Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hi Ho, Hi Ho – it’s off in Jeremiah I go!

Travel editor and writer Paul Greenberg wrote:
I firmly believe a plan is only something to depart from, and that the serendipity of travel opens my eyes to a world where the arbitrary borders of fear and misunderstanding can be ignored.

Right on, fellow adventurer! I’m no stranger to serendipitous travel. Two marvelous instances come quickly to mind: being invited to ride for several hours in the engine of a Canadian Via Rail train and being invited to a private concert rehearsal of a world-renown organist at the huge “Mother” Seventh Day Adventist Church in Boston. Those two adventures were the result of striking up a conversation with strangers.

What unknown opportunities will this trip bring?

I think I’m getting the hang of motorhome traveling! The start of this trip – that will take me about 3,500 miles in eight weeks – feels more relaxing than it has in the past. I think I’m well prepared.

The biggest packing unknown was if all my frozen meals would fit in the motorhome freezer. Daughter Sue and I had prepared, packaged and frozen about 35 servings of ten different entrees, plus I had bags of frozen fruits to make smoothies. Amazingly, they all fit!

Destination: Sugarite State Park in New Mexico for eight days

I left home about 10 a.m. this morning, heading north on Interstate 25. I had a five-day reservation in the Lake Alice Campground at Sugarite (pronounced sugar-eet) State Park near Raton, New Mexico. The brochure and Internet boasted of “a cool, wooded retreat with a historic coal mining camp, hiking, fishing, camping and an abundance of wildlife. Elevation ranges in the park are between 6,900 and 8,320 feet. The park is called “Northeast New Mexico’s hidden jewel.” Will the park live up to the boasting?

With only 230 miles to go, I had planned to swing through the towns of Las Vegas (yes, New Mexico has one, too) and Raton. But dark, stormy clouds to the north and east motivated me to go directly to Sugarite. I sure didn’t want to be parking, plugging in, and setting up during a rainstorm.

Sugarite State Park, in the Southern Rocky Mountains, butts up to the Colorado border and is located in a canyon formed by Chicorica Creek. The park has three lakes – Alice and Maloya in New Mexico and Lake Dorothey that is just over the border in Colorado.

I had reserved site #10; but could only have it for five of the eight days I had planned to be here. I’m hoping to be able to move into an unreserved site for the last three days. That will take luck because there are only three unreserved – first come, first served – sites with electric and water hookups – and this weekend is part of the Labor Day vacation period. “Be flexible!” I told myself. If needed, I could move onto a ‘primitive’ site at the Soda Pocket Campground for a few days.

I backed in (with help from the camp host), hooked up and settled in – and was eager to look around. It had started sprinkling a bit. After discovering that there was no cell phone service, I decided to walk the mile to the Visitor’s Center in hopes of having service there. I left Cat to explore the outside world from inside the motorhome.

It continued to rain lightly on my walk. After gathering brochures and discovering there was no cell phone service and that the only showering facility was located there, I started the uphill walk back to Jeremiah.

It started seriously raining and I was getting soaked. New Mexico has had such a drought that I could only thank the Lord for the rain! I had walked about halfway before a lady, Josephine Vigil, stopped to give me a welcomed ride. Dry clothes, dry hair and a cup of hot tea, and I was ready to enjoy the sound of rain on the roof. In all, it rained about three hours.

Park information and the schedule of activities provided the evening’s reading. I fell asleep quickly, and slept well. It is so nice to be in the same bed every night while traveling.