Exploring the City of Rocks and Surrounding Area

The day after White Sands,  Lee and I made the trip into Las Cruces (two hours away) to the nearest Staples and Best Buy to look at laptops.  When I turned in my company laptop back in November I started to use an older one we had, but it’s been very slow and never really felt like “my laptop”.  So I was using our main computer for pictures and blogging and squeezing it in when I could around Lee’s video work.  When Lee started adding small videos to the blog posts we kept running into each other with needing the computer and this led to some conflict.  So we sat down and talked about it and my stance was to just buy a laptop.  In a role reversal, Lee wanted to be careful we weren’t just throwing money at a problem instead of solving it, so we sat down and really talked it through.  Ultimately we decided to go ahead and buy it (I think my point is that if we were in our 30’s we wouldn’t even be having this conversation) and we made the long drive into town.

This area has three cities in it; Silver City which is north of us and known for being a home for Billy the Kid and having the largest open pit copper mine in the word; Deming which is south of us and has numerous RV parks and the best laundromat Lee has used since being on the road, and finally Las Cruces, which has all the major stores like Target, Best Buy etc. and is close to the border.  To be honest I don’t particularly care for any of them.  This part of the country seems to be economically depressed and the towns are showing it.  I do appreciate that they all have Walmart with excellent selections and prices, but other than that there is not much to recommend any of them.  (As a side note Cori really likes historic Silver City which does have a funky vibe and she found a pizza place there that tastes like her Philly pizza so she’s pretty happy.)  Anyway, we went to Staples first and then Best Buy and I ended up finding a very nice computer HP 15-AC163NR for $399. You may be wondering why we made the drive and just didn’t order it online and the argument is similar to the one I made for trying my new hiking shoes on at an REI. How the screen looks and the mechanics of typing are very individual experiences and Lee was absolutely correct in insisting we go look in person.  I tried out over 10 of them between the two stores and there were absolutely models of computers I did not like at all.  And since Staples had price match going on for other retail establishments I knew we were getting the best retail price we could. Yes, I could have then taken the model number and gone home and ordered online and saved a few bucks, but in a case where I am working with a salesperson, I don’t personally feel right about that.  I’m just old school that way.

When we got back to the camper the day was beautiful.  No wind and we all ate outside, watched a beautiful sunset, had a fire, and listened to what I believe was a very active mating ritual by a couple of owls.  Really lovely and I was excited about getting up the next day and really exploring the campground.

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Lee took a couple night shots of the stars for me. There are so many!

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Unfortunately the next day was cold and windy, and the next, and the next.  When I say windy by the way I don’t mean a light breeze.  It was full on, push you off balance wind with tons of grit in it.  Going outside was unpleasant and there were no fires or eating outside.  Since our rig isn’t set up very well for guests we ate and hung out at Cori and Greg’s.  The days were spent getting the new laptop going, catching up on blogging and other emails, and puttering. And after a couple of days I started to get really antsy.  It was so bright and sunny outside, but every time I walked outside to test the wind (or smoke) it was not pleasant. So here I was in what most people who know me would think is the perfect place on earth for me and I wasn’t happy.  Generally when we have bad weather we do things in the area that are inside, but there really isn’t much to do here inside in a two hour radius. So I started getting cranky about the whole thing.  Turns out March here is generally windy and those big open copper mines I talked about throw lots of sand and grit into the air.  Plus the campground lies smack dab in the middle of a huge plain and wind comes from a long way away before it hits here. I actually thought about just packing up and moving on, but since we pre-paid (no refunds) and Cori and Greg were here and heading back to Tuscon when we were done I just stuck it out.  I did force myself out on one day for a couple of hours to take some pictures and although they were amazing the conditions they were taken in not so much.

Our rig

Our rig

Table top mountain which I never climbed because it was just to windy

Table Top mountain which I never climbed because it was just to windy

Indian Mill grdining stones in the park were very cool. I can imagine plains Indians coming here to grind their corn

Indian Mill grinding stones in the park were very cool. I can imagine plains Indians coming here to grind their corn

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The worn sections of the rock were very neat in places

The eroded sections of the rock were very neat in places

One of my favorite formations. Looked like a sea monster to me with the head on the right and the tail on the left

One of my favorite formations. Looked like a sea monster to me with the head on the right and the curled up  tail on the left

Beautiful right?  And I have been back and forth in my head on how to talk about the experience.  It’s tempting to let the pictures stand as they are and not talk about anything unpleasant.  You can’t see the wind or the fact that I snuck these pictures in during very short walks because the winds drove me back inside. Plus if you are a hardier sort of person than me you might laugh off the wind as nothing or even enjoy it.  But after some soul searching I realized I couldn’t just let the pictures stand without the rest of the story.  The company was great, the campsites are perfect, but I am not going to be in a big hurry to come back here.  And it’s sad for me because I have been wanting to see this place since before we went on the road.  And I am sure for those of you just trying to get through the winter a big boo hoo for me.  But after a year of being on the road I get to be a little more selective.  There is still magic and wonder in new places, but the realities of weather, internet connection, surrounding area, services etc, do factor in.  As we often talk about this is life not vacation and for me the area is not so great for living my particular life.  Now all that being said, you should definitely come here at least once and hopefully you will absolutely love it. Just please realize that there is always more to the story than the pretty pictures.

A huge heart shaped rock

A huge heart shaped rock

The "toilet rock"

The “toilet rock”

Neat walking path

Neat walking path

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The sign was nice but the garden was kind of lame

The sign was nice but the garden was kind of lame.  Has tons of potential though

This is a mesquite tree btw

This is a mesquite tree btw

And Yucca plant

And Yucca plant

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Another sea monster

Another “sea monster” with the eye and mouth to the right

My very favorite campsite is tucked into the crack in this rock with the big rock on top looking like it could fall down at any minute

My very favorite campsite is tucked into the crack in this rock with the big rock on top looking like it could fall down at any minute

On the first few days the wind was pretty light so Lee was able to get some drone footage of the campground.

On Monday (our last day), we all decided to get out a bit and try nearby Rock Hound State Park.  Well to be honest Cori pushed for it.  I think she was tired of me feeling sorry for myself (which was fair) and off we went to try another park.  It was still windy, but a little warmer and it was nice to get out for some different views.  Rock Hound State Park has its own campground and allows people to take up to 10 pounds of loose rock away.  I love rocks, but am woefully uneducated about what is what, but we walked up the path and took some nice shots of the vista and I did pick up a view rocks that were pretty.  Then we drove to the Spring Canyon day use area which was 2 miles away and that was spectacular.  Both places had a $5 day use fee but we didn’t pay them in either case because we were paying for our campground nearby.  Use your own judgement on this, but I don’t know that either would be worth $5 a person although Spring Canyon has a very difficult hike to try and the picnic area was fantastic.

Rock Hound State Park Campgroudn

Rock Hound State Park Campground

Nice views

Nice views

Some flowers were blooming which was beautiful

Some flowers were blooming which was beautiful

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We walked up a 1/2 mile trail for some views. Lots of loose rock but pretty level

We walked up a 1/2 mile trail for some views. Lots of loose rock but pretty level

The surronding mountains and cacti were great

The surrounding mountains and cacti were great

I particularly likes this nountain that part of it had slid away

I particularly likes this mountain that part of it had slid away

Spring Valley picnic area

Spring Valley picnic area

No way were we trying this with Cori's ankle but Lee would like to give it a try

No way were we trying this with Cori’s ankle but Lee would like to give it a try

It led up to this peak

It led up to this peak

A different view, was really majestic

A different view, was really majestic

Afterwards we stopped at Spanish Stirrup Rock Shop and looked at their wares.  They had tons of bins outside for reasonable prices and then the nicer pieces inside. I bought a rock magnet for $2 to commemorate our stay in the area.

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Then we went to Benji’s in Deming for Mexican which was very good and stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up a few things for dinner.  Finally Lee and I stopped at the Diaz Family Farm stand and bought some onions and tomatoes.  They had bags and bags of roasted chili peppers there for $2, but as much as I love getting local produce I just don’t cook with chili peppers.  The kid working there was super nice though and told us June – August are the nicest time of year in the area.  He also said it was on the windy side, but it does get windy in March.  When we got back Cori and Greg fixed a great fish dinner and we sat and talked for awhile.  It’s the first time we will be leaving each other with no firm plans to meet up in the future and it’s kind of sad.  We had a wonderful time with them, traveled very well together, and of course I adore their puppy Hobie. There is not a doubt in my mind though that they will continue to be a big part of our full-timing life it just may be awhile until we are in the same place again.  So it is bittersweet that we are moving on.  Excited to see some of the rest of New Mexico (and hopefully escape the wind), but sad that they won’t be with us.  Safe travels my friends.

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First Time in Gila National Forest

We landed at City of Rocks campground with no issues and found that our sites were directly next to each other.  City of Rocks is the most unusual campground I have ever been in and the campsites are spread on the outside edges of a couple of huge gigantic rocks with smaller rocks on them.  It is a New Mexico State Park and although most sites are first come first serve, they do have a few that are reserveable and we were in the Pegasus loop.  The “city” is completely surrounded by flat plain and then a few mountains including the very distinctive Table Top Mountain, so when you are driving up you really can’t see it until you are a few miles away.  Then out in the middle of nowhere there is a campground. The attraction is the unique campsites, hiking trails, and some local hot springs in the area, plus at $10 a night the price can’t be beat.  The whole vibe of the campground is extremely relaxed and the volunteers and rangers are very mellow in comparison to some other State Parks we were in. So we very quickly checked in and then found our spots.

Greg parked in his site

Greg parked in his site

Our front window view

Our front window view

Picnic table and grill area

Picnic table and grill area

We got a bonus fire pit surrounded by tall rocks on each side

We got a bonus fire pit surrounded by tall rocks on each side

And what an awesome fire we had

And what an awesome fire we had

That first day we just settled in and worked on some chores.  I like to clean when I first arrive in a place so took advantage of full water tanks to scrub a little.  I had also gotten a hole in my favorite blue jean shorts and Lee was kind enough to sew a little butterfly applique I had bought on for me.  Plus we worked out the itinerary with Cori/Greg , settling on a day trip every other day with the day off between to explore locally or work.  The only downside to the park is no dump on site (Lee took ours into Deming using the Blue Boy) and no ATT at all.  Verizon was working pretty good though and since C/G have a Verizon Jet Pack with unlimited minutes they were kind enough to let us share.  Since we have a secondary phone with Verizon service we were all set and the group was already talking about whether we should extend because the park was so great.

Truly a renaissance guy. He can sew and drill :)

Truly a renaissance guy. He can sew and drill 🙂

Saved my shorts!

Saved my shorts!

The sunsets are pretty here

The sunsets are pretty here

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On Monday we all drove to Gila National Forest to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings.  Greg is particularly interested in Indian ruins and the rest of us were happy to see it as well.  Wow, what a terrific experience.  First the drive up was amazing.  We traveled along a scenic route called the Trail of the Mountain Spirits and it was absolutely breathtaking.  Plus we were up in the mountains so we got to experience some cold and even see a little snow on the ground which was a cool change for the last couple of months in the desert.  Once we arrived, the Cliff Dwellings themselves were also spectacular.  It only costs $5 to get in (free with the America the Beautiful Pass) and you get to climb a very nice 1 mile trail (moderate difficulty) and then actually go inside some of the dwellings.  The staff was excellent, very friendly and passionate about the dwellings and we had a terrific time.  Even Cori who is waiting to get surgery on her split tendon next month made the trip and as long as she went slow it went fine.  I do recommend taking hiking poles though as coming down is a bit steep, but absolutely make sure you see this at some time or another because it is amazing.

First waterfall I have seen in months.

First waterfall I have seen in months.

The road was well paved and maintained, but super twisty turny

The road was well paved and maintained, but super twisty turny

The views were stunning

The views were stunning

 

Man mad lake at the top of one of the mountains

Man made lake at the top of one of the mountains

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A little snow

 

This was our view as we ate lunch prior to hiking up

This was our view as we ate lunch prior to hiking up

The initial bridge that takes you over the creek and on the path

The initial bridge that takes you over the creek and on the path

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Cori making her way on the trail

Cori making her way on the trail

Our first views of the cliffs

Our first views of the cliffs

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I left the people in so you could see how big they were

The view across from the dwellings was amazing

The view across from the dwellings was amazing

We finally made it to the mouth of the caverns

We finally made it to the mouth of the caverns

The houses are in amazing condition

The houses are in amazing condition

The rooms were either family homes, storage, or community rooms

The rooms were either family homes, storage, or community rooms (Lee’s pic)

This corn is original to the time. See how small it is in comparison to todays corn

This corn is original to the time. See how small it is in comparison to todays corn (Lee’s pic)

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Love this shot (Lee’s pic)

Despite being in a cave I didn't feel any claustrophobia at all, maybe because it was so open

Despite being in a cave I didn’t feel any claustrophobia at all, maybe because it was so open (Lee’s pic)

 

Great view from their windows

Great view from their windows

Entrances were small

Entrances were small (Lee’s pic)

Really beautiful

Really beautiful and we were all so glad we got to see it (Lee’s pic)

Coming down was a little trickier and the poles came in handy

Coming down was a little trickier and the poles definitely came in handy

Between the drive, the hike, and seeing the dwellings it was definitely a full day, but there was one more surprise for us.  As we were driving home on a different route we ran into this small town that was settled in 1803.  Just had to stop for Lee to take a pic of this Opera House and Saloon.

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Really special day and we have more to come.  We decided to skip Carlsbad and extend our stay in City of Rocks and every other day we will be having a field trip of some sort or another.  Been really great getting to explore a new area, especially with friends!!

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Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links as they support our blog. Thank you.   Search Amazon.com here