Elephant Butte Lake State Park, Water Pump Mysteries, Trip Planning Tools

From Elephant Butte Lake State Park near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico:

We pulled out of Storrie Lake State Park near Las Vegas, New Mexico a week ago today and made the 278-mile drive to Elephant Butte Lake State Park. We arrived here without a reservation and found that all the first-come first-serve sites were occupied. However, there was a reservation site that was available for one night only in the same area with a great view of the lake, so we took that one for the first night. The next morning, as expected, one of the first-come first-serve sites opened up, so we moved just up the hill. The new site actually overlooks our original site, so it has the same great view of the lake. We went ahead and paid for an additional 8 nights at only $4/night for electricity since we have the annual pass.

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Changed campsites this morning. Last night we were in site #91. It’s a reservation site but since no one had it reserved we were allowed to stay there for one night. This morning it was my duty to go out scouting for a first-come first-serve site, and it just happened that site #76 had opened up this morning. In fact the camp host was in the process of tidying it up, and he held it long enough for me to go get the truck and drive it to the site. We’re moved in, and since we’re actually situated just up the hillside from the previous site, we have the same view of the lake, only now it’s in our back window. 😊 We plan to be here for 8 more nights, at least. . . . #rvlife #fulltimerv #lifeisgood #homeiswhereyouparkit

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Speaking of the lake, we were so pleased to see that the water level is up considerably since we were here a year ago. I checked online and found that the reservoir is currently at 21.6% full, which doesn’t sound that great, but when we were here a year ago, it was only 3.1% full (you can see all the stats here). The landscape looks so different this year with more of it under water. Many of the places I had hiked and photographed are no longer visible, and areas where RVers were boondocking last year are not accessible this year. That said, there are still a lot of RVs camped along the water’s edge on the new beaches, which is an awesome way to camp out here.

Last year the road went all the way to that island where I hiked and RVers boondocked. Not this year!

The area where we are camped is called Lion’s Beach. The sites have electricity and water, a covered picnic table and a fire ring. The sites are fairly close together in almost a parking lot arrangement, so there’s not a lot of privacy. It’s not our favorite camping situation, especially after spending so much time boondocking at a remote site in the forest all summer. But our neighbors have been pretty chill so it hasn’t been that bad, and we’re enjoying having access to electricity, water and a convenient dump station for a change.

We’re not doing a lot of sight-seeing around here, we’re just enjoying the view of the lake and doing some geocaching and people-watching. We did make a return visit to the Passion Pie Cafe, a local establishment that we discovered when we were here last year. In addition to being a top-notch bakery, they also serve breakfast and lunch, and their menu includes a lot of vegan and vegetarian options. The owner is the head chef, and she is generous with the samples of the baked goods. If you’re ever driving up I-25 through Truth or Consequences, it’s definitely worth your time to pop in here for lunch, but fair warning–they do close early sometimes when they have a large catering order, so you might want to call ahead.

Veggie croissant sandwich with side of pickled veggies at Passion Pie Cafe

It wouldn’t be RV life without some maintenance issues. On the Saturday night before we left Storrie Lake, we were getting ready to do the dishes when the water pump quit working. One minute there was water flowing, the next minute there wasn’t. It was 8:15 at night, not the best time for something like that to fail. Fortunately, we had an old water pump on board from when we replaced it back in January (read about it here), so Andy put the older pump (Pump #1) back online, and stuck the dead one (Pump #2) in a box and put it in the basement. Pump #1 seemed to be working fine when we left Storrie Lake, but we knew there was a pressure leak somewhere because every few minutes we would hear it activate for just a second (for those who aren’t familiar with RV water pumps, you should only hear the pump running when water is flowing through a faucet).

Since we’ve been hooked up to city water while here at Elephant Butte, we hadn’t thought much about the water pump until today because we weren’t using it. Andy was in the process of unhooking the electricity and water lines so he could drive over to the dump station when he noticed that we had water trickling out of the overflow valve on the side of the RV, meaning that our onboard water tanks were full. They weren’t full when we arrived, so the only thing we could deduce was that the city water coming in from the faucet was flowing back through the old water pump and filling the tanks. So that meant we had both a dead water pump and a leaky water pump on board and needed to get the problem resolved, most likely with a new pump.

I checked around and found an RV parts supplier here in Elephant Butte, so Andy grabbed the dead pump (pump #2) out of the basement and we drove over to O’Neill’s RV Supply, where we met Rick. Andy showed him the old pump and told him what had happened. Rick had the exact same model available for $110, but first he said he wanted to check our old one because he had never heard of one just quitting like that. He took it back to his shop and hooked it up to electricity, and immediately it came to life and spit out the water that was trapped inside it. So obviously, the pump wasn’t dead after all. After some discussion, we decided not to buy a new pump, but to try re-installing Pump #2 to replace the leaky Pump #1 (confused yet??).

So that’s what we did. Andy put Pump #2 back online, and after a couple of times flicking the switch on and off, the pump pressurized and started working again. So now, we have two things to keep an eye on: (1) Will Pump #2 stop the problem of the city water flow seeping into our onboard tanks and causing them to overflow, and (2) Will Pump #2 suddenly stop working again, and if so, is it a pump problem or an electrical switch problem?

Life is never boring in an RV.

Full moon rising over Elephant Butte Lake as seen from our campsite

We only have two more nights here in Elephant Butte, and then we’re going to head further south to Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico, where we’ll close out the month of October. This is also a return visit as we were camped there last year over the Thanksgiving holidays. We’re really looking forward to walking across the border into Mexico on Thursday to celebrate my birthday at the Pink Store in Puerto Palomas, and also picking up some delicious Mexican pastries at the nearby panadería (bakery). Our New Mexico State Parks annual pass expires the end of October, and that will be our signal to start heading east to Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi for Thanksgiving.

We’ll have seventeen days of travel before we reach Tombigbee State Park in Tupelo, Mississippi where we’ll be staying over the Thanksgiving holiday. We have reservations that start on November 17, and this is the first time in over a year that we’ve had to plan our travels in order to be at a certain place on a certain date. I started looking around for some online tools to help plan the trip and settled on one called RV Trip Wizard.

RV Trip Wizard is a web-based application that lets you plan a route with a starting point, end point and stops in between. Some of the features that I really like are:

  • You can specify how far you want to drive each day (minimum, maximum and target), and the app will mark that distance on your route so you can see what city you’ll be near when you reach that limit.
  • You can specify what types of parks or campsites you want to see, based on what memberships you own (i.e. Passport America, Good Sam’s, state parks, etc), and exclude those you aren’t interested in (i.e. Thousand Trails, local parks). Then those parks show up along your route, and you can click on them to get all the details.
  • You can specify points of interest that you want to see along your route, such as museums, hospitals, hardware stores, beauty salons–you name it.
  • You can see fuel stops, dump stations, rest stops and overnight parking options along your route.
  • You enter the height and weight of your rig, and the application will show you any hazards along your route, such as low clearances or rickety bridges.
  • After you plan all the stops on your trip, you can export the trip to Google Maps, print out the step-by-step directions, or send the trip details to someone via email.

So, for instance, here’s a screenshot of the beginning stages of my trip plan for our Thanksgiving trip. I specified a target distance of 300 miles per driving day, with a minimum of 250 and a maximum of 350, so those are the circles on the map showing the mileage radius from a state park in Texas that I selected as one of our stops. By looking at the yellow circle, I can see that our target mileage would get us almost to Fort Worth on the next leg of our journey, so I can search that particular area for a campground for our next stop.

The beginnings of our trip plan for Thanksgiving

RV Trip Wizard offers a free demo of the software on their website. The annual subscription is $39 and it works on a laptop, smart phone or tablet, although it will look a little different on each device. So, for instance, you can create your trip plan on your computer and then log in on your smart phone to view it.

By the way, I’m not sponsored in any way by this company, I just think it’s a really cool tool to use. I’m a real geek, so I know I’m going to enjoy playing with this application as we plan our travels both to and from Mississippi for the holidays. I’ll be sure to check back with you in a later post to let you know how it worked out in “real life”. 🙂

So that’s life for us at the moment–all is well, everyone’s healthy and happy and looking forward to more adventures ahead.

Thanks for taking time to read our blog! Feel free to share it with family and friends who might be interested in full-time RV living. If you want to keep up with our adventures, please subscribe. You can also find us on Instagram at Instagram.com/JustCallUsNomads if you want to keep up with us between blog posts. And we do occasionally post videos to YouTube–if you would like to subscribe to our channel, check it out here.

Safe travels!!


3 thoughts on “Elephant Butte Lake State Park, Water Pump Mysteries, Trip Planning Tools

  1. Nifty trip wizard program! I’m nerdy enough to like it and to almost want to download it long enough to play with it to see what all it does. And it’s neat that it draws circles, so you can see where you would end up if you followed alternate routes toward your destination. I think you’ll have fun with it as well as benefit from it.

    Liked by 1 person

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