Tuesday, April 15, 2014

VA Albuquerque, then more NM state parks

Well, so much for plans! But then, we like the freedom to stir the jello when situations call for it. We keep our eraser fat to add/change/fix those penciled-in events. Back in November, Jeff was told by his VA doctor in Branson that he had a skin fungus on his ankles common to diabetics due to poor circulation. The day after getting to Leasburg Dam, this fungus?? seemed to explode all over Jeff’s body. It looked & was extremely painful — itchy, red, swollen, & lots of dry skin sloughing off. By Thursday, our 10th day at Percha Dam, we decided he HAD to get some medical treatment for this stuff. It just hurt to look at his skin.

We pulled up camp & traveled a couple of hours to the VA Medical Center in Albuquerque. Even tho we arrived around 2pm, it was after 9:30 before he got out the ER. . .with some pain pills & soothing salve (A&D Vitamin salve). That was the first good night’s sleep Jeff had in over a week. The next morning, he saw a dermatologist who took a skin biopsy & prescribed some steroid cream — exactly what the Branson doctor said the original fungus thrived on. Amazingly, EVERYTHING quickly & greatly improved Jeff’s discomfort. It only took a couple of days to make a huge difference. We eventually realized that we think he had an allergic reaction to a different fabric softener.

We left Albuquerque heading east on I-40, headed for Santa Rosa NM State Park. Along the road, we actually got some sprinkles. We noticed a brown sign for Villanueva State Park, about 20 miles north, so of course, we went to check it out. OMG, the Pecos River has cut a significant gorge/canyon thru the relatively flat landscape. The Park is snuggled into this gorgeous canyon & was right next to the flowing Pecos. Unfortunately, getting full sun for the solar panels & a TV satellite signal over the tall canyon wall would have been a challenge. The topper tho was absolutely no cell phone signal. After spending all last summer in Poudre Canyon without a cell signal to call my parents daily, I won’t voluntarily park in a dead zone again. So we continued on our original plan to Santa Rosa SP.

The small village of Santa Rosa NM is not only located on I-40 but has the old Route 66 running thru it. Lots & lots of motels, so must be a popular spot to stop for the night while driving thru lots of empty landscape. The State Park is around 6 miles north of town. Unfortunately all the dry or developed loops were closed off, so we selected an electric site & settled in at $4/night. . .the rain was following us. A developed campsite at NM state parks usually means not only a grill but some sort of shelter (protection against the wind & the sun). Santa Rosa Lake was up due to previous rains so no low ring around the edges. The water looked muddy at times, so obviously there had been recent rains.

The day was cloudy but by late afternoon, huge dark storm clouds were gathering to the west. About dusk, it finally started raining. Apparently both the wind & the storm brought a campground full of travelers in off I-40, but most left the next sunny morning. The wind was really bad tho. It wasn’t so bothersome inside the trailer. . .but there’s something real worrisome about being in the bathroom with all the rocking & rolling. That small space really magnifies the movement. Definitely not where I’d want to be if the trailer would ever tip over!

New Mexico State Parks have many reservable electric sites. . .but there’s a $5 or so charge. I’d rather just change sites than pay that charge, but thankfully, our site was available for the three nights we spent at the Park. We’d have stayed longer if any dry sites were open, but since they weren’t, we moved south to explore Fort Sumner, NM State Park.

We would have preferred to camp below the dam at Sumner Lake, but (again) there was no cell signal. So we moved up to the Lake, then right down within 20’ or so of the water’s edge. There was no trees or shrubs nearby, so when the wind kicked up again, it really blew us around. Jeff attempted to do some fishing from that nearby shore, but the wind just made it miserable. After five days, we decided to check out another Park.

We drove back thru Santa Rosa (I-40) & headed east to look at Conchas State Park. Well. . .didn’t care too much for it (too wide open) and NO CELL SIGNAL. We continued easterly & ended up in Tucumcari NM for the night at Empty Saddle RV Park for FHU at $15/night. Fellow Casita owner Diane Mason pulled in next to us later that evening. She had also been at the Quartzsite FG gathering but we didn’t see each other. She’s a retired engineer & does FANTASTIC mods to her trailer. She actually has automatic lights inside her closet, cabinets, & frig. Sure makes me wish!

We next went to Oasis SP, southwest of Clovis NM. By now we’ve sort of done a huge circle, ending up just east of Ft Sumner. . .but then, we had the time & wanted to see where we want to return to this Fall.

A small pond is located at Oasis & we opted for an electric/water site at $4/night. The wind wailed for three days of our six day stay, so we didn’t do much other than visit Walmart in Clovis. Oh, ate at IHOP in town & I discovered how fantastic Belgian waffles taste.

Next we headed a couple hours southwest to Roswell NM to check out Bottomless Lakes SP. While looking at the electric sites, we recognized Sebastian (former Casita owner, now traveling with a Nash trailer & his two cats, M & M, of Simple Living and Simple Travel blog) from last year at City of Rocks SP. Had a good visit with him but we drove north from that campground to find a quiet, private dry camp next to another of the eight or so bottomless (very deep) holes along the valley. We visited Roswell a few times (Walmart again) & went for my free breakfast at Denney’s.

By this time, it’s April & surely the snow has stopped in Missouri by now. We’re sort of getting restless to return to green grass, tall trees with leaves, & large fresh water lakes. The naked trees of the winter landscape there are depressing, but — not much compares with Spring in the Ozark Mountains!

Last year we left NM April 1, but this year, it was April 2 before we headed east out of New Mexico on Highway 60. . .just like some migrating bird who didn’t care what the weather was doing at their destination. We spent 29 nights at NM State Parks ($290 worth); 9 nights with electricity ($4 x 9 for $26 + $225 annual pass = $251 charges), so we saved $39 already by buying the pass. It’s good thru 3/31/15.

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