Heron Lake State Park, New Mexico – Day 2

Yesterday I went up to the visitors center about one mile away, where I took these photos…

As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view…

Then down to the boat ramp…

Other than being ten degrees to hot…83 yesterday while I prefer 73…I’m enjoying my stay here. The air is fresh and clean and it’s really quiet. A good place to rest and recuperate from the May 27th accident.

But now I get to tell you about trouble in paradise…three-fold…

First. You can’t see them…but they’re here. No-ee-ms…I guess. They stay close to the ground…you cannot feel them biting you…but they are. Before I knew what was happening…both of my legs had many bites and boy do they itch. I had a terrible nights sleep last night. Up every hour or so scratching my legs with a hair brush and then slathering them with rubbing alcohol for temporary itch relief. I even tried using my favorite itch remedy from my Central America trip…a product called Autan. But I guess it’s too old and has lost its effectiveness. As much as I hate the idea, i guess I’m going to have to wear long-legged pants to avoid further bites.

Second. When I arrived here the battery on my Ford Bronco II was dead and of course it wouldn’t start. Hmmm..wonder why that is…never did that before.  So I jump started it using the motorhome battery…four times! By time I disconnected the battery-jumping cables and got in the vehicle it would stall once again. Hmmm..what the heck is going on. That battery is really dead. Cleaned the battery terminals and put it on the battery charger. Hmmm…the battery charger is only charging at 3 amps instead of the expected 10 amps. Which leads me to number three problem…

Third. This campground apparently has a borderline low voltage problem with the electricity. In talking to my friend Bob Gambol who was already here when I arrived (Bob was my co-planner and travel companion for my 2004 Central America trip)…

Bob tells me this campground was built in the 1970’s and has aluminum wiring which is no longer legal…but apparently there’s no money to upgrade. So instead of getting 120 volts when connected to the campground electrical circuit, one can only get 110 volts.

Back now to my second problem. So the battery charger was not operating at full efficiency and would only produce 3 amps and only put a small charge into my Bronco battery. But here’s the real second problem…after further evaluation I’ve come to the conclusion that the alternator in the Bronco has failed and no longer is charging the battery when the engine is running…but…and here’s the puzzling part…the red idiot light which is supposed to come on to let you know the system is not working…does not light up…so you do not know the system is not working until you end up with a dead battery! I called my good friend and mechanic in Washington about the idiot light problem and he said…yeah…that can happen. I won’t bore you with the technical details.

Long-story…short version. So yesterday I drove the Bronco the about one mile to the visitors center and then the about two miles to the boat ramp…see the above photos. When I went to come back to my campsite…Bronco battery was dead once again. I  flagged down a passing park ranger who jump-started the Bronco…twice….only to have it stall once again. So I hitched a ride back to my campsite and called my friend Bob who knew some other folks here. I begged a tow job for the Bronco back to my campsite where I could work on the problem.

I left the battery charger on all night to get some electrical life back into the battery. After breakfast this morning I’ll check the status of things and confirm that the alternator is in fact not providing an electrical charge. If that’s the case…I just happen to have a spare alternator with me…a throwback to my Central America days of carrying what I consider to be essential spare parts if you happen to be out in the boonies when you breakdown.

Whew…not much rest yesterday. Now my newest problem. Even though I have a spare alternator…because of my May 27th accident and continuing pain…I’m not physically able (I don’t think) to pull the non-functioning alternator and install the new one. I contacted the park host last evening and he will send a mechanically inclined park ranger to see me today and hopefully I’ll be able to pay him to do the physical labor while I supervise the installation of the new unit.

Whew…then maybe I can get back to my rest and recuperation!

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2012
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5 thoughts on “Heron Lake State Park, New Mexico – Day 2

  1. Frank Shearer

    You figured it out Jim. I am glad I finished reading your delima in full prior to posting the following. Back in the day of generators one could operate with a discharged battery, not so with the alternator equiped vehicle. Good move on your part to carry a spare. Have your battery checked to see if it will accept a full charge & hold the same under a carbon pile load test. Todays batteries do not fair very well with repeated total discharge. Good luck, Frank

  2. Donna Huffer

    Glad you found Bob. Now the two of you need to go to Chama on Sunday for the breakfast buffet at “High Country” it’s awesome we went every Sunday with the group we were traveling with. Also if you haven’t don’t the Chama-Toltec RR trip be sure to put that on your bucket list while there. Say hi to Bob for us.

    • ramblinmanjimj

      Thanks for the breakfast buffet tip. Don’t know if I’m up to another train trip. Just did Durango & Silverton.

    • ramblinmanjimj

      What is “High Country”? Looked for it on Google Earth…no response.

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