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!

Flying Machines, Shipwrecks & Big Lights

From one end to its other, the OBX is a very cool strip of sand. When I arrived by ferry on the island of Ocracote I knew I was gonna hang here longer than I originally thought.

My drive northward up the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway took me through Ocracote, Hatteras and a few other villages to the KOA near Rodanthe. Although it’s a bit of a parking lot style campground, the place is nice, very well maintained and convenient to entire the Outer Banks.

The day after I arrived (Thursday) I headed north about 35 miles to Kill Devil Hills. I needed some diesel exhaust fuel that I could get at an auto supply store. But really, my main reason was to visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Kitty Hawk gets all the history book love, but that’s because it was the main community back in the early 1900s. The first flight took place at Kill Devil Hills, a couple miles south of Kitty Hawk.

The National Park Service memorial is really very cool. Spacious. Inviting. Simple. Pretty. Check the photos in the slideshow attached to this post. I especially liked walking along the exact path where man’s flight first went down (ugh, unfortunate phrase)—a mere 12 seconds and 120 feet long. It struck me as apropos that I noticed both a small single engine prop plane towing an advertising banner and, much higher up at 35-40 thousand feet, jet trails of a flying machine on a trip a bit longer than 12 seconds. I wonder if Orville & Wilbur had any idea…

A late lunch of a good burger & decent brown ale at Outer Bank Brewing Station would negate the need for much dinner once I got back home so I visited the Bodie Island Light Station. The third lighthouse built on the OBX, this 3rd generation 164 foot tall beacon on the island starting shining in October 1872.

Next I stopped in for a Flagship IPA at Watermens Bar & Grill—a cool place on the west side overlooking 30-mile wide Pamlico Sound. I didn’t know you could stand on land on  the east coast and watch a sunset over water. Very cool!

Friday I headed 35 miles back the opposite direction to Hatteras Island. I’d sailed past The Lighthouse several years ago, so visiting it was a gonna be great! The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest in the United States and its white rotating light flash every 7.5 seconds is visible from all directions miles away at sea. The 7-minute, 257-step climb to the observation deck of the 210-foot high beacon is worth every breath (and every dime since the NPS comped free tickets for the first day of the season). The views are freaking amazing!

I also briefly visited the Graveyard of the Atlantic museum in Hatteras Village… ’nuff said; I guess was just hoping it was gonna be more shipwreck oriented. I’d spent more time at the lighthouse than I thought I would so I grabbed a sandwich and brew at the Wreck, near the boat docks and then headed back north to my 4-day home.

My plan for  Saturday is to take care of a couple maintenance things, walk the beach a bit, and prep B for a departure after watching (attending?) services Sunday morning. After online church, I’m headed to Greensboro to help out with a Samaritan’s Purse tornado recovery project for a few days. Also gotta get an oil change and tire rotation done while in Greensboro. After that … we’ll see!

Pics of The Outer Bank (click image to view full)