A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Bandelier National Monument

We were in this area a few months ago and I saw this place on the map but didn't go to it.  Now we were here again spending the night at the Walmart in Espanola after getting supplies.  Still I wasn't too keen on going.  The road looked steep and twisty, they have a shuttle bus service to the visitor center and ruins which wasn't all that appealing (indicating high volume visitation) and lastly, what were our chances on getting a campsite after driving there?  The next morning when I woke up I said "Beans, lets go for it.  What else do we have to do?"  It was only 30 miles away anyway.  Well the drive there was nothing at all, very pleasant in fact.  And the campground was nearly vacant! 
 "Oh this will do nicely."

That's us there in our second spot.  I had to move from our first spot as a crazy woman moved in right next to us!  Good grief!  57 vacant campsites to choose from and you have to park next door and play your music outside, too loud!  Oh and she had two yappy dogs also.

You paid for your spot using this machine.  
We had our differences on the first day.  Afterwards we go along pretty well.  I say that because I only buy one day at a time just because crazy people might move in and I will want to move.
I visited the machine five times.

I will say this too in advance, Bandelier was to be one of the best places I have ever visited, so much so, that it would be the longest I have stayed at a pay-to-camp place in 30 to 40 years.  
It was also the first pay-to-camp place for Beans and I since last May.

Neat mushroom pushing through the soil.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Goodbye Tres Piedras


We had a nice relaxing stay here.  Got some shopping done and even may have found myself another hobby to pass the time away.  Best of all, no women mysteriously vanished this time.
 But it is time to move on and see what is in store for us down the road.

I kind of felt bad for Beans while here for she so much enjoyed romping through the tall green grass of Pass Creek.  Here it was all just barren ground covered with pine needles.

Pure sweetness.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Spoon in the Forest

Tres Piedras.
New Mexico

One day while taking Beans for a walk we came upon this wood spoon lying in among the pine needles of the forest floor.  Beans finds a lot of things for me.

I got to thinking if I could carve a spoon from wood.  Nearby was a ponderosa pine blown apart in half from a lightening strike sometime in between our visits to this place.  I selected a piece which will be my project.  Now don't expect this to happen anytime soon but success or failure, at some time I will show the end result of my effort.  I already know I will have to buy a curved knife to create the bowl of the spoon, but that's a long way off from now.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Roadside Diner

Tres Piedras,
New Mexico

The day I walked into town I was on the lookout for anything photo-worthy.
This was all that Tres Piedras had to offer but I thought it was great.

I find places like this and always wonder how great they must have been back in the day.
No fast food places in those days.
Tres Piedras is fairly remote within the Carson National Forest 
so I expect this was a happy stop for many a traveler.

Try to see past the reflection and notice the salt and pepper still in the shakers, packets of sugar in their holders and a few coffee cups still in the case next to the Bunn coffee maker.

How many children sat on these stools unable to keep from twirling side to side 
no matter how much their parents tried to curtail it.

Friday, August 24, 2018


Tres Piedras
New Mexico

I needed to get a few items, one of which is a new cover for the bike on the back.
What do you think?  It lasted two years under the harsh sun and weather.

I don't like buying things online and trying to arrange shipping to somewhere not knowing where I will be.  I thought I would try delivery to an Amazon locker for a first time.  The nearest one is in Albuquerque.  I really did not want to go through that city plus I wasn't sure if I'd be able to figure out the locker system even though YouTube videos made it look simple.  I chickened out and had the order sent to the Post Office in Tres Piedras.  Why didn't I just go that route in the first place?  Well to be honest I didn't know Tres Piedras had a Post Office.  I discovered it on a walk into town one day. The town, if you can call it that, is so small and what is there is mostly abandoned (or looks to be) buildings.  My order of four items came in three different shipments.  Another reason why I was't too keen on the locker option.  Here is the new cover.  It is UV resistant which you can see really did a number on the old one.  It is heavier duty, fits even better, has that reflective top for the sun.  I can tell it is better made.  It cost twice as much as the previous cover but you get what you pay for, right?  

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Camp Cleanup

Tres Piedras, New Mexico

One of the first things I did here was clean up the trash around the campsite.  In addition to a Walmart size bag of regular litter I collected these beer bottle caps.
This was all collected within a 10 foot radius of the campfire ring.

I won't go into the thoughts that were going through my mind as to what I would do to each and every individual that popped open a beer and left the cap lying in the dirt...not nice things for you to read.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Return to the Incident Scene

Tres Piedras, New Mexico

We returned to where we camped the beginning of June, the scene of the Missing Woman.
If you missed that story you can read it here.
I hope for a couple of peaceful weeks this time.

For some reason the cell connection is very poor now even though we are in the exact same spot.
I may not be able to post anymore from here so if nothing shows up, that's why.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Another One or the Same One?

One o'clock in the morning and we have another mouse chase going on.  I don't know why Beans doesn't go in for the catch.  It must be more fun to chase it back and forth.  It got somewhere that I had to prod it with a stick to come out.  More chasing followed.  It then went back to the same hidey hole.  There it expired either from heart failure or my prodding with a stick broke it's neck.  
I was able to get a hold of the tail and drag it out.

I dropped it out the window and went back to bed.
There it lay the following morning.
Yep, it must have been dead.

Monday, August 20, 2018

A Beautiful Bus

After we resupplied in Pagosa Springs (including the all important case of cat food) we spent the night there then left the next morning.  Leaving town this coach was parked alongside the road but I was unable to stop.  It later caught up with us in Chamas, New Mexico.
Isn't that a striking color combination?

I can imagine they did an outstanding job restoring the inside too.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Goodbye Pass Creek

Pass Creek

Well our time at Pass Creek has come to an end.  
Time to move on. 
We're down to our last can of cat food!

I thought I would try to make it down to Pass Creek at least once before we left.  
I found a way down the canyon that seemed fairly safe and I wouldn't go breaking my neck.

The water wasn't deep.  It was cool and refreshing.  I decided to sit there and enjoy the scene while soaking my feet in the water.  That didn't last long; less than a minute!  Brrr... 

Yep, this place rated 5 stars in my book and we'll come back again if in this part of Colorado.
Oh but there are other places yet to be discovered.
So many places, so little time.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Pass Creek

There are a lot of aspen trees mixed in with the forest 
of diseased and dead pine trees here at Pass Creek.
Thank goodness for that. 

How can one not love the beautiful white bark of the aspen?

Here is one that branched out into three separate trees.
Notice at the bottom how the old scarred bark takes on the appearance of a regular tree.

Then I found one that became four trees.

But this one here takes the prize as the most unusual aspen tree.

Early in its life this aspen was bent over by the weight of the snow.
This is referred to as snow bend in trees.

The leaves are shaped in a way that they seem to shimmer in the breeze.  Because of this aspen are called Quaking Aspen and as such is the state tree for Utah.  But aspen really come into their glory in the fall when the leaves turn golden yellow.  Huge groves of aspen in the fall is a sight to behold.

Monday, August 13, 2018

10 Requirements for a 5 Star Rated Campsite

I've stayed at countless locations but few meet the requirements that allow me to stay put for a length of time.  This one at Pass Creek, Colorado has.  I keep a log book on places I've stayed with notes and such and probably only a half a dozen are "favorites" which I would return to without hesitation.  
Here are the requirements and they are somewhat in order of importance.
1. Good cell service.  If there is no cell service I won't even go any further than the turn off from the main road.  I need the service to post on the blog, receive the few emails I do get, and check on the news briefly to see if we are at war with anyone or not.  Also weather updates which are important to know. I don't watch TV, Netflix or watch movies.  But I do watch a few YouTube videos of those like-minded nomads that I follow.  That is my only source of entertainment which I usually watch while having a meal.  They are short little 10 to 15 minutes videos, about the extent of my attention span.  One night though without service is okay and I've done that before many times and still survived.
2. FREE.  Not that I am not willing to pay for a camp but to stay for 10 to 14 days will set you back well over a hundred dollars, and to do that all year long well you can see how this would adversely affect the budget in short order.  And too, with pay-to-camp places they have designated spots for you to camp in which precludes items 3 and 6 below.  But some do have showers so that's a big plus and worthy the sacrifice of 3 and 6.
3. No one within sight or sound.  This one isn't crucial but does have a bearing on to how long I will stay.  Beans, as did Sinbad, preferred that no one is around.
4. Fairly level.  This is obvious for a number of reasons living in a motor home.  In addition would be open space so the solar panels can get sun at least part of the day to keep the batteries charged.  Full on shade spots in the woods won't do.
5. No bugs, especially mosquitoes.  I'll tolerate most bug conditions but if there are mosquitoes I won't even bother staying.  
6. Peaceful and quiet.  Most places are so this one isn't really a factor.  Probably the most pressing noise issue would be road noise which is dependent upon how close the camp area is to the highway.  Take here for instance.  It is probably a mile across the canyon to the highway but being in a canyon and the steep grade the traffic is dealing with there is road noise.  For the most part road noise does not bother me as much as it does others.  ATVs buzzing around back and forth, that is a whole other kettle of fish and may cause me to vacate sooner that planned.
7.  Nice temperatures.  70's and 80's are ideal and this one isn't really a factor either for I wouldn't be in the area in the first place if the temperature was crap.  This is why people choose this lifestyle.  They follow the perfect weather around the country.
8. A nice view.  Well when you are out in Nature it is most always a nice view. What makes it even better for me is if it is a wide open view where I can see for miles and miles.  This is one of the reasons I love being in the desert.
9. Access.  A good camp area scores bonus points if access to the location is via a good road.  I don't mind driving several miles on a dirt road but if it is washboard then I can only tolerate about two miles of that.  Any more it's not worth it. Naturally rough roads and those requiring high clearance are not a consideration.  
10. Litter and trash.  If the place has been ruined by those who have strewn litter and trash all about then it doesn't rate as a favorite spot to come back to.  I've been to really nice places that meet all of the above requirements only to be demoted due to the trash blowing about.  I don't want to be looking at rubbish every day.  In most instances this is the fault of locals so the close proximity of the free camp area to the nearest town has a bearing on this.  

Friday, August 10, 2018

Life at Pass Creek #2

Pass Creek

Here is Beans jumping over the creek that she jumped into early on while we were here.
I've tried many times trying to catch her in mid-jump but it is hard.
I never know when she is going to jump and when she does it is lightening quick.

These guys are daily pests.

I don't want them pooping and peeing in camp.  Or rubbing up against our home.
If they stay on the other side of the creek they don't get a BB in the butt.

Deer are welcomed in camp.  
This is their home. 
 We're just visitors.

Cattle do untold damage to the land and foul up streams, ponds, rivers.
Deer, antelope, bison are gentle grazers.  They nibble off the tops of grasses.
Cattle rip the grasses out from the ground.  Native wildlife do not poop and pee in their drinking water.  Cattle do. 

One day Beans caught a purple cloak butterfly then proudly walked around with it in her mouth.
Aw Beans, don't hurt the butterfly.  Leave them alone.
I thought the butterfly was done for but when she let if go it flew away.
Gentle mouth Beans.
A different species of butterfly below.

Beans likes sitting on this stump.  
She caught a chipmunk from it and thinks it will produce more I guess.

One evening all types of commotion went on soon after I went to sleep.  I turned on the light and there was a mouse in the RV.  Beans was in hot pursuit.  Back and forth they went.  Get it!  Get the mouse Beans!  I don't understand how that mouse evaded her.  She even had it cornered a couple of times. But after a couple round trips it got away into a spot up front she could not get to.  She sat there waiting.  I went back to sleep.  Nothing more happened and the next day was normal so hopefully the mouse left by whatever route it found to get inside.

I think she felt humiliated by her failure inside that RV that night.
Two days later she redeemed herself and got a mouse outside.

The Serial Mouse Killer has declared war.
The following day she got another.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Fungi in the Forest

Pass Creek
North of Pagosa Springs, Colorado

I showed some flowers awhile back but fungi are far more interesting to me.
Several of these Beans gets credit for finding them.

I wonder how these survive the snow and freezing cold of winters.

This type may be seasonal wonders meaning they grow this much in one year and die off.

But these guys, shelf fungi, take years to get this big.

This by far was my favorite find and I've only seen this one.
It is about the size of a ping pong ball.  The cap was very hard, much like shoe leather.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Mountain Pine Beetle

Pass Creek
North of Pagosa Springs, Colorado

The question came up in a few posts back "Are those trees dead?"
Unfortunately, yes.  Those gray looking trees are no longer alive.
The Mountain Pine Beetle is the cause of their death.
Notice the few dead ones in the foreground.

The beetle inhabits ponderosa, lodgepole, whitebark, Scotch, jack pine and limber pine trees.
What is not green in this image is dead.

Normally the beetle plays an important role in attacking old or weakened trees.  But since 1996 unusually hot and dry summers, and mild winters have sparked an epidemic of beetle destruction. 

Stretching from British Columbia south through the western states on into Arizona 
more than 88 million acres of forests have been affected

leaving millions of trees looking like this.

This is the little culprit.

Image result for mountain pine beetle