Greetings from our home base in Deming, New Mexico! We made it home on Tuesday after spending four nights at Leasburg Dam State Park near Radium Springs, concluding our eight-night shakedown cruise in our new rig, Lizzy 3.
If you read our last post, you know that we spent the first four nights dry-camping at City of Rocks State Park, about 30 miles north of Deming. We left that spot on Friday morning and drove about an hour and a half to Leasburg Dam State Park. While it’s not the most scenic spot in New Mexico, we have a soft spot in our hearts for this park, as it was the first spot we ever RV-camped in the state. When we were newbies back in the fall of 2018, we wound up at Leasburg Dam SP quite by accident, as it was our back-up site for another spot that didn’t quite pan out. While we were here, we found out about the awesome deal on the New Mexico State Parks annual camping pass, which we purchased for $225 as out-of-staters, and we’ve been regular visitors to the parks ever since.
Leasburg Dam SP is located on the Rio Grande River, which right now is just a wet, muddy wide spot in the desert. When we first started visiting here, a lot of the sites were first-come, first-served, but like the rest of the parks in the system, they are moving toward making most of the sites available by reservation only. With our annual pass (which incidentally only costs us $180 now since we’re residents of New Mexico), we were able to get a site with water and electricity for only $4/night (not a typo).
The park is generally well maintained both by the paid staff and the volunteer park hosts. When we arrived, our site had been marked with our name and the dates we had it reserved, and there was a pamphlet of information clipped to the post with the site number. As soon as campers pulled out each morning, the volunteers were quick to visit the now-empty site with rakes and brooms to make sure it was tidy for the next camper.
There are several hiking trails in the park, one of which is ADA-accessible and follows along the banks of the river for fishing and sightseeing. I have a 2-mile path mapped out for my morning hikes that combines several of the trails.
There is also a very neat geocache hidden in the park if you’re into that hobby like I am. I also located a couple more geocaches outside the park, but there are plenty more in the area that I haven’t gone after yet…gotta save some for later!
The main office and the showers were still closed due to COVID restrictions, but the flush toilets were available for use. That is, they were available for the first two days we were there, and then suddenly they were “out of order”. We had noticed that the water pressure in the park seemed unusually low, especially when trying to use our shower in the rig, so it’s possible that there was a water leak somewhere that forced them to shut down the toilets. They do have vault toilets in the park, and we of course had our own toilet on-board, so it wasn’t a problem.
We spent some time on Sunday running some errands in Las Cruces, which was only about 15 miles away. We had lunch at Olive Garden and then swung by Walmart to pick up a few items. From there we drove further south about another 30 miles, crossing the state line to visit Camping World in Anthony, Texas, to pick up some tubes of Dicor for rig maintenance. Then we headed back north, hitting Sam’s Club on the way back to camp. We tried to go to Starbucks, but they were doing drive-through service only and the line was so long that we bailed.
Speaking of COVID restrictions, here in New Mexico they have an online website where residents are encouraged to sign up to be notified when the vaccine is available in their area. They’ve been following a strict prioritization protocol based on age, occupation, and chronic health conditions for determining who gets the vaccine when. Andy, being 71 and with one of the conditions, had already gotten his first shot before we left on our trip, but my group, identified as 1C, had yet to be declared eligible.
While we were at City of Rocks, they announced that they were opening the eligibility to the 1C group (those over 60). On the day we were driving from City of Rocks to Leasburg Dam, I got a text message saying there was an event available near me. Of course I didn’t see the text message until we stopped for gas on the way, and I immediately tried to book an appointment, but the “event” was already full. So I set up a special ringtone on my phone to alert me the next time I got a text message about a new availability.
On Sunday morning as I was completing my morning hike, I suddenly heard the opening riff of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” coming from my phone in my back pocket. Sure enough, it was an alert for a vaccination event on Monday in Deming, so I quickly signed up for a 9:30 appointment. And that’s why I left camp on Monday morning to drive to Deming and back–to get my first shot of the Moderna vaccine. Hooray!! It left me with a little bit of soreness in my left arm, and a little extra fatigue the next day, but otherwise no noticeable side effects.
On Tuesday, we wrapped up our stay in Leasburg, breaking camp around 10:45 and driving back to home base in Deming. As far as how the kitties traveled, they were only crated once, and that was on the initial drive from home base to City of Rocks on Day 1. On the next two drives, they stayed in their little hidey-holes in the attic of the rig while Andy drove, and according to Andy, they hardly made a peep.
So, what have we found out about our new rig?
- The bedroom slide is a game changer. Just that little bit of extra space has made our sleeping arrangements so much more comfortable.
- We need to install a pet opening in the bathroom door. We keep the kitties’ litter box in the shower (which we keep lined with a mat), so we have to leave the bathroom door open for them to access their box. The bathroom door opens from left to right, swinging toward the bed, so it is really obstructive and inconvenient. We’ve ordered a “kitty pass” interior cat door that will hopefully solve this issue.
- We still need to put valve extenders on the inside dually tires so that Andy can easily check the pressure and air them up as needed. We had to order the 6″ extenders from Amazon since Camping World didn’t carry anything over 4″. We had these on Lizzy 1, so Andy should be able to get them installed fairly easily. Both the kitty door and the valve extenders are due to arrive today.
- The little cheap overhead fans in the rig don’t do much to move the air. Fortunately the weather was cool on this trip, but we’ll need better air movement when it warms up. We’ve already purchased a MaxxAir fan, and we’re just waiting on a day when the winds aren’t howling at 30 MPH for Andy to be able to get up on the roof and get it installed.
- While he’s on the roof, all four of the overhead vent covers need to be cleaned. They are translucent plastic, and when looking up at them from inside the rig, they really look filthy. But in order to clean them, we’ll need to remove the exterior vent shrouds that have been installed over the vent covers in order to access them, so it’s not as easy as just going up on the roof with a wet rag and wiping them down.
- As I noted in our previous post, this rig only has one house battery. It did seem to hold up pretty well for running the furnace fan and the lights, but we still would be more comfortable upgrading to at least one 100-amp-hour lithium battery, or even two if there’s room in the battery bay. Lithium batteries can be drawn down to well-under 50% capacity, unlike the lead-acid battery that we have now, so there would be more power available in the same space. And we also plan to get the batter(ies) rigged up for solar so we can use our three 100-watt panels for boondocking.
- All the appliances in the rig seem to work great. We didn’t use the air conditioner at all since it was so cool, so we haven’t yet given it an extensive test.
- The 4000-watt onboard Onan generator works awesome, and starts up easily. We ran it several hours a day while dry camping to recharge the house battery.
- Andy says this rig drives and handles a lot more smoothly than Lizzy 1 did, even though they both had/have Ford E350 SuperDuty chassis. Evidently they’ve improved the suspension on the newer models. Andy thinks this is why the kitties didn’t complain as much about the drive.
So, for the next week or so, we have some projects to complete. We’ve already unloaded the rig from our trip, but I need to give it a thorough cleaning inside. Andy will be working on the kitty door, the MaxxAir fan, and the valve extenders.
We already have two more trips booked. In early April, we’ll be spending 10 nights between two more state parks in southern New Mexico. Then in May, after we’re both fully vaccinated, we’ll be heading east to Mississippi, where we already have reservations booked in the Tupelo area to visit family. Can’t wait for that one!!
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