Monday, May 22, 2017

City of Rocks

Post by Henry

After two (2) weeks in Deming, New Mexico, we moved 30 miles north and spent some time in City of Rocks State Park.


City of Rocks
Faywood, New Mexico

The park is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, with giant boulders and a campground unlike any other we've ever seen. 

Boulders

The campsites are situated amongst the rocks in various fashion, creating a most unique campground. A lot of the sites are great for tents, but there's also some suitable for RV's, too.


Unique Campsite

We were able to grab what we felt was the best site in the park for five (5) nights. 

Our Campsite amongst the Boulders

It was away from the main campground nearly all by itself. In fact, we had to look hard to see another campsite. What we did see was outstanding scenery in all directions. And my favorite part was it was soooo quiet! 

Peaceful

Mostly the only sounds were birds and the wind. And here in New Mexico this time of year, there was plenty of wind to be heard. This site had no hookups and no cell signal, but somehow we survived. We'd have to say this was the most beautiful campsite we've ever been in with the Rambler.

Our Campsite from a Distance

Unfortunately, someone had the campsite reserved and we had to give it up after five (5) nights. We were not tired of being at City of Rocks, though, so we moved to a less remote site with water and electric hookups for another six (6) nights.

Second Campsite

We still had amazing views and we think we snagged the best hookup site, too. Our covered picnic table was surrounded by blooming Bird of Paradise and Ocotillo cactus, which attracted many birds and bees. Sitting outside, there was an ever present hum of bees at work.

Bird of Paradise

One thing this park is known for is it's dark skies at night and they have a star party every month. In fact, the campsites are each named after either a constellation or a planet. Our first campsite was named Cassiopeia and the second was Xena. It was available, but we passed on Uranus;). Unfortunately, we weren't able to cash in on the dark skies, as our visit coincided with a full moon occurring exactly in the middle of our stay.

Full Moon Rising

The day after we arrived, we went on a Ranger led birding hike to nearby River Ranch, located along the Mimbres River, that is usually closed to the public. 

Birding on River Ranch

They only do this hike once a month, so we were here at the right time. Our two guides really knew their stuff as they were locating birds in all directions by both sight and sound. We were able to add several new birds to our life list, including the Zone-Tailed Hawk. 

Zone-Tailed Hawk

They not only knew birds, but also dragonflies and butterflies, too. They were both amazing, and we'd highly recommend signing up for this hike.

We made several excursions to Silver City, about thirty (30) miles up the road. It's an old mining town and now is an artsy town. There's a fun historic district to walk the streets, with many restaurants and art galleries.

Colorful Silver City

Art Everywhere


Outside of Silver City is the Gila National Forest, with so many outdoor possibilities, it's incredible. There's three (3) wilderness areas in the forest including the Gila Wilderness, which was the first official designated wilderness in the WORLD!

We made a trip to Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument.

Gila Cliff Dwellings

It was a long ride on incredibly scenic roads. The cliff dwellings were quite impressive and probably the best we've seen.

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Ranger at Gila Cliff Dwellings

While there, I was finally able to purchase my Federal Senior Access Lifetime Pass for $10! Yes, I'm officially a GEEZER.

Showing off Senior Access Pass

We did get in some good hiking.

Near Silver City, we hiked the Dragonfly Loop. In addition to the beautiful scenery, the trail took us to some petroglyphs.

Dragonfly Petroglyph

More Impressive Petroglyphs

Another hike we did was the Big Tree trail. This one led us to the second largest Alligator Juniper tree in America.

Alligator Juniper
Big Tree

Here at the City of Rocks, we did every possible hike with our favorite being Table Mountain.

Table Mountain Hiking Trail

Table Mountain
Summit on Right

The summit sits 500 feet above the campground, but the hike is fairly easy. There's views the entire hike, with a 360 degree panorama at the top.

On Top of Table Mountain with
City of Rocks in Background

There is so much to do around here, and we're barely going to make a dent this year. We will be returning at some point in the not too distant future. More than likely, out next visit will have to be much longer.

Probably a month or two.

Or more.






Monday, April 24, 2017

Florida Mountains

Post by Henry

We've left Texas behind and currently have a view out our window of the Florida mountains.

Florida Mountains

Say what?
Florida doesn't have mountains you say?
That's correct.
The highest point in the state of Florida is 345 feet and the highest point in the Florida Mountains is 7,295 feet and they are located in New Mexico.

And that's where we are. Deming, New Mexico to be exact. Back in the mountain time zone, land of low humidity and big time winds. It's ALWAYS windy here.

Check out this five (5) day forecast:

Yep, it's windy alright

Nearby is Rockhound State Park in the Florida Mountains and we've done some exploring there. The weather was beautiful, the scenery spectacular, and even though it was the weekend, we nearly had the place to ourselves.

Welcome to Rockhound State Park

This Place is Rock'in

Visitor Center

The first thing we saw was a hawk sitting on a post, being patient with us observing him nearby. It wasn't until his patience ran out and he flew away that we realized he had a snake in his talons he'd been snacking on.

We didn't even notice the Snake

3
I'm Outta Here

The highlight of the day was a hike out to Lovers Leap. Only a mile hike out to the Leap, but it was nonstop uphill, gaining 800+ feet elevation along the way.

Phew..........We've come a LONG way up!

We didn't see any evidence of Lovers that had leaped, but the 360 degree view at the top was gorgeous.

I can see for Miles and Miles and Miles..............

I'm gonna take a Break and Enjoy the View

After the hike we pulled out our chairs and just kicked back enjoying our peaceful surroundings.

So Peaceful...........

Nearby was a ???????? plant with yellow flowers that we were getting oh-so-sweet whiffs of with the breeze.

Not sure what is was but it smelled GREAT!

On the ground we watched a New Mexico Whiptail Lizard going about his business.

Ever feel like someone is watching you?

With the bird calls on our phone app, we lured out a Black Throated Sparrow to within a few feet of us, looking desperately around for the bird of his dreams he had heard.

Where is She?


Who needs television?
This is our kind of reality show!

Check out more of the sights in and around the Florida Mountains:

Desert Bunny

Labyrinth

Great Scenery
 
Purple Haze

We won't be taking the Rambler down this road

Going Down

Scaled Quail



Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rockport Birds and Blooms

Post by Henry

We've been doing quite a bit of birding here on the coast of Texas, The birds are everywhere and the spring migration hasn't even kicked in yet. In and around the Rockport area there are numerous birding sites ranging in size from just a few acres to thousands of acres.

Some of the birding sites have boardwalks jutting out into the water and the birds come up incredibly close - like you're not even there.

Boardwalk at Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center


Here are some of the birds we've been seeing captured by staff photographer, Loretta.


American Bittern

Great Blue Heron Battling a Snake for Lunch

Snowy Egret

Green Heron


Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Cute Little Pied Billed Grebe


Pied Billed Grebe with Fresh Caught Crab

Black Necked Stilt in Formal Wear

Action Shot of Tricolored Heron Catching Dinner

Black Bellied Whistling Ducks Giving Us the Evil Eye

Blue Wing Teals

It's definitely springtime here and flowers are popping up more and more every day. One place that really caught us by surprise was the Rockport Cemetery which is a field of beautiful wildflowers!

We kinda found it by accident turning down a street just to see what might be there and WOW!


Beautiful Final Resting Place

Peaceful

Soon the spring migration will begin as the birds start returning from points further south. They'll stop here near the coast to rest and feed before heading off to other parts of the country.

We'll start our migration soon too, as we'll be making our way west and north towards Montana and Idaho for the summer.

Here's a few bonus pictures from our birding trips these last few weeks.


Northern Shrike with Lizard

White Eyed Vireo

Female Northern Shoveler

Ruddy Duck

White Tailed Hawk

Wilson's Snipe

Female Blue Wing Teal

American Bittern Stalking a meal