Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Leasburg State Park is just fine!

The drive to Leasburg Dam State Park on Tuesday was longer than I thought – a little more than 60 miles. The park brochure says, “A quiet desert oasis…an ideal spot to camp and picnic beside the Rio Grande…the dark skies are popular with stargazers.” The park, with only 18 electric/water sites, is adjacent to the tiny community of Radium Springs.

I settled into Site #11 at the far west side of the park. I’m on a finger of land that has mini-canyons on each side, and the river in the distance. The concrete slab – thankfully level – is narrow, making it a challenge to get all six wheels on it and have room for my slide to extend. After three tries, I took some of my homemade chocolate chip cookies to the man parked nearby and asked for help. He was appreciative, and so was I.

Cat hopped out and was off exploring before I even got set up. Finally I am in warm weather. It got up to 70 degrees each afternoon, but did drop down near freezing at night.

On Wednesday, after it warmed up, I set out to explore park trails and the river trail. Leasburg has two picnic/day-use areas along the river with a long, tree-covered trail connecting the two.

The river trail ended at Fort Selden Rd, a road that intersects with the park entrance, so rather than reverse my route I walked along the road. Noticing some adobe ruins ahead I saw the historic Fort Selden site and museum beckoning me.

Fort Selden was established in 1865 in an effort to bring peace to the south central region of present day New Mexico. The adobe fort housed units of the U.S. Infantry and Cavalry. Their intent was to protect settlers and travelers in the Mesilla Valley from desperados and Apache Indians. Several of the units stationed at the fort were black troopers, referred to as Buffalo Soldiers. A young Douglas Mac Arthur called the fort home while his father was post commander in the late 1880s.

The exhibits included an entry from the 1896 Manual for Army Cooks:
The presence of wormholes in coffee [beans] should not occasion its rejection unless it is of inferior quality and strength, since they generally indicate age, weigh nothing, and disappear when the coffee is ground.

After wandering the fort grounds and getting back on the road, the next thing of interest was the Ft. Selden General Store.

Aha, maybe I can get a cold drink. I sipped a ginger ale and soon was back to my motorhome. In all, my walk – or should I say stroll – was 2 ½ hours long, and probably covered three or so miles.

Tomorrow I’ll pack up and head to Pancho Villa State Park – about a hundred miles to the southwest.

Tonight I’ll finish reading Max Lucado’s book: “It’s NOT about ME.” Max writes so well, including tidbits that help illustrate his points. Here are portions of one that starts Chapter 9.

Behind him, a trail of tracks.
Beneath him, a pounding stallion.
Before him, miles of trail to cover.
Within him, a flint-rock resolve.
Squinty eyed. Firm jawed. Rawboned. Pony Express riders had one assignment – deliver the message safely and quickly.
Only the sturdy were hired. The young and orphans were preferred. Those selected were given $125 a month, a Colt revolver, a lightweight rifle, a bright red shirt, blue trousers and eight hours to cover eighty miles, six days a week.
Hard work and high pay. But the message was worth it.