Friday, April 1, 2016

Home now

I've actually been home for a while now.  I've been bad about keeping this up to date, and I'll try to do better, so y'all don't lose sleep wondering where I am.

I stayed at Rockhound for several days.  First night was reserved, with electric.  Next few were "dry," in a gorgeous spot about as high up in the campground as you can get.  When I was there, the wind came up.  Steady winds in the 40 mph range, gusts to 50-60.  It blew up dust, and at times the view down across the valley was completely obscured.  It wasn't one of the "haboob" style dust storms that frequent the Phoenix area, it was just plain blowing dust.  The rig rocked. It blew my little solar panel across the "yard."  No apparent harm done.  Thanks, Renogy!  And something in the rig made a clanking noise when it gusted.  Turns out that noise was from a partially-severed rear mudflap.

At any rate, the wind was a real presence.  Reminded me of the last time I spent time in a tent in a snowstorm, except I wasn't worried the rig would blow away.  And I wasn't camped on a glacier at 10,000 feet elevation on Mt. Rainier.

While I was at Rockhound, I talked with a couple of guys whose general situation in life has some similarities to mine.  One I've written about before: the Navy vet with the big white dog named Moose. The other is is a former mechanic from the Taos area.  Both are now living on the road full time: one in a nice little recent-model Casita travel trailer with a Tahoe truck; the other in a 1970's motorhome the likes of which I'd never seen before.  They both walk with some difficulty, using a walking stick of some kind.  As I do, unless it's a very short walk and/or my pride doesn't get the better of me.  They both had been very active in ways which their bodies won't support any more.  And so, like me, RV travel and camping is one of the few ways to be in or near the outdoors that they had loved.  Now, I'm not "fulltiming" and not likely to.  I'm lucky that I can afford so far to maintain a home here in Tucson and spend time on the road when I feel like it.  I have the feeling that the Taos guy, in particular, is living pretty close to the edge.  But it occurred to me: if he's as strapped as I think he is, he's probably got some equivalent of food stamps.  He's got the skills to fix problems in his rig.  As a New Mexico resident, he gets an annual camping permit, if he's disabled, and he displays the universal blue "handicapped tag," for $100.  And then he can camp at state parks for free, as long as he  moves every 2 weeks. It's not a bad way to eke out a living on not much money.

Both of these guys had been alternating between Rockhound and a nearby NM state park called "Pancho Villa," less than an hour to the south right on the international border. So I decided that, rather than staying put at Rockhound, I'd spend a night or so at Pancho Villa before turning westward to home and Tucson.

Here's the review I wrote for Campendium :

A previous reviewer referred to this as an "odd" little park. That's being polite. It's dusty, unattractive, confusingly laid-out, poorly signed, poorly maintained. There's some sad-looking museum exhibits which portray the relatively unimportant skirmish between the man who called himself Pancho Villa and American General "Black Jack" Pershing. If you're a history buff, this might appeal to you.

It's easy to find the park once you're in Columbus. Follow signs. If you have a New Mexico annual camping permit the place is dirt cheap. Pun intended.

The main reason to visit Columbus, NM, seems to be a convenient border crossing into Mexico for low-cost prescription drugs and dental work. Other than that, there's not much reason to stay here. I have met full-time RV'ers who shuttle back and forth in 2-week intervals between this park and Rockhound, about an hour north. Rockhound is a delight: well-maintained and attractive. This place is neither.

ATT cell service is by way of Mexico, so be sure to put your phone in airplane mode if you don't want very expensive roaming charges. ATT Signal strength seemed adequate. Didn't test Verizon.

Disclosure: I drove in, found the camp host (no mean feat!) got a map (whose relationship to the territory seemed tenuous) poked around, and left. I didn't actually stay here.

So I considered my options and headed home along NM route 9, where Border Patrol vehicles were thick on the ground and turkey vultures feasted on road-kill opossum. 

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