Monday, March 06, 2023

Texas to New Mexico

Buffalo Wallow at Abilene State Park, TX

We returned from Mexico to our RV waiting for us in Cleburne, TX, after a easy dinner at a steak house across from the Quinta Inn near the Dallas/Ft Worth airport. We stayed there the night before our flight to Mexico with the Park, Sleep, Fry website and it worked out very well. $130 for a nice room, 8 days parking and shuttles to and from the airport. We stayed two nights at the Shady Acres RV Park - basic but safe - so that we could clean up, do laundry and replenish our refrigerator. The next day we headed off early for the Texas Abilene State Park. 

Our private site at Abilene State Park and nice
weather as you can see to have our late lunch.

Enjoying a break at the end of the Buffalo 
Wallow Trail

The Abilene State Park was great. We had a nice level spot with trees all around. A nearby host pointed us to a lovely trail around "Buffalo Wallow", a pretty pond that must have been a favorite watering spot for buffalo herds back when. It was a quiet night but bad weather threatened the next day - severe thunderstorms with hail was predicted to come in later that morning. So we left early, thank goodness as the 5 hour trip turned into 8 hours. We did manage to mostly stay ahead of the storm, which we could see just south of us.  And there was a brief attractive section over the first 20 miles through hill country in Texas but then we ran into a problem. Google navigation had shown a gas station in 20 miles on our route and our range was 30 - so no problem we thought. Bad decision. Suddenly the navigation changed to 26 more miles (the station was permanently closed). But we made the right decision then. We pulled into a layby next to a cemetery, unhooked the RV and Scott continued while I stayed in the RV.  He went slow, coasted as much as possible and made it into the gas station. We couldn't have done it with the RV attached. He also made it back, which wasn't easy as it was all complicated rural roads. 

Thousands of huge windmills decorate the flat
plains on our drive through western Texas

The cemetery where Heather and Baby waited
anxiously for Scott to return with a full tank.

So our 8 AM start got us to Brantley Lake State Park at 4 PM and it was great to pull into our easy site with long views over the reservoir. I had made a chicken parmesan and rice dish ahead of time for those two nights and it was a relief to have it all done. Before bed we snuggled up and watched an episode of Doc Martin. 

Our easy level site at Blakely Lake State Park

The view over the Lake, the southern most one
in New Mexico.

We got an early start the next morning as we had a busy day. Our advance reservation for Carlsbad Caverns National Park was for 9:30 AM and it was over an hour's drive. From the highway entrance it's a 7 mile scenic drive up the mountain to the Visitor's Center. There was plenty of parking for RVs happily, but it must be very hard when it's busy here. It wasn't during our visit - no line for the elevator trip. That's down 750 feet to the cavern. It's possible to walk 1.5 miles there but there's another 1.5 miles through the cavern so we were glad to take the elevator. 

It was so dark when we first started on the hike
through the caverns I held onto the railing for 
quite a while.. 

After a while our eyes became accustomed to
the dark and we felt more confident. Spot
lights show off areas, here with some blue color

You can see the walkway better here as I
lightened up the photo.

It's really quite beautiful and the history of it's
discovery and exploration is fascinating.

This ladder was used (a long time ago) to 
explore the lower depths of the caverns.

The next leg of our journey was 4 hours south through El Paso to Las Cruces and until we got near El Paso it was endless stretches of plains with no development whatsoever - including no gas stations. This time we had investigated carefully and filled up before leaving. We only average 9 miles to the gallon with Baby attached, giving us a minimum range of 216 and that's when it not mountainous. 

Our table at the Rio Grande Winery overlooking
the mountains and vineyards.

Our new friend Don from Minnesota

Our stop for the night was Harvest Host member the Rio Grande Winery in Mesilla, just south of Las Cruces. We had been here before and again it was a great night. Both times we came on a weekend when there is live music and food. And again, we met a fellow traveler and enjoyed his company over dinner. 

La Cueva trail left from here and went up into the first rock formation on the left. 

We had planned to spend the next two nights at Aguirre Spring Campground, which we loved two years ago,  but we wanted to do some biking and hiking around Las Cruces this time so we stayed two nights at the Hacienda RV Resort. It was a very nice RV park with a big hot tub, which we enjoyed a lot. Our first afternoon we went up to the Dripping Springs Natural Area and hiked the La Cueva Trail. This cave had been used for thousands of years but more recently is famous for the man know as the Hermit. Giovanni Maria de Agostini was a Italian lay monk who traveled throughout South America, walked north as far as Canada and then settled in a cave here on the mountain in 1867. Many during his travels regarded him as a holy man who could work miracles. He lived in the cave for two years, coming down to the town to preach and heal, before being murdered. He was 69 years old at his death. 

Scott pauses on the trail

The entrance to the cave.

Looking out at the entrance.

Our first night we treated ourselves to a beautiful dinner at the D.H. Lescombes Winery and Bistro.- terrific wine and food with a view across to the mountains. The next morning we biked the La Llorona Multi-Use Trail along the Rio Grande River. It was mostly an easy asphalt trail with a few difficult sections through a park and over some bridges. 

It was nice to adjourn to the Spotted Dog Brewery nearby and enjoy their IPA sitting out on the terrace with that same great view. Tonight it's dinner at our RV and an early start tomorrow to meet our friends Bob and Lesa DeFeyter at the Bonita Canyon Campground, which is at the Chiricahua National Monument, the "Wonderland of Rocks" in Arizona. 

The view from the Llorna Trail to the mountains, where we had hiked the day before.

The Rio Grande River at this time of year is just a trickle. In the Spring water is released from the dams for agricultural and recreational use during the summer. 

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