All posts by theroadsweroam

We met more than 26 years ago while we were both in training at Lackland AFB. Our children are now adults, so we get to act like kids again! Roam the roads with us as we RV our way around the country!

Bottomless Lakes State Park, NM – Campground review & first RV trip notes

The day finally came. It is hard for me to describe how excited we were to embark on our very first trip with our RV. Russ and I have both heard from other RVers the importance of a “shakedown” trip – a quick trip to test out our RV and deal with any issues before undertaking a big road trip.  Another factor I wanted to make sure we considered, was the space and traffic at the campsite. We have not yet perfected backing in our RV and the last thing I wanted on this trip was to stress about trying to fit into a tight location. With this in mind, a state park location relatively close to home fit the bill. I even went so far as to look at the aerial shots on Google Maps to select the spot that had the easiest access.

So, with reservations at Bottomless Lakes State Park confirmed, we loaded up the “family truckster” and were on our way!

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We arrived just after Labor Day and had the campground pretty much to ourselves. The weather was overcast and rainy every day, but it was still extremely enjoyable. The camp hosts, Rita and Kevin D’Elia (click for their blog) were wonderful and really made us feel welcome. In addition to great conversation, Kevin saved the day by having an air compressor handy when we noticed we had run over a nail and had a flat! So within the first 24 hours, we made sure to invest in yet another piece of equipment to have with us and used the surprisingly good, free wifi the campground offered to go onto Amazon and buy a compressor.

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For those that aren’t familiar with Bottomless Lakes Park, it is about 12 miles from Roswell, NM. So it isn’t surprising when I heard odd noises outside of our RV in the early hours of the morning that my first thoughts were of aliens. Well, if aliens are little furry grey and black troublemakers that resemble Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy they are highly entertaining (and messy).

The spaces between campsites are ample. We camped at space #23, which not only had easy access to park, but an unimpeded view to the water. The pull-through sites had plenty of privacy with large trees/bushes in between sites as well.41282588_427016241155894_8788947850189864960_n

The restrooms for the campground area were clean and the showers had decent shower pressure and hot water.

Russ took advantage of having the beach to himself and jumped in for a quick swim. We were able to capture our dog, Abbey, on video experiencing her first time getting in the water too (in video above). Russ said the water was surprisingly warm but the legend of the giant turtles that lurk in the depths kept him from truly relaxing (note: just a myth – there are no giant turtles that will come up and grab you, Russ!).

We went for walks with the dogs every each day and look forward to coming back in the future to explore some of the trails and take in some birdwatching. We were told there is usually a dock and they have paddle boards available for rent. The dock had recently been damaged and removed but there are plans to have it back in place soon.

Things to be aware of: 

  • Goathead burrs – do NOT walk barefoot anywhere
  • Fire ants
  • Centipedes
  • Mosquitos
  • Flies

Price: $14/night (incl. water/elec)  [$4/night if you have the Annual Camping Pass]

Location: Easy to find, close enough to a town/city for necessities but far enough away to escape noise/light pollution

We had a great time and plan on returning to spend more than 2 days. If anyone has suggestions and/or recommendations on things to do and see, let us know!

 

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Cloudcroft, NM – Best. BBQ. Ever.

While our RV is back at the dealer for some minor repairs, we took a day to escape the El Paso heat to explore Cloudcroft, NM. On our way there, we made a recommended pitstop at the New Mexico Museum of Space History

Cloudcroft is a small town nestled in the mountains of Lincoln National Forest. We have been to the area a few times over the last few years, each time finding something different to see and do. This time we were headed to Burro St. where there is a collection of quaint shops that we had been wanting to visit for a while. There you will find beautiful crafts and artisanal shops. My favorite shop is the Noisy Water Winery  You can pretty much taste everything there before you buy it – cheese, wine, salsa, flavored olive oils…. Walking away with just a bottle of the aged balsamic vinegar was the toughest thing to do.

If you are ever traveling through the area along Route 82, don’t be surprised if you see a line of people out the door at Mad Jack’s Mountaintop BBQ. Do yourself a favor and park your car and get in line. This is some of the most amazing BBQ Russ and I have ever had and it was worth every minute we spent in line. We had the opportunity to speak with Mad Jack himself (he works the line) and his story is as interesting as his food is mouthwatering.

James “Mad Jack” Jackson’s story starts in Lockheart, TX where he worked on his family’s car lot for more than 29 years. In 2009, Chrysler terminated contracts with more than 800 dealerships – his being one of them. Also during this time, Jackson was encouraged by his father to pursue his longtime interest in being a pitmaster. His father told him “James, to be good at something, ignore what the average guys are doing. Watch people who are the best and copy whatever they’re doing.” Jackson did exactly that. Over the next few years, he told us he watched a lot of YouTube videos and reached out through social media to other well-known pitmasters.  He went on to say his BBQ skills were developed by learning a “little bit” (info) from “a lot” (people).

Jackson learned enough to put his skills to the test and opened up a food truck in the heart of foodie-central, Austin, Texas. He did extremely well and as his popularity grew, Jackson was also becoming dismayed with the local bureaucracy. It was about this time that Jackson’s father, Kirk, moved in with him after suffering a hip injury. Kirk’s health continued to decline and shortly before his passing, he mentioned to Jackson and his brother a statement that didn’t make sense at the time, but was to be incredibly important to Jackson’s future. As the brothers were discussing what to do with some of the old cars on their property, Kirk said, “That ’71 Mercury – don’t get rid of it”.

That ’71 Mercury was a decrepit, rusted out vehicle covered in brush and tires flat down to the rims. Inside, Jackson and his brother found metal boxes and mason jars filled to the brim with money. The money had been in there so long that some of it had started to rot away, but there was still plenty left. Enough for Jackson to fully fund “Mad Jacks” in 2015 and move to Cloudcroft to do things the way he had always envisioned.

If you stop by Mad Jacks (open Thursdays – Sundays), ask him to point out some of the actual mason jars and one of the metal boxes that were from that infamous Mercury.

Wrapping up our day – and our waistlines – we stopped in at the Old Apple Barn on our way home. No trip to the Old Apple Barn is complete without trying some of their fudge. There is always room for fudge in my opinion. Always. If fudge isn’t your thing, you can always try some of their eclectic snack options……crickets anyone?