Friday, January 25, 2008

let others know

If you have an art, craft, or marketable skill that you have access to when you are on the road, you might want to advertise it. It could be a way to pick up some extra money along the way.

I Like Vinyl offers vinyl lettering in dozens of fonts, various colors, and numerous sizes. I put the SilverRaven text on the front corner of my camper so folks passing my site can see it. I’ve sold some of my silverwork in campgrounds in this way and have also given some 2-day lessons. Anyway, it might be something that would also work for you.

There are two other shots of how I used the lettering on the trailer. All the lettering looks good even though it might not look it in the photos. Couldn’t quite get the lighting right. My letters are teal and 1" and 2" tall.

Another idea is to use the lettering to show other campers what you are interested in. Good way to meet people with similar interests. Maybe make it somewhat humorous to break the ice, like, Lost Geocacher.

Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.
Grandma Moses


Sunday, January 20, 2008

southern new mexico state parks
full moon, mug, and bowl walks,
don’t act your age

I had every intention to spending a couple months driving from AZ to FL and back. Got as far as Hobbs, NM and realized, once again, that this was not my kind of thing. So I’ve just been wandering around southern NM for the past month. Checking out some state parks (something I wouldn’t do in season), hiking, doing quite a bit of silverwork, reading, and generally learning and experiencing what I can. Actually hooked up to electric for a couple of weeks in one of the parks. The first since Nov 1. Sure was a treat to not have the windows all iced up in the mornings. One thing I don’t like about a catalytic heater is the amount of moisture it puts into the air. You know the rim that goes around the Casita on the outside? Well, under the condensation slots in the window frames, there can be ice stalagmites built up two inches high (and yes, I do leave two openings for ventilation during the night). With using a small ceramic heater for those two weeks, there was hardly any problem with condensation. I don’t use the furnace when I have electricity since the $20 ceramic heater is so efficient and I don’t have to listen to the furnace kick on all the time.

Brantley Lake State Park was great. Will definitely spend a few weeks there next winter. Hardly anyone around the park, quiet, nice separated sites, and three places for walks. I practiced Tai Chi down on the boat dock one morning but froze my butt off. Met a lady who was traveling in a Scamp. Carol and her husband spent 14 years sailing around the Caribbean and some of South America on a cutter. After her husband died, she was living in a retirement community in Florida. She felt she was going nuts there so she bought the Scamp and hit the road. Not bad. Told her about fiberglassrv so she might be posting there. She told me about the NM state park pass. Real good deal—must get for next winter.

I planned to spend a week of so at Guadalupe National Park and get some hiking in. When I got there, the RV section turned out to be a converted parking lot. I don’t do parking lots. The ranger, understandably, wouldn’t let me park in the tenting area, which was just about empty, and had some nice sites I could have fit into. Oh well. So it was in one side, out the other, and back on the road. If you plan to pull your camper over this pass, be sure to check ahead for wind conditions. They can get nasty.

Rockhound state park was not too bad. There were a few nice sites over in the hookup section. The base sites are more isolated. People look for geodes at Rockhound and there are some hiking trails. There is one nice one, but rocky, goes up to the top of the mountain (or what they locally call a mountain).

Poncho Villa State Park was large and fairly open, almost like a big gravel parking lot. But it did have ground vegetation and all the sites were pull-though. Not my kind of place, so I only spent one night there. Met a couple from Oregon who spend eight months a year traveling in their fifth wheel. Told them about geocaching and they seemed pretty excited about trying it. Mentioned the three caches at Rockhound.

Then it was up to City of Rocks State Park. Nice. Will definitely be back next winter for a few weeks. There are ten electric sites (hosts take up three). Passed on them since they were packed tight together and there are a number of stellar base sites out alongside the rocks. My site was off the road maybe 150 yards at the end of a cul-de-sac so it was quiet and Meadow and Onyx are away from cars passing by. There are trails through the rocks and a really nice three-mile walking loop out in the desert. Most people just do the car-potato-cruise around the outside of the rocks so the trails are pretty empty. Found a group of trees where four owls roost. Never thought I would be dissecting owl pellets on my bench with solder tweezers and pick. Sure wish I could have identified all the bones. Never know what the day will bring.

I attached a couple of shots of my site at City of Rocks so some of you can maybe see why I generally choose base sites over electric sites.

On one of the forums, someone asked what others do when they go to the outdoors.
One thing is to go for a walk under a full moon. There were some years where I would not have got much out of something so simple. Not exactly a ‘guy thing’. Sometimes Meadow and Onyx tag along and it’s fun to watch them stalk, pounce, and wrestle each other. I swear they get hyper under the full moon. At City of Rocks I took along a glass of wine, listened to Annie Lennox on my Nano, and strolled down a trail, really loving life. Another night I listened to Gabrielle Roth’s ‘Tribe’. Sure seemed appropriate.

Going for a morning ‘mug walk’ is a great way to meet neighbors if you are in a primitive campground. Just grab a mug of something hot and go out and be sociable. Doesn’t really work in RV parks since your neighbors will probably all be in their rigs rather than preparing breakfast outside. And walk, don’t ride a bike around the campground if you want to meet people. Those that ride a bike, merely exchange ‘hellos’ and roll on by. Walking offers more time to exchange a couple sentences that can lead to a conversation.

I know it’s proper to sit down at a nice place setting for meals, but… I also enjoy putting my meal in a wooden bowl and go for a slow meander around the area. It can be relaxing and insightful. Granted, one needs to truly enjoy the outdoors to appreciate simple things like this. If one’s into full hookups, ‘seeing the sights’, and racking up the miles—forget it.

The more I simplify my life and my outlook, the more I see and appreciate, and the more thankful I am. When one hits 40 or so, it might be good to no longer act one’s age, or look it, feel it, and have its standard mindset. I have a friend in her eighties and if I ever adopted, the all too common, can’t-do-give-up mindset and jumped on the it’s-part-of-growing-old bandwagon, she would no doubt slap me on the side of the head (she still hikes).

Had a ten and an eleven degree night and plenty in the teens but no single digit nights. The twenties now seem downright balmy. My second winter full timing in the Casita and it’s not bad considering how poorly insulated it is.

Probably won’t have electric hookups again until the end of May.

Have what I hope is a nice route planned up through AZ to Utah in March. No four-lane roads (I hope).

Have to find some places to dry camp around Park City in April. Even having lived there for nine years, my mind is drawing a blank. Didn’t really want to be that far north at that elevation in April. Oh well, looks like it’s going to be a long winter.

Just another idea for meeting people—grab a few paperbacks that you are done with and walk over to another campsite. Ask if they have any books to exchange. You either end of with new books or at least open a conversation.

One needs to be happy living "outside" and enjoy simplifying one's life
down to the basics.


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

santa rosa state park

The night before I left Ute Lake, it went down to 7 degrees with the wind chill. Nice iced-up windows in the morning. Went out for a run on the trails in the morning, took a hot shower, and rolled away. Half way to Santa Rosa the visibility got pretty bad so I just tucked in behind a sanding truck for the last twenty miles. Stayed really cold all day. The Santa Rosa library had the standard firewall set up so I uploaded the last two postings and checked out a couple forums. Later found out they have wireless.

I think I woke everybody up at the state park; it was blowin’ like a banshee so no one was out and there were not any campers staying there. The Cherokee and the casita were a mess from the snow, ice, and sand. Dirty icicles hanging on everything.

Loop A at the Rocky Point camping area is kept open for the winter. There are 23 electric sites. Eight sites also have water. There are a few water outlets spread around the campground to fill up jugs. I like this arrangement. If one wants seclusion, just use one of the waterless sites in the back. The large RVs want the water sites up front. The sites are back-ins and pull-through, around a loop, just like Conchas and Ute. A lot more trees, but like in the others, sites are close to the road; some pull-through are only about ten feet off.

The Los Tanos primitive camping area is also open but all the sites are walk-ins for tents only; no sites for small rigs. December, January, and February are the only months I take electric sites but I still like to check out the primitive sites.

There are some nice trails at Santa Rosa, along with dirt roads, double tracks, and country to just go off trekking. There is also an equestrian trail. I was out walking on it one weekday and saw three pronghorns, not all that far away. Cool.

The Lion, 95.9fm in Santa Rosa, has just about the widest range of genre that I have come across. 91.9 plays some NPR programs. On Saturday after noon, they feature Car Talk, Prairie Home Companion, and Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, and then repeats these three programs on Sunday. Better few than none.
Came back from a run on Sunday morning and they were playing Beethoven’s Ninth—the choral symphony. An oldie but goody.

Okay, there seems to be a pattern here. If a park has a winter host—the showers will be hot. If there is no winter host—showers will be lukewarm. In the winter, I REALLY like to see some steam. So far this has proved to be true in the nine NM state parks that I have been in the last two winters. The one exception is Heron Lake—hot showers without a host. Still three more new ones to go. Sure hope they have hosts.

Definitely needed a social fix. Finally have some good restaurants to choose from. Had breakfast at Joseph’s a couple of times, lunch at the Silver Moon, and dinner at the Lake City Diner. ‘Diner’ is misleading since it is in an old bank building. Real nice. All on Historic Route 66. Stopped in at Santa Rosa’s RV Park and talked with Jean. She has a book exchange so I traded out ten paperbacks. Looks like they will all be good. Jean and her husband will be retiring down in Costa Rica, right on the beach. I was hoping they might adopt me.

Drove down to Puerto de Luna one day. Real nice drive. Locally called ‘PDL’, it is a very old adobe village. Spent a good deal of the day bicycling around the area. Forgot to pick up some PDL Chile, a unique strain of chili that has been cultivated there for over 100 years.

Which of you, by worrying, can add one span to his life-time?
Matthew 6: 25-34, rendered by Alan Watts