Posted by: millspaw | April 15, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 11 and 12

April 13, 2015

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Silver City, New Mexico

It had rained all night and we were on the road by 7:00 heading to Gila Wilderness. The drive was especially nice with changes in scenery all along.

We traveled past the White Sands National Monument and the mountains surrounding it. The mountains there were varied and interesting.

White dunes


As we passed through Deming we entered Cookes Range and passed through Mimbres Mountains. The climb was steep and beautiful.

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When we reached the summit the view was unbelievable. You could see for miles.

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On our way down our brakes started to give out on the camper. It was so steep for such a long distance. IMG_4602We stopped by this river to let our brakes cool before traveling on. It wasn’t long until we found Woody’s horse camp. The problem was, they were fixing the bridge in front of the camp and there were trailers, equipment and a loud generator that would be running all night long. Not the wilderness experience we were hoping for.

Woody’s is nice. There are four extra-large corrals for the horses with a water tank. The camper has plenty of room around it. There were two other riders there when we arrived.

We drove up to the Gila Visitor center and picked up a map, went through their museum and watched a short video about the Cliff Dwellers. Tomorrow we will ride the trail.

April 14, 2015

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

The trails here are magnificent. We rode high above the Cliff Dweller Canyon where we could see forever. But the highlight of this stop was the Cliff Dwellings themselves. We tied the horses to a high-line and walked the half mile to the dwellings.

Stoney at cliff dwellings

Many different groups of people inhabited the area over several thousand years. There are about 40 rooms built inside of five natural caves. They had separate sleeping quarters, gathering areas and storage areas.

There is evidence of hearth, ash pits and circular depressions that may have held large round-bottomed pots. The ceilings are blackened with soot from many years of fires. We even saw some corn cobs that they say are 400 years old.

400 year old corn

We were allowed to enter cave 2, 3, 4 and 5. The National Park Service had built ladders so that we could peer over the tops of walls. They believe each structure had branches covered with clay for their roofs originally. About 80% of the walls are original masonry. All of the wood is original, except for the ladders, and archeologists have taken plugs and studied the growth rings to date the construction to the 1280s. The “T” shaped doorways can be found in other areas of the South-west and northern Mexico.

It was great fun to explore and imagine what it would have been like back then.


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Posted by: millspaw | April 15, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 10

April 12th

White Mountain Wilderness

Argentina-Bonita horse camp



This is the type of horse camping we really like best. It is free to camp here and they provided the horses with a large, rubber matted corral. The Bonita River (more like a small creek) ran directly behind our campsite and the horses were across from us.

There was a light sprinkle at 9:00 when we left camp for the Argentina Canyon trail which had a cut across trail to the Little Bonito Trail. This was marked as a moderate ride and was about three miles long.

The trail was well marked and an interesting one. The canyon walls were steep in places and the trail narrow with many large rocks that the horses picked their way over. The Bonita River was below us for part of the way. As we climbed in elevation the vegetation changed from pines to some open meadows and we could see snow on the top of another mountain.

Snow on top of other mountain in this picture.


We found two elk wallows and saw a really large canine print. We wondered if they had wolves this far south. We also found an old skeleton of an elk. Things like this make the ride worth it.

When we got back to camp and ate lunch it had started to rain harder. We thought we might head out for our next destination, but found that we had no trailer brakes or signals. So we hauled up to Walmart to buy a tester and Dan spent the rest of the afternoon in the parking lot fixing the electrical problems. We ended up driving back to White Mountain Wilderness to camp there overnight again.

Tomorrow we will head for Silver Springs, NM and the Cliff Dwellings National Monument.

Posted by: millspaw | April 15, 2015

Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 8-9

April 10th and 11th

Argentina-Bonito camp (Not!)

Ruidoso, NM

It was a short drive, only 7 hours, to the tourist town of Ruidoso, New Mexico and we looked forward to arriving early to ride in the mountains.

The barren landscape changed from flat plains to bare, dry mountains. It didn’t look like there was anything interesting to see on a ride when we first came to the outskirts of Ruidoso. It started out looking like a very poor area until we entered the actual town. Ruidoso surprised us. It is full of any type of store you might need and many tourist shops with unique gifts for sale.

After traveling through Ruidoso we climbed many steep inclines and the RV started having trouble and the brake lights came on. We were surprised to see a road sign that said “Wild Horses”. Evidently, there is a herd that lives in these mountains.


We had to pull off of Route 48 at our turn onto Route 37 because we smelled smoke. Because there was no phone or 4G service in that valley, we turned around and drove back up the mountain, stopping at the top. From here we started to call AAA and horse establishments since we knew we would have to leave the horses somewhere while the vehicle was towed.

AAA sent a tow truck. The driver said we were too big and they didn’t have any other truck to put us up on. He sat and talked to us as Dan called all around trying to find a garage and a way to get the RV to it. We were sitting in front of Jack Johnson’s Excavating establishment and when the owner was leaving to go home. He saw we were having trouble and stopped.



This man is unbelievable! He opened up his gate and let us park in his lot. He had electric for us to plug into, water to run to the RV, a restroom and he gave us the keys to one of his trucks to use while we wait for our camper. He lives 60 miles away and wouldn’t be back until Monday. God really blessed us and answered our prayers. We spent the night and in the morning contacted AAA again. They sent a different company and who had no trouble loading the RV for the haul to the garage. Since we had Jack’s truck we were free to explore the town of Ruidoso.


We visited the museum and found out that Billy the Kid lived in the town of Ruidoso. After that we went shopping. We frittered away several hours and then went to check on the RV. It still wasn’t done so we drove back to Jack Johnson’s and the horses.

I had started a watercolor of Jack’s office building and I finished it while we waited for the repairman to call about the RV. I left it at his office for him to find when he comes to work on Monday. It isn’t near enough to pay back his kindness. Blessings on him.


Posted by: millspaw | April 10, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 7

April 9, 2015

Caprock Canyon State Park

The wind blew hard throughout the night, but in the morning the clouds had cleared and a ¾ quarter moon shone brightly. We fed and watered the horses in the dawn light and prepared for a morning ride while it would be cool. We left at 8:00 with our saddle bags filled with water bottles and snacks.

Dan suggested I take my vest along with the layered shirts I was already wearing. I was glad I did. The wind through the valleys was cold. And by the time we got back from our 2 ½ hour ride it was still only 65 degrees. Perfect riding temperature.

The ride started out quite far from the cliffs and canyons on the Wild Horse Trail. From there we took the Lower Canyon Trail which was an easier ride for the horses and only 2.9 miles long. From there we rode the Canyon Loop Trail a half mile to the parking lot.

There were many interesting rock formations, but this one caught my eye. It appeared to be formed like a geode with crystals inside and a hard shell on the outside.


Dan and the horses taking a snack break and Oreo posing nicely in front of this rocky mountain.

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Posted by: millspaw | April 10, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 6

April 8, 2015
Caprock Canyon State Park

The drive was sure was boring this time. Lots of plains in Oklahoma and into Texas. Brushy fields as far as you could see. Then plowed fields, acres and acres of them. The houses were few and separated by miles.
At 5:30 we arrived at Quiteque, pronounced “kitty-quay” population 411. The park was only a few miles from the town. It was 95.7 degrees in the sun. The horses have individual paddocks which is nice and there is water for them, but none for us. We filled up at Robber’s Cave, so we are good.

This is a primitive camp, so no electric for the camper. The winds are gusting strong and there is a tornado warning out for the area. We seem to be hitting a lot of natural bad weather! There are 25 miles of trails through scenic canyons and the official Texas State Bison Herd lives here.
We were warned to put our feed out of reach and to remember that the females are having young and are cantankerous. I saw a coyote nosing around as soon as we settled in. Later we drove up to the bathhouse at the Honea Flat camping area and saw prairie dogs and deer.


Before we fell asleep we heard the coyotes howling.


Posted by: millspaw | April 8, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 5

April 7, 2015

Robber’s Cave

It is HOT in Oklahoma! It got up to 81 degrees today. We felt sorry for the horses since they still have their winter coats on.

We decided to ride to the cave and left at 9:00 in the morning. The souvenir shop didn’t open until 10:00 and it was already warm outside, so we didn’t wait and get the ‘kerchief map. After 2 hours of riding following trails through the woods using the maps we had, we decided to head back to camp without finding the cave. It is no wonder that the “good guys” couldn’t find the “bad guys”.

The horses were hot and tired when we got back three hours after we started, so we gave them baths, fed and watered them and headed in for lunch and a nap.

Later we unhooked the camper and drove to Robber’s Cave.  We were not sure that you could have ridden a horse up to the cave anyway. There is a cave parking lot, restrooms, bulletin board and it is has  a walk and rail for handicapped around some of the rock outcrops.

The CCC camps built a stone walk that is a pretty strenuous climb. We hiked up the old CCC trail to the hidden cave. We could see why the Youngers, Frank and Jesse James, and Belle Starr chose to hide here. There is only one way up to the cave and the crevice down below would show any intruders approaching. There was a rock corral where they hid the horses, too.

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Posted by: millspaw | April 8, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 4

IMG_4521 April 6, 2015


Robber’s Cave State Park

We left Sam A Baker State Park at 6:30 am for a long 10 hour drive through the rest of Missouri and into Oklahoma. The song “Oklahoma” with the wind sweeping down the plains is not what we saw as we traveled to the camp. There were hills and then mountains covered in pines.

Robber’s Cave State Park has a dedicated horse camp with 45 horse sites. However, many sites have signs saying you must register on line and you are not allowed to camp there unless you did. There were only two other campers in the Equestrian camp, so we didn’t understand why they restricted you. We also did not see anywhere to bathe a horse. Ours are extremely dirty after a winter in blankets and a muddy/snowy paddock this spring. When we asked Jeff, the park employee, about bathing the horses he said most do it right at the campsite.

Each site has a nice paved pad, cement picnic tables, charcoal grill, fire ring, water, and pipe corrals for each horse. This is a luxury that we don’t usually see.

The cost is $18 /night with our $4 senior discount. Our site has electric and water. We are already plugged in using the air conditioner as it is humid and around 80 degrees. I am cooking spaghetti and heating the place up.

We examined the maps we got from the Internet and the one that was in the box at the trail head. Neither are very good. Jeff says the best map is on a ‘kerchief that you can buy at the souvenir shop. I am going to hike up there and get one!

Robber’s Cave is one of Oklahoma’s original seven parks. It is located in the hills of the San Bois Mountains of Southeastern Oklahoma. The caves are secluded and rugged and were located close to Texas and California roads and the Butterfield Stage Line. The cave itself was known to be associated with the Youngers, Frank and Jesse James, and Belle Starr. We are looking forward to finding the cave on our ride tomorrow.

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Posted by: millspaw | April 6, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 3

Oreo Sam A Baker Calm Stoney pic

Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sam A Baker State Forest

Patterson, MO

The trail that we rode today is called Mudlick Trail. This trail is 16.75 miles long and is the only one for horses. Many sections of it are restricted to hikers only. Since Oreo and Stoney are not yet in shape we opted to take two short rides.

The trailhead for horses starts right out at the Equestrian camp. The trail took us beside the river. We would have liked to have done the short loop, but we would have had to cross it. Because of the recent storm, the water was fast and deep. We traveled further down hoping for an easier crossing. The second river crossing was even deeper than the first and we did not want to be swimming our horses in that rush of water. We decided to turn around and head back to camp, which was fine with me, since we are not in shape either.

After a nice long nap, we got the horses saddled for a dirt road ride since there were no other trails here for horses. Dan and I switched horses just to see the difference.

Oreo (my horse) is a ten year old registered Spotted Mountain horse. She is 15.3 hands tall. She is a hard horse to get on because of her height but she is as smooth as glass when she is gaiting. I bought her in December from a dealer in Michigan. He didn’t know much about her background since he had only had her about four months. She is a good horse and seems to know her way around a trail.

Stoney, Dan’s palomino, is 15 hands and a stocky Rocky Mountain/Tennessee Walker cross. His gait is slightly shorter than Oreo’s, but is also a nice ride. He is 15 years old. His previous owner really wanted us to have him and lowered his price $1000 to entice us. It worked and we bought him.

The two horses get along great. No bickering, kicking or squealing over food or water. They are both shedding out and we are spending a lot of time grooming them.

Tomorrow we are going to Robber’s Cave State Park located near the city of Wilburton, Oklahoma.

Posted by: millspaw | April 6, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 2

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Sam A. Baker State Park

Patterson, MO

We left the Walmart in Morehead, KY at 6:30 am with the intention of getting the horses out at The White Sulphur horse camp. As soon as we got off the main highway, we encountered deep water running across the roadway and we had to turn and go back.

I was thankful that we had not gone into the camp the night before, since we would have been stranded there, or even washed away.

We continued down the road and pulled off at a truck stop to feed, water and clean out the trailer. The horses had spent all the day before and all night standing in tight quarters, so they were very glad for the walk around the truck stop that we provided.

The day was beautifully sunny and we headed to Sam A Baker State Park in Missouri using the map app on my phone. Because of the rainfall we were unable to cross the Mississippi river as the bridge was closed on 60W and had to find another way. The closing was so recent that they didn’t even have detour signs up. The map atlas that we brought came in handy here.

The eight hour drive ended up taking ten hours and we pulled into the park at suppertime. The equestrian section of Sam A Baker state park is a bit rustic. No shower house, no potable water and a just vault toilet. We do not mind this at all and were even more pleased to find we were the alone in the camp.

Each site is equipped with high line poles, picnic table and a fire pit. Since we had the pick of the sites, we chose the one with the most room around it. It was also handy to the water spigot and the manure pit. We got a nice brochure with a map from the bulletin board at the entry of the horse camp and tomorrow we will ride the trails.

Renees grill The perfect campsite Sam Baker

Posted by: millspaw | April 4, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon

White Sulphur Horse Camp

April 3, 2015

Today we left around 8:00 am from Corry, Pa with our two gaited horses, Oreo and Stoney, in the trailer behind our RV. Our plan was to travel to Salt Lick, Kentucky and overnight at White Sulphur horse camp.

The going was slow and we traveled in rain for much of the day.

At about 6:00 pm, we were an hour away from Salt Lick when a severe weather warning was sent out. Then a tornado watch and flood watch were issued as we drove through heavy rain.

I decided that we should look for a Walmart to camp at instead trying to get to White Sulphur camp. We found one in Morehead, KY.

We had to get the horses out in the down pour to grain and water them and get their hay bags filled inside of the trailer. They enjoyed the stretch, but we hurried them back in before we got into trouble.

After an hour, the winds started picking up and a cart was blown across the Walmart lot and hit our camper door and broke the fiberglass. Maybe we should have gone to White Sulphur horse camp and taken our chances after all.

Dan and the horses at Walmart Walmart camp

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