The road from Las Vegas toward Conchas Lake State Park cuts straight through wide-open grassland and scrub.
About three-fourths of the way there, the landscape changes and we’re treated to three miles of Tibetan experience. At least this time the road is two-lane and paved. We wind downward in hairpins. Please God, bless my electric brake controller. I make a quick glance down over the side and fear jabs me in the chest. Keep your eyes on the road and don’t look!
Always masters of timing, Spike and Bridget indicate an urgent need to “Get out now!”
At last the road levels out and we come upon a place to park under trees and next to a picnic table. I turn in behind a Class C. Not exactly behind it, because hitched to the motorhome is a Honda CR-V and hitched to the CR-V is a boat toting various tanks and fishing rods.
The owners of this caravan are a couple from Las Vegas.
The man tells me they spend their summers at Conchas Lake State Park, boondocking at the water’s edge. He chuckles about last night. “I woke up in the night to find water lapping at the tires of the motorhome. My propane tank was in the water! I had to get out and move us at 2:30 in the morning. Those storms up above raised the water level.”
We have an in-depth conversation about Quartzite and Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVA) in Arizona, where they spend their winters. He reveals that he waited until age 70 to retire and now he’s 72. You would suppose both of them to be much younger, as vibrant and tanned as they are. Summers at Conchas Lake fishing and winters at Quartzite with their rock and gem club friends . . . sounds like they’re loving life on the road more than living in their stay-put home in Las Vegas.
Back on the road, we soon approach Conchas Dam.
We cross over on a one-lane road and continue to weave through the scrubby trees and rocks. Having already made one wrong turn, I see a COE dam project office, and decide to stop and ask if I’m on the way to the State Park. A friendly guy in a tan uniform says I am, “It’s just up the road a bit.” He shows me a map on the wall. “You can camp up on the cliff where there’s electric, or down by the water where there’s no electric.”
Up on the cliff? I don’t think so.
You know what? I’ve had my fill of cliffs for a while. In fact, before this fulltiming adventure began, I had no strong feelings about cliffs or looking down into a gorge or crossing a dam on a one-lane road. However, now? I’ve had enough of cliffs and huge, gaping holes in the earth. In fact, I’m moving the Grand Canyon way down my list of Things To See. Anyway . . .
Back to the COE guy . . .
He asks me some questions and I reveal that I sold my home to live in my Casita. That’s when he says the words I hear over and over again by all sorts of people, “I want to do that someday.” I wonder if he will.
No one is in the primitive camping area!
Adobe “bunkers” and picnic tables under metal-roof structures sit empty. Most sites have a water spigot. A road (I use the term loosely here) goes down to the lake. I see a Class C and a fifth wheel down there. The crew and I are weary and not in any mood for a potential road problem, so I pick a site that looks level next to a bunker.
I back-in between two trees, and we settle in.
I decide we’ll take a walk after supper to check out the road and to find a place to camp next to the water. Since we’re camping free with our annual park pass, there’s no ticket with our campsite number on it. We can move around as we wish!
As no one is in the campground, I let the crew off leash. Bridget and Spike haven’t run free in several weeks.
I pull out my camp chair to sit and keep an eye on them. They’re good little campers and don’t stray far.
The weather is perfect. It’s very pleasant sitting under this scraggly tree next to the camper watching my two pals . . . all by ourselves here in New Mexico.