Sunday, July 29, 2007

Palo Duro Canyon to Jacks Creek CG in Santa Fe NF. June 18-24, 2007

Palo Duro State Park to Jacks Creek Campground in Santa Fe National Forest. Monday June 18th thru Sunday June 24, 2007.

Monday: After a nice three day weekend at Palo Duro State Park, it was time to move on towards the mountains of New Mexico. Since, as usual, we don’t want to drive more than about 4 to 5 hours we won’t get to the mountains today. We plan on stopping overnight at Conchas Lake State Park, 180 miles from Palo Duro and about 35 miles NW of Tucumcari, NM. Conchas Lake is a pretty lake with beautiful deep blue water, located at the confluence of the Canadian and Conchas Rivers. The SP is nice with a number of campsites overlooking the water with elect & water hookups. However all the nice elect sites are reserveable so don’t try to stop there on a summer weekend unless you make reservations. There are a number of areas in the SP where you can dry camp right on the water and beach your boat right at your RV. Highs in the low to mid 90’s this afternoon, but it is a “dry” heat!!!

Every day is an adventure when you are traveling to places you are totally unfamiliar with. While the Conchas Lake SP is nice, some of signs indicating where the camping areas are located were lacking. We even had a copy of the State Park brochure on the laptop, but that didn’t help with locating the camping area. We took a couple of wrong turns before we found Belle Point CG. Surprise!! All the nice campsites have reserved/occupied signs on them even though this is Monday. The sites were empty but do we ignore the reserved/occupied signs?? Those aren’t for *US*! We drove up to the visitor center, but the door was locked and a sign said they were out and about, and would be back later. No return time noted on the sign. Well we figured that since this was Monday, the SP personnel probably thought almost no one would be coming in today. So it could be hours before anyone returned. We headed back to the campground. Upon closer inspection of the reserved/occupied signs we saw detailed reservations slips stating the people reserving the sites were supposed to leave today. We decided to pick a site we liked and take a chance on setting up and then checking back with the visitor center later. It worked out fine. I went back to the visitor center later and they said we would be fine for one night at the site we took.

We had a warm afternoon, quiet night with pretty views of the lake and sunset. I forgot to take pictures.

Tuesday. Only about an 80 mile drive today from Conchas Lake SP to Las Vegas, NM. The drive was pretty, going along valley floors with high hills topped with flat mesas covered with juniper trees on the sides. The road was a good two lane hwy but a little narrow since the shoulders weren’t paved.

Another afternoon of adventure again!! In Las Vegas we stopped at the visitor center and found out there was one RV Park in town, a KOA 5 miles south of town on IH25, and Storrie Lake SP a few miles north of town. We knew about the SP and the KOA. We don’t like to stay at KOA’s as they are usually $4 to $10 more than the local RV Parks and many times not any nicer and quite often NOT as nice. The RV Park in town was a gravel parking lot attached to a self storage place, full hookups but no trees or grass. We headed to Storrie Lake SP. Again we had trouble easily determining which campsites had electric. We must be getting old and senile. We found the non-reservation elect hookup camping area first. It was totally unusable. It was a parking lot w/o enough room between sites to open our slides and open our awning too! Driving over to the reservation sites, we saw all sites had reserved signs on them, but nothing stating what dates they were reserved for - way too intelligent to do THAT. We found the CG host and he checked his list and said if we only wanted to spend one night he had a couple of sites open. We took one of the sites and set up camp. Storrie Lake SP is too much like a RV park to suit us. Except for the primitive dry camping areas right down by the lake with no shade, all the camp sites are pretty close together. The temperatures are going to be in the low 90’s this afternoon, so we want electric.

It was early yet, just about noon. We had a quick lunch and then headed out to check out the other state parks and national forest campgrounds in the areas. I had looked at Morphy Lake SP on the New Mexico SP web site and it looked beautiful, a small 15 acre lake at 8000’ with camp sites on the water and views of the mountains.

Morphy Lake SP. Picture from New Mexico SP web site. I forgot to take any pictures while we were at the SP

It was noted that it is a steep drive to the park but no details about the size of the campsites or roads. We had a pretty drive to Morphy Lake SP and we wouldn’t have had a problem pulling the trailer up the steep road to the park. Just put the truck in 4 wheel low and slowly pull the trailer the ½ mile up to the park. But roads winding through the park were very narrow with trees close to the edge of the road. No way could we maneuver the trailer in here and keep it undented or worse. From Morphy Lake, Coyote Creek SP was only about 25 miles further up the road, so we decided to check it out. Another disappointment! The elect sites were all a parking lot. There were only 2 other sites in the park suitable for RV’s over 20’ long.

Back to Las Vegas, and to check out two national forest campgrounds about 16 miles from town. It was a long twisting 16 mile drive through a pretty canyon to the two campgrounds. However the first CG we visited was buried in the trees and by this time it was about 4:30pm. Since we still had a good 45 minute drive back to Storrie Lake we figured the other CG would probably be the same and headed back to camp.

That was a disappointing afternoon driving 150 miles of mostly narrow two lane roads and not finding a nice camping area we could get the trailer into. One saving grace was all the country we drove though was very pretty.

We were tired. BUT THE DAY WASN’T OVER YET!! Fun can happen anywhere or anytime with us! When we got back to the trailer I noticed water dripping from below our fresh water holding tank. It was a slow drip so we quickly decided we could investigate the leak in the morning.

Wednesday: The sun rises a little after 6am here so after coffee, I was outside about 6:45, lying under the trailer, removing the 25 to 30 screws holding the protective panel beneath the water tank. With the panel off, I could see that the leak was coming from where the trailer water supply connector was molded into the tank. When the manufacturer made the tank they didn’t properly mold the connector into the tank. It was just a small hole about 1/16 inch long and the width of a pin. How to fix it??? The tank is a white polyethylene plastic which next to nothing sticks to. I called the service department at NuWa, the company which manufactured our 5th wheel, and asked them what to use to patch the leak. They weren’t much help except to say look for an adhesive that states it sticks to plastic. Thanks bunches!

I would have liked to connect to the internet and do a search for tips on how to patch the white polyethylene tank, but the Verizon service in Las Vegas doesn’t allow internet connectivity using the cell phone. We did talk with Sarita and she did a search on the internet and did find a tip which first stated the correct way to repair the tank was to take a hot air plastic welder and weld the hole shut. But if you didn’t have a welder you could take a hair dryer and heat the area where the hole is and then take a white plastic milk bottle, cut it into small strips and melt the plastic into the hole in the tank. The plastic milk bottle is made of the same material as the plastic tank. The tip sounds like it would work. I gave the procedure a try. However lying on the ground under the trailer, trying to drip melted plastic on to the side of the tank and not on me, didn’t work. I am sure if I had removed the tank from the trailer the procedure would have worked just fine

So off to NAPA Auto Parts store. They had a small tube of epoxy patch which stated it was for patching plastic gas tanks and radiators for only $16. Normally tubes of epoxy cost 2 to 4 dollars. Might as well give it a try. I patched the tank with the epoxy and let it sit and cure for a day before putting water in the tank. It is a month later as I am writing this and the patch is still holding.

By the time the hole was patched and we had packed the trailer up it was 12:30pm. We had planned on moving to Jacks Creek CG in Santa Fe NF, but it was about a 3+ hour drive so we decided to move to the KOA about 5 miles south of Las Vegas.

The KOA was fairly nice. The sites were mostly separated by small trees instead of being a parking lot and the price was $28 with a discount for being a military veteran. Not too bad for a KOA. Also free WiFi which worked well.

Thursday: Are we ever glad we didn’t try to drive to Jacks Creek yesterday afternoon. The first part of the drive was easy. It was about 40 miles on IH25. But the last 28 miles from IH25 to the campground took us almost one hour to drive. The road was a winding, twisting, up hill and down hill road. The last 10 miles was a narrow paved road with no center stripe, and we met three other RV coming out as we were going in. It was a little nerve racking the last part of the drive but we made it just fine.

We had been to Jacks Creek CG about 33 years ago when Sarita was just a little baby and remembered the CG as being in a very pretty valley with views of the mountains all around. We weren’t disappointed. The CG is very pretty and the camp sites are well separated. The altitude at the CG is 9000’. The air is thin. We are glad we stayed in Las Vegas for a couple of days at 6500’ so we could become acclimated to the altitude. We experienced altitude sickness once before and it is not fun. However altitude sickness is easily overcome, if you can quickly move to a lower altitude.

Jacks Creek Campgound, a little band of snow on the mountain in the background, Pecos Baldy Peak.

Our Campsite

Santa Fe Mountains from CG

Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Three very nice days at Jacks Creek CG. With the high altitude, the afternoons only got up into the low to mid 70’s unless a rain shower came though and dropped the temp down to about 60*. The mornings were in the upper 40’s. Good sleeping weather.

Other than my hiking a trail up into the mountains and forests and Sharon working on a quilt she is making for our new grandson, who is due in late October, we didn’t do much except enjoy the weather and the scenery.

The CG was very quiet and we mostly had the CG to ourselves until Friday afternoon through Sunday midday. All the weekend campers were well behaved and nice folks which made for a nice stay.

Busy Saturday in the campground. That’s our truck & trailer in the middle foreground. The couple in the lower right had two cute and lively daughters who really seemed to enjoy the weekend.

Photos from my hikes:

Forest Trail

Mule Deer Doe

Mountain Meadow with wild Iris flowers

Santa Fe Peak

Pecos Baldy Peak

Flowers along trail:

Wild Orchid

Wild Iris flowers

Close-up of Wild Iris

Wild Roses

Close-up of Wild Rose

That’s all for now.

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