the park’s holding dump-fest, then leaving Lockhart in morning, we drove on to one of our favorites, Ink’s Lake State Park, for another few nights stay.

By-passing Austin traffic is problematic, as it extends for more than 20 miles in all directions. Even Buda Texas is now a bustling ‘burb’ of Austin. Marble Falls fuel at Walmart for $2.35 was happy day. Roasted chicken parts from Walmart deli, filled our needs. Did I mention rain?

Achieving the remarkable feat of a finding a camp site at Ink’s Lake State Park near Burnet Texas, we found a nice shady spot safely back from the water’s edge during anticipated rain. Important on a dam controlled reservoir.

During a brief pre-dusk lull, I walked to the nearby, large fishing dock and visited with a couple of re-united elderly brothers, as they were catching only turtles on their worms and Jello soaked hotdogs.. to their consternation. That was the last warm sunshine seen for days. Discovered that spraying WD-40 on the worms attracted bites.. turtle bites.

Driving the tow backtrack into Marble Falls for a bit of antiqueing before leaving the area, was of interest. Mediocre lunch at Doc’s Fish Camp in Burnet was more costly than dining at Walmart deli. Lesson learned there.

It has been raining for several days now and after arriving at Ink’s Lake State Park Sunday, two nights 15 feet above and 300 feet away from shoreline, we were told by the ranger, to “move the rig, our RV camp site was about to become endangered and the access road closed, Flooded”. The Buchanon Dam that feeds Ink’s Lake, is about to release a serious quantity of water, to prevent it’s own storage problems from the continuing storm.

After using our Texas State Park pass coupons to the fullest extent, we intended to leave anyway, this just encouraged us further. As we slept through two nights of heavy rain, no internet, then morning wet, I had to disconnect the cold, stiff, 50 amp power cable and water line, in the rain and 36 degree temperature, my enthusiasm was waning. Dumping the holding tanks, in the rain, was not quite relaxing.

As we drove the familiar route we often take back westward, we also noted that the usually mild little stream along side the pavement, held in check only by an old railroad track embankment, the Llano River had now grown to a 1/4th mile wide raging torrent paralleling our highway,… yards away. An extreme adventure that whitewater enthusiasts would fear.

The Llano River was now being fed by the five inches of rainfall during an extended time. It filled the old limestone river bed and quickly engulfed several houses and downtown Llano, all built with little regard to the old high water level river banks the early settlers would have wisely recognized.

Texas, already sitting on 300′ feet of water resistant, solid limestone caprock from the mid cretaceous shallow sea, has climate cycles. Drought for many years, followed by floods, Texas sized for both.

We were notified by friends in San Marcos, of a couple of bodies found so far. The many reservoirs and dams control the flooding and protect Austin and San Antonio. As each lake reaches capacity, it dumps, gates controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers, to the lower lakes, that in turn dump what they can no longer control. Travis reservoir protecting Austin communities, was already at 103% 0f capacity.

Dominoes in effect, with those living in flood plains, the victims. The construction stages of Corps of Engineer projects usually have the 100 year flood in mind. Their dams appear overbuilt….., except when the 100 year flood arrives. As engineers studying real history of climate, they also know that there are 200, 300 and 500, let alone 1,000 year cycles, all of which they know can Not be controlled.

We filled with fuel in San Angelo, usually in last prep for the trip toward home. Wind devoured our fuel faster than anticipated and slowed our progress. We drove northward past Big Spring’s Wind turbines, miles of massive, spinning blades, north past wet cotton fields, peanut farms, grape vines and whatever else is a cash crop.

Cows in abundance. Goats, Sheep, Oil wells, Plastic lined earthen water reservoirs for irrigation, appear often with their large diameter roadside tubes transporting the precious stored commodity miles in all directions. 137 additional miles of wind and rain driving after fast fuel fill at San Angelo and finally parked for night at the marvelously free La Mesa City Park. 30 amps of free service kept the coach’s electric heater toasty, and us dry.

Rain to some extent lulled sleep. Morning arrived early. ‘Burnin’ daylight’, fixing breakfast in cloudy darkness, we gradually moseyed another 150 miles north west through Brownfields, Plains and left West Texas, crossing the state line at Bronco, into Tatum NM, headed for Roswell NM, again against the wind. Refuel again at Sam’s Club in NM, just to be prepared in caution for wind. Rainfall kept the wipers in action for days of driving. Today was no different. Roswell forecast was rain. Yes it did.

Following a Subway lunch, Roswell NM behind us, we drove northward toward ABQ NM, the junction route of I-40 being our next turn direction goal. Turning West at Cline’s Corners, 150 miles north of Roswell with the last 50 miles into Albuquerque, the Interstate was welcome. Finally a tail wind of motoring silence, some nice friendly truck traffic, in place of western rural highway desolation.

The wipers never stopped and sporadic rain fell all of this 380 + mile day. On travel west and arrival through the canyon leading into sunshine engulfed ABQ, the wind was finally at our back, until  we pulled into the perpetually sunny city and top off fuel at ABQ Costco.

There, the east wind was heavy, due to a strong low pressure area in Arizona sucking the air from ABQ.
We ate a Costco hotdog and a slice of pizza before winding city streets the last 8 miles home for the night. Unload the cargo, park the old reliable rig, 108,000 miles total now, …and over the next days, change oil, creep under and lube the chassis, check vitals, drain tanks and water lines for winter before storage, anticipating, planning the coming spring trip… but tonight to relax in the home bed.

All told, a wet, but still always another fascinating, challenging, educational trip, totaling over 1,500 miles in the old Holiday Rambler. Not as much hiking as usual, Not much of anything outside in the rainy RV camps, just setting inside reading ….and watching the other campers battle the elements. Tents are the real challenge. Those energetic folks are really, The Brave 🙂


50th marriage anniversary, Grand Canyon

Shared our 50th year together, doing what we always do, being together. None of the rest of the family was interested in attending a get together, as they were all too busy with their own lives. So the two of us just made like Elvis and ‘left the building’.

Wednesday was our day of anticipation, 50 years ago. Loading up the old reliable Holiday Rambler coach and Honda CRV tow, we then departed Albuquerque New Mexico for the Arizona Grand Canyon, just as we did back then following our wedding day.

Always seems that we are late leaving our home and doing the final details for the trips. Wednesday was no exception. We drove on Interstate 40 as far west as Gallup New Mexico, and parked for the night in the Walmart lot.

As we drove beneath the cloudy sky, on approach to Gallup, small hail and intense rain that slowed traffic to a crawl, pelted the coach for a few miles near last week’s horrific bus crash location west of Grants NM.

As we pulled into the Walmart lot 150 miles from ABQ, a real downpour engulfed us, leaving the lot appear as a river torrent with our parked coach moving backwards. The feeling was that we were a ship, still moving, due to the rivers of water flooding through the lot. We just sat and waited it out.

All storms in arid NM are welcome, relatively brief, and being patient, returns rewards of sunshine.

A Carl’s Jr was close and we planned on biscuits for breakfast… with something. The evening meal was from Walmart deli, chicken things [parts] that worked to satisfy the desire for a snack before nightfall.

True to Walmart ‘camp’, we bought a few supplies and apples for the trip. The goal for the day, was crossing into nearby Arizona, focused on Williams Arizona, the Gateway to the Grand Canyon, [says the big iron arch over their entrance highway]. Along our anniversary route was also the Arizona Meteor Crater. An interesting bit of geologic history just off the interstate, which we bypassed on this trip.

We did turn north off of Interstate 40 and took the loop through the Arizona Painted Desert. The highway leads across some serious geologic erosion amid lots of colors of dirt, sand and rocks from a problematic environment long ago. EPA, if truly concerned in making all things right, ‘Must’ clean up that [naturally occurring] mess… some day. sarcasm bit on..

The loop, after showing our Golden Age Pass [free entry] crosses the Interstate 40 and begins to enter the Petrified Forest on the south side. A lot of big fallen trees that stiffened into solid rocks over the course of time, has intrigued residents and visitors since humanity first arrived.

Following the dawn of Creation ‘The Cambrian Explosion’, over 500 million years ago, set the forces of Intelligent design into play and growth of all sorts of living things of complexity spread across Pangaea, the solid single continent, prior to the tectonic plate drift so orderly and recognizable today.

225 million years ago, the dawn of dinosaurs, the big trees were growing happily in a sort of swamp/Savannah, like northern Florida conditions. Creatures [Dinosaurs] were now becoming prolific and very successful for their millions of years….,

That was until the volcanic eruption, ash and searing hot flow [akin to Mt St Helen’s], buried the flattened trees in this area.

The ensuing millions of years of burial and shallow sea submersion, encouraged the silica permeation into all cells. With other minerals adding their individual colors, the big ‘tree rocks’ today are interestingly decorated.

There are many other places in the world where similar sequence of events took place, leaving petrified forests preserved in their place. United States, Utah, California, New Mexico included.

The geologic formation’s position on the global landmass during this Petrified Forest heyday, was akin to being on the west coast of the USA today, but about 1,500 miles further southeast as continental drift continues unabated.

The end result is spectacular. The same log rocks are in place as when navigator and I first saw them 50 years ago. ISIS has not yet arrived to change history. According to the visitor center near the west gate, Holbrook Arizona, informed of Petrified Forest’s similarity not significantly changing for the last 80 to 120 years.

Fairly amazing, considering the fact that everyone and their truck has carted off countless tons of these treasures over the time of human history. The park itself covers over 200 square miles of area. Undoubted that millions of more tons of same is still buried, awaiting future erosion to reveal.

One large business lot near Holbrook, covers acres with the petrified tree rocks for sale. Do Not even think about taking the purchased rocks ‘into’ the National park. Severe penalties exist for those foolish enough to try.

The visitor center depicts the time of the trees and lush forests, with the ocean temperatures far warmer than today. On the center’s depicted scale of 1 to 6. We are below 1 today. At the time of the big trees, the scale depicts a 6, much warmer oceans back then. According to the graph, followed by countless cooling and warming cycles.

‘Climate Change’ has been in play for a long time, ‘nothing new under the sun’, is the old saying. This forest of ‘tree rocks’, to say nothing of studies in geologic history, is a must see for anyone erroneously being programed into believing politically about the earth’s natural cycles.

Note, Nothing to do with earlier Petrified Forest: Big meteor  KT event [] over 60 million years ago, harshly ended the Dinosaurs magnificently long, approximately 200 million year reign on their nice warm earth..


Leaving the Petrified Forest, we proceeded to Williams, west of Flagstaff Arizona. The shear numbers of freight trains seen on this trip amazed us. For the last ten years of travel, the trains were seldom seen strung out with containers of goods, stretching miles. Some even require several engines [five engines pulling on one ‘consist’ [the type and arrangement of train cars] pulling and others pushing, the loads were so heavy climbing the passes today.

With this resuscitated economy, business is obviously still good, Very good. The Arizona highways are being repaired and resurfaced after years of neglect. Miles of new pavement caused our speed to often be limited to one lane travel, slower than average.

Our RV park track side, was next to the Grand Canyon Railway siding, so we noted the train leaving and returning each day we were parked. Two other train railways, crossed on the mountain sides some distance from our RV park. Trains of freight regularly crossing those other roadbeds, periodically sound their horns, but distant and not loud. Trains, Trains, Trains, the sound of still vibrant economic activity for sure.

The day of our trip to the Grand Canyon was perfect, blue skies and white fluffy clouds. Entrance was free with the Golden Age pass [today $80]. The handicap card in the window afforded us also the entrance to the tour bus routes. Right up to the canyons edge just steps away, was fine viewing indeed. No problems finding a parking spot close, due to most children in school and those families not present at this time of year.

The El Tovar Hotel, classic old and right on the rim, has fine dining at reasonable prices. A plus, was the presence of articulate international servers. We enjoyed the recreation of our anniversary trip, by having finely prepared lunch turkey sandwich and salad. Good portions, at rates comparable to fast food joints in tourist areas.

After peering over the edge in a few choice spots, deep into the magnificently eroded abyss, we headed back to our Williams RV park for the night. The day trip entailed about 100 plus some miles…. of interesting forest and varying landscapes along the route. Camping is ongoing in the Kaibab Forest and other spots along the route we traveled. We could have easily driven the coach into the forest for a few nights.

One does note, paying attention to language spoken, that the overwhelming majority of visitors this time of year, are from abroad. Asians are well represented in economy of today’s exchange rate. According to brochures, 80% of visitors are international today.

Another quiet night in our RV park. The next day we headed for Flagstaff for a day of browsing for antiques and stuff. Not a lot of shops to easily locate, as we are not familiar with the city. Found one small interesting shop and talked with the owner that ironically recognized navigator from his visits to her ABQ antique mall, while she attended to the mall’s check out desk on her day shift.

Returned to Williams for another night of quiet relaxation, observing the Grand Canyon train with two diesel engines returning and precisely turning around the twelve rail cars, maneuvering back and forth on the Y track. Temperatures were mild every day and no rain while we there. Associate in California, informed us that the Ponderosa forest surrounding Flagstaff Arizona, was the largest in the world.

Prescott Arizona in the Honda, took up the following day. A nice trip of of about 70 miles each way, we did encounter several many ’round-a-bout’s controlling traffic along highway 89. Not that it has a lot of traffic crossing, just new traffic controls for the future, we surmise?

Prescott is very nice and lots of modern facilities. Visiting relative was the highlight of the day. Not visited for many years, we enjoyed the hour or so before returning back to Williams for the night.

In spite of overwhelming propensity for cinder mountains, including cinder base soil around this intensely volcanic area, I did some metal detecting at the nearby rodeo arena close to the RV park, and found some treasures lost by the riders. The Jr Rodeo was in progress the weekend we were camped nearby. Fun to watch the little kids on their full sized horses, timing their efforts to hogtie a goat, after riding their horse full speed to where the goat was tethered,  jumping off.. rolling in the dirt at times. Some of those little kids [girls included] were actually very fast.

We slept one last night, breakfast in the coach, vacuum the floor, stow the gear, batten the hatches, drain the holding tanks, stow the hose and shore connection cords, bring in the slide out sides. Only then did we roll out of the pleasant little RV park and onto I-40 for the trip home. The free, excellent waffles and eggs breakfast were appreciated hospitality.

We decided to do the entire trip home in one day. At casual highway speeds, the trip is about 7-8 hours in a large slower vehicle, including stops for a fueling and lunch, touristy stop for leg stretching, and buying a little ‘wedding vase’ made from Indian hand fired clay, with horsehair decorative lines,  before moving on east, back to ABQ NM.

Arrived home by 6:30PM. Clean out our gear, park the veteran Holiday Rambler rig, after separation of tow Honda, and we retired for the night. Will dump holding tanks tomorrow, refill the water storage, check the vitals, in preparation for the next trip to visit ‘America, the Beautiful’..

All in all, a most fine celebration of our life together. 50 Years 😊

Holiday Rambler to Ruidoso

Hot in ABQ this time of year, so packed up the coach and headed 200 miles south to Ruidoso, a small village in the White Mountains of the Lincoln National Forest of New Mexico, where it is cooler. Hustled along as fast as possible. Taking the less than smooth, narrow back highways that are located behind the Manzano Mountains, after turning east through the Tjeras Canyon on I-40. Turning south at Moriarty and across the range land formerly traversed by buffalo, the landscape is quite flat…. and desolate. Few vehicles traffic this old route, once known for growing beans for the military. Even the old railway grades that served this productive land at that time, are barely visible.

The trip is always a bit interesting as we enter Corona, turn and continue south toward Carrizozo, where the highway toward Capitan intersects. Turning south again at Capitan [home of Smoky the Bear], we repeatedly climb and descend a series of mountain passes leading down into the little town of Ruidoso. Taking the Gavilon Canyon route, we bypass the village. Even against the wind, we arrived in less than four hours, before the 8 PM closing of the Twin Pines RV park.

On the phone, we had accepted one of the higher spaces on the mountain side [quite a steep climb in 1st gear], but a bottom tier site was offered on arrival. Four nights and pleasant weather [climate change] was enjoyed. Afternoon rains were pleasant, until a minor flood through a tilted slide opening took an hour of cleanup with the wet-vac ….on our floor.

Each day was adventure of treasure hunting in a few of our old regular shops along Sudderth Drive. Found one old hump back trunk in fairly decent condition. Reasoning for the ‘humpback’, was to guarantee that it would be on top of the stack during freighting. A few other odds and ends for re-sell in navigator’s little mall space, became available for reasonable prices. One evening dining out and shared a sirloin at an old establishment recalled for reasonable price and good food. Busy with customers and did not disappoint.

Rest of meals were fast and convenient, either in the coach or at local joints known for their specialties. I went out alone for breakfast at ‘Jorges’ {horhay’s} one morning and a plate of Mexican Machaca and eggs, was my treat. Navigator does not eat Mexican food today. It bothers her these days, after growing up on it for all of her life.

Took one side trip toward the ‘White Sands National Monument’ on the horizon out of the canyon past White Mountain Casino/Lodge. Turned back toward our camp site, as the sun was setting and skies were golden glow. Saving scenic and historic ‘Cloudcroft’ {a 30 mile side trip} for the next trip 😊

The western states never disappoint in the scenic majesty dept. The trees and greenery are surrounding the little town of Ruidoso {Known for the racetrack and the Futurity’ of horse racing fame. Still attractive and forested in spite of some intensely close, large fires in recent past. Logging was practiced until the ‘Save the Trees’ people decided in their own strange wisdom, to let the overgrowth take over and of course that led to, ‘Burn baby burn’. Today the town [among countless other victims of ‘naturalism’ across the USA] is a virtual tinderbox, with old homes nestled among large trees in the canyons, newer homes on the mountainsides… if allowed to inevitably catch fire.

Each day on this short tour was a mini adventure, followed by reading and quite nights sleep. Cable TV was not really the best entertainment claimed. Metal detecting was not great, at least in the park’s hard gravel roads. No really grassy areas to prowl. Not quite into the prowling of old homesteads for vintage iron, I limit myself to well used city parks and the seemingly endless supply of lost coinage in the shallow turf.

One day [July 14] was fortunately a re-enactment at the old Fort Stanton of claim from Civil War years. Everyone was in attire fitting the period. Uniformed soldiers [dedicated volunteers, history buffs] drilled just as they would have back then.

Period Cannons fired and musket drills were ongoing. Lots of gunfire and demonstrations of skill, fun to watch perform as timed events.  Muzzle loading takes skill. No way for an individual to fire rapid. Some, including girls in uniform of period, were faster than others. A beautiful Gatling gun was on display, with the handler giving information. ‘The War Wagon’ film of long ago, was one western movie that depicted the Gatling Gun in action.

Not much in the way of warfare took place at this fort, it is in very good shape, due to being used for treatment of tuberculosis, as well as a supply depot for other forts in the southwest districts. Maintenance is ongoing, funded by dedicated volunteers and fund raising drives. Merchant Marine captured, were held here during WWII. Germans are featured on countless white cross grave markers.

The US Navy managed the fort for years, having state of the art [at the time] facilities for treatment of lung disorders. It was assumed the dry clear southwest air was ideal for recuperation. The museum is opened for information and docents in uniform of the period are on hand on this day.

Ft Stanton also was prominent in it’s use as a ‘back up’ force on one side of the famous ‘Lincoln County Range Wars’. The fort, run by govt, backed the Murphy Dolan gang in Lincoln NM and ‘The Store’.

Billy the Kid had no chance against the Govt of the day. His boss, British business investor, Tunstall, was killed on a road nearby and his house burned by the Murphy-Dolan faction and his ‘Tunstall Store’ in Lincoln was taken. His lawyer was killed in the stand off. His lawyer’s wife fled their burning home in Lincoln {besieged by Govt soldiers and the Murphy-Dolan gang}, to a ranch near Carrizozo, where she lived out her life.

Fort Stanton soldiers backed Murphy-Dolan factions, with full ‘Santa Fe Ring’ approval. The ‘Billy the Kid’ museum is a bit of history easy to visit, near the ‘Downs’ racetrack. ‘Museum of the Horse’ is nearby, as are many other touristy attractions around Ruidoso. Note the magnificent, large metal sculptures of the herd of wild horses near the racetrack. Venture into the village of Lincoln, to immerse into the full history of the ‘Lincoln County [largest county in the USA at the time] Range Wars’.

As far as the ‘Deep State’ controlling daily lives, some things never change, when considering the same type of govt face-off with the Arizona ranchers and their ill fated trip to Oregon, where Govt bureaucrats eliminated rancher La Voy Finnicum.

Many of the historic old buildings of Lincoln, Ft Stanton and Ruidoso are kept in excellent condition even today. No ‘movement’ to tear down the losers monuments…. yet. Murphy-Dolan Store and Tunstall Store are still intact, restored to period details, as well as much of the historic points of interest including the stone ‘Toreon’ [tower], from where a remarkable long distance shot was fired in the conflict.. The Murphy-Dolan Store is a museum today. The Lincoln County Courthouse where Billy the Kid escaped from the 2nd floor cell, is across the street. All are easily walked to visit.

One old mill with it’s big waterwheel, actually used during ‘Billy the Kid’ days, is in dire need of another restoration in Ruidoso. Years ago, previous to the 2008 recession that set back investments and tourism to Ruidoso…. and elsewhere across the USA, it was in pretty good condition and open to the public. Today, following the ensuing eight years of stagnancy/decay in politics nationwide, it is falling back into the earth.
Trip back to ABQ was pleasant, traversing the Gavilon Canyon route, then detouring higher upward through the Nogal highway, where raging forest fires dealt wrath and devastation still evident to this day.

Continue climb over the Nogal pass, to intersect with the Capitan highway, turn west toward Carrizozo. Food was contemplated with  a lunch stop along the highway near Carrizozo. A busy man with two little grills, was cooking brisket and pulled pork, over mesquite embers.

Working outside his little food service trailer along side the road, he provided great lunches to travelers. Chow time was then followed by a scenic ride across fascinating ‘Valley of the Fires’ lava flow, from the past of not that long ago, providing the northern edge of the White Sands Missile Range.

Turning north on I-25 toward Socorro, we drove the modern highway I-25 back north into ABQ. Fuel stop at Sam’s Club [$2.53 per gal], then onward to the house, we actually arrived in time for daylight to still be burning, 3.5 hours after departure.

Arrived back to the house and quick unload, parking the coach in driveway, before settling in for the night.

The old coach ran excellent after it’s big service point. A major attention, drain/change to ‘All’ fluids, filters required, replace spark plugs and their wiring. A time consumer that I accomplished on and under the rig, just on approach to 106 thousand miles and 15 years on the road. Ready for the next adventure. Wherever the time and place calls. Till next time..

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…..


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.’


‘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

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..