Shakedown #2 | Rockhound | Pancho Villa

Greetings from our home base in Deming, New Mexico! We just returned from a ten-day outing to a couple of nearby state parks, arriving back home yesterday just before noon. Although we didn’t travel far, we accomplished our twin objectives of checking out all the systems on Lizzy 3 as well as enjoying being out in nature for a few days.

Our first five nights were spent at Rockhound State Park, about 20 minutes from our home base. We love this little park because of the beautiful view to the west from the slopes of the Florida Mountains. The facilities are immaculately maintained, although right now the showers and the visitor center are closed due to you-know-what. The park hosts are friendly and hard-working, keeping everything running smoothly in the park.

Site #29 at Rockhound State Park

We arrived at the park on a Monday. One of the reasons we stayed so close to home this time was because Andy was due for his second COVID vaccine on Tuesday of that week. He drove back into Deming to get his shot, and then stopped by the house to bring in the trash bin that we had left out by the curb when we pulled out on Monday. One of our neighbors had already brought it in for us (thanks to whoever you are!!).

On Thursday morning, I woke up about 4:30 AM to use the bathroom and discovered that there was no water. Fortunately we had some water in our fresh tank so I just turned on the water pump in the rig. Later that morning I checked with one of our neighbors as well as the camp host and found that the water was out throughout the park. They were already working on it (something about a valve replacement at the well). I wasn’t sure how long it would take, and our fresh water tank was almost empty, so I drove back to the house to take a shower and fill up our four one-gallon drinking water jugs. By the time I got back to the park around 9:00 AM, the water was already back on.

Moonrise over the Florida Mountains around 4:45 AM

On Friday morning we drove to Spring Canyon State Park, which is actually a day-use area that is part of Rockhound. It is a beautiful setting in a nearby canyon that is largely sheltered from the winds that blow so hard around here in the spring. I even talked Andy into doing a short hike with me.

View from near the top of Spring Canyon State Park

We were hoping to see some of the Persian ibex that inhabit the range, but no luck. The ibex were introduced into the area in 1970, and were a gift from Iran. The original small herd really took to the area and their population multiplied to the point where hunting is now allowed each year. If you would like to learn more about the Persian ibex in the Florida mountains, here’s a link to an interesting article.

On Saturday, we pulled up stakes and drove 30 miles south to Pancho Villa State Park. I think this is the fifth or sixth time we’ve stayed there. Aside from the historical aspects of the area (Pancho Villa’s raid in 1915 and the subsequent pursuit by General Pershing and the U.S. forces), there really isn’t much in the way of things to see in the area. However, for some reason we just seem to enjoy the vibe of being close to the border. We did walk across the border into Mexico on Wednesday to get some good food at the Pink Store, and then we visited the American Dental Clinic right next door. We both got our teeth cleaned ($45 each), and Andy got a chipped molar repaired ($75). This was our second visit to this clinic, and we are very pleased with it.

Site #35 at Pancho Villa State Park
The border crossing from Columbus, New Mexico, USA to Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico

We did get some good news about the New Mexico State Parks this week–they are returning to normal seasonal operations, starting today, April 16, although dates may vary slightly from park to park! That means they will once again be allowing first-come first-serve camping (without reservations), although they do say that reservations are advised due to expected crowds. They still require masks in public areas, and group sizes are limited based on the county in which the park is located, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. We noticed that the maintenance staff at Pancho Villa were hard at work getting all the restricted campsites ready for re-opening.

After ten nights in the rig, we came away with a few observations and another short list of tasks to complete before our trip in May:

  • The Kitty Pass that we installed in the bathroom door worked awesome! The cats were able to freely pass through the door to get to their litter box in the shower, and we were able to keep the bathroom door closed to avoid looking at the typical tiny-bathroom clutter of hanging towels and scrub brushes.
  • The MaxxAir fan that we installed also worked great and kept the rig very comfortable so that we didn’t have to use the A/C so much. However, the limitation of these fans is always the weather–if it’s raining or if it’s very windy, you can’t leave the cover raised up because it will get wet inside or the wind could rip the cover off the rig (yes, it was that windy). So we’ve ordered the MaxxAir FanMate vent cover to install over the fan to protect it from wind and rain. All the other roof vents already have vent covers installed.
  • The latch on our silverware drawer messed up so that the drawer wouldn’t shut all the way. Andy was able to fix it once, but when it happened again, the latch broke when he tried to adjust it. We had this very same issue in Lizzy 1, so we already knew what parts we needed. We’ve ordered a set of replacement latches and will get the drawer fixed. This seems to be a common issue with RV drawers.
  • We need to make some tweaks to the dining area. We had installed a power strip horizontally on the wall between the tabletop and the bottom of the window to give us an easily accessible place to charge our devices. However, when I was taking a closer look at the underside of the table to see how the hydraulic lift worked, I discovered that the tabletop has not been fully raised the entire time we’ve been using the rig. The latch is not fully engaged, and that probably explains why the table has seemed wobbly. In order to raise the table fully, we need to remove the power strip and relocate it somewhere, as the tabletop will now reach the bottom of the window.
  • Our new Battle Born lithium batteries are due to arrive today. We’ve already received the charge controller and cables. We’re still waiting on the battery straps, connectors, and the crimping tool that Andy ordered to complete the installation. We’re looking forward to getting these new batteries installed so that we’ll have solar charging capabilities again, and we can extend our boondocking time.

We spent several hours on Monday morning planning our upcoming trip to Mississippi. We use the RV Trip Wizard website to do our trip planning, and we’re following the same route that we used the last time that went to Mississippi back in November 2019 (seems so long ago!). We’re even staying in some of the same places we stayed before, using our Passport America and Good Sam discounts to reduce our expenses. We try to limit our daily driving to 250-300 miles, and we also try to have a non-driving day thrown in from time to time if we’re not on a tight schedule. So we’ll spend six nights on the road on our trip from Deming, New Mexico to Tupelo, Mississippi. Five of those nights will be in Texas, and one in Arkansas. We’re just hoping that the weather cooperates–the hailstorms and tornadoes this spring have been pretty bad along that route!

Deming, NM to Tupelo, MS, via Texas and Arkansas

So we have just over two weeks to get all our ducks in a row before we hit the road on May 1. Lots to do, but I’m getting more excited every day! I’m scheduled to get my second COVID vaccine on Tuesday of next week (four days from now), so I should be at max immunity by the time we meet up with family and friends in Mississippi. It will be such a thrill to give everyone a good ole Southern hug!!

We hope that you’re all doing well, and that you’re also getting excited about getting back out there this year! Stay safe, stay well, and stay happy!!

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2 thoughts on “Shakedown #2 | Rockhound | Pancho Villa

  1. Slowly but surely getting things the way you want them. I’m sure you’re very wise to make these short shakeout (or shakedown or maybe shaky) trips before doing the big one. Enjoy your travels to, and time in, Mississippi. We got a taste of “freedom” this week in the annual church convention that was cancelled last year and moved to TN this year with great success. More than 3,000 people in some of the services, great fellowship, music, and preaching. Not so good in the catered food part of the experience, but we found some pretty good places to make up for that. We’re with Mike, Kim, and Nicholas this weekend before heading homeward on Monday.


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