New Mexico Redo

The five hour drive from Caprock Canyons to Villanueva State Park in New Mexico was easy and uneventful. As I neared the park, I had to use both lanes of the small winding road to avoid overhanging tree limbs but the campground in the narrow canyon was rewarding. I backed into a site on the Pecos River next to friendly camp hosts. Really cool little state park. As a side note, I let my newly installed inverter handle the power chores for the day and night, and it performed great. So cool to run the necessities of life (Keurig and TV) on just batteries.

Friday I made the short 90 minute drive to Santa Fe and checked into an in-town RV Park, as the nearby state parks on the road to Ski Santa Fe were booked for the weekend. Had lunner at Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery, perhaps the least compelling meal I’ve ever had in a town of outstanding restaurants. I was underimpressed by the food and the two brews. But Saturday morning brought a new day and I thoroughly enjoyed my chile rellano at Cafe Pasqual’s. No trip to Santa Fe is complete without breakfast here! They assemble all-organic ingredients into simple wonderful food. It’s a favorite spot.

After my late breakfast I wandered the farmers market at the rail yards and chilled for a bit at Second Street Brewing, chatting with locals and a couple headed to Alabama for a RV rally. Laid low in the afternoon, flipping between the NCAA Super Regionals and Rangers’ games, and the Adrian Beltre number retirement ceremony. So cool that Tommy Lasorda attended!

Sunday started with camp church on TV followed by a visit to REI to replace my lost Keen sandals, a drive up the mountain, a couple creative margaritas in town at La Fonda & Coyote Cantina, and then more college ball on the tube. The wind drove me inside: rats, I like watching sports outside at a campsite.

Off to Taos Monday midday… The drive to Taos was great once I cleared the traffic clutter of Santa Fe and its outlying towns. Enjoyed following the Rio Grande River upstream as it tumbled down the canyon. And then the road crested the upper mesa, dropping into Taos. After setting up camp I headed over to Taos Mesa Brewing on the north end of town. Very brutál place—my first favorite brewery of the trip! Enjoyed music, a sampling of their tasty brews—Solstice Pale Ale, Kachina Peak Pale Ale, Jonesy’s Cross Eye Rye IPA, and Hop Kof IPA—along with the 70 degree patio with views of the snow-capped mountains. Dinner from my campsite grill: pork loin, new potatoes & coleslaw.

Wednesday’s drive to Eagle Nest was another short one, up Taos Canyon alongside the river and green meadows and then over the hill into high elevation Moreno Valley. Snagged a great $10 campsite at the state park on the lake. No utilities, but I’m getting pretty confident with my new inverter so I still had the comforts (necessities) of glamping. Enchanted Circle Brewery in Angel Fire served up a good gyro washed down with their tasty Bodacious Brown Ale and Fly Dawg IPA. That filled me up so I put chicken thighs back in the reefer to brine: I’d smoke ’em Thursday.

Thursday came and went without smoking the chicken. The wind just wouldn’t let up and I knew it was a losing prop to try to keep the smoker lit in 25 knot winds. But I achieved halfway decent smokin’ success Friday at my riverside campsite in Red River. I think my smoker runs a bit hot because I checked the thighs an hour earlier than what I thought would be my cook time and caught them just before they went over the overcook cliff (as opposed to an overlook cliff).

While watching the US Open on the outside TV next to the river, I noticed a duck float by in the quick current. I’ve never seen a duck just ride the current and I’m pretty sure the smile on his bill meant he was simply going for a joy ride! 🦆

Saturday went for a hike and then stopped by Red River Brewing for lunch and a couple brews and to watch the Michigan/Texas Tech CWS game. The popular brewery restaurant makes a very good Back 40 Farmhouse Ale and Catskinner IPA. Watched the 3rd round of the US Open back at camp, then turned in when it got cold & rainy.

Sunday morning I attended camp church and afterward wandered around town, through the town’s annual arts festival, just enjoying the beautiful day. In the morning I’ll be heading out to Pagosa Springs. My third visit to New Mexico this year was great. New Mexico hasn’t grown old on me but it’s time to move on!

Charles Towne

It’s been a nice relaxing few days in Charles Towne (original spelling). Lake Aire is a nice quiet RV park in the woods with a meandering lake. Yesterday a black lab mix was having the time of his life running and jumping into the lake then swimming to the other side. I watched him do this probably 50 times! You could just about hear the dog giggling the whole time. Really fun to watch.

Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter

Saturday I visited Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Enjoyed the 30-minute ferry ride and an hourish to tour the fort. The fort marks where the Civil War began and, like I’ve said before, it’s a pleasure walking through these historic grounds.

After leaving the fort I set out to see what old Charles Towne was all about. Since I already had a good curbside parking spot (many garages are too short for my truck) I decided to re-feed the meter and walk the mile or so through the French Quarter to the historic district—until I saw one of those bike rental racks right by the truck, and $12 later I was wheeling down the road on a powder blue bike. (Nope, no pictures!) Goofy color aside, being on a bike was a great way to see the town through the congested, narrow streets. My rented wheels allowed me to see what I wanted to in less time which was great because it was already after noon and I also wanted to check out a couple of Charleston’s craft breweries.

Charleston Oldest Liquor Store in US
Charleston Oldest Liquor Store in US

The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon and Old Slave Mart Museum each gave good insights to what the town was like back in the Civil War era. Interesting how the town settled on the Ashley river side of the peninsula then moved to the opposite side along the Cooper. The docent also explained about the evolution of the exchange building. The slave mart museum was also interesting with its displays about the disgusting human abuse practices which contributed to the Civil War. Visiting these museums was definitely worth the $14 combo ticket.

Once I got the culture checks in the boxes I headed up to Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company, a sleek & popular place where I tasted through a flight of their beers and had the best Cubano sandwich I’ve had outside Tampa’s Ybor City. The four 4-ounce beers I had rated in the mid 3-s on the Untappd scale. From there I swung by the smaller and more-to-my-liking Palmetto Brewing Company. Palmetto’s Lowcountry Pilsner & Lindy Hop’d IPA were fine beers—worthy of buying a t-shirt that was on sale. I topped off my brewery tour at Charles Towne Fermentory on the road back to the campground. This brewery sites on the Savannah Highway and is a local joint with good beers on tap. Nice way to round out a tour in a city with upwards of 30 breweries.

Sunday I went to church at and then headed over to Low Tide Brewing. Fell in love with Low Tide; it’s my newest favorite brewery. Their Ocean Course Pale Ale is the best pale ale I’ve had in a loooong time. Followed up by the  Purdy Good IPA, which is a 4.25 point Really good IPA. Gonna revisit them Monday afternoon. Afterward I headed back to the site to settle in for the oncoming storm, which passed by here with less bluster than the weather geeks expected.

Monday (as I write) is a chore day: laundry, cleaning up B, organizing some stuff and route planning for this week. Looking forward to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Kitty Hawk and then heading into Virginia. Stay tuned!