Travel Journal, Escapito #1, 2022: Exploring Southern NM

March 14-18, 2022

New Mexico, our home state, is a wonderful state to explore, and this little 5 day Escapito lived up to expectations.  Over 650 miles round-trip, from central NM south and then east, we visited  3 new-to-us state parks, and revisited one of our favorite Bureau of Land Management campgrounds. Our main objective was to find migrating birds; those coming north from south of the border to breed in the US, and those that overwintered along the Rio Grande River corridor and are heading way north to Canada and Alaska.  We found some beautiful birds while exploring some very rugged country to within 12 miles of the Mexican border. 

With my travel journal in hand, I was able to capture a few pages of images and notes from the week. 

Heading south along I-25, we followed the Rio Grande River corridor for about 200 miles until we arrived at Percha Dam State Park. The park itself was somewhat run down, but the view of the Sierra Caballo Mountains was a beautifully stark contrast to the cottonwood gallery along the river corridor. Not quite spring yet, the trees were still bare, except for the healthy and overwhelming population of yellow-leaved mistletoe. We searched day and night for the elusive rufous-backed robin, but he was nowhere to be found. To our extreme delight, we enjoyed the courtship dance of several gorgeous phainopeplas. What a treat!

These pages of my travel journal show the view from nearby onion fields, looking across the campground and east to the Sierra Caballo Mountains.

Out next short 90 mile hop southwest brought us to Rockhound State Park/Spring Canyon State Park. Wow! Spectacular scenery both to the north and south of the campground. We spent the day hiking the trails within the Rockhound unit, and found many interesting birds. One very special sighting, right in our campsite, was a pair of pyrrhuloxia! Related to the northern cardinal, they were courting and may have been scouting a nesting spot. There was a pair of cactus wrens building a grassy nest ball in a spiny cholla, and a pair of white-winged doves mating in the tree yucca next to the wren nest, also in our camp site!

This pair of journal pages shows the Little Florida (pronounced Floor-eeee-duh) Mountains behind the campground and the trails around the rocky hillsides where thundereggs and geodes can be found.

Rockhound SP also includes Spring Canyon SP, located south of the campground in the dramatically rugged Florida Mountains, 12 miles north of the Mexico border. We spent the next morning hiking Lover’s Leap Trail, a short hike but very steep and rocky. The effort was worth it because the views were incredible all the way up, and from the top at the Leap.

These journal pages illustrate the views of both the Florida and Little Florida Mountains, and the view from the top of the Lover’s Leap trail.

After the big hike into the Florida Mountains, we moved on to one of our favorite campgrounds at the base of the eastern flank of the Organ Mountains; Aguirre Springs. Always spectacular. scenery, and a lovely campground with two very nice hiking trails. Then the following day, we drove about 200 miles to find Bottomless Lakes State Park. We walked the wetlands trail, climbed around the very sharp calcium formations surrounding the sink lakes, and listened to hundreds of sandhill cranes preparing for their morning flight from the Pecos River. It was a very frosty morning following a rainstorm the night before. at least we didn’t get snow!

The journal page on the left shows the Organ Mountains at sunrise.. The journal page on the right shows the swim pavilion at Lea Lake and the layout of Bottomless Lakes.
A summary of our 5-day Escapito!


  1. zentanglingdeb says:

    What wonderful journaling. I loved all the details. What did you try from the menu? I can’t get enough of your curious nature and talent for description and sketching. I had to look up the birds you saw. Such a treat.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so so much, Debra! I really appreciate your feedback on my field sketches. So many things got left out, but I’m planning on some more refined drawings and paintings of those birds from my photos! About the menu items …… I captured the info for future use, maybe. But how interesting, huh?


  2. Sarah Reid says:

    Barb this Escapito #1 is so much fun! I love how you incorporate … well, everything … into each page, but each page has a theme/flavor all it’s own. What a great diary of your adventures. Thank you for sharing! — Sarah

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for commenting on this post, Sarah! It means a lot. My rough sketches are, well …. Rough. But that’s how I approach my field observations. Now I get to choose several subjects for more refined, focused drawings and paintings.


  3. Fabulous descriptions & journal pages! Lots of driving for you, but loved hearing about your mountain views and the various birds. I’m curious about the green pages in your sketchbook! (We explored Bandalier which was so beautiful and historically interesting. We climbed all the ladders! Feeling the effects of high elevation! Hoping it will pass as we get to lower el. in Carlsbad tomorrow!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh excellent! I thought you might enjoy Bandelier. It’s one of our favorite places to visit. So rich in history, and fun to explore. Where to next? Green pages are from a multi-colored page sketchbook I use for travel journaling, and seriously awful paper. Next up will be orange pages, or I might just begin in a new book? We had a marvelous trip. Thanks for reading Karen!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. sgoodman56 says:

    Fascinating as always, you and Roy have the most interesting trips. And how compatible you are! Looking forward to seeing the bird pics.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Susan! Yes, Roy and I, and Luna are very compatible. It seemed like a race out the door every morning to see who could ID the first unusual bird and the most birds! And it’s very easy to compose interesting trips for us both out here in our favorite country. Hope all is well in your world!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. goodlifecp says:

    So much to see! When I saw the notation of thunder egg trail, my first thought, did you find any??? Blackbirds returned here earlier this past week, the basic Brewer’s blackbird but there were 4-5 that looked different. They had a tan-ish stripe on their wing when closed. I wasn’t able to get a photo. I suspect they may have been immature red winged blackbirds but they weren’t with other red winged mature males or females. I hope they return to the bird feeders and I can get a good picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Darn, no thunder eggs. The area was really picked over, so it might take a bulldozer to unearth any! I love Brewer’s BB ….. we don’t get them down here. The grackles pretty much run the show here. I hope your mystery BB does make another showing at your feeders. Could it have been a tricolor?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. goodlifecp says:

        I’m thinking most likely. I’ll send you a photo if I’m lucky to get one!

        Liked by 1 person

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