Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “Campsites”

Ups and Downs

Yup, my mousepad needs a good scrub, but I smile every time I look at it!

I made it to Wellton yesterday, where my travel trailer is parked! The summer bake was not kind to the Defiant, among other things. After unloading all the junk clogging its main aisle and setting it on the concrete patio, I found that the overhead living room lights no longer work, and a change of bulbs had no effect, so that will probably come down to trying to locate a similar fixture, assuming that its rather cheesy slide switch is deceased. More significant is that an apparent windstorm from the east ratcheted the forward roof vent fully open, but I was able to crank it closed again without difficulty. The rearward roof vent over the bathroom, however, was not so fortunate. That one, being just a couple of years old, opened and then Read more…


Bighorn Campground in Glenwood, New Mexico

Bighorn Campground near Glenwood, New Mexico.

This post isn’t so much about the Bighorn Campground as it is a rave about the scenery on continuing southwest from there. About all that can be said about Glenwood Campground is that it makes a handy overnight stopping place if you’re in the area. It’s beside and below a relatively unused highway, and consists of several gravel drives along a wandering path in. It offers metal picnic tables of questionable usefulness, and a very clean vault toilet that needs you to BYOTP. Overall, it’s small and scruffy, and although you can stay there 14 days, it and nearby Glenwood have no compelling draw to hang around for more than a day or two unless you’re just looking for a place to blow time at. Since I’ve been thoroughly spoiled by where I’ve spent my summer, I’m now picky.

Below is a sort of dashcam of the drive from Grants, New Mexico to Glenwood, a trip of about 180 miles that gave me an eye-popping 19MPG fuel average. 11 minutes in length, it’s in 3 segments. Nothing truly heroic about it, but it does catch some of the scenery onroute if you have the bandwidth. There’s a sort of push-pull effect Read more…

El Morro National Monument

But first – before leaving Milan, New Mexico, I took a few pleasant moments to Hoover up this seafood pasta salad at Wow Diner. They serve some eclectic dishes there, and a stop there is well worth the effort. Yum!

[This is a photo-heavy post, so if you’re scraping by on a tiny cellular account, you may want to abandon ship now, before too many of them have downloaded. They’re small files, but there are a lot of them.]

Yup, I’ve been well out of range of any cellular signals for the last week, blowing that time at a campground that can be found while heading for the Visitor’s Center at El Morro. It’s all paved roads and vault toilets here, so considering those and the provided trash bins, staying here is not exactly roughing it. The GPS coordinates for the camp are 35.036999, -108.335999. Elevation is 7,200’, providing daytime highs in the 60s in Late October. Maximum posted rig length is 27’, and this is a very pleasant camp that seems to be used mainly for overnights only.

Simply a view down the campground road.

Some of the campsites here are quite short in parking length, and some are able to take longer rigs. Most have some degree of slope to them. This campground is designed mainly for tenters, providing a level gravel square bordered by wood planks at each. There are tenters here, a few car campers, a small pickup with a shell over the bed, an occasional small truck camper, and a fair number of small van-based motorhomes – including a formidable one that seems to have made its way over from Germany. Picnic tables and grilles are provided, and surrounding trees provide Read more…

Departing Joe Skeen Campground

Guess where I am now?

Since my alloted 7 days were up at the Joe Skeen Campground in New Mexico, it was time to move on, but not before driving 10 or so miles south first, just to survey the scenery. The photos below do not do justice to what can be seen from the highway, since most times there is no place to pull over for a shot. Let’s just say that the drive south toward a large stone arch is not to be missed.

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What’s AR-24? Some kinda side road heading east out of camp. It’s fenced off with barbed wire, using a “two stick” gate. That is, several strands of barbed wire span the opening in the fence, being attached to two sticks. When you want to drive through, you undo a couple of wire loops that hold one stick in tension, and walk it and the wire running to it off to one side. Once through, you grab the same stick and put it back where it was so that the fence is continuous again.

My getting through during the day’s walk was especially easy, since the gate was left open. That’s not normal, as the rule is to leave any gate as you find it. So, I left it open. Just a hundred feet or so in, I began to hear a clanking and pounding that was getting louder. Vehicle coming. Vehicle coming and getting the crap knocked out of it, by the sound of it! I stepped up and off to one side Read more…

Walkabout – Joe Skeen Campground

Looking from my campsite down to the bottom of the loop shows a sizable loop!

I thought I’d take my camera along as I waltzed down to the campground entrance and back. I walked a bit along the highway too, but it’s not really conducive to that. It’s a quarter mile to the south end of the loop, and another quarter mile to the entrance.

I was surprised to see a teardrop trailer from Adventure Trailer, which is also my Four Wheel dealer in Arizona. They apparently started out with them, but then moved on to pure off-road utility/camping trailers. Now teardrops are back, and this one looks able to be dragged just about anywhere. Handy tip: it is burdened neither by a beam axle nor a self-disassembling torsion axle. Surprisingly pricey compared to the usual teardrop, they are absolutely uncompromising in design and capabilities, and when fully optioned can offer nearly everything my Four Wheel Camper can, and for less money. If you’re not into pop-ups, and enjoy spending your days outside and your nights inside, here it is.

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The Joe Skeen Campground

No cramped quarters here! I’m over where the ground is most level.

Weird name for a campground, eh? Well, Wikipedia says that “Joseph Richard ‘Joe’ Skeen was a conservative Republican congressman from southern New Mexico. He served for eleven terms in the United States House of Representatives between 1981 and 2003.” So now it makes sense, if this is who they named it after. This campground is at the eastern edge of El Malpais National Conservation Area.

The drive down was through some classical New Mexico terrain, what with its long hills, buttes, and great vistas to tempt you out of your lane as you gawk. I especially like how some buttes are rimmed with a solid topping of rock that has since split into gigantic boulders that eventually lose their support and drop a ways down.

At first blush, this campground is great. It has 10 camping spots, each with a covered picnic table and waist-level grill. Mine also has a ground-level grill to boot. As a BLM-run camp, one can stay here 7 days, and can then hang out elsewhere in the El Malpais for another 7 days in a month. For me, this is starting to get back to Read more…

NF 445 – Surprise!

My “new” campsite along NF 445 in the Cibola National Forest.

After some errands, I moved to a nice site on the western side of the NF 445 loop near Bernalillo, New Mexico. I’d been there for a couple of days when an equally nice County Sheriff stopped by in the morning to inform me that this whole loop is a day use area only! My rig’s presence had been “reported”, and the officer’s main concern was that the Federal rangers might cruise through and cite me (with a big fine).  Oops! She mentioned that Bernalillo had a city-run camp in town, and I, having postponed my further travel planning until mid-week, had nowhere else to go locally that I knew of. Bottom line: forget this corner of Cibola National Forest!

Just a gully that I liked enough to capture.

I’d noticed a “Day Use” sign at the western entrance of the loop (there is none at the eastern entrance), but I figured its location at a parking area applied to that lot only. I’d gotten this loop from my installation of The Ultimate Public Campgrounds app on my iPhone. I had noted that the MVUM covering this section of Cibola Read more…

NF 445 in the Cibola National Forest

This is a bit of okay!

As far as campsites go, I finally found a winner that meets my needs. Just three miles east of Bernalillo, New Mexico are two unmarked turnoffs for NF 445, which is a fairly compact loop that borders the Sandia Mountain Wilderness. 445 is a rough, rocky trail that just about any vehicle can ascend (with care) in dry weather. Wet weather may stop the show for 2WD, but rather than getting stuck, you’re more likely to have to back on down. The sheer amount of rocks here makes forging long, deep mud ruts likely only in certain spots.

This is looking in the opposite direction, down the trail. More to the left, the town of Bernalillo can be seen at night, looking like a gigantic lighted Christmas tree.

And slope it does. Not aggressively, just persistently. With two days and three nights of rain coming on quickly, the forecast is for more than 3/4-inch in total. I remember camping on a slope near the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, watching a mini-tsunami Read more…

The Price of Being Picky

The Furd looks better from a distance. Though merely filthy on the outside, the wheelwells and side steps looked like giant barnacles on a ship’s hull. I cleared away all I could by hand before this photo was taken.

Problematic campsites, like plane crashes, seem to run in threes. This one was called the Caja del Rio Plateau, miles west of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The coordinates given were 35.691879, -106.21582. What I’m guessing was 15 miles of off-road adventure led me to open pasture with no sign of past camping activity, no promised magnificent vistas, and nothing to recommend it but solitude and solar. Then again, I couldn’t do the last several hundred feet because of vegetation and slope. I assume that the coordinates given are bogus, or perhaps I copied them incorrectly.

Once I arrived in that alleged camping area, two problems stuck in my mind: No cell service, and a peculiar silty “soil” that compressed underfoot and promised to create a sticky mud when the rains hit in a couple more days. The kind of mud that stays a half-inch thick on shoe soles and doesn’t want to come off. It was time for an executive decision, and I decided to seek better. Problem is, the selection of campsites in this overall area that are Read more…

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