Currently at Storrie Lake State Park near Las Vegas, New Mexico:
It’s a rainy, cool 50° Friday morning morning here at Storrie Lake State Park. We arrived back here on Wednesday after leaving Coyote Creek State Park. But let me back up and review the last week or so.
In our last blog update, we had just arrived at Coyote Creek State Park. Our primary reasons for moving to that location were the lower temperature as well as the proximity to Taos and the Enchanted Circle. We have great memories of our three-day weekend spent tent-camping in this area back in 1996, and we wanted to retrace some of our steps to see how things might have changed.
We made our first trip to Taos last Thursday, driving north from the park through Angel Fire and then west to Taos. We made a trip to Albertson’s to pick up a few groceries, but of course we spent most of our time in the historic downtown area, looking through some of the galleries and shops, and then having lunch at The Alley Cantina. This restaurant is housed in the oldest building in Taos, built in the 16th century by the Pueblo Indians. It was partially destroyed at one point, but rebuilt and occupied by the Spanish government from the 1600’s-1800’s. The south and the east walls of the kitchen, as well as the bathrooms, are the original structure. The food was really good–so good, in fact, that we visited it again several days later when we drove the Enchanted Circle.
Speaking of the Enchanted Circle, we made that drive five days later on Tuesday, entering the circle from the south at Angel Fire and then going in a counterclockwise direction.
The scenery was absolutely beautiful with the fall colors glowing against a bright blue sky. We saw a few things that looked familiar from our last visit in 1996, but by-and-large most of the drive seemed entirely new. We debated stopping in Red River to go through some of the shops there, but living in a small RV will totally change your affinity for shopping for souvenirs and “stuff”, so we decided to keep driving. Here’s a FAST overview of what we saw:
We timed our drive so that we arrived in Taos in time for lunch, and after looking at some menus at several lunch spots in old downtown, we wound up back at The Alley Cantina for another great lunch. And after lunch we treated ourselves to ice cream at the Rocky Mountain Candy Factory, enjoying our treats while sitting in the sun on the Plaza. We took that opportunity to take some new photos in the same position as some that we took back in 1996, just for fun:
Besides making our scenic drives, we enjoyed several other events and activities while we were staying at Coyote Creek. It just so happened that we were in the park on the weekend they were celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the park, so they had a big fiesta and invited the surrounding community to attend and participate. They stocked the creek with more trout for fishing, provided live music for dancing, cooked hot dogs for everyone (they told us they ordered 800 hot dogs), and made a few speeches. There was a big cake that was really beautiful, and everyone had a great time. They also had a raffle, but we didn’t win anything (darn it, I was really hoping to win that annual pass!). Here’s a little sample of the day’s activities:
I went on several hikes while we were in the park. They weren’t very long trails, but they involved some climbing and provided a nice overview of the valley with the creek running through the park. I saw deer, turkeys, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, a garter snake and a wide variety of birds.
I picked up two geocaches that were hidden in the park. The first one was hidden along one of the hiking trails on the hillside above the campground. It contained a lot of cool swag, including a mylar rescue blanket and some foot warmers. The second geocache I located a few days later was really exciting (to me!). The cache was put in place several years ago by the park staff in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the New Mexico State Park system. In that year, every state park hid a geocache within their park (although there doesn’t seem to be one in Storrie Lake??). The cache that they originally hid was in an ammo box, but at some point it disappeared. A geocacher replaced it with an Altoids tin, which also disappeared, and now it’s in an even smaller container, a pill bottle. I found the bottle, but the exciting thing was what was lying under the bottle. It was a geocaching tracking coin, the first one I have come across.
A geocaching tracking coin, called a “trackable”, is an item that has a unique number stamped on it, which is entered in the Geocaching.com database. The owner of the coin hides it in a cache, and logs it in the system with instructions for how it should be handled by anyone who finds it. In most cases, they want you to take the coin and move it forward to a new cache, and record the new location in the system, allowing the owner to see how far the trackable has moved.
The trackable that I found originated in Slovakia in September 2017. When I checked the log, I found that it had moved from Slovakia to China, where it traveled around for quite some time. Then it was carried from China to Vancouver, BC, Canada, where it traveled around British Columbia for awhile. Then suddenly it moved from Canada to New Mexico in July 2019, where it was hidden in the cache where I found it. Now it’s my responsibility to move it forward to a new location where I’ll hide it for someone else to find. Since we’re going to be moving east soon, I have some ideas, so stay tuned to find out where I finally make the drop!
We really enjoyed our stay at Coyote Creek State Park, even though we stayed in three different sites in the eight nights we were there. We started out site #23, a very shady, beautiful site that kept the rig cool well into the afternoon. However, the weather forecast called for some heavy winds and storms to move in on Monday, so we decided it might be safer to get out from under those big oak trees. So we moved to site #24 which was just up the hill and was out in the open. We stayed there very happily for two nights, but then we got a visit from the park director who informed us that they were going to be shutting down that entire section of the park for the winter on Monday morning and that we would need to move. He was very apologetic, saying that with all the work and preparation for the weekend fiesta, they had forgotten to put out the signs informing the public about the winter shutdown. In addition to closing down the entire south section of the park, they were closing the dump station, the Comfort Station (showers and flush toilets) and turning off all the water. So we dumped our tanks, filled our fresh water tank, and moved to our third site, #3E, where we had electricity for the last three nights we were there, which was nice.
The park itself is very well run and maintained. They actually pressure wash each of the vault toilets every day. The grounds are mowed and weed-eated (is that a word?), and the showers are kept clean. The downside is that there is only one shower for the women, and one for the men. However, we learned that they are about to begin a big expansion project which will last for about a year and a half. They will be adding more electric sites, and they will be spaced further apart than the current sites which are more like a parking lot. They will also be adding cabins for rent, more showers, and a better day-use area. We look forward to returning to this beautiful park in the future to see the improvements!
Since all the parks in the north part of the state are shutting down a lot of their services for the winter, it’s definitely time to start heading south. If you remember, about a month ago, just before we left Flagstaff, we sent in the paperwork to renew Andy’s passport. Last week we received notification that the new passport had arrived at our mail service in Livingston, Texas, so we put in an order to have our mail forwarded to Las Vegas. We needed to go to Las Vegas to stock up on groceries anyway, so we left Coyote Creek SP and returned to Storrie Lake SP on Wednesday (day before yesterday).
We managed to snag a first-come first-serve site with electricity. It was kind of interesting to see how much the vibe of the park had changed in the eight days since we were last here. The weather is cooler, the park is much less crowded (hence the availability of the site with electricity), the flowers are mostly gone, and they too have shut down their Comfort Station. At least at this park they still have one water hydrant still working for filling our fresh water tank if we need it.
Yesterday was nice and sunny, although a little breezy, and we enjoyed walking around the park and visiting with our neighbors. This morning, however, it was pouring down rain when we got up, so we drove into Las Vegas and made a return trip to Charlie’s Spic & Span for breakfast, picking up some pastries to-go as usual. As it happened, our mail arrived at the Las Vegas post office early this morning so we were able to pick it up after breakfast, and we now have Andy’s new passport in hand.
Another thing that arrived in the mail was a 6-month free platinum membership in Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance program (we are already Good Sam’s members). You might remember that just before we left Flagstaff, one of our front tires on the RV started falling apart. We had roadside assistance through AAA and called them to get someone to come take off the bad tire and put on the spare. However, AAA wouldn’t cover the callout because we weren’t on a paved road. We were parked about two miles down a hard-packed gravel public road that is used every day by Fedex, UPS, school buses and all sorts of public traffic. Andy had to drive the rig two miles back down the mountain to the highway on a disintegrating tire to get AAA to cover it.
So this morning, after reading over the material from Good Sam’s, I found that they WILL cover you if you’re on a hard-packed gravel public road. I called them to make sure that the cards they sent us were active. Then I called AAA and cancelled our membership with them, and explained why we were doing so. They are refunding us $70 for the prorated amount left for this year, and now we have a little more peace of mind. I’ve heard from a lot of RVers who swear by Good Sam’s roadside assistance, so I think we’ve made a good switch.
So what next?
We’re going to stay here through the weekend so we can stock up on groceries. Our next stop will be Elephant Butte Lake State Park near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. We stayed there last October and loved it, so we’re looking forward to returning. We’ll try to get a first-come first-serve electric site (which is why we’re waiting until after the weekend to get there), and if there’s not one available we’ll just dry-camp down by the lake, which is not a bad option either. Because this park is further south, they still have all the facilities available, including showers, flush toilets, dump station and water.
After staying there for a bit, then we plan to head further south to Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico, also a park that we visited last fall. The biggest reason we’re going back there is so we can go across the border into Mexico and have lunch at the Pink Store in Puerto Palomas for my birthday on the 17th!! Hooray!! And that’s why we were so anxious to get Andy’s passport!! 🙂
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