Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Coronado Campground - Beralillo, New Mexico

The final stop on the Southeastern Camping Unit's caravan to the 2015 Wally Byam International Rally in Farmington, New Mexico was at the Coronado Campground in Beralillo, New Mexico. This park is owned by the city.

Photo from Rosie's window on the way to Farmington, New Mexico

A car museum at a truck stop in New Mexico

We looked at the themometer on our truck as we were heading to this campground and it was consistently reading in the upper 70s and lower 80s. We were shocked when we arrived at the campground because the temperature had shot up to 100 degrees.

Sign at the park's entrance

I've heard several people say that hot temperatures in the southwest are easier to take than hot temperatures in the deep south because of the humidity. The south's high humidity makes hot temperatures feel worse than the same temperature in low humidity. Whoever stated that line of conversation was wrong! A 100 degree temperature in a desert environment is hot and painfully uncomfortable.

Rosie in the park

Rosie's setup was quick. (Rosie is our 25 foot Airstream trailer.) We didn't want to be out in the heat too long at a time. Our water connection was a little confusing. There wasn't a water spigot where it logically should be for Rosie's site. There was one about 15 feet away, but it was being used by another trailer. The free spigot was on the wrong side of Rosie and we had to use two 25 foot plus another 15 foot hose to reach it. Even with 65 feet of hose, it was a tight fit.

There were many features in the park to remind you that you were in the southwest. These added a little "local" flavor to the park.

Some Southwest flavor at the park

The park is along the banks of the Rio Grande River. We enjoyed watching the river plus the rabbits and quail in this park.

The Rio Grande River

A bench along the Rio Grande

A quail sitting on a post

Many of the members of our caravan went into town for authentic New Mexican food. We decided to eat some of the leftovers from our previous meals and stayed in Rosie for the evening. I was able to fish our sewage tote out of the back of the truck and empty Rosie's tanks before our group returned. This allowed us to avoid the line waiting at the dump station the next day as our group was leaving the park.

It took more than an hour, but Rosie's air conditioner was able to bring the inside temperatures from tolerable to being pleasant.

Here are some specifics about this park:
  • It appears that all of the RV camping sites are pull-thrus.
  • Our site had 20, 30 and 50 amp electrical service.
  • The water connection was in a strange location and it took every spare hose we had to connect.
  • We did not have a sewer connection in this park.
  • There is one dump station serving the park.
  • The park had decent bathhouses. You had to press the button in the shower six times to get the water running for about 30 seconds. After a while, it became a game to keep the water running while showering.
  • AT&T placed a good 3G voice and data signal over this park.
  • We were able to pick up more than 40 TV signals using Rosie's antenna. A healthy percentage of these were Spanish stations.
This park charged us an additional $10 fee to reserve a site over the phone. I don't think that is a policy that encourages people to book reservations there.

More Southwest flavor

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Palo Duro Canyon State Park - Texas

The next stop on our way to the 2015 Wally Byam (WBCCI) International Rally in Farmington, New Mexico, was the Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas. We had to travel about 20 miles off I-40 to get to this park, but the trip was well worth the diversion from the main road.

We had never been to this park, but a couple of people in our caravan had and they were telling everyone that Palo Duro Canyon State Park was amazing. That was an understatement! The park is home to the second largest canyon in America and the views from the campground are, as advertised, amazing.

The Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Our entrance into the park was delayed. The people in our site the previous night failed to check out and a ranger had to go and see what was going on. It turned out that this is a common problem in this campground. While the rangers were working to get the "poachers" out of our site, two other sets of "squatters" were identified in the camping loops and were evicted by the park. While interesting to watch the campground staff work to free our campsite, the bottom line was that it was after 6 p.m. before we could park Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer.

The road leading into the camping area was a surprise. We were not expecting the ten percent grade on the narrow road that wrapped around the canyon as we pulled Rosie to the campground. It was, as they say, a white knuckle experience making the sharp turns with three tons of of RV attached to the truck.

We saw the motorhome pulling away from our site as we approached it. The people in the site next to our's were also leaving at the same time. Chances are they were also site poachers. Later that evening, the campers on the other side of us also left. It appears that we were camping in an area with a reputation of the camping fees being optional.

Rosie in her camping site

Our late arrival created some problems for us. The Southeast Camping Unit's caravan had a lasagna dinner scheduled that night. After eating, we were going to attend the outdoor musical "Texas," which is performed in the park. Yes, we were the last ones to get to the caravan's dinner. The other campers were aware of our situation and made sure we had enough to eat. Immediately after eating, we were able to walk to the theater.

The theater where the musical Texas was performed

It was easy to see that the performers were college students earning some money during the summer break. They delivered a solid performance and the musical was very enjoyable.

The caravan stayed in Palo Duro Canyon State Park two days. This gave us some time to explore and enjoy the area. It also allowed us to rest after several travel days. This is a park that you can easily invest several days and we were very grateful that the Southeast Camping Unit's caravan scheduled a stop here. I am not sure we would have found this park through our normal wanderings in Rosie.

View from the canyon's floor

Non-selfie in the canyon

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Lots to see in this park

On our second day, most of the people in the caravan decided to head to the Big Texas Steak Ranch.
This is home to the 72 ounce steak dinner challenge. If you can eat a 72 ounce steak, Texas-size baked potato, salad, shrimp cocktail and a bread roll in one hour, your meal is free. The rules add that you must eat everything including any fat or gristle in one sitting and you must keep your food down until the contest is over. Anyone interested in the challenge must pay for his or her meal upfront. Those successful in mastering the 72 ounce steak challenge are given a refund. Most challengers end up paying full price for their meals.

No, we didn't accept the 72 ounce steak dinner challenge

I don't know how often someone accepts the challenge, but one person tried it while we were there. We didn't stick around for the full hour, but I suspect that the Big Texas Steak Ranch did not lose money on that challenge.

After eating in Amarillo, we headed back to the state park. There was an extra level of excitement because we had to drive to the floor of the canyon as it was getting dark.

The next morning we hitched-up Rosie and started to pull her out of the canyon. Our trip was delayed for about 30 minutes while the road was closed to allow a truck with an over-sized load descend into the canyon.

Here are some specifics about this park:
  • Sites in this park were gravel and back-in.
  • Our site had both water and electrical connections.
  • Our site had 50, 30 and 20 amp electrical service.
  • Our site did not have a sewer connection.
  • There were dump stations near each of the park's camping loops.
  • I was amazed to see that big rigs were able to make some of the turns on the road descending into the canyon. You need to know before booking a site here that you and your rig will be traveling on a steep grade and making some sharp turns.
  • AT&T placed a fleeting signal for voice and data over this park. There were a few moments when we saw service. Most of the time, our phones were simply useless.
  • We were able to see Fox, NBC and a couple of Spanish language TV stations using Rosie's antenna.
  • In addition to the camping fee, Texas state parks charge an additional $5 per day per person.
  • We were bothered by biting flies when outside. We were also amazed at the number of snakes we saw in the park.
  • There was an inconsistency in the upkeep of the restrooms in this park. Some were significantly cleaner than others. Some had fewer bugs than the one in our camping loop. Either cleaning the restrooms and showers was not a high priority or a large number of bugs are drawn into the bathhouse everyday to die there.
If you find yourself traveling I-40 across the Texas panhandle, you need to venture off the Interstate near Amarillo to camp in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. You will probably want to stay there more than a day to take in the natural beauty of this park.

The view from Rosie's window

Rosie next to another Airstream trailer in our Southeast Camping Unit's caravan

Rosie in our camp site