Monday, October 28, 2013

Back to Texas

I was in Farmington, NM in the northwest corner of New Mexico planning on touring the parks in Utah when my daughter texted me that she had been diagnosed with gall stones and she was probably going to have her gall bladder removed.  I've never had gall stones but I've spoken to women who have had them and also given birth and they to a person said they'd much rather go through labor so it must be a pretty painful condition.  I canceled the Utah plans and headed to Dallas-Ft. Worth where my daughter lives by way of Amarillo - Oklahoma City.

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Two days later when I got to my daughter's apartment in Hurst, TX she decided to try to manage the gall stones through diet, so the operation was off.  I stayed with her for a few days and then decided, since I was in Texas I may as well visit my storage locker in Houston and drop off the kayak which was underutilized because of the cooling weather.  A little less wind resistance is a good thing for the Tank (and my wallet).

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Gas costs were considerable but the saving grace on this portion of my travels was that I didn't pay for a single overnight (Thanks Wally World!)  I wonder if in some past life I was a long haul truck driver?  After dropping off the kayak I learned that my camping buddy Becky, whom you were introduced to way earlier in the blog, had Columbus day off so we went camping in a Texas State Park up near Austin.

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I'll review the park we stayed at in a separate post.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Road Not Taken

After the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge my intention was to travel to central New Mexico and stay for free on the BLM's (Bureau of Land Management) Diablo Canyon camping area.  Diablo Canyon is a scenic rock climber's dream approximately 20 miles northwest of Santa Fe, NM.

Looks like where the cavalry would have gotten ambushed.
While the canyon is accessible to 2 wheel drive vehicles it's at the end of an extremely bumpy 10 mile gravel road along which you risk detaching dental work if you exceed seven or eight miles per hour.  I gamely drove along without stopping to consider that a portion of the system that had dropped all the rain in Colorado the week before had also affected north central New Mexico.

Everywhere you looked was gorgeous landscapes.
The gravel road into Diablo Canyon was dry and not noticeably affected by rain but after nine and one half miles of bumpy, bone rattling crawl I got to this:

They couldn't put a sign up 9 miles back??
 The BLM had "fixed" the washed out parts of the road into the canyon by dumping truckloads of sand on it, letting nature decide when the sand would get packed enough to drive on.  To convince myself that the Tank wouldn't be up to the task I took Wally the mountain bike a couple miles further was pretty bad!  In some places the sand was over a foot deep and badly rutted by 4 X 4's and ATV's.  I had to push Wally through long stretches of the "road" because peddling was way too difficult.  The Tank would never have made it and I would have been stuck in the middle of nowhere.  I drove the 9 miles back to the road and spent the night at a Walmart in Santa Fe.  Wally was happy to be home, at least.

"When in doubt, get out."  (and check things out by foot or bike)

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge Maxwell, NM

After leaving the southeastern plains of Colorado my intention HAD been to return to the Rockies and camp there but overnight temperatures of 27 (!!) degrees persuaded me to point the Tank south towards the more temperate climate of New Mexico.  Just off I-25 and the tiny town of Maxwell, NM is the Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge managed by the US Forest Service.

 Established in 1965 as a feeding and resting area for migratory birds, the Refuge has over 350 acres of wheat and corn planted by the Forest Service and deliberately left in the fields for the geese, ducks and other wild fowl to eat on their migratory movements.  You can camp for free for 3 consecutive days at a small camp area near Lake 13 which is really more like a big pond.

Lake 13 from the bike path that circles it.
There are no hookups or water at Maxwell so bring what you need in.  There are two vault toilets at the entrance to Lake 13 about a quarter of a mile from the campground.  There are plenty of garbage bins located in the campground and on the bike path around Lake 13 so   disposal is no problem,  While I visited there were flocks of Canadian geese and ducks on the lake.  When I commented to one of the friendly Park Service employees that the lake looked a little low he told me that in May of this year Lake 13 had completely dried up so I was observing a pretty good comeback given that it was late September.  Unfortunately, the Verizon "Can you hear me now" guy needs to visit Maxwell because both voice and data were spotty to unavailable there.

Lake 13 looked like this in May.
Including myself there were four camping groups total during my three days at Maxwell and we all enjoyed hearing the ducks and geese talking to each other in the moments before the spectacular sunrises over the lake.

Sunrise over Lake 13, Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge.
I'll probably stay in New Mexico for a while given the prematurely frigid temperatures in Colorado now.  Hope the National parks open back up soon!

Thanks for reading!