Friday, July 10, 2015

The Roads Less Traveled --- Jul 10, 2015

Where to start??  I've been out of cell/internet range all week...which I somewhat expected, but it was worth it!  We have a lot of ground to cover in this post!  It will be a little long....

I left the San Juan National Forest on Monday morning (I think! I've lost track of the days  now!).... headed down to Gallup, NM for overnight.  It was a fairly non-descript drive, but there were some pretty spots along the way....

I was pleased to have to stop in Gallup again because the WalMart there has the best meat department of any WalMart I've ever been I stocked up!! Fresh salmon and tilapia and some good "red meats".  It's a really "different" WalMart.

Tuesday morning, from Gallup, I headed to a spot 25 miles south of Alpine, AZ....MUCH cooler temps there! In the White Mountains/Apache National Forest.

What I'm always saying....bring your camera(s)!  

Not much in the way of scenery on this stretch, but finally, I see my destination area in the distance...

On the way, closer to my destination, I pass by Lyman Lake State Park.  
We pull in just for a few minutes...Nikko needed to stretch his legs!

After going through Alpine and getting gas, almost immediately we're on the outskirts of
the Apache National Forest.  The terrain changes drastically!
Yep, we're in the just 25 miles and we're at our spot....

I went past this road the first time, eventho' the GPS gal told me to turn...went a little bit further and figured that must be the correct was!

After about a mile or so...I see my site over the embankment...lookin' good!  

Once I get down there, I see one site that I pulled into well to the left of the above photo.  It was nice enough, but I couldn't get very level. will do, I guess.  Nikko and I jumped out and took a walk down the short lane to the lake.  Well....there's a fire ring right there!  We're moving!

This is more like it!  And there's no one here!

Can't get much more perfect than this!  

There was a major forest fire here in 2011 which devastated about 500,000 acres.  But, nature works has greened back up and aspens and other trees are starting to come back.  You will see a lot of the burned out trees in some of the scenic photos coming up....but, it's still beautiful!

Nikko loved it here.  This photo was right before he jumped, mistakenly, into the water thinking he was still on grass.  I'm pretty sure this is the first time he had ever been in water.  He was thrashing around like crazy and at one point his head went under.  For a few seconds I thought I was going to have to go in and save him, but in a minute he got himself out.  He shook himself off about 5 times then went on like nothing had happened.  

A few fishermen came by here and there.  This is a "catch and release" lake only.  There are Apache Trout in this lake --- the only "native" fish to Arizona.  Unfortunately, no one caught any while I was there, but someone did catch an Arctic Grayling....

Back in the water you go!

When the fish aren't biting!  LOL!

This was the other "fisherman" here....the resident Blue Heron.  He was around every day!

He was always on the lookout for his next meal....

One morning I waited and waited to see if he was ever going to actually do anything....
well, the wait paid off!

Success!  He breaks the rules....he doesn't throw it back!  

There was other wildlife birds and chipmunks, mostly...

There was a nice sunset one almost looks like a forest fire....

There was also rain and fog off and on, but this site was ideal even with the if-y weather!

That wraps up this very cool site!  BUT WAIT!......there's a little more!  I only left this site because I was out several days without cell/internet.  Normally, I would have stayed a lot longer.  A Ranger came by and said I might like driving up to Big Lake via Forest Roads 26 and 24.  It's a recreational area, so there would probably be service there.  He said those roads were "maintained"...meaning, gravel, but no big ruts, etc.  Well......okay! Let's go!  So, I left the little lake early this morning and headed to Big Lake....

So, we're driving about 10 miles or so to FR 26 and off to the left I see a couple of elk!  They have been on  my "Nature Bucket List", especially since I didn't get good photos of them in El Malpais, NM.  Unfortunately, they ran off too quick to get a good shot of them...but, at least it was something!

There's FR we go through the Apache National Forest!  For about 25 miles!

This was a picturesque setting, just after we turned onto 26....

This road meandered through meadows and forest land....really pretty.  I was more intent on looking for a campsite, tho'.  This is the first time I haven't had a clue where I'm staying (tonight!) Thought I might see something and drive back down this way from Big Lake.  Didn't see any good spots.  

I kept wondering when the next turn off was going to show up (FR 24)....seemed like we'd been driving forever.  Just as I was thinking, "I might just have to turn around because I don't know if this is right...."  I couldn't believe my eyes!  Luckily I was going slow....

A HUGE herd of elk!  At least 40...maybe more....

Of course, Nikko started barking his head off!  They started to scatter but not before they decided to cross the road right in front of us!  

I couldn't believe it!  Moms, lots of babies...and....
a couple very large bucks!
They haven't grown their antlers back yet this year.
These things are huge!

Boy, that was an adrenaline rush!  

We got ourselves together and decided since that was such good luck, we'd just keep going.
FR 24 turned out to be just ahead.

It was a pretty drive, too.....taking us up to the top of part of the White Mountains....

Groves of aspen....will be pretty in the fall!

Here's an example of aspen saplings coming up at the foot of those that have been lost....

Finally, we get to Big Lake!  

I pull over and make a few phone calls, but internet wasn't working....

So, I drive on out, knowing if I can't find a spot for tonight I can always come back and stay in one of the campgrounds at the lake.

The drive out started like this.....

but quickly turned to this....

I'm RIGHT NOW on my way to Eagar, AZ....having stopped at a rest stop kind of spot where I was able to get good internet and write up this post.  It's not far from here.  As soon as I end this, I'll be researching some camping spots.  But I need to go into town and get gas, even if I end up coming back this way.  

So, I may or may not have cell/internet again for awhile....why I decided to take this post all the way to the current moment!

I hope you have enjoyed my week and much as I have!  Wish me luck in finding a new, great campsite!

Enjoy your weekend!!


  1. Amazing! Of course I love this post! The scenery is remarkable, the elk a big bonus! Being by a lake would be my own choice! Herons seldom catch and release! Hope your next spot is just as great! And a better than most Walmart! Good dinners! Enjoy!

  2. Great pictures! And how cool to have the elk right there in your sights!

    Your views are great and I'm sure we all love seeing your newest pictures. Hope you find another great new campsite!

  3. Looks like a good location. Do you ever give directions to your places. Our RV looks about the size of yours - a 28 ft FR Lexington. I'm always nervous about driving down unknown back roads. How do you know which roads are safe to travel on?

  4. Hey Jo -- Mine is 27' plus the cargo rack. I usually don't know about these back roads....I just take my chances! This site is on the Apache National Forest website. It's called Aker Lake. Directions are on the website. This particular road was a pretty decent one! No worries. If you need more info, email me at Safe and happy travels!

    1. I might add, this is not a road for large rigs....the road itself is okay, but there is a hairpin turn to get on down to the lake level. I can't imagine trying to get a 5th wheel down there or a Class A. A smaller pull behind, maybe.

  5. Beautiful pics! I hope you have fun!

  6. That is the type of boondocking that we just love. We will have to remember this area when we are in Arizona next time. We are also 28'. We use Google Earth and street view whenever we can to check out some of these roads.

    Love that you got to see so many elk, especially babies.

  7. Hi Ruth! I follow your blog, too! Yes, boondocking is the best! You never know what you're going to see! Safe and Happy Travels!

  8. Yes, Addison! Northern Arizona is beautiful!

  9. Yes, Addison! Northern Arizona is beautiful!

  10. The pic of your RV made me wish mine was parked there.

    1. You know where it is! Get going! Just don't tell anyone else! :-)

  11. Do you know what the elevation is there?