navajo lake, heron, water heater flush,
day-to-day variances, three ravens,
onyx and the shower bag, co-op, villanueva,
and the cold moon

I hate headwinds. Heading down rt191 towards Monticello with the pedal-to-the-metal, the ’91 Cherokee was only going 45 mph. Two more years and I’m getting an 8 cylinder. Driving over to Cortez and Durango was easier going. Didn’t stock up until Durango since I did not want to be dragging the weight from Cortez. There was an Albertsons, Wal-mart, and Home Depot in town.
Rt172 south was a nice, laidback drive until I hit New Mexico. The road then got rougher and was a steep 25-30 mph climb up the mountain, with no passing lanes. It took us quite a while to reach the top and luckily there was not any traffic. Sure looking forward to that 8.

Picked up another annual pass at Navajo Lake state park. It’s a decent campground but, as you know, campgrounds don’t generally work for Meadow and Onyx. The only campground that was open this time of year was Pine. Not many people here since they are mostly much farther south by this time. Damn do I plan well. I got a decent site for the little ones so they could go out but only because the three sites close to us were empty. Beautiful place if you have a boat. Only stayed here a few days because there were not any decent places to run or hike and only one walking loop for M/O. Don’t think I will be coming back here unless I find a solo canoe at some point. It sure is hard to find a used 12’ one. Caught up on various tasks. Picked up a 32 GB flash drive in Durango and have been backing up all the pictures and files I’ve been working on this year. My smaller flash drives were maxed. Working on converting my blog to html. Just for fun and to make sure I have not forgotten how to write the code and css.
I drained the water heater before I left South Willow. Finally remembered to take my flushing wand and flush out the accumulated sediment. Jeez, did a lot of crud come out. It’s been quite a while since I flushed out the heater. Sediment buildup in the bottom of the water heater tank is always a problem. When the heater is running, sediment collects on the anode rod (which is a real good thing [replace yours yet, Siscily?]). Sediment drops to the bottom of the heater and becomes crystallized so the tank should be flushed out whenever you check the anode for wear.

There are three more campgrounds up the road that were closed. These are just photos of a couple sites. Siscily told me last winter that I would probably like Sims campground best but it was closed. A ranger here said they might not open it next year since they might not have the personnel and money to run it. That’s too bad.

Went to open the door one morning at 5:00 to let Meadow and Onyx out—and the lock was frozen so the door would not open. Guano. It was not even that cold, just in the low twenties. I guess some rain from the day before got in the lock and froze. Every once in a while I get a chuckle out of how my day-to-day life compares to that of most others.

Just missed a week of single digit night temperatures at Heron Lake. They were still down in the teens while we were here, though. The first shot is of my site and the second is of the morning fog rising over the lake. It was good to see Siscily again. One night she came over for a game of Mexican Train. There was a bottle of merlot sitting on the table. There must have been a crack in the bottle. By the time we finished with the game, the wine was gone.

One morning Siscily met me at Three Ravens Coffee House in Tierra Amarilla. Fabulous shop. The photos only cover a tiny portion of the building. It had been boarded up for years. Paul Namkung has been restoring the old adobe building over the last ten years and has recently opened the coffee house. Absolutely stellar job with the restoration. The mud on the interior and exterior walls is the traditional mix of dirt, straw, sand, and water. It looks way cool. A small cup of the High Octane coffee had me buzzing for the rest of the morning. The hot portabella panini sandwich I had was delicious. Paul is a drum maker ( and his woodshop is also in the building. Be sure to have him play a bit for you and, if you are interested, show you his shop. Definitely a MUST stop if you are in the area.
Siscily is a park ranger at Heron Lake and is taking a leave for the winter and pulling her Casita and packing her feline, Buddy, down to Texas and will be working at the Amistad National Recreation Area through the cold months. Stop and visit if you pass near there.
Showers at Heron were turned off for the season by the time I got there and with snow on the ground, the sun shower was not my first choice. Tierra Amarilla has a town pool where one can shower. I did fill up the sun shower one day to wash my hair. The Cherokee was parked in shade so I could not put the bag up on or hang it from the Jeep’s roof rack. So I laid it out on a bench. Any guesses on what happened? Remember I have two cats. Yep, Onyx checked out the bag, first with a paw, and then with a claw. I noticed something was wrong when I saw water running over the bench. Guano. I used a bicycle tube patch to fix the hole. How many lives is that now for Onyx? MUST be close to nine.
I use a Bic lighter to light the galley stove. I know the mornings when I will be layering on additional clothing before going out for a run. They are the mornings when I have to rub the lighter in my hands to warm up the fuel. Always get some of those mornings.

Stayed in Heron a couple days longer so I could have my mail forwarded. It’s been over a month so might as well see what’s there. I heard some geese flying over the other evening. Need to pick up the pace a bit. Stopped at Three Ravens as I headed out for another cup of High Octane for the road and chatted with Paul for a while. The building he has been restoring was built in 1885. When he opened, one of his neighbors was brought over by her grandson. She walked into the middle of the shop and slowly turned all around as she checked everything out. The lady then thanked Paul for the restoration. When she was a child, her mother used to bring her in when the building was a mercantile. There were some moist eyes at that point.

While passing through Santa Fe, I stopped at the LaMontanita Co-op on W Alameda St, off Saint Francis, like last year. It’s only a couple blocks out of the way. Fabulous food and supplies.

The upper loop at Villanueva State Park was closed for repairs. Guano. For us, the best sites are up in the loop. No hookups but early morning sun, space, and M/O can roam without the danger of dogs because the RVers tend to stay down below at the hookup sites. So we had to take a site down along the Pecos. Luckily the park was pretty empty. Still, I only let M/O out for their 5:00 run in the mornings. Stayed a week. Longer than I had planned but it warmed up and there are plenty of places to hike. I also really enjoyed listening to KBAC, 98.1 Radio Free Santa Fe. A good mix of music.
The third photo is a shot of the upper loop from the trail on the other side of the Pecos.

I’m not into Thanksgiving Day. I go out and give thanks just about every morning. I also look at my birthday as my special day each year for being thankful for all that has occurred that year. A generic day in November doesn’t do anything for me. Be that as it may, a couple from Colorado came through for a couple days in their tent trailer. Eric, Monica, and Kiera along with Sammy and Zero (the dogs) invited me over for a Thanksgiving Day meal. Very nice. Good company and good food. I just passed on the turkey and stuffing. Eric is getting close to 25 years in the air force and does quite a bit of mountain biking. Eric and Monica took one of those supported mountain bike tours out of Moab down to the Kaibab Plateau in Arizona one summer so we talked about the Kaibab and biking for a while. What a bike Eric has! I had no idea such features come on bikes. Maybe if I win the lottery. Later, around the fire, we had a round-robin scary turkey story. It’s been years since I’ve done something like that.

One day I biked into Villanueva and came across a dirt road that climbed up out of town. Miles and miles of dirt roads up there. Very nice. I came across the grotto of Our Lady of Guadalupe and took the shot of looking down on the town.

Stopped on Las Vegas for a few hours to access the web at the library, do some laundry, and pick up some supplies. Passed on a couple state parks that I was not impressed with last year and drove down to Santa Rosa. Not one of my favorites but there’s a decent hiking loop and quiet roads for bicycling. I’m going to also pass Sumner Lake this year and only spend a couple days at Oasis to see what they did with the pond. Remember the entry from last February about all the water leaking out? Then probably a couple days at a non-hookup site in Bottomless in order to get in some rides on the mountain bike trail. I plan to spend two or three weeks at Brantley Lake and then check out Oliver Lee. I did not get a chance to camp at Oliver Lee last winter and a couple people said I might like it. I also want to check out some BLM land down in that area. Then on to my favorite state park for getting in some serious exercise—City of Rocks. If I’m going to do any mountain biking with David when I get to Bisbee, I am going to have to do a few laps out on the trail including the Overlook switchbacks every day I’m there. The primitive sites are generally nice and quiet out next to the rocks, away for the hookup sites. Remember I only do these parks in winter. There are 45 sites out there and I’ve managed to get one or the other of my two favorites, the three times I’ve camped there. These two sites are not any of the more popular ones, so that helps, and they work best for Meadow and Onyx. Then on to Lynn’s place in Bisbee for a while. One of the high points of my annual loop.

December – The Full Cold Moon; among some tribes, the Full Long Nights Moon. In this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and the nights are at their longest and darkest. Also sometimes called the “Moon before Yule”. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long and the Moon is above the horizon a long time. The midwinter full Moon takes a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite to the low Sun.

‘I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand,
as in what direction we are moving.
To reach the port, we must sail sometimes with the wind
and sometimes against it
but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.’ Oliver Wendell Holmes

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’


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