Monday, October 21, 2019

Youkum CountyTX to Paris TX

It was a pretty full travel day today. We thought we might make it to Texarkana, but came up short. We're at the Walmart in Paris TX, having mostly followed Hwy 82 east.

We trekked through a lot of West Texas in the morning. Besides periodic groups of oil-pumping rigs, we were surprised at the extent of the cotton fields. Thousands of acres that we could see from the road. Most of it is irrigated to grow, likely with Ogallala aquifer water. All the pictures we have today relate to cotton.

Mature cotton plants, ready for harvest

Part of the huge cotton field

An older-model cotton harvester

Each tooth combs a row


A newer model harvester at work

Preparing to dump the harvester hopper into the pickup wagon

The hopper swings up and out, dumping the cotton bolls into the wagon

Then they part company for a while

And the harvester carries on around the field

You can likely see the lighter-coloured where the harvester is working, and the darker area in the foreground? The lighter-coloured area is irrigated by a huge circular-orbiting sprayer, and the darker plants are outside the watering. Much less cotton on the non-irrigated plants.

The cotton is planted and harvested in the same arc as the irrigation sprayer, so the harvester goes round and round following the circular rows.



Here's a map of today's travel:

 




Sunday, October 20, 2019

New Mexico to Yoakum County TX, starting towards home


About 9am today, we decided to start home. That won't surprise some of you at least. 😃  It sounds like a decent weather window for heading north.


There's the odd Texas longhorn around, even though this is New Mexico:


You Southwest travellers will no doubt recognize this bird:


The Roadrunner is in a rest area just west of Las Cruces NM, only accessible from the eastbound lanes of I10. The rest area itself is gorgeous, and an award-winner:



There are a number of these gorgeous stone shelters

As we crossed to Alamogordo NM, the famous White Sands started showing up. The sand is really gypsum, but behaves like sand, complete with wind-blown dunes:


Here's a use for all those wine corks you might be saving. This was at the World's Largest Pistachio Nut farm at the north end of Alamogordo NM:


It's an exciting drive from Alamogordo to Cloudcroft NM at 8,600 ft elevation, lots of climbing and sharp curves, easier with the van than with an Airstream trailer in tow (right J&C?):


Some beautiful colours along the way
We were surprised to see hundreds of these pumping rigs east of Artesia NM. I think they were mostly natural gas, since they had compressing stations periodically:



 These went on for literally 50 miles or so along the highway, and most times as far back from the highway as we could see. It sure smelled like an oil patch.

Tonight we're camped (for free, so far) in the Yoakum County park, where a large birthday party was in progress:




There's even several electric hookups, although we didn't connect to one tonight.

 
Here's the travel map for today:


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Day trip to Columbus NM and Pancho Villa state park

Sunset from our site

Today we took a trip further south to have a look at the town of Columbus, and the Pancho Villa state park there. It gets really close to the Mexican border, and several people have recommended we park on the U.S. side and walk over, mostly to tour the Pink Store. We decided against doing that, but enjoyed the tour on the US side.

The first thing that surprised us was seeing fields of cotton. Live and learn, we thought it would be too dry in this area:



We also saw fields of red peppers growing, not such a surprise. We also saw truckloads of the peppers coming across from Mexico. It's pepper harvest time:



The Pancho Villa park was nice, but we like the views where we're camped now. The stonework in the picnic tables at PV was pretty special:


Along the highway we noticed  an odd stretched-out building. It looks like "cottages" associated with a small airport. I guess owners can fly in and stay for a while. Very private place:



Some of the cottages. Villas? Interconnected with covered walkways.

At the top of the arch is a stylized airplane

Except for the odd storm moving through, the days here are lovely. Low 20's C during the day (about 70F), down to about 10C / 48F at night. 

UPDATE later in the afternoon:

We took a hike around the edge of the campground, and had a few pictures to share:

On the path

Looking over part of the campground

A number of residences in the next valley over
Back at the campsite, we noticed a visitor passing through. Apparently these tarantulas are quite timid and can be trained. Not by us!:

Glowing in the late afternoon sun

Looks quite different in the shade


 
Today's map:

Friday, October 18, 2019

Elephant Butte to Rockhound State Park NM



Today we moved from Elephant Butte park to Rockhound State Park. Rockhound is a bit southwest of Deming NM. We got the last non-reservable site in the park, by arriving about 10 am.

On the way we finally saw some renewable-energy sites. New Mexico has so much sun and wind it seems a natural for solar and/or wind power, but we've seen very little of it. Today though:

A good-sized solar farm

Later on, a large wind-and-solar installation. Thousands of solar panels.
We've found Rockhound state park unexpectedly scenic and nice. It's billed as a primitive park, but we have electric and water hookups in the group site we're in. The main washrooms are open (!) and FAR superior to the Elephant Butte ones. At Elephant Butte we found the distributed vault toilets far nicer than the central one.

The site itself is level and serviced, in their Group area
Here are some views around the small park:

Very green Ocotillo, but no flowers yet


A Claret Cup cactus with lots of cups





Looks like a storm approaching

Yep, it arrived for a while
After the storm, clear again


The park office is an attractive adobe building





Here's a map of today's route: