Three Rivers Petroglyph Site

Three Rivers Petroglyph Site sure was one of the high points of the trip for me so far. Phew! This site is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and contains more than 21,000 petroglyphs. One of the amazing things is that they are not roped off. You can hike up a trail and find hundreds of them. There is some graffiti going back to the days of the Spanish explorers but that is really minimal. No one can really agree what the petroglyphs were for or who made them. I do know that they moved me greatly and that the energy of the place was quite cleansing and liberating. I like to think the the wise ones of the old days had left messages for us to live life to its fullest and to stay in the game.

11DSCF3783

24DSCF3931

We were able to camp right at the Site and there weren’t many people there. We got to chat with a couple from Illinois. They had just driven to the site from the midwest in four days, having stayed mostly in Wal-Mart parking lots. There were on their way to a convention in Albuquerque for square dance callers. She taught square dance calling for a living. They were fun folks.

The site is in a mostly desert area with few trees. One of the trees was in bud and it was swarmed with bees. You could hear the hum of them from quite a way away. I did make a recording of drumming with the bees, but alas, I lost it, so here is a one minute clip of the bees in the tree. Here’s to life! Click here

25DSCF3942

Chaco

Our last exciting episode left us leaving the winds of Goosenecks.  Little did we realize that we were bringing her with us!  We had some very windy, cold and snowy weather in the third week of March at Chaco. Of course, it was a lot better than the 24 inches of snow that fell on our home in NH!

The entrance to Chaco was 22  miles long and was part dirt and part paved. We had heard that the road was in really rough condition but that was not the case when we were on it.

Chaco Chaco Culture National Historic Park is a World Heritage site. 1,100 – 1,200 years ago, the Chaco peoples built massive networks of multi-story stone buildings and today you can see those remains along with the hundreds of petroglyphs, some of which were less than 50 yards from where Shiny slept. If you zoom in on the photo below, you can see one of the ancient dwellings in the concave part of the wall.

Shiny at cliffs

We headed out on the second day to hike to another grouping of petroglyphs. When we pulled into the trail head, we were greeted with white out conditions. We thought it might just be a passing squall but, after 30 minutes of watching ill prepared hikers in snow encrusted sun hats and windbreakers make their way back to their cars, we decided to err on the side of caution and head to the visitors center.

Snow

We hung out in our camper most of the day as the storm raged on, looking out on tents that were slowly being torn apart. We were ever more grateful for Shiny. By the afternoon, things had cleared up and we took a great hike. Larry scrambled up those rocks like a billy goat thanks to an excellent meniscus repair by Skip Costello and the super surgical team at Huggins Hospital.  And, yes, we were wearing full winter gear.

Then there were the stern instructions we received about not taking any rocks or plants from the area. That was a hard one as usual but this area is a part of a sacred home land of the Hopi, the Pueblo peoples of New Mexico and the Navajo so I respected and followed the directives. I did get a few images that were pleasing to me.

We hunkered down in Shiny for the night. The wind howled and it was below freezing. It was a magnificent place but by the next morning, we were tired and cranky from fitful sleeps and headed out towards warmer and calmer climes. We were glad that we came and heartily recommend it to anyone who is out this way.

sunrise butte

Stop, look, listen # 5

 

Moon

There are times on this trip when I really dig what I see. I feel exhilarated by the place; inspired. It’s a great feeling and I say to myself, “Yeah! This is what it’s all about. This is living the dream.” Then, sometimes, some detail enters my awareness and I feel this great disappointment. I might see a grocery bag wrapped up in the branches of a tree or dog poop on the sidewalk. It doesn’t take much to shift from euphoria to disappointment. And then there is that phase of slowing down and seeing if I can hold it all in one breath and thank it for just being here as a part of this big, wonderful, crazy life. In Writing Down The Bones, Natalie Goldberg writes, “Original details are very ordinary, except to the mind that sees their extraordinariness… We must remember that everything is ordinary and extraordinary. It is our minds that either open or close”.

Teal and Salmon

 

Thanks to my college friend, Laura, we got the idea to go to Gates Pass in Tucson. What an incredible place and I definitely would recommend it. The mountain views and the variety of desert plants were splendid. The sheer expanse of the land was impressive and made me realize how tucked into hillsides and valleys we are in our section of New Hampshire. There were a LOT of people traveling the same route as we were and that was a disappointment but it’s all about perspective, right?

 

Every once in a while we have to stay at a campground to empty the tanks, use wifi and do laundry. Staying at these places is hard for me especially after having been in some quiet remote space.

It gives me great opportunity to just be present and to be grateful for the service the place offers. I can’t say that I am all that good at that. The morning we left, I read this in a morning email. Thank you Universe!

Any place is sacred ground, for it can become a place of encounter with the divine Presence.  –

BR. DAVID STEINDL-RAST

I created this meditative drumming while sitting on top a hill at the BLM land in Tucson. There was no one around and it was early morning in the desert. The mountains in the distance were beautiful. I had a heck of a time just being with the space when part of it included the hum of a grader a quarter mile away that was working on the side of the highway. That DID NOT belong in my space! Ha Ha! Enjoy!  Click here

Goosenecks

How can a place be spectacular yet you want to leave after 2 nights instead of the planned 3? That’s what happened to us at Goosenecks State Park in Mexician Hat, Utah. Mexican Hat was named after Mexican Hat Rock.

Mexican Hat 2

The San Juan River has, over millions of years, carved a 1000 foot canyon with tight turns or goosenecks that are officially called entrenched meandering.

There is a pit toilet, garbage cans and a few sites with picnic tables but for the most part it is primitive camping with spectacular views and breath taking night skies. The view here is every bit as magnificent as the Grand Canyon, albeit smaller.

DSCF3419

More than a few people had warned us the it could get windy there. They were right, It never stopped. And that wore us down. It was hard to get too close to the rim because I was afraid a gust of wind would blow me off!!

There was a feller there who had a square tent mounted on a platform on the bed of his pickup truck. He parked it right on the edge of the canyon. I thought he was crazy!!

He did move it back from the edge before night fall.

In the picture of Shiny below, there is a 1000 foot drop between where Sue took the pic and shiny!

Shiny1

After we left Goosenecks we drove to Cortez, CO for one night at a private campground to do laundry, empty the tanks and do some shopping. Then we headed south to Chaco, where it turns out the winds at Goosenecks were just a light breeze.

Petrified Forest

We changed our minds at the last minute and instead of heading to Chiricahua National Monuement we headed north to knock off a few items from our bucket list. Petrified Forest National Forest, Goosenecks State Park and Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Now route 77 out of Tucson looks pretty straight forward when your looking at a map but it was a lesson in patience. There are more stop lights for the first 20 miles then a Walmart has sweat pants.

After the patience test the drive was quite scenic. Along the way we had a white knuckle experience driving through the Salt River Canyon Wilderness Area. Tight curves, 1000 foot drops, steep grades, and low or no guard rails made for a spine tingler of a drive.

Canyon view 2

As we came out of the canyon and I started to get the blood back into my knuckles this fiddle tune started playing on my radio.

Radio

Very appropriate.

We made it to the entrance to the Petrified Forest. There are two gift shops there at the entrance that offer free camping. We found a site and set up camp.

Campsite 2

We thought both gift shops were busy but as it turned out they both had permanent junk cars parked in front so it just appeared that they were busy. Pretty ingenious.

The next day we drove into the Petrified National Forest where Susan was bitterly disappointed.

Sue PF

The 26 mile drive through park was breathtaking. Best left for pictures to explain.

We’ve mentioned the Shunpikers Material before. It would behoove anyone wanting to RV frugally in the South West to spend the $69 for the 5 pdfs. They have paid for themselves over and over. We found the free camping here at the gift shops because of them. We also found places where we could legally pick up petrified wood from the Shunpikers. And that we did. We found so much we left some behind.

Tucson

We drove straight from John and Marcia’s house to the Southwest Old Time String Band Gathering held at a Girl Scout Camp in East Tucson. We found some real estate and set up camp.

This is a sweet little festival and we’ve met some new friends here that we don’t get to see at the east coast festivals. An added bonus was when friends, who we met at Amistad National Recreation Area, showed up. We had mentioned to them that we were headed to the gathering. The Crows are JB, Katrina and their 5 year old daughter Kaylin. They are traveling around in a fixed up FedEx truck, just seeing the country.

Notice the feller in shorts and tails? He changed his name to Henry T. Fiddler (Henry The Fiddler). Say what you want the man knows thousands of tunes. During the pot luck dinner he serenaded the guests. He took requests for any tune except Old Time. I requested Autumn Leaves and he did a wonderful rendition.

We left the Festival on Sunday and traveled a short distance to the Snyder Hill BLM just west of Tucson, which turned out to be a really beautiful place to camp. This is free dispersed camping and so there are no amenities what so ever. You just find a piece of land that you like and set up camp. You’re allowed to stay 14 days.

IMG_2383

Sue and I hiked to the top of the hill and when we got back the Crows were setting up camp right next to us. What a pleasant surprise, we enjoyed their company for the next 3 days.

crows

While at the BLM we visited San Xavier Mission.  The mission was founded in 1692 by Jesuit priests and this building was begun in 1783 by a Franciscan who borrowed 7,000 pesos from a local rancher to build the church. The mission is a working church for the Tohono O’odham peoples who live nearby. People pin charms that are called Milagros to the skirt of the Madonna as a part of a petition for healing. You can see the pregnant woman charm as well as a lung charm.

 

We also went to the Pima Air & Space Museum. This place is extraordinary. I couldn’t get over how big it was. 5 big hangers and acres and acres of planes and helicopters outside. I walked around until I was exhausted. I don’t know much about aircraft but this museum really got my attention. Highly recommended.

We hated to do it but we headed over to the Tucson KOA for one night to give Shiny’s batteries a good charge and empty our holding tanks. At $64 per night it was the most we have paid on this trip to camp. So far we have averaged $15 per day to camp. Not bad.

In the morning we dropped Shiny off at the Tucson Airstream dealer for a hitch upgrade and to fix some minor warranty items. Here’s a tip to any would be long distance RVr’s towing a trailer. Get a good trailer hitch right out of the gate! According to the truck computer I get 1 1/2 miles per gallon better after the new hitch was installed.

While Shiny was at the dealer we drove to Scottsdale for a short but lovely visit with my sister Carol and her husband Denis. Denis makes a mean Margarita!!

four of us

Sierra Vista

 

We made our way across the New Mexico-Mexico boarder, heading west towards Arizona on route 9 that was as straight as a road could be. There was very little traffic. We passed through few small towns. Most of the time you could look to the left and see into Mexico: no wall. We did go through two Border Patrol checkpoints. It was a little disappointing to realize that we look like a safe older couple when they just waved us through and didn’t ask to look at anything. I wondered if it was also an example of white privilege. For sure it was grey privilege.

Shiny at SV

It was great to be back in Sierra Vista to visit our friends John and Marcia. The first thing we did upon arrival was to wash Shiny and Finey (the truck). That was a relief. Actually, we haven’t really named the truck so, if you have any suggestions, send them along! Larry met John via the internet years ago through a dating site. Oh no, that’s wrong. They met via Fiddle-L  which is an online fiddle music discussion site. They traded tunes for years, mailing them in CDs and then sending them online. They finally met in person last year when we came out on the train.

Snow mountain

 John and Marcia took us to Brown Ranch which had a nice hike in and out and gave us a good idea about early 20th century life on a remote ranch. Sierra Vista is at about 4,500 feet so it can get cool and of course it snowed while we were there.

The Border Patrol had a big radar blimp that we saw up in the sky. We were told that it uses radar to detect people crossing the border. We aren’t really sure what it uses but it was hard to miss. On the day we were at the Ranch, it was really windy so it was tethered close to the ground.

Spy plane 2

Our visit to the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area was great with lots of birds and walks along the river that is lined with cottonwoods. They were washed with a light green color as the leaves were starting to bud out. The two cottonwoods that were over 200 years old were a joy to behold.

 

Stop, Look, Listen #4

Poncho Villa State Park

Flat and mountainOn our way between Davis Mountains State Park in Fort Davis, Texas and our friends John and Marcia’s house in Sierra Vista, Arizona, we stopped at the Poncho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico. This part of New Mexico is in a remote area right along side the Mexico border. When we first arrived, we were a little underwhelmed. It was cool and windy and flat.

The park lies right on the border. The more we looked at the view from our campsite overlooking the Mexican landscape the more beautiful it became. There was no wall to obscure our view.

Park Sign

There was a nice variety of desert plants. There was a woman camped near us in a dilapidated RV which she shared with a small dog, a toddler, a grade school aged girl and a teenaged girl. The middle girl cried a lot. They may have been happy but it made me sad to consider their lives.

Tank And Larry

The next morning we went to the Poncho Villa Museum, which is part of the State Park, and wow what an eye opener!

On March 9, 1916, Poncho Villa and his troops invaded the town of Colombus.

There was a 20 minute video with pictures of the invasion and interviews with people who had survived the attack. Somebody had the forethought to record these survivors back in the 60’s and 70’s while they were still alive. The film was mesmerizing.

Soldiers from the 13th Calvary Regiment, that was stationed in Columbus, were taken by surprise but finally got organized and drove the invaders back with their light machine guns but not before soldiers and civilians were killed. President Woodrow Wilson ordered General Pershing to follow Poncho Villa into Mexico. Pershing and his troops, including a young Patton, chased after Poncho Villa for 9 months and never captured him. The start of World War I ended the expedition. It was the first time that the US used motorized vehicles in a conflict.

In the museum were artifacts from the expedition including guns, swords, machine guns, ammunition, uniforms worn buy the soldiers, saddles, letters home the soldiers wrote and many more fascinating artifacts.

Reports about Poncho Villa are colorful and varied. Some write that he was a bandit, some that he manned the first socialist revolution of the Western hemisphere and some say he was a Robin Hood figure who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. He had a good number of wives and children. He played himself in a few Hollywood movies.

It was a good stop. We learned a lot, got a nice hot shower and a good night’s sleep.

800px-Pancho_Villa_bandolier_crop

Davis Mountains State Park. West Texas

Larry at Davis

I recommend that you add this park to your bucket list. It is beautiful, quiet and remote with great hikes, wildlife and good basic amenities like a nice clean bathhouse. The nights were very dark and the stars were brilliant. There are javalinas and mountain lions in the area but we did not see any.

Shiny at Davis

We stayed here for four days during which I mostly recovered from a bad head cold. I used so many handkerchiefs that I hand washed some and lay them on the picnic table under rocks to dry. When I used then afterwards, I could smell the faint scent of burnt mesquite. It was almost like incense from church but much earthier. They do a lot of planned burning out here and even thought there were no active fires, the smell of the burnt wood lingered.

It was still in the 40s and 50s so hiking was great. The altitude made the going a little slower (that’s my excuse and I am sticking with it). All day we listened to the mating calls of the Bared Owls. To get cell phone or Internet service, we had to drive up the mountain, which had a beautiful view.

 

We had fun exploring the local area. Got some good tips from Paul and Joan, octogenarians from Connecticut, and went on a great scenic loop on Route 166. The scenery was incredible and looked something like the Australian outback. They also recommend that we come back next year for the Cowboy Poetry Contest, which we may do. The town of Fort Davis had a great Mexican Restaurant and the Davis Mountain Nut Company. We visited the old Fort Davis, which gave us a good glimpse into life on the frontier days. We checked out the McDonald Observatory and the science of that was mind blowing.

 

I call this place a gem because it was so beautiful and quiet and remote.

One morning I went outside to watch the stars and had one of those moments in life when everything seems so clear. The richness of the moment opened up and held me and words cannot express how my heart opened to the beauty of exactly where I was. I feel so grateful for that gift. Here is an audio clip of a mediation drumming to the spirit of Davis Mountain. Enjoy! Click here for drumming

 

Marfa Lights

I’d heard of the Marfa Lights and knew that they were yet to be explained. The Wikipedia site says “scientific research suggests that most, if not all, are atmospheric reflections of automobile headlights and campfires” but I don’t buy that. There were no headlights in the 1800’s and campfires night after night? Nah.

IMG_2302

Several people in San Antonio said not to miss them. The viewing area was on the way to our next destination, Davis Mountain State Park, so after talking it over with Sue we decided to check it out.

The town of Marfa built a viewing center right off Highway 90. There is plenty of parking and they let you spend the night in your RV for free.

IMG_2300

 

There were two other campers the night we were there which was Monday, February 19th, 2018. A nice couple from Ontario and a couple from Germany who seemed to be on tour. The RV the German couple had looked to me like it was made in Germany and had a German License plate on it. On the back they had a URL, bimo-on-tour.de . Anyone read German?

IMG_2301

Right at dusk about 15 or so Corvette’s drove in. I assume some sort of club. Plenty of room for everybody.

We saw the lights even before it was completely dark out.  They were strange lights. They came from all different directions and had varying colored lights and each had its own duration. The first known sighting of these lights was in 1888. So, your guess is as good as mine in terms of it being a hoax.

It’s not easy capturing the lights on a camera but Sue gave it a good try.  She took the pictures below within seconds of each other. You might need to turn off the lights in your room to see them! I’m glad we stopped.

259