Greetings, everyone, from our beautiful campsite in one of the most scenic and unique landscapes in all of the Southwest USA–City of Rocks State Park near Faywood, New Mexico.
As it happens, this little gem of a park is only about 30 miles north of our home base in Deming, NM, which is perfect for our first shakedown trip in our new rig, Lizzy 3. We wanted to stay fairly close to home on this first trip just in case we forgot something or had an unanticipated problem with the rig. It’s been awhile since we went on the road, not to mention that we changed rigs since our last outing, so we were pretty sure that we would leave something off the packing list–it’s just Murphy’s Law.
This trip is going to last for eight nights, the first four of which are here in City of Rocks where we are dry camping (no electricity or water hookups). This allows us to test the battery capacity, generator, water pump, propane furnace, and our own ability to manage our water and sewage. When we leave here tomorrow, we’ll be headed to another state park where we have a site reserved with electric and water hookups (no sewer hookup, but there’s a dump station). There, we’ll be able to use all the electrical outlets and systems, microwave, electric water heater, and we’ll be able to use our Instant Pot without running the generator.
We arrived here on Monday, March 15, after making a stop in Deming to top off the propane and gas tanks. Andy drove Lizzy 3 and I followed behind him in Pepper (our Prius) with our two cats. We had scouted the park ahead of time so we knew exactly where our site was located, and it took no time at all to get parked and situated. Our view from the west-facing dinette window is an open expanse of high-desert rolling hills and mountains. On the opposite side where the front door opens, we’re facing the huge volcanic boulders that this park is named for, along with a large shade tree that arches over the rig.
We got here just ahead of a cold front that was moving through the area. Since we are dry camping, we had to rely on the propane furnace for heat, which also requires the house battery to power the furnace fan. Unlike our previous rig, Lizzy 1, which had two 100-amp-hour Battle Born lithium batteries along with solar panels, this rig only has one lead acid house battery (capacity still unknown). We weren’t sure that the battery would last through the night to power the lights and the furnace fan, so we were very conservative with heat that first night, and we both got so cold that we didn’t sleep well.
The next day, I decided to drive back to our home base in Deming and pick up a few extra blankets. That day was miserable–the cold front moved through with sustained winds of 35 mph and gusts up to 50 mph. The wind was strong enough that we felt it was prudent to pull in the bedroom slide, mainly because it has an awning “topper” that was getting battered pretty hard. I drove back into Deming after lunch, and I’ve never seen so many tumbleweeds rolling across the highway in my life. The roadside fences were just covered in them. When I hit the city limits of Deming, I ran into a dust storm that was pretty gnarly, but fortunately it didn’t extend to the south part of town where our home base is located.
I grabbed some blankets and a few other things (forgot the dishwashing bin that was one of the primary things I was supposed to get), and then headed back to camp. We spent the rest of the evening tucked inside the rig, listening to the wind howl until it finally let up enough to put the slide back out so we could use the bed. Those extra blankets helped tremendously, along with us figuring out that the battery capacity was better than we thought, so we felt comfortable running the furnace more during the night. The outside temperature dropped to 27° by morning, but we were snug and warm.
The past two days have been beautiful with sunny skies and mild temperatures. I’ve done a lot of hiking on the well-marked and maintained trails around the park. (Unfortunately Andy isn’t able to do much in the way of hiking anymore, but he does go for some short walks throughout the day.)
Here are a few photos of the scenery on my hikes:
So far we are so very pleased with our new rig. The additional space provided by the bedroom slide has made all the difference between Lizzy 1 and Lizzy 3. All the systems seem to be working fine–the generator starts easily, there’s plenty of hot water, the furnace will run you out of here (although the thermostat is kinda wonky), and the refrigerator/freezer has taken good care of our groceries. This particular park is perfect for smaller rigs like travel trailers, vans, and small motorhomes like ours. We’ve even seen some good-sized Class A motorhomes that somehow managed to get tucked into some of these small sites. But we haven’t seen a single fifth-wheel in here, unless they were in the separate section where they have a few side-by-side pull-through sites with electricity. But those electrical sites are away from the rocks and aren’t nearly as scenic. Who wants to have a view of the RV next door when they could be parked here in the rocks where we are?
And that’s one of the biggest reasons we decided to sell our fifth-wheel and go back to a smaller rig. The ability to get closer to nature and further from our neighbors is very important to us. This four-night stay has certainly confirmed our decision.
Tomorrow we’ll break camp and head to our next destination, Leasburg Dam State Park near Radium Springs, NM. We’ve stayed at this park several times before, and we’re looking forward to being close to Las Cruces so we can do a little sightseeing one day.
We’ve already planned our next outing which will be in early April, for 10 nights. Once again we will be staying in nearby state parks, taking advantage of our annual camping pass, which allows us to camp for free in a dry camping spot, or for $4/night in a site with electricity. Of course, that doesn’t include the reservation fee of $12 per reservation that ReserveAmerica.com charges (don’t get me started).
The biggest reason we’re staying so close to home right now is that we are awaiting our Covid vaccinations. Andy has had his first shot, and is due to have the second dose in about three weeks. I’m not yet eligible for mine, based on my age and having no chronic health conditions. But I don’t want to be somewhere out-of-state when my turn finally arrives, I want to be within easy driving distance so I can get back to Deming for the vaccine.
And as soon as we’re both vaccinated, we’ll be planning our first long trip–we’ll be headed east to see my family!!
So that’s where we are at the moment, basking in the sunshine and enjoying the outdoors!
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