Day 5: Abiquiu Lake to Navajo State Park via Ghost Ranch 7.23.21

The monsoon passed and morning came, again. By now, I had the tent thing pretty organized and it didn’t seem to take as long. We walked down close to the water for our morning walk, then headed out for our adventure. If Wednesday is hump day for a work week, this day was hump day for the trip. I was a little bummed about that.

Pups at morning walk at Abiquiu Lake

Our first stop was just five miles away – Ghost Ranch. This is a Presbyterian retreat that is open to the public (for a donation) to hike and camp. I am not Presbyterian and probably would never have stopped here 7+ years ago with Maizzy if it hadn’t been for another namesake daylily: Ghost Ranch.

Ghost Ranch road

The day Maizzy and I visited in March or April, it was a huge windstorm. We hiked for a bit that day but it really wasn’t much fun. Today felt different, the weather was warm, but not hot and the sun was out.

Moki, Sazi and Kachina on the set of City Slickers

But, let me backtrack for one minute. It was either last winter or the one before that I was having mid-winter boredom and looking for a Prime movie to watch. I remembered that movie City Slickers for some reason and decided on that. I made chocolate pudding pie and sat down to watch. As I watch, I become aware that the scenery looks familiar . . . it’s Ghost Ranch. So, I pause the movie and look for my old vacation photos on OneDrive. The Colorado Plateau has too many unique features – it was a match. Of course, I googled it to verify.

City Slickers cabin

Our first stop inside the entrance was the City Slickers set – it is marked as such now, but I don’t remember any mention of the movie the day Maizzy and I were here. I got the dogs out, and they posed for a photo on the porch. We walked around the sets. The dogs were too hot in the direct sun, so we loaded back up and I decided we would drive instead of hike to see the sights that day. Someday, it will be the right weather to hike there maybe.

Ghost Ranch geology

After we finished touring Ghost Ranch, we headed to Chama. This brought another interesting change in geography. While we were still on the CO Plateau, we were also in the Mountains. I thought the dogs would like the cool weather and I didn’t stop last time, so I decided we find lunch and walk around. The dogs were thrilled with the cooler weather.

Chama, New Mexico narrow guage station

The narrow guage train runs through there, so we watched the train off and on. I found a bar and grill that would let the dogs on the front porch. I had tacos, again, just like yesterday – because they are low in gluten. While I was sitting there this fellow comes and sits next to us at the bar-like outside table that faced the main street. I am trying to be more social, so we chatted and he tells me he is going up to the mountains to pick Portobello mushrooms. He tells me he can sell them for thousands of dollars. It was weird, a little. He also told me how the “Mexicans” beat him up there so he did something to send the cops on a wild goose chase. I started ignoring him, but every so often we would exchange some words – and he kept bringing up the “Mexicans” who beat him up. Not significant, but something I will remember about Chama.

Sazi, Moki and Kachina at the bar and grill in Chama, New Mexico
Cumbres and Toltec scenic railroad train

It was when I was talking to the guy that I started getting weather warnings for where we had just come from. I could see the sky was very dark in that direction. I honestly didn’t think much about it. We left town at about 3 or 3:30 PM – only about an hour to our next campground at Navajo Lake State Park.

Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad train refueling with coal

The monsoons stayed to the south of us most of the drive. There was light rain off and on. At one point, two aussie looking dogs ran out in the road towards our car – not at the same time, maybe 1/4-1/2 mile apart. I hoped they hadn’t been dumped. It was mountainous a lot of the drive.

Monsoon clouds cloud our drive

We got to the County Road to the Campground and turned north. The rain was picking up and the sky was dark. I was hoping it wouldn’t get too much worse. I was a little concerned when we came to a spot that looked like it had washed out within the last few days but it wasn’t wet when we drove through. However, the rain kept picking up. Here, again, I was using my phone GPS because it had the exact campground listed (there are several at Navajo Lake). We were less than a mile away when the torrential rain hit. It was coming down so hard that I couldn’t see. There was a small dirt turnout to a power station of some sort – I didn’t want to pull onto the dirt, though, for fear of a flash flood or washout. I pulled to the side of the road as much as I could.

Monsoon clouds along the highway before we turned for the campground

We sat there for what seemed like an hour . . . I was really worried about flash flooding and wondered if I made a bad choice to come here today. Within a few minutes, a commercial truck and another passenger car came past me. It was then I realized that I was right at the start of Navajo Dam. I was glad I stopped when I did with no visibility.

Our campsite after the rain slowed down a little

After the GPS got us slightly lost (so I asked another human camper), we found our site. It was still raining, but dying down. I was quick at putting up the tent now, but our space was on a total slope – really bad tent site. When I booked weeks ago, I accidently booked the wrong night and didn’t discover until the day before I left. So, I cancelled, booked another site – there wasn’t much left – hence the tilting tent site in the rain.

Slightly soggy doggies in the tent – Sazi, Kachina and Moki

The tent got soggy from moving stuff (including dogs) in during the storm, but we had extra blankets and towels. The dogs ate in the tent and wondered what was going on. I was honestly impressed with my new mountaineering tent. Despite getting totally saturated on the rain cover, we stayed mostly dry. I read about the Galveston Hurricane and thought about how suddenly storms can change our circumstances. Then, the City Slickers and I called it a day.

Love, GMH

2 thoughts on “Day 5: Abiquiu Lake to Navajo State Park via Ghost Ranch 7.23.21

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