From Storrie Lake State Park near Las Vegas, New Mexico:
We’ve had a busy few days since our last update. It began with a funky smell in the RV. If you remember from our last post, we had begun to notice that whenever the air conditioner ran we would get a bad odor that seemed to be coming from the black tank. So we decided to replace the air admittance valve under the bathroom sink, which usually solves the problem. The closest place to pick one up was Home Depot in Gallup, about 50 miles away, so we decided to make a day of it.
On Friday we drove to Gallup and hit the Home Depot first, where we picked up two air admittance valves, along with some miscellaneous hardware that Andy needed to secure the shroud on the A/C unit on the roof. Next, we decided to have lunch before going to Walmart for groceries. I had done a little research on Yelp.com and HappyCow.com to see what options there might be in Gallup for a couple of plant-based eaters, and I was surprised to see a Mediterranean restaurant listed–and it got great reviews. So we decided to check out Oasis Mediterranean Restaurant.
When we found it, we weren’t sure we were in the right place. The building appears to be an old drive-in, which is not surprising since it’s on old Route 66. Happily, this provides covered parking that kept our truck shaded while we ate lunch.
The interior of the restaurant is light and airy, very clean and inviting. We were seated at a table and given menus from which to order, along with a small plate of appetizers (olives, peppers and pickled radishes). We both ordered the Vegetarian Plate, which included hummos, baba ghanouj, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, salad, and unlimited pita bread. The food was absolutely delicious–probably the best Mediterranean food we’ve ever had, and we’ve had plenty.
Next, we had to try their desserts. We decided to pass on the baklava in favor of something we had never tried before. I had the kunafa, which was shredded phyllo dough soaked in a sugar-syrup, layered over sweet cheese and served warm. It was delicious, but Andy had to help me finish it. He ordered the maamoul, which was a shortbread pastry filled with pistachios. He also ordered a Turkish coffee, which we haven’t had since we lived in Houston and frequented a Lebanese restaurant near Rice Village.
I can’t say enough about how much we enjoyed our meal at Oasis, and judging by the number of customers they had both dining in and picking up to-go orders, the city of Gallup must appreciate them also. We can understand why they get such good reviews on Yelp!
After we finished lunch we went to Walmart to do our regular grocery shopping, and then headed back home. Andy got the new air admittance valve installed after a few choice words and a little sweat (the old valve didn’t want to come off), and it seems to have alleviated the odor problem for the most part (my nose is a little more sensitive than his).
I did a little more geocaching over the weekend, with limited success. I had already picked off the easier find, and the rest were all hidden somewhere in the nearby canyon. I started my search on Saturday with the one hidden closest to us, which, according to my app, was at the bottom of the canyon just below us. I had to make the short climb down the switchback trail on the side of the canyon , which wasn’t nearly as scary as it was the first time I did it. Once I reached the canyon floor next to the creek, it only took me about ten minutes to find the cache, sign the log and swap some swag.
I was keeping an eye on the weather since it was getting cloudy, but since I found that first cache so quickly, I decided to go for a second one. The next closest one, according to the app, was less than a quarter mile away, but it involved hiking past it, crossing the creek, and then doubling back on the opposite side of the creek. When I got to the area where the app showed the cache was located, it was very brushy (an old beaver dam), and I had no luck finding anything. It didn’t help that the GPS on the app on my iPhone kept bouncing around, taking me from one spot to another, walking me in circles. The cache itself was listed as a “micro”, so it was going to be very small anyway. I decided that the most prudent thing to do since it was looking more and more like rain was to cut my losses and get back out of the canyon before the rain started. So I logged that one as a “Did Not Find”. 😦
It rained almost all day on Sunday, and we spent the day inside the rig reading on our Kindles, listening to podcasts, and watching YouTube. On Monday I was ready to get out and do a little more exploring since it was our last full day at Bluewater Lake. I decided to hunt for a geocache that appeared in the app to be near the Dam Overlook trail where we had hiked before. The app did say that the cache should be approached from the bottom of the canyon and that it was a steep and rocky climb, but I had no intention of going back to the bottom of the canyon since it had rained so much the day before, and it was pretty wet and marshy down there. I was hoping I might be able to safely climb DOWN to it from above.
When I got to the spot on the trail where I was right above the cache, it became obvious that the climb down was not going to be an easy one. I actually started making my way down the side of the cliff, but then the part of my brain where intelligence and common sense reside began to drown out the part of my brain where competitiveness and the sense of adventure were talking me into doing something pretty risky. My “common sense” brain said “What will this do to your mama if you slide off the side of this cliff for no good reason?”. My “intelligent” brain said “You still haven’t made sure that Andy knows how to access all the login and password information for all our financial accounts.” So I turned around and got back onto the trail where I belonged. I’ll leave that particular cache to someone else to find. I finished up by hiking the trail around the top side of the cliff to a really nice overlook of the dam, and then headed back to the rig after getting some good exercise, which was my primary objective anyway.
And just like that, our two weeks at Bluewater Lake State Park came to an end. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay there, but it was time to move on, even though I’m not sure they would enforce the 14-day maximum stay since the park had plenty of available sites. We were ready to see something new.
Our plan was to travel to Coyote Creek State Park, about 50 miles north of Las Vegas, New Mexico, but to stop at Storrie Lake State Park in Las Vegas for an overnight stay to break up the drive a little bit. We also wanted to stock up on groceries and supplies in Las Vegas because Coyote Creek State Park is kind of in the middle of nowhere.
So yesterday was a travel day (which I love!). By the time we both got breakfast, cleaned up the dishes, got things stowed away and secured, dumped the tanks and refilled the fresh water, it was about 10:30 AM. It was a beautiful day for driving as we headed east on I-40 toward Albuquerque, and then turned north on I-25 toward Santa Fe.
We stopped for gas and a lunch break at a Phillips station on the Santo Domingo Pueblo northeast of Albuquerque. I love being able to pull the rig into an empty lot and then just have a normal lunch of fresh salad, beans and avocado. And then we can use our own bathroom, listen to our own music or watch whatever we want on YouTube while we relax before hitting the road again. It keeps us healthier and happier, and it’s easier on our wallets than eating out on the road!
We arrived at Storrie Lake State Park around 3:30 PM yesterday. We were hoping to snag a first-come first-serve site with electricity, but they were all full. We could have gotten a site with a water hookup and a shelter with a picnic table for free with our annual pass, but we decided to do something different. They have a large open area next to the lake for Primitive Camping, which basically means you can park wherever you want, but there are no hookups or shelters. Since we already had a full water tank, a solar system and a generator, we opted to dry camp next to the lake. We found a nice level spot, parked the rig where we could see the lake from the large window over our dining table, and settled in for an overnight stay.
We were afraid that it might be too warm since there’s no shade (we’re at an altitude of 6600′), but there’s such a nice cool breeze coming off the lake that it wasn’t a problem. We just opened all the windows in the rig and enjoyed the afternoon. We ran the generator just long enough to make spaghetti in the Instant Pot for dinner. The sunset was beautiful, and by the time we went to bed we were starting to have second thoughts about our plan to move on to Coyote Creek today.
Before we turned in for the night, I asked Andy if he might want to go out somewhere in Las Vegas for breakfast before doing our grocery shopping. He didn’t sound very enthusiastic, but told me to find a place. We do that a lot–go out for a big brunch before grocery shopping so we’re not hungry again until dinnertime, and I thought it might work out well since we were supposedly going to be on the road to Coyote Creek SP around lunchtime.
I checked online (Yelp and TripAdvisor) for a good recommendation for breakfast with some vegetarian/vegan options, and the number one-rated place was Charlie’s Spic & Span Bakery and Cafe. I looked at their menu and it looked pretty good, so that’s where I took Andy for breakfast.
When he woke up this morning, he was a little grumpy and still a little wiped out from the drive yesterday. But when we walked in to Charlie’s, his whole demeanor changed in a heartbeat, thanks to a big display case of some of the best-looking doughnuts, eclairs, apple fritters, cinnamon rolls, and various kinds of pastries that we’ve ever seen.
Charlie’s is one of the coolest places we’ve ever eaten on any of our travels. It has a retro feel to it (back to Route 66), with colorful chairs and booths for seating and lots of quirky art and murals on the walls. They brew Starbucks coffee, and they make their tortillas fresh right where you can watch them as they bake.
Andy ordered a the Douglas Avenue omelet (veggie) which came with potatoes. I ordered the Spanish Skillet, which was potatoes and two eggs with diced green chiles, onion and tomatoes, topped with cheese. Both came with fresh tortillas. The food was absolutely delicious, and we were both stuffed when we went to the check-out counter–but we still picked out some doughnuts to bring home with us for a treat later.
And while we were enjoying our meal at Charlie’s, we decided that really liked our camping spot and wanted to have more time to explore this area, especially if there are more places like Charlie’s!! So we went ahead and got our groceries, came home to the rig and settled in for a longer stay.
We’re not sure if we’ll stay here for the maximum 14 days. The peak season in this park ends on September 30, and then they’ll shut down the Comfort Station (where the showers and flush toilets are located), so that only the vault toilets will be available. Also, the dump station here is out of service “until further notice”, so if we stay here longer than six or seven days, we’ll need to leave the park anyway to dump the tanks. There’s a dump station at the nearby Love’s Truck Stop that we can use, or we might just move on up to Coyote Creek for a few days. We would like to visit Taos while we’re up in this area–the last time we were there was in September 1996 when we were still tent camping. Ah, to be that young again! 😉
But that’s the great thing about this lifestyle–we can change our plans on a dime when dictated by the weather, rig issues, or even a good doughnut shop. It’s why we rarely make reservations anywhere anymore. As long as we have our solar panels and the generator, we can find a place to spend the night, assuming we don’t venture into a large city which is something we have no intention of doing.
So for now, we’re enjoying another day of sunshine and cool breezes on the shore of Storrie Lake near Las Vegas, New Mexico, where we’re happy, healthy and full of doughnuts–yeah, we’ve already eaten the ones we brought home from Charlie’s this morning. 🙂
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